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Hail Marriage! everlasting be thy reign! myself in this canto to take Spenser for my model, The chain of being is thy golden chain.
I chose the stanza; which I think adds both a From hence mankind, a growing race depend, sweetness and solemnity at the same time to subBegan with Nature, shall with Nature end. jects of this rural and flowery nature. The most The mists, which stain'd thy lustre, break away, descriptive of our old poets have always used it In glory lessen, and refine to day:
from Chaucer down to Fairfax, and even long No more the jest of wits, of fools the scorn, after him. I followed Fletcher's measure in his Which God made sacred, and which priests adorn, Purple Island; a poem printed at Cambridge in
“ Ascend the bed, while genial Nature pours twelve cantos, in quarto, scarce heard of in this Her balmy blessings round and nectar-show'rs. age, yet the best in the allegorical way, (next to And lo! the future opens on my eyes,
the Fairy Queen) in the English language. The I see soft buds, and smiling flow'rs arise:
Alexandrine line, I think, is peculiarly graceful at The human blossoms every charm display, the end, and is an improvement on Shakspeare's Unfold their sweets, and beautify the day.
Venus and Adonis. After all, Spenser's hymns The father's virtues in the sons combine;
will excuse me for using this measure; and ScaThe mother's graces in the daughters shine. liger in the third book of his Poetics, tells us, So where an angel spreads his dove-like wing (from Dydimus) that the hymns of the Athenians Young laurels sprout, and tender myrtles spring; were sung to the lyre, the pipe, or some musical Sweet dews descending consecrate the ground, instrument: and this, of all other kinds of verse And open a new Paradise around !
is, certainly, lyrical. But enough of the stanza: I see!"-But here the scene which blaz'd behind for (as sir William Davenant observes in his adHer fancy dazzled, and dissolv'd his mind. mirable preface to Gondibert) numbers in verse, He woke: yet still he thinks he sees and hears; like distinct kinds of music, are composed to the Till real sounds salutes his ravish'd ears:
uncertain and different taste of several ears, I “ -Arise! the bride invites thee to be blest ?" hope I have no apology to make for describing He rose.- But silence only speaks the rest. the beauties, the pleasures, and the loves of the
season in too tender or too florid a manner. The nature of the subject required a luxuriousness of
versification, and a softness of sentiment; but AN HYMN TO MAY.
they are pure and chaste at the same time: otherwise this canto had neither been ever written,
or offered to the public. If the sentiments and -Nunc formosissimus annus, Virg. verse be florid and tender, I shall excuse myself
in the words of Virgil (though not in his sense). PREFACE.
Nunc mollissima fandi
Tempora! As Spenser is the most descriptive and forid of all our English writers, I attempted to initate his manner in the following vernal poem. I have
ARGUMENT. been very sparing of the antiquated words, which Subject proposed. Invocation of May. Descripare too frequent in most of the imitations of this tion of her: her operations on nature. Bounty author; however, I have introduced a few here recommended; in particular at this season. and there, which are explain’d at the bottom of Vernal apostrophe. Love the ruling passion each page where they occur. Shakspeare is the in May. The celebration of Venus, her birthpoet of Nature, in adapting the affections and day in this month. Rural retireinent in spring. passions to his characters; and Spenser in de
Conclusion. scribing her delightful scenes and rural beauties. His lines are most musically sweet; and his de- ETHEREAL, daughter of the lusty Spring, scriptions most delicately abundant, even to a And sweet Favonius, ever-gentle May! wantonness of painting: but still it is the music | Shall I, uublam'd, presuine of thee to sing, and painting of Nature. We find no ambitious or- And with thy living colours gild my lay? naments, or epigrammatical turns, in his writings, Thy genial spirit mantles in my brain; but a beautiful simplicity; which pleases far above My numbers languish in a softer vein : the glitter of pointed wit. I endeavoured to avoid I pant, too emulous, to flow in Spenser's strain. the affectation of the one, without any hopes of attaining the graces of the other kind of writing. Say, mild Aurora of the blooming year,
With storms when winter blackens Nature's face; Te sequor, O nostræ gentis decus! inque tuis When whirling winds the howling forest tear,
And shake the solid mountains from their base: Fixa pedum pono pressis vestigia signis: Say, what refulgent chambers of the sky Non ità certandi cupidus, quam propter amorem Veil thy beloved glories from the eye, (dren die? Quòd te imitari aveo: Quid enim contendat for which the nations pine, and Earth's fair chil
Lucretius. Where Leda's twins', forth from their diamond
tow'r, A modern writer has, I know, objected against Alternate, o'er the night their beams divide; running the verse into alternate and stanza: but in light embosom'd, happy, and secure Mr. Prior's authority is sufficient for me, who ob- From winter-rage, thou choosest to abide. serves that it allows a greater variety, and still preserves the dignity of the verse. As I professed
Castor and Pollux.
