Tag Archives: verse epistle

Nicholas Amhurst, “To Mrs. Centlivre at that time dangerously ill”

[NICHOLAS AMHURST]

 “To Mrs. CENTLIVRE at that time dangerously ill”

 

Struck with a Passion for unhappy ROWE,
To whom so many finish’d Scenes we owe,
I paid my Tribute to his mighty Name,
A Stranger to his Person —— but by Fame:
The Man, but not the Author was unknown,                                                  5
Oft have I made his well-wrought Verse my own;
Oft have I wept his dying Hero’s Cause,
And shook the ecchoing Dome with loud Applause:
From hence alone my grateful Sorrows rise,
Hence the prompt Tears o’erflow my swelling Eyes;                                      10
But double Pangs thy mournful Bosom rend,
I lose the Poet only, you the Friend.
You knew the secret Virtues of his Heart,
How void it was of every treacherous Art;
Search’d the vast hidden Treasures of his Mind,                                            15
And weep in him the Loss to all Mankind.
GARTH follow’d soon, from the unsparing Grave,
Not his own Art his mortal Life could save!
Two Bards at once the Tyrant swept away,
To feed the Worm, and mix with vulgar Clay;                                                  20
Nor yet content, unbounded in his Rage,
Of THEE too he attempts to rob the Age.
Insulting Death! oh stop thy savage Hand,
Reverse, tremendous Power, the rash Command;
Already you have given us too much Grief,                                                      25
Be kind at last, and minister Relief;
Stop our forboding Tears, asswage our Pain,
And give CENTLIVRE back to Health again.

 NOTES:

Title  Centlivre  Susanna Centlivre (1669-1723), English poet, playwright, and actress.

1  Rowe  Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718), Poet Laureate (1715-1718), playwright and editor.

8  Dome  “A building, a house, a fabrick”  (Johnson).

11  Pangs  “A sudden access of keen feeling or emotion”  (OED).

12  You the friend  Centlivre and Rowe were frequent collaborators; both Centlivre and Amhurst dedicated tributes to Rowe in 1719.

14  Art  “Cunning”  (Johnson).

17  Garth  Samuel Garth (1661-1719), English poet and physician.

18  Art  “Skill in applying the principles of a special science”  (OED).

19  Bards  “A lyric or epic poet” (OED); here references to Rowe and Garth.

27  asswage  “Common form of assuage in 16-18thc.”  (OED).

Source:  Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1723), pp. 68-69.  [Google Books]

Edited by Jerry Andersen

Matthew Prior, “An English Padlock”

MATHEW PRIOR

“An English Padlock”

 

Miss Danae, when Fair and Young,
(As Horace has divinely sung)
Could not be kept from Jove’s Embrace
By Doors of Steel, and Walls of Brass.
The Reason of the Thing is clear,                                                       5
(Would Jove the naked Truth aver,)
Cupid was with him of the Party,
And show’d himself sincere and hearty:
For, give that Whipster but his Errand,
He takes my Lord Chief Justice’ Warrant;                                          10
Dauntless as Death away he walks,
Breaks the Doors open, snaps the Locks,
Searches the Parlour, Chamber, Study,
Nor stops ‘till he has his Culprit’s Body.

Since this has been Authentick Truth,                                         15
By Age deliver’d down to Youth;
Tell us, mistaken Husband, tell us,
Why so Mysterious, why so Jealous?
Does the Restraint, the Bolt, the Bar,
Make us less Curious, her less Fair?                                                    20
The Spy, who does this Treasure keep,
Does she ne’er say her Pray’rs, nor Sleep?
Does she to no Excess incline?
Does she fly Musick, Mirth and Wine?
Or have not Gold and Flatt’ry Pow’r,                                                     25
To purchase One unguarded Hour?

