Tag Archives: morality

Frances Maria Cowper, “Love of Solitude”

[​FRANCES MARIA COWPER​]

“Love of Solitude”
Vanity of Worldly Pleasure

 

While others, lost in pleasure’s guilty round,
Blast the glad season of their fleeting youth,
Let me in solitary joys abound,
Fond of the paths of piety and truth:
Give me in Wisdom’s volume to descry                                              5
The mysteries of love and grace divine,
By Scripture taught, with penetrating eye
To scan the world aright, and to resign.

Deluded world! infatuated throng!
To spurn the treasure that no force destroys,                          10
Nor see the baneful weed that lurks among
The fairest bloom of your embitter’d joys.
Amid the clamours of the loudest mirth,
Thoughts in unwelcome guise will oft have part,
Will promp the wish, th’ involuntary sigh,                                          15
“And rouse reflection in the gayest heart.”

Bear me, ye guardians of the mind sincere,
To scenes sequester’d from the haunts of men;
The pensive soul with ev’ry grace prepare,
Sacred to Virtue and her blissful train:                                        20
With these conversing, and by these renew’d,
Ne’er shall I feel ambition’s lawless sway,
But in the paths my earliest steps pursu’d,
In search of Wisdom’s pleasures safely stray.

Come, holy Wisdom, fav’rite gift of God!                                             25
With thine attendant grace, Humility;
Descend, bright visitant! and make abode
Where museful Melancholy waits for thee.
Ah, what avails fair India’s shining store,
The purple treasures of the gorgeous East?                                30
What joy, to quit the charms of regal power,
To dwell with thee, thou soul-enlight’ning guest!

Not the attractive voice of worldly fame,
Nor syren sound of dullest flattery,
Could tempt my heart thy labours to disclaim,                                   35
Or slight the blessings that belong to thee.
How has my soul in secret wish preffer’d
The lonely walk and solitary shade,
The painted vanities of life abhorr’d,
And all the pageantry that pomp display’d!                                 40

Joyless the gilded equipage I view’d,
The dull variety of senseless show;
The world’s gay path without delight pursu’d,
Nor felt the transports that from grandeur flow.
Slave to the wretched world’s imposing forms,                                  45
See Sacharissa deck’d in gold brocade;
She owns that grandeur has no real charms,
And sighs for virtue in the sylvan shade.

NOTES:

28 museful ​”Absorbed in thought; thoughtful, pensive” (OED).

30purple “Characterized by richness or abundance; splendid, glorious” (OED).

34syren A​ Greek mythology creature that lured sailors to their deaths with its enchanting song.

46Sacharissa P​ossibly a reference to Lady Dorothy Sidney (1617-1684), the beloved “Sacharissa” of many love lyrics by Edmund Waller (1606-1687). In one portrait by Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), she appears as a finely dressed shepherdess.

Source: Original Poems, on Various Occasions. By a Lady (London 1792), pp.11-13.  [Google Books]

Edited by Grazzia Menendez

William Hamilton, A Day Labourer, “Address to Humanity”

WILLIAM HAMILTON, A  DAY LABOURER

“Address to Humanity”

 

What discordant strains I hear,
Rudely bursting on my ear!
Sure they speak the God of War,
Rolling in his iron car.
Thrills the sound in every vein;                                    5
Language pregnant, big with pain.
All the grief that mortals know,
All the anguish, all the woe,
Each deluded subject feels,
Echoes to his thundering wheels.                               10
Fairest daughter of the sky,
Dove-ey’d, soft HUMANITY!
Sweetest of celestial race,
Tears shall veil thy beauteous face;
Grief shall heave thy snowy breast,                            15
Grief that cannot be exprest:
Vain thy soft, persuasive power
In the passion-clouded hour.

Hear, ah hear the clarion’s note,
Louder through expansion float;                                 20
This declares the coming God;
Desolation marks his road;
Fury drives his foaming steeds,
Where the glowing battle bleeds,
Panting with disorder’d breath,                                    25
Breathing anguish, breathing death.

See the din and clank of arms
Wide diffuse the dread alarms;
Now they rally, now they fly;
Here they languish, there they die.                             30
Wider still the victor’s hand
Spreads destruction o’er the land.
Driven from their long-lov’d home,
See the wretched wanderers roam,
Despairing, o’er the ravag’d plains;                              35
Gleams the town behind in flames.
Night increasing horrors sheds,
Tempests rattle o’er their heads.
Now forlorn, expos’d they lie
Spent, in vain they wish to die.                                    40
Orphans importune for bread;
Rous’d at this, the waste they tread;
Long in vain till friendly Death
Seals their gladly-yielded breath.
Lo! the wretches that remain,                                      45
Still reserv’d for future pain;
Mangled limbs and fractur’d bones
Waste the tedious hours in groans.
Drop the veil—enough—no more—
Pity bleeds at every pore.                                             50

Goddess of the melting eye,
Cease the deep, heart-rending sigh;
See, Reflection lends her aid,
Wing’d with thought, in white array’d:
From her lily hand behold                                            55
Waves the sacred key of gold.
Truth proclaims, ’tis only this
Mortals bring to lasting bliss.

Oh, improve the happy hour,
Discord then shall feel thy power,                               60
And with thunder’s mimic sound
Cease to shake the vaulted ground;
Cease the wild alarm to keep,
Cease to feed the yawning deep;
Cease to stain with human gore                                   65
Where the roses blush’d before.
All shall own thy blissful sway,
And ev’n Bellona thy behests obey

NOTES:

3 God of war…iron car A reference to the Roman god Mars, often depicted as riding in a chariot.

 19 clarion “A shrill-sounding trumpet with a narrow tube, formerly much used as a signal in war” (OED).

27 din “A loud noise; particularly a continued confused or resonant sound, which stuns or distresses the ear” (OED).

38 tempest “A violent storm of wind, usually accompanied by a downfall of rain, hail, or snow, or by thunder” (OED).

41 importune “To ask or request something of (a person) persistently or pressingly; to accost with questions or requests; to beg, beseech” (OED).

51 Goddess of the melting eye That is, “Humanity”; see lines 9-15 above.

 55 Lily hand White hand.

69 Bellona “Bellona, original name Duellona, in Roman religion, goddess of war…Sometimes known as the sister or wife of Mars, she has also been identified with his female cult partner Nerio. Her temple at Rome stood in the Campus Martius, outside the city’s gates near the Circus Flaminius and the temple of Apollo. There the Senate met to discuss generals’ claims to triumphs and to receive foreign ambassadors. In front of it was the columna bellica, where the ceremony of declaring war by the fetiales (a group of priestly officials) took place(Encyclopedia Britannica).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (July 1786), p. 601.

Edited by Juliet Paulson