Tag Archives: heroic couplets

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 soul, 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

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

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

[John Scott], “Verses occasioned by the Description of the Eolian Harp”

[JOHN SCOTT]

“Verses occasioned by the Description of the EOLIAN HARP”

Untaught o’er strings to draw the rosin’d bow,
Or melting strains on the soft flute to blow,
With others long I mourn’d the want of skill,
Resounding roofs with harmony to fill;
Till happy ! now the Eolian lyre is known,                                        5
And all the pow’rs of musick are my own.
Swell all thy notes, delightful harp , O swell!
Inflame thy poet to describe thee well,
When the full chorus rises with the breeze,
Or slowly sinking lessens by degrees,                                              10
To sounds more soft than am’rous gales disclose,
At evening panting on the blushing rose;
More sweet than all the notes that organs breathe,
Or tuneful echoes, when they die, bequeathe.
Oft where some sylvan temple decks the grove,                          15
The slave of easy indolence I rove;
There the wing’d breeze the lifted sash pervades,
Each breath is musick, vocal all the shades;
Charm’d with the soothing sound at ease reclin’d,
To fancy’s pleasing pow’r I yield my mind:                                     20
And now enchanted scenes around me rise,
And some kind Ariel the soft air supplies:
Now lofty Pindus through the shades I view,
Where all the nine their tuneful art persue,
To me the sound the parting gale conveys,                                  25
And all my heart is extasy and praise:
Now to Arcadian plains at once convey’d,
Some shepherd’s pipe delights his fav’rite maid;
Mix’d with the murmurs of a neighb’ring stream,
I hear soft notes that suit an am’rous theme;                              30
Ah! then a victim to the fond deceit,
My heart begins with fierce desires to beat;
To fancy’d sighs I real sighs return,
By turns I languish, and by turns I burn.
Ah Delia haste! and here attentive prove,                                      35
Like me that ‘music is the voice of love,’
So shall I mourn my rustic strains no more,
While pleas’d you listen who could frown before.
Hertfordshire, Nov. 15, 1754.

NOTES:

 Author This poem is signed “R.S”; identified by Emily Lorraine de Montluzin as John Scott of Amwell (1731-1783), a Quaker poet who published a number of poems in the GM between 1753-1758 (“The Poetry of the Gentleman’s Magazine, 1731-1800”).

Title EOLIAN HARP “A stringed instrument producing musical sounds on exposure to a current of air” (OED).  Named after Aeolus, the Greek god of wind.  The “description” Scott is responding to appeared in the GM, vol. 24 (February 1754), p. 74.

15 sylvan Of the woods (OED).

23 Pindus Grecian mountain range that includes Mount Parnassus, home of the nine muses.

27 Arcadian Belonging to Arcadia; ideally rural or rustic (OED).

36 ‘music is the voice of love’ Quoted from James Thomson, Spring (1735), line 569.

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 24 (November, 1754), p. 525. [Internet Archive]

Edited by Neil Donovan

 

Mary Leapor, “The Death of Abel”

MARY LEAPOR

“The Death of Abel”

When from the Shade of Eden’s blissful Bow’rs,
Its Fruit ambrosial and immortal Flow’rs,
Our gen’ral Mother (who too soon rebell’d,)
Was, with the Partner of her Crime, expell’d
To Fields less fruitful — where the rugged Soil                                            5
With Thorns and Thistles often paid their Toil;
Where the pale Flow’rs soon lost their chearful Hue,
And rushing Tempests o’er the Mountains flew:
Two Sons the Matron in her Exile bore,
Unlike in Feature but their Natures more;                                                  10
The eldest Youth for Husbandry renown’d,
Tore up the Surface of the steril Ground;
His nervous Arms for rugged Tasks were form’d;
His Cheek but seldom with a Smile adorn’d;
Drops rais’d by Labour down his Temples run,                                          15
His Temples tarnish’d by the mid-day Sun,
Robust of Body, and of Soul severe,
Unknown to Pity, and the like to Fear.

Not so his brother, cast in fairer Mold
Was he — and softer than his fleecy Fold;                                                   20
Fair were his Cheeks that blush’d with rosy Dye,
Peace dwelt for ever in his chearful Eye,
Nor Guilt, nor Rage his gentle Spirit knew;
Sweet were his Slumbers, for his Cares were few;
Those were to feed and watch the tender Lamb,                                      25
And seek fresh Pasture for its bleating Dam,
From burning Suns his thirsty Flocks to hide,
And seek the Vales where limpid Rivers glide.

