Tag Archives: religion

Phillis Wheatley, “Isaiah lxiii. 1–8”


Isaiah lxiii. 1–8

Say, heav’nly muse, what king, or mighty God,
That moves sublime from Idumea’s road?
In Bozrah’s dies, with martial glories join’d,
His purple vesture waves upon the wind.
Why thus enrob’d delights he to appear                                                   5
In the dread image of the Pow’r of war?

Compress’d in wrath the swelling wine-press groan’d,
It bled, and pour’d the gushing purple round.

“Mine was the act,” th’ Almighty Saviour said,
And shook the dazzling glories of his head,                                            10
“When all forsook I trod the press alone,
And conquer’d by omnipotence my own;
For man’s release sustain’d the pond’rous load,
For man the wrath of an immortal God:
To execute th’ Eternal’s dread command                                                 15
My soul I sacrific’d with willing hand;
Sinless I stood before the avenging frown,
Atoning thus for vices not my own.”

His eye the ample field of battle round
Survey’d, but no created succours found;                                                20
His own omnipotence sustain’d the fight,
His vengeance sunk the haughty foes in night;
Beneath his feet the prostrate troops were spread,
And round him lay the dying, and the dead.

Great God, what light’ning flashes from thine eyes?                        25
What pow’r withstands if thou indignant rise?

Against thy Zion though her foes may rage,
And all their cunning, all their strength engage,
Yet she serenely on thy bosom lies,
Smiles at their arts, and all their force defies.                                          30


Title Isaiah First prophet in the Hebrew Bible.

2-3 Idumea’s road…Bozrah “Idumea” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Edom,” an area of modern-day Jordan settled by the Edomites; Bozrah is the capital of Edom, situated along the King’s Highway, an “ancient thoroughfare” that traverses Jordan (Britannica).

4 purple vesture Mourning clothes (OED).

20 succours “Aid, help, assistance” (OED).

27 Zion “The biblical land of Israel” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems of Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London, 1773), pp. 60-61. [Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History].

Edited by Olivia Veveiros

William Blake, “A War Song to Englishmen”


“A War Song to Englishmen”

Prepare, prepare, the iron helm of war,
Bring forth the lots, cast in the spacious orb;
Th’ Angel of Fate turns them with mighty hands,
And casts them out upon the darken’d earth!
Prepare, prepare.                                  5

Prepare your hearts for Death’s cold hand! prepare
Your souls for flight, your bodies for the earth!
Prepare your arms for glorious victory!
Prepare your eyes to meet a holy God!
Prepare, prepare.                                 10

Whose fatal scroll is that?  Methinks ‘tis mine!
Why sinks my heart, why faultereth my tongue?
Had I three lives, I’d die in such a cause,
And rise, with ghosts, over the well-fought field.
Prepare, prepare.                                  15

The arrows of Almighty God are drawn!
Angels of Death stand in the low’ring heavens!
Thousands of souls must seek the realms of light,
And walk together on the clouds of heaven!
Prepare, prepare.                                   20

Soldiers, prepare! Our cause is Heaven’s cause;
Soldiers, prepare! Be worthy of our cause:
Prepare to meet our fathers in the sky:
Prepare, O troops, that are to fall to-day!
Prepare, prepare.                                    25

Alfred shall smile, and make his harp rejoice;
The Norman William, and the learned Clerk,
And Lion Heart, and black-brow’d Edward, with
His loyal queen shall rise, and welcome us!
Prepare, prepare.                                   30


26 Alfred Alfred the Great (849-899), King of Wessex, 871-899, “a Saxon kingdom in southwestern England. He prevented England from falling to the Danes” (Britannica).

27 William William the Conqueror (c. 1028-1087), the first Norman King of England, ruled as William I from 1066 (Britannica); Clerk Probably a reference to Lanfranc (c. 1005-1089), “archbishop of Canterbury and trusted councellor of William” (Britannica).

28 Lion Heart King Richard I (1157-1199) reigned from 1189 to 1199, known for his “prowess in the Third Crusade (1189-1192” (Britannica); Edward King Edward IV (1442-1483), reigned “from 1461-1470, and again from April 1471-1483).”  He was a leading orchestrator of the Wars of the Roses (Britannica).

