Tag Archives: mythology

William Dunkin M.A., “Hymen’s Triumph, a Poem”

WILLIAM DUNKIN, M.A.

“Hymen’s Triumph, a Poem”
On the Marriage of Rev. Mr Richard Beauchamp to Miss Juliana Keatinge, Dublin, May 5, 1743

Once, Hymen, abus’d for the matches he made,
(Since beauty was barter’d, and wedlock a trade)
By Pallas instructed to pitch on a pair,
Joyn’d Dick the facetious to Julia the fair.
So true was his passion, so decent her carriage,                                                     5
Not even Diana could censure the marriage.
Apollo was charm’d with her mind, and his parts,
And tun’d the soft notes of his lute by their hearts:
The muses in chorus obey’d his command,
And hymn’d to graces, who danc’d hand in hand.                                                        10
The birds of the grove from the branches above
Sang spousal, and chatter’d the tydings of love.
To gather a garland, the nymphs and the fauns
Dismantled the meadows, the vallies and lawns:
The gay, living colours by Flora were wreath’d,                                                              15
And Zephyr cool-sigh’d to the odour she breath’d.
Vertumnus was present in garment of green,
And thus gayly spoke to the bloom-bearing queen.
‘Now the nymphs and the fauns may lavishly bring
The paintings of nature, and pride of the spring,                                                           20
Fair emblems of beauty! Vertumnus employs
The season, to ripen more delicate joys,
Rich omens of issue! with blossoms you suit
The virgin; but I shall adorn her with fruit.’
Then Mercury said, as he look’d on the bride                                                                  25
With an envious eye, calling Venus aside,
‘Alas, idle maid! what a part hath she acted,
To wed with a parson? –it makes me distracted:
My measures are broken, my purposes crost:
I meant her a lord—- but her market is lost.                                                                    30
Her sisters are like her: She gives us a sample,
And copies exactly her mother’s example:
It flows from the fountain: Her blood must inherit
This oddness of chusing out men for their merit.
Well, since she rejected the baits of my store                                                                   35
Adieu to the pleasures of Sweet Nora more
Quoth Venus, ‘You have little cause to repine,
The chief disappointment and anguish are mine,
You meant her a title of honour and pence,
I meant her a beau — but she truckled to sense.                                                              40
I long since might know, she would baffle my sport,
For, brother, I never could bring her to court.
Yet Cupid, to whom I committed her beauty,
Was blindly defective in doing his duty.’
‘Arraign not thy Cupid,’ glad Hymen replies,                                                                        45
‘For once he hath shewn, that his godship has eyes.’

NOTES:

1 Hymen Greek God of marriage (Britannica).

3 Pallas Another name for the Greek goddess, Athena, deity of war (Britannica).

6 Diana “In Roman religion, goddess of wild animals and the hunt, identified with the Greek goddess Artemis” (Britannica).

7 Apollo Though Apollo is formally known from different sources as god of several ideas (poetry, music, song, dance, sun, light, reason, etc.) here he is referred to as the deity of reason and music (Britannica).

13 fauns “In Roman mythology, a creature that is part human and part goat” (Britannica).

15 Flora Roman goddess of flowering plants (Britannica).

16 Zephyr A gentle breeze, shortened from Zephyrus the greek god of the west wind.

17 Vertumnus Roman god of metamorphoses in nature and life (Britannica).

25 Mercury Roman god of shopkeepers and merchants (Britannica).

26 Venus Roman goddess of love and fertility (Britannica).

28 parson A “beneficed member of the clergy of the Church of England” (OED).

29 crost Variation of crossed (OED).

36 pleasures of Sweet Nora Possibly a reference to the ancient Italian town of Nora that was well known for its fine theater and baths (Britannica).

40 beau Male companion (OED); truckled “Submit” (OED).

43 Cupid Roman god of love; often depicted as blind or blindfolded (Britannica).

45 Arraign “To find fault with” (OED).

46 shewn Variation of shown (OED).

 SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 13 (May 1743), p. 268. [Google Books]

 Edited by Mina Raeisi

“Ambrosia,” “Pluto’s Triumph”

AMBROSIA

Pluto’s Triumph

 

‘Tis said a story never loses,
Which to rehearse no one refuses;
Or when (says Pope) from north to south,
It propagates from mouth to mouth;
For as it goes-–it always varies,                                                5
And from th’ original miscarries:
For instance now—the fate of Dido,
Of Daphne too—and Pastor Fido;
The angry moods of jealous Juno,
The loves of Proserpine and Pluto;                                         10
The amours of the mighty Jove,
With Juno, Calisto, above,
Asteria, Antiope below,
Are just what fables please to show:
They show how this one gain’d a lover,                                  15
And how that Goddess lost another;
How Venus from the waters sprung,
How musical a Syren’s tongue;
How Jupiter—(as they depute)
To win Europa turn’d a brute;                                                   20
AEgina, Danae, Leda won,
By strange disguises putting on;
In short, describe the forms of Heav’n,
To which and which most pow’r was given.
Such stories then if you believe,                                               25
And all the Poets do conceive,
You may believe—(that’s if you please)
Juno a justice and the moon a cheese.
However for romance’s glory,
I’ll tell you—what?—I’ll tell a story.                                            30
A story should (says Sancho Panza)
Begin with some old Latin stanza,
Or saying of the censor Cato,
Demosthenes, Cicero, or Plato;
Now such as this—“He that seeks evil,”                                     35
(So Sancho says)—“May meet the Devil.”
But this, and all their scraps of Greek,
To me appears but self-conceit;
Mere vanity;—an outward show,
Of what they would be thought to know:                                 40
However it appears like learning,
To those who are not so discerning,
And raises in the public eye,
A name of no small prodigy;
A good device—for those that can’t                                          45
Derive the requisites they want;
So by such authors as they quote,
They hope to gain a name of note:
For sure that man which takes from Ovid
A line or two,—can be no blockhead;                                        50
Certainly no;——(preserve my patience)
We say that man knows all the ancients;
And all who Greek or Latin uses,
We say are favoured by the muses;
And in right form the sentence places,                                      55
We say that man has all the graces.—
‘Tis so these seeming wise ones raise
A name of learning and of praise.
On others fame they build their own,
And live on vanity alone.——                                                       60
But to proceed—I’ll tell my story
In plainer terms than those before me,
Yet like a fabulist of yore be.
I mean by this expression,—you
Must (like the suppositious crew,)                                               65
Believe my fable to be true.
You’ll say that’s wrong,—’tis why I quote it,
Because I thought so when I wrote it;
‘Tis rather foolish—and I know it,
But my excuse is——I’m a poet:                                                  70
For poets have a prior claim,
To many faults that I could name;
Which are alleged by some to be
Superior taste in poetry;
Invention, fancy and the plot—-——                                          75
But this as poet I’ve forgot;
For ‘stead of telling Pluto’s tale,
I’ve written quite satyrical.
I say no more—the proem’s ended,
And if I’ve gave offence—’twas not intended.                          80
When Pluto from the dark abodes,
Ascended to his brother Gods,
He sought among the heav’nly race,
A Goddess worthy his embrace:
And as he wish’d to meet success,                                             85
(That nought should make his merit less)
To all he made a handsome present,
To this a peacock, that a pheasant,
And manag’d matters pretty decent.
But yet (oh strange !) he was neglected,                                    90
And by (which little he expected)
Celestial Goddesses rejected.——
Stung to the heart with this reproach,
He order’d instantly his coach.
“Here drive me to the Enna fields,                                             95
I’ll try (quoth he) what Enna yields;
A bachelor to rove and range,
Is as ridiculous as strange.”
Sated of Heav’n away was drove,
And gained at Enna, Proserpine his love.                                 100

NOTES:

Title Pluto The Roman equivalent of Hades. Pluto is the King of the Underworld.

3 Pope Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet and satirist. The lines alluded to are from The Temple of Fame (1715), ll. 473-74.

7 Dido In Greek mythology, Dido was the former Queen of Tyre, and the founder and Queen of Carthage. After she was forced to flee Tyre by her authoritarian brother, Pygmalion, she married Aeneas, a Trojan warrior on a heroic journey. Aeneas was, ultimately, prompted by the gods to leave Dido and continue on his quest, which led to Dido’s suicide (World History Encyclopedia).

