c It has been often said, that Fiction is the most proper field for poetry. If it is always so, the writer of this little piece acknowledges it is a circumstance against him. The following Ode was first suggested, and the ideas contained in it raised, on revisiting the ruins and woods that had been the scene of his early amusements with a deserving brother, who died in his twenty-first year.:
AN ELEGIAC ODE.
WRITTEN IN THE WOOD NEAR R— CASTLE, 1762.
Haec Jovem sentire, Deosque cunctos,
Spem bonam certamque domum reporto.
1 THE peaceful Evening breathes her balmy store.
2 The playful school-boys wanton o'er the green;
3 Where spreading poplars shade the cottage-door,
4 The villagers in rustic joy convene.
5 Amid the secret windings of the wood,
6 With solemn meditation let me stray;
7 This is the hour, when, to the wise and good,
8 The heavenly Maid repays the toils of day.
9 The river murmurs, and the breathing gale
10 Whispers the gently waving boughs among,
11 The star of evening glimmers o'er the dale,
12 And leads the silent host of heaven along.
13 How bright, emerging o'er yon broom-clad height,
14 The silver empress of the night appears!
15 Yon limpid pool reflects a stream of light,
16 And faintly in its breast the woodland bears.
17 The waters tumbling o'er their rocky bed,
18 Solemn and constant, from yon dell resound;
19 The lonely hearths blaze o'er the distant glade;
20 The bat, low-wheeling, skims the dusky ground.
21 August and hoary, o'er the sloping dale,
22 The Gothic abbey rears its sculptur'd towers;
23 Dull through the roofs resounds the whistling gale;
24 Dark Solitude among the pillars lowers.
25 Where yon old trees bend o'er a place of graves,
26 And solemn shade a chapel's sad remains,
27 Where yon scath'd poplar through the window waves,
28 And, twining round, the hoary arch sustains;
29 There oft, at dawn, as one forgot behind,
30 Who longs to follow, yet unknowing where,
31 Some hoary shepherd, o'er his staff reclin'd,
32 Pores on the graves, and sighs a broken prayer.
33 High o'er the pines, that with their darkening shade
34 Surround yon craggy bank, the castle rears
35 Its crumbling turrets: still its towery head
36 A warlike mien, a sullen grandeur wears.
37 So, midst the snow of Age, a boastful air
38 Still on the war-worn veteran's brow attends;
39 Still his big bones his youthful prime declare,
40 Tho', trembling o'er the feeble crutch, he bends.
41 Wild round the gates the dusky wall-flowers creep,
42 Where oft the knights the beauteous dames have led;
43 Gone is the bower, the grot a ruin'd heap,
44 Where bays and ivy o'er the fragments spread.
45 'Twas here our sires exulting from the fight,
46 Great in their bloody arms, march'd o'er the lea,
47 Eying their rescu'd fields with proud delight!
48 Now lost to them! and, ah how chang'd to me!
49 This bank, the river, and the fanning breeze,
50 The dear idea of my POLLIO bring;
51 So shone the moon through these soft nodding trees,
52 When here we wander'd in the eves of Spring.
53 When April's smiles the flowery lawn adorn,
54 And modest cowslips deck the streamlet's side,
55 When fragrant orchards to the roseate morn
56 Unfold their bloom, in heaven's own colours dy'd;
57 So fair a blossom gentle POLLIO wore,
58 These were the emblems of his healthful mind;
59 To him the letter'd page display'd its lore,
60 To him bright Fancy all her wealth resign'd:
61 Him, with her purest flames the Muse endow'd,
62 Flames never to th' illiberal thought allied;
63 The sacred sisters led where Virtue glow'd
64 In all her charms; he saw, he felt, and died.
65 Oh partner of my infant griefs and joys!
66 Big with the scenes now past my heart o'erflows,
67 Bids each endearment, fair as once, to rise,
68 And dwells luxurious on her melting woes.
69 Oft with the rising sun, when life was new,
70 Along the woodland have I roam'd with Thee;
71 Oft by the moon have brush'd the evening dew,
72 When all was fearless innocence and glee.
73 The sainted well, where yon bleak hill declines,
74 Has oft been conscious of those happy hours;
75 But now the hill, the river crown'd with pines,
76 And sainted well have lost their cheering powers.
77 For Thou art gone — My guide, my friend, oh where,
78 Where hast thou fled, and left me here behind!
79 My tenderest wish, my heart to Thee was bare,
80 Oh, now cut off each passage to thy mind!
81 How dreary is the gulph, how dark, how void,
82 The trackless shores that never were repast!
83 Dread separation! on the depth untry'd
84 Hope faulters, and the soul recoils aghast.
85 Wide round the spacious heavens I cast my eyes;
86 And shall these stars glow with immortal fire,
87 Still shine the lifeless glories of the skies,
88 And could thy bright, thy living soul expire?
89 Far be the thought — The pleasures most sublime,
90 The glow of friendship, and the virtuous tear,
91 The towering wish that scorns the bounds of time,
92 Chill'd in this vale of Death, but languish here.
93 So plant the vine on Norway's wintery land,
94 The languid stranger feebly buds, and dies:
95 Yet there's a clime where Virtue shall expand
96 With godlike strength, beneath her native skies.
97 The lonely shepherd on the mountain's side,
98 With patience waits the rosy opening day;
99 The mariner at midnight's darksome tide,
100 With chearful hope expects the morning ray.
101 Thus I, on Life's storm-beaten ocean tost,
102 In mental vision view the happy shore,
103 Where POLLIO beckons to the peaceful coast,
104 Where Fate and Death divide the friends no more.
105 Oh that some kind, some pitying kindred shade,
106 Who now, perhaps, frequents this solemn grove,
107 Would tell the awful secrets of the Dead,
108 And from my eyes the mortal film remove!
109 Vain is the wish — yet surely not in vain
110 Man's bosom glows with that celestial fire,
111 Which scorns earth's luxuries, which smiles at pain,
112 And wings his spirit with sublime desire.
113 To fan this spark of heaven, this ray divine,
114 Still, oh my soul! still be thy dear employ;
115 Still thus to wander thro' the shades be thine,
116 And swell thy breast with visionary joy.
117 So to the dark-brow'd wood, or sacred mount,
118 In antient days, the holy Seers retir'd,
119 And, led in vision, drank at Siloe's fount,
120 While rising extasies their bosoms fir'd;
121 Restor'd Creation bright before them rose,
122 The burning desarts smil'd as Eden's plains,
123 One friendly shade the wolf and lambkin chose,
124 The flowery mountain sung, "Messiah reigns!"
125 Tho' fainter raptures my cold breast inspire,
126 Yet, let me oft frequent this solemn scene,
127 Oft to the abbey's shatter'd walls retire,
128 What time the moonshine dimly gleams between.
129 There, where the cross in hoary ruin nods,
130 And weeping yews o'ershade the letter'd stones,
131 While midnight silence wraps these drear abodes,
132 And sooths me wandering o'er my kindred bones,
133 Let kindled Fancy view the glorious morn,
134 When from the bursting graves the just shall rise,
135 All Nature smiling, and by angels borne,
136 Messiah's cross far blazing o'er the skies.