Tag Archives: blank verse

Elizabeth Singer Rowe, “A Hymn on Heaven”


“A Hymn on Heaven”


What glorious things of thee, O glorious place!
Shall my bold muse in daring numbers speak?
While to immortal strains I tune my lyre,
And warbling imitate angelic airs:
While ecstasy bears up my soul aloft,                                          5
And lively faith gives me a distant glimpse
Of glories unreveal’d to human eyes.

Ye starry mansions, hail! my native skies!
Here in my happy, pre-existent state,
(A spotless mind) I led the life of gods.                                        10
But passing, I salute you, and advance
To yonder brighter realm’s allow’d access.

Hail, splendid city of th’ almighty king!
Celestial Salem, situate above:
Magnificent thy prospect, and august,                                          15
Thy walls sublime, thy tow’rs and palaces
Illustrious far, with orient gems appear.
There, regent angels, crown’d with stars, command,
High in the midst, the awful throne of God
Ascends, the utmost empyrean arch,                                             20
The heav’n of heavens; where in conceiveless light,
Such as infinity alone can prove,
He enjoys th’ extremest bounds of happiness,
And was in perfect blessedness the same
Ere any thing existed but himself;                                                    25
Ere time, or place, or motion, had a name;
Before the spheres began their tuneful round;
Or through the air the sun had spread his beams;
Ere at his feet the flaming seraphs bow’d,
And cast their shining crowns before his throne;                          30
Ere smiling angels tun’d their golden harps,
Or sung one hallelujah to his praise.
But mighty love, which mov’d him to create,
Still moves him to communicate his bliss.

O, speak! you happy spirits that surround                               35
His dazzling throne, for you alone can tell;
For you alone those raptures can describe,
And stem th’ impetuous floods of joy that rise
Within your breasts, when all unveil’d, you view
The wonders of the beatific sight:                                                      40
When from the bright unclouded face of God
You drink full draughts of bliss and endless love,
And plunge yourselves in life’s immortal fount;
The spring of joy, which from his darling throne
In endless currents smoothly glides away,                                        45
Thro’ all the verdant fields of paradise;
Thro’ balmy groves, where on their flow’ry banks,
To murm’ring waters, and soft whisp’ring winds,
Fair spirits in melodious concert join,
And sweetly warble their heroic loves.                                               50
For love makes half their heav’n, and kindles here
New flames, and ardent life in ev’ry breast;
While active pleasure lightens in their eyes,
And sparkling beauty shines on every face:
Their spotless minds, all pure and exquisite,                                    55
The noblest heights of love prepar’d to act,
In everlasting sympathies unite,
And melt, in flowing joys, eternity away.

To those blest shades, and amaranthine bow’rs,
When dazzled with th’ insufferable beams                                        60
That issue from the open face of God,
For umbrage many a seraphim resorts:
Nor longer here o’er their bright faces clasp
Their gorgeous wings, which open wide, display
More radiance than adorns the chearful sun,                                   65
When first he from the rosy east looks out:
Gentle as love, their looks serene as light,
Blooming and gay as everlasting springs.

But oh! when in the lofty blissful bow’rs,
With heav’nly skill, to the harmonious lyre,                                        70
 The clear, the sweet, the melting voice they join;
The vales of heav’n rejoice, and echoing loud,
Redouble ev’ry charming close again;
While trembling winds upon their fragrant wings
Bear far the soft, melodious sounds away;                                          75
The silver streams their winding journeys stay,
Suspend their murmurs, and attend the song;
The laughing fields new flow’rs and verdure wear,
And all the trees of life bloom out afresh.
The num’rous suns which gild the realms of joy,                                  80
Dance in their lightsome spheres, and brighter day
Thro’ all th’ interminable ether darts,
While to the great unutterable name,
All glory they ascribe in lofty strains,
In strains expressless by a mortal tongue.                                             85
O happy regions! O transporting place!
With what regret I turn my loathing eyes
To yonder earthly globe, my dusky seat!
But ah! I must return; no more allow’d
To breathe the calm, the soft, celestial air,                                              90
And view the mystic wonders of the skies.


 4 warbling “To modulate the voice in singing; to sing with trills and quavers” (OED).

13 almighty king “Designating a god, especially the Christian God or Christ” (OED).

14 Salem A reference to Jerusalem (Britannica).

17 orient “Eastern countries; the East” (OED).

29 seraphs “Angels” (OED).

37 raptures “Transport of mind…ecstasy esp. ecstatic delight of joy” (OED).

43 fount “A spring” (OED).

59 amaranthine bow’rs “An idealized abode” (OED).