‘Twas ere rude Hands had reap’d the waving Grain,
When Plenty triumph’d on the fertile Plain,                                               30
That to the Centre of a pleasant Down,
Where half was Pasture, half a plenteous Brown:
These Youths repair’d both emulous of Fame,
And rais’d an Altar to Jehovah’s Name,
With Heart elate and self-presuming Eye,                                                 35
First to the Pile unhappy Cain drew nigh.
Choice was his Off’ring, yet no Sign appear’d,
No Flame was seen, nor Voice celestial heard:
Astonish’d stood the late presumptuous Man,
Then came his Brother with a trembling Lamb;                                       40
His God accepts the Sacrifice sincere;
The Flames propitious round the Slain appear;
The curling Smoke ascended to the Skies:
This Cain beheld, and roll’d his glowing Eyes.
Stung to the Soul, he with his frantick Hand                                              45
A Stone up-rooted from the yielding Sand,
Nor spoke — for Rage had stop’d his failing Tongue;
This heavy Death impetuous whirl’d along:
This Abel met — his Heart receiv’d the Wound;
Amaz’d he fell, and grasp’d the bloody Ground.                                        50
The gentle Spirit sprung to endless Day,
And left behind her Case of beauteous Clay;
Pale stood the Brother — to a Statue chill’d,
A conscious Horror through his Bosom thrill’d:
His frighted Eyes abhorr’d the Beams of Light,                                         55
And long’d to find a never-ceasing Night.

      Shock’d at the Sight of Murder first begun,
Down the steep Heavens roll’d the radiant Sun,
Old Night assuming her appointed Sway,
Stretch’d her black Mantle o’er the Face of Day:                                      60
Now for their Leader mourn’d the bleating Lambs,
That rov’d neglected by their pensive Dams;
The careful Parents search the Fields around;
They call — the Woods roll back an empty Sound.

Within a Forest’s solitary Gloom,                                                            65
Slept gentle Abel in a secret Tomb,
And there (beneath a Cypress’ Shade reclin’d)
Cain breath’d his Sorrows to the rushing Wind:
That in the Branches made a doleful Sound;
‘Twas Silence else, and horrid Darkness round,                                        70
When lo ! a sudden and a piercing Ray
O’er-spread the Forest with a Blaze of Day,
And then descended on the hallow’d Ground,
A Seraph with empyreal Glory crown’d:
Afflicted Cain (that knew not where to fly)                                                  75
Gaz’d on the Vision with distracted Eye:
When thus the Angel — Why these mournful Cries,
These loud Complaints that pierce the nightly Skies.
Lye not to Heaven, but directly say,
Where roves thy Brother, where does Abel stray.                                      80
He said — and thus the guilty Wretch return’d;
O sacred Guardian, I for Abel mourn’d:
I ne’er beheld him since the Day began, —-
But why this Visit to a simple Man?
Thus the Celestial —- Wretch, canst thou presume,                                   85
Thy Brother’s Blood may slumber in its Tomb:
Or thou may’st ward off Vengeance with a Lye,
And dare attempt deceiving God most high;
But now thy Doom, O wretched Mortal hear;
The fleeting Hours nor the rolling Year,                                                        90
To thee nor Joy, nor chearful Ease shall bring:
Alike to thee the Winter and the Spring,
Still vex’d with Woe, thy heavy Days shall fly
Beneath a radiant or a gloomy Sky:
Curs’d shalt thou be amidst thy vagrant Band,                                            95
And curs’d the Labours of thy guilty Hand:
He ceas’d — But Cain all prostrate on the Ground,
Still in his Ears retain’d the dreadful Sound:
At length he rose, and trembling thus began;
This is too much — too much for Mortal Man:                                              100
The mighty Debt, O let me quickly pay,
And sweep me instant from the Beams of Day:
The yet unborn, that I am curs’d, shall know,
And all shall hate me to augment the Blow:
Ev’n my own Sons, if such are giv’n to be                                                      105
The Death of Abel, shall revenge on me:
Thus he to change the dreadful Sentence try’d,
Thus the seraphick Messenger reply’d;
This Mark, O Cain, I fix upon thy Brow:
And thus by Heav’n’s mighty Monarch vow,                                                 110
Who sheds thy Blood, that Criminal shall be
Curs’d – Sev’n times curs’d, and wretched more than thee.
Thus be that Mortal who shall tear the Rod
Of scorching Vengeance from the Hand of God;
That Man may learn to fear the King of Kings:                                              115
He said – and waving his immortal Wings,
That instant mingled with the starry Train,
And Darkness wrap’d the silent Shades again.

