Category Archives: Poems

Henry Norris, “Friendship”

HENRY NORRIS

“Friendship”

Addressed to Mr. J. C. WESTCOTT, of Exeter College, Oxon.

Solem enim e mundo tollere videntur, qui Amicitiam e
vita tollunt; qua a diis immortalibus nihil melius ha-
bemus, nihil jucundius.
                                                                      Cic[ero].

Whether reclin’d on Charwell’s flow’ry side,
Or where fair Isis rolls her watry pride;
Arise, my PYLADES; to thee I sing,
To thee and Friendship wake the slumb’ring string.

Cement of souls, celestial child of JOVE,                                         5
Pure emanation of immortal love,
Great Friendship, come; enlarge my op’ning mind,
Refine my soul with love of good and kind,
Nor leave one sordid grain of self behind.
So let me taste thy joys, uncumber’d, free,                                      10
And future heav’n anticipate in thee.
What, without thee, were life, were glory, fame?
A morning shadow, and an empty name.
The black’ning horrors of tempestuous fate,
‘Tis thine to brighten, thine to dissipate:                                                15
Whate’er of bliss we know, ’tis thine to give,
And without thee to live, were not to live.

When Heav’n first rais’d the great creative plan,
And into being spake the fav’rite, man;
Around he saw celestial blessings show’r,                                            20
Proud of his world, his essence, and his pow’r;
But, in his breast, still felt a painful void
Of something yet unknown, yet unenjoy’d.
JOVE view’d his work; the great design to mend,
He gave him bliss, and call’d that bliss a friend.                                   25
“Friendship, arise;” thus spake the eternal Sire;
“With glowing sentiment the breast inspire.
Go, soften sorrow, blunt the stings of care,
And teach mankind the ills of life to bear.
The task, how glorious! to dilate the soul,                                            30
And breathe soft sympathy throughout the whole;
To give the mind to taste of joys divine;
From baser dregs ideas to refine;
The task, how glorious! my son, be thine.”

All nature felt the gift; new joys to prove,                                     35
Kind mix’d with kind, and waken’d into love:
All seek their friend, in sweet communion join,
And mingle souls, with ecstasy divine.
’Tis Heav’n has fix’d, soft feelings to suggest,
This sympathetic load-stone in the breast.                                          40
Thus souls their kindred souls magnetic draw,
And all maintain this universal law:
That still, whatever nature steers the mind,
Like to her sister like will be inclin’d.
Virtue with pleasure views, impress’d on youth,                                 45
The lively semblance of her native truth:
While Vice, with grin of joy, exults to see
The growing marks of shame and infamy.
Hence, e’en the vicious catch the friendly flame;
(If Friendship knows with them that sacred name;)                           50
Indulge the blaze, ‘midst riotry and noise,
And feast with rapture, on adult’rate joys;
Tho’ vitiated sense the gust destroys.

Congenial souls with equal passions move,
The same their hatred, the same their love:                                        55
By force of sympathy, they cool, or burn,
And smile for smile, or sigh for sigh return:
Lords of each others heart, supreme they reign,
Taste all their bliss, or die beneath their pain.
See, in their breasts enthron’d, one common mind,                          60
Tho’ Heav’n distinct apartments has assign’d:
Tho’, fetter’d, each endures his sep’rate frame,
Yet is their soul, their ev’ry will the same.
Thus clog’d, their spirits fain would wing their flight,
Pant to get free, and, what they can, unite.                                          65
But though their bodies fate forbids to join,
Tho’ walls of flesh the fever’d soul confine;
Yet still their streams of life united run,
One, in their will, and in their friendship, one.
Should distant realms their mutual hopes divide,                               70
From the Thames’ fair banks, to Ganges’ fertile tide;
Still would the foul, impatient to embrace,
Scornful o’er-shoot the narrow pale of space;
On wings ideal, from her prison start,
And fly to meet her correspondent part.                                              75
So two fair lucid streams their courses bend,
In fond embrace their wedded waves to blend;
With fervid haste the silver surges roll,
To join in love, and form one friendly whole.

When works the soul, with joy’s glad burthen press’d,               80
When pants, with strangling care, the heaving breast;
How sweet to give the struggling load relief,
To share our hoarded joys, our treasur’d grief;
Unlock the secret casket of the heart,
And ev’ry pleasure, ev’ry pain impart!                                                    85
How sweet to hang on Friendship’s tuneful tongue,
To drink, with thirsty ear, the love-fraught song!
Catch the young accents, as they swell to birth,
Heralds of grief, or harbingers of mirth!
To mingle tear with tear, meet smile with smile,                                  90
Enhance the bliss, or sorrow thus beguile!
These are thy joys, O Friendship, joys that spring
Beneath thy eye, and claim they parent wing.
Joys, great as these, may lavish fate decree,
To bless profuse my PYLADES and me.                                                  95
Nor wealth I beg, no ermin’d pomp implore;
Grant but my friend, and, Heav’n, I’ll ask no more.

