Mrs. Brooke's Odes (1797)

Letter to the Editor, Monthly Magazine 3 (February 1797), 141.  

"Original Poetry of the Late Mrs. Brooke." 

Sir,

    Should the underwritten Poems, composed by the late Mrs. Brooke, author of Julia Mandeville, Emily Montague, the opera of Rosina, &c. be judged worthy of an insertion in the Monthly Magazine, they are at your service. They were written during the early youth of the author, and have not, to my knowledge, appeared in print. They are not free from defects; but appear to me to possess the true poetic spirit. They were given me by a very intimate friend of Mrs. Brooke, and have been in my possession many years.

                                                                                    M. H.

Ode I.

Why will dear Sabina find

    Ills beyond the present hour?

Why torment her gentle mind

    With malicious Fortune's pow'r?

To Fate belongs to-morrow's dawn,

But let to-day be all our own.


While 'tis giv'n to hear thy voice,

    Breathe the softness of thy soul,

Let us, dearest maid! rejoice,

    Let us fill the sprightly bowl;

And whispering low the favored youth,

Commend his tenderness and truth.


Wherefore doth thy fading cheek

    Speak the doubt, the tender fear?

Why that faint essay to speak?

    Tell me, why that starting tear?

Does Damon slight thy gentle chain,

And sigh for Rhodope again?


Ah! too plain that streaming eye

    Speaks my loved Sabina's pain;

Vain the voice of festive joy,

    Sorrow waits the lover's train!

Too weak, alas! the powerful bowl,

To cure the sickness of the soul.


Ode II.

Away! nor talk of flowery chains,

Of soft distress, and pleasing pains;

But learn this useful truth from me, 

That Pleasure dwells with Liberty.


Me, raptured, let the Muses lead,

To wander careless o'er the mead;

Or soft repos'd beside the stream,

To taste the wild, poetic dream!


Let glowing fancy paint the scene

Of airy Pindus, every green;

Around the Delian God, in state,

Let all his tunefulvot'ries wait.


And, see! where Sappho sits alone;

Her flowing robe, her loosen'd zone,

Th' ambrosial scent her locks diffuse,

Distinguish well the Lesbian muse.


A rosy smile o'erspreads her face,

Her mien assumes a softer grace;

She waves her snowy hand, and see!

My gentle lyre, she points to thee.


She takes, she tunes, my trembling lyre,

And swelling, lo! the notes aspire!

She strikes the chords, and all around

List'ning echoes drink the sound.


But, ah! how treacherous does she prove,

She sets the yielding strings to love;

And now, alas! my rebel lyre

Will only sound to soft desire.


Ode III.

Not Philomela's liquid throat,

Nor dear Amintor's softer note,

Oh, charmer of the Lesbian plains!

Can equal thy melodious strains.


When in thy bright, enchanting page,

I view the tender, am'rous rage;

The melting lines my bosom move,

And all my yielding soul is love.


And sure thy raptured notes have art,

To melt the stubborn, marble heart;

To wake the soft consenting glow,

Ev'n in Amintor's breast of snow!


If magic numbers can controul

His native cruelty of soul;

Ah! bring the silver-sounding lyre,

To wake the gentle, young desir.


Harmonious songstress, I no more

Will Cytherea's pow'r adore;

Since such dissolving numbers prove

That Sappho is the queen of love.


Ode IV.

The Lesbian lute no more can charm,

Nor my once panting bosom warm;

    No more I breathe the tender sigh:

Nor when my beauteous swain appears,

With down-cast look, and starting tears,

    Confess the lustre of his eye.


With freedom blest, at early dawn,

I wander o'er the verdant lawn,

    And hail the sweet returning spring;

the fragrant breeze, the feather'd choir,

To raise my vernal joys conspire,

    While Peace and Health their treasures bring.


[142]

Come, lovely Health! divinest maid!

And lead me thro' the rural shade:

    To thee the rural shades belong!

'Tis thine to bless the simple swain;

And, while he tries the tuneful strain,

    To raise the raptured poet's song.


Behold the patient village hind!

No cares disturb his tranquil and,

    By thee and sweet Contentment best;

All day he turns the stubborn plain,

And meets, at eve, his infant train,

    While guiltless pleasure fills his breast.


Oh, ever good and bounteous! still,

By fountain fresh, or murmuring rill,

    Let me thy blissful presence find!

Thee, Goddess! thee, my steps pursue

When careless of the morning dew,

    I leave the lessening vales behind.


Ode V.

Oh, far removed from my retreat

Be avarice, and Ambition's feet!

Give me, unconscious of their pow'r,

To taste the peaceful, social hour.

Give me, beneath the branching vine,

The woodbine sweet, or eglantine

While evening sheds its balmy dews,

To court the chaste inspiring Muse!

Or, with the partner of my soul,

To mix the heart-expanding bowl.

Yes, dear Sabina! when with thee,

I hail the Goddess, Liberty;

When joyous thro' the lady grove,

Or o'er the flowery mead, we rove;

While thy tender bosom shares

Thy faithful Delia's joys and cares;

Nor pomp, nor wealth, my wishes move,

Nor the more soft deceiver, Love.