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SOLITUDE.

An ODE.

I.
1 O Solitude, romantic Maid,
2 Whether by nodding towers you tread,
3 Or haunt the desart's trackless gloom,
4 Or hover o'er the yawning tomb,
5 Or climb the Andes' clifted side,
6 Or by the Nile's coy source abide,
7 Or starting from your half-year's sleep
8 From Hecla view the thawing deep,
9 Or Tadmor's marble wastes survey,
10 Or in yon roofless cloyster stray;
11 You, Recluse, again I woo,
12 And again your steps pursue.
II.
13 Plum'd Conceit himself surveying,
14 Folly with her shadow playing,
15 Purse-proud, elbowing Insolence,
16 Bloated empirick, puff'd Pretence,
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17 Noise that thro' a trumpet speaks,
18 Laughter in loud peals that breaks,
19 Intrusion with a fopling's face,
20 (Ignorant of time and place)
21 Sparks of fire Dissention blowing,
22 Ductile, court-bred Flattery, bowing,
23 Restraint's stiff neck, Grimace's leer,
24 Squint-ey'd Censure's artful sneer,
25 Ambition's buskins steep'd in blood,
26 Fly thy presence, Solitude.
III.
27 Sage Reflection bent with years,
28 Conscious Virtue void of fears,
29 Muffled Silence, wood-nymph shy,
30 Meditation's piercing eye,
31 Halcyon Peace on moss reclin'd,
32 Retrospect that scans the mind,
33 Rapt earth-gazing [Revery],
34 Blushing artless Modesty,
35 Health that snuffs the morning air,
36 Full-ey'd Truth with bosom bare,
37 Inspiration, Nature's child,
38 Seek the solitary wild.
IV.
39 You with the tragic Muse
f In the island Salamis.
retir'd
40 The wise Euripides inspir'd,
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41 You taught the sadly-pleasing air
42 That
g See Plutarch in the life of Lysander.
Athens sav'd from ruins bare.
43 You gave the Cean's tears to flow,
44 And
h Simonides.
unlock'd the springs of woe;
45 You penn'd what exil'd Naso thought,
46 And pour'd the melancholy note.
47 With Petrarch o'er Valcluse you stray'd,
48 When Death snatch'd his
i Laura, twenty years, and ten after her death.
long-lov'd maid;
49 You taught the rocks her loss to mourn,
50 Ye strew'd with flowers her virgin urn.
51 And late in
k Monody on the death of Mrs. Lyttelton.
Hagley you were seen,
52 With bloodshed eyes, and sombre mien,
53 Hymen his yellow vestment tore,
54 And Dirge a wreath of cypress wore.
55 But chief your own the solemn lay
56 That wept Narcissa young and gay,
57 Darkness clap'd her sable wing,
58 While you touch'd the mournful string,
59 Anguish left the pathless wild,
60 Grim-fac'd Melancholy smil'd,
61 Drowsy Midnight ceas'd to yawn,
62 The starry host put back the dawn,
63 Aside their harps ev'n Seraphs flung
64 To hear thy sweet complaint, O Young.
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V.
65 When all Nature's hush'd asleep,
66 Nor Love nor Guilt their vigils keep,
67 Soft you leave your cavern'd den,
68 And wander o'er the works of men,
69 But when Phosphor brings the dawn
70 By her dappled coursers drawn,
71 Again you to the wild retreat
72 And the early huntsman meet,
73 Where as you pensive pace along,
74 You catch the distant shepherd's song,
75 Or brush from herbs the pearly dew,
76 Or the rising primrose view.
77 Devotion lends her heaven-plum'd wings,
78 You mount, and Nature with you sings.
79 But when mid-day fervors glow,
80 To upland airy shades you go,
81 Where never sunburnt woodman came,
82 Nor sportsman chas'd the timid game;
83 And there beneath an oak reclin'd,
84 With drowsy waterfalls behind,
85 You sink to rest.
86 'Till the tuneful bird of night
87 From the neighb'ring poplars height
88 Wake you with her solemn strain,
89 And teach pleas'd Echo to complain.
VI.
90 With you roses brighter bloom
91 Sweeter every sweet perfume,
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92 Purer every fountain flows
93 Stronger every wilding grows.
VII.
94 Let those toil for gold who please,
95 Or for fame renounce their ease.
96 What is fame? an empty bubble,
97 Gold? a transient, shining trouble.
