Tag Archives: nature

Anonymous, “The Snail’s Apologist. An Heroi-Comic Ode from the French”


The SNAIL’s APOLOGIST. An Heroi-Comic ODE from the French.”

What seas of blood! what heaps of dead!
What horrid scenes around are spread!
Murder and carnage rush to light,
Tumultuous from the realms of night;
One wide destruction covers all,                                                              5
The virtuous with the vicious fall;
Amidst a throng of guilty ghosts
That crowd the Styx on Pluto’s coasts,
I see (or do my senses fail?)
Untimely slain, the gentle snail.                                                              10
Say whence thy claim, presumptuous man!
To bound their life’s contracted span?
Have they from thee receiv’d their breath?
Hast thou a right to give them death?
I know what vain pretence is made,                                                       15
Thou sayst that rapine is their trade.
What rapine—? is not yonder tree
Their country? falsely claim’d by thee!
What if the foliage fade and fall,
Their own, that fragrant foliage all.                                                        20
Born where yon peach nutrition draws,
The snail is ign’rant of thy laws;
Kind nature’s voice the peach bestows,
Kind nature’s voice alone he knows.
Contented with his humble lot,                                                              25
He plunders none, he riots not;
Cease then an hasty fate to give,
And since he only eats to live,
Indulge him in the green retreat,
And let, ah! let him live to eat.                                                               30
With martial ardour dost thou glow?
Up, seek and charge an equal foe;
Against the gnat the war declare,
And hunt him thro’ the fields of air;
Let hostile wasps provoke thy rage,                                                     35
And, foe to sloth, the drone engage;
The gorgeous moth, the dragon’s dread,
Destroy them, and bestride the dead;
Strike home, nor let thy vengeance fail,
’Tis due to these, but spare the snail.                                                  40
Alcides thus, in days of yore,
Bade monsters vex the world no more;
And by thy valour’s equal deed,
Be later times from monsters freed;
Thro’ dangers press, pursue the fight,                                                 45
The threaten’d wound, inflicted, slight.
As fairest flow’rs of sharpest thorn,
Of baffled danger, glory’s born,
Hence demi-gods and heroes claim
Proud statues in the shrine of Fame.                                                   50


8 Styx on Pluto’s coasts Pluto is another name for Hades, the Greek God of the Underworld. “Pluto’s coasts” refers here to the banks of the river Styx, the river of the Underworld (Oxford Reference).

16 rapine “The act or practice of seizing and taking away by force the property of others; plunder, pillage, robbery” (OED).

36 drone “The male of the honey-bee. It is a non-worker, its function being to impregnante the queen-bee” (OED).

37 dragon’s “A fly so called” [Author’s note].

41 Alcides thus…no more An alternative name for Heracles, a divine hero from Greek mythology known for battling against monsters of the Underworld.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 18 (August 1748), p. 375.

Edited by Daniel Bresnahan

“Posthumus,” “The Partridges: an elegy”


 “The Partridges: an elegy. Written on the 31st of August, 1788”

 Ill-Fated birds, for whom I raise the strain,
To tell my lively sorrow for your fates;
Ye little know, ere morn shall gild the plain,
What drear destruction all your race awaits.

While innocently basking in the ray,                                                          5
That throws the lengthen’d shadows o’er the lawn,
Unconscious you behold the parting day,
Nor feel a fear to meet the morrow’s dawn.

Could man like you thus wait the ills of life,
Nor e’er anticipate misfortune’s blow,                                              10
He’d shun a complicated load of strife,
Greater than real evils can bestow.

Ev’n now the sportsman, anxious for his fame,
Prepares the tube so fatal to your race;
He pants already for the glorious game,                                                  15
And checks the lingering hours’ tardy pace.

