Category Archives: Poems

Mary Darwall, “To my Garden”

[MARY DARWALL]

“To my Garden”

Fair Abode of Rural Ease,
Scene of Beauty, and of Peace!
When with anxious Care opprest,
Charm, O! charm my Soul to rest!
In thy Walks I musing trace                                               5
Youthful Flora’s various Race;
In thy fragrant Shades reclin’d,
Soothe with Song my vacant Mind.
When the God of Verse and Day,
Lends the Western World his Ray;                                   10
While the Virgin Queen of Night,
Sheds around her Silver Light;
While Favonius breathes a Gale,
Sweet as o’er Sabea’s Vale;
Here retir’d, in artless Lays,                                              15
Nature’s Daughter sings her Praise.
While the blushing Rose-bud vies
With the fring’d Carnation’s Dyes;
While chaste Daphne’s Branches twine
With the balmy Eglantine;                                                 20
Beauty’s Pow’rs my Mind inspire,
Bolder now I strike the Lyre.
But the trembling Strings rebound,
“Sweet Philander!” Darling Sound!
Not the friendly Western Gales                                         25
Dancing o’er the verdant Vales,
Nor the Black-bird’s Evening Strains,
Soothe the Breast where Cupid reigns.
Flora’s Charms no more I view;
No more the Heav’n’s etherial Blue;                                  30
Unheeded Philomel complains;
In vain fair Cynthia gilds the Plains:
Beauty fades, and Pleasure’s flown—
My Mind contemplates him alone.

NOTES:

6  Flora  The Roman “goddess of the flowering of plants” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

9  God of Verse and Day  Apollo, god of the sun and poetry (Encyclopedia Britannica).

11  Virgin Queen of Night  Diana, Roman goddess of wild animals, the hunt, and later the moon after connections were made between her and the Greek goddess Artemis (Encyclopedia Britannica).

13  Favonius  Roman god of the west wind, also known as Zephyrus in the Greek tradition, who kissed a nymph named Chloris and turned her into Flora (Encyclopedia Britannica).

14  Sabea  Pre-Islamic Southwestern Arabia (Encyclopedia Britannica).

16  Nature’s Daughter  Persephone, queen of the underworld and daughter of Demeter, Greek goddess of agriculture (Encyclopedia Britannica).

19  Daphne’s Branches A reference to a laurel tree; according to Greek mythology, Daphne asked her father to turn her into a laurel tree in order to escape Apollo’s advances (Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology).

20  Eglantine  Small, prickly wild rose with fragrant foliage and numerous small pink flowers (Encyclopedia Britannica).

28  Cupid  The Roman god of “love in all its varieties” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

30  etherial  Archaic spelling of “ethereal,” “heavenly, celestial” (OED).

31  Philomel  Also known as “Philomela;” here the mythological personification of the nightingale.

32  Cynthia  “A poetic name for the Moon personified as a goddess” (OED).

Source: Original Poems on Several Occasions.  By Miss Whateley (London 1764), pp. 98-99. [Google Books]

Edited by Jordie Palmer

Jane Cave, “Written by Desire of a Mother, on the Death of an Only Child”

JANE CAVE

 “Written by Desire of a Mother, on the Death of an Only Child”

 

As with delight we view the op’ning rose
Expand, and all her fragrant sweets disclose,
So did MATERNA view her lovely maid,
In all the charms of innocence array’d;
Oft had her little all, her only child,                                               5
The tedious hour with pleasing chat beguil’d,
But Heav’n, all-good, and infinitely wise,
Remov’d this darling idol to the skies,
Ere her young heart had been obdur’d by sin,
Or guilt, tormenting fiend, could brood therein,                         10
Ere she arriv’d at years that might destroy,
By one false step, a tender mother’s joy.

Behold she soars to yon celestial fields,
Where ev’ry plant aethereal odour yields;
With pitying eye, methinks she looks below,                                 15
Commis’rates a tender mother’s woe,
Bids her dejected heart from earth retire,
And all her future thoughts to Heav’n aspire;
Prepare, she cries,—prepare to meet the blest,
And join your SALLY in eternal rest.                                                 20

NOTES:

3 maid In this context, “a female infant” (OED).

