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ODE ON THE POETICAL CHARACTER.
As once, if, not with light regard,
I read aright that gifted bard,
-Him whose school above the rest
His loveliest elfin queen has blest ;-
One, only one, unrival'd1 fair,
Might hope the magic girdle wear,
At solemn turney hung on high,
The wish of each love-darting eye;
-Lo! to each other nymph, in turn, applied,
As if, in air unseen, some hovering hand, 10
Some chaste and angel friend to virgin fame,
With whisper'd spell had burst the starting band,
It left unblest her loathed dishonour'd side;
Happier, hopeless Fair, if never
Her baffled hand, with vain endeavour,
Had touch'd that fatal zone to her denied!
Young Fancy thus, to me divinest name,
To whom, prepared and bathed in heaven,
The cest of amplest power is given :
To few the godlike gift assigns, To gird their blest prophetic loins, gaze her visions wild, and feel unmix'd her
h Florimel. See Spenser, Leg. 4th.
The band, as fairy legends say,
Was wove on that creating day,
When He, who call'd with thought to birth
Yon tented sky, this laughing earth,
And dress'd with springs and forests tall,
And pour'd the main engirting all,
Long by the loved enthusiast woo'd,
Himself in some diviner mood,
Retiring, sat with her alone,
And placed her on his sapphire throne;
The whiles, the vaulted shrine around,
Seraphic wires were heard to sound,
Now sublimest triumph swelling,
Now on love and mercy dwelling;
And she, from out the veiling cloud,
Breathed her magic notes aloud:
And thou, thou rich-hair'd youth of morn,
And all thy subject life was born!
The dangerous passions kept aloof,
Far from the sainted growing woof:
But near it sat ecstatic Wonder,
Listening the deep applauding thunder;
And Truth, in sunny vest array'd,
By whose the tarsel's eyes were made;
All the shadowy tribes of mind,
In braided dance, their murmurs join'd,
And all the bright uncounted powers
Who feed on heaven's ambrosial flowers.
-Where is the bard whose soul can now
Its high presuming hopes avow?
Where he who thinks, with rapture blind,
This hallow'd work for him design'd?
High on some cliff, to heaven up-piled,
Of rude access, of prospect wild,
Where, tangled round the jealous steep,
Strange shades o'erbrow the valleys deep,
And holy Genii guard the rock,
Its glooms embrown, its springs unlock,
While on its rich ambitious head,
An Eden, like his own, lies spread:
I view that oak, the fancied glades among,
By which as Milton lay, his evening ear,
From many a cloud that dropp'd ethereal dew, 65
Nigh sphered in heaven, its native strains could hear;
On which that ancient trump he reach'd was hung:
Thither oft, his glory greeting,
From Waller's myrtle shades retreating, With many a vow from Hope's aspiring tongue, My trembling feet his guiding steps pursue; In vain-Such bliss to one alone,
Of all the sons of soul, was known;
And Heaven, and Fancy, kindred powers, Have now o'erturn'd the inspiring bowers; Or curtain'd close such scene from every future view.
WRITTEN IN THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR 1746.
How sleep the brave, who sink to rest,
By all their country's wishes bless'd!
When Spring, with dewy fingers cold,
Returns to deck their hallow'd mould,
She there shall dress a sweeter sod
Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.
By fairy hands their knell is rung ;
By forms unseen their dirge is sung;
There Honour comes, a pilgrim gray,
To bless the turf that wraps their clay;
And Freedom shall a while repair,
To dwell a weeping hermit there!
O THOU, who sitst a smiling bride
By Valour's arm'd and awful side,
Gentlest of sky-born forms, and best adored;
Who oft with songs, divine to hear,
Winn'st from his fatal grasp the spear,
And hidest in wreaths of flowers his bloodless sword!
Thou who, amidst the deathful field,
By godlike chiefs alone beheld,
Oft with thy bosom bare art found,
Pleading for him the youth who sinks to ground:
See, Mercy, see, with pure and loaded hands,
Before thy shrine my country's genius stands,
And decks thy altar still, though pierced with
many a wound.
When he whom even our joys provoke,
The fiend of nature join'd his yoke,
And rush'd in wrath to make our isle his prey;
Thy form, from out thy sweet abode,
O'ertook him on his blasted road,
And stopp'd his wheels, and look'd his rage away.