ODE TO TASTE.
1 SAY, Goddess, wilt thou never smile
2 Indulgent on Britannia's isle!
3 Hither thy gentie footsteps bend,
4 On Albion's sea-girt cliffs descend;
5 O come, and with thy genial ray
6 Chase every gloomy cloud away:
7 No more shall Ignorance preside,
8 Or Gothic Rage in triumph ride.
9 Let Judgment, thy unshaken friend,
10 With polish'd Elegance attend:
11 Simplicity, meek rural queen,
12 With downcast looks and modest mien,
13 In loosely-flowing neat attire,
14 Shall charm thee with her rustic lyre.
15 To that in her enchanting court
16 The frolic Graces ever sport,
17 And guarded by their watchful aid,
18 The finer Arts shall never fade.
19 Blest power! whose charms alone dispense
20 A keener rapture to each sense:[Page 125]
21 If Melody enchant my breast,
22 Or soothe my soften'd soul to rest:
23 By thee may every strain be crown'd,
24 May'st thou still harmonize each sound,
25 If blooming colours seem to live,
26 May you fresh life and vigour give;
27 May you restrain each poet's rage,
28 Or animate his purer page.
29 Do'st thou his savage wrath appease,
30 Ev'n Terror's giant-form can please;
31 'Mid shadowy shapes in dead of night,
32 That shoot across my dazzled sight;
33 'Mid spectres of enormous size,
34 'Mid ghosts that from their charnels rise,
35 'Mid shrouded friends who solemn stalk,
36 And haunt me in my midnight walk;
37 While wild winds blustering round my head,
38 Inspire me with poetic dread;
39 Thro' closing shades o'er valleys green,
40 May'st thou still solemnize the scene;
41 And as the storms innoxious roll,
42 Pour thy lov'd horrors o'er my soul.
43 Yet not alone Britannia's shore
44 Thy fatal absence shall deplore.
45 See old Achaia's genius mourn,
46 His bosom bare, his garments torn;
47 See his generous patriot breast
48 By all his country's wrongs opprest. [Page 126]
49 See him with haughty fix'd disdain
50 Lament his dastard sons in vain!
51 To fairer happier climes belong
52 The painter's tints, the poet's song.
53 Lo! conscious of approaching night:
54 Where Picture wings her destin'd flight.
55 Behold dejected Sculpture stand
56 Prepar'd to leave our desart land.
57 Yet, Goddess, yet thy secret fire
58 With wondering rapture we admire.
59 By thee 'mid rugged rocks we find
60 Each speaking passion of the mind.
61 With awful horror we behold
62 Th' immense Alcides' monstrous mould;
63 While Venus, queen of soft desires,
64 Each tender gentler thought inspirese
e The Hercules of the Farnese and the Venus de Medicis..
65 O Alexander, not alone
66 The warrior's skill to thee was known.
67 Fair Science, heaven-descended maid,
68 Confesses thy propitious aid:
69 To thee the grateful Arts shall raise
70 Eternal monuments of praise.
71 Behold with thee they die away,
72 To Roman ignorance a preyf[Page 127] f In the year of Rome 585, the Romans, under the conduct of Paulus Aemilius, in the second Macedonian war, entirely subdued Greece, and led Persius king of Macedon in triumph. It was not till after this victory that the Romans had any taste for the fine arts.
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit, & artes
Intulit agresti Latio, &c.
Horace Epist. I. Lib. ii.
73 And lo! again in conquering Rome
74 With all their usual vigour bloom;
75 Again they feel the fatal blow,
76 And sink beneath the Vandal foeg
g In the eighteenth year of Honorius, in the consulship of Verannes and Tertullus, Rome was besieged and taken by the Barbarians, under the conduct of Godegisil king of the Vandals..
77 Once more the Arts began to spread;
78 Once more gay Science rear'd her head:
79 Alas! in vain she strove t' assuage
80 The enthusiast zealot's bigot rageh
h Pope Gregory, who offered all the ancient statues and paintings to be destroyed, that there might be no remains of Heathenism..
81 Wilt thou, O Taste, again appear,
82 Protectress of each circling year!
83 Wilt thou in all thy wonted prime
84 Review this lost unhallow'd clime;
85 Or where far distant regions lie,
86 'Mid dreary desarts bloom and die!