4 charms “Fascinating quality; charmingness, attractiveness” (OED).

9 obdur’d “To harden in wickedness, or against moral influence” (OED).

13 celestial “Of or pertaining to the sky or material heavens” (OED).

14 aethereal “Of or relating to heaven, God, or the gods; heavenly, celestial” (OED).

Source: Poems on Various Subjects: Entertaining, Elegiac, and Religious (Bristol, 1786), pp. 49-50. [Google Books]

Edited by Marivic Victoria

John Bennet, “The Brewer and the Rat”

JOHN BENNET

 “The BREWER and the RAT”

 

‘Twas on a time a rat did stray
In search of food, and in his way,
By chance he met with sweet regale,
From dregs of Bowley’s new-brewn ale;
But not content with this good fare,                                      5
He search’d for something yet more rare:
He search’d, and found, he thought, a prize,
And straitway to his ruin flies.
Descends with ease the dreary vat,
And gladden’d much at this retreat,                                       10
Nor thought of danger till too late.
For in the midst of all his joys,
His fears were waken’d at the noise
Of Bowley with attendants twain,
Who for their fresh-fill’d vessel came.                                   15

The Rat now saw the danger great,
And earnest strove to shun his fate:
Oft round the fatal vat he run,
But by that found himself undone;
Because the efforts made in vain,                                          20
His once dear freedom to regain,
Soon drew the injur’d Brewer there,
To see the cause of noise so near.
Then did the Rat his error find,
Yet, not to prove the Fates unkind,                                         25
When dying to the Brewer spoke,
My discontent deserves this stroke.
Had not I been to prudence blind,
And all to thievery inclin’d;
I still had liv’d in pleasure free,                                                30
Nor lost my life with infamy.

The moral bids vain mortals to beware,
Lest they too soon do meet the Rat’s just fare;
Bids them not gratify their vicious will,
Which so productive is of future ill.                                         35

NOTES:

3  regale  “A sumptuous meal” (OED).

dregs  “The sediment of liquors” (OED); Bowley’s new-brewn ale  A reference to a Quaker brewer by the name of Bowley whose business was centered in Cirencester, about 35 miles from Bennet’s hometown of Woodstock (Mathias, The Brewing Industry in England, p. 299).  Bennet also includes a poem titled “Bowley’s Ale” in this volume (pp. 127-28)

fare  “Food” (OED).

8  straitway  “Immediately” (OED).

vat  “A cask, tun, or other vessel used for holding or storing water, beer, or other liquid” (OED).

14  twain  “In concord with” (OED).

25  Fates  “In later Greek and Roman mythology, the three goddesses supposed to determine the course of human life” (OED).

28  prudence  “The ability to recognize and follow the most suitable or sensible course of action” (OED).

31  infamy  “Evil fame or reputation” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1774), p. 117-19.  [Google Books]

Edited by Nicole Breazeale

James Beattie, “The Hermit”

JAMES BEATTIE

“The HERMIT”

At the close of the day, when the hamlet is still,
And mortals the sweets of forgetfulness prove,
When nought but the torrent is heard on the hill,
And nought but the nightingale’s song in the grove:
’Twas then, by the cave of the mountain afar,                                               5
A Hermit his song of the night thus began;
No more with himself or with nature at war,
He thought as a Sage, while he felt as a Man.

“Ah, why thus abandon’d to darkness and woe,
Why thus, lonely Philomel, flows thy sad strain?                                            10
For Spring shall return, and a lover bestow,
And thy bosom no trace of misfortune retain.
Yet, if pity inspire thee, ah cease not thy lay!
Mourn, sweetest Complainer, Man calls thee to mourn:
O soothe him, whose pleasures like thine pass away—                               15
Full quickly they pass,—but they never return.

Now gliding remote, on the verge of the sky,
The Moon half extinguish’d her crescent displays:
But lately I mark’d, when majestie on high
She shone, and the planets were lost in her blaze.                                        20
Roll on, thou fair orb, and with gladness pursue
The path that conducts thee to splendour again.—
But Man’s faded glory no change shall renew.
Ah fool! to exult in a glory so vain!