8 Daphne Daphne was highly coveted by many men, including the god Apollo, whom she rejected. She prayed to be rescued, and was turned into a laurel tree (Britannica); Pastor Fido Probably a reference to Mirtillo, the faithful shepherd character in Giovanni Battista Guarini’s pastoral tragicomedy, Il pastor fido (1590). He takes the place of his lover, Amarilli, to be sacrificed, but is saved at the end of the play (Britannica).

9 Juno In Roman mythology, “she is the female counterpart to Jupiter….Ovid relates that Juno was jealous of Jupiter for giving birth to Minerva from his own head” (Britannica).

10 Proserpine The Roman equivalent of Persephone. Proserpine, or Proserpina, is the goddess of springtime and became Queen of the Underworld after her marriage to Pluto.

11 Jove Another name for Jupiter, “the chief ancient Roman and Italian god;” the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek tradition (Britannica).

12 Calisto A nymph in Greek myth, Callisto was one of Artemis’s huntresses who had sworn herself to celibacy. She had an affair with Zeus and, to punish her, she was turned into a “she-bear” and consequently killed by Artemis, who mistook her for a real bear (Britannica).

13 Asteria A Titan in Greek myth; “Asteria was loved by Zeus” and, to escape him, “she transformed herself into a quail, threw herself into the sea, and ultimately became the island of Delos” (Mythopedia); Antiope According to Greek legend, “her beauty attracted Zeus, who, assuming the form of a satyr, took her by force” (Britannica).

17 Venus Venus is the Roman goddess of beauty, love, and fertility.

18 Syren In Greek mythology, a syren (or siren), was a half-bird, half-woman creature who lured sailors to their demise through their seductive songs (Britannica).

20 Jupiter The Roman equivalent of Zeus and the counterpart of Juno (Britannica); Europa Europa was the princess of Phoenicia and so beautiful that Zeus abducted her, disguised as a white bull (Britannica).

21 AEgina A nymph in Greek myth; Zeus fell in love with her and, in the shape of a flame, carried her off to the island of Oenone (World History Encyclopedia); Danae According to Greek myth, an oracle prophesied that Danae’s son would one day kill her father, so she was confined to “a bronze tower.” Zeus, still, was entranced by her beauty and impregnated her under the guise of “a shower of gold” (Encyclopedia); Leda A figure in Greek myth who was seduced by Zeus when he took the form of a magnificent swan (World History Encyclopedia).

31-36 Sancho Panza…May meet the Devil Sancho is the fictional squire in Cervantes’s Don Quixote (1605/1615). In Tobias Smolett’s 1755 translation, Sancho tells Quixote, “‘…the beginning of ancient tales, is not just what came into the head of the teller: no, they have always began with some saying of Cato the censor of Rome, like this of He that seeks evil, may he meet with the devil.'” (Book 3, Chapt. 6, p. 133).

33 Cato Marcus Porcius Cato (234 BCE-149 BCE), or Cato the Elder, “a Roman statesman, orator” and historian (Britannica).

34 Demosthenes (384 BCE-322 BCE) An ancient Greek statesman, who was widely known as one of the greatest orators of ancient Athens (Britannica); Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BCE-43 BCE) was a Roman “statesman, lawyer, and scholar” and is credited with being one of the best orators in ancient Rome (Britannica); Plato (c. 429 BCE-347 BCE) A prominent ancient Greek philosopher, best known for his teachings on the physical and metaphysical worlds, as well as his incredulous influence on modern Western philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

49 Ovid (43 BCE-17 CE) A Roman poet famous for his interpretations of classical myths and his technical influence on the development of Latin language and poetry (Britannica).

63 fabulist “One who relates fables or legends; a composer of apologues” (OED).

79 proem “A preface, preamble” (OED).

95 Enna Fields, “The Enna Fields was a beautiful place in the middle of the Island of Sicily, therefore called Umbilicus Siciliae: Here Pluto first alighted after his rejection in Heaven, where seeing a company of beautiful virgins gathering flowers, Proserpine, who was one, pleased him so much above the rest, as she excelled them in beauty, that he carried her away with him, and made her his wife” [Author’s Note].

