Tag Archives: ode

Anonymous, “On Solitude”


“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.


 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

Michael Bruce, “Anacreontic: To a Wasp”


“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
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


“ 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.”


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

Jonathan Swift, “Apollo Outwitted”


“Apollo Outwitted”

To the Honourable Mrs. FINCH, under her Name of Ardelia.
Written, 1709.

PHOEBUS now shortning every Shade,
Up to the Northern Tropick came,
And thence Beheld a Lovely Maid
Attending on a Royal Dame.

THE God laid down his Feeble Rays,                                                  5
Then lighted from his Glitt’ring Coach,
But fenc’d his Head with his own Bays
Before he durst the Nymph approach.

UNDER those Sacred Leaves, Secure
From common Lightning of the Skies,                                        10
He fondly thought he might endure
The Flashes of Ardelia’s Eyes.

THE Nymph who oft had read in Books,
Of that Bright God whom Bards invoke,
Soon knew Apollo by his looks,                                                             15
And Guest his Business e’er he Spoke.

HE in the old Celestial Cant,
Confest his Flame, and Swore by Styx,
What e’er she would desire, to Grant,
But Wise Ardelia knew his Tricks.                                                    20

OVID had warn’d her to beware,
Of Stroling Gods, whose usual Trade is,
Under pretence of Taking Air,
To Pick up Sublunary Ladies.

HOWE’ER she gave no flat Denial,                                                            25
As having Malice in her Heart,
And was resolv’d upon a Tryal,
To Cheat the God in his own Art.

HEAR my Request the Virgin said
Let which I please of all the Nine                                                       30
Attend when e’er I want their Aid,
Obey my Call, and only mine.

BY Vow Oblig’d, By Passion led,
The God could not refuse her Prayer;
He wav’d his Wreath Thrice o’er her Head,                                               35
Thrice mutter’d something to the Air.

AND now he thought to Seize his due,
But she the Charm already try’d,
Thalia heard the Call and Flew
To wait at Bright Ardelia’s Side.                                                             40

ON sight of this Celestial Prude,
Apollo thought it vain to stay,
Nor in her Presence durst be Rude,
But made his Leg and went away.

HE hop’d to find some lucky Hour,                                                               45
When on their Queen the Muses wait;
But Pallas owns Ardelia’s Power,
For Vows Divine are kept by Fate.

THEN full of Rage Apollo Spoke,
Deceitful Nymph I see thy Art,                                                               50
And tho’ I can’t my gift revoke,
I’ll disappoint its Nobler Part.

LET Stubborn Pride Possess thee long,
And be thou Negligent of Fame,
With ev’ry Muse to Grace thy Song,                                                               55
May’st thou despise a Poets Name.

OF Modest Poets thou be first,
To silent Shades repeat thy Verse,
Till Fame and Eccho almost burst,
Yet hardly dare one Line Rehearse.                                                        60

AND last, my Vengeance to Compleat,
May you Descend to take Renown,
Prevail’d on by the Thing you hate,
A [Whig] and one that wears a Gown.


Dedication  Ardelia  Anne Finch’s poetical name for herself.

1  PHOEBUS  “[Ancient Greek name of Apollo] god of light, poetry and music” (OED).

2  Northern Tropick  “Tropic of Cancer,” which includes Britain (Britannica).

4  Royal Dame  Finch was appointed Maid of Honour to Mary of Modena in 1682.  Mary became queen in 1685 when her husband ascended the throne as James II, though Finch had resigned her court position in 1684 after marrying.

7  Bays  “Leaves or sprigs of this tree, esp. as woven into a wreath or garland to reward a conqueror or poet; hence figurative the fame and repute attained by these” (OED).

14  Bards  “A lyric or epic poet, a ‘singer’; a poet generally” (OED).

18  Styx  “A river of the lower world or Hades, over which the shades of the departed were ferried by Charon, and by which the gods swore their most solemn oaths” (OED).

21  OVID  Roman poet (43BC-17AD), famous for Metamorphoses.

30  all the Nine  The muses.