Your Care does further yet extend,
That Spy is guarded by your Friend.——
But has that Friend nor Eye, nor Heart?
May He not feel the cruel Dart                                                               30
Which, soon or late, all Mortals feel?
May He not, with too tender Zeal,
Give the Fair Pris’ner Cause to see,
How much He wishes, she were free?
May He not craftily infer                                                                           35
The Rules of Friendship too severe,
Which chain him to a hated Trust,
Which make him Wretched, to be Just?
And may not She, this Darling She,

Youthful and healthy, Flesh and Blood,                                            40
Easie with Him, ill us’d by Thee,
Allow this Logic to be good?

Sir, Will your Questions never end?
I trust to neither Spy nor Friend.
In short, I keep her from the Sight                                                             45
Of ev’ry Human Face.       —– She’ll write.—–
From Pen and Paper She’s debarr’d.—–
Has she a Bodkin and a Card?
She’ll prick her Mind: —– She will, you say;
But how shall She that Mind convey?                                                         50
I keep her in one Room, I lock it;
The Key, look here, is in this Pocket:
The Key-hole , is that left? Most certain,
She’ll thrust her Letter thro’,—–Sir Martin.

Dear angry Friend, what must be done?                                             55
Is there no Way?—– There is but one.
Send her abroad, and let her see,
That all this mingled Mass, which she
Being forbidden longs to know,
Is a dull Farce, an empty Show,                                                                    60
Powder, and Pocket-Glass, and Beau;
A Staple of Romance and Lies,
False Tears, and real Perjuries;
Where Sighs and Looks are bought and sold,
And Love is made but to be told;                                                                 65
Where the fat Bawd and lavish Heir
The Spoils of ruin’d Beauty share,
And Youth seduc’d from Friends and Fame
Must give up Age to Want and Shame.
Let her behold the Frantick Scene,                                                              70
The Women wretched, false the Men:
And when, these certain Ills to shun,
She would to thy Embraces run;
Receive her with extended Arms,
Seem more delighted with her Charms;                                                     75
Wait on her to the Park and Play,
Put on good Humour, make her gay;
Be to her Virtues very kind,
Be to her Faults a little blind;
Let all her Ways be unconfin’d,                                                                     80
And clap your Padlock —– on her Mind.

NOTES:

Title Padlock “A detachable lock” (OED).

1 Danae Greek mythological daughter of King Acrius of Argos and Queen Eurydice. Acrius had no sons to give his throne to and as Danae was childless he kept her locked in a tower to keep the prophecy that his grandson would kill him from coming true (“Danae,” greekmythology.com, accessed 7 August 2017).

2 Horace A Roman poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus who wrote about this myth in reference to Danae being locked away (“Horatii Flacci Opera,” books.google.com, accessed 7 August 2017).

3 Jove “A poetical equivalent of Jupiter” Danae was impregnated by Zeus in the tower (OED) (“Danae,” greekmythology.com, accessed 7 August 2017).

9 Whipster “A vague, mischievous, or contemptuous person” (OED).

20 Curious “Careful, attentive, concerned” (OED).

32 Zeal “Ardent love or affection” (OED).

48 Bodkin “A long pin or pin-shaped ornament used by women to fasten up the hair” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (1709), pp. 105-108. [HathiTrust]

Edited by Mimi Willmer

Stephen Duck, “To His Royal Highness The Duke of Cumberland, on His Birth-Day”

STEPHEN DUCK

 “To His Royal Highness The Duke of CUMBERLAND, on His Birth-Day”

 