98 Let them for their country bleed,
99 What was Sidney's, Raleigh's meed?
100 Man's not worth a moment's pain,
101 Base, ungrateful, fickle, vain.
102 Then let me, sequester'd fair,
103 To your Sibyl grot repair,
104 On yon hanging cliff it stands
105 Scoop'd by Nature's salvage hands,
106 Bosom'd in the gloomy shade
107 Of cypress not with age decay'd.
108 Where the owl still-hooting sits,
109 Where the bat incessant flits,
110 There in loftier strains I'll sing
111 Whence the changing seasons spring,
112 Tell how storms deform the skies,
113 Whence the waves subside and rise,
114 Trace the comet's blazing tail,
115 Weigh the planets in a scale;
116 Bend, great God, before thy shrine,
117 The bournless macrocosm's thine.
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VIII.
118 Save me! what's yon shrouded shade?
119 That wanders in the dark-brown glade.
120 It beckons me! vain fears adieu,
121 Mysterious ghost, I follow you.
122 Ah me! too well that gait I know,
123 My youth's first friend, my manhood's woe!
124 Its breast it bares! what! stain'd with blood?
125 Quick let me stanch the vital flood.
126 Oh spirit, whither art thou flown?
127 Why left me comfortless alone?
128 O Solitude, on me bestow
129 The heart-felt harmony of woe,
130 Such, such, as on th' Ausonian shore,
131 Sweet
l See Idyll.
Dorian Moschus trill'd of yore:
132 No time should cancel thy desert,
133 More, more, than
m Alluding to the death of a friend.
Bion was, thou wert.
IX.
134 O goddess of the tearful eye,
135 The never-ceasing stream supply.
136 Let us with Retirement go
137 To charnels, and the house of woe,
138 O'er Friendship's herse low-drooping mourn,
139 Where the sickly tapers burn,
140 Where Death and, nun-clad Sorrow dwell,
141 And nightly ring the solemn knell.
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142 The gloom dispels, the charnel smiles,
143 Light flashes thro' the vaulted iles.
144 Blow silky soft, thou western gale,
145 O goddess of the desert, hail!
146 She bursts from yon cliff-riven cave,
147 Insulted by the wintry wave;
148 Her brow an ivy garland binds,
149 Her tresses wanton with the winds,
150 A lion's spoils, without a zone,
151 Around her limbs are careless thrown;
152 Her right hand wields a knotted mace,
153 Her eyes roll wild, a stride her pace;
154 Her left a magic mirror holds,
155 In which she oft herself beholds.
156 O goddess of the desert, hail!
157 And softer blow, thou western gale!
158 Since in each scheme of life I've fail'd,
159 And disappointment seems entail'd;
160 Since all on earth I valued most,
161 My guide, my stay, my friend is lost;
162 You, only you, can make me blest,
163 And hush the tempest in my breast.
164 Then gently deign to guide my feet
165 To your hermit-trodden seat,
166 Where I may live at last my own,
167 Where I at last may die unknown.
168 I spoke, she twin'd her magic ray,
169 And thus she said, or seem'd to say.
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170 Youth, you're mistaken, if you think to find
171 In shades a medicine for a troubled mind;
172 Wan Grief will haunt you wheresoe'er you go,
173 Sigh in the breeze, and in the streamlet flow,
174 There pale Inaction pines his life away,
175 And, satiate, curses the return of day:
176 There naked Frenzy laughing wild with pain,
177 Or bares the blade, or plunges in the main:
178 There Superstition broods o'er all her fears,
179 And yells of daemons in the Zephyr hears.
180 But if a hermit you're resolv'd to dwell,
181 And bid to social life a last farewell;
182 'Tis impious.
183 God never made an independent man,
184 'Twould jarr the concord of his general plan:
185 See every part of that stupendous whole,
186 "Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;"
187 To one great end, the general good, conspire,
188 From matter, brute, to man, to seraph, fire.
189 Should man thro' Nature solitary roam,
190 His will his sovereign, every where his home,
191 What force wou'd guard him from the lion's jaw?