Raptur’d he’ll hie him, at the dawn of day,
With treacherous caution tread your haunts around,
Exulting rout his poor defenceless prey,
Then bring the fluttering victims to the ground.                             20

Yes! while he gives the meditated blow,
And sees around the struggling covey bleed,
His iron heart a barbarous joy shall know,
And plume itself upon the bloody deed.

For shame! Can men who boast a polish’d mind,                                  25
And feelings too, these savage pastimes court?
In such inhuman acts a pleasure find,
And call the cruel desolation—sport?

Thousands that graze the fields must daily bleed,
Necessity compels—for man they die                                             30
But no excuse necessity can plead,
To kill those harmless tenants of the sky.

By heaven privileg’d they build the nest,
They take the common bounty nature yields,
No property with vicious force molest,                                                   35
But pick the refuse of the open fields.

Then why, if God this privilege has given,
Should we pervert great nature’s bounteous plan?
For happiness is sure the end of heaven,
As well to bird and insect as to man.                                               40

Like us they move within their narrow sphere,
Each various passion of the mind confess;
And joy and sorrow, love and hope and fear,
Alternate pain them, and alternate bless.

Yes! they can pine in grief—with rapture glow                                       45
Their little hearts, to every feeling true:
Like us conceive affection, and the blow
That kills the offspring, wounds the mother too.

Then bid your breasts for nobler pastimes burn!
Let not such cruelty your actions stain!                                           50
Humanity should teach mankind to spurn
The pleasures purchas’d by another’s pain.


 Author   “POSTHUMUS” appears at the conclusion of the poem followed by “Canterbury.” “POSTHUMUS” is most likely the author’s pseudonym, while “Canterbury” is most likely where the author had lived.

 1   raise the strain Here the phrase means something like “write this poem.” Possibly also an allusion to the hymn “Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain” by St. John Damascus.

 17 hie “To cause to hasten; to hasten, urge on, bring quickly” (OED).

 19 rout “Of a person: to cry out; to roar, bellow, to shout” (OED).

22 covey “A brood or hatch of partridges; a family of partridges keeping together during the first season” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 63 (February 1788), p. 824.

 Edited by Amanda Boyer

Anonymous, “Ode on the month of May, after the manner of Hagedorn”


“ODE on the month of MAY, after the manner of HAGEDORN, Book III. p. 146”

“Der nachtigall reitzende lieder”

 THY notes, sweet bird, resounding thro’ the grove,
Proclaim the joyful hours of spring and love.
The lark ascending hails the new-born day,
The feather’d choir now join in vocal lay,
To celebrate great Nature’s holiday;                                                                         5
The swan majestic, with her downy throng,
Now seek the clear translucent wave that flows the woods among.

In pleasant green the earth, with flowers attri’d
Calls forth the nymphs and swains by love inspir’d;
To share the pleasures bounteous Nature yields,                                                  10
The merry sparrow ranges thro’ the fields;
In gentle strains the soft lamenting dove
Bemoans the absence of his wedded love.
From forth his orient bed, in splendour bright,
The God of Day pursues the shades of night;                                                         15
Driving far off each noxious influence:
Prolific beam! thy genial powers dispense,
That every flower, enliven’d by thy ray,
May spread their glories to the face of day.

Mild Zephyr, long estrang’d from Flora’s bed,                                                         20
Impatient seeks the variegated maid,
And wooes her mid enamell’d shades and bowers,
Fost’ring their offspring bright of new-born flowers;
Their odours shed a grateful scent around,
Nor e’er did jealousy their loves confound.                                                             25

Winter’s cold haggard form now disappears,
In foliage green each tree new livery wears,
And every flower awaken’d rears its head;
The gaudy may-bush, flutt’ring in the shade,
Boasts that this month for her alone was made.                                                   30
From rocks stupendous living water flow,
Refreshing thirsty glades, and fields, and woods below.
To thee, fair month, I consecrate the verse,
Pleas’d while thy bounteous gift I thus rehearse;
And ye, thrice happy swains, who now enjoy                                                         35
These temperate blessings with no mix’d alloy,
In you the simple and serene we own,
And learn to fly the vices of the Town!