62 seraphim “In Biblical use: the living creatures with six wings, hands and feet and a (presumably) human voice, seen in Isaiah’s version as hovering over the throne of God” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1759), pp. 59-62. [Google Books]

 Edited by Franny Baronian



William Farquhar, “Death, a Poem”


 “Death, a Poem”


To dignify the trifles of their brain,
The Muses heavenly aid whilst some invoke;
Be it my task, in solemn verse, to paint
The gloomy horrors which attendant wait
On Death, their king, whose still insatiate scythe,                                         5
The young, the gay, the rich, the wise, cuts off.
Young as I am, my breast has felt the shock
His direful stroke can give; my second sire,
The dear, dear guardian of my infant years,
E’er yet his worth I knew, Death’s ruthless arm                                            10
Snatch’d from my eager grasp, and ever hid
In dark recess of the gloomy grave.
Far, far away, amid the burning plains
Of Florida, while yet a child, my sire
From me, from his lov’d family, retir’d!                                                           15
But while an Uncle’s fondness still remain’d,
Scarce could we feel our loss—Death! cruel Death!
How could you pierce that heart, where virtue join’d
With mild benevolence, still smil’d to view
The peace, the pleasure, of his fellow men.                                                  20
But hold, my Muse, the elegiac strain
Departed virtue scorns, her worth is grav’d
Deep in the mem’ry of all human kind.
The pompous column, and the bust, She scorns,
And, conscious of her innate power to please,                                             25
For deathless fame leans on herself alone.
Death, thou’rt the touch-stone of all human Virtue!
If, with a cowardly, an unmanly fear
We fly thy stroke, then ‘tis, alas! too certain
Some future ill our conscience bids us dread.                                              30
But if, with firmness, thy near approach
Unmov’d we can behold; then are we sure
Self-approbation can alone support us
In that dread awful moment! when thy dart
Has pierc’d our panting breast, to separate                                                  35
These dear companions, who so long have liv’d
In perfect unity, in perfect peace.
Into the grave, as useless lumber, drops
Then senseless carcase; and the soul swift wings
Back to her great original, her flight.                                                              40
Thro’ life’s wild scenes where’er I thoughtful turn
Far as my eye can reach, ‘tis tumult all,
And maddest opposition; foe meets foe
With discord dire, and jarring interests clash
Loud as thro’ heaven’s wide arch the thunders roar,                                   45
O man! vile man! how long deceiv’d by vice,
With senseless folly wilt thou devious stray,
In paths unpleasing to thy Maker’s eye?
Hear how he calls, invites thee to his breast,
And offers endless pleasures to thy grasp.                                                     50
Thus by his prophets spoke th’ Eternal’s voice:
“ Come to my bosom, ye who loudly groan
Beneath the burthen which tyrannic sin
Has o’er you whelm’d, behold me ever glad,
The worst, the basest, of your race to save.”                                                      55
And shall mankind the gracious offer spurn?
Forbid it, virtue, gratitude, and love!
Man, youngest child of heaven, full often needs
To feel his father’s kind afflictive rod,
Which wounds to heal, as the physician’s probe                                           60
May pain the patient, while it aids his cure.
Did not afflictions, thro’ life’s chequerd scene,
Walk with kind hand to warn us of our end;
Man would forget he were to die at all,
And scorn the terrors of the gloomy grave.                                                   65
Hope, with contracted wing, no more would mount
To the empyrean heaven for endless bliss;
But, stooping, snatch the empty joys of sense,
And quick contracting all her broad desires,
Sit down, contented with the scanty joys                                                      70
Which the vile empire of the brute confers.
See the warm youth, even in his rosy bloom,
When mounting blood and passion fire his breast,
Pierc’d by thy dart, drops cold and lifeless down,
And moulders in the murky silent grave.                                                      75
Behold the beauteous maid, whose rosy cheek
Charms and attracts the roving eye of youth;
While something whispers to her heaving breast,
That Nature gave not her these softening powers
Her crimson cheek, her ruby lip, in vain.                                                       80
Even in the moment, when her raptur’d soul
Clings to the bosom of some darling youth,
Death, with one cruel stroke, forever blasts
Love’s dawning bliss, and stretches her a corse,
A cold pale corse, amid her weeping friends!                                                85
To grasp her much lov’d son, the mother spreads
Her anxious arms,—behold! he faints, he dies!
And stiffens in the cold embrace of death!
See, how to heaven she sorrowing lifts her eyes!
See, how her bosom heaves, thick beats her heart                                       90
With anguish, with parental fondness torn!
How vain, how fleeting, are the joys of time!
How idly foolish he who leans upon them
For steady comfort, or for endless bliss!
Behold, at one dire stroke of death’s huge scythe,                                         95
Fathers and sisters, friends and lovers, fall!


14 Florida Reference to the territory of North America named after Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon’s arrival in the area during the “season of flowers” (Britannica).

33 Self-approbation The feeling of self-satisfaction or “approval” (OED).

62 chequerd  “Diversified in character; full of constant alternation” (OED).