SOURCE: The London Magazine, or Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer (London, 1776), pp. 608-9. [HathiTrust]

Edited by Madison Mc Elheney

Ann Yearsley, “On Mrs. Montagu”

ANN YEARSLEY

“On Mrs. MONTAGU”

 

Why boast, O arrogant, imperious man,
Perfection so exclusive? are thy powers
Nearer approaching Deity? can’st thou solve
Questions which Infinity propounds,
Soar nobler flights, or dare immortal deeds,                                                         5
Unknown to woman, if she greatly dares
To use the powers assign’d her? Active strength,
The boast of animals, is clearly thine;
By this upheld, thou think’st the lesson rare
That female virtues teach; and poor the height                                                    10
Which female wit obtains. The theme unfolds
Its ample maze, for MONTAGU befriends
The puzzled thought, and, blazing in the eye
Of boldest Opposition, strait presents
The soul’s best energies, her keenest powers,                                                      15
Clear, vigorous, enlighten’d; with firm wing
Swift she o’ertakes his Muse, which spread afar
Its brightest glories in the days of yore;
Lo! where she, mounting, spurns the stedfast earth,
And, sailing on the cloud of science, bears                                                              20
The banner of Perfection. —————-
Ask GALLIA’S mimic sons how strong her powers,
Whom, flush’d with plunder from her SHAKESPEARE’S page,
She swift detects amid their dark retreats;
(Horrid as CACUS in their thievish dens)                                                                  25
Regains the trophies, bears in triumph back
The pilfer’d glories to wond’ring world.
So STELLA boasts, from her tale I learn’d;
With pride she told it, I with rapture heard.

O, MONTAGU! forgive me, if I sing                                                                    30
Thy wisdom temper’d with the milder ray
Of soft humanity, and kindness bland:
So wide its influence, that the bright beams
Reach the low vale where mists of ignorance lodge,
Strike on the innate spark which lay immers’d,                                                      35
Thick clogg’d, and almost quench’d in total night —
On me it fell, and cheer’d my joyless heart.

Unwelcome is the first bright dawn of light
To the dark soul; impatient, she rejects,
And fain wou’d push the heavenly stranger back;                                                  40
She loaths the cranny which admits the day;
Confus’d, afraid of the intruding guest;
Disturb’d, unwilling to receive the beam,
Which to herself her native darkness shews.

The effort rude to quench the cheering flame                                                45
Was mine, and e’en on STELLA cou’d I gaze
With sullen envy, and admiring pride,
Till, doubly rous’d by MONTAGU, the pair
Conspire to clear my dull, imprison’d sense,
And chase the mists which dimm’d my visual beam.                                           50

Oft as I trod my native wilds alone,
Strong gusts of thought wou’d rise, but rise to die;
The portals of swelling soul, ne’er op’d
By liberal converse, rude ideas strove
Awhile for vent, but found it not, and died.                                                           55
Thus rust the Mind’s best powers.  Yon starry orbs,
Majestic ocean, flowery vales, gay groves,
Eye-wasting lawns, and Heaven-attempting hills,
Which bound th’ horizon, and which curb the view;
All those, with beauteous imagery, awak’d                                                            60
My ravish’d soul to extacy untaught,
To all the transport the rapt sense can bear;
But all expir’d, for want of powers to speak;
All perish’d in the mind as soon as born,
Eras’d more quick than cyphers on the shore,                                                      65
O’er which the cruel waves, unheedful, roll.

Such timid rapture as young EDWIN seiz’d,
When his lone footsteps on the Sage obtrude,
Whose noble precept charm’d his wond’ring ear,
Such rapture fill’d LACTILLA’S vacant soul,                                                             70
When the bright Moralist, in softness drest,
Opes all the glories of the mental world,
Deigns to direct the infant thought, to prune
The budding sentiment, uprear the stalk
Of feeble fancy, bid idea live,                                                                                    75
Woo the abstracted spirit from its cares,
And gently guide her to the scenes of peace.
Mine was that balm, and mine the grateful heart,
Which breathes its thanks in rough, but timid strains.

NOTES:

Title Montagu Elizabeth Montagu (1718-1800), literary critic, writer, and patron of the arts.  She was a founding member of the Bluestockings, a group of intellectual women formed in the mid-eighteenth century (Britannica).

17 Muse “The inspiration of poetry or song” (OED).

19 spurns “To reject with contempt or disdain” (OED).

22 GALLIA’S mimic sons Ancient Latin word for France; a reference to French critics (OED).

23 SHAKESPEARE’S page A reference to Montagu’s most important work, An Essay on the Writing and Genius of Shakespear (1769).