NOTES:

Subtitle Mr. J. C. Westcott Unable to trace; Oxon. An abbreviation for Oxford University.

Epigraph Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BCE-43 BCE), Roman statesman, lawyer, and writer, known for his oratory and rhetorical skills. “They might as well steal the sun from the heavens as remove friendship from life! For nothing we have from the gods is better or more enjoyable than friendship.” From Laelius de Amicitia, a treatise on friendship published in 44 BCE.

1 Charwell Northernmost tributary of the River Thames (Britannica).

2 Isis Alternative name for the River Thames (Britannica).

3 PYLADES Cousin and closest friend of Orestes, a hero of ancient Greek mythology (Britannica).

5 JOVE Jupiter, the king of the Roman gods.

71 Thames River in southern England that flows through London; Ganges River in India and Bangladesh.

96 ermin’d Clothed with fur of the ermine; a species of weasel whose pelt was used historically in royal robes in Europe (OED).

SOURCE:  Poems on Various Subjects (Taunton, 1774), pp. 18-24. [Google Books]

Edited by Aydin Jang

Phillis Wheatley, “On Recollection”

 PHILLIS WHEATLEY

“On Recollection”

 

MNEME begin. Inspire, ye sacred nine,
Your vent’rous Afric in her great design.
Mneme, immortal pow’r, I trace thy spring:
Assist my strains, while I thy glories sing:
The acts of long departed years, by thee                                    5
Recover’d, in due order rang’d we see:
Thy pow’r the long-forgotten calls from night,
That sweetly plays before the fancy’s sight.

Mneme in our nocturnal visions pours
The ample treasure of her secret stores;                                    10
Swift from above she wings her silent flight
Through Phoebe’s realms, fair regent of the night;
And, in her pomp of images display’d,
To the high-raptur’d poet gives her aid,
Through the unbounded regions of the mind,                           15
Diffusing light celestial and refin’d.
The heav’nly phantom paints the actions done
By ev’ry tribe beneath the rolling sun.

Mneme, enthron’d within the human breast,
Has vice condemn’d, and ev’ry virtue blest.                                 20
How sweet the sound when we her plaudit hear?
Sweeter than music to the ravish’d ear,
Sweeter than Maro’s entertaining strains
Resounding through his groves, and hills, and plains.
But how is Mneme dreaded by the race,                                       25
Who scorn her warnings, and despise her grace?
By her unveil’d each horrid crime appears,
Her awful hand a cup of wormwood bears.
Days, years, misspent, O what a hell of woe!
Hers the worst tortures that our souls can know.                      30

Now eighteen years their destin’d course have run,
In fast succession round the central sun.
How did the follies of that period pass
Unnotic’d, but behold them writ in brass!
In Recollection see them fresh return,                                           35
And sure ‘tis mine to be asham’d, and mourn.

O Virtue, smiling in immortal green,
Do thou exert thy pow’r, and change the scene;
Be thine employ to guide my future days,
And mine to pay the tribute of my praise.                                    40

Of Recollection such the pow’r enthron’d
In ev’ry breast, and thus her pow’r is own’d.
The wretch, who dar’d the vengeance of the skies,
At last awakes in horror and surprize,
By her alarm’d, he sees impending fate,                                        45
He howls in anguish, and repents too late.
But O! what peace, what joys are hers t’ impart
To ev’ry holy, ev’ry upright heart!
Thrice blest the man, who, in her sacred shrine,
Feels himself shelter’d from the wrath of divine!                         50

NOTES:

1 Mneme The muse of memory; sacred nine The nine muses of Greek mythology.

8 fancy Poetic imagination.

12 Phoebe In Greek mythology, “she was identified with the moon” (Britannica).

21 plaudit “An expression of praise or approval” (OED).

23 Maro Publius Vergilius Maro, or Virgil (70 BCE-19 BCE), “Roman poet best known for his national epic, The Aenied” (Britannica).

28 wormwood “An emblem or type of what is bitter and grievous to the soul” (OED).