29 His loyal queen King Edward IV secretly married Elizabeth Woodville (1437-1492) in 1464.  She was a daughter of Lancastrians, which angered the Yorkists during the Wars of the Roses (Britannica).

SOURCE: Poetical Sketches (London 1783), pp. 58-59.  [Google Books]

Edited by Grae Zimmerman

“R.”, “The Toasts. A Fable.”


“The Toasts. A Fable”


Satan one day (one night I mean,
For days in Hell are seldom seen)
At Pandemonium in state
Among his peers carousing sat,
To celebrate our parents fall                                                            5
In draughts of liquid fire and gall;
The toasts in bumpers flew around,
The palace roofs the toasts resound,
And all was noise, yet all unite
To pelt Heav’n with their blunted spite: —                                  10
Beelzebub gave his harlot PRIDE,
To match whose charms he Hell defy’d;
ENVY by Baäl then was given,
Foe to herself, to earth, and Heav’n;
AV’RICE was Mammon’s toast, a vice                                            15
Wou’d make a Hell of Paradise: —
My toast, cries Ashteroth, shall be
That Janus-prude, HYPOCRISY;
And mine, quo’ Belial, — IDLENESS,
Whose charms both fiends and men confess;                             20
Dear IDLENESS! to whom we owe
Myriads on myriads here below; —
Dagon gave FALSEHOOD, a mean jest,
Still mask’d, and cloath’d in rainbow-vest;
A will o’ th’ wisp, that leads astray,                                                25
A coward vice, that dreads the day; —
Moloch gave blood-stain’d CRUELTY, —
And Thammuz, INFIDELITY;
But to that toast they all objected
As one, no fiend there recollected,                                                30
(For, tho’ such weeds on earth may grow,
There are no infidels below);
Thammuz on this, — since change he must, —
Gave that sweet creature, Madam LUST:
In short, each demon, in his toast,                                                 35
Avow’d which fair he honour’d most.

The turn at length to Satan came
To bumper round his darling flame;
“I own that all your toasts,” he cried,
“Are beauties long approv’d and try’d,                                          40
But I’ll give one, in whom alone
The quintessence of Hell is shown,
INGRATITUDE! – of vices first,
Most infamous, and most accurst,
That fiend in grain! that hydra-pest!                                              45
(Behold her image on my breast)
To her Hell’s empire owes its birth,
To her I owe those swarms from earth;
When other vices rule the mind,
VIRTUE, by fits, may entrance find,                                                 50
But let INGRATITUDE bear sway,
Not VIRTUE’s shade dare cross her way;
E’en Hell itself, when she appears,
A more than double darkness wears; —
Then in a bumper toast the belle,                                                    55
As premier beauty here in Hell .”
The fiends aloud the toast proclaim,
And Hell rethunders with her name;
“INGRATITUDE! of vices first,
Most infamous, and most accurst.”                                                60


Title Toasts “Any person, male or female, whose health is proposed and drunk to” (OED).

1 Satan “In Christian theology: the proper name of the Devil, the supreme embodiment or spirit of evil” (OED).

3 Pandemonium “A place represented by Milton in Paradise Lost as the capital of hell, containing the council chamber of the Evil Spirits” (OED).

4 carousing “To drink a full bumper to his or her health” (OED).

6 draughts “The drawing of liquid into the mouth or down the throat; an act of drinking” (OED); gall “A wind of considerable strength” (OED)

7 bumpers “A cup or glass of alcoholic drink filled to the brim, esp. for a toast” (OED).

11 Beelzebub “In the Bible, the prince of the devils” (Britannica).

13 Baäl A Canaanite god; one of the seven princes of Hell.

15 AV’RICE “Inordinate desire of acquiring and hoarding wealth”(OED); Mammon The personification of avarice and greed in Milton’s Paradise Lost (Book I, line 678); sometimes figured as one of the seven princes of Hell (OED).

