Tag Archives: sestets

Robert Luck, “The Dry Joke”

ROBERT LUCK

“The Dry Joke”

 

God Bacchus well warm’d,
With Beauty was charm’d;
And Cupid’s bright Mother addrest.
She cry’d, you are silly ——
I hate you — nor will I                                          5
Be thus by a Toper carest.

Thus slighted the God,
With an angry Nod,
Said , Adieu to you, Madam — in vain
You’ll try to allure me:                                          10
Your Pride shall secure me,
From Courting coy Beauty again.

What Bacchus then spoke,
She hop’d was in joke:
And again Wine and Love wou’d agree.                    15
But he, as malicious
As she was capricious,
Her Error soon made her to see.

For Nymphs sweet as May,
All met at a Play;                                                     20
Where each was as fine as a Queen.
In each lovely Creature,
Art yielded to Nature;
Tho’ deck’d all in Jewels are seen.

Apollo was there,                                                    25
To charm e’ery ear;
But (what a mild Dove wou’d provoke.)
The Beaus who appear’d on
The Stage, slily lear’d on;
And left the fair Circle to choke.                                  30

Now Venus in vain,
Does to Bacchus complain,
That Beauty was dying with thirst.
The God reply’d, smiling,
Her Coyness reviling ——                                     35
Why did you provoke me then first?

O ye Ladies, beware,
Be as kind as you’re fair;
Nor requite your fond Slaves with disdain.
A Lover defeated,                                                   40
With vengeance is hated;
And Mischief still runs in his Brain.

NOTES:

1  Bacchus  “The god of wine” (OED).

3  Cupid  “In Roman Mythology, the god of love, son of Mercury and Venus” (OED).

6  Toper  “One who topes or drinks a great deal; a drunkard” (OED).

25  Apollo  Greek god of sun, light, music and poetry.

28  Beaus  “A man who gives particular, or excessive, attention to dress, mien, and social etiquette; a dandy” (OED).

31  Venus  The ancient Roman goddess of beauty and love.

SOURCE:  A Miscellany of new Poems, on Several Occasions (London, 1736), pp. 56-58.  [Google Books]

Edited by Ivan Li

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

PHILLIS WHEATLEY

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

 

I.

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.

II.

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.

III.

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.

NOTES:

 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”

ELIZABETH RYVES

“Ode to Friendship”

 

I.
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.

II.
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.

III.
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.

NOTES:

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

Charlotte Lennox, “A Hymn to Venus, in Imitation of Sappho”

[CHARLOTTE LENNOX]

“A Hymn to Venus, in Imitation of Sappho”

 

Venus, Queen of tender Fires,
Pleasing pains and soft Desires;
Sweet Enslaver of the Heart,
Here thy gentle Aid impart;
To my mourning Soul give Ease,                                   5
And I bid my soft Complainings cease.

II.
Hither beauteous Goddess move,
Leave a while th’ ​Idalian G​rove;
Once more to my transported Breast,
Come a mild, a grateful Guest;                                       10
There confirm thy pleasing Reign,
Free from Cares, and free from Pain.

III.
Oh! if e’er my artless Strains,
By Thee inspired, breath’d thy Pains;
Propitious now thy Suppliant hear,                                 15
And grant a Lover’s ardent Pray’r?
Ah! let me not despairing mourn,
But meet a kind, a wish’d Return.

IV.
Make Philander​ feel my Pow’r,
Fear my Scorn, my Smiles adore,                                   20
Let the dear Deceiver know,
All the Pains he can bestow:
To me that valued Heart resign,
And fix my lovely Wand’rer mine.

NOTES:

Title Venus​ “The ancient Roman goddess of beauty and love” (​OED​); ​Sappho ​(c.610-570 BCE) A Greek lyric poet who was born on the island of Lesbos, famous for her writing style (Encyclopedia Britannica).

8Idalian​ “Belonging or relating to the ancient town of Idalium in Cyprus,” where, in the Roman tradition, Venus was worshipped (​OED​).

13​ Strains​ Poetry.

15 ​Propitious​ “Disposed to be favourable; gracious; merciful, lenient” (​OED); Suppliant “​ A person who makes a humble or earnest plea to another, esp. to a person in power or authority” (​OED).

19 Philander “​ Chiefly poetic,…a male sweetheart” (​OED​).

Source: ​Poems on Several Occasions.  W​ritten by a Young Lady (London, 1747), pp. 13-14.  [Google Books]

Edited by Andrea Cruz

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.

 NOTES:

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