Twelve times hath SOL his annual Race begun,
Since JOVE descended from his radiant Throne:
Around the pendent Globe, the God pursu’d
His circling March, and human Actions view’d;
But griev’d that Virtue droop’d her languid Head,                                                     5
While Vice from Clime to Clime contagious spread;
Back, to his native Seat, he sternly flies;
And sends and Edict thro’ the spacious Skies,
To call th’ Ethereal Pow’rs: Swift flew his Word;
Th’ Ethereal Pow’rs, as swift, attend their Lord.                                                        10
Upon Olympus’ Top the Synod met,
Where, high inthron’d the thund’ring Monarch sat;
And, with a Nod, that shook the Spheres, he swore,
The Minor Gods should visit Earth no more.                                                                                    What, must your earthly Sons, MINERVA cry’d,                                                         15
Explore their doubtful Way without a Guide?
If PALLAS must no more to Mortals go,
Let PALLAS beg a Substitute below,
Worthy to rule the World, whose noble Mind
May copy out the Gods to human Kind.                                                                      20
She lowly bow’d; and JOVE, consenting, smil’d;
Go, form, said he, this new-imagin’d Child:
Collect the best Materials, where you will;
And let us see, for once, MINERVA’S Skill.
He said; she hastens o’er the bright Abodes,                                                              25
Selecting each Perfection of the Gods:
From Mars she warlike Strength and Courage took;
But soften’d them with VENUS’ graceful Look:
To these she added HERMES’ Eloquence,                                                                                                   And crown’d it with her own superior Sense:                                                               30
Some of Apollo’s piercing Rays she stole;
And while the MUSES play’d, she she form’d a Soul.
When thus compos’d the bright Ingredients lay,
She nobly drest them in Eternal Clay;
Jove touch’d the Mass with enliv’ning Hand,                                                                 35
And vital Warmth inspir’d a CUMBERLAND.

 NOTES:

Title Duke of CUMBERLAND Prince William Augustus (1726-1765), third son of King George II, appointed as Duke in 1726. At an early age he became known for his astute physical courage and ability. He would later lead the decisive Battle of Culloden against the Jacobite rebels in January, 1746 (Encyclopedia Britannica).

1 SOL “The sun (personified)” (OED).

2 JOVE Latin name for Jupiter, the highest god of the ancient Romans; the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek tradition (Encyclopedia Britannica).

11 Olympus’ Top Known as Mount Olympus. The home of gods and goddesses in ancient mythology (Encyclopedia Britannica); Synod “An assembly, convention, or council of any kind” (OED).

15 MINERVA “A Roman goddess, regarded as the patron of handicrafts and the arts, and later also of wisdom and prowess in war, identified from an early period with the Greek Athene” (OED).

17 PALLAS An epithet for Athena, the goddess of war, handicraft, and practical reason. “Pallas” refers to her warrior side; according to legend, Pallas was a friend and sparring partner accidentally killed by Athena.

27 Mars “The god of war of the ancient Romans, ranking in importance next to Jupiter, and identified from an early period with the Greek god Ares” (OED).

28 VENUS Roman goddess of love and beauty (Encyclopedia Britannica).

29 HERMES “A deity, the son of Zeus and Maia, represented as the messenger of the gods, the god of science, commerce, eloquence, and many of the arts of life” (OED).

31 Apollo Roman god of beauty, music, and poetry (Encyclopedia Britannica).

 Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1738), pp. 97-98. [Google Books]

Edited by Christian Ferrey

Maria Logan, “To Opium”

MARIA LOGAN

“TO OPIUM”

 

Let others boast the golden spoil
Which Indian climes afford;
And still, with unavailing toil,
Increase the shining hoard:—-

Still let Golconda’s dazzling pride                                          5
On Beauty’s forehead glow,
And round the fair, on ev’ry side,
Sabean odours flow: —-

Be mine the balm, whose sov’reign pow’r
Can still the throb of Pain;                                                      10
The produce of the scentless flow’r,
That strews Hindostan’s plain.

No gaudy hue its form displays,
To catch the roving eye;
And Ignorance, with vacant gaze,                                          15
May pass regardless by.

But shall the Muse with cold disdain,
Its simple charms behold!
Shall she devote the tuneful strain
To incense, gems, or gold!                                                      20

When latent ills the frame pervade,
And mock the healing art;
Thy friendly balm shall lend its aid,
And transient ease impart;

Shall charm the restless hours of day,                                  25
And cheer the midnight gloom;
Shall blunt each thorn, which strews the way
That leads us to the tomb.

