Tag Archives: heaven

Elizabeth Singer Rowe, “A Hymn on Heaven”


“A Hymn on Heaven”


What glorious things of thee, O glorious place!
Shall my bold muse in daring numbers speak?
While to immortal strains I tune my lyre,
And warbling imitate angelic airs:
While ecstasy bears up my soul aloft,                                          5
And lively faith gives me a distant glimpse
Of glories unreveal’d to human eyes.

Ye starry mansions, hail! my native skies!
Here in my happy, pre-existent state,
(A spotless mind) I led the life of gods.                                        10
But passing, I salute you, and advance
To yonder brighter realm’s allow’d access.

Hail, splendid city of th’ almighty king!
Celestial Salem, situate above:
Magnificent thy prospect, and august,                                          15
Thy walls sublime, thy tow’rs and palaces
Illustrious far, with orient gems appear.
There, regent angels, crown’d with stars, command,
High in the midst, the awful throne of God
Ascends, the utmost empyrean arch,                                             20
The heav’n of heavens; where in conceiveless light,
Such as infinity alone can prove,
He enjoys th’ extremest bounds of happiness,
And was in perfect blessedness the same
Ere any thing existed but himself;                                                    25
Ere time, or place, or motion, had a name;
Before the spheres began their tuneful round;
Or through the air the sun had spread his beams;
Ere at his feet the flaming seraphs bow’d,
And cast their shining crowns before his throne;                          30
Ere smiling angels tun’d their golden harps,
Or sung one hallelujah to his praise.
But mighty love, which mov’d him to create,
Still moves him to communicate his bliss.

O, speak! you happy spirits that surround                               35
His dazzling throne, for you alone can tell;
For you alone those raptures can describe,
And stem th’ impetuous floods of joy that rise
Within your breasts, when all unveil’d, you view
The wonders of the beatific sight:                                                      40
When from the bright unclouded face of God
You drink full draughts of bliss and endless love,
And plunge yourselves in life’s immortal fount;
The spring of joy, which from his darling throne
In endless currents smoothly glides away,                                        45
Thro’ all the verdant fields of paradise;
Thro’ balmy groves, where on their flow’ry banks,
To murm’ring waters, and soft whisp’ring winds,
Fair spirits in melodious concert join,
And sweetly warble their heroic loves.                                               50
For love makes half their heav’n, and kindles here
New flames, and ardent life in ev’ry breast;
While active pleasure lightens in their eyes,
And sparkling beauty shines on every face:
Their spotless minds, all pure and exquisite,                                    55
The noblest heights of love prepar’d to act,
In everlasting sympathies unite,
And melt, in flowing joys, eternity away.

To those blest shades, and amaranthine bow’rs,
When dazzled with th’ insufferable beams                                        60
That issue from the open face of God,
For umbrage many a seraphim resorts:
Nor longer here o’er their bright faces clasp
Their gorgeous wings, which open wide, display
More radiance than adorns the chearful sun,                                   65
When first he from the rosy east looks out:
Gentle as love, their looks serene as light,
Blooming and gay as everlasting springs.

But oh! when in the lofty blissful bow’rs,
With heav’nly skill, to the harmonious lyre,                                        70
 The clear, the sweet, the melting voice they join;
The vales of heav’n rejoice, and echoing loud,
Redouble ev’ry charming close again;
While trembling winds upon their fragrant wings
Bear far the soft, melodious sounds away;                                          75
The silver streams their winding journeys stay,
Suspend their murmurs, and attend the song;
The laughing fields new flow’rs and verdure wear,
And all the trees of life bloom out afresh.
The num’rous suns which gild the realms of joy,                                  80
Dance in their lightsome spheres, and brighter day
Thro’ all th’ interminable ether darts,
While to the great unutterable name,
All glory they ascribe in lofty strains,
In strains expressless by a mortal tongue.                                             85
O happy regions! O transporting place!
With what regret I turn my loathing eyes
To yonder earthly globe, my dusky seat!
But ah! I must return; no more allow’d
To breathe the calm, the soft, celestial air,                                              90
And view the mystic wonders of the skies.


 4 warbling “To modulate the voice in singing; to sing with trills and quavers” (OED).

13 almighty king “Designating a god, especially the Christian God or Christ” (OED).