Blest residence! For, there, as poets tell, Love-sick with odours !-Now to order rollid,
gold. Certes S o'er Rhedicyna's laureld mead, (For ever spread, ye laurels, green and new!) Young-circling roses, blushing, round them throw The brother-stars their gracious nurture shed,
The sweet abundance of their purple rays, And secret blessings of poetic-dew.
And liljes, dip'd in fragrance, freshly blow, They bathe their horses in the learned flood, With blended beauties, in her angel-face With fame recruited for th' etherial road; The humid radiance beaming from her eyes And deem fair Isis' swans 4 fair as their father-god. The air and seas illumes, the earth and skies;
And open, where she smiles, the sweets of ParaNo sooner April, trim'd with girlands5 gay,
dise. Pains fragrance o'er the world, and kindly show'rs; But, in the eastern-pride of beauty, May, On Zephyr's wing the langhing goddess view, To gladden Earth, forsakes her heav'nly bow'rs, Distilling balm. She cleaves the buxom Air, Restoring Nature from her palsy'd state.
Attended by the silver-footed Dew,
The ravages of Winter to repair.
Her naked bosom down the ether sails;
exhales. All-recent from the bosom of delight, With nectar purtur'd; and involv'd in flow'rs: All as the phenix, in Arabian skies, By Spring's sweet blush,by Nature'steeming womb; | New-burnish'd from his spicy funeral pyres, By Hebe's dimply smile, by Flora's bloom; At large, in roseald undulatiou, flies; By Venus'-self (for Venus'-self demands thee) His plumage dazzles and the gazer tires; come!
Around their king the plumy nations wait,
Attend his triumph, and augment bis state: By the warm sighs, in dewy even-tide,
He tow'ring, claps his wings, and wins th’etheOf melting maidens, in the wood-bind-groves,
real height. To pity loosu'd, soften'd down from pride; By billing turtles, and by cooing doves;
So round this phenix of the gawdy year By the youth's plainings stealing on the air, A thousand, nay ten thousand Sports and Smiles, (For youths will plain, tho'yielding be the fair) Fluttering in gold, along the hemisphere, Hither, to bless the maidens and the youths, re- Her praises chant; her praises glad the isles. pair.
Conscious of her approach (to deck her bow'rs)
Earth from her fruitful lap and bosom pours With dew bespangled, by the hawthorn-buds, A waste of springing sweets, and voluntary Bow'rs. With freshness breathing, by the daisy'd plains, By the mix'd music of the warbling woods, Narcissus? fair, in snowy velvet gown'd; And jovial roundelays 7 of nymphs and swains; Ah foolish! still to love the fountain-brim: In thy full energy, and rich array,
Sweet Hyacinthy, by Phæbus erst' bemoan'd; Delight of Earth and Heav'n! O blessed May! And tulip, faring in her powder'd trim. From fleav'n descend to Earth: on Earth vouch- Whate'er, Armida 5, in thy gardens blew; sale to stay
Whate'er the Sun inhales, or sips the dew;
Whate'er compose the chaplet on Ianthe's brow. She comes! -A silken camus 8, emrald-green, Gracefully loose, adown her shoulders flows, | Pliny tells us, lib. 11, that the phenix is (Fit to enfold the limbs of Paphos' queen) about the bigness of an eagle: the feathers round And with the labours of the needle glows,
the neck shining like gold, the body of a purple Purfled 9 by Nature's hand! The amorous Air colour, the tail blue with feathers resembling And musky-western Breezes fast repair,
See Claudian's fine poein on that subject, Her mantle proud to swell, and wanton with her and Marcellus Donatus, who has a short disser
tation on the phenix in his Observations on Ta.