87 Say, shall the stern Olympian god
88 No more in living marble nod!
89 Shall never Raphael charm the heart,
90 Shall never Nature yield to Art,
91 Shall never Maro's beauties shine,
92 Except in Armstrong's classic line! [Page 128]
93 And does no Leo now remain,
94 Who yet shall chear thy drooping train!
95 There are, who still thy aid implore,
96 Who still thy sovereign power adore,
97 Thy relicts with religious fear
98 Fond Italy shall yet revere.
99 Sweet power, in simple pomp array'd
100 Be all thy native charms display'd.
101 Again reviving Sculpture breathes;
102 Fair Science trims her blasted wreaths;
103 With suppliant willing hand to thee
104 The pencil Picture shall decree:
105 With one consent the Muse's choir
106 To thee shall dedicate the Lyre.
107 Come, Goddess, feast my longing sight,
108 Let me direct thy pleasing flight;
109 Whate'er voluptuous slaves could boast
110 On fair Phaeacia's sunny coast,
111 Whate'er the poet's fancy taught,
112 Or imag'd to his wanton thoughti
i See Homer's description of the gardens of Alcinöus, Odyss. vii. V. 112.:
113 For thee a happier fate remains;
114 You still shall view more blissful plains,
115 Where the soft guardian of thy charms
116 Expects thee to his longing arms:
117 He shall with fixt attention gaze,
118 Shall crown thee with immortal bays,[Page 129]
119 With lenient hand thy cares assuage,
120 Protect thee from Time's lawless rage,
121 The taunt of scorn, the dark revile,
122 The languid, faint-approving smile,
123 The noise of Mirth, the plaintive sigh,
124 And simpering Folly's heedless eye.
125 Would'st thou with Innocence reside,
126 Behold the temple's modest pridek
k The Temple of Innocence and Hermit's Cell in the gardens at Goodwood.;
127 Or in the darksome cavern'd cell
128 With solitary hermits dwell;
129 Would'st thou with faint desponding air
130 To melancholy vaults repair,
131 With aching, sicken'd, cold review,
132 Bid every sorrow stream anew:
133 Here may'st thou weep thy favourite Rome,
134 Sad-sighing o'er each martyr's tombl
l The Catacombs at Goodwood. Those in the Via Appia near Rome are generally supposed to be caves, where the primitive christians concealed themselves from their persecutors, and interred those who were martyrs for their religion. Mr. Wright, in his Travels through Italy, vol. i. pag. 357. acquaints us, that at the mouth of some of the niches were to be seen small vials like lachrymatories tinged with red, which they esteemed an indication that the bodies of martyrs were deposited there.;
135 Meek Pity, Attic maid, shall join
136 Her tender social tears with thine,
137 O'er every urn fresh laurels strow,
138 And fondly emulate thy woe. [Page 130]
139 Or would'st thou newerm
m Alluding to the American wood at Goodwood. America is, from the late discovery of it, called the New World. worlds survey,
140 Where Darkness holds her barren sway,
141 Where ne'er the Muse's chaplet blew,
142 Where Learning's laurel never grew;
143 Where Nature to our wondering eyes
144 Each salutary herb supplies:
145 Where flowers their fragrant sweets diffuse,
146 Where trees distil their kindly dews;
147 And blest with every power to heal,
148 Soft slumbers o'er the senses steal.
149 In such enchanting, artless scenes,
150 'Mid bowery mazes, spreading greens,
151 Sooth'd by the breezy western gale,
152 In scented grove, or rocky dale,
153 Or wandering from the russet cot,
154 To seek the deep embosom'd grot,
155 Beneath the orange shade inclos'd,
156 Or in the myrtle bower repos'd,
157 Or where the flaunting flowers have wove
158 With mingled sweets the high alcove,
159 Each Indian wooes his favourite mate;
160 What Nature dictates they relate:
161 No youths by love's cold arts are won;
162 Nor maids by easy faith undone;
163 With eye up-rais'd the simple swain
164 Dreads not the tortures of disdain,[Page 131]
165 But, kneeling at his fair one's feet,
166 Breathes vows unconscious of deceit:
167 Each pleasing sound she sighs to hear
168 Repeated on her longing ear;
169 Amaz'd, nor anxious to controul
170 The mutual wishes of her soul,
171 Attests each unknown power above,
172 As witness of her spotless love;
173 Yet rack'd by fond distrustful fears
174 Pours out her aching heart in tears,
175 And tells to her admiring youth
176 Sweet tales of innocence and truth.
177 Fancy such raptures shall suggest,
178 Lov'd inmate of thy ravish'd breast;
179 Shall point where wanton zephyrs stray,
180 And o'er th' unruffled ocean playn
n America is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and on the east by the Atlantic..
181 Or snatch thee to some wave-worn shore,
182 Where fierce Atlantic surges roar:
183 Where Plata with resistless force
184 Thro' deserts rolls his rapid course,
185 Or where Maranan proudly laves
186 Waste regions with his circling waves:
187 Where boundless Oroonoko fills
188 His channels from a thousand hills,
189 And with regardless rage destroys;
190 While twenty mouths with hideous noise,[Page 132]
191 From some immense Peruvian steep,
192 Spout his vex'd billows to the deep.
193 Thus while you view the tyrant flood,
194 Wild dread shall chill thy loitering blood;
195 And frighted Fancy, self-amaz'd,
196 Start at the phantom she had rais'd.
197 Should Nature's simple beauties fail,
198 And Art's gay structures more prevail,
199 Here too the polish'd dome is plac'd,
200 With each Vitruvian beauty grac'd:
201 Or wouldst thou at the early dawn
202 Transport thee to the dew-clad lawn;
203 Or from the mid-day fervor rove
204 Beneath the silent plantane grove:
205 Or with the fairy elves be seen
206 In dances on the level green:
207 Should baleful War, 'mid loud alarms,
208 'Mid vanquish'd foes, and conquering arms,
209 'Mid hosts o'erthrown, and myriads slain,
210 On Britain fix his iron reign;
211 Should Jove's fair daughter, oliv'd Peace,
212 Bid the wild battle's tumult cease;
213 In polish'd ease you still shall share
214 Thy kind protector's fostering care;
215 His faithful love shall still appear,
216 His friendly aid shall still be near,
217 His constant, his unweary'd power
218 Shall lull thee in the balmy bower;[Page 133]
219 Shall watch thee o'er the dewy glade,
220 And guard thee from the midnight shade.
221 Thou too shalt all his toils repay,
222 Slow-lingering here with fond delay;
223 Here shalt thou choose thy favourite seat,
224 Here fix thy last, thy blest retreat;
225 Each old Athenian bloom regain,
226 And here in Attic splendor reign.