Ode to Adversity

Ζῆνα ...τὸν ϕρονεῖν βροτοὺς ὁδώ σαντα, τῷ πάθει μαθάνΘέντα κυρίως ἔχειν.

Aeschylus, in Agamemnone.
1 Daughter of Jove, relentless power,
2 Thou tamer of the human breast,
3 Whose iron scourge and torturing hour,
4 The bad affright, afflict the best!
5 Bound in thy adamantine chain
6 The proud are taught to taste of pain,
7 And purple tyrants vainly groan
8 With pangs unfelt before, unpitied and alone.
9 When first thy Sire to send on earth
10 Virtue, his darling child, designed,
11 To thee he gave the heavenly birth,
12 And bade to form her infant mind.
13 Stern rugged nurse! thy rigid lore
14 With patience many a year she bore:
15 What sorrow was, thou bad'st her know,
16 And from her own she learned to melt at others' woe.
17 Scared at thy frown terrific, fly
18 Self-pleasing Folly's idle brood,
19 Wild Laughter, Noise, and thoughtless Joy,
20 And leave us leisure to be good.
21 Light they disperse, and with them go
22 The summer friend, the flattering foe;
23 By vain Prosperity received,
24 To her they vow their truth and are again believed.
25 Wisdom in sable garb arrayed,
26 Immersed in rapturous thought profound,
27 And Melancholy, silent maid
28 With leaden eye, that loves the ground,
29 Still on thy solemn steps attend:
30 Warm Charity, the general friend,
31 With Justice to herself severe,
32 And Pity, dropping soft the sadly-pleasing tear.
33 Oh, gently on thy suppliant's head,
34 Dread goddess, lay thy chastening hand!
35 Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad,
36 Nor circled with the vengeful band
37 (As by the impious thou art seen)
38 With thundering voice and threatening mien,
39 With screaming Horror's funeral cry,
40 Despair, and fell Disease, and ghastly Poverty.
41 Thy form benign, oh Goddess, wear,
42 Thy milder influence impart,
43 Thy philosophic train be there
44 To soften, not to wound my heart,
45 The generous spark extinct revive,
46 Teach me to love and to forgive,
47 Exact my own defects to scan,
48 What others are, to feel, and know myself a man.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): Ode to Adversity
Author: Thomas Gray
Themes: hopelessness; vanity of life; grief; sadness; melancholy
Genres: Miltonic verse; Spenserian stanza; ode

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Source edition

Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771. Thomas Gray: English poems. Web. Oxford: Thomas Gray Archive, 2002. http://www.thomasgray.org/texts/poems.shtml

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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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Other works by Thomas Gray