SOURCE:  Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London, 1773), pp. 62-64.
https://www.gilderlehrman.org/sites/default/files/GLC06154.pdf

Edited by Markesha Grant

John Hughes, “A Letter to a Friend in the Country”

JOHN HUGHES

“A Letter to a Friend in the Country”

Whilst thou art happy in a blest Retreat,
And free from Care dost rural Songs repeat,
Whilst fragrant Air fans thy Poetick Fire,
And pleasant Groves with sprightly Notes inspire,
(Groves, whose Recesses and refreshing Shade                                 5
Indulge th’ Invention, and the Judgment aid)
I, ‘midst the Smoke and Clamours of the Town,
That choke my Muse and weigh my Fancy down,
Pass my unactive Hours; ——
In such an Air, how can soft Numbers flow,                                         10
Or in such Soil the sacred Laurel grow?
All we can boast of the Poetick Fire,
Are but some Sparks that soon as born expire.
Hail happy Woods! Harbours of Peace and Joy!
Where no black Cares the Mind’s Repose destroy!                             15
Where grateful Silence unmolested reigns,
Assists the Muse and quickens all her Strains.
Such were the Scenes of our first Parents Love,
In Eden’s Groves with equal Flames they strove,
While warbling Birds, soft whisp’ring Breaths of Wind,                       20
And murmuring Streams, to grace their Nuptials join’d.
All Nature smil’d; the Plains were fresh and green,
Unstain’d the Fountains, and the Heav’ns serene.
Ye blest Remains of that illustrious Age!
Delightful Springs and Woods! ——                                                         25
Might I with You my peaceful Days live o’er,
You, and my Friend, whose Absence I deplore,
Calm as a gentle Brook’s unruffled Tide
Shou’d the delicious flowing Minutes glide;
Discharg’d of Care, on unfrequented Plains,                                           30
We’d sing of rural Joys in rural Strains.
No false corrupt Delights our Thoughts shou’d move,
But Joys of Friendship, Poetry and Love.
While others fondly feed Ambition’s Fire,
And to the Top of human State aspire,                                                     35
That from their Airy Eminence they may
With Pride and Scorn th’ inferior World survey,
Here we shou’d dwell obscure, yet happier far than they.

NOTES:

4 sprightly “Bright, clear, cheerful; lively, energetic” (OED).

8 Fancy That is, poetic imagination.

10 Numbers Poetry.

11 sacred Laurel Associated with Apollo, Greek god of poetry. Wreathes of laurel were crowned upon renowned poets, meant to symbolize divine inspiration.

15 black “Full of gloom, melancholy, misery, or sadness” (OED); Repose “State… of being free from care, anxiety, or other disturbances; ease, serenity” (OED).

18 first Parents Adam and Eve. In Christian theology, created as the first humans, meant to dwell in harmony with the idyllic Garden of Eden.

20 warbling “Of birds: To sing clearly and sweetly” (OED).

31 Strains “A musical sequence of sounds; a melody, tune” (OED).

35 State “A person’s social, professional, or legal status or condition” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems upon Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 111-113. [Google Books]

Edited by Joy Seydel

Elizabeth Carter, “Written at Midnight in a Thunderstorm. To——“

ELIZABETH CARTER

“Written at Midnight in a Thunderstorm. To ——–“

 

Let coward Guilt with pallid Fear,
To shelt’ring Caverns fly,
And justly dread the vengeful Fate,
That thunders thro’ the Sky.

Protected by that Hand, whose Law                                    5
The threat’ning Storms obey,
Intrepid Virtue smiles secure,
As in the Blaze of Day.

In the thick Clouds tremendous Gloom,
The Light’nings lurid Glare,                                            10
It views the same all-gracious Pow’r,
That breathes the vernal Air.

Thro’ Nature’s ever varying Scene,
By diff’rent Ways pursu’d,
The one eternal End of Heav’n                                               15
Is universal Good.

The same unchanging Mercy rules
When flaming AEther glows,
As when it tunes the Linnet’s Voice,
Or blushes in the Rose.                                                     20

By Reason taught to scorn those Fears
That vulgar Minds molest;
Let no fantastic Terrors break
My dear Narcissa‘s Rest.

Thy Life may all the tend’rest Care                                          25
Of Providence defend;
And delegated Angels round
Their guardian Wings extend.

When, thro’ Creation’s vast Expanse,
The last dread Thunders roll,                                             30
Untune the Concord of the Spheres,
And shake the rising Soul:

Unmov’d mayst thou the final Storm,
Of jarring Worlds survey,
That ushers in the glad Serene                                                  35
Of everlasting Day.

NOTES:

1 pallid “Lacking depth or intensity” (OED).