25 CACUS Three-headed, fire-breathing Roman diety killed by Hercules in his own cave after stealing cattle (Britannica).

28 STELLA Yearsley’s poetic name for Hannah More (1745-1833), a poet, playwright, and member of the Bluestocking circle.  She became Yearsley’s most energetic patron until their falling out in 1787.

61 extacy “An exalted state of feeling which engrosses the mind to the exclusion of thought” (OED).

67 young EDWIN “See the Minstrel” [Author’s Note].  Edwin is the young poet of James Beattie’s (1785-1803) popular two-part poem The Minstrel (1771/1774).  One of the characters he encounters is a philosopher or “Sage” figure.

70 LACTILLA “The Author” [Author’s Note]. Yearsley’s poetic name for herself.

71 bright Moralist Most likely a reference to Elizabeth Montagu.

SOURCE:  Poems, on Several Occasions (London, 1785), pp. 101-106.  [Google Books]

Edited by Chloe Moody

Anne Finch, “Cupid and Folly”

ANNE FINCH

“Cupid and Folly”
Imitated from the FRENCH

Cupid, ere depriv’d of Sight,
Young and apt for all Delight,
Met with Folly on the way,
As Idle, and as fond of Play.
In gay Sports the time they pass;                                                                   5
Now run, now wrestle on the Grass;
Their painted Wings then nimbly ply,
And ev’ry way for Mast’ry try:
‘Till a Contest do’s arise,
Who has won th’ appointed Prize.                                                                 10
Gentle Love refers the Case
To the next, that comes in Place;
Trusting to his flatt’ring Wiles,
And softens the Dispute with Smiles.
But Folly, who no Temper knows,                                                                  15
Words pursues with hotter Blows:
‘Till the Eyes of Love were lost,
Which has such Pain to Mortals cost.
Venus hears his mournful Crys,
And repeats ‘em, in the Skys,                                                                          20
To Jupiter in Council set,
With Peers for the Occasion met;
In her Arms the Boy she bears,
Bathing him in falling Tears;
And whilst his want of Eyes is shown,                                                            25
Secures the Judges by her Own.
Folly to the Board must come,
And hear the Tryal and the Doom;
Which Cytherea loudly prays
May be as heavy as the Case:                                                                          30
Which, when All was justly weigh’d,
Cupid’s Wings now useless made,
That a Staff, his Feet must guide,
Which wou’d still be apt to slide;
This Decree at last was read,                                                                            35
That Love by Folly shou’d be lead.

NOTES:

1 Cupid “Roman god of love” (Britannica), often rendered in iconography as blindfolded or blind.

3 Folly “Foolishness…unwise conduct” (OED).

19 Venus Roman goddess of love, mother of Cupid (Britannica).

21 Jupiter Roman god of the sky (Britannica).

29 Cytherea Another name for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1714), pp. 135-136. [HathiTrust]

 Edited by Hannah Heiden

Anonymous, “On Solitude”

ANONYMOUS

“On Solitude”