‘Tis night, and the landscape is lovely no more;                                              25
I mourn, but, ye woodlands, I mourn not for you;
For morn is approaching, your charms to restore,
Perfumed with fresh fragrance, and glittering with dew.
Nor yet for the ravage of winter I mourn;
Kind Nature the embryo blossom will save.—                                                 30
But when shall Spring visit the mouldering urn!
O when shall it dawn on the night of the grave!”

“‘Twas thus, by the glare of false Science betray’d,
That leads, to bewilder; and dazzles, to blind,
My thoughts wont to roam, from shade onward to shade,                           35
Destruction before me, and sorrow behind.’
“O pity, great Father of light,” then I cry’d,
“Thy creature who fain would not wander from Thee!
Lo, humbled in dust, I relinquish my pride:
From doubt and from darkness thou only canst free.”                                   40

‘And darkness and doubt are now flying away.
No longer I roam in conjecture forlorn.
So breaks on the traveller, faint, and astray,
The bright and the balmy effulgence of morn.
See Truth, Love and Mercy, in triumph descending,                                         45
And Nature all glowing in Eden’s first bloom!
On the cold cheek of Death smiles and roses are blending,
And Beauty Immortal awakes from the tomb.’

NOTES:

Title Hermit “A solitary; an anchoret; one who retires from society to contemplation and devotion” (Johnson).

8 Sage “A philosopher; a man of gravity and wisdom” (Johnson).

10 Philomel Also known as Philomela. Sister of Procne. She was raped by Procne’s husband Tereus. In his attempt to silence her Tereus cut out her tongue. She weaved the crime into a tapestry and sent it to her sister Procne who, as an act of revenge, killed her own son Itys and fed his remains to Tereus. Furious, Tereus chased the two women, but were turned into birds with Philomel becoming a nightingale (OCD).

31 mouldering “To decay; to rust; to crumble” (OED); urn “Earthenware or metal vessel used to preserve the ashes of the dead” (OED).

33 Science “Knowledge” (Johnson)

37 Father of light Referring to God “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (ESV Bible, James 1.17)

38 fain “Gladly, willingly, with pleasure” (OED).

42 conjecture “Guess; imperfect knowledge; preponderation of opinion without proof” (Johnson); forlorn “Deserted; destitute; forsaken; wretched; helpless; solitary” (Johnson).

44 effulgence “Lustre; brightness; clarity; splendor” (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions, 4th edition (London, 1780), pp. 77-78. [Google Books]

Edited by Noruel Manalili

Edward Lovibond, “To a Young Lady, a Very Good Actress”

EDWARD LOVIBOND

 “To a Young Lady, a Very Good Actress

 

Powerful is Beauty, when to mortal seats
From Heaven descends the heaven-created good,
When Fancy’s glance the fairy phantom meets,
Nymph of the shade, or Naiad of the flood.

So blooms CELENA, daughter of the skies,                                                                5
Queen of the joys romantic rapture dreams,
Her cheeks are summer’s damask rose, her eyes
Steal their quick lustre from the morning’s beams,

Her airy neck the shining tresses shade;
In every wanton curl a Cupid dwells:                                                                  10
To these, distrusting in the Graces’ aid,
She joins the mighty charms of magic spells.

Man, hapless man in vain destruction flies,
With wily arts th’ enchantress nymph pursues;
To varying forms, as varying lovers rise,                                                                    15
Shifts the bright IRIS of a thousand hues.

Behold the’ austere Divine, oppress by years,
Colics, and bulk, and tithes ingend’red care
The sound of woman grates his aching ears,
Of other woman than a scripture Fair.                                                                20

Sudden she comes a DEBORAH bright in arms,
Or wears the pastoral RACHEL’S ancient mien;
And now, as glow gay-flushing eastern charms,
He sighs like DAVID’S son for SHEBA’S Queen.