citus. Annal. Lib. 6. Westley on Job, and sir Her hair (but rather threads of light it seems) Tho. Brown's Vulgar Errours. With the gay honours of the Spring entwin'd, 2 A beautiful youth who, beholding his face in Copious, unbound, in nectar'd ringlets streams, a fountain, fell in love with himself, and pining Floats glitt'ring on the Sun, and scents the wind, away was changed into a flower, wbich bears his
See Ovid. Metamorph. Lib. 3. The Gemini are supposed to preside over 3 Beloved and turned into a flower by Apollo. leamed men.
See Pontanus in his beautiful See the story in Ovid. Met. Lib. 10. There is poem called Urania. Lib. 2. De Geminis, likewise a curious dialogue in Lucian betwixt
Surely, certainly. Ibid. -Rhedioyna, Mercury and Apolio on this subject. Servius in &c. Oxford.
his Notes on Virgil's second Bucolic takes the • Jupiter deceived Leda in the shape of a swan hyacinth to be the vaccinium of the Latins, zs she was bathing herself in the river Eurotas. bearing some similitude with the name, Garlands. 7 Songs.
4 Fort erly: long ago, 6 A light gown.
9 Flourished with a needle. 5 See Tasso's Il Goffredo. Canto 16.
He who undaz'd can wander o'er her face, From the wide altar of the foodful Earth [roll; May gain upon the solar-blaze at noon!
The flow'rs, the herbs, the plants, their incense What more than female sweetness, and a grace The orchards swell the ruby-tinctur'd birth; Peculiar! save, lanthe, thine alone,
The vermil-gardens breath the spicy soul. Ineffable effusion of the day!
Grateful to May, the nectar-spirit flies, So very much the same, that lovers say,
The wafted clouds of lavish'd odours rise, May is lanthe; or the dear Ianthe, May.
The Zephyr's balmy burthen, worthy of the skies
So far as doth the harbinger of day
The bee, the golden daughter of the Spring, The lesser lamps of night in sheen 7 excel; From mead to mead, in wanton labour, roves, So far in sweetness and in beauty May
And loads its little thigh, or gilds its wing Above all other months doth bear the bell. With all the essence of the flushing groves: So far as May doth other months exceed,
Extracts the aromatic soul of flow'rs, So far in virtue and in goodlihead 8,
And, humming in delight, its waxen bow'rs Above all other nymphs lanthe bears the meedo. Fills with the luscious spoils, and lives ambrosial
hours. Welcome! as to a youthful poet, wine, To fire his fancy, and enlarge his soul:
Touch'd by thee, May, the flocks and lusty drores He weaves the laurel-chaplet with the vine, That low in pastures, or on mountains bleat, And grows immortal as he drains the bowl. Revive their frolics and renew their loves. Welcome! as beauty to the lovesick swain, Stung to the marrow with a generous heat, For which he long had sigh’d, but sigh'd in vain; The stately courser, bounding o'er the plain, He darts into her arms; quick-vanishes his pain. Shakes to the winds the honours of his mane,
(High-arch'd his neck) and, snuffing, hopes the The drowsy elements, arous'd by thee,
dappled train. Roll to harmonious measures, active all! Eartb, water, air, and fire, with feeling glee, The aëreal songsters sooth the listning groves: Exult to celebrate thy festival.