39  Thalia  “The eighth of the muses, presiding over comedy and idyllic poetry” (OED).

47  Pallas  Epithet for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war.

64  [Whig]  “A person who supported the exclusion of James, Duke of York (later James II), from the succession to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland on account of his Roman Catholicism during the late 1670s and 1680s” (OED); added in later printings of the poem; one that wears a Gown  Swift himself.

SOURCE:  Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (London, 1711), pp. 399–403.  [Google Books]

Edited by Jake Araiza


Phillis Wheatley, “Ode to Neptune. On Mrs. W–‘s Voyage to England”


“ODE to NEPTUNE. On Mrs. W—’s Voyage to England”



WHILE raging tempests shake the shore,
While Aelus’ thunders round us roar,
And sweep impetuous o’er the plain,
Be still, O tyrant of the main;
Nor let thy brow contracted frowns betray,                             5
While my Susannah skims the wat’ry way.


The Pow’r propitious hears the lay,
The blue-ey’d daughters of the sea
With sweeter cadence glide along,
And Thames responsive joins the song.                                     10
Pleas’d with their notes Sol sheds benign his ray,
And double radiance decks the face of day.


To court thee to Brittannia’s arms
Serene the climes and mild the sky,
Her region boasts unnumber’d charms,                                    15
Thy welcome smiles in ev’ry eye.
Thy promise Neptune keep, record my pray’r,
Nor give my wishes to the empty air.

Boston, October 10, 1772.


 Title Mrs. W—’s  The poem suggests this might be Wheatley’s mistress, Susanna Wheatley (see line 6); however, there is no surviving evidence that she ever traveled to England.  For a discussion of this issue, see Julian D. Mason, ed., The Poems of Phillis Wheatley, p. 84.

Aelus’  Greek god of the winds.

8  blue-ey’d daughters of the sea  The Nereids, sea nymphs of Greek mythology.

10  Thames  Father Thames; god of the river Thames flowing through southern England.

11  Sol  Roman god of the sun.

13  Brittannia’s  “Britain personified as a woman” (OED).

14  climes  “Atmosphere” (OED).

17  Neptune  Roman god of water and, because of his identification with Poseidon, the sea (OCD).

Source: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (Albany, 1793), p. 55. [Google Books]

Edited by Marco Varni

Elizabeth Ryves, “Ode to Friendship”


“Ode to Friendship”


Fond LOVE, with all his winning wiles
Of tender looks and flattering smiles;
Of accents that might Juno charm,
Or Dian’s colder ear alarm;
No more shall play the tyrant’s part,                                                       5
No more shall lord it o’er my heart.

To Friendship (sweet benignant Power!)
I consecrate my humble bower,
My lute, my muse, my willing mind,
And fix her in my heart enshrin’d :                                                         10
She, Heaven-descended Queen! shall be
My tutelar Divinity.

Soft Peace descends to guard her reign
From anxious fear and jealous pain:
She no delusive hope displays,                                                                15
But calmly guides our tranquil days;
Refines our pleasure, soothes our care,
And gives the joys of Eden here.


3 accents “Language or words” (Johnson); Juno Ancient Roman deity, “chief goddess and female counterpart of Jupiter” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

4 Dian’s Ancient Roman deity, “the moon-goddess, patroness of virginity and of hunting” (OED).

8 bower “A vague poetic word for an idealized abode” (OED).

12 tutelar “Having the charge or guardianship of any person or thing” (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1777), pp. 63-64.  [Google Books]

 Edited by Nargis Srejan

William Whitehead, “The Enthusiast. An Ode”

William Whitehead

“The Enthusiast. An Ode”


Once, I remember well the day,
‘Twas ere the blooming sweets of May
Had lost their freshest hues,
When every flower on every hill,
In every vale, had drank its fill                                                 5
Of sun-shine, and of dews.

In short, ‘twas that sweet season’s prime
When Spring gives up the reins of time
To Summer’s glowing hand,
And doubting mortals hardly know                                        10
By whose command the breezes blow
Which fan the smiling land.