NOTES:

3 Our gen’ral Mother Eve.

4 the Partner of her Crime Adam.

9 Two Sons Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, and Abel, his younger brother (OCB).

34  Jehovah “Name of God” (OCB).

40 Lamb A typical sacrificial animal in Ancient Egypt, often symbolically associated with Jesus (OCB).

74 Seraph A supernatural being associated with the presence of God (OCB).

109 This Mark See Genesis 4:15; the exact nature of Cain’s mark is mysterious, but Leapor follows the tradition that associates the mark with divine protection.

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1748), pp. 232-237. [Google Books]

Edited by Lourdes Alcala-Guerrero

Laetitia Pilkington, “Sorrow”

LAETITIA PILKINGTON

“Sorrow”

 

While sunk in deepest solitude and woe,
My streaming eyes with ceaseless sorrow flow,
While anguish wears the sleepless night away,
And fresher grief awaits returning day;
Encompassed round with ruin, want and shame,                               5
Undone in fortune, blasted in my fame;
Lost to the soft endearing ties of life,
And tender names of daughter, mother, wife;
Can no recess from calumny be found?
And yet can fate inflict a deeper wound!                                              10
As one who, in a dreadful tempest toss’d,
If thrown by chance upon some desert coast,
Calmly awhile surveys the fatal shore,
And hopes that fortune can inflict no more;
Till some fell serpent makes the wretch his prey,                               15
Who ‘scap’d in vain the dangers of the sea;
So I who hardly ‘scap’d domestic rage,
Born with eternal sorrows to engage,
Now feel the pois’nous force of sland’rous tongues,
Who daily wound me with envenom’d wrongs.                                   20
Shed then a ray divine, all gracious heav’n,
Pardon the soul that sues to be forgiven,
Though cruel human-kind relentless prove,
And least resemble thee in acts of love;
Though friends who should administer relief,                                     25
Add pain to woe, and misery to grief,
And oft! too oft! with hypocritic air,
Condemn those faults in which they deeply share:
Yet thou who dost our various frailties know,
And see’st each spring from whence our actions flow,                       30
Shalt, while for mercy to thy throne I fly,
Regard the lifted hand and streaming eye.
Thou didst the jarring elements compose,
When this harmonious universe arose;
O speak the tempest of the soul to peace,                                           35
Bid the tumultuous war of passion cease;
Receive me to thy kind paternal care,
And guard me from the horrors of despair.
And since no more I boast a mother’s name,
Nor in my children can a portion claim,                                                40
The helpless babes to thy protection take,
Nor punish for their hapless mother’s sake.
Thus the poor bird, when frighted from her nest,
With agonizing love, and grief distress’d,
Still fondly hovers o’er the much-lov’d place,                                       45
Through strengthless, to protect her tender race;
In piercing notes she movingly complains,
And tells the unattending woods her pains.
And thou, my soul’s once fondest, dearest part,
Who schem’d my ruin with such cruel art,                                            50
From human laws no longer seek to find
A pow’r to loose that knot which God has join’d,
The props of life are rudely pull’d away,
And the frail building falling to decay,
My death shall give thee thy desir’d release,                                        55
And lay me down in everlasting peace.

NOTES:

9 calumny Slander, “a false statement about a person that is made to damage their reputation” (OED).

16 ‘scap’d Escaped.

25-26 friends… add pain to woe, misery to grief The poet Jonathan Swift, once patron and friend to Pilkington, would after her divorce disavow her and call her “’the most profligate whore in either kingdom.” (History Ireland, vol. 17, no. 2, Mar/April 2009).

39-40 And since no more I boast a mother’s name,/Nor in my children can a portion claim Post divorce Pilkington’s husband assumed all their possessions and disallowed her seeing their children. (History Ireland, vol. 17, no. 2, Mar/April 2009).