 Title The subtitle alludes to Friedrich Von Hagedorn (1708-1754), a famous German poet. This poem is modeled after his poem titled “Der Mai” found in the book Oden und Lieder, 3 vol. (1742–52; “Odes and Songs”). This poem begins with the line “Der nachtigall reitzende lieder” which translates as “the nightingale singing softly” (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

5 Nature’s holiday Springtime.

15 God of Day The sun.

9 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).

20 Zephyr, long estrang’d from Flora’s bed Zephyr is a Greek god of the west wind who is married to Flora. She is a nymph to spring time and flowers. He is the messenger of spring.

29 may-bush “The hawthorn tree, Crataegus monogyna; a branch of this. Also: a construction of hawthorn branches” (OED).

33 consecrate “Dedicated to a sacred purpose; made sacred; hallowed, sanctified” (OED).

36 alloy  “To qualify or diminish (a pleasure, feeling, etc.) by the admixture of something unpleasant; to contaminate or adulterate” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (May, 1786), p. 428.

 Edited by Lauren Page

“Posthumous,” “Morning Stanzas in October”



 The spreading oak and silver poplar tall,
Now feel the approach of winter’s dreary hour;
And from on high their faded honours fall,
In many a silent melancholy shower.

Still is each feather’d songster in the grove,                               5
Unless the Robin swell his little throat;
Still is the Blackbird, still the plaintive dove;
Nor floats aloft the Sky Lark’s bolder note.

Pleas’d with the calmness of the rising morn,
Faint spreading o’er the east it’s milder light;                   10
The healthful huntsman winds his early horn,
And sounds a farewell to the ling’ring night.

The sluggish mist now leaves the low, dank vale,
And slowly climbs the distant mountain’s side;
Whilst the blithe milkmaid sings beneath her pail                   15
And welcomes morn, whatever it betide.

The shepherd’s fleecy charge his fold forsakes;
The nightly-plundering fox, and timorous hare,
The coverts seek: And man once more awakes
To grief, to joy; to pleasure, or to care.                                20


5 feather’d songster Birds that sing.

7 plaintive “Afflicted by sorrow; grieving, lamenting” (OED).

8 Sky Lark “The common lark of Europe, Alauda arvensis, so called from its habit of soaring towards the sky while singing” (OED).

18 timorous “Full of or affected by fear (either for the time or habitually)” (OED).

19 coverts “A covering” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (November, 1768), p. 536.

Edited by Jasmine Lopez

Anna Seward, “Written by Miss Anna Seward in the blank Leaves of her own Poems presented by her to William Newton…”


 “Written by Miss ANNA SEWARD in the blank Leaves of her own Poems, presented by her to WILLIAM NEWTON, Native of a Village upon Tideswell Moor, near Monsaldale in the Peak”


Thou gentle Bard, on whose internal sight
Genius has pour’d her many – colour’d light;
With whom the loveliest of the Virtues dwell,
And wave their halcyon plumes around thy cell,
Tho’ wayward Fortune has not deign’d to throw                           5
One gaudy trophy on thy pensive brow,
With conscious dignity thy tree-born soul
Disdains to court her insolent controul;
And tho’ proud Fame no sunny glance has shed
On the low roof that screens thy modest head,                             10
The same exalted spirit scorns to wail
Her echoes silent in thy lonely vale.

Yet, while one votary of the Muses blames
Th’ unjust neglect of the capricious dames,
Still may she stimulate that noble pride,                                          15
Which rather seeks in humblest roof to hide
The shining gifts that lavish Genius gave,
Than, courting Fortune’s smile, commence her slave;
Than climb Parnassus’ steep and thorny ways,
And drop the rose of Peace to grasp the bays.                               20

Thy quiet haunts Reflection loves to trace
Thro’ walks of savage, or of smiling, grace;
And pleas’d she finds the scenes, that gave thee birth,
Types of thy lot, thy talents, and thy worth.