17 Ashteroth Variant of “Astaroth” who, along with Lucifer and Beelzebub, made up the evil trinity in Hell (The Occult Encyclopedia).

18 Janus Ancient Roman deity, “regarded as the doorkeeper of heaven, as guardian of doors and gates, and as presiding over the entrance upon or beginning of things” (OED).

19 Belial “The spirit of evil personified; used from early times as a name for the Devil or one of the fiends, and by Milton as the name of one of the fallen angels (Paradise Lost, Book I, line 490) (OED).

22 Myriads “A countless number of specified things,” here alluding to souls in Hell (OED).

23 Dagon “The national deity of the ancient Philistines; represented with the head, chest, and arms of a man, and the tail of a fish;” also referenced by Milton in Paradise Lost (Book I, line 462).

24 rainbow-vest Colourful clothing.

25 will o’ th’ wisp “A phosphorescent light seen hovering or floating at night over marshy ground” (OED).

27 Moloch “A Canaanite diety associated in biblical sources with the practice of child sacrifice” (Britannica).

28 Thammuz “A Syrian diety” and minor demon, also represented in Milton’s parade of demons in Hell (Paradise Lost Book I, line 446) (OED).

32 infidels “A disbeliever in religion or divine revelation generally” (OED).

36 Avow’d “To declare, affirm” (OED).

42 quintessence “The most perfect embodiment of a certain type of person or thing” (OED).

43 INGRATITUDE “Mortal sin is … ingratitude towards the most constant love; it is the adultery of the soul” (OED).

45 hydra-pest “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Revelations 13:1-10).

58 Rethunders “To make a loud, echoing sound like that of thunder; to resound. Frequently poetic” (OED).

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 46 (January 1776), pp. 229-230.  [J. Paul Leonard Library]

Edited by Alban Fenn

Mary Leapor, “The Death of Abel”


“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.


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

Sarah Fyge Egerton, “To Mr. Norris, on his Idea of Happiness”


To Mr. Norris, on his Idea of Happiness



If Pythagorick notions would agree,
With sublimated Christianity;
What mighty Soul, shall I allow,
Informs thy Body now;
For when did such appear,                                                       5
Sure the belov’d Disciple’s Soul is here.
Not us’d since then, but kept above,
And taught a more extatick Love;
The Understanding more inlarg’d and free,
Each generous Faculty                                                           10
Refin’d, Improv’d, made more compleat,
In the seraphick Seat.
The brightest warmest of th’ exalted Quire,
Flaming with Rays of beatifick Fire;
Such seems thy elevated Soul to be,                                           15
And not the usual sort gave to Mortality.


The great, the Eternal God of Love,
Took Pity on us from above;
He could no longer see,
Our Souls wrapt in Obscurity:                                                       20
But sent thee like, a bright celestial Ray,
To clear our Sight, and to direct the Way;
To the Etherial Courts of Bliss,
The only great, and lasting Happiness.
The active native Principle of Love,                                              25
We found did move
By an internal Influence,
But ‘twas toward some object of the Sense:
Effects and Causes were not understood,
We only knew we wisht for Good,                                                30
And would with Joy each glimpse pursue,
Resolve to fasten there, and think ‘twas true.
In vain we thought our Love was fixt,
For all those Joys were intermixt
With Disappointments and Deceit,                                              35
Our strugling Souls themselves did cheat:
Still they desir’d and lov’d, but were not blest,
Nor found they Rest,
Till thy bright Pen markt out the happy Prize,
Taught us at once to love and to be wise.                                   40


Thou dost dissect our weak distemper’d Soul,
Discover’st the Disease and mak’st us whole;
Prescrib’st such Methods, which if we obey,
We shall no longer doat on Clay,
Which long our vitiated Souls have fed,                                      45
But shall have Appetite to Celestial Bread.
We shall no longer fondly play,
With Trifles on the way,
But climb the Hill with a delightful hast,
And feast our Souls at thy divine Repast.                                    50
But lest, like doubtful or unthankful Guest,
We should neglect the Royal Feast;
Thou, to incourage our appearance there,
Hast kindly given us a Bill of Fare.