18 Aether In ancient cosmological speculation: an element conceived as filling all space beyond the sphere of the moon, and being the constituent substance of the stars and planets and of their spheres (OED).

19 Linnet “A common and well-known songbird” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions. Second Edition (London, 1766), pp. 36-37. [Google Books]

 Edited by Wyatt Forsyth

George Granville, Lord Lansdowne, “The Vision”

GEORGE GRANVILLE, LORD LANSDOWNE

“The Vision”

 

In lonely Walks, distracted by Despair,
Shunning Mankind and torn with killing Care,
My Eyes o’erflowing, and my frantick Mind
Rack’d with wild Thoughts, swelling with Sighs the Wind;
Thro’ Paths untrodden, Day and Night I rove,                                              5
Mourning the Fate of my successless Love.
Who most desire to live, untimely fall,
But when we beg to die, Death flies our Call;
Adonis dies, and torn is the lov’d Breast
In midst of Joy, where Venus wont to rest;                                                    10
That Fate, which cruel seem’d to him, would be
Pity, Relief, and Happiness to me.
When will my Sorrows end? In vain, in vain
I call to Heaven, and tell the Gods my Pain;
The Gods averse, like Mira, to my Pray’r,                                                     15
Consent to doom, whom she denies to spare.
Why do I seek for foreign Aids, when I
Bear ready by my Side the Pow’r to die?
Be keen, my Sword, and serve thy Master well,
Heal Wounds with Wounds, and Love with Death repel.                           20
Straight up I rose, and to my aking Breast,
My bosom bare, the ready Point I prest,
When lo! astonish’d, an unusual Light
Pierc’d the thick Shade, and all around grew bright;
My dazled Eyes a radiant Form behold,                                                         25
Splendid with Light, like Beams of burning Gold;
Eternal Rays his shining Temples grace;
Eternal Youth sat blooming on his Face.
Trembling I listen, prostrate on the Ground,
His Breath perfumes the Grove, and Musick’s in the Sound.                     30
Cease, Lover, cease thy tender Heart to vex,
In fruitless Plaints of an ungrateful Sex.
In Fate’s eternal Volumes it is writ,
That Women ever shall be Foes to Wit.
With proper Arts their sickly Minds command,                                            35
And please ’em with the things they understand;
With noisy Fopperies their Hearts assail,
Renounce all Sense; how should thy Songs prevail,
When I, the God of Wit, so oft could fail?
Remember me, and in my Story find                                                              40
How vainly Merit pleads to Womankind:
I, by whom all things shine, who tune the Spheres,
Create the Day, and gild the Night with Stars;
Whose Youth and Beauty, from all Ages past,
Sprang with the World, and with the World shall last.                                 45
How oft with fruitless Tears have I implor’d
Ungrateful Nymphs, and tho’ a God, ador’d?
When could my Wit, my Beauty, or my Youth,
Move a hard Heart? or, mov’d, secure its Truth?
Here a proud Nymph, with painful Steps I chace,                                 50
The Winds out-flying in our nimble Race ;
Stay Daphne, stay————In vain, in vain I try
To stop her Speed, redoubling at my cry,
O’er craggy Rocks and rugged Hills she climbs,
And tears on pointed Flints her tender Limbs:                                             55
‘Till caught at length, just as my Arms I fold,
Turn’d to a Tree she yet escapes my Hold.
In my next Love, a diff’rent Fate I find,
Ah! which is worse, the False, or the Unkind?
Forgetting Daphne, I Coronis choose,                                                              60
A kinder Nymph—-too kind for my Repose:
The Joys I give, but more provoke her Breast,
She keeps a private Drudge to quench the rest;
How, and with whom, the very Birds proclaim
Her black Pollution, and reveals my Shame.                                                65
Hard Lot of Beauty! fatally bestow’d,
Or given to the False, or to the Proud;
By different ways they bring us equal Pain,
The False betray us, and the Proud disdain.
Scorn’d and abus’d, from mortal Loves I fly,                                                70
To seek more Truth in my own native Sky.
Venus, the fairest of immortal Loves,
Bright as my Beams, and gentle as her Doves.
With glowing Eyes, confessing warm Desires,
She summons Heaven and Earth to quench her Fires,                              75
Me she excludes, and I in vain adore,
Who neither God nor Man refus’d before;
Vulcan, the very Monster of Skies,
Vulcan she takes, the God of Wit denies.
Then cease to murmur at thy Mira’s Pride,                                           80
Whimsy, not Reason is the female Guide;
The Fate, of which their Master does complain,
Is of bad Omen to th’ inspired Train.
What Voes have fail’d? Hark how Catullus mourns,
How Ovid weeps, and slighted Gallus burns;                                               85
In melting Strains see gentle Waller bleed,
Unmov’d she heard, what none unmov’d can read.
And thou, who oft with such ambitious Choice,
Hast rais’d to Mira thy aspiring Voice,
What Profit thy neglected Zeal repays?                                                       90
Ah what Return? Ungrateful to thy Praise!
Change, change thy Style, with mortal Rage return
Unjust Disdain, and Pride oppose to Scorn;
Search all the Secrets of the Fair and Young,
And then proclaim, soon shall they bribe thy Tongue;                              95
The sharp Detractor with Success assails,
Sure to be gentle to the Man that rails;
Women, like Cowards, tame to the Severe,
Are only fierce when they discover Fear.
Thus spake the God; and upward mounts in Air,                               100
In just Resentment of his past Despair.
Provok’d to Vengeance, to my Aid I call
The Furies round, and dip my Pen in Gall:
Not one shall ‘scape of all the cozening Sex,
Vext shall they be, who so delight to vex.                                                   105
In vain I try, in vain to Vengeance move
My gentle Muse, so us’d to tender Love;
Such Magick rules my Heart, whate’er I write
Turns all to soft Complaint, and am’rous Flight.
Be gone, fond Thoughts, be gone, be bold, said I,                                    110
Satyr’s thy Theme————In vain again I try,
So charming Mira to each sense appears,
My Soul adores, my Rage dissolves in Tears.
So the gall’d Lion, smarting with his Wound
Threatens his Foes, and makes the Forest sound,                                   115
With his strong Teeth he bites the bloody Dart,
And tares his Side with more provoking Smart,
Till having spent his Voice in fruitless Cries,
He lays him down, breaks his proud Heart, and dies.