‘Twas then beside a green-wood shade
Which cloath’d a lawn’s aspiring head
I urg’d my devious way,                                                      15
With loitering steps regardless where,
So soft, so genial was the air,
So wond’rous bright the day.

And now my eyes with transport rove
O’er all the blue expanse above,                                                20
Unbroken by a cloud!
And now beneath delighted pass,
Where winding through the deep-green grass
A full-brim’d river flow’d.

I stop, I gaze; in accents rude                                                      25
To thee, serenest Solitude,
Bursts forth th’ unbidden lay;
Begone, vile world; the learn’d, the wise,
The great, the busy I despise,
And pity ev’n the gay.                                                            30

These, these are joys alone, I cry;
‘Tis here, divine Philosophy,
Thou deign’st to fix thy throne!
Here Contemplation points the road
Thro’ Nature’s charms to Nature’s God!                                     35
These, these are joys alone!

Adieu, ye vain low-thoughted cares,
Ye human hopes, and human fears,
Ye pleasures, and ye pains! —-
While thus I spake o’er all my soul                                               40
A philosophic calmness stole,
A Stoic stillness reigns.

The tyrant passions all subside,
Fear, anger, pity, shame and pride
No more my bosom move;                                                   45
Yet still I felt, or seem’d to feel
A kind of visionary zeal
Of universal love.

When lo! a voice! a voice I hear!
‘Twas Reason whisper’d in my ear                                               50
These monitory strains:
What mean’st thou, man? would’st thou unbind
The ties which constitute thy kind,
The pleasures and the pains?

The same Almighty Power unseen,                                              55
Who spreads the gay or solemn scene
To Contemplation’s eye,
Fix’d every movement of the soul,
Taught every wish its destin’d goal,
And quicken’d every joy.                                                         60

He bids the tyrant passions rage,
He bids them war eternal wage,
And combat each his foe:
Till from dissentions concords rise,
And beauties from deformities,                                                    65
And happiness from woe.

Art thou not man, and dar’st thou find
A bliss which leans not to mankind?
Presumptuous thought, and vain!
Each bliss unshar’d is unenjoy’d,                                                  70
Each power is weak, unless employ’d
Some social good to gain.

Shall light, and shade, and warmth, and air,
With those exalted joys compare
Which active virtue feels,                                                        75
When on she drags, as lawful prize,
Contempt, and Indolence, and Vice,
At her triumphant wheels.

As rest to labour still succeeds,
To man, while Virtue’s glorious deeds                                         80
Employ his toilsome day,
This fair variety of things
Are merely life’s refreshing springs
To sooth him on his way.

Enthusiast go, unstring thy lyre,                                                   85
In vain thou sing’st if none admire,
How sweet soe’er the strain.
And is not thy o’erflowing mind,
Unless thou mixest with thy kind,
Benevolent in vain?                                                                 90

Enthusiast go; try every sense,
If not thy bliss, thy excellence
Thou yet hast learn’d to scan;
And least thy wants, thy weakness know;
And see them all uniting show                                                     95
That man was made for man.


Title Enthusiast “One who vainly imagines a private revelation; one of a hot imagination, or violent passions” (Johnson).

15 devious “Following a winding or erratic course; rambling, roving” (OED).

25 accents “The way in which anything is said or sung; a modulation or modification of voice expressing feeling” (OED); rude “Artless; inelegant” (Johnson).

37 low-thoughted Thought lowly of; pointless or worthless.

40 spake Archaic past tense of “speak.”

42 Stoic “Greek school of philosophy; one who practices repression of emotion, indifference to pleasure or pain, and patient endurance” (OED).