As conscious Memory, with reverted glance,                             25
Roves o’er the wild and mountainous expanse,
Her faithful traces to my sight restore
The long, long tracts of Tideswell’s naked Moor;
Strech’d on vast hills, that far and near prevail,
Bleak, stony, bare, monotonous, and pale.                                       30
Wide o’er the waste, in noon-tide’s sultry rays,
The frequent lime-kiln darts her umber’d blaze;
Her suffocating smoke incessant breathes,
And shrouds the sun in black convolving wreaths;
And here, with pallid ashes heap’d around,                                      35
Oft sinks the mine, and blots the dreary ground.
In vain warm Spring demands her robe of green,
No sheltering hedge-rows vivify the scene;
O’er its grey breast no undulating trees
With lavish foliage court the lively breeze;                                         40
But from the Moor the rude stone walls disjoin,
With angle sharp, and long unvaried line,
The cheerless field, — where slowly wandering feed
The lonely cow, and melancholy steed,
Expos’d abide the summer’s ardent breath,                                      45
And wintry storm that yells along the heath.

At length benigner mountains meet the eyes;
Their shrubby heights in rounder grace arise;
And, from the first steep summit, pleas’d I throw
My eager glances on the depths below,                                             50
As sinks abrupt the sylvan Monsaldale
From the swart sun-beam and the howling gale.

Behold in front the lucid river spread
His bankless waters o’er the sunny mead;
As of his broad and sheety shallows proud,                                     55
Shine the clear mirror of the passing cloud;
Then to the left along the valley glide,
With smooth meander, and with narrower tide,
Thro’ banks, where thick the spreading alders grow,
And deep calm waves reflect their pendent bough.                        60
Refreshing sweets the breathing hay-cocks yield,
That richly tuft the long and narrow field,
As gently to the right it curves away
Round the green cliffs with scatter’d nut-trees gay;
Cliffs, whose smooth breast, above the silver stream,                   65
Swells to the sun, and yellows in his beam,
While on th’ opposing shore dwarf foliage hides,
Sombrous, and soft, the mountain’s lofty sides,
And throws its latest fringe upon the flood,
That laves the concave of the pensile wood;                                    70
Till down the rocks, rude, broken, mossy, steep,
In parted tides the foaming waters leap;
Then thro’ the mazes of the rambling dale
With silent lapse they flow, or rush with tuneful wail.

The self-taught Edwin, in his lowly state,                                   75
Feels this sweet glen an emblem of his fate;
For as it glows with beauty rich and rare,
Near healthy hills, unsightly, bleak, and bare,
So, ‘midst unletter’d hinds as rude as those,
He, pensive minstrel of the mountains, rose;                                   80
Who, like devoted Chatterton, was born
In Nature’s triumph, and in Fortune’s scorn;
With kindred talents, and in happier mind,
By prudence guarded, as by taste refin’d;
Whom industry preserves from woes fevere,                                   85
Which ill the noble spirit knows to bear;
Saves from those pains that Wealth’s mean sons deride,
Dependent hopes, and heart corroding pride,
When, for with’d amity, and ow’d respect,
It meets the chilling air of base neglect;                                             90
The stingy Patron’s contumelious aid;
The taunt of Envy, studious to upbraid;
Those thousand ills, by which the Great are prone
To crush the talents that eclipse their own.

Be thine the blessings, Edwin, that reward                                95
Ev’n manual labour to th’ enlighten’d bard!
Energic health, and, in rare union join’d
The melting heart, and philosophic mind;
Genius is thine — before her solar state,
O fly, ye mists of inauspicious fate!                                                     100
Hers is the flood of cloudless day, that shows
The charms that Nature, and that Art bestows;
And she has given thee wealth, that shames the toys
Which Fortune grants, and Vanity enjoys;
The toys of groveling souls, empower’d to seize                              105
On the soft splendors of luxurious ease;
Whom yet with scorn discerning eyes behold
Pleas’d with life’s tinsel, reckless of her gold;
Gold richer far than India’s mine affords,
Th’ internal wealth of intellectual hoards;                                          110
Which buy, disdaining Fortune’s bounded plain,
Creative Mind’s illimitable reign.

