Tag Archives: virtue

Frances Maria Cowper, “My Retired Hours”

FRANCES MARIA COWPER

 “My Retired Hours”

 

Ye gentle days that once were mine,
In every charm of life array’d,
No more awaken my regret,
No more my settled peace invade.

Fresh hope of permanent delight                                                  5
My meditating thoughts pursue;
Nor can the charms of time or sense
Obscure the bright, the heavenly view.

My convert heart delights to muse
On fallen man’s deliv’rance found,                                          10
The sacrifice, the cleansing blood,
That for his bleeding guilt aton’d:

Of man’s estate in Paradise,
Of endless mercy’s wide display,
Of cov’nant love, and Gospel grace,                                                 15
That point to Heaven th’ unerring way:

Such themes as these, in early years,
My secret hours have oft inspir’d,
My infant hands with wonder rais’d,
My infant heart with rapture fir’d.                                              20

Witness ye saints invisible,
Ye guests unseen, whose guardian care
Preserves the soul from threat’ning ill,
And wafts to Heaven the pious tear:

Witness—for ye have oft beheld—                                                      25
How (for superior joys design’d)
My humble steps retirement sought,
Leaving the busy world behind:

How, in the sweet sequester’d shade,
Where ——’s fair meand’ring flood                                             30
Pours its rich streams around the plains,
And gurgles near the favourite wood,

At morn, at noon, at dewy eve,
Oft by the moon’s soft-glancing ray,
In search of Wisdom’s rare delights                                                     35
My feet unwearied lov’d to stray.

And are those transitory hours,
So sweet to my remembrance, gone?
Sunk in the deep abyss of time,
Beyond the reach of fancy flown?                                                 40

Ye swift-wing’d messengers, farewell,
And all the pleasures that ye gave;
Sweet earnest of unfading joys
That wait my soul beyond the grave.

Loos’d from the vexing world below,                                                    45
O! when shall I to these attain?
When to that blissful region go,
That yields no sorrow, tear, or pain?

There shall my disencumber’d soul
Distinctly view the grand design                                                     50
Of each mysterious providence,
The gracious plan of love divine.

How dim foe’er the eye of sense,
How faint foe’er each mental power,
There we shall trace Omniscience,                                                         55
And all his sov’reign will explore;

Companioning with angels bright,
Perhaps with kindred spirits join’d,
Adore the self-existent God,
That brought salvation to mankind.                                               60

Delightful Theme of endless bliss!
How little know the world of Thee!
Only the pilgrim hasting on,
And panting for eternity.

He joyful views, with steady eye,                                                             65
Where faithful labourers abide;
Beholds the glittering gates on high,
On golden hinges opening wide.

There all his thoughts and wishes tend,
Anxious he marks the heavenly road,                                            70
Compassionates the senseless world,
And languishes—to be with God;

To see the “very Paschal Lamb,”
In everlasting bliss enthron’d,
And mingle with those blessed saints,                                                   75
That live with endless glory crown’d.

O! how with “ever-tuned harps”
They sing “the Lamb’s mysterious song;”
Myriads of cherubs catch the sound,
Echoing from each celestial tongue.                                               80

Celestial tongues alone can reach
The height of that celestial strain,
Their tongues alone who see his face,
And with the Lamb for ever reign.

Unwearied through eternity,                                                                    85
Their pleasing toil they still pursue,
And spread around th’ ethereal space
The glorious theme, for ever new.

NOTES:

 10 fallen man’s Adam, Eve, and their descendants, humanity after the transition from innocent obedience to God in the garden of Eden to guilt, disobedience, and sin; humanity that is viewed as naturally sinful and in need of salvation; deliv’rance Giving over into the possession or power of another, in particular reference to God, or an act of God whereby he rescues his people from danger or damnation (Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (EDT), pp. 434-436; 330-331).

11 sacrifice Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and forgiveness of humanity’s sinfulness (EDT, pp. 113-114).

12 bleeding guilt Mortal sin, damnation; aton’d “To bargain for exemption” (Johnson), here a reference to Christians’ reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ (EDT, pp. 113-114).