And oft, when Reason vainly tries
To calm the troubled breast,                                                    30
Thy pow’r can seal our streaming eyes,
And bid our sorrows rest.

What tho’ this calm must quickly cease,
And Grief resume its pow’r,
The heart that long has sigh’d for ease,                                  35
Will prize the tranquil hour!

A short oblivion of its care
Relieves the weary’d mind,
Till suff’ring nature learns to bear
The weight by Heav’n assign’d.                                                  40

Reviv’d by thee, my drooping Muse
Now pours the grateful strain,
And Fancy’s hand sweet flow’rets strews
Around the bed of Pain.

 

At her command gay scenes arise                                             45
To charm my raptur’d sight,
While Memory’s faithful hand supplies
Past objects of delight.

Yet Memory’s soothing charms were vain,
Without thy friendly aid;                                                              50
And sportive Fancy’s smiling train,
Would fly Disease’s shade —-

Did not thy magic pow’r supply,
A mild, tho’ transient ray;
As meteors in a northern sky,                                                    55
Shed artificial day.

And shall my humble Muse alone
Thy peerless worth declare!
A Muse to all the world unknown,
Whose songs are lost in air.                                                      60

O! may the bard, whose tuneful strain
Resounds thro’ Derwent’s vale,
At whose command the hosts of Pain,
Disease and Sickness, fail—-

That Sage, to whom the God of Day                                        65
His various gifts imparts,
Whose healing pow’r, whose melting lay,
United, charm our hearts—-

May he devote one tuneful page,
To thee, neglected Flow’r!                                                          70
Then Fame shall bid each future age,
Admiring, own thy pow’r!

NOTES:

Title  Opium  The foremost medicinal painkiller until synthetics were isolated in the 19th century (Encyclopedia Britannica).

1  spoil  “Goods… seized by force” (OED).

2  Indian climes  The East India Company obtained much mineral wealth from India, which they controlled on Britain’s behalf when this poem was written in 1793 (Encyclopedia Britannica).

5  Golconda  A city in Southern India famous for diamonds (Encyclopedia Britannica).

8  Sabean odours  An echo of Milton’s Paradise Lost: “Sabéan odors from the spicy shore/ Of Araby the Blest” (Book IV, 162-163). Refers to ancient kingdom of Saba in the Arabian peninsula (Encyclopedia Britannica).

17  Muse  A Goddess related to poetry and the arts, and a word referring to a particular poet’s inspiration (OED).

21 pervade  “To spread throughout; to permeate” (OED).

51  Fancy  “Imagination” (OED).

52  shade  “A dark figure ‘cast’ upon a surface” (OED).

61  bard  An admiring reference to Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), poet and naturalist, whose popular poem The Botanic Garden: A Poem in Two Parts first appeared in 1789.  Part II was titled “The Loves of the Plants.” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

62  Derwent’s vale  Derwent is a river in northwest England; a number of valleys could be associated with it (Dictionary of British Place-Names, 152).

65  God of Day  The use of ‘His’ in the next line suggests this is an allusion to Apollo, the god of light and the sun, but also of poetry. (Encyclopedia Britannica).

72  “This was written just before the publication of “The Loves of the Plants;” a work which had been long impatiently expected by everyone who had been so fortunate as to see any specimen of the Author’s poetical abilities” [Author’s Note].

Source: Poems on Several Occasions… Second edition (York, 1793), pp. 17-21. [Google Books]

Edited by John Holden

 

Mary Barber, “Written from Dublin to a Lady in the Country”

[MARY BARBER]

Written from Dublin to a Lady in the Country

 

A Wretch in smoaky Dublin pent,
Who rarely sees the Firmament,
You graciously invite, to view
The Sun’s enliv’ning Rays with you;
To change the Town for flow’ry Meads,                                             5
And sing beneath the sylvan Shades.