The mellow thrush, the ouzle? sweetly shrill, Fire glows intenser; softer, blows the air;
And little linnet celebrate their loves More smooth the waters flow; earth smiles more In hawthorn valley, or on tufted hill; fair:
The soaring lark, the lowly nightingale, Earth, water, air and fire, thy glad’ning impulse A thorn her pillow, trills her doleful tale, share.
And melancholy music dies along the dale. What boundless tides of splendour o'er the skies, This gay exuberance of gorgeous Spring, O’erflowing brightness! stream their golden rays! The gilded mountain, and the herbag'd vale, Heaven's azure kindles with the varying dies, The woods that blossom, and the birds that sing, Reflects the glory, and returns the biaze.
The murmuring fountain and the breathing dale: Air whitens; wide the tracts of ether been The dale, the fountains, birds and woods delight, With colours damask'd rich, and goodly sheen, The vales, the mountains and the Spring invite, And all above, is blue; and all below is green. Yet unadorn'd by May, no longer charm the sight.
At thy approach, the wild waves' loud uproar, When Nature laughs around, shall man alone, And foamy surges of the mad'ning main,
Thy image, hang (ah me!) the sickly head? Forget to heave their mountains to the shore; When Nature sings, shall Nature's glory groan, Diffus'd into the level of the plain.
And languish for the pittance poor of bread! For thee, the halcyon builds her summer's-nest; O may the man that shall his image scorn, For thee, the Ocean smooths her troubled breast, Alive, be ground with hunger, most forlorn, Gay from thy placid smiles, in thy own purple Die unanelld 3, and dead, by dogs and kites be torn. drest.
Curs'd may he be (as if he were not so.) in gentle even-tide,
Nay doubly curs'd be such a breast of steel, When Jupiter the Earth hath richly showerd, Which never melted at another's woe, Striding the clouds, a bow dispredden 1 wide Nor tenderness of bowels knew to feel. As if with light inwove, and gaily flower'd
His heart is black as Hell, in flowing store With bright variety of blending dies?
Who hears the needy crying at his door, White, purple, yellow melt along the skies, Who hears them cry, ne recks *; but suffers Alternate colours sink, alternate colours rise.
them be poor.
Flows out to noursle 5 innocence distrest.
His hand the orphan's cheek of sorrow drys; Their soft enamel spread, and beautify the day, Like Mercy's self he looks on want with Pity's
eyes. 6 Undazzled. 9 Brightness. Shining. & Beauty. 9 Prize.
2 Blackbird. 3 Withont a funeral knell. Spread.
4 Nor is concerned, 5 To nurse.
In this blest season, pregnant with delight, And while the virgins hail thee with their voice, Ne6 may the boading owl with screeches wound Heaping thy crowded way with greens and dow'rs, The solemn silence of the quiet night,
And in the fondness of their heart rejoice Ne croaking raven, with unhallow'd sound, To sooth, with dance and song, thy gentler hours; Ne damned ghost affray with deadly yell Indulge the season, and with sweet repair The vaking lover, rais'd by mighty spell, Embay thy limbs, the vernal beauties share: To pale the stars, till Hesper shine it back to Hell. Then blaze in arms again, renew'd for future war. Ne witches rifle gibbets, by the Moon,
Britannia's happy isle derives from May (With horrour winking, trembling all with fear) The choicest blessings Liberty bestows: Of many a clinking chain, and canker'd bone: When royal Charles (for ever bail the day!) Nor imp in visionary shape appear,
In mercy triumph'd o'er ignoble foes. To blast the thriving verdure of the plain; Restor'd with him, the Arts the drooping head Ne let hobgoblin, ne the ponk, profane [ing brain. Gaily again uprear'd; the Muses' shade (array’d. With shadowy glare the light, and mad the burst- With fresher honours bloom'd, in greener trim Yet fairy-elres (so ancient custom's wills) And thou, the goodliest blossom of our isles! The green-gown'd fairy elves, by starry sheen, Great Frederic's and his Augusta's joy, May gambol or in valley or on hill,
Thy native month approv'd with infant-smiles, And leave their footsteps on the circled green. Sweet as the siniling May, imperial boy! Full lightly trip it, dapper Mab, around;
Britannia hopes thee for her future lord, Full featly', Ob'ron, thou, o'er grass-turf bound: Lov'd as thy parents, only not ador'd! Mab brushes off no dew-drops, Ob’ron prints no Whene'er a George is born, Charles is again reground.