51 monitory “Conveying a warning” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions, with the Roman Father, A Tragedy (London, 1754) pp. 87-91. [Google Books]

Edited by Elyot Cotter

Anonymous, “Sickness. An Ode”





At midnight when the fever rag’d,
By physic’s art still unasswag’d,
And totur’d me with pain:
When most it scorch’d my acking head,
Like sulph’rous fire, or liquid lead,                                        5
And hiss’d through every vein:

With silent steps approaching nigh,
Pale death stood trembling in my eye,
And shook th’ up-lifted dart:
My mind did various thoughts debate                                 10
Of this, and of an after state,
Which terrify’d my heart.

I thought ‘twas hard, in youthful age,
To quit this fine delightful stage,
No more to view the day;                                                15
Nor e’er again the night to spend
In social converse with a friend,
Ingenious, learn’d, and gay.

No more in curious books to read
The wisdom of th’ illustrious dead;                                        20
All that is dear to leave,
Relations, friends, and MIRA too,
Without one kiss, one dear adieu,
To moulder in the grave.

Incircled with congenial clay,                                                  25
To worms and creeping things a prey,
To waste, dissolve, and rot:
To lie wrapp’d cold within a shroud,
Mingled amongst the vilest crowd,
Unnoted, and forgot.                                                        30

Oh horror by this train of thought
My mind was to distraction brought,
Impossible to tell:
The fever rag’d still more without,
Whilst dark despair, or dismal doubt,                                    35
Made all within my hell.

At length, with grave, yet cheerful air
Repentance came, serenely fair,
As summer’s evening sun;
At sight of whom extatic joy                                                     40
Did all that horrid scene destroy;
And every fear was gone.

If join’d in consort, with one voice,
Angels at such a change rejoice;
I heard their joy exprest.                                                   45
If there be music in the spheres,
That music struck my ravish’d ears,
And charm’d my soul to rest.


Title The Grubstreet Journal (January 1730-1738) was a critical and satirical newspaper published weekly in London (The Library of Congress).

2 unasswag’d An archaic spelling of unassuaged; “not soothed or relieved” (Oxford Dictionaries [no definition given in OED]).

24 moulder “To decay to dust; to rot; to crumble” (OED).

25 congenial “Suited to the nature of” (OED).

43 consort “To keep company with; to escort or attend” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (January 1733), p. 42.

 Edited by Valerie Pedroche

Elizabeth Carter, “Ode to Melancholy”


“Ode to Melancholy”

Alas Darkness my sole light, gloom
O fairer to me than any sunshine
Take me take me to dwell with you
Take me                           Sophocles.


Come Melancholy! silent Pow’r,
Companion of my lonely Hour,
To sober Thought confin’d:
Thou sweetly-sad ideal Guest,
In all thy soothing Charms confest,                                                                                 5
Indulge my pensive Mind.

No longer wildly hurried thro’
The Tides of Mirth, that ebb and flow,
In Folly’s noisy Stream:
I from the busy Croud retire,                                                                                            10
To court the Objects that inspire
Thy philosophic Dream.

Thro’ yon dark Grove of mournful Yews
With solitary Steps I muse,
By thy Direction led:                                                                                                   15
Here, cold to Pleasure’s tempting Forms,
Consociate with my Sister-worms,
And mingle with the Dead.

Ye Midnight Horrors! Awful Gloom!
Ye silent Regions of the Tomb,                                                                                          20
My future peaceful Bed:
Here shall my weary Eyes be clos’d,
And ev’ry Sorrow lie repos’d
In Death’s refreshing Shade.

Ye pale Inhabitants of Night,                                                                                              25
Before my intellectual Sight
In solemn Pomp ascend:
O tell how trifling now appears
The Train of idle Hopes and Fears
That varying Life attend.                                                                                              30

Ye faithless Idols of our Sense,
Here own how vain your fond Pretence,
Ye empty Names of Joy!
Your transient Forms like Shadows pass,
Frail Offspring of the magic Glass,                                                                                      35
Before the mental Eye.

The dazzling Colours, falsely bright,
Attract the gazing vulgar Sight
With superficial State:
Thro’ Reason’s clearer Optics view’d,                                                                                  40
How stript of all its Pomp, how rude
Appears the painted Cheat.