67 empyrean “The highest or most exalted part or sphere of heaven” (OED).

75 moulders “To decay to dust; to rot” (OED).

84 corse Archaic spelling of “corpse,” “a dead body” (OED).

 Source: William Farquhar, Poems on Several Occasions (Edinburgh, 1794), pp. 102-105. [Google Books]

 Edited by Joshua Navarro

Ann Yearsley, “Soliloquy”




—What folly to complain,
Or throw my woes against the face of Heaven?
Ills, self-created, prey upon my soul,
And rob each coming hour of soften’d Peace.
What then? Is Fate to blame? I chose distress;                                   5
Free will was mine; I might have still been happy
From a fore-knowledge of the dire effect,
And the sad bondage of resistless love.
I knew the struggles of a wounded mind,
Not self-indulging, and not prone to vice,                                           10
Knew all the terrors of conflicting passion,
Too stubborn foe, and ever unsubdu’d;
Yet rashly parley’d with the mighty victor.
Infectious mists upon my senses hang,
More deadly than LETHEAN dews which fall                                        15
From SOMNUS’ bough, on the poor wearied wretch,
Whose woes are fully told!—
The dire contagion creeps thro’ all my frame,
Seizes my heart, and drinks my spirit up.
Ah! fatal poison, whither dost thou tend?                                              20
Tear not my soul with agonizing pains;
There needs no more; the world to me is lost,
And all the whirl of life-unneeded thrift.
I sicken at the Sun, and fly his beams,
Like some sad ghost which loves the moonless night,                         25
And pensive shuns the morn. The deep recess
Where dim-ey’d Melancholy silent sits,
Beckoning the poor desponding slighted wretch,
Suits well. ‘Tis here I find a gloomy rest;
‘Tis here the fool’s loud clatter leaves me still,                                       30
Nor force unwilling answers to their tale:
But, ah! this gloom, this lethargy of thought,
Yields not repose; I sigh the hour away;
The next rolls on, and leaves me still opprest.
But, oh! swift-footed Time, thou ceaseless racer,                                   35
Thou who hast chac’d five thousand years before thee,
With all their great events, and minute trifles,
Haste, with redoubled speed, bring on the hour,
When dark Oblivion’s dusky veil shall shroud
Too painful Memory. —                                                                               40


15 LetheanPertaining to the river Lethe; hence, pertaining to or causing oblivion or forgetfulness of the past” (OED).

16 Somnus Roman god of sleep.

23 thrift “Means of thriving; industry, labour; profitable occupation” or “prosperous growth; physical thriving” (OED).

38 Redoubled “To double (a thing) for a second or further time; (also) to double repeatedly” (OED).

Source: Poems, on Several Occasions, fourth edition (London, 1786), pp. 58-60.  [Google Books]

 Edited by Willis Plowman

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


 “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


 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 goddesses regarded as presiding over and inspiring learning and the arts, esp. poetry and music,” daughters of the Greek god Zeus and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory (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

Phillis Wheatley, “On Virtue”


 “On Virtue”


O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive
To comprehend thee. Thine own words declare
Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach.
I cease to wonder, and no more attempt
Thine height t’explore, or fathom thy profound.                                                        5
But, O my soul, sink not into despair,
Virtue is near thee, and with gentle hand
Would now embrace thee, hovers o’er thine head.
Fain would the heav’n-born soul with her converse,
Then seek, then court her for her promis’d bliss.                                                       10

Auspicious queen, thine heav’nly pinions spread,
And lead celestial Chastity along;
Lo! Now her sacred retinue descends,
Array’d in glory from the orbs above.
Attend me, Virtue, thro’ my youthful years!                                                                 15
O leave me not to the false joys of time!
But guide my steps to endless life and bliss.
Greatness, or Goodness, say what I shall call thee,
To give me an higher appellation still,
Teach me a better strain, a nobler lay                                                                          20
O thou, enthron’d with Cherubs in the realms of day!


7 Virtue “A quality of people, divine beings” (OED).

9 fain “Glad, rejoiced, well-pleased” (OED).

11 pinions “The wing of a bird in flight” (OED).

12 Chastity “Purity from unlawful sexual intercourse; continence” (OED).

18 Greatness “Innate nobility or dignity,…grandeur” (OED); Goodness “The quality of being morally good; virtue; worthiness” (OED).

21 Cherubs Angels.

Source: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London, 1773), pp. 13-14. [Archive.org]

Edited by Joseph R. Adams

“E. B.,” “Some additional Lines, which were recited at the Caractacan Meeting…”

“E. B.”

“Some additional Lines, which were recited at the CARACTACAN Meeting, at Longnor, in Shropshire, in July, 1776.”