YOU’RE kind in vain —It will not be —
Retirement was deny’d to me;
Doom’d by inexorable Fate,
To pass thro’ crouded Scenes I hate.                                                   10
O with what Joy could I survey
The rising, glorious source of Day!
Attend the Shepherd’s fleecy Care
Transported with the vernal Air;
Behold the Meadow’s painted Pride,                                                   15
Or see the limped Waters glide;
Survey the distant, shaded Hills,
And, penfive, hear the murm’ring Rills,

THRO’ your Versailles with Pleasure rove,
Admire the Gardens, and the Grove;                                                    20
See Nature’s bounteous Hand adorn
The blushing Peach, and the blooming Thorn;
Beheld the Birds distend their Throats,
And hear their wild, melodious Notes,

DELIGHTED, thro’ your Pastures roam,                                                25
Or see the Kine come lowing home;
Whose od’rous Breaths a Joy impart,
That sooths the Sense, and glads the Heart;
With pleasure view the frothing Pails
And silent hear the creaking Rails;                                                         30
See whistling Hinds attend their Ploughs,
Who never hear of broken Vows;
Where no Ambition to be great,
E’er taught the Nymph, or Swain, Deceit.

THUS thro’ the Day, delighted run;                                                        35
Then raptur’d view the setting Sun;
The rich, diffusive God behold,
On distant Mountains pouring Gold,
Gilding the beauteous, rising Spire,
While Crystal Windows glow with Fire;                                                  40
Gaze, till he quit the Western Skies,
And long to see his Sister rise;
Prefer the silent, Silver moon
To the too radiant, noisy Noon.

OR Northward turn, with new Delight,                                                   45
To mark what Triumphs wait the Night;
When Shepherds think the Heav’ns foreshow
Some dire Commotions here below;
When Light the human Form assumes,
And Champions meet with nodding Plumes,                                       50
With Silver Streamers, wide unfurl’d
And gleaming Spears amaze the World.

THENCE to the higher Heav’ns I soar,
And the great Architect adore ;
Behold what Worlds are hung in Air,                                                     55
And view ten thousand Empires there;
Then prostate to Jehovah fall,
Who into Being spake them all.

NOTES:

 1 pent “Another term for ‘pent-up’” (OED).

2 Firmament “The heavens or the sky” (OED).

6 Sylvan “Consisting of or associated with woods; wooded” (OED).

9 inexorable “Impossible to stop or prevent” (OED).

14 vernal “Of, in, or appropriate to spring” (OED).

19 Versailles A royal palace that began construction in 1661 and completed in 1715. It was the palace of the French monarch Louis XIV and it was a symbol of absolute monarchy.

 26 Kine “Cows collectively” (OED).

31 Hinds Farm laborers.

34 Swain “A country youth” (OED).

51 unfurl’d “Make or become spread out from a rolled or folded state, especially in order to be open to the wind.” (OED)

57 Jehovah “A form of the Hebrew name of God used in some translations of the Bible” (OED).

 Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 101-104.

 Edited by Natasha Forsberg

Ann Yearsley, “To a Friend, on Valentine’s Day”

ANN YEARSLEY

“To a Friend, on Valentine’s Day”

 

Tho’ blooming shepherds hail this day
With love, the subject of each lay,
Yet friendship tunes my artless song,
To thee the grateful themes belong.

STREPHON, I never will repine,                                                5
Tho’ desin’d not thy Valentine;
O’er friendship’s nobler heights we’ll rove,
Nor heed the soft’ning voice of love.

Strangers to Passion’s tyrant reign,
Careless, we’ll range the happier plain,                                  10
Where all those calmer joys we’ll prove,
Which wait sublime platonic love.

Yet I’ll allow a future day,
When friendship must at last give way;
When thou, forgetful, shalt resign                                             15
The maid who wrote this Valentine.