NOTES:

9 Adonis The ideal of male beauty in Greek mythology; mortal lover of Aphrodite (Venus in the Roman tradition) who died in Aphrodite’s arms after being gored by a wild boar during a hunt (Britannica).

10 Venus  “The ancient Roman goddess of beauty and love (esp. sensual love), or the corresponding Greek goddess Aphrodite” (OED).

29 prostrate “To fall forward with the face downward… to throw oneself to the ground in reverence or submission” (OED).

30 His Breath…Sound “Apollo” [Author’s note].

32 Plaints  “The action or an act of plaining… audible expression of sorrow; (also) such an expression in verse or song, a lament” (OED).

37 Fopperies “Foolishness, imbecility, stupidity” (OED).

60 Coronis “A Nymph belov’d by Apollo, but at the same time had a private Inrigue with one Ischis, which was discover’d by a Crow” [Author’s note]. As a result, Apollo commanded his sister Artemis to kill her.

78 Vulcan Roman god of fire.

84 Catullus (c. 84 BCE-c. 54 BCE), “Roman poet whose expressions of love and hatred are generally considered the finest lyric poetry of ancient Rome” (Britannica).

85 Ovid (43 BCE-17 CE), Roman poet noted especially for his Ars amatoria (The Art of Love) and Metamorphoses; Gallus Gaius Cornelius Gallus (c. 70 BCE-26 BCE), “Roman soldier and poet, famous for four books of poems addressed to his mistress ‘Lycoris’” (Britannica).

86 Waller Edmund Waller (1606-1687), English poet and politician.  He unsuccessfully tried to court Lady Dorothy Sidney, addressing her as “Sacharissa” in his poetry (Britannica).

103 The Furies Goddesses of vengeance in Greco-Roman mythology (Britannica).

104 cozening “Cheating, deceitful, fraudulent” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions, with the British Enchanters, a Dramatic Poem (Dublin, 1732), pp. 57- 61.  [Google Books]

Edited by Elisha Taylor

Aphra Behn, “The Dream. A Song”

APHRA BEHN

“The Dream. A Song”

I.
The Grove was gloomy all around,
Murm’ring the Streams did pass,
Where fond Astrea laid her down
Upon a Bed of Grass.

I slept and saw a piteous sight,                                     5
Cupid a weeping lay,
Till both his little Stars of Light
Had wept themselves away.

II.
Methought I ask’d him why he cry’d,
My Pity led me on:                                                    10
All sighing the sad Boy reply’d,
Alas I am undone!

As I beneath yon Myrtles lay,
Down by Diana’s Springs,
Amyntas stole my Bow away,                                           15
And Pinion’d both my Wings.

