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Poem by Mary Robinson

Ode to the Muse

O, let me seize thy pen sublime
That paints, in melting dulcet rhyme, 
The glowing pow’r, the magic art, 
Th’ extatic raptures of the Heart; 
Soft Beauty’s timid smile serene,
The dimples of Love’s sportive mien; 
The sweet descriptive tale to trace; 
To picture Nature’s winning grace;
To steal the tear from Pity’s eye; 
To catch the sympathetic sigh; 
O teach me, with swift light’nings force
To watch wild passion’s varying course; 
To mark th’ enthusiast’s vivid fire,
Or calmly touch thy golden lyre,
While gentle Reason mildly sings
Responsive to the trembling strings. 

SWEET Nymph, enchanting Poetry! 
I dedicate my mind to Thee. 
Oh! from thy bright Parnassian bow’rs
Descend, to bless my sombre hours;
Bend to the earth thy eagle wing,
And on its glowing plumage bring
Blithe FANCY, from whose burning eye
The young ideas sparkling fly; 
O, come, and let us fondly stray,
Where rosy Health shall lead the way,
And soft FAVONIUS lightly spread
A perfum’d carpet as we tread;
Ah! let us from the world remove,
The calm forgetfulness to prove,
Which at the still of evening’s close,
Lulls the tir’d peasant to repose; 
Repose, whose balmy joys o’er-pay
The sultry labours of the day. 

And when the blue-ey’d dawn appears,
Just peeping thro’ her veil of tears; 
Or blushing opes her silver gate, 
And on its threshold, stands elate,
And flings her rosy mantle far
O’er every loit’ring dewy star; 
And calls the wanton breezes forth,
And sprinkles diamonds o’er the earth; 
While in the green-wood’s shade profound,
The insect race, with buzzing sound
Flit o’er the rill,­a glitt’ring train,
Or swarm along the sultry plain. 
Then in sweet converse let us rove,
Where in the thyme-embroider’d grove, 
The musky air its fragrance pours
Upon the silv’ry scatter’d show’rs; 
To hail soft Zephyr, as she goes
To fan the dew-drop from the rose;
To shelter from the scorching beam,
And muse beside the rippling stream. 

Or when, at twilight’s placid hour, 
We stroll to some sequester’d bow’r; 
And watch the haughty Sun retire
Beneath his canopy of fire; 
While slow the dusky clouds enfold
Day’s crimson curtains fring’d with gold;
And o’er the meadows faintly fly
Pale shadows of the purpling sky: 
While softly o’er the pearl-deck’d plain,
Cold Dian leads the sylvan train; 
In mazy dance and sportive glee,
SWEET MUSE, I’ll fondly turn to thee;
And thou shalt deck my couch with flow’rs, 
And wing with joy my silent hours. 

When Sleep, with downy hand, shall spread
A wreath of poppies round my head; 
Then, FANCY, on her wing sublime,
Shall waft me to the sacred clime
Where my enlighten’d sense shall view,
Thro’ ether realms of azure hue, 
That flame, where SHAKESPEARE us’d to fill, 
With matchless fire, his ”golden quill.” 
While, from its point bright Genius caught
The wit supreme, the glowing thought, 
The magic tone, that sweetly hung
About the music of his tongue. 
Then will I skim the floating air,
On a light couch of gossamer,
While with my wonder-aching eye,
I contemplate the spangled sky, 
And hear the vaulted roof repeat
The song of Inspiration sweet; 
While round the winged cherub train,
Shall iterate the a”ery strain:
Swift, thro’ my quiv’ring nerves shall float
The tremours of each thrilling note; 
And every eager sense confess
Extatic transport’s wild excess:
’Till, waking from the glorious dream,
I hail the morn’s refulgent beam. 

DEAR Maid! of ever-varying mien, 
Exulting, pensive, gay, serene, 
Now, in transcendent pathos drest, 
Now, gentle as the turtle’s breast; 
Where’er thy feath’ry steps shall lead,
To side-long hill, or flow’ry mead; 
To sorrow’s coldest, darkest cell,
Or where, by Cynthia’s glimm’ring ray, 
The dapper fairies frisk and play
About some cowslip’s golden bell;
And, in their wanton frolic mirth,
Pluck the young daisies from the earth,
To canopy their tiny heads, 
And decorate their verdant beds; 
While to the grass-hopper’s shrill tune,
They quaff libations to the moon, 
From acorn goblets, amply fill’d
With dew, from op’ning flow’rs distill’d. 
Or when the lurid tempest pours, 
From its dark urn, impetuous show’rs, 
Or from its brow’s terrific frown,
Hurls the pale murd’rous lightnings down;
To thy enchanting breast I’ll spring, 
And shield me with thy golden wing. 

Or when amidst ethereal fire,
Thou strik’st thy DELLA CRUSCAN lyre, 
While round, to catch the heavenly song,
Myriads of wond’ring seraphs throng:
Whether thy harp’s empassioned strain
Pours forth an OVID’s tender pain;
Or in PINDARIC flights sublime,
Re-echoes thro’ the starry clime;
Thee I’ll adore; transcendent guest,
And woe thee to my burning breast. 

But, if thy magic pow’rs impart
One soft sensation to the heart,
If thy warm precepts can dispense
One thrilling transport o’er my sense; 
Oh! keep thy gifts, and let me fly,
In APATHY’s cold arms to die.

Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. Sonnet to Evening
  2. Sonnet to My Beloved Daughter
  3. Sonnet 40. On the Low Margin
  4. Sonnet 42. Oh! Canst Thou Bear
  5. Sonnet 24. O Thou! Meek Orb

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