13 estate “Circumstances in general; conditions of life; possibly also in reference to possessions in land, rank, or quality” (Johnson).

15 cov’nant “A contract between two parties” (Johnson), usually an agreement between God and his people, in which God makes promises to his people and, in return, requires certain types of conduct from them (EDT, pp. 299-301).

15 Gospel The records of Jesus Christ’s life and teachings in the first four books of the new testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

19 infant “Immature, in a state of initial imperfection” (Johnson); also possibly referencing the spiritual rebirth of baptism (EDT, pp. 129-131).

20 rapture “Ecstasy, mental transportation to a sublime realm, a vigorous passion,” particularly of the faith in God (Johnson).

25 oft Often.

26 design’d “To devote intentionally” (Johnson).

27 retirement “Private way of life, state of being withdrawn” (Johnson).

41 swift-wing’d messengers Angels.

53 foe-er Forever.

53 eye of sense “Perception by intellect” (Johnson).

63 pilgrim “A traveler, wanderer, particularly one who travels on a religious account” (Johnson).

67 glittering gates The entrance to heaven.

71 Compassionates “Pity” (Johnson).

73 Paschal Lamb A lamb with particular ritual significance, which the Israelites were commanded to eat as a part of the Passover celebration; the Paschal Lamb symbolized Christ, “the Lamb of God,” who redeemed the world by the shedding of his blood (EDT, pp. 893-895).

77 ever-tuned harps Possibly an allusion to John Milton’s Paradise Lost and his descriptions of angels, particularly when the angels celebrate God’s decision to allow his son, Jesus Christ, to sacrifice himself for mankind (Book III, line 366).

78 the Lamb’s mysterious song Referencing a song of triumph over Babylon, which represented sin and idolatry; the biblical triumph over Babylon symbolizes a triumph over sin.

79 cherubs Angels who support the rule of God, especially connected with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden (EDT, pp. 60-61).

 SOURCE: Original Poems, on Various Occasions (London, 1792), pp. 15-19. [Google Books]

 Edited by Momo Wang

 

 

Frances Maria Cowper, religious verse, meditation, virtue, the sublime, ballad stanzas

Phillis Wheatley, “On Virtue”

PHILLIS WHEATLEY

 “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!

NOTES

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), pg. 13-14. [Archive.org]

Edited by Joseph R. Adams

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

Anonymous, “An Invocation to Poverty”

ANONYMOUS

 An INVOCATION to POVERTY. By an HONOURABLE COMMONER,
After the Reflection on his PENURY, thrown out in the House of Commons last Sessions.

 Oh! Poverty! of pale, consumptive hue,
If thou delight’st to haunt me, still in view;
If still thy presence must my steps attend,
At least continue as thou art — my Friend!
When Scotch example bids me be unjust,                                                                  5
False to my word — or faithless to my trust,
Bid me the baneful error quickly see,
And shun the world, to find Repose with thee;
When Vice to Wealth would turn my partial eye,
Or Int’rest shut my ear to Sorrow’s cry,                                                                         10
Or Courtier’s custom would my reason bend,
My Foe to flatter, — or desert my Friend:
Oppose, kind Poverty, thy temper’d shield,
And bear me off unvanquish’d from the field.
If giddy Fortune e’er return again,                                                                           15
With all her idle — restless, wanton train, —
Her magic glass should false Ambition hold,
Or Av’rice bid me put my trust in Gold,
To my relief, thou virtuous Goddess, haste,
And with thee bring thy daughters ever chaste,                                                           20
Health! Liberty! and Wisdom! sisters bright,
Whose charms can make the worst condition light,
Beneath the hardest fate the mind can chear,
Can heal Affliction — and disarm Despair!
In chains, in torments, pleasure can bequeath,                                                             25
And dress in smiles the tyrant hour of Death!

NOTES:

Title Honourable Commoner Someone not born of nobility, but who possesses nobility; Penury Poverty; House of Commons The lower house of England’s legislative branch.

 1 Consumptive Pale, as if dying of tuberculosis.

 5 Scotch The Scottish people.

 8 Repose Rest.

 11 Courtier Attendant of the royal court.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol. 46 (September 1776), p. 428.

Edited by George Griffith