Hail, modest Solitude, instructive maid,
Still to thy vot’ry, still vouchsafe thine aid
Still imp my soul with meditation’s wings,
And lead me far from modern trifling things.
Before my view bid ages past unfold,                                                  5
And let me mingle with the great of old.
With kings and heroes, saints and sages stray,
And let their converse cheat the devious way.
Behold, already to my joyful eyes,
From various realms the mighty shades arise;                                  10
Who once the bulwark of their country stood,
And, to be great, determin’d to be good.
Great too in crimes another race I view,
For all was great that former ages knew.
In Aristides just see Athens’ pride;                                                           15
See the brave Theban, who at Leuctra dy’d.
With him th’ unweary’d partner of his wars,
Looks up elate and glories in his fears.
There moves the father of the Grecian state,
Whose name Thermopylae hath snatch’d from fate;                            20
And yet an endless train to these succeeds,
The chief who conquers and the sage who bleeds,
Rome’s awful names now crowd upon my mind,
Her first great Brutus, glory of mankind,
The voice of nature dying in his ear,                                                       25
The voice of Rome alone he knew to hear;
There leans Horatius on his darling boy,
And smiles superior with a Roman joy,
The Fabii, Decii, see, and o’er the rest,
Great Cato tow’rs, the wisest and the best,                                            30
Cato, the last of Romans, and the pride,
Cato, who never err’d, but when he dy’d.
Behind the sons of glorious mischief press,
Whose deeds can plead no merit but success;
Young Ammon, Caesar, there with gesture proud,                                  35
Drink the mad plaudit of the ruin’d crowd.
But who are these of later times, I ween,
Of equal worth that crowd the shifting scene?
My soul presaging knows the kindred line,
Ye Henrys, Edwards, yes, I call ye mine.                                                      40
Each look, each smile, some pleasing thought conveys,
Of tyrants humbled on victorious days,
When Edward, Henry, and his son appears,
I start to Cressy, Agincourt, Poictiers,
And later yet, behold a virgin sway                                                             45
Fair Albion’s sceptre, and the world obey,
Yet, yet, one more, a mother, wife, and queen,
O’er vanquish’d nations looks with placid mien,
Imperial Anna; yes, thy name shall stand,
The grace, the pride, the glory of our land,                                                 50
Not Rome, nor Greece, nor antient times disdain,
To mix their honours with great Anna’s reign.
Thrice happy, Britain! if thy favour’d throne,
Still in a monarch had a parent known,
No wretch, who bold perverse and haughty still                                        55
Made his will law, and not our laws his will.
Yet let no murmurs rise, since heav’n presides,
Since all our fortunes boundless wisdom guides:
As guilt uncheck’d would call for burning rain,
Or bid some deluge drown the world again,                                                60
Tyrant’s must rise, the nation’s iron rod,
The scourge of vengeance in the hand of God.
Thus good and bad by turns appear to view,
The bad how many, and the good how few:
But tyrants soon in penal chains shall groan,                                               65
And injur’d kings possess a lasting throne.

NOTES:

 2 vot’ry Votary, “a devoted or zealous worshipper” (OED); vouchsafe “Confer or bestow” (OED).

 15 Aristides just Aristides the Just (fl. 5th century BC), an Athenian statesman, general, and founder of the Delian League” (Britannica).

16 the brave Theban, who at Leuctra dy’d Probably a reference to Epaminondas, a “Theban statesman” who defeated Sparta at the Battle of Leuctra “and made Thebes the most powerful state in Greece.” However, Epaminondas did not die at Leuctra, but at Mantineia years later (Britannica).

19 the father of the Grecian state Probably a reference to Leonidas I (d. 480 BC), a Spartan king who led a “stand against the Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae” (Britannica).

24 Brutus Lucius Junius Brutus (fl. 600-551 BC) was a “semilegendary figure” believed “to have founded the Roman Republic” (Britannica).

27 Horatius Horatius Cocles (6th century or legendary hero) who “defended the Sublician bridge (in Rome) against … the entire Etruscan army” (Britannica).

29 Fabii, Decii Ancient Roman patrician and plebeian families, famous for their patriotic courage and sacrifice (Britannica).

30 Great Cato Marcus Porcius Cato (95-46 BC), a Roman senator “who tried to preserve the Roman republic against power seekers, in particular Julius Caesar” (Britannica).

35 Ammon “Egyptian deity who was revered as king of the gods” (Britannica); Caesar Possible reference to Roman dictator Caius Julius Caesar, though the word can also refer to all Roman emperors “down to the fall of Constantinople” (OED).

36 plaudit “Applause,” or “any emphatic expression of approval” (OED).

37 ween “To think, surmise, suppose” (OED).

39 presaging “To foretell; to predict, forecast” (OED).

40 Henrys, Edwards Likely a general reference to the past kings of England. At the time of this poem’s publication, fourteen English monarchs had borne the name Henry or Edward (Historic UK).

43 Edward Edward III (1312-1377, reigned from 1327, began the Hundred Years’ War and oversaw English victories at Crecy and Poitiers; Henry, and his son appears Most likely references Henry IV (1367-1413), reigned from 1399, and Henry V (1386-1422), reigned from 1413, defeated the French at Agincourt and would have succeeded to the French throne had he not died prematurely of dysentery (Historic UK).

44 Cressy, Agincourt, Poictiers Battles between English and French forces during the Hundred Years’ War that resulted in English victories (Britannica).

45 behold a virgin sway Reference to Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), reigned from 1558, known as the “Virgin Queen” (Britannica).