To CHANGE the China trader speeds his pace,                                                          25
Nor heeds the chilly North’s unripening dames;
‘Tis her’s with twinkling eyes, and lengthen’d face,
And pigmy foot, to wake forgotten flames.

She oft, in likeness of th’ EGYPTIAN Crone,
Too well inform’d, relates to wond’ring swains                                                 30
Their amorous plaints preferr’d to her alone:
Her own relentless breast too well explains.

See, at the manor’s hospitable board
Enters a Sire, by infant age rever’d;
From shorten’d tube exhaling fumes afford                                                              35
The incense bland that clouds his forky beard.

Conundrums quaint, and puns of jocund kind,
With rural ditties, warm th’ elated ‘Squire,
Yet oft sensations quicken in his mind,
Other than ale and jocund puns inspire.                                                            40

The forms where bloated Dropsy holds her seat
He views, unconscious of magicians’ guiles,
Nor deems a jaundic’d visage lov’d retreat
Of graces, young desires, and dimpled smiles.

Now o’er the portal of an antique hall                                                                        45
A Grecian form the raptur’d patriot awes,
The hoary bust and brow severe recal
LYCURGUS, founder of majestic laws.

Awhile entranc’d, he dreams of old Renown,
And Freedom’s triumph in PLATEAN fields,                                                       50
Then turns – relaxing sees the furrow’d frown,
To melting airs the soften’d marble yields.

I see the lips as breathing life, he cries,
On icy cheeks carnation blooms display’d,
The pensive orbs are pleasure-beaming eyes                                                            55
And SPARTA’S lawgiver a blushing maid.

There, at the curtains of the shudd’ring youth,
Stiff, melancholy, pale, a spectre stands,
Some love-lorn virgin’s shade – O! injur’d truth,
Deserted phantom, and ye plighted hands,                                                        60

He scarce had utter’d – from his frantic gaze
The vision fades – succeeds a flood of light.
O friendly shadows, veil him, as the blaze
Of Beauty’s sun emerging from the night.

Here end thy triumphs, nymphs of potent charms,                                                   65
The laurel’d Bard is Heaven’s immortal care;
Him nor Illusion’s spell nor philter harms,
Nor music floating on the magic air.

The myrtle wand his arm imperial bears,
Reluctant ghosts and stubborn elves obey:                                                         70
Its virtuous touch the midnight fairy fears,
And shapes the wanton in AURORA’S ray.

I ceas’d; the virgin came in native grace,
With native smiles that strengthen Beauty’s chain:
O vain the confidence of mortal race!                                                                           75
My laurel’d head and myrtle wand are vain.

Again wild raptures, kindling passions rise,
As once in ANDOVER’S autumnal grove,
When looks that spoke, and eloquence of sighs,
Told the soft mandate of another’s love.                                                               80

NOTES:

4 Nymph “Any of a class of semi-divine spirits; imagined as taking the form of a maiden” (OED); Naiad of the flood “a nymph of fresh water” (OED).

 5 Celena Or Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon.

10 Cupid “In Roman Mythology, the god of love” (OED).

 16 Iris “The goddess who acted as the messenger of the gods, and was held to display as her sign, or appear as, the rainbow” (OED).

18 Colics “A name given to severe…gripping pains in the belly” (OED); bulk “A heap, cargo” (OED); tithes “A favor” (OED).

21 Deborah A prophet and only female judge from the Bible (Judges 4).

22 Rachel Figure from the Bible, the favorite of Jacob’s two wives (Genesis 30).

24 David’s son for Sheba’s queen An allusion to the enigmatic biblical story of King David’s son, Solomon, and the unnamed Queen of Sheba who visited Jerusalem to test his wisdom (1 Kings 10).

25 Change “A place where merchants or bankers conduct business” (OED).

26 unripening dames Young women.

29 Egyptian Crone Nephthys, an Egyptian goddess of old age, death.

31 amorous plaints “Audible expressions of sorrow” (OED).

 37 jocund “Feeling, expressing, or communicating mirth or cheerfulness” (OED).

43 jaundic’d “To affect with envy or jealousy” (OED).

 41 Dropsy “A morbid condition characterized by the accumulation of watery fluid, or an insatiable thirst or craving” (OED).

