Invocation to the Nightingale

“Invocation to the Nightingale.” The Lady’s Poetical Magazine, or, Beauties of British Poetry (London:  Harrison, 1781), vol. 2, 464-65.

Wand’ring o’er the dewy meadow,

       Oft at ev’ning hour I go;

Fondly courting Philomela’s 

      Sympathetic plaints of woe.


Sometimes, hush’d in still attention,

       Leaning pensive o’er a stile,

Fancy bids her sound delusive

       Lull the yielding sense awhile.


Soft the visionary musick,

       Rising floats upon the gale:

Now it sinks in strains more languid,

       Dying o’er the distant vale.


Starting from the dream of fancy,

       Nought my list’ning ear invades,

Save the hum of falling waters,

       Save the rustling aspin-shade.


‘Little songstress, soothe my sorrows,

       ‘Wrap my soul in softest airs’

‘Such as erst, in Lydian measures,

       ‘Charm’d the Grecian hero’s cares.


‘But, if forcd by cruel rusticks

       ‘To lament thy ruin’d care;

‘Breathe thy saddest strains of anguish,

      ‘Strains that melodize despair.


‘Deeply vers’d in Sorrow’s lessons,

       ‘Best my heart thy griefs can know;

‘Pity dwells within the bosom

       ‘Soften’d by an equal woe.


‘While thy melancholy plainings

      ‘All my hapless fate renew,

‘Heart-felt sighs shall load the zephrs,

       ‘Tears increase the falling dew.


‘Cease to shun me, lovely mourner;

‘Sweetly breathe the melting strain:

‘Oft thou deign’st to charm the rustick,

       ‘Roving thoughtless o’er the plain.


‘Yet, to him, thy softest trillings

      ‘Can no sympathy impart;

‘Wouldst thou seek for kindred feelings,

       ‘See them trembling in my heart!’


Vain, alas! my Invocation,

       Vain the pleadings of the muse!

Wrapp’d in silent shades, the charmer

       Doth her tuneful lay refuse.


Clouds obscure deform the aether,

Rising damps involve the plain;

Pensively I hasten homeward,

       To avoid the coming rain.