By powerful Energy of Thoughts divine,                                    55
Thou didst thy Soul raise and refine,
With strong Impulse it did upward move,
Mounting on eager Wings of Love;
Through all th’ inferior Courts it made its way,
To the bright Spring of everlasting day;                                        60
Did all the amazing Glories see,
And what it shou’d hereafter be,
Saluted by the soft Seraphick Quire,
Who’s Anthems all its Faculties inspire,
But flasht to might Rays of sacred Fire.                                          65
For the refulgent Glories were too great,
It could not bear such Raptures yet,
Till Immortality had made it more compleat:
It could no longer stay, no longer view,
Then down again it flew,                                                           70
Did with Angelick Radiance shine,
Inspir’d with Sapience divine.
It doth its bright Etherial Voyage tell,
And in what Bliss departed Souls do dwell:
All this in pure and pregnant Elegance we hear,                           75
Plain as Corporeal Organs can declare,
That when we read thy Lines we almost think we’re there.


 Title The reference is to John Norris (1657-1711), Anglican priest and philosopher and his poem titled “An Idea of Happiness, in a Letter to a Friend enquiring wherein the Greatest Happiness attainable by Man in this Life does consist” (1684) (Britannica).

1 Pythagorick “Of, relating to, or characteristic of Pythagoras, his followers, or their philosophy” (OED).

12 seraphick Seat This appears to be a reference to heaven, where seraphim “hover above the throne of God” (OED).

13 Quire “Figurative of angels” (OED).

45 vitiated “Corrupted, spoiled” (OED).

48 Trifles Insignificant things (OED).

50 Repast “Figurative, as the type of something providing nourishment for the spirit, intellect, etc.” (OED).

54 Bill of Fare “Menu; a programme” (OED).

66 refulgent “Illustrious” (OED).

72 Sapience “Spiritual wisdom, knowledge of divine things” (OED).

76 Corporeal “Of the nature of the animal body as opposed to the spirit; physical; bodily; mortal” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions, Together with a Pastoral, By Mrs. S. F. (London, [1703]), pp. 27-31. [Google Books]

 Edited by Madison Maraspini



Ann Murry, “An Ode”


 “An Ode”


Beneath a Willow’s mournful shade,
Fair Ariadne lay;
A chearless, solitary maid,
Tho’ once content and gay.

In tender accents thus I spoke,                                           5
To ease her lab’ring breast:
Dost thou complain of promise broke?
Art thou by want oppress’d?

Can I thy wounded heart relieve,
By pity’s healing balm?                                                 10
Or if some faithless youth deceive,
Thy perturbations calm?

“Ah no” (she said) “hard is my fate,
From lovely Theseus torn;
Thy consolation comes too late,                                        15
His absence thus I mourn.

The beams I shun of chearing day,
To Luna hence complain;
Like Philomel in mournful lay,
Pour forth my plaintive strain.                                    20

Remembrance sad, of former joys,
Is ever in my sight;
The cruel Phantom which destroys
My peace both day and night.

Thus am I plung’d in fell despair,                                       25
As Love my anguish mocks;
With sighs I rend the fragrant air,
Implore unpitying rocks.”

In me her lamentations wrought
Emotions of desire,                                                      30
To kindle in her ruffled thoughts,
Sparks of celestial fire.

Cease, lovely mourner! then I cry’d,
To yield to cank’ring woe;
Let slighted love, and fear subside,                                   35
And sorrow cease to flow.

Ingratitude in Men we find,
By various forms express’d;
Unlike the constant ray refin’d,
Which warms the female breast.                                40

Impetuous, and inclin’d to change,
They bear a lawless sway;
From flow’r to flow’r delight to range,
And flatter to betray.

Forbear to struggle with thy fate,                                        45
Opposing Heav’ns decrees;
Which grants things suited to thy state,
Pertaining to thy ease.

Yet oft denies the Lover’s pray’r,
And vain mistaken boon;                                               50
Regards their sighs as empty air,
If heard, repented soon.

Love, the invader of thy peace,
Subdued by Reason’s pow’r,
Shall feel his daring influence cease,                                  55
Nor cloud thy future hour.