49 And thou, my soul’s once fondest, dearest part “Mem. My Husband, who was then suing for a divorce” [Author’s Note].

SOURCE: Poems by Eminent Ladies, vol. II (London, 1755), pp. 255-57. [Hathitrust]

Edited by Carina Thanh-Ngoc DeLorenzo

 

 

Margaret Cavendish, “A Dialogue betwixt Wit and Beauty”

MARGARET CAVENDISH

 A Dialogue betwixt Wit and Beauty”

Mixt Rose and Lilly, why are you so proud,
Since Fair is not in all Minds like allow’d?
Some do like Black, some Brown, and some like White;
Some Eyes in all Complexions take delight.
Nor doth one Beauty in the World still reign;                                    5
For Beauty is created in the Brain.
But, say there were a Body perfect made,
Complexion pure, by Nature’s Pencil laid;
A Countenance, where all sweet Spirits meet;
A Hair that’s thick, and long, curl’d to the Feet:                                   10
Yet, were it like a Statue made of Stone,
The Eye would weary grow to look upon:
Had it no Wit, the Mind still to delight,
It soon would weary be, as well as Sight.
For, Wit is fresh and new, doth sport and play;                                  15
And runs about the Humour every way.
With all the Passions, Wit can well agree;
Wit tempers them, and makes them pleas’d to be.
Ingenious ‘tis, doth new Inventions find,
To ease the Body, and divert the Mind.                                                 20
When I appear, I strike the Optick Nerve;
I wound the Heart, and make the Passions serve.
Souls are my Pris’ners, yet do love me well:
My Company is Heav’n, my Absence Hell.
Each Knee doth bow to me, as to a Shrine;                                          25
And all the World accounts me as Divine.
      Beauty, you cannot long Devotion keep;
The Mind grows weary, Senses fall asleep:
As those which in the House of God do go,
Are very Zealous in a Pray’r or two;                                                       30
But, if they must an Hour-long kneel to pray,
Their Zeal grows cold, nor know they what they say:
So Admirations are, they do not last;
After Nine days, the greatest Wonder’s past.
The Mind, as th’ Senses all, delights in change;                                      35
They nothing love, but what is new and strange.
But subtil Wit, can please both long, and well:
For, to the Ear, Wit a new Tale can tell.
And, for the Tast, doth dress Meat several ways.
To th’ Eye, it can new Forms and Fashions raise.                                   40
And for the Touch, Wit spins both Silk and Wool,
Invents new ways, to keep Touch warm, and cool.
For Scent, Wit Mixtures and Compounds doth make,
That still the Nose, a fresh new Smell may take.
I, by Discourse, can represent the Mind                                                   45
With several Objects, though the Eyes be blind.
I’th’ Brain I can create Idea’s, and
Those make to th’ Mind seem real, though but feign’d.
The Mind’s a Shop, where sorts of Toys I sell;
With fine Conceits, I fit all Humours well.                                                 50
I can the Work of Nature imitate,
And, in the Brain, each several Shape create.
I Conquer all, am Master of the Field,
And make fair Beauty, in Love’s Warrs to yield.

NOTES:

Title Wit “The faculty of thinking and reasoning in general; mental capacity, understanding, intellect, reason” (OED).

16 Humour “A particular temperamental inclination” (OED).

29 House of God A church or place of worship (OED).

50 Conceits “A fanciful or ingenious expression, metaphor, turn of thought” (OED).

SOURCE:  Poems, Or, Several Fancies in Verse: With the Animal Parliament in Prose, Part II, Third Edition (London, 1668), pp. 117-18. [Google Books]

Edited by Izabella Garcia

Elizabeth Tollet, “To my Brother at St. John’s College in Cambridge”

ELIZABETH TOLLET

To my Brother at St. John’s College in Cambridge”

 

Blest be the Man, who first the Method found
In Absence to discourse, and paint a Sound!
This Praise old Greece to Tyrian Cadmus gives;
And still the Author by th’ Invention lives:
Still may he live, and justly famous be,                                                          5
Whose Art assists me to converse with thee!
All Day I pensive sit, but not alone;
And have the best Companions when I’ve none:
I read great Tully’s Page, and wond’ring find
The heav’nly Doctrine of th’ immortal Mind;                                               10
An Axiom first by Parent Nature taught,
An inborn Truth, which proves itself by Thought.
But when the Sun declines the Task I change,
And round the Walls and antick Turrets range;
From hence a vary’d Scene delights the Eyes,                                             15
See ! here Augusta’s massive Temples rise,
There Meads extend, and Hills support the Skies;
See ! there the Ships, an anchor’d Forest ride,
And either India’s Wealth enrich the Tide.