III.
Alas ! cry’d I, ‘twas then thy Darts
Wherewith he wounded me:
Thou Mighty Deity of Hearts,
He stole his Pow’r from thee.                                    20

Revenge thee, if a God thou be,
Upon the Amorous Swain;
I’ll set thy Wings at Liberty,
And thou shalt fly again.

IV.
And for this Service on my Part,                                         25
All I implore of thee,
Is, That thou’t wound Amyntas Heart,
And make him die for me.

His Silken Fetters I Unty’d,
And the gay Wings display’d;                                        30
Which gently fann’d, he mounts and cry’d,
Farewel fond easie Maid.

V.
At this I blush’d, and angry grew
I should a God believe;
And waking found my Dream too true;                              35
Alas I was a Slave.

NOTES:

3 Astrea “Goddess of justice and virtue” (Dictionary of Classical Mythology).  Also Behn’s poetic name for herself.

6 Cupid “God of love” (OED).

13 Myrtles “Various evergreen shrubs or small trees” (OED).

14 Diana “Goddess of wild animals and the hunt” (Britannica).

15 Amyntas Here a pastoral name for a swain.

16 Pinion’d “Clipped wings” (OED).

22 Swain “Country lover” (OED).

29 Fetters Restraints (OED).

SOURCE: Poems upon Several Occasions: With A Voyage to the Island of Love (London 1684), pp. 78-80. [Google Books]

Edited by Madina Tutakhil

John Dryden, “To Henry Higden, Esq; On his Translation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal”

JOHN DRYDEN

“To Henry Higden, Esq; On his Translation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal”

 

The Grecian wits, who satire first began,
Were pleasant pasquins on the life of man;
At mighty villains, who the state opprest,
They durst not rail, perhaps; they lash’d, at least,
And turn’d them out of office with a jest.                                             5
No fool could peep abroad, but ready stand
The drolls to clap a bauble in his hand.
Wise legislators never yet could draw
A fop within the of reach of common law;
For posture, dress, grimace and affectation,                                       10
Tho’ foes to sense, are harmless to the nation.
Our last redress is dint of verse to try,
And satire is our Court of Chancery.
This way took Horace to reform an age,
Not bad enough to need an author’s rage.                                           15
But yours, who liv’d in more degenerate times,
Was forc’d to fasten deep, and worry crimes.
Yet you, my friend, have temper’d him so well,
You make him smile in spite of all his zeal:
An art peculiar to yourself alone,                                                            20
To join the virtues of two styles in one.
Oh! were your author’s principle receiv’d,
Half of the lab’ring world would be reliev’d:
For not to wish is not to be deceiv’d.
Revenge wou’d into charity be chang’d,                                                   25
Because it costs too dear to be reveng’d:
It costs our quiet and content of mind,
And when ’tis compass’d, leaves a sting behind.
Suppose I had the better end o’ th’ staff,
Why should I help th’ ill-natur’d world to laugh?                                   30
‘Tis all alike to them, who get the day;
They love the spite and mischief of the fray.
No; I have cur’d myself of that disease;
Nor will I be provok’d, but when I please:
But let me half that cure to you restore;                                                 35
You give the salve, I laid it to the sore.
Our kind relief against a rainy day,
Beyond a tavern, or a tedious play,
We take your book, and laugh our spleen away.
If all your tribe, too studious of debate,                                                    40
Would cease false hopes and titles to create,
Led by the rare example you begun,
Clients would fail, and Lawyers be undone.

NOTES:

Title Henry Higden (fl. 1686-1693), poet, dramatist, translator; as a member of Middle Temple, he was also a barrister.  Dryden’s poem was one of three celebratory verses published in the front matter of Higden’s A Modern Essay on the Tenth Satyr of Juvenal (London, 1687); Juvenal (b. 55-60? CE, d. in or after 127 CE), the “most powerful of all Roman satiric poets” (Britannica).

1 Grecian wits The most well-known early Greek satirists included Aristophanes (446 BC-386 BC), and Lucian (c. 125-after 180).

2 pasquins Composers of “lampoons,” satirists (OED).

4 durst not That is, “dared” not (OED).

7 drolls “A funny or waggish fellow; a merry-andrew, buffoon, jester, humorist” (OED).

9 fop “A foolish person, a fool” (OED).

13 Court of Chancery  “Court of equity to provide remedies not obtainable in the courts of common law” (Britannica).

14 Horace (65 BC-8BC), “Latin lyric poet and satirist” (Britannica).

16 yours “Juvenal” [Publisher’s note].

32 fray “A disturbance, esp. one caused by fighting; a noisy quarrel, a brawl” (OED).