Can wild Ambition’s Tyrant Pow’r,
Or ill-got Wealth’s superfluous Store,
The Dread of Death controul?                                                                                      45
Can Pleasure’s more bewitching Charms
Avert, or sooth the dire Alarms
That shake the parting Soul?

Religion! Ere the Hand of Fate
Shall make Reflexion plead too late,                                                                                    50
My erring Senses teach,
Admist the flatt’ring Hopes of Youth,
To meditate the solemn Truth,
These awful Relics preach.

Thy penetrating Beams disperse                                                                                          55
The Mist of Error, whence our Fears
Derive their fatal Spring:
‘Tis thine the trembling Heart to warm,
And soften to an Angel Form
The pale terrific King.                                                                                                        60

When sunk by Guilt in sad Despair,
Repentance breathes her humble Pray’r,
And owns thy Threat’nings just:
Thy Voice the shudd’ring Suppliant chears,
With Mercy calms her tort’ring Fears,                                                                                    65
And lifts her from the Dust.

Sublim’d by thee, the Soul aspires
Beyond the Range of low Desires,
In nobler Views elate:
Unmov’d her destin’d Change surveys,                                                                                  70
And, arm’d by Faith, intrepid pays
The universal Debt.

In Death’s soft Slumber lull’d to Rest,
She sleeps, by smiling Visions blest,
That gently whisper Peace:                                                                                                75
‘Till the last Morn’s fair op’ning Ray
Unfolds the bright eternal Day
Of active Life and Bliss.


Epigraph These lines are from Sophocles’s play Ajax, ll. 394-97; translation mine.

3 sober “Serious; solemn; grave” (Johnson).

5 Charms “Enchantments” (OED).

8 Mirth “A diversion or entertainment” (OED).

9 Folly’s “Act of negligence or passion” (Johnson).

14 Yews “The tree of the dead. (…) The yew tree was sacred to Hecate, the Greek goddess associated with witchcraft, death, and necromancy; it was said to purify the dead as they entered Hades” (The Paris Review).

21 Bed “The grave” (OED).

27 Pomp “procession or sequence of things” (OED).

35 Glass Looking-glass.

41 Pomp “Splendor” (Johnson).

67 Sublim’d “To raise to an elevated sphere or exalted state” (OED).

72 universal Debt Original sin.

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1776), pp. 79-83. [Google Books]

 Edited by Katarina Wagner

Martha Ferrar Peckard, “An Ode to Spring. By a Lady”


“An Ode to Spring. By a Lady”

 Hail, genial goddess, bloomy spring!
Thy blest return, O! let me sing,
And aid my languid lays.
Let me not sink in sloth supine,
While all creation, at thy shrine                                          5
Its annual tribute pays.

Escap’d from Winter’s freezing pow’r,
Each blossom greets thee, and each flow’r,
While foremost of the train,
By nature (artless handmaid!) dreft,                                 10
The snow-drop comes in lilly’d vest,
Prophetic of thy reign.

The lark now strains his warbling throat,
And, with a loud and chearful note,
Calls Echo from her cell.                                                15
Be warn’d, ye fair, that listen round,
A beauteous nymph became a sound,
By having lov’d too well.

The bright-hair’d sun, with warmth divine,
Bids trees and shrubs before thy shrine                            20
Their infant buds display.
Again the streams refresh the plains,
Which winter bound in icy chains
And sparkling bless his ray!

Life- giving Zephyrs breathe around,                                   25
And insant glows th’ enamell’d ground.
With nature’s vary’d hues:
Not so returns our youth decay’d;
Alas! nor air, nor sun, nor shade,
The spring of life renews.                                             30

The sun’s too quick–revolving beam,
Dissolves at once the human dream,
And brings th’ appointed hour.
Too late we catch his parting ray,
And mourn the idly-wasted day                                          35
No longer in our power.

Then happiest he, whose lengthen’d sight,
Pursues by virtue’s steady light
A hope beyond the skies;
Where frowning winter ne’er shall come,                          40
But rosy spring for ever bloom,
And suns eternal rise!