45 portal An entrance.

48 Lycurgus A lawgiver of Sparta.

56 Sparta Prominent city-state in ancient Greece.

58 spectre “An apparition, phantom, or ghost” (OED).

 67 philter “A potion, drug, or (occasionally) charm supposed to be capable of exciting sexual attraction or love” (OED).

69 myrtle wand A magic wand, as used by pagans.

 72 Aurora A Roman goddess who personifies dawn.

78 Andover A market town in Hampshire, England.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1785), pp. 102-107. [Google Books]

Edited by Rachel Rosenthal

Anonymous, “Sickness. An Ode”

ANONYMOUS

“SICKNESS. An ODE”

From the GRUBSTREET JOURNAL.

 

At midnight when the fever rag’d,
By physic’s art still unasswag’d,
And totur’d me with pain:
When most it scorch’d my acking head,
Like sulph’rous fire, or liquid lead,                                        5
And hiss’d through every vein:

With silent steps approaching nigh,
Pale death stood trembling in my eye,
And shook th’ up-lifted dart:
My mind did various thoughts debate                                 10
Of this, and of an after state,
Which terrify’d my heart.

I thought ‘twas hard, in youthful age,
To quit this fine delightful stage,
No more to view the day;                                                15
Nor e’er again the night to spend
In social converse with a friend,
Ingenious, learn’d, and gay.

No more in curious books to read
The wisdom of th’ illustrious dead;                                        20
All that is dear to leave,
Relations, friends, and MIRA too,
Without one kiss, one dear adieu,
To moulder in the grave.

Incircled with congenial clay,                                                  25
To worms and creeping things a prey,
To waste, dissolve, and rot:
To lie wrapp’d cold within a shroud,
Mingled amongst the vilest crowd,
Unnoted, and forgot.                                                        30

Oh horror by this train of thought
My mind was to distraction brought,
Impossible to tell:
The fever rag’d still more without,
Whilst dark despair, or dismal doubt,                                    35
Made all within my hell.

At length, with grave, yet cheerful air.
Repentance came, serenely fair,
As summer’s evening sun;
At sight of whom extatic joy                                                     40
Did all that horrid scene destroy;
And every fear was gone.

If join’d in consort, with one voice,
Angels at such a change rejoice;
I heard their joy exprest.                                                   45
If there be music in the spheres,
That music struck my ravish’d ears,
And charm’d my soul to rest.

NOTES:

 Title The Grubstreet Journal (January 1730-1738) was a critical and satirical newspaper published weekly in London (The Library of Congress).

2 unasswag’d An archaic spelling of unassuaged; “not soothed or relieved” (Oxford Dictionaries [no definition given in OED]).

24 moulder “To decay to dust; to rot; to crumble” (OED).

25 congenial “Suited to the nature of” (OED).

43 consort “To keep company with; to escort or attend” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (January 1733), p.42.

 Edited by Valerie Pedroche

Anonymous, “The Picture”

ANONYMOUS

 “The Picture”

 

The rising front, by grandeur form’d,
The graceful brow serene,
The cheeks, by health and nature warm’d,
The lips of Cypria’s queen.

The more than sweetly dimpled chin,                                     5
The neck of polish high,
The arm of grace, the purple vein,
The lustre-darting eye.

The wavy ringlets of her hair,
In jetty blackness fine,                                                        10
Her skin most exquisitely fair,
Her nose the Aquiline.

The heaving softness of her breast,
Which trembling courts the touch,
I strive to paint,– but here I rest,                                              15
Lest I should paint too much.

NOTES:

1 front “Forehead, face” (OED); grandeur “The quality of being grand or imposing as an object of contemplation; majesty of appearance; sublimity, magnificence” (OED).

4 Cypria’s queen Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love; she came from the island of Cyprus, also known as Cypria during this period.

12 Aquiline “Eagle-like; esp. of the nose or features: Curved like an eagle’s beak, hooked” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (January 1766), p. 89.