SOURCE: Original Poems, and Translations, in Two Volumes, vol. II (Edinburgh, 1776), pp. 215-16 [Google Books]

Edited by Ilya Varga

Priscilla Pointon, “Address to a Bachelor, On a delicate Occasion”

PRISCILLA POINTON

“Address to a Bachelor, On a delicate Occasion”

Inserted by Desire.

You bid me write, Sir, I comply,
Since I my grave airs can’t deny.
But say, how can my Muse declare
The situation of the Fair,
That full six hours had sat, or more,                                       5
And never once been out of door?
Tea, wine, and punch, Sir, to be free,
Excellent diuretics be:
I made it so appear, it’s true,
When at your House, last night, with you:                            10
Blushing, I own, to you I said,
“I should be glad you’d call a maid.”
“The girls,” you answer’d “are from home,
Nor can I guess when they’ll return.”
Then in contempt you came to me,                                        15
And sneering cry’d, “Dear Miss, make free;
“Let me conduct you—don’t be nice—
Or if a bason is your choice,
To fetch you one I’ll instant fly.”
I blush’d, but could not make reply;                                       20
Confus’d, to find myself the joke,
I silent sat till TRUEWORTH spoke:
“To go with me, Miss, don’t refuse,
Your loss this freedom will excuse.”
To him my hand reluctant gave,                                              25
And out he led me very grave;
Whilst you and CHATFREE laugh’d aloud,
As if to dash a Maid seem’d proud.
But I the silly jest despise,
Since well I know each man that’s wise;                                30
All affectation does disdain,
Since it in Prudes and Coxcombs reign:
So I repent not what I’ve done;
Adieu—enjoy your empty fun.

NOTES: 

diuretics “Having the quality of exciting (excessive) excretion or discharge of urine” (OED).

17 nice “Precise or particular in matters of reputation or conduct” (OED).

18 bason Variation of “basin,” “a circular vessel of greater width than depth, with sloping or curving sides, used for holding water and other liquids, especially for washing purposes” (OED).

22 TRUEWORTH An allusion to Mr. Trueworth, a character in Eliza Haywood’s novel The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1751) who represents the ideal gentleman.

27 CHATFREE An allusion to Mr. Chatfree, a character in the same novel who represents a less-than-ideal gentlemanly figure.

28 dash “To destroy, ruin, confound, bring to nothing, frustrate, spoil” (OED).

32 Coxcombs “A vain, conceited, or pretentious man; a man of ostentatiously affected mannerisms or appearance; a fop. In later use usually in form coxcomb” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (1770), pp. 31-34. [Google Books]

Edited by Michelle Yu

Mary Barber, “Written for my Son, and spoken by him in School, upon his Master’s first bringing in a Rod”

MARY BARBER

“Written for my Son, and spoken by him in School, upon his Master’s first bringing in a Rod”

Our Master, in a fatal Hour,
Brought in this Rod, to shew his Pow’r.
O dreadful Birch! O baleful Tree!
Thou Instrument of Tyranny!
Thou deadly Damp to youthful Joys!                                   5
The Sight of thee our Peace destroys.
Not DAMOCLES, with greater Dread,
Beheld the Weapon o’er his Head.

That Sage was surely more discerning,
Who taught to play us into Learning,                                  10
By ‘graving Letters on the Dice:
May Heav’n reward the kind Device,
And crown him with immortal Fame,
Who taught at once to read and game!

Take my Advice; pursue that Rule;                                15
You’ll make a Fortune by your School.
You’ll soon have all the elder Brothers,
And be the Darling of their Mothers.

O May I live to hail the Day,
When Boys shall go to School to play!                                   20
To Grammar Rules we’ll bid Defiance;
For Play will then become a Science.

NOTES:

3 Birch “A bunch of birch-twigs bound together to form an instrument for the flagellation of school-boys and of juvenile offenders; a birch-rod” (OED).

7 DAMOCLES (fl. 4th Century BCE), courtier of Dionysious I of Syracuse (c. 430 BC-337 BC).  “Damocles, a flatterer, having extolled the happiness of Dionysius tyrant of Syracuse, was placed by him at a banquet with a sword suspended over his head by a hair, to impress upon him the perilous nature of that happiness.  Used by simile of an imminent danger, which may at any moment descend upon one” (OED).

9 Sage “See Locke upon education” [Author’s Note].  An allusion to John Locke’s Some Thoughts Concerning Education(1693), a popular treatise on the education of gentlemen in that period.

11 ‘graving Letters on the Dice A playful approach to education using dice with letters on each side.