O! if in that wide range my Muse’s powers
May lure thy tarrience in her cypress bowers,
Should’st thou perceive that genuine sweets belong                       115
To the pale flowrets of her pensive song,
The thought, that they have sooth’d thy toils, shall dwell
Warm with the bosom joys that Fame’s bright meed excel.



Title WILLIAM NEWTON, Native of a Village upon Tideswell Moor, near Monsaldale in the Peak William Newton (1750–1830), a laboring-class poet often referred to as ‘the Peak Minstrel’ was a friend of Anna Seward, who encouraged him in his writing and corresponded with him until her death. He lived near the village of Tideswell in the valley of Monsal Dale in the Peak District of Derbyshire, England.

3 the loveliest of the Virtues The seven Christian virtues consisting of four cardinal virtues from ancient Greek philosophy which are prudence, justice, temperance (meaning restriction or restraint), and courage (or fortitude) and three theological virtues which are faith, hope, and charity (or love). We do not know which virtues Anna Seward considered “the loveliest.”

4 halcyon Calm, tranquil, prosperous, joyful.

13 Muses In Greek Mythology, nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who are the goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science, and the arts.

19 Parnassus The home of the Muses; a mountain in Greece that became known as the home of poetry, music, and learning.

28 Moor A tract of open uncultivated upland area characterized by low growing vegetation.

32 lime-kiln A furnace, used for making quicklime for making plaster and cement.

43 convolving Rolling or winding together.

61 hay-cocks Conical mounds of hay.

68 Sombrous Gloomily dark; shadowy; dimly lighted, somber.

70 pensile “Situated on a steep downward slope” (OED).

75 Edwin Anna Seward’s poetic epistolary name for William Newton.

81 Chatterton Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770), English poet who came from an underprivileged background, similar to William Newton. Chatterton, who was unable to find a patron for his art, lived in extreme poverty and took his life by drinking arsenic before his eighteenth birthday.

91 contumelious Scornful and insulting.

114 tarrience Delay, lingering.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (March, 1785), p. 213.

Edited by Irina Auerbuch

Richard Jago, “The Blackbirds”


“The Blackbirds”

The sun had chas’d the mountain snow,
And kindly loos’d the frozen soil,
The melting streams began to flow,
And ploughmen urg’d their annual toil.

‘Twas then, amid the vocal throng                                    5
Whom nature wakes to mirth and love,
A blackbird rais’d his am’rous song,
And thus it echo’d through the grove.

O fairest of the feather’d train!
For whom I sing, for whom I burn,                               10
Attend with pity to my strain,
And grant my love a kind return.

For see the wintry storms are flown,
And gently Zephyrs fan the air;
Let us the genial influence own,                                         15
Let us the vernal pastime share.

The raven plumes his jetty wing
To please his croaking paramour;
The larks responsive ditties sing,
And tell their passion as they soar.                               20

But trust me, love, the raven’s wing
Is not to be compar’d with mine;
Nor can the lark so sweetly sing
As I, who strength with sweetness join.

O! let me all thy steps attend!                                              25
I’ll point new treasures to thy sight;
Whether the grove thy wish befriend,
Or hedge-rows green, or meadows bright.

I’ll shew my love the clearest rill
Whose streams among the pebbles stray:                   30
These will we sip, and sip our fill,
Or on the flow’ry margin play.

I’ll lead her to the thickest brake,
Impervious to the school-boy’s eye;
For her the plaister’d nest I’ll make,                                    35
And on her downy pinions lie.