Edited by Rhea Segismundo

Charlotte Lennox, “The Rival Nymphs. A Tale”

[CHARLOTTE LENNOX]

 “The Rival Nymphs. A Tale.”

 

Clarissa blest with ev’ry Grace,
A Shape divine, and charming Face,
Had triumph’d long o’er many a Swain,
And oft’ been woo’d, but woo’d in vain;
Not so Amanda, blooming Youth,                                                  5
Soft Innocence, and artless Truth,
Were all the Beauties she cou’d boast,
Not form’d by Nature for a Toast;
Yet some there were, who in her Mind
A thousand nameless Charms cou’d find:                                    10
She lov’d not Visits, Park, or Play,
But mop’d, and read her Time away;
Insensible to a Degree,
Her Heart was all her own, and free;
Yet oft of Love’s soft pleasing Pains,                                             15
The Nymph wou’d write in melting Strains.
The lambent Flame that warm’d her Breast,
Each tender flowing Line confess’d;
Moneses, whose enchanting Form
Was one continu’d endless Charm:                                               20
To whom indulgent Heav’n had join’d,
All that cou’d beautify a Mind;
Had often own’d bright Beauty’s Power,
Had sigh’d and lov’d — for half an Hour.
But yet the lovely Youth confess’d,                                               25
Whoe’er could wound his destin’d Breast,
Her Charms must over Time prevail,
Her Wit must please when Beauty fail’d;
Yet since he cou’d not hope to find,
One blest with all those Charms of Mind;                                    30
He thought Clarissa worth his Care,
And all the Hours he had to spare;
Soft Vows, and tender speaking Eyes,
Pleading Looks, and melting Sighs;
Make the believing Maid approve                                                  35
His false, but well dissembled Love.
But while Clarissa’s Charms he own’d,
He with a secret Passion burn’d.
Amanda found the Way to win
His Heart, and let her Image in;                                                      40
His Pain the lovely Youth conceals,
All but what his Eyes reveals:
His Eyes, that all his Passion tell,
And speak the Love he felt so well.

Amanda heard the Youth complain,                                        45
She heard and felt an equal Flame;
But still with native Shyness arm’d,
She shuns the lovely Swain she charm’d;
His Looks, his Sighs, his Actions move,
And in soft Language plead for Love.                                             50

Clarissa still exults, and cries,
He’s yet a Victim to my Eyes;
He neither will, nor can be free;
Me he still loves, and only Me:
Ah! cease to claim my charming Prize;                                            55
Amanda, to the Fair replies,
Cou’d I, Clarissa, cou’d I boast,
The Hearts that to thy Charms are lost,
With Joy I wou’d them all resign,
To keep my lov’d Moneses mine.                                                        60

In vain the Nymph declares her Flame,
Clarissa still asserts her Claim;
And ‘till the lov’d Moneses owns,
The conqu’ring Maid for whom he burns;
‘Till he’ll the happy Fair unfold,                                                           65
The Sequel must remain untold.

NOTES:

 Title Nymphs “Any of a class of semi-divine spirits, imagined as taking the form of a maiden inhabiting the sea, rivers, mountains, woods, trees, etc., and often portrayed in poetry as attendants on a particular god” (OED).

3 Swain In pastoral poetry, synonymous with a young shepherd.

 17 lambent “Of a flame (fire, light): playing lightly upon or gliding over a surface without burning it, like a ‘tongue of fire’; shining with a soft clear light and without fierce heat” (OED).

 19 Moneses Here a masculine pastoral name, the object of Amanda and Clarissa’s desire.

35 Maid A virgin (OED).

54 loves Corrected from “love’s,” a printer’s error.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions. Written by a Young Lady (London, 1747), pp. 7-11. [Google Books]

 Edited by Sydney Brunner

Phillis Wheatley, “To the University of Cambridge, in New-England”

PHILLIS WHEATLEY

 “To the University of CAMBRIDGE, in NEW-ENGLAND.”

 

While an intrinsic ardor prompts to write,
The muses promise to assist my pen;
’Twas not long since I left my native shore,
The land of errors, and Egyptian gloom:
Father of mercy, twas thy gracious hand                                         5
Brought me to safety from those dark abodes.