So sung the bard, who, in Silurian groves
Sequester’d, chaunted his prophetic strain.
Far other scenes, beyond the vast Atlantic,
Horrid with arms, and stain’d with civil blood,
The Muse with grief beholds, and with soft Pity’s                          5
Mournful eye deplores, weeping the dire ills
Of lawless Faction, blasting the fair fruits
Which Freedom and true Liberty bestow’d,
In happiest climes, on those her fav’rite sons.
Instead of regal sway, for gen’ral good,                                         10
Fierce democratic rage usurps the seat
Of Empire, spurning with rebellious pride
The hand parental, which has rais’d and nurtur’d
Their infant weakness up to the strength and power.
Yet, ‘midst the conflict of th’ impurpled field,                               15
If Victory should crown our warriors brows,
O yet may Britons, in whose gen’rous breasts
Firm Valour is with gentlest Mercy join’d,
(Noblest distinction of the brave and good!)
Learn to forgive e’en blind deluded zeal                                       20
For what was rashly deem’d their Country’s Cause.
Each real grievance, ev’ry public wound,
By Wisdom’s mild and lenient councils heal’d,
May smiling Peace, and ev’ry lib’ral art,
Return again to bless Columbia’s shores;                                     25
Commerce with swelling sails waft o’er the Main
The various bounties of each distant clime:
May Albion’s wide-extended Empire’s bounds,
In closest union link’d, defy her foes,
And kindred nations hail one Patriot King!                                  30


Title  CARACTACAN An originally Welsh society honoring Caractacus, the Briton king who led the war against Rome’s invasion of England (National Library of Wales); Longnor Village near the Welsh border.

1  Silurian “[O]f ancient southeastern Wales” (OED).

2  chaunted Chanted.

15  impurpled field A field made purple by the spilling of much blood.

25  Columbia America.

26  Main The Atlantic Ocean.

28  Albion “A poetic or literary term for Britain or England” (OED).

30  Patriot King King George III, who reigned from 1760 to 1820, but possibly also a reference to Henry St. John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke’s 1740 treatise, The Idea of a Patriot King, which claimed that England needed an outside-of-politics king to take power and save the country from the factional and corrupt party politics that plagued England’s government under Robert Walpole in the 1720 and 1730s.  Before he became King, George was said to have been an admirer of Bolingbroke’s tract.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol. 46 (September 1776), p. 427.

Edited by George Griffith

Anonymous, “Evening and Night”



NOW all is calm, and through the ambient air
The breathing zephyrs, on their balmy wings,
Ambrosial odours waft, that glad the heart
And to the nerves relax’d on their tone restore,
The sun, just hovering on the giddy verge,                                           5
‘Twixt world and world, faint and oblique, emits
His blunted rays; that tinge with golden dye
The lofty mountain’s russet head from far,
Mean while he opes on some far distant realm
The chrystal portals of the joyful morn,                                               10
Proclaiming, as he moves, returning day.
As more to these he lends his chearing beams,
Night, from the east, in majesty sedate,
And slow progression comes, with shade o’er shade
Of growing darkness; and with silent force                                         15
Expels the last reluctant ling’ring ray.
Where art thou busy world? and in what cave
Profound and dark, now hush’d to silence deep,
Sleeps your loud noise, your tumult, and confusion
That lately beat the yielding air; and where                                          20
That soft harmonious change of various notes?
Now only the sad nightingale disturbs
The solemn silence while thro’ awful shades,
Sad as the night she sings, the warbler pours
Her plaintive notes. Or from his lonely haunt,                                     25
The tott’ring ruins of some antient dome,
The midnight owl, bent on black deeds, steals forth
And with dread cries, and harsh discordant notes,
To the drear hour adds horrors not its own.
Hail! sacred silence, thou who first of things                                 30
Erst held thro’ all th’ ilimitable void,
An universal sway, ere circling worlds
Were form’d, ere yon caerulean arch began
T’ expand its recent shape, and ere the sun
Was from blended mass, formless and rude,                                       35
Sever’d, and fix’d the lucid central point
Of fair creation’s wide extended round.
Blest pow’r, I feel thy sacred influence now,
Thine is the gen’rous plan that patriots form;
Thine is the glow that warms the poet’s mind;                                     40
Led forth by thee he wanders forth, beneath
The silver moon, and conscious satyrs, to view
The gloomy night, whose dusky horrors please
And wake in studious minds the lofty thought.
Not to the sons of riot spend their hours,                                            45
Sworn foes at once to silence and to peace,
These to ill deeds the midnight revel fires
To rude intemp’rance and to lawless love.
See o’er the north a blaze of meteors spread,
In mystic dance, and convolutions wild;                                               50
Dilated now, how dens’d, now brightness all,
Now stain’d with sanguine dye, swiftly they mix,
They thwart, extinguish, and renew. On these
Pale Superstition turns her eye aghast,
And sees, or thinks she sees, portended fate.                                     55
Yet these, and whate’er else the worlds above
Meteor or storm, produce, are but thy path
Father of light and life; whate’er we see,
Whate’er we know, is but the varied God,
He in black darkness oft, and thickest gloom,                                     60
Involves his awful brow, or mounts the blaze,
Of unextinguish’d light, and round the world,
The wond’ring world, displays Almighty pow’r,
And love, which, unconfin’d, sustains, directs,
Whatever is—to him be endless praise.                                        65
Sheerness, Dec. 11, 1760


2 zephyrs A soft, gentle breeze (OED). Wind that blows from the west.

