ODE V. Hymn to CHEARFULNESS. The Author Sick.
1 HOW thick the shades of evening close!
2 How pale the sky with weight of snows!
3 Haste, light the tapers, urge the fire,
4 And bid the joyless day retire!
5 — Alas, in vain I try within
6 To raise the dull, dejected scene,
7 While rouz'd by grief these fiery pains
8 Tear the frail texture of my veins;
9 While winter's voice, that storms around,
10 And yon deep death-bell's groaning sound
11 Renew my mind's oppressive gloom,
12 'Till starting horror shakes the room!
13 Is there in nature no kind pow'r
14 To sooth affliction's lonely hour?
15 To blunt the edge of dire disease,
16 And teach these wintry shades to please?
17 Come, CHEARFULNESS, triumphant fair,
18 Shine thro' the painful cloud of care;
19 O sweet of language, mild of mein,
20 O virtue's friend and pleasure's queen!
21 Asswage the flames that burn my breast,
22 Attune my jarring thoughts to rest;
23 And while thy gracious gifts I feel,
24 My song shall all thy praise reveal.
25 As once ('twas in ASTRAEA'S reign)
26 The vernal pow'rs renew'd their train,
27 It happen'd that immortal LOVE
28 Was ranging thro' the spheres above,
29 And downward hither cast his eye
30 The year's returning pomp to spy,[Page 25]
31 He saw the radiant God of day
32 Lead round the globe the rosy MAY;
33 The fragrant AIRS and genial HOURS
34 Were shedding round him dews and flow'rs;
35 Before his wheels AURORA past,
36 And HESPER'S golden lamp was last.
37 But, fairest of the blooming throng,
38 When HEALTH majestic mov'd along
39 All gay with smiles, to see below
40 The joys which from her presence flow,
41 While earth inliven'd hears her voice,
42 And fields, and flocks, and swains rejoice;
43 Then mighty LOVE her charms confess'd,
44 And soon his vows inclin'd her breast,
45 And, known from that auspicious morn,
46 The pleasing CHEARFULNESS was born.
47 Thou CHEARFULNESS, by heav'n design'd
48 To rule the pulse, that moves the mind,
49 Whatever fretful passion springs,
50 Whatever chance or nature brings[Page 26]
51 To strain the tuneful poize within,
52 And disarrange the sweet machine,
53 Thou Goddess, with a master-hand
54 Dost each attemper'd key command,
55 Refine the soft and swell the strong,
56 Till all is concord, all is song.
57 Fair guardian of domestic life,
58 Best banisher of homebred strife,
59 Nor sullen lip, nor taunting eye
60 Deform the scene where thou art by:
61 No sick'ning husband damns the hour
62 That bound his joys to female pow'r;
63 No pining mother weeps the cares
64 That parents waste on hopeless heirs:
65 Th' officious daughters pleas'd attend;
66 The brother rises to the friend:
67 By thee their board with flow'rs is crown'd,
68 By thee with songs their walks refound.
69 By thee their sprightly mornings shine,
70 And evening-hours in peace decline.
71 Behold the youth, whose trembling heart
72 Beats high with love's unpitied smart;
73 Tho' now he strays by rills and bow'rs,
74 And weeping wears the lonely hours,
75 Or, if the nymph her audience deign,
76 Shames the soft story of his pain
77 With flavish looks, discolour'd eyes,
78 And accents falt'ring into sighs;
79 Yet thou, auspicious pow'r, with ease,
80 Cat'st yield him happier arts to please,
81 Exalt his mein to manlier charms,
82 Instruct his tongue with nobler arms,
83 With more commanding passion move,
84 And teach the dignity of love.
85 Friend to the Muse and all her train,
86 For thee I court the Muse again;
87 And may the votive lay disclose
88 How much to thy fair aid she owes!
89 See, when thy touch reveals her mine,
90 How pure the stores of fancy shine! [Page 28]
91 Hark, when thy breath her song impells,
92 How full the tuneful current swells!
93 Let melancholy's plaintive tongue
94 Instruct the nightly strains of Y —;
95 But thine was HOMER'S ancient might,
96 And thine victorious PINDAR'S flight:
97 Thy myrtles crown'd the*
* ALCAEUS and SAPPHO. Lesbian meads;
98 Thy voice awak'd†
† THEOCRITUS. Sicilian reeds;
99 Thy breath perfumes the‡
‡ ANACREON. Teian rose,
100 And Tibur's vine spontaneous flows
101 While HORACE wantons in thy quire;
102 The gods and heroes of the lyre.
103 See where the pale, the sick'ning sage
104 (A prey perhaps to fortune's rage,
105 Perhaps by tender griefs oppress'd,
106 Or glooms congenial to his breast)
107 Retires in desart-scenes to dwell,
108 And bids the joyless world farewell.
109 Alone he treads th' autumnal shade,
110 Alone beneath the mountain laid,[Page 29]
111 He sees the nightly damps arise,
112 And gath'ring storms involve the skies;
113 He hears the neighb'ring surges roll,
114 And raging thunders shake the pole;
115 Then, struck by every object round,
116 And stunn'd by every horrid sound,
117 He pants to traverse nature's ways.
118 His evils haunt him thro' the maze:
119 He views ten thousand daemons rise
120 To wield the empire of the skies,
121 And chance and fate assume the rod,
122 And malice blots the throne of GOD.
123 — O thou, whose pleasing pow'r I sing!
124 Thy lenient influence hither bring;
125 Compose the storm, dispel the gloom,
126 Till nature wear her wonted bloom,
127 Till fields and shades their sweets exhale,
128 And music swell each opening gale:
129 Then o'er his breast thy softness pour,
130 And let him learn the timely hour[Page 30]
131 To trace the world's benignant laws,
132 And judge of that presiding cause
133 Who founds in discord beauty's reign,
134 Converts to pleasure every pain,
135 Subdues the hostile forms ta rest,
136 And bids the universe be blest.
137 O thou, whose pleasing pow'r I sing!
138 If right I touch the votive string,
139 If equal praise I yield thy name,
140 Still govern thou thy poet's flame;
141 Still with the Muse my bosom share,
142 And sooth to peace corroding care.
143 But most exert thy genial pow'r
144 On friendship's consecrated hour;
145 And while my AGIS leads the road
146 To fearless wisdom's high abode,
147 Or, warm in, freedom's sacred cause,
148 Pursues the light of Graecian laws,
149 Attend, and grace our gen'rous toils
150 With all thy garlands all thy smiles. [Page 31]
151 But if, by fortune's stubborn sway,
152 From him and friendship torn away,
153 I court the muse's healing spell
154 For griefs that still with absence dwell,
155 Do thou conduct my fancy's dreams
156 To such indulgent, tender themes
157 As just the struggling breast may chear,
158 And just suspend the starting tear,
159 Yet leave that charming sense of woe,
160 Which none but friends and lovers know.