Students, to you ‘tis giv’n to scan the heights
Above, to traverse the ethereal space,
And mark the systems of revolving worlds.
Still more, ye sons of science ye receive                                           10
The blissful news by messengers from heav’n,
How Jesus blood for your redemption flows.
See him with hands out-stretcht upon the cross;
Immense compassion in his bosom glows;
He hears revilers, nor resents their scorn:                                       15
What matchless mercy in the Son of God!
When the whole human race by sin had fall’n,
He deign’d to die, that they might rise again,
And share with him in the sublimest skies,
Life without death, and glory without end.                                        20

Improve your privileges while they stay,
Ye pupils, and each hour redeem, that bears
Or good or bad report of you to heav’n.
Let sin, that baneful evil to the soul,
By you be shunn’d, nor once remit your guard;                                 25
Suppress the deadly serpent in its egg.
Ye blooming plants of human race divine,
An Ethiop tells you ‘tis your greatest foe;
Its transient sweetness turns to endless pain,
And in immense perdition sinks the soul.                                            30

NOTES:

 Title   Harvard University, named after benefactor John Harvard (1607-1638), was established
in 1637 in Newetowne, MA, renamed “Cambridge” in 1638 (harvard.edu).

 1  ardor   “Enthusiasm or passion” (OED).

 2   muses   “The Nine Muses in Greek mythology, goddesses of the arts, literature and
science,” daughters of the Greek god Zeus and Titan goddess of memory, Mnemosyne
(OED).

18  deigned   “Beneath one’s dignity” (OED).

21  improve   “Profit from” (OED).

24  baneful   “Harmful, destructive” (OED).

26  deadly serpent  Alluding to the serpent in The Garden of Eden, from the book of
Genesis (Genesis 3:14, King James Bible).

28  Ethiop “ From Latin Aethiops, Ethiopian, negro” (OED).

30  perdition   Eternal damnation, hell (OED).

Source: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London, 1773), pp. 15-16. [archive.org]

Edited by Vivian Barbulescu

Mary Masters, “To my Self”

MARY MASTERS

“To my Self”

Maria, now, leave all that thou hast lov’d,
And be, no more, by outward objects mov’d.
Quit the vain World, and its alluring Toys,
Its airy Pleasures, and fictitious Joys.
False are the Colours, high is the Deceit,                                                  5
And that, which fairest seems, the greatest Cheat.
Turn then, fond Maid, from the Delusion fly,
And guide thy future Aims by Reason’s Eye.
No more let Sense the radiant Queen depose,
Or the fair Monarch her just Sceptre lose.                                                10
Let Her mild Dictates bend thy stubborn Will,
And keep thy wild impetuous Passions still:
Let gentle Prudence her soft Pow’r exert,
And curb the Transports of thy foolish Heart.
Tempestuous Anger, and tumultuous Joy,                                               15
Both are uncomely, both the Health destroy.
These, and all others of the ardent Kind,
Are prejudicial to a peaceful Mind,
Then, shun extremes, and calmly bear thy Fate,
Not too dejected, nor too much elate.                                                       20
If thy kind Lord a prosp’rous Lot has giv’n,
Bless the Indulgence of all-bounteous Heav’n.
Or, if he fixes a severer Doom,
And should think fit to call his Favours home;
Humbly submit to the divine Decree,                                                        25
None but himself his wise designs can see.

NOTES:

 1 Maria Mary Masters’s poetic name for herself.

3 Toys “Matter of no importance; thing of no value” (Johnson).

12 impetuous “Violent; forcible” (Johnson).

13 Prudence “Wisdom applied to practice” (Johnson).

15 Tempestuous “Strong conflicting emotions” (OED); tumultuous “Violent commotion; irregularly and confusedly agitated” (Johnson).

17 ardent “Fiery; fierce” (Johnson).

20 dejected “Low spirited” (Johnson); elate “To heighten” (Johnson).

21 kind Lord Likely a reference to the Christian God

23 Doom Death.

 25 Decree “A law” (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 169-171.

 Edited by Kaili Ferreira