Serenity shall grace thy brows,
With Friendship’s sacred band;
To her then offer up thy vows,
And yield thy willing hand.                                             60

Be thou the messenger of peace,
Dispensing holy joy;
Rely on hopes which ne’er can cease,
Nor mortal Man destroy.

Depend on him, whose pow’r alone,                                   65
Can give substantial rest;
Aspire to reach his heav’nly throne,
A meek and welcome guest.


2,14  Ariadne…Theseus Star-crossed lovers of Greek mythology; Ariadne hangs herself after being abandoned by Theseus (Britannica).

12 perturbations “The disturbance of the regular…state of a thing” (OED).

18 Luna The moon.

19 Philomel The nightingale.

20 plaintive strain Mournful song (OED).

23 Phantom “Something not real but appearing to the imagination” (Johnson).

25 fell “Intensely painful or destructive” (OED).

32 Sparks of celestial fire Interest in a love of God.

34 cank’ring From “canker,” meaning to “spread harmfully and insidiously” (OED).

41 Impetuous “Acting with or marked by great sudden or rash energy;…passionate, ardent” (OED).

50 boon “A favour, in response to asking” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Various Subjects (London, 1779), pp. 35-39. [Google Books]

 Edited by Molly Davies



Elizabeth Gooch, “To a Friend”


“To a Friend”


To lose my visionary life
Has been my dearest wish of late;
Tir’d of the world’s eternal strife,
I bow beneath the storms of Fate.

Condemn’d to misery and pain,                                                 5
Long have I wander’d, long suppress’d
The chilling marks of cold disdain
From those in whom I once was blest!

But, ah! the rankling wound can ne’er
Within my bosom’s core be heal’d;                                    10
Those pangs are always most severe
That in the heart remain conceal’d.

Retirement’s haunts at length invite
To promis’d scenes of future peace;
There, if I cannot hope delight,                                                  15
Oppressive tumults yet may cease.

Ah ! strive not then by tender care
To lure me from my fix’d abode,
On Earth my fate is fell despair—
In Heav’n—my Judge will be my God!                                20


9 rankling “To fester, esp. to a degree that causes pain” (OED).

13 Retirement “A secluded or private place; a retreat” (OED).

16 tumults “Great disturbance of mind or feeling” (OED).

19 fell “Intensely painful or destructive” (OED).

SOURCE:  Poems on Various Subjects (London, 1793), pp. 10-11. [Google Books]

Edited by Halsey Williamson

Elizabeth Singer Rowe, “A Hymn on Heaven”


“A Hymn on Heaven”


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

14 Salem A reference to Jerusalem (Britannica).

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

29 seraphs “Angels” (OED).

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

43 fount “A spring” (OED).

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

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

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

 Edited by Franny Baronian



Rev. Tipping Silvester, “Venus’s Girdle; or Advice to a Wife”


“Venus’s Girdle; or Advice to a Wife”


–LET nothing your unsully’d beauties cloud;
Be always chearful, but be never loud.
Ev’n Juno’s self set deities at odds,
And oft made uproars in the blest abodes:
For, if we may believe what poets sung,                                      5
Imperial Jove was pester’d with a tongue.
Where pets prevail, sweet concord’s broken soon;
The string, which jars, is always out of tune.
LET no distrusts your settled peace disturb;
Which irritate the mind, but seldom cure:                                  10
So the cold humour, which on lime we pour,
Inflames those parts, which quiet were before
Reproaches seldom cure our loose desires,
But leave a stink, and raise domestick fires.
MAY no surmises lie conceal’d below;                                    15
A rankling breast create a sullen brow:
The sulphur rages most in caverns pent,
And shocks that earth, which cannot give it vent.
JUST wit to furnish the politer Joke;
A spirit, just enough not to provoke:                                              20
Genteel demeanour, and superior sense,
And ease at just remove from indolence:
Oeconomy, which nought superfluous spends;
And is least frugal, when we have our friends:
These be your aim: the something further still,                             25
Which hits the good mens humours, when they’re ill;
There goes to feed a hymeneal flame,
Th’ engaging somewhat, which still wants a name:
The wiser wife alone this Secret knows;
This is the girdle beauty’s queen bestows.                                      30


Title  This is an extract from Silvester’s poem of the same title which first appeared in his volume, Original Poems and Translations (London, 1733), pp. 55-56.