46 Albion’s “Originally: the island of Britain. Later: the nation of Britain or England, often with reference to past times, or to a romanticized concept of the nation” (OED).

49 Imperial Anna Queen Anne (1665-1714), reigned from 1702; she was “the last Stuart Monarch” (Britannica).

59 burning rain Biblical reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah from the Book of Genesis:  “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” (King James Bible, Genesis 19:24).

60 some deluge drown the world again Reference to “the biblical account of the Deluge” from the Book of Genesis, in which God destroys the world with a catastrophic flood (Britannica).

SOURCE:  The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 24 (March 1754), pp. 135-136. [Google Books]

Edited by Ethan Rappeport

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

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

Michael Bruce, “Anacreontic: To a Wasp”

MICHAEL BRUCE

“Anacreontic: To a Wasp”

The following is a ludicrous imitation of the usual Anacreontics; the spirit of composing which was raging, a few years ago, among all the sweet singers of GREAT BRITAIN.

 

WINGED wand’rer of the sky!
Inhabitant of heav’n high!
Dreadful with thy dragon tail,
Hydra-head, and coat of mail!
Why dost thou my peace molest?                                                  5
Why dost thou disturb my rest?
When in May the meads are seen,
Sweet enamel! white and green;
And the gardens, and the bow’rs,
And the forests, and the flow’rs,                                                     10
Don their robes of curious dye,
Fine confusion to the eye!
Did I —— chase thee in thy flight?
Did I —— put thee in a fright?
Did I —— spoil thy treasure hid?                                                     15
Never—never—never—did.
Envious nothing! pray beware;
Tempt mine anger, if you dare.
Trust not in thy strength of wing;
Trust not in thy length of sting.                                                       20
Heav’n nor earth shall thee defend;
I thy buzzing soon will end.
Take my counsel, while you may;
Devil take you, if you stay.
Wilt—thou—dare—my—face—to—wound?—                             25
Thus, I fell thee to the ground.
Down amongst the dead men, now
Thou shalt forget thou ere wast thou.
Anacreontic Bards beneath,
Thus shall wail thee after death.                                                      30

CHORUS OF ELYSIAN BARDS.

“ A Wasp, for a wonder,
To paradise under
Descends: see! he wanders
By STYX’S meanders!                                                                          35
Behold, how he glows,
Amidst RHODOPE’S snows!
He sweats, in a trice,
In the regions of ice!
Lo! he cools, by GOD’S ire,                                                                 40
Amidst brimstone and fire!
He goes to our king,
And he shows him his sting.
(God PLUTO loves satire,
As women love attire; )                                                                       45
Our king sets him free,
Like fam’d EURIDICE.
Thus a Wasp could prevail
O’er the Devil and hell,
A conquest both hard and laborious!                                              50
Tho’ hell had fast bound him,
And the Devil did confound him,
Yet his sting and his wing were victorious.”

NOTES:

Title: Anacreontic “A poem written in the metre or style of the ancient Greek poet Anacreon (c. 570-c. 495 B.C.), esp. one on the theme of love or wine” (OED).

3 dragon tail A stinger.

4 Hydra-head In Greek legend, “a gigantic water-snake-like monster with nine heads” (Britannica); mail Armor.

7 meads Meadows.

8 enamel “Applied to any smooth and lustrous surface-colouring…esp. to verdure or flowers on the ground” (OED).

9 bow’rs A shady place.

31 ELYSIAN BARDS Alluding to “the supposed state or abode of the blessed after death in Greek mythology” (OED).

35 STYX In Greek mythology, the River Styx flows through the underworld.

37 RHODOPE A mountain range in Southeastern Europe that extends into Greece.

38 in a trice ”A very brief period” (OED).

40 ire “Wrath” (OED).

41 brimstone and fire A biblical description of Hell.

44 PLUTO Roman God of the dead.

47 EURIDICE The wife of Orpheus; a mythical figure who nearly made it out of the underworld.

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (Edinburgh, 1782), pp. 63-66. [HathiTrust]

Edited by Louis Denson

“L.R.,” “Ode to Venus”

“L.R.”

“Ode to Venus”

On seeing the Estate of Gretna-Green advertised for Sale in the News-papers of the Day.