192 What swiftness wing him from the panther's paw?
193 Or should Fate lead him to some safer shore,
194 Where panthers never prowl, nor lions roar;
195 Where liberal Nature all her charms bestows,
196 Suns shine, birds sing, flowers bloom, and water flows,
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197 Fool, dost thou think he'd revel on the store,
198 Absolve the care of Heaven, nor ask for more?
199 Tho' waters flow'd, flow'rs bloom'd, and Phoebus shone,
200 He'd sigh, he'd murmur that he was alone.
201 For know, the Maker on the human breast
202 A sense of kindred, country, man, imprest;
203 And social life to better, aid, adorn,
204 With proper faculties each mortal's born.
205 Tho' Nature's works the ruling mind declare,
206 And well deserve enquiry's serious care,
207 The God (whate'er Misanthrophy may say)
208 Shines, beams in man with most unclouded ray.
209 What boots it thee to fly from pole to pole?
210 Hang o'er the sun, and with the planets roll?
211 What boots thro' space's furthest bourns to roam?
212 If thou, O man, a stranger art at home.
213 Then know thyself, the human mind survey,
214 The use, the pleasure will the toil repay.
215 Hence Inspiration plans his manner'd lays,
216 Hence Homer's crown, and Shakespear hence thy bays,
217 Hence he, the pride of Athens and the shame,
218 The best and wisest of mankind became.
219 Nor study only, practise what you know,
220 Your life, your knowledge, to mankind you owe.
221 With Plato's olive wreath the bays entwine:
222 Those who in study, shou'd in practice shine.
223 Say, does the learned Lord of Hagley's shade,
224 Charm man so much by mossy fountains laid,
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225 As when arouz'd, he stems Corruption's course,
226 And shakes the senate with a Tully's force?
227 When Freedom gasp'd beneath a Caesar's feet,
228 Then publick Virtue might to shades retreat;
229 But where she breathes, the least may useful be,
230 And Freedom, Britain, still belong to thee.
231 Tho' man's ungrateful, or tho' Fortune frown;
232 Is the reward of worth a song, or crown?
233 Nor yet unrecompens'd are Virtue's pains,
234 Good Allen lives, and bounteous Brunswick reigns.
235 On each condition disappointments wait,
236 Enter the hut, and force the guarded gate.
237 Nor dare repine, tho' early Friendship bleed,
238 From love, the world, and all its cares he's freed.
239 But know, Adversity's the child of God;
240 Whom Heaven approves of most, most feel her rod.
241 When smooth old Ocean and each storm's asleep,
242 Then Ignorance may plough the watery deep;
243 But when the daemons of the tempest rave,
244 Skill must conduct the vessel thro' the wave.
245 Sidney, what good man envies not thy blow?
246 Who wou'd not wish
n One of the accusers of Socrates.
Anytus for a foe?
247 Intrepid Virtue triumphs over Fate,
248 The good can never be unfortunate.
249 And be this maxim graven in thy mind,
250 The height of virtue is to serve mankind.
251 But when old age has silver'd o'er thy head,
252 When memory fails, and all thy vigour's fled,
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253 Then may'st thou seek the stillness of retreat,
254 Then hear aloof the human tempest beat,
255 Then will I greet thee to my woodland cave,
256 Allay the pangs of age, and smooth thy grave.

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    About this text

    Title (in Source Edition): SOLITUDE. An ODE.
    Themes: retirement; poetry; literature; writing
    Genres: ode
    References: DMI 25805

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    Source edition

    A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. IV. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 229-239. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.004)

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    The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

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