3 Ambrosial Something very pleasing to taste or smell (OED).

22 nightingale A small bird known for its rich song (OED). In literature and poetry, the nightingale and its nocturnal song are often used as symbols of love and loss.

31 Erst Formerly (OED).

33 caerulean A sky-blue color.

 42 satyrs Woodland figures of Classical mythology who resemble men with horse or goat-like physical features. Typically represented as lustful and hedonistic.

 52 sanguine Optimistic, especially in an apparently difficult situation. In medieval science,     “sanguine” referred to a ruddy complexion and an optimistic disposition symptomatic of an excess of blood in the bodily humors (OED).

66 Sheerness A coastal town in Southeast England that began as a naval fort and dockyard in the seventeenth century (BBC).

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine (December, 1760), pp. 586-87.

 Edited by Ariana Balagtas

[Mrs. Letches], “Evening Reflections on Brandon-Hill”


 “Evening Reflections on Brandon-Hill”

Soft pleasing Twilight! welcome is thy glad
Approach to weary man! he, forgetful still
Of all the toils succeeding days present him,
Salutes thee as the grey-clad harbinger
Of solemn sable night. Brutes do thee homage—                                           5
With silent cheerfulness attend thy mild
Inviting. Ev’n the lovely feather’d race,
Whose grateful melody makes groves and vales
Echo, yet cease their warbling, unoppress’d
With Care, repose their feeble frames, unconscious                                       10
Of ill, or snares by artful fowlers spread
To allure their innocence, or rash intent
Of inquisitive boys, invaders rude
Of liberty! on dew-besprinkled bough; —
Press fond the senseless clod with filial love:                                                  15
Than these; what transport must the bosoms swell
Of Afric’s sons, forlorn mal-treated tribe,
When Heav’n’s Majestic emblem they behold
Withdraw his radiance thence, to illuminate
Other worlds! When even their base oppressors                                            20
Content, permit them to recline their tortur’d
Frames on beds, inferior far to those
Prepar’d for pamper’d steeds. So absolute,
O Night! hast thou dominion o’er the
Petty tyrant? Mak’st him forget the                                                                     25
Oblivious draught infused! Men they
Doom—infringing justice and humanity—to
Feel the powerful scourge, and groan beneath
Unnatural tyranny, which God abhors.—
O merciful Disposer of events!                                                                           30
Inspire the breasts of the “Noble few,” foes
To cruelty and avarice, to crush their
Dreadful power! that distant nations may
Learn of Britain’s Senate, Justice and Mercy.


Author Mrs. Letches This attribution is based on an inscription on the title page in what appears to be a contemporary hand (see ESTC T42632). She published anonymously as “A Lady” in Bristol, one of the centers of the Atlantic “triangle” trade, and her personal history remains unknown. Throughout the eighteenth century, Bristol’s booming port not only transported goods but also enslaved African people to the Americas and West Indies. At this same time, Bristol boasted a large abolitionist movement that Mrs. Letches clearly contributed to. She dedicated her volume to “the Inhabitants of Bristol” (iii).

Title Brandon-Hill St. Brandon’s Hill is located close to Bristol city center in southwest England. It is possibly the oldest municipal open space in the country.

4 harbinger “One that goes before and announces the approach of some one; a forerunner” (OED).

5 sable Black.

9 warbling “Singing or making tuneful melody with sweet quavering notes” (OED).

15 filial “Of or pertaining to a son or daughter” (OED).

18 Heav’n’s Majestic emblem The sun.

 31 Noble few Abolitionists.

 34 Britain’s Senate Parliament.


SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (Bristol, 1792), pp. 7-8. [Google Books]

 Edited by Sherry Portillo

William Hamilton Reid, “The Panic; or a Meditation supposed to be written upon the Discovery of the Plague”


“The Panic; or a Meditation supposed to be written upon the Discovery of the Plague


