1776
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Harmony.

Poetical Amusements at a Villa near Bath. 2 Vols [Lady Anne Miller, ed.]

Anonymous


An unsigned imitation of Milton's L'Allegro composed on an occasion with the subject assigned at Bath-Easton was "harmony." After banishing the forces of Discord, the poet invokes Harmony, "By whose magic power of old | Such feats were done, in story told" 2:82. This introduces episodes on Arion and Orpheus, followed by an account of Harmnoy's train, consisting of Diversion, Quaver, Concord, Music, and Echo. The poem then takes a more contemplative turn: "Thee, blest Enchantress, may I find, | To soothe the cares that rend my mind, | When pale Misfortune round me throws | The sharpen'd sense of real woes" 2:85. Love comes next, before the poet swears fealty to a goddess capable of overcoming the powers of Melancholy, Solitude, and Grief. The second volume of Poetical Amusements contains several poems composed for the same occasion.



Hence, loathed Discord, hence,
Pois'ning the soul with thy unlovely din,
That first was heard within
Rude caves, 'midst beings of perturbed sense.
Fly to some drear abode,
Where neither sun, nor moon, nor lively green,
Have ever yet been seen—
There whilst the pale inhabitants of hell
Shrink at each hideous yell,
O'er the grine sound Darkness himself shall brood.
But hail, thou goddess fair and free!
Hail, divinest Harmony!
By whose magic power of old
Such feats were done, in story told—
As when the mariners who bore
Arion from th' Italian shore,
Check'd for a while their dark desire,
List'ning to his rapt'rous lyre.
Meantime along the glassy wave
The sea-born nymphs were seen to lave,
Sleek Panope herself from far
Smoothly gliding in her car;
Till the charm'd dolphin playing round
The gilded ship in sportive bound,
Turn'd by the wonder-working strain
Convey'd him o'er the watry plain.
Or as when Orpheus swept the string,
The nodding groves were heard to ring,
And beasts, as if with sense endu'd,
In fix'd amazement round him stood—
Come, thou hidden power divine,
And with thee, thy sisters join,
Ravishing Diversion bring,
Quaver sweetly vibrating,
Concord that raps the soul to joy
Breathing Peace without alloy,
Music floating on the air,
Echo, that delights to bear
The linked sweetness round and round,
Till Silence steal the dying sound.
O that those other of thy train
Might join their high immortal strain,
Who on the golden orbs attend,
Harmonizing, as they bend
Their various mazes, and fulfil
The Great Creator's perfect will.
But from this vesture of decay
Those saintly sounds are borne away,
In visionary flights alone
To the dreaming poet known,
Who from the steep of ecchoing hill
Of Contemplation takes his fill,
While forgetful Fancy to his ears
Conveys the music of the spheres.—
Thee, blest Enchantress, may I find,
To soothe the cares that rend my mind,
When pale Misfortune round me throws
The sharpen'd sense of real woes;
Whether untimely death devour
The prosp'rous hopes and blooming flower
Of some lov'd friend, whose worth and truth
Hath bless'd my studious hour of youth;
Or med'cine fail at length to save
An honour'd parent from the grave.
But oh thy healing balm impart,
Should Love invade my easy heart,
If melting strains, like thine, can move
A power so near ally'd as Love.
Or when imagin'd ills oppress
Breeding self-harming heaviness,
That nurses with indulgent folly
The surly spirit Melancholy,
And, still unsocial, loves to brood
O'er pale and sickly Solitude.
If in such dark and gloomy day
Thy sun may chase the mists away,
A moment yield compos'd relief,
And still the turbulence of Grief.
Oh may I ever haunt thy bower,
And duly hail thy magic power,
Bending, celestial Harmony,
Sweet daughter of the sphere, to thee.

[2:82-87]