3  Juno  Roman goddess and “female counterpart to Jupiter; [she] was connected with all aspects of the life of women, most particularly married life” (Britannica).

6  Jove  Poetic form of Jupiter, the Roman name for Zeus.

11  cold humour  Likely a reference to phlegm, one of the four humours associated with cold and moisture; lime  “The alkaline earth which is the chief constituent of mortar…it is powerfully caustic and combines readily with water, evolving great heat in the process” (OED).

21  Genteel  “Courteaous, polite; obliging” (OED).

23 Oeconomy  Archaic spelling of “economy.”

27 hymeneal  “Pertaining to marriage” (OED).

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, (February 1734), p. 99.  [Google Books]

Edited by Liv Wisely

[Elizabeth Carter], “A Riddle”


“A Riddle


Nor form nor substance in my being share,
I’m neither fire nor water, earth nor air;
From motion’s force alone my birth derive,
I ne’er can die, for never was alive:
And yet with such extensive empire reign,                                                       5
That very few escape my magick chain.
Nor time nor place my wild excursions bound,
I break all order, nature’s laws confound;
Raise schemes without contrivance or design,
And make apparent contradictions join:                                                          10
Transfer the Thames where Ganges’ waters roll,
Unite th’ equator to the frozen pole;
Midst Zembla’s ice bid blushing rubies glow,
And British harvests bloom in Scythian snow;
Cause trembling flocks to skim the raging main,                                             15
And scaly fishes graze the verdant plain;
Make light descend, and heavy bodies rise,
Stars sink to earth, and earth ascend the skies.
If nature lie deform’d in wintry frost,
And all the beauties of the spring be lost,                                                          20
Rais’d by my pow’r new verdure decks the ground,
And smiling flow’rs diffuse their sweets around.
The sleeping dead I summon from the tomb,
And oft anticipate the living’s doom;
Convey offenders to the fatal tree,                                                                       25
When law or stratagem have set them free.
Aw’d by no checks, my roving flight can soar
Beyond imagination’s active pow’r;
I view each country of the spacious earth,
Nay visit realms that never yet had birth,                                                            30
Can trace the pathless regions of the air,
And fly with ease beyond the starry sphere;
So swift my operations, in an hour
I can destroy a town, or build a tow’r.
Play tricks would puzzle all the search of wit,                                                      35
And show whole volumes that were never writ.
In sure records my mystick powr’s confest,
Who rack’d with cares a haughty tyrant’s breast,
Charg’d in prophetick emblems to relate
Approaching wrath, and his peculiar fate.                                                            40
Oft to the good by heav’n in mercy sent,
I’ve arm’d their thoughts against some dire event;
As oft in chains presumptuous villains bind,
And haunt with restless fears the guilty mind.


Author  Signed “Eliza,” known to be Elizabeth Carter’s nom de plume in The Gentleman’s Magazine in this period.

6  magick  “Acting or doing by powers superior to the known power of nature; incantating; necromantick” (Johnson).

11  Thames  Largest river in southern England, flows through London  (Britannica); Ganges, A river in India sacred to Hindus and personified as the goddess Ganga in ancient texts and art. It flows from the Himalaya mountains to northern India and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal (Britannica).

13  Zembla  Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago of two islands located in northwestern Russia in the Arctic ocean (Britannica).

14  Scythian  “Of or relating to Scythia, an ancient region extending over a large part of European and Asiatic Russia” (OED).

15  raging main  “The ocean” (Johnson).

25  the fatal tree  A reference to Tyburn, “a place of public execution for Middlesex (London) until 1783, situated at the junction of the present Oxford Street, Bayswater Road, and Edgware Road” (OED).

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 8 (February, 1738), p. 99.  [Google Books]

 Edited by Tovanni Renteria