15 pursue that Rule “Bowing to his Master” [Author’s Note].

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 36-37.  [Google Books]

Edited by Ty Garvin

Christopher Smart, “A Noon-Piece; or, The Mowers at Dinner”

CHRISTOPHER SMART

“A Noon-Piece; or, The Mowers at Dinner”

ODE II.

Jam pastor umbras cum grege languido,
Rivumque fessus quaerit, & horridi
Dumeta Silvani, caretque
Ripa vagis taciturna ventis.             HOR[ACE].

The Sun is now too radiant to behold,
And vehement he sheds his liquid Rays of Gold;
No cloud appears thro’ all the wide expanse;
And short, but yet distinct and clear,
To the wanton whistling air                                                         5
The mimic shadows dance.

Fat Mirth, and Gallantry the gay,
And romping Extasy ‘gin play.
Now Myriads of young Cupids rise,
And open all their joy-bright eyes,                                           10
Filling with infant prate the grove,
And lisp in sweetly-fault‘ring love.
In the middle of the ring,
Mad with May, and wild of wing,
Fire-ey’d Wantonness shall sing.                                              15

By the rivulet on the rushes,
Beneath a canopy of bushes,
Where the ever-faithful Tray,
Guards the dumplings and the whey,
Colin Clout and Yorkshire Will                                                 20
From the leathern bottle swill.

Their scythes upon the adverse bank
Glitter ‘mongst th’ entangled trees,
Where the hazles form a rank,
And court’sy to the courting breeze.                                             25

Ah! Harriot! sovereign mistress of my heart,
Could I thee to these meads decoy,
New grace to each fair object thou’dst impart,
And heighten ev’ry scene to perfect joy.

On a bank of fragrant thyme,                                                   30
Beneath yon stately, shadowy pine,
We’ll with the well-disguised hook
Cheat the tenants of the brook;
Or where coy Daphne’s thickest shade
Drives amorous Phoebus from the glade,                               35
There read Sydney’s high-wrought stories
Of ladies charms and heroes glories;
Thence fir’d, the sweet narration act,
And kiss the fiction into fact.

Or satiate with nature’s random scenes,                                           40
Let’s go to the gardens regulated greens,
Where taste and elegance command
Art to lend her daedal hand,
Where Flora’s flock, by nature wild,
To discipline are reconcil’d,                                                         45
And laws and order cultivate,
Quite civiliz’d into a state.

From the sun, and from the show’r,
Haste we to yon boxen bow’r,
Secluded from the teizing pry                                                    50
Of Argus’ curiosity:
There, while Phoebus’ golden mean,
The gay meridian is seen,
Ere decays the lamp of light,
And length’ning shades stretch out to night—-                         55

Seize, seize the hint—each hour improve
(This is morality in love)
Lend, lend thine hand—O let me view
Thy parting breasts, sweet avenue!
Then—then thy lips, the coral cell                                               60
Where all th’ ambrosial kisses dwell!
Thus we’ll each sultry noon employ
In day-dreams of exstatic joy.

NOTES:

Epigraph Horace, Odes, Book III, no. XXIX, lines 21-24. “Now the weary shepherd with his languid flock seeks the shade, and the river, and the thickets of rough Sylvanus; and the silent bank is free from the wandering winds.”  Translation by Christopher Smart, The Works of Horace Translated Literally into English Prose (London, 1755).

2 vehement “Of heat…intense, strong” (OED).

5 wanton “Free, unrestrained” (OED).

16 rivulet “A small river; a stream” (OED).

18 Tray “A utensil of the form of a flat board with a raised rim, or of a shallow box without a lid, made of wood, metal, or other material, of various sizes” (OED).

27 meads Meadows; decoy “To entice or allure” (OED).

34 Daphne “In Greek mythology, the personification of the laurel;” here a reference to laurel bushes (Britannica).

35 Phoebus “Apollo as the god of light or of the sun; the sun personified” (OED).

36 Sydney Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586), courtier, statesman, soldier, poet; his long pastoral romance, Arcadia, was published in 1593 (Britannica).

43 daedal “Skilful, cunning to invent or fashion” (OED).

44 Flora “In Latin mythology, the goddess of flowers; hence, in modern poetical language, the personification of nature’s power in producing flowers” (OED).

51 Argus “A mythological person fabled to have had a hundred eyes,” hence an allusion to the prying eyes of the curious (OED).

60 coral Red.

61 ambrosial “Exceptionally sweet or delightful” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1752), pp. 9-12. [Google Books]

Edited by Ulises Canchola