 

When Horace pray’d thee, Queen of Love,
To quit in haste thy Cyprian grove,
And seek his Fair-one’s roof,
The paltry smoke her incense threw,
And message trite to all thy crew,                                          5
Had kept thee well aloof.

A juster plea, a menac’d wrong,
Unvarnish’d by the Poet’s song,
Demands thy instant aid;
Quick let the doves their wings prepare,                              10
Cupid alone attend thy car,
And speed to Gretna’s shade.

To Gretna speed; your strongest hold
Plutus attacks with arms of gold,
And thinks the fortress won;                                            15
But Hymen your approach will meet,
For only there he’s wont to meet
The Mother and her Son.

Fear not yon dotard’s sooty face,
His blacken’d hands, his hobbling pace,                                 20
‘Tis not thy spouse, sweet dame!
From nets of steel our smith abstains;
Fetters of silk, and rosy chains,
His gentler labours frame.

But Christie lifts his hammer high;                                            25
Oh!  swiftly, swiftly, Goddess, fly,
And vindicate your claim!
So Gretna’s priest shall chaunt your praise,
And frequent pairs enraptur’d raise
A column to your fame.                                                        30

NOTES:

Title Venus Roman goddess of beauty and love (OED).

Subtitle Gretna Green  A Scottish village that became a popular destination for English couples looking to elope after Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act (1753) was brought into force in England. The Newcastle Courant, for example, carried an advertisement for the “Sale of Gretna” by auction (No. 6354, 21 July 1798).

1 Horace Roman lyric poet (65-8 BCE), whose ode addressed to Venus (Odes, IV.1) is being paraphrased in this stanza.

2 Cyprian Of Cyprus, “an island in the eastern Mediterranean, famous in ancient times for the worship of Aphrodite or Venus” (OED).

4 paltry “Very small or meagre” (OED).

5 trite “Worn out by constant use or repetition” (OED).

7 juster “Well-founded; justifiable” (OED); menac’d “Threatened” (OED).

8 Unvarnish’d  “Not covered” (OED).

11 Cupid Roman god of love, son of Mercury and Venus (OED).

14 Plutus Greek God of abundance or wealth (Britannica).

16 Hymen God of marriage in Greek and Roman mythology (OED).

19 dotard “An old person” (OED); sooty face “At Gretna Green the marriage ceremony was usually  performed by the blacksmith” (Britannica).

23 Fetters Figuratively, a restraint (OED).

25 Christie James Christie (1730-1803), a Scottish auctioneer who founded the auction house Christie’s in London, England.

28 chaunt “A repeated rhythmic phrase” (OED).

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine (August 1798), p. 707. [J. Paul Leonard Library]

Edited by Jhadeeja Shahida Vaz

 

 

 

Henry James Pye, “The Snow-Drop”

HENRY JAMES PYE

“The Snow-Drop”

 

Hail earliest of the opening flowers!
Fair Harbinger of vernal hours!
Who dar’st unveil each silken fold
Ere SOL dispels the wintry cold,
And with thy silver leaves display’d                                                   5
Spread lustre through the dreary glade.­—-
What though no fragrance like the rose
Tincturing the ZEPHYR as it blows,
Thy humble flowers from earth exhale
To scent the pinions of the gale;                                                        10
What though no hues of gaudy dye
Strike with their dazzling charms the eye,
Nor does thy sober foliage shew
Each blended tint of IRIS’ bow;
Yet in thy meek unsullied grace                                                          15
Imagination’s eye shall trace
The glowing blossoms that appear
Proudly to paint the vernal year,
And smiling MAIA’s blushing dyes,
And jocund Summer’s cloudless skies,                                              20
And Autumn’s labors which succeed
To bid the purple vintage bleed,
Our hopes anticipating see
Led on in radiant train by thee.

NOTES:

3 dar’st Dares.

4 Ere Before; SOL Sun.

8 Tincturing “Tinge; imbue” (OED); ZEPHYR In Greek Mythology, “the god of the west wind” (OED).

10 pinions Wings (OED).

14 IRIS’ bow “In Greek mythology, the personification of the rainbow” (Britannica).

19 MAIA “In Roman Mythology, a goddess of fertility and of the Spring” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Various Subjects. Vol. I (London, 1787), pp. 39-40. [Google Books]

 Edited by Jiyun An