When the dire disease
Had on the first pale victim set its seal,
‘Twas horrid! Mute, aghast, his neighbours stood.—
The symptoms sure, the death-struck wretch they shun:
Precaution vain! like lightning flew his fate,                                      5
And guilt attractive scour’d each dark recess
Where vice couch’d low, meanly submissive grown
To sad suspension now on all impos’d.
Not ev’n the court the harsh alarm evades:
Spurning the guards, the messenger abrupt                                     10
Bursts on the throne: Nor Majesty itself,
Nor sycophants in courtly arts refin’d,
Such as who erst the Danish monarch urg’d
To curb the waves, could sooth the grating sound,
Or into silence bribe the dauntless truth—                                        15
Quite the reverse! their flight announc’d their fears:
Whilst on the crowd by desp’rate power restrain’d
“Grim Death grinn’d horrible:” flush’d with the hope
Of mortal festival.— ‘Tis now Despair
And Desolation stalk the once-throne’d streets.                               20
Hence Poverty, and all its squalid brood,
Work general ruin, till hecatombs
Of victims gasp, and scarce a parting sigh
Surviving wretches trust the treacherous air.
Meanwhile habitual Misery verges on                                                25
To damn soft Pity’s source: nor juvenile Love,
Nor th’ Amor Patriae, save Friendship none
(That gem celestial) braves the sullen power,
Or looks beyond the present gloomy bound;
For others, midst these chilling scenes of woe                                 30
Callous, distress the dying and the dead,
And, vainly hoping to outlive the storm,
Consign their treasures to the groaning earth.
Yet say, my Muse; can all the forms of Death,
That like fierce torrents sweep this mortal stage,—                         35
Can famine, war, or pestilence, compare
With keen reflection, edg’d with conscious guilt,
And time misspent, and suffering goodness scorn’d,
And dark futurity? No! This alone
Close view’d, can freeze the boiling blood of lust,                            40
And in a moment damp an age’s joy.—
Then let us hence contingences improve
By foresight prudent, and self-love refine:—
So shall true dignity adorn each brow,
Firm-footed peace with calm unruffled hours,                                 45
And mental freedom with immortal youth,
Renew the soul.—Then, saturated high
With beauty inexpressive, each great mind,
In faint resemblance of all-bounteous heaven,
Shall seize officious each occurring hour                                          50
To spread the joy, and raise a “groveling world.”


Title Plague The bubonic plague destroyed much of Europe in the Middle Ages.

13 the Danish monarch An allusion to Valdemar IV Atterdag. The title Atterdag roughly translates to “New Day,” a title bestowed because of his restoration of wealth to Denmark during his reign.

18 “Grim Death grinn’d horrible:” Reid is drawing from Book II of Milton’s Paradise Lost. He is synthesizing two passages, “Grim Death, my son and foe” (l. 804) and “Death/Grinn’d horrible a ghastly smile” (ll. 845-46), perhaps for alliterative effect.

22 hetacombs In ancient times, a reference to public sacrifice of 100 oxen for a religious ceremony. By the eighteenth-century, however, it meant a great number of people dying (OED).

27 Amors Patriae Latin for love of one’s country (OED).

34 Muse In poetry, the image of the Muse was often invoked as someone who aids the poet in writing.

42 contingences Variant spelling of the word contingencies.

51 “groveling world” Quotation not traced.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 59 Pt. 2 (July 1789), pp. 650-651.

