[Page 53]


1 YE tuneful sisters of the lyre,
2 Who dreams and fantasies inspire,
3 Who over poesy preside,
4 And on a lofty hill abide
5 Above the ken of mortal sight,
6 Fain would I sing of you, could I address ye right.
7 Thus known, your power of old was sung,
8 And temples with your praises rung;
9 And when the song of battle rose,
10 Or kindling wine, or lovers' woes,
11 The Poet's spirit inly burned,
12 And still to you his upcast eyes were turned.
[Page 54]
13 The youth, all wrapped in vision bright,
14 Beheld your robes of flowing white;
15 And knew your forms benignly grand,
16 An awful but a lovely band;
17 And felt your inspiration strong
18 And warmly poured his rapid lay along.
19 The aged bard all heavenward glowed,
20 And hailed you daughters of a God.
21 Though to his dimmer eyes were seen
22 Nor graceful form nor heavenly mien,
23 Full well he felt that ye were near,
24 And heard you in the breeze that raised his hoary hair.
25 Ye lightened up the valley's bloom,
26 And gave the forest deeper gloom;
27 The mountain peak sublimer stood,
28 And grander rose the mighty flood;
29 For then religion lent her aid,
30 And o'er the mind of man your sacred empire spread.
[Page 55]
31 Though rolling ages now are past,
32 And altars low and temples waste;
33 Though rites and oracles are o'er,
34 And Gods and heroes rule no more,
35 Your fading honours still remain,
36 And still your votaries call, a long and motley train.
37 They seek you not on hill or plain,
38 Nor court you in the sacred fane;
39 Nor meet you in the mid-day dream,
40 Upon the bank of hallowed stream;
41 Yet still for inspiration sue,
42 And still each lifts his fervent prayer to you.
43 He woos ye not in woodland gloom,
44 But in the close and shelfed room,
45 And seeks ye in the dusty nook,
46 And meets ye in the lettered book:
47 Full well he knows ye by your names,
48 And still with poet's faith your presence claims.
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49 Now youthful Poet, pen in hand,
50 All by the side of blotted stand,
51 In reverie deep which none may break,
52 Sits rubbing of his beardless cheek,
53 And well his inspiration knows,
54 E'en by the dewy drops that trickle o'er his nose.
55 The tuneful sage, of riper fame,
56 Perceives you not in heated frame;
57 But at conclusion of his verse,
58 Which still his muttering lips rehearse,
59 Oft waves his hand in grateful pride,
60 And owns the heavenly power that did his fancy guide.
61 O lovely Sisters! is it true
62 That they are all inspired by you,
63 And write by inward magic charmed,
64 And high enthusiasm warmed?
65 We dare not question heavenly lays,
66 And well, I wot, they give you all the praise.
[Page 57]
67 O lovely Sisters! well it shews
68 How wide and far your bounty flows.
69 Then why from me withhold your beams?
70 Unvisited of visioned dreams,
71 Whene'er I aim at heights sublime,
72 Still downward am I called to seek some stubborn rhyme.
73 No hasty lightning breaks my gloom,
74 Nor flashing thoughts unsought for come,
75 Nor fancies wake in time of need:
76 I labour much with little speed,
77 And, when my studied task is done,
78 Too well alas! I mark it for my own.
79 Yet, should you never smile on me,
80 And rugged still my verses be,
81 Unpleasing to the tuneful train,
82 Who only prize a flowing strain,
83 And still the learned scorn my lays,
84 I'll lift my heart to you and sing your praise.
[Page 58]
85 Your varied ministry of grace,
86 Your honoured names and godlike race,
87 Your sacred caves where fountains flow
88 They will rehearse, who better know;
89 I praise ye not with Grecian lyre,
90 Nor hail ye daughters of a heathen sire.
91 Ye are the spirits who preside
92 In earth and air and ocean wide;
93 In rushing flood and crackling fire,
94 In horror dread and tumult dire;
95 In stilly calm and stormy wind,
96 And rule the answering changes in the human mind.
97 High on the tempest-beaten hill,
98 Your misty shapes ye shift at will;
99 The wild fantastic clouds ye form;
100 Your voice is in the midnight storm,
101 While in the dark and lonely hour
102 Oft starts the boldest heart, and owns your secret power.
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103 When lightning ceases on the waste,
104 And when the battle's broil is past,
105 When scenes of strife and blood are o'er,
106 And groans of death are heard no more,
107 Ye then renew each sound and form,
108 Like after echoing of the overpassed storm.
109 The shining day and nightly shade,
110 The cheerful plain and sunny glade;
111 The homeward kine, the children's play,
112 The busy hamlet's closing day,
113 Give pleasure to the peasant's heart,
114 Who lacks the gift his feelings to impart.
115 Oft when the moon looks from on high,
116 And black around the shadows lie,
117 And bright the sparkling waters gleam,
118 And rushes rustle by the stream,
119 Voices and fairy forms are known
120 By simple folk who wander late alone.
[Page 60]
121 Ye kindle up the inward glow,
122 Ye strengthen every outward show;
123 Ye overleap the strongest bar,
124 And join what nature sunders far,
125 And visit oft in fancies wild,
126 The breast of learned sage and simple child.
127 From him who wears a monarch's crown
128 To the unlettered simple clown,
129 All in some fitful, lonely hour
130 Have felt, unsought, your secret power,
131 And loved your inward visions well;
132 You add but to the bard the art to tell.
133 Ye mighty spirits of the song,
134 To whom the poet's prayers belong,
135 My lowly bosom to inspire
136 And kindle with your sacred fire,
137 Your wild and dizzy heights to brave,
138 Is boon alas! too great for me to crave.
[Page 61]
139 But O, such sense of nature bring!
140 As they who feel and never sing
141 Wear on their hearts; it will avail
142 With simple words to tell my tale;
143 And still contented will I be,
144 Though greater inspiration never fall to me.


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Title (in Source Edition): ADDRESS TO THE MUSES.
Themes: poetry; literature; writing
Genres: address

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Baillie, Joanna, 1762-1851. Fugitive Verses. By Joanna Baillie, author of “Dramas on the Passions,“ etc. London: Edward Moxon, Dover Street. MDCCCXL., 1840, pp. 53-61.  (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [40.17].)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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