stor'd. Ne bloody rumours violate the ear,
O may his father's pant for finer fame, Of cities sack'd, and kingdoms desolate,
And boundless bountyhead to humankind; With plague or sword, with pestilence or war; His grandsire's glory, and his uncle's name, Ne rueful murder stain thy era-date;
Renown'd in war! inflame his ardent mind:
So arts shall flourish 'neath his equal sway,
The dullard-Earth May quick’neth with delight: Ne fatherless from table be debard;
Full suddenly the seeds of joy recure3
If senseless elements invigorate prove
Ye shepherdesses, in a goodly round, Now let the trumpet's martial thunders sleep; Purpled with health, as in the greenwood-shade, The viol wake alone, and tender flute :
Incontinent ye thump the echoing ground The Phrygian lyre with sprightly fingers sweep, And deftly 5 lead the dance along the glade! And, Erato, dissolve the Lydian-lute.
(O may no show'rs your merry-makes affray!) Yet Clio frets, and burns with honest pain, Hail at the op’ning, at the closing day, To rouze and animate the martial strain, All hail, ye bonnibelso, to your own season, May. While British banners fame o'er many a purpled plain.
Nor ye absent yourselves, ye shepherd-swains,
But lend to dance and song the liberal May, The trumpet sleeps, but soon for thee shall wake, And while in jocund ranks you beat the plains, Illostious chief! to sound thy mighty name, Your flocks shall nibble, and your lainbkins play, (Sratch'd from the malice of Lethean-lake) Frisking in glee. To May your girlands bring, Triumphant-swelling from the mouth of Fame. And ever and anon her praises sing : Mean while, disdain not (so the virgins pray) The woods shall echo May, with May the valleys This rosy-crown, with myrtle wove and bay;
ring. (Too humble crown 1 ween) the offering of May.
Your May-pole deck with flow'ry coronal; 6 Nor. ? Affright.
Sprinkle the flow'ry coronal with wine; & The Lemuria, or rites sacred to the Lemures, and in the nimble-footed galliard, all, were celebrated by the Romans in May. See Shepherds and shepherdesses, lively, join. Ovid. Fast. I. 5. &c. They imagined the Lemures Hither from village sweet and hamlet fair, (in English, fairies) to be like ghosts of deceased From bordering cot and distant glenne7 repair: persons: but our traditional accounts are very Let youth indulge its sport, to eld 8 bequeath its different in respect to the nature of fairies. Shakespear's Midsummer's Night's Dream, Drayton's Fairy Tale, and a celebrated old ballad, are 3 Recover. 4 Placed, fixed. 5 Finely master-pieces in their kind.
6 Pretty women. ? A country hamlet, 9 Brightness. Nimbly.
8 Old age.
Ye wanton Dryads and light-tripping Fawns, Hard is his heart, unmelted by thee, May!
Unconscious of Love's nectar-tickling sting,
Beauty, to woman, Wit to man is givent;
The best alone is grateful to the best.
Perfection has no other parallel ! And all the sea-green sisters bless the holy-day. Can light, with darkness; doves with ravens
dwell? In honour of her natal-month, the queen
As soon, perdie 5, shall Heav'n communion hold Of bliss and beauty consecrates her hours,
with Hell, Fresh as her cheek, and as her brow serene, To buxom ladies, and their paramours.