Edited by Burl S. Rices

Rev. John Langhorne, The Tears of Music. A Poem, to the Memory of Mr. Handel


The Tears of Music. A Poem, to the Memory of Mr. Handel


SPIRITS of Music, and ye Powers of Song,
That wak’d to painful Melody the Lyre
Of young JESSIDES, when, on GILBOA’s Mount,
He wept o’er bleeding Friendship; ye that mourn’d,
While Freedom drooping o’er EUPHRATES’ Stream                                  5
Her pensive Harp on the pale Osier hung,
Begin once more the Sorrow-soothing Lay.
Ah! where shall now the Muse fit Numbers find?
What Accents pure to greet thy tuneful Shade?
Sweet Harmonist! ’Twas thine, the tender Fall                                          10
Of Pity’s plaintive Lay; for thee the Stream
Of silver-winding Music sweeter play’d,
And purer flow’d for Thee, ―all silent now
Those Airs that, breathing o’er the Breast of THAMES,
Led amorous ECHO down the long, long Vale,                                         15
Delighted; studious from thy sweeter Strain
To melodize her own; when the sad Hour
She mourns in Anguish o’er the golden Breast
Of young NARCISSUS. From their Amber Urns,
Parting their green Locks streaming in the Sun,                                       20
The NAIADS rose and smil’d: Nor since the Day,
When first by Music, and by Freedom led
From Grecian ACIDALE; nor since the Day,
When last from ARNO’s weeping Fount they came,
To smooth the Ringlets of SABRINA’s Hair,                                               25
Heard They like Minstrelsy—Fountains and Shades
Of TWIT’NAM, and of WINDSOR fam’d in Song!
Ye Mounts of CLERMONT, and ye Bowers of HAM!
That heard the fine Strain vibrate thro’ your Groves,
Ah! where were then your long-lov’d Muses fled,                                     30
When HANDEL breath’d no more?—and Thou, sweet Queen,
That nightly wrapt thy MILTON’s hallow’d Ear
In the soft Ecstasies of LYDIAN Airs,
And since attun’d to HANDEL’s high-wound Lyre
The Lay by Thee suggested; could’st not Thou                                          35
Soothe with thy sweet Song the grim Fury’s Breast?
Ah! no: from Thee too, heav’d the helpless Sigh,
Thy fair Eyes floating in a mournful Tear,
When MILTON died, and HANDEL breath’d no more.
COLD-HEARTED Death! his wanly-glaring Eye                                            40
Nor Virtue’s Smile attracts, nor Fame’s loud Trump
Can pierce his Iron Ear, for ever barr’d
To gentle Sounds: the golden Voice of Song,
That charms the gloomy Partner of his Birth,
That soothes Despair and Pain, He hears no more,                                 45
Than rude Winds, blust’ring from the CAMBRIAN Cliffs,
The Traveller’s feeble Lay. To court fair Fame,
To toil with slow Steps up the Star-crown’d Hill,
Where Science, leaning on her sculptur’d Urn,
Looks conscious on the secret-working Hand                                            50
Of Nature; on the Wings of Genius borne,
To soar above the beaten Walks of Life,
Is, like the Paintings of an Evening Cloud,
Th’ Amusement of an Hour. Night, gloomy Night
Spreads her black Wings, and all the Vision dies.                                      55
ERE long, the Heart, that heaves this Sigh to Thee,
Shall beat no more! ere long, on this fond Lay
Which mourns at HANDEL’s Tomb, insulting Time
Shall strew his cankering Rust. Thy Strain, perchance,
Thy sacred Strain shall the hoar Warrior spare;                                        60
For Sounds like thine, at Nature’s early Birth,
Arous’d Him slumbering on the dead Profound
Of dusky Chaos; by the golden Harps
Of choral Angels summon’d to his Race:
And Sounds like thine, when Nature is no more,                                      65
Shall call him weary from the lengthen’d Toils
Of twice Ten Thousand Years.—O would his Hand
Yet spare some Portion of this vital Flame,
The trembling Muse that now faint Effort makes
On young and artless Wing, should bear thy Praise                                 70
Sublime, above the mortal Bounds of Earth,
With heavenly Fires relume her feeble Ray,
And learn of Seraphs how to sing to Thee.

I FEEL, I feel the sacred Impulse—hark!
Wak’d from according Lyres the sweet Strains flow                                 75
In Symphony divine; from Air to Air
The trembling Numbers fly: swift bursts away
The Flow of Joy; now swells the Flight of Praise.
Springs the shrill Trump aloft; the toiling Chords
Melodious labour thro’ the flying Maze;                                                     80
And the deep Base his strong Sounds rolls away,
Majestically sweet—Yet, HANDEL, raise,
Yet wake to higher Strains thy sacred Lyre:
The Name of Ages, the Supreme of Things,
The great MESSIAH asks it; He whose Hand                                              85
Led into Form yon everlasting Orbs,
The Harmony of Nature—He whose Hand
Stretch’d o’er the wilds of Space this beauteous Ball,
Whose Spirit breathes thro’ all his smiling Works
Music and Love—yet HANDEL raise the Strain.                                        90
Hark! what angelic Sounds, what Voice divine
Breathes thro’ the ravisht Air! My rapt Ear feels
The Harmony of Heaven. Hail sacred Choir!
Immortal Spirits, hail! If haply those
That erst in favour’d PALESTINE proclaim’d                                              95
Glory and Peace: her Angel-haunted Groves,
Her piny Mountain, and her golden Vales
Re-echo’d Peace—But, Oh! Suspend the Strain—
The swelling Joy’s too much for mortal Bounds!
’Tis Transport even to Pain. Oh, lead me then,                                         100
Convey me to the sad, the mournful Scene,
Where trembling Nature saw her GOD expire.
Flow, stupid Tears! and veil the conscious Eye
That yet presumes to gaze—
Flow, stupid Tears! in vain—ye too confess                                              105
That HE alone unequal’d Sorrow bore.

BUT, hark! what pleasing Sounds invite mine Ear,
So venerably sweet? ‘Tis SION’s Lute.
Behold her Hero! from his valiant Brow
Looks JUDAH’s Lyon, on his Thigh the Sword                                           110
Of vanquished APOLLONIUS—The shrill Trump
Thro’ BETHORON proclaims th’ approaching Fight.
I see the brave Youth lead his little Band,
With Toil and Hunger faint; yet from his Arm
The rapid SYRIAN flies. Thus HENRY once,                                                115
The British HENRY, with his way-worn Troop,
Subdued the Pride of France—now louder blows
The martial Clangor, lo NICANOR’s Host!
With threat’ning Turrets crown’d, slowly advance
The ponderous Elephants.—                                                                       120
The blazing Sun, from many a golden Shield
Reflected, gleams afar. Judean Chief!
How shall thy Force, thy little Force sustain
The dreadful Shock!
The Hero comes— ’Tis boundless Mirth and Song                                  125
And Dance and Triumph, every laboring String,
And Voice, and breathing Shell in Concert strain
To swell the Raptures of tumultuous Joy.
O Master of the Passions and the Soul,
Seraphic HANDEL! how shall Words describe                                          130
Thy Music’s countless Graces, nameless Powers!