Think not, my friend, I dream of love ,
That with some happier maid thou’lt prove;
Friendship alone is my design
In this officious Valentine.                                                            20

Yet, when that victor God shall reign,
And conquer’d Friendship quits the plain,
This gentle whisperer captive take,
‘T will all they former kindness wake.

But if its pleadings you deny,                                                        25
And fain wou’d have remembrance die,
Then to devouring flames consign
My too ill-fated Valentine.

NOTES:

1 blooming “In the bloom of health and beauty, in the prime of youth” (OED).

5 STREPHON A typical male name used in pastoral poetry (Oxford Reference); repine “To feel or express discontent or dissatisfaction; to grumble, complain” (OED).

12 sublime “ perfect, consummate; supreme” (OED); platonic “ Of love, affection, or friendship: intimate and affectionate but not sexual; spiritual rather than physical” (OED).

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

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1786), p. 21.  [Google Books]

Edited by Katherine Lowden

John Jones, “To the Unfortunate Miss Poynton, of Lichfield”

JOHN JONES

“To the Unfortunate Miss Poynton, of Lichfield”

No longer let my humble Muse complain,
Or deem severe my various chequer’d lot;
Priscilla, whilst I read thy melting strain,
And weigh thy griefs, be all my own forgot.

Me, though an orphan from my infant state,                                                   5
And robb’d in childhood of my native right!
Compar’d to thy tenebr’ous, joyless fate,
My trifling ills must gratitude excite.

Not hapless Blacklock, the fam’d Scottish bard,
Whose polish’d numbers oft with sighs I view,                                      10
Can claim, like thee, the tribute of regard;
His infant loss, tho’ great, he never knew.

But thou, indulg’d twelve childish years to see
Nature’s fair face, and wanton in her smiles,
Now wrapp’d in endless night and misery,                                                    15
Each lovely object thy fond wish beguiles.

Ah! direful change! on thy scald eyes no more
Yon orb refulgent darts his cheerful ray!
Guideless, methinks, I see thee now explore,
With trembling steps, thy dark and devious way.                                  20

Yet, sure it cannot be! what fell despite
Can let thee wander guideless and forlorn!
Or, unconcern’d, survey thy doleful plight!
Or mark thy anguish with an eye of scorn!

Ten thousand plagues torment his impious tongue,                                     25
Who dares, with sport infernal, mock thy pain;
Around his guilty haunt pale spectres throng,
Implore relief, and wish for death in vain.

The boon of heav’n, (nor greater heav’n can grant)
The sacred text, must thou in vain unfold?                                             30
And shall thy thirsty soul for knowledge pant,
Yet never wisdom’s sacred fane behold?

It must be so–yet GOD corrects in love;
Nor ought vain Man to let one murmur fall,
Lest he in wrath his arrogance reprove;                                                          35
Soon the great teacher DEATH unravels all.

But who, with stoic fortitude, could bear
Thy pond’rous sorrow! thy acute distress!
What bosom but by sympathy must share
The poignant evils which thy life oppress!                                              40

Thou, with becoming sorrow, dost complain,
And warble forth thy complicated woe;
And who that hears thee can from tears refrain?
Ah! who but must his friendly mite bestow.

Yet think not Fate on thy devoted head                                                         45
Pours forth life’s nauseous dregs with ill design;
By sacred heaven-born Contemplation led
From vice and folly, see thy soul refine.

Long may thy modest, meek, instructive Muse,
(For such I hope thy ev’ry theme to find)                                               50
The balm of comfort o’er thy life diffuse,
And joys celestial cheer thy pensive mind.
KIDDERMINSTER, SEPT. 12, 1768.

NOTES:

Author In her response to this poem (which immediately follows in the volume), Poynton identifies the author as “Mr. Jones of Kidderminster.” This is probably the same John Jones that published An Elegy on Winter, and other poems (Birmingham, 1779). He’s described on the title page as “school-master, in Kidderminster,” and “the author of Poems on Several Subjects.” Poynton also mentions that Jones was the author of a volume of the same title (4), though no copies appear to have survived. Kidderminster is located approximately seventeen miles southwest of Birmingham.

