Tag Archives: art

James Woodhouse, “Benevolence, An Ode”

JAMES WOODHOUSE

“BENEVOLENCE, An ODE”

Inscribed to my Friends

 

LET others boast Palladian skill
The sculptur’d dome to raise;
To scoop the vale, to swell the hill,
Or lead the smooth, meand’ring rill,
In ever-varying maze;                                                                   5
To strike the lyre
With Homer’s fire,
Or Sappho’s tender art;
Or Handel’s notes with sweeter strains inspire:
O’er Phidia’s chissel to preside,                                                  10
Or Titian’s glowing pencil guide
Through every living part.

Ah! what avails it thus to shine,
By every art refin’d;
Except BENEVOLENCE combine                                                  15
To humanize the mind!
The Parian floor,
Or vivid cieling, fresco’d o’er,
With glaring charms the gazing eye may fire;
Yet may their lords, like statues cold,                                        20
Devoid of sympathy, behold
Fair worth with want repine,
Or indigence, expire;
Nor ever know the noblest use of gold.

‘Tis yours, with sympathetic breast,                                           25
To stop the rising sigh,
And wipe the tearful eye,
Nor let repining merit sue unblest;
This is a more applausive taste
Than spending wealth                                                            30
In gorgeous waste,
Or with dire luxury destroying health;
It sweetens life with ev’ry virtuous joy,
And wings the conscious hours with gladness as they fly.

NOTES:

Subtitle “His first two elegies being seen by some gentlemen and ladies in London in manuscript, they made a small subscription for him; and these were the friends he speaks of” [Author’s Note].

1 Palladian A reference to the neoclassical architectural movement inspired by the Italian Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). Palladian style was strongly based on symmetry and clarity and remained popular through the mid eighteenth century (Britannica).

7 Homer Greek poet, famously known for his epics The Iliad and The Odyssey.

8 Sappho “Greek lyric poet (c. 610-570 BCE) greatly admired in all ages for the beauty of her writing style” (Britannica).

9 Handel George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), “German-born English composer of the late Baroque era. He wrote the most famous of all oratorios, Messiah (1741)” (Britannica).

10 Phidia Greek sculptor (fl. c. 490-430 BCE), “artistic director of the Parthenon” and renowned for his colossal statues of Athena and Zeus (Britannica).

11 Titian Tiziano Vecellio (or Vecelli) (1488/90-1576) “The greatest Italian Renaissance painter of the Venetian school” (Britannica).

17 Parian floor The Greek island of Paros was known for its “fine white marble, prized in antiquity by sculptors” (OED).

18 cieling Alternate spelling of “ceiling,” noted in Johnson’s Dictionary; fresco’d “A kind of painting executed in water-colour on a wall, ceiling, etc. of which the mortar or plaster is not quite dry, so that the colours sink in and become more durable” (OED).

28 sue “To make one’s petition or appeal” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions, second edition (London, 1766), pp. 24-26.  [Google Books]

 Edited by Natalie Nunez

Charlotte Lennox, “To Aurelia, on her attempting to write Verses”

[CHARLOTTE LENNOX]

“To Aurelia, on her attempting to write Verses.”

Long had Aurelia vainly stove
To write in melting strains of Love;
Ambitious of a Poet’s Name,
She wept, she sigh’d, she long’d for Fame;
While of the great Design possest                                            5
She thus the Delian God addrest:
Brightest of heavenly Powers above,
Immortal Son of thund’ring Jove;
Oh glorious Deity impart
To me the soft poetic Art;                                                          10
Vouchsafe to me thy sacred Fire,
And with thyself my Soul inspire.
She Spake — the God indulgent hears
The beauteous Maid, and grants her Prayers.
On Clio turns his radiant Eyes,                                                  15
And to the tuneful Goddess cries,
Fly hence to fair Aurelia’s Aid,
In heavenly Strains instruct the Maid:
The Muse obeys the God’s Commands
With Joy, and swift as Thought descends,                                20
And at Aurelia’s Side attends.
Conscious of her new Power, the Maid
With Thanks the glorious Gift repay’d:
Now Waller’s Sweetness, Granville’s fire,
At once her tuneful Breast inspire:                                            25
No more she vainly strives to please,
The ready Numbers flow with ease:
All soft, harmonious and divine;
Apollo shines in every Line.
The Delian God with Rapture fill’d                                              30
Upon his lovely Pupil smil’d.
Daphne, his once-lov’d charming Care,
Appear’d to him not half so fair:
For the lost Nymph he mourns no more;
Nor in his Songs her Loss deplore;                                            35
But from the slighted Tree he tears
It’s Leaves, to deck Aurelia’s Hairs.
A Poet now by all she’s own’d,
And with immortal Honour crown’d.

NOTES:

6 Delian God Apollo.

8 Jove Jupiter, also known as Jove, is the god of the sky and thunder and king of the gods in Ancient Roman religion and mythology. He is also remembered as Zeus, his name among the Greeks (New World Encyclopedia).

11 Vouchsafe “To give or grant something to someone in a gracious or condescending manner” (OED).

15 Clio The muse of history.

24 Waller’s Sweetness Edmund Waller (1606-1687), poet and politician, known in the period for his panegyric verse and “sweet” lyric poetry (Britannica); Granville’s fire  George Granville, Baron Lansdowne (1666-1735), poet, playwright, and politician, a poetic imitator of Waller, but also known for his fiery political speeches (Britannica).

29 Apollo In this context, the god of song and poetry.

30 Rapture “A state, condition or fit of intense delight or enthusiasm” (OED).

32 Daphne In Greek mythology, to escape Apollo’s pursuit, Daphne was turned into a bay laurel tree, whose leaves formed into a garland symbolize poetic excellence (Brittanica).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1747), pp. 28-30. [Google Books]

Edited by Astrid Regalado Sibrian

Anonymous, “Epilogue”

ANONYMOUS

“Epilogue”

 Hard is the task to trace the poet’s life,
Where praise and censure ever are at strife;
Where wit and weakness in succession reign
And hold, by turns, th’ enthusiast in their train.
He (to whose rapid eye the Muse hath giv’n                                                    5
“To glance from Heav’n to earth, then earth to Heav’n,”)
O’erlooks all vulgar arts and sober rules,
And leaves the world to knaves and thriving fools:
By all admir’d, rewarded, and carest,
No future cares perplex his anxious breast;                                                    10
No gloomy wants the smiling hours o’ercast,
He paints each year propitious as the last;
Whilst his warm heart, forever unconfin’d,
Expands for all the wants of all mankind.
Hence private griefs from virtuous weakness flow;                                       15
Hence social pleasures prove domestic woe.
Oft’ on this spot the Muse, with solemn mien,
And artful sadness, fills the tragic scene;
The well-feign’d sorrows your attention gain,
Whilst the prompt tear attests the pleasing pain:                                           20
But our sad story needs no poet’s art
To tutor grief, and heave the swelling heart.
To you the deep distress is not unknown,
And, Britons, you have made the cause your own.
—O may your gentle bosoms never prove                                                       25
Th’ untimely loss of those you dearly love!
Since thus your feeling hearts the aid supply
To sooth the widow’s pangs, and orphan’s sigh.

NOTES:

6 “To glance… Heav’n” Quotation from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (V.i.1842). The original reads: “The poets eye, in fine frenzy rolling,/ Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to Heaven.”

9 carest Caressed.

24 Britons British people.

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine (June 1777), pp. 286-87.

Edited by Cydnei Jordan