When, prompted by a mother’s care,
Her warmth shall form th’ imprison’d young;
The pleasing task I’ll gladly share,
Or cheer her labors with my song.                                 40

To bring her food I’ll range the fields,
And cull the best of every kind;
Whatever nature’s bounty yields,
And love’s assiduous care can find.

And when my lovely mate would stray                               45
To taste the summer sweets at large,
I’ll wait at home the live-long day,
And tend with care our little charge.

Then prove with me the sweets of love,
With me divide the cares of life;                                      50
No bush shall boast in all the grove
So fond a mate, so blest a wife.

He ceas’d his song. The melting dame
With soft indulgence heard the strain;
She felt, she own’d a mutual flame,                                     55
And hasted to relieve his pain.

He led her to the nuptial bower,
And nestled closely to her side;
The fondest bridegroom of that hour,
And she, the most delighted bride.                                 60

Next morn he wak’d her with a song,
“Behold, he said, the new-born day!
The lark his matin peal has rung,
Arise, my love, and come away.”

Together through the fields they stray’d,                            65
And to the murm’ring riv’let’s side;
Renew’d their vows, and hopp’d and play’d,
With honest joy and decent pride.

When oh! with grief the Muse relates
The mournful sequel of my tale;                                     70
Sent by an order from the fates,
A gunner met them in the vale.

Alarm’d the lover cry’d, My dear,
Haste, haste away, from danger fly;
Here, gunner, point thy thunder here;                                75
O spare my love, and let me die.

At him the gunner took his aim;
His aim, alas! was all too true:
O! had he chose some other game!
Or shot—as he was wont to do!                                      80

Divided pair! forgive the wrong,
While I with tears your fate rehearse;
I’ll join the widow’s plaintive song,
And save the lover in my verse.


7 blackbird Common Eurasian thrush, noted for its melodious song (OED).

14 Zephyr The west wind.

29 shews Period spelling of “show.” A rill is a small stream.

33 brake A thick stand of bushes or briars.

35 plaistr’d Period spelling of plastered.

36 pinions The terminal segment of a bird’s wing, bearing the primary flight feathers (OED).

57 bower A term for abode or cottage.

63 matin peal “Matin” is French for spring; “peal” is the ringing of a bell.

66 riv’let Rivulet, a small river or stream.

Source: Bell’s classical arrangement of fugitive poetry. Vol. viii. (London, 1789) pp. 103-106 [ECCO]

Edited by Phillip Barron

Walter Harte, “A Soliloquy, Occasion’d by the Chirping of a Grasshopper”


“A Soliloquy, Occasion’d by the Chirping of a Grasshopper”

Happy Insect! ever blest
With a more than mortal rest,
Rosy dews the leaves among,
Humble joys, and gentle song!
Wretched Poet! ever curst,                         5
With a life of lives the worst,
Sad despondence, restless fears,
Endless jealousies and tears.

In the burning summer, thou
Warblest on the verdant bough,               10
Meditating chearful play,
Mindless of the piercing ray;
Scorch’d in Cupid’s fervors, I
Ever weep, and ever die.

Proud to gratify thy will,                      15
Ready nature waits thee still:
Balmy wines to thee she pours,
Weeping thro’ the dewy flow’rs:
Rich as those by Hebe giv’n
To the thirsty sons of heav’n.                    20

Yet alas! we both agree,
Miserable thou like me!
Each alike in youth rehearses
Gentle strains, and tender verses;
Ever wand’ring far from home;                 25
Mindless of the days to come,
(Such as aged winter brings
Trembling on his icy wings)
Both alike at last we die;
Thou art starv’d, and so am I!                     30


13 Cupid’s fervors The Roman god of love, here referenced in the context of trying to write romantic love poetry.

19 Hebe Greek goddess of youth; she was cupbearer to the gods on Olympus, serving them ambrosia.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1727), pp. 80-2. [ECCO]

Edited by Bill Christmas