I sing to you, who love alone for love: Love tips with golden alchymy his dart;
For gold the beauteous fools (O fools besure !) With rapt'rous anguishi, with an honey'd smart Can win ; tho' brighter Wit shall never move: Eye languishes on eye, and heart dissolves on But Folly is to Wit the certain cure. heart.
Curs'd be the men, (or be they young or old)
Curs'd be the women, who themselves have sold A softly-swelling hill, with myrtles crown'd, To the detested bed for lucre base of gold. (Myrtles to Venus algates' sacred been) Hight Acidale, the fairest spot on ground,
Not Julia such: she higher honour deem'd For ever fragrant and for ever green,
To languish in the Sulmo poet's arms, O’erlooks the windings of a shady vale,
Than, by the potentates of Earth esteem'd, By Beauty form'd for amorous regale.
To give to sceptres and to crowns her charms. Was ever hill so sweet as sweetest Acidale? Not Laura such: in sweet Vauclusa's vale
She listmed to her Petrarch's amorous tale. All down the sides, the sides profuse of flow'rs, But did poor Colin Clout6 o'er Rosalind prevail ? An hundred rills, in shining mazes, flow Through mossy grotto's amaranthine bow'rs, Howe'er that be; in Acidaliar7 shade, And form a laughing flood in vale below:
Embracing Julia, Ovid melts the day: Where oft their limbs the Loves and Graces bay? No dreams of banishment his loves invade; (When Summer sheds insuflerable day)
Encircled in eternity of May, And sport, and dive, and flounce in wantonness of Here Petrarch with his Laura, soft reclind play.
On violets, gives sorrow to the wind :
And Colin Clout pipes to the yielding Rosalind, No noise o'ercomes the silence of the shades, Save short-breath'd vows, the dear excess of joy;
5 An old word for asserting any thing. Or barmless giggle of the youths and maids,
o Spenser. Who yield obeysance to the Cyprian boy :
7 These three celebrated poets and lovers were Or lute, soft-sighing in the passing gale;
all of them unhappy in their amours.
Ovid was Or fountain gurgling down the sacred vale, banished on account of his passion for Julia. Or hymn to beauty's queen, or lover's tender Death deprived Petrarch of his beloved Laura tale,
very early; as he himself tells us in his account
of his own life. These are his words: “ Amore Here Venus revels, here maintains her court acerrimo, sed unico & honesto, in adolescentia In light festivity and gladsome game:
laboravi, & diutius laborassem, nisi jam tepescepThe young and gay, in frolic troops resort, tem ignem mors acerba, sed utilis, extinxisset." Withouten censure, and withouten blame.
See his works, Basil, fol. tom. 1. Yet others say, In pleasure steep'd, and dancing in delight, she married another person; which is scarce Night steals upon the day, the day, on night: probable; since Petrarch lamented her death for Each knight his lady loves; each lady loves her ten years afterwards, as appears from Sonetto knight.
313, with a most uncommon ardour of passion.
Thomasinus in his carious book, called Petrarcha Where lives the man (if such a man there be) Redivivus, has given us two prints of Laura, with In idle wilderness or desert drear,
an account of her family, their loves, and bis To Beauty's sacred pow'r an en my?
sweet retirement in Vaucluse. As for Spenser, we Let foul fiends harrow 3 him; I'll drop no tear. may conclude that his love for Rosalinda proved I deem that carl 4, by Beauty's pow'r unmov'd, unsuccessful from his pathetical complaints, in Hated of Heav'n, of none but Hell approv'd. several of his poems, of her cruelty. The author, O may he never love, O never be beluv'd!
therefore, thought it only a poetical kind of justice
to reward them in this imaginary retreat of lovers, 9 Vigour. 1 Ever. 2 Bathe. 3 Destroy. for the misfortunes they really suffered here on 4 A clown.
account of their passion.