Title Miss Poynton “This Poem was occasioned by seeing Miss Poynton’s advertisement, requesting a subscription for her poems, (see Birmingham Gazette for Sept. 12, 1768,) the Author till then not having the least knowledge even of her name” [Text note]. Priscilla Poynton (1750-1801) was known as “the blind poetess of Lichfield,” a cathedral city located in Staffordshire.

7 Tenebr’ous “Full of darkness” (OED).

9 Blacklock Thomas Blacklock (1721-1791), a Scottish poet who contracted smallpox at six months old and was left completely blind.

14 Wanton “Undisciplined, ungoverned, unmanageable, rebellious” (OED).

16 Beguiles “Deception” (OED).

18 Refulgent “Shining with, or reflecting a brilliant light” (OED).

26 Thy Pain Refers to the pain and disability of being blind that Priscilla Poynton, the subject of the poem, constantly endured because disabilities in the 18th century were often ignored.

27 Spectres “Ghost or other apparition” (OED). ; Throng “Oppression, distress, trouble, woe, or affliction” (OED).

29 Boon “A prayer” (OED).

32 Fane “Mode of proceeding, bearing, demeanor; appearance, aspect” (OED).

42 And warble forth thy complicated woe “Alluding to a few poetical lines inserted with her advertisement” [Text note].

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (Birmingham, 1770), pp. 1-4. [Google Books]

Edited by Taylor Albert

Mary Darwall, “To a Friend, on her recovery from Sickness”

[MARY DARWALL]

“To a Friend, on her recovery from Sickness”

My much belov’d, my gentle friend,
May ev’ry happiness attend
Thy health’s returning bloom;
May fell disease, and grief, and pain,
With all their dire afflictive train,                                                 5
No longer be thy doom.

Th’ autumnal sun now shines serene,
Rich Ceres beautifies each scene,
And plenty laughs around;
The woods, the hills, the vales look gay,                                  10
O! hither come, and every day
With rapture shall be crown’d.

Come, range with me the verdant lawn,
And hear the lark at early dawn
His sprightly matin trill;                                                        15
Or, with my little playful throng,
At eve enjoy the blackbird’s song,
Beside some gurgling rill.

But wheresoe’er my friend shall stray,
May peace and pleasure smooth her way,                               20
And health and fortune smile;
May love, with all his choicest flowr’s,
For thee adorn his myrtle bowr’s,
And all thy cares beguile.

May some gay youth, fond, kind, and true,                               25
My SYLVIA’s worthy heart subdue
To Hymen’s gentle pow’r;
Soft may the silken fetters prove,
Distrust or doubt ne’er chill your love,
But peace gild every hour!                                                    30

NOTES:

8 Ceres “The Roman goddess of the growth of food” (Britannica).

10 vales “A more or less extensive tract o f land lying between two ranges of hills” (OED).

14 lark “A name used generally for any bird of the Alaudidae family” (OED).

15 matin “The morning song of birds” (OED); trill “To utter or sing (a note, tune, etc.) with tremulous vibration of sound” (OED).

18 rill “Small stream; a brook; a rivulet” (OED).

23 myrtle bowr’s “Any various evergreen shrubs or small trees of the genus Myrtus” (OED).

27 Hymen “In Greek mythology, the god of marriage” (Britannica).

28 fetters “Chains for the legs” (Johnson).