When He of GAZA, blind, and sunk in Chains,
On female Treachery looks greatly down,
How the breast burns indignant! In thy strain,
When sweet-voic’d Piety resigns to Heaven,                                             135
Glows not each Bosom with the Flame of Virtue?
O’ER JEPTHA’s votive Maid when the soft Lute
Sounds the slow Symphony of Funeral Grief,
What youthful Breast but melts with tender Pity!
What Parent bleeds not with a Parents woe!                                            140

O, longer than this worthless Lay can live!
While Fame and Music sooth the human Ear;
Be this thy Praise: to lead the polish’d Mind
To Virtue’s noblest Heights; to light the Flame
Of British Freedom, rouse the generous Thought,                                   145
Refine the Passions, and exalt the Soul
To love, to Heaven, to Harmony and Thee.


Title George Frederick Handel (1685-1759), Baroque composer; he died in London, England.

3 GILBOA’s Mount  Mountain in Northern Israel. In “The Book of Samuel” of the Bible, Mount Gilboa is the location where the Philistines killed Saul and his son Jonathon. Handel composed Saul, an English Libretto, in 1738 (Charles Cudworth, Handel [1972], p. 28.).

5 EUPHRATES  This river appears in Handel’s Opera Belshazzar (opera.stanford.edu).

6 Osier  “A small Eurasian willow” (OED).

14 Those Airs…THAMES  The Water-Music (Author’s note). “Handel’s matchless delicacy as an orchestrator…makes him alert to the beauties of varied sonority and echo effects in the resonant clarity of a summer evening on the river [Thames]” (Jonathan Keates, Handel: The Man and his Music [1985], p. 77).

15-19 ECHO…NARCISSUS  From Ovid’s Metamorphosis.

21 NAIADS  Water nymphs.

22 Grecian ACIDALE  A fountain in Greece, referred to in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (AC Hamilton, The Spenser Encyclopedia [1990], p. 4.).

24-25 ARNO’s weeping Fount…SABRINA’s Hair  An allusion to John Milton’s Comus. Arno is a river, and Sabrina, a nymph. In 1737, Handel “reworked Milton’s Comus for an opera, Sabrina” (Paul Henry Lang, George Frideric Handel [1966], p. 317).

27 TWIT’NAM…WINDSOR  Alexander Pope’s house and his poem “Windsor Forest.”

28 CLERMONT  A mansion built in the eighteenth century in Surrey, England.

28 HAM  A suburb of London, on the banks of the Thames.

33 LYDIAN  A musical scale.

34 And since attun’d…  “L’Allegro and Il Penseroso, set to Music by Mr. HANDEL [Author’s note].

36 sweet Song…  “See MILTON’s Lycidas” [Author’s note].

41 Trump  “Trumpet” (OED).

46 CAMBRIAN  Welsh.

73 Relume  “To relight, rekindle” (OED).

85 MESSIAH  Handel’s English oratorio, composed in 1741.

108 Sion’s  Zion.

109 her Hero  “Judas Maccabeus” [Author’s note]. Handel composed an oratorio by the same name in 1746 (Keates, p. 160).

110-112 JUDAH’s…BETHORAN  “The governor of Samaria, Apollonius, now assembled a large number of Gentiles into an army…to attack the people of Israel. When Judah learned of Apollonius’s movements, he went out to meet this army and defeated them, killing Apollonius…Among the spoils, Judah found Apollonius’s own sword, which he took and used in battle for the rest of his life” (The Inclusive Bible [2007], p. 571.) This battle took place in Bethoran.

115 HENRY Henry V (1386-1422), King of England from 1413-1422, famously defeated the French in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

118 NICANOR  A governor of Judea.

125 The Hero comes…  “Chorus of Youths, in Judas Maccabeus” [Author’s note].

132 When He of Gaza…  “See the Oratorio of Samson” [Author’s note].

137 JEPTHA  From Bible Judges 11. Handel composed his last oratorio, Jephtha, in 1751 (Cudworth, p. 49).

Source:  The Tears of Music. A Poem, to the Memory of Mr. Handel. With an Ode to the River Eden (London, 1760).  [Sutro Library of the California State University Library, San Francisco]

Edited by Gerald Barr