Thrice happy you, in Learning’s other Seat!                                           20
No noisy Guards disturb your blest Retreat:
Where, to your Cell retir’d, you know to choose
The wisest Author, or the sweetest Muse.
Let useful Toil employ the busy Light,
And steal a restless Portion from the Night;                                                  25
With Thirst of Knowledge wake before the Day,
Prevent the Sun, and chide his tardy Ray:
When chearful Larks their early Anthem sing,
And op’ning Winds refreshing Odours bring;
When from the Hills you see the Morning rise,                                             30
As fresh as Lansdown’s Cheeks, and bright as Windham’s Eyes.

But when you leave your Books, as all must find
Some Ease requir’d t’indulge the lab’ring Mind;
With such Companions mix, such Friendships make,
As not to choose what you must soon forsake:                                             35
Mark well thy Choice; let Modesty, and Truth,
And constant Industry adorn the Youth.
In Books good Subjects for Discourse are found;
Such be thy Talk when friendly Tea goes round:
Mirth more than Wine the drooping Spirits chears,                                      40
Revives our Hopes, and dissipates our Fears;
From Circe’s Cup, immeasur’d Wine, refrain,
Start backward, and reject th’ untasted Bane.

Perhaps to neighb’ring Shades you now repair,
To look abroad and taste the scented Air:                                                      45
Survey the useful Labours of the Swain,
The tedded Grass, and Sheaves of ripen’d Grain;
The loaded Trees with blushing Apples grac’d,
Or hardy Pears, which scorn the wintry Blast.
Or see the sturdy Hinds from Harvest come,                                                  50
To waste the setting Suns in rural Mirth at Home.
Now on the Banks of silver Cam you stray;
While thro’ the twisted Boughs the Sun-Beams play,
And the clear Stream reflects the trembling Ray.

Think, when you tread the venerable Shade,                                           55
Here Cowley sung, and tuneful Prior play’d.
O! would the Muse thy youthful Breast inspire
With charming Raptures and Poetick Fire!
Then thou might’st sing, (who better claims thy Lays?)
A tributary Strain to Oxford’s Praise:                                                                  60
Thy humble Verse from him shall Fame derive,
And grac’d with Harley’s Name for ever live.
First sing the Man in constant Temper found,
Unmov’d when Fortune smil’d, undaunted when she frown’d.
A Mind above Rewards, serenely great,                                                             65
And equal to the Province of the State:
Thence let thy Muse to private Life descend,
Nor in the Patriot’s Labours lose the Friend.

NOTES:

3 Tyrian Cadmus Greek mythological figure who founded the city of Thebes.  According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Cadmus was also responsible for introducing the Phoenician alphabet to the Greeks. Tollet follows the tradition that Cadmus came from Tyre (Britannica).

9 Tully Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE), Roman statesman and philosopher. Tollet appears to reference Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations, Book I of which addresses the immortality of the soul.

11 Axiom “A proposition that commends itself to general acceptance” (OED).

14 antick “Grotesque or fantastic ornamental representation of a person, animal, or thing” (OED).

16 Augusta Ancient Roman name for London.

17 Meads Meadows.

31 Lansdown Mary Granville (nee Villiers) (c. 1668-1735), married George Granville, Baron Lansdowne (1666-1735) in 1711; Windham Probably Elizabeth Grenville, (nee Wyndham) (1719-1769), artist and writer, married George Grenville (1712-1770) in 1749.

37 Industry “Intelligent or clever working; skill, ingenuity, or cleverness in the execution of anything” (OED).

42 Circe’s Cup “In Greek and Latin mythology the name of an enchantress who dwelt in the island of Aea, and transformed all who drank of her cup into swine; often used allusively” (OED).

44 repair “To return to or from a specified place” (OED).

46 Swain A shepherd figure in pastoral poetry.

50 Hinds “Agricultural labourers” (OED).

52 Cam The town of Cambridge lies on the River Cam (Britannica).

56 Cowley Abraham Cowley, (1618-1667), poet and essayist “who wrote poetry of a fanciful, decorous nature,”; Prior Matthew Prior, 1664–1721, English poet and diplomat (Britannica). Cowley and Prior attended Cambridge colleges, St. John’s and Trinity College respectively.

60, 62 Oxford…Harley Both references are to Robert Harley, 1st earl of Oxford, (1661-1724, London), “British statesman who headed the Tory ministry from 1710 to 1714” (Britannica).

SOURCE: Poems On Several Occasions with Anne Boleyn to King Henry VIII An Epistle, Second Edition (London, 1760), pp. 25-27. [Google Books]

 Edited by Gabriela Torres