1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hymn to Solitude.

Poems, chiefly Rural.

William Richardson


An allegorical ode in irregular measure after Milton's Il Penseroso. The middle stanza takes a decidedly moral turn: "Often in thy woody dell, | The Muses tune the charming shell | That fills the soul with heavenly fires, | Undaunted fortitude inspires, | Inspires magnanimous designs, | The grovelling appetites refines, | The silken bands of pleasure breaks, | And vice's wide dominion shakes" p. 38. This Scottish ode is one of the few eighteenth century odes that introduce the name of Martin Luther.



Ye vales, ye venerable shades,
Ye gloomy groves, romantic glades,
To your retreats I fly;
Remote from Pride's disdainful sneer,
And Folly's rude, unmeaning lear,
And Envy's venomed eye.
Oriads and Dryads, silvan powers,
Inhabiting the caves and bowers,
Or ye that from the rocks and hills
Send rivers and refreshing rills,
Propitious guide me to the dells
Where Solitude in quiet dwells.
O have ye seen the gentle maid,
Her tresses waving to the wind,
Like a young shepherdess array'd,
All in the mossy cave reclin'd,
Where the fragrant woodbine blows,
And a limpid fountain flows
Murmuring through the vale,
While far amid the deepening grove
Lorn Philomel attunes her love
In wild notes warbling to the ascending gale?
There musing Melancholy reigns,
And as she breathes her solemn strains,
The pensive thoughts in soft succession rise,
Heaves the warm heart, and swim the tuneful eyes.

O Solitude, of soul serene,
Of thoughtful eye, and modest mien,
Lovely philosophic maid
Guide me to thy silent shade.
Often in thy woody dell,
The Muses tune the charming shell
That fills the soul with heavenly fires,
Undaunted fortitude inspires,
Inspires magnanimous designs,
The grovelling appetites refines,
The silken bands of pleasure breaks,
And vice's wide dominion shakes.
From thee arose the laws of Numa sprung;
In later times, by thee reveal'd,
Luther the beam of truth beheld,
And fearless bade the powerful light
Confound the specters of the night;
Night fled with Superstition's train,
The scourge, the rack, the galling chain.

O lead me to the solemn groves,
Where heavenly Contemplation roves:
The holy hermit often strays
Far from the valley's flowery maze,
Sequester'd on the mountains hoar,
Where forests wave, and torrents roar,
Incumbent o'er the rocky steep
He views afar the boundless deep,
And when the waves of Ocean roll,
Sublime delight suspends his soul.
By him the emancipated mind
Leaves narrow Prejudice behind,
Soars high, beyond the shrieks of Night
Guided unappalled her eager flight,
To meet Religion's genuine ray,
"And mingle with the blaze of day."

[pp. 37-39]