14 Salem A reference to Jerusalem (Britannica).

17 orient “Eastern countries; the East” (OED).

29 seraphs “Angels” (OED).

37 raptures “Transport of mind…ecstasy esp. ecstatic delight of joy” (OED).

43 fount “A spring” (OED).

59 amaranthine bow’rs “An idealized abode” (OED).

62 seraphim “In Biblical use: the living creatures with six wings, hands and feet and a (presumably) human voice, seen in Isaiah’s version as hovering over the throne of God” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1759), pp. 59-62. [Google Books]

 Edited by Franny Baronian



Elizabeth Carter, “Thoughts at Midnight. 1739”


“Thoughts at Midnight. 1739”


WHILE Night in solemn shade invests the Pole,
And calm reflection soothes the pensive soul;
While Reason undisturb’d asserts her sway,
And life’s deceitful colours fade away:
To thee! all-conscious presence!  I devote                                             5
This peaceful interval of sober thought.
Here all my better faculties confine,
And be this hour of sacred silence thine.
If by the day’s illusive scenes misled,
My erring soul from Virtue’s path has stray’d:                                       10
If by example snar’d, by passion warm’d,
Some false delight my giddy sense has charm’d,
My calmer thoughts the wretched choice reprove,
And my best hopes are center’d in thy love.
Depriv’d of this, can life one joy afford!                                                  15
Its utmost boast a vain unmeaning word.
But ah! how oft’ my lawless passions rove,
And break those awful precepts I approve!
Pursue the fatal impulse I abhor,
And violate the virtue I adore!                                                                   20
Oft’ when thy gracious Spirit’s guardian care
Warn’d my fond soul to shun the tempting snare,
My stubborn will his gentle aid represt,
And check’d the rising goodness in my breast,
Mad with vain hopes, or urg’d by false desires,                                      25
Still’d his soft voice, and quench’d his sacred fires.
With grief opprest, and prostrate in the dust,
Should’st thou condemn, I own the sentence just.
But oh thy softer titles let me claim,
And plead my cause by Mercy’s gentle name.                                        30
Mercy, that wipes the penitential tear,
And dissipates the horrors of despair:
From rig’rous Justice steals the vengeful hour:
Softens the dreadful attribute of power;
Disarms the wrath of an offended God,                                                   35
And seals my pardon in a Saviour’s blood.
All pow’rful Grace, exert thy gentle sway,
And teach my rebel passions to obey:
Lest lurking Folly with insidious art
Regain my volatile inconstant heart.                                                         40
Shall ev’ry high resolve devotion frames,
Be only lifeless sounds and specious names?
Or rather while thy hopes and fears controul,
In this still hour each motion of my soul,
Secure its safety by a sudden doom,                                                         45
And be the soft retreat of sleep my tomb.
Calm let me slumber in that dark repose,
‘Till the last morn its orient beam disclose:
Then, when the great Archangel’s potent sound,
Shall echo thro’ Creation’s ample round,                                                  50
Wak’d from the sleep of Death, with joy survey
The op’ning splendors of eternal day.


1 Pole “The sky, the heavens” (OED).

2 pensive “Implying thought, anxiety, or melancholy” (OED).

9 illusive scenes “Deceptive; illusory” (OED).

13  reprove “To censure, condemn” (OED).

16 Its The copy test reads “It’s,” a printer’s error.

17 rove “Waver, vacillate” (OED).

31 penitential tear “Indicative of repentance” (OED).

40 volatile “Changeable, fickle” (OED).

48 orient beam disclose The rising of the sun (OED); its The copy text reads “it’s,” a printer’s error.

49 the great Archangel’s potent sound A reference to a Christian tradition (more literary than Biblical) that has the archangel Gabriel blowing a trumpet or horn to wake the dead and announce the return of Jesus on Judgment Day (S. Vernon McCasland, “Gabriel’s Trumpet,” Journal of Bible and Religion, vol. 9, no. 3 [August 1941], pp. 159-161).

Source: Memoirs of the Life of Mrs. Elizabeth Carter: With a New Edition of Her Poems; to Which Are Added, Some Miscellaneous Essays In Prose, Together With Her Notes On the Bible, And Answers to Objections Concerning the Christian Religion, ed. Rev. Montagu Pennington. (London, 1808), vol. II, pp. 37-39.  [Google Books]

Edited by Heyzell Raudes