Author  Attribution based on the poem’s appearance in Dodsley’s Collection of Poems by Several Hands in 1758 (5:332-4).  See Emily Lorraine de Montluzin, The Poetry of the Gentleman’s Magazine (1731-1800): A Database of Titles, Authors, and First Lines.

 genial  “Literary (especially of air or climate), pleasantly mild, and warm” (OED).

languid lays  Weak verses.

supine  “Lying on one’s back, lying down” (OED).

11 snow-drop “A bulbous European plant which bears drooping white flowers during the late winter” (OED); lilly’d vest  Used here as an adjective, which means “purity and beauty” (OED).

13  lark  “A small ground-dwelling songbird with elongated hind claws and a song that is delivered on the wing, typically crested and with brown streaky plumage” (OED).

15  Echo  “Greek Mythology, a nymph deprived of speech by Hera in order to stop her chatter, and left able only to repeat what others had said. She also has a lovely sound” (OED).

 25  Zephyrs “Personification of the west wind” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 25 (1755), p. 37.

Edited by Nariman Ayesh

Anonymous, “The Snail’s Apologist. An Heroi-Comic Ode from the French”


The SNAIL’s APOLOGIST. An Heroi-Comic ODE from the French.”

What seas of blood! what heaps of dead!
What horrid scenes around are spread!
Murder and carnage rush to light,
Tumultuous from the realms of night;
One wide destruction covers all,                                                              5
The virtuous with the vicious fall;
Amidst a throng of guilty ghosts
That crowd the Styx on Pluto’s coasts,
I see (or do my senses fail?)
Untimely slain, the gentle snail.                                                              10
Say whence thy claim, presumptuous man!
To bound their life’s contracted span?
Have they from thee receiv’d their breath?
Hast thou a right to give them death?
I know what vain pretence is made,                                                       15
Thou sayst that rapine is their trade.
What rapine—? is not yonder tree
Their country? falsely claim’d by thee!
What if the foliage fade and fall,
Their own, that fragrant foliage all.                                                        20
Born where yon peach nutrition draws,
The snail is ign’rant of thy laws;
Kind nature’s voice the peach bestows,
Kind nature’s voice alone he knows.
Contented with his humble lot,                                                              25
He plunders none, he riots not;
Cease then an hasty fate to give,
And since he only eats to live,
Indulge him in the green retreat,
And let, ah! let him live to eat.                                                               30
With martial ardour dost thou glow?
Up, seek and charge an equal foe;
Against the gnat the war declare,
And hunt him thro’ the fields of air;
Let hostile wasps provoke thy rage,                                                     35
And, foe to sloth, the drone engage;
The gorgeous moth, the dragon’s dread,
Destroy them, and bestride the dead;
Strike home, nor let thy vengeance fail,
’Tis due to these, but spare the snail.                                                  40
Alcides thus, in days of yore,
Bade monsters vex the world no more;
And by thy valour’s equal deed,
Be later times from monsters freed;
Thro’ dangers press, pursue the fight,                                                 45
The threaten’d wound, inflicted, slight.
As fairest flow’rs of sharpest thorn,
Of baffled danger, glory’s born,
Hence demi-gods and heroes claim
Proud statues in the shrine of Fame.                                                   50


8 Styx on Pluto’s coasts Pluto is another name for Hades, the Greek God of the Underworld. “Pluto’s coasts” refers here to the banks of the river Styx, the river of the Underworld (Oxford Reference).

16 rapine “The act or practice of seizing and taking away by force the property of others; plunder, pillage, robbery” (OED).

36 drone “The male of the honey-bee. It is a non-worker, its function being to impregnante the queen-bee” (OED).

37 dragon’s “A fly so called” [Author’s note].

41 Alcides thus…no more An alternative name for Heracles, a divine hero from Greek mythology known for battling against monsters of the Underworld.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 18 (August 1748), p. 375.

Edited by Daniel Bresnahan