30 gild “To cover entirely or partially with a thin layer of gold” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1794), pp. 26­-28. [ Google Books]

Edited by Sandy Karkar

Richard Gough, “To Mrs. S— on presenting the Author with a Lock of her Hair”

RICHARD GOUGH

 “To Mrs. S— on presenting the Author with a Lock of her Hair”

The Poets, Madam, all aver,
That once the ruthless god of war,
Who, bred amid the din of arms,
Defy’d the pow’r of beauty’s charms;
And long had proudly scorn’d to wear,                                     5
The pleasing fetters of the fair.
Struck with the graceful air and mein,
And roseat bloom of Cyprus’ queen;
His savage fierceness all forbore,
Subdued by Venus, magic lore;                                                10
And soon became her pow’r to prove,
A convert to the force of love.
The wily Goddess, then, ‘tis said,
All with an heavenly tempered brede;
Of net-work circled him around,                                              15
And to her snowy bosom bound:
Secur’d the conquest of her eyes,
And by the rulers of the skies;
From the fierce God of war so tamed,
Thence forth was beauties goddess named.                        20
Thus say the poets, who in fiction,
In figure and in contradiction,
To all the laws of modest nature,
Trick out a strange romantic creature;
Which, after all, they queintly feign,                                       25
No where exists but in the brain.
Might I the genuine truth reveal,
And would you listen to the tale;
Would you, more kindly still supply,
Whate’er I pass in silence by?                                                 30
Whose was the dull, insensate breast,
Which beauty’s pow’r at length confess’d;
Who soon became that power to prove,
A convert to the force of love:
Wou’d you conceive who ‘tis I mean,                                    35
Then would I thus the rest explain:
The heavenly net-work, Venus snare,
Was this — a ringlet of her hair;
And she, to give her all her due,
Some faint resemblance was of–you.                                  40

NOTES:

Title Mrs. S— Unable to identify.

2 god of war In Roman mythology, Mars.

7 mein “Physical strength, force or power” (OED).

8 roseat “Resembling or suggestive of a rose, esp.in colour” (OED); Cyprus’ queen Probably Cleopatra of Egypt, renowned for her beauty, who was given control of the island through her alliance with Marc Antony (Encyclopedia Britannica).

10 Venus In Roman mythology, the goddess of love.

14 brede “Anything plaited, entwined, or interwoven” (OED).

25 queintly An older spelling of quaintly (OED).

31 insensate “Destitute of physical sense or feeling” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (April 1770), p. 183.

Edited by Matthew Bragg

Mary Masters, “To Lucinda”

MARY MASTERS

To Lucinda”

 LUCINDA, you in vain disswade
Two Hearts from mutual Love.
What am’rous Youth, or tender Maid
Could e’er their Flames remove?

What, if the Charms in him I see                                      5
Only exist in Thought:
Yet CUPID’S like the Medes Decree,
Is firm and changeth not.

Seek not to know my Passion’s spring,
The Reason to discover:                                            10
For Reason is an useless Thing,
When we’ve commenc’d the Lover.

Should Lovers quarrel with their Fate,
And ask the Reason why,
They are condemn’d to doat on That,                              15
Or for This Object die?

They must not hope for a Reply,
And this is all they know;
They sigh, and weep, and rave, and die,
Because it must be so.                                                20

LOVE is a mighty God you know,
That rules with potent Sway:
And, when he draws his awful Bow,
We Mortals must obey.

Since you the fatal Strife endur’d,                                     25
And yielded to his Dart:
How can I hope to be secur’d,
And guard a weaker Heart?

NOTES:

1 disswade Variation of dissuade “to give advice against” (OED).

7 CUPID’S The Roman God of love, son of Venus; often appears as an infant with wings carrying a bow, and arrows that have the power to inspire love in those they pierce (Encyclopædia Britannica); Medes Decree Refers to the laws of the Medes and Persians, “Medes” being an ancient Indo-European people whose empire encompassed most of Persia; in the Bible, “laws of the Medes” is a proverbial phrase meaning, “something that is unalterable” (OED).

21 LOVE The God of love, Cupid.

22 Sway “Power” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London: T. Browne, 1733), pp. 151-53.  [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Brittany Kirn