Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
The Enthusiast. An Ode
By William Whitehead (1715–1785)
 
ONCE—I remember well the day,
’Twas ere the blooming sweets of May
  Had lost their freshest hues,
When every flower and every hill
In every vale had drunk its fill        5
  Of sunshine and of dews.
 
In short, ’twas that sweet season’s prime
When spring gives up the reins of time
  To summer’s glowing hand,
And doubting mortals hardly know        10
By whose command the breezes blow
  Which fan the smiling land.
 
’Twas then, beside a green-wood shade
Which clothed a lawn’s aspiring head,
  I urged my devious way,        15
With loitering steps regardless where,
So soft, so genial was the air,
  So wondrous bright the day.
 
And now my eyes with transport rove
O’er all the blue expanse above,        20
  Unbroken by a cloud!
And now beneath delighted pass,
Where winding through the deep-green grass
  A full-brimmed river flowed.
 
I stop, I gaze, in accents rude,        25
To thee, serenest solitude,
  Burst forth th’ unbidden lay;
‘Begone vile world! the learned, the wise,
The great, the busy, I despise,
  And pity even the gay.        30
 
These, these are joys alone, I cry,
’Tis here, divine philosophy,
  Thou deign’st to fix thy throne!
Here contemplation points the road
Through nature’s charms to nature’s God!        35
  These, these are joys alone!
 
Adieu, ye vain low-thoughted cares,
Ye human hopes, and human fears,
  Ye pleasures and ye pains!’
While thus I spake, over my soul        40
A philosophic calmness stole,
  A stoic stillness reigns.
 
The tyrant passions all subside,
Fear, anger, pity, shame and pride,
  No more my bosom move;        45
Yet still I felt, or seemed to feel
A kind of visionary zeal
  Of universal love.
 
When lo! a voice, a voice I hear!
’Twas Reason whispered in my ear        50
  These monitory strains:
‘What mean’st thou, man? wouldst thou unbind
The ties which constitute thy kind,
  The pleasures and the pains?
 
The same almighty power unseen,        55
Who spreads the gay or solemn scene
  To contemplation’s eye,
Fixed every movement of the soul,
Taught every wish its destined goal,
  And quickened every joy.        60
 
He bids the tyrant passions rage,
He bids them war external wage,
  And combat each his foe:
Till from dissensions concords rise,
And beauties from deformities,        65
  And happiness from woe.
 
Art thou not man, and dar’st thou find
A bliss which leans not to mankind?
  Presumptuous thought and vain!
Each bliss unshared is unenjoyed,        70
Each power is weak unless employed
  Some social good to gain.
 
Shall light and shade, and warmth and air,
With those exalted joys compare
  Which active virtue feels,        75
When on she drags, as lawful prize,
Contempt and indolence, and vice,
  At her triumphant wheels?
 
As rest to labour still succeeds,
To man, whilst virtue’s glorious deeds        80
  Employ his toilsome day,
This fair variety of things
Are merely life’s refreshing springs,
  To soothe him on his way.
 
Enthusiast go, unstring thy lyre,        85
In vain thou sing’st if none admire,
  How sweet soe’er the strain.
And is not thy o’erflowing mind,
Unless thou mixest with thy kind,
  Benevolent in vain?        90
 
Enthusiast go, try every sense,
If not thy bliss, thy excellence,
  Thou yet hast learned to scan;
At least thy wants, thy weakness know,
And see them all uniting show        95
  That man was made for man.’
 
 
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