Mary Robinson ( )

Second Ode to the Nightingale

BLEST be thy song, sweet NIGHTINGALE, 
Lorn minstrel of the lonely vale ! 
Where oft Ive heard thy dulcet strain 
In mournful melody complain; 
When in the POPLARS trembling shade, 
At Evenings purple hour Ive strayd, 
While many a silken folded flowr 
Wept on its couch of Gossamer, 
And many a time in pensive mood 
Upon the upland mead Ive stood, 
To mark grey twilights shadows glide 
Along the green hills velvet side; 
To watch the perfumd hand of morn 
Hang pearls upon the silver thorn, 
Till rosy day with lustrous eye 
In saffron mantle deckd the sky, 
And bound the mountains brow with fire, 
And tingd with gold the village spire: 
While oer the frosted vale below 
The amber tints began to glow: 
And oft I seek the daisied plain 
To greet the rustic nymph and swain, 
When cowslips gay their bells unfold, 
And flaunt their leaves of glittring gold, 
While from the blushes of the rose 
A tide of musky essence flows, 
And oer the odour-breathing flowrs 
The woodlands shed their diamond showrs, 
When from the scented hawthorn bud 
The BLACKBIRD sips the lucid flood, 
While oft the twittring THRUSH essays 
To emulate the LINNETS lays; 
While the poizd LARK her carol sings 
And BUTTERFLIES expand their wings, 
And BEES begin their sultry toils 
And load their limbs with luscious spoils, 
I stroll along the pathless vale, 
And smile, and bless thy soothing tale. 

But ah ! when hoary winter chills 
The plumy raceand wraps the hills 
In snowy vest, I tell my pains 
Beside the brook in icy chains 
Bound its weedy banks between, 
While sad I watch nights pensive queen, 
Just emblem of MY weary woes: 
For ah ! whereer the virgin goes, 
Each flowret greets her with a tear 
To sympathetic sorrow dear; 
And when in black obtrusive clouds 
The chilly MOON her pale cheek shrouds, 
I mark the twinkling starry train 
Exulting glitter in her wane, 
And proudly gleam their borrowd light 
To gem the sombre dome of night. 
Then oer the meadows cold and bleak, 
The glow-worms glimmring lamp I seek. 
Or climb the craggy cliff to gaze 
On some bright planets azure blaze, 
And oer the dizzy height inclind 
I listen to the passing wind, 
That loves my mournful song to seize, 
And bears it to the mountain breeze. 
Or where the sparry caves among 
Dull ECHO sits with aery tongue, 
Or gliding on the ZEPHYRS wings 
From hill to hill her cadence flings, 
O, then my melancholy tale 
Dies on the bosom of the gale, 
While awful stillness reigning round 
Blanches my cheek with chilling fear; 
Till from the bushy dell profound, 
The woodmans song salutes mine ear. 

When dark NOVEMBERS boistrous breath 
Sweeps the blue hill and desart heath, 
When naked trees their white tops wave 
Oer many a famishd REDBREASTS grave, 
When many a clay-built cot lays low 
Beneath the growing hills of snow, 
Soon as the SHEPHERDs silvry head 
Peeps from his tottering straw-roofd shed, 
To hail the glimmring glimpse of day, 
With feeble steps he ventures forth 
Chilld by the bleak breath of the North, 
And to the forest bends his way, 
To gather from the frozen ground 
Each branch the night-blast scatterd round. 
If in some bush oerspread with snow 
He hears thy moaning wail of woe, 
A flush of warmth his cheek oerspreads, 
With anxious timid care he treads, 
And when his cautious hands infold 
Thy little breast benumbd with cold, 
Come, plaintive fugitive, he cries, 
While PITY dims his aged eyes, 
Come to my glowing heart, and share 
My narrow cell, my humble fare, 
Tune thy sweet carolplume thy wing, 
And quaff with me the limpid spring, 
And peck the crumbs my meals supply, 
And round my rushy pillow fly. 

O, MINSTREL SWEET, whose jocund lay 
Can make een POVERTY look gay, 
Who can the poorest swain inspire 
And while he fans his scanty fire, 
When oer the plain rough Winter pours 
Nocturnal blasts, and whelming showrs, 
Canst thro his little mansion fling 
The raptrous melodies of spring. 
To THEE with eager gaze I turn, 
Blest solace of the aching breast; 
Each gaudy, glittring scene I spurn, 
And sigh for solitude and rest, 
For art thou not, blest warbler, say, 
My minds best balm, my bosoms friend ? 
Didst thou not trill thy softest lay, 
And with thy woes my sorrows blend ? 
YES, darling Songstress ! when of late 
I sought thy leafy-fringed bowr, 
The victim of relentless fate, 
Fading in lifes dark lingring hour, 
Thou heardst my plaint, and pourd thy strain 
Thro the sad mansion of my breast, 
And softly, sweetly lulld to rest 
The throbbing anguish of my brain. 

AH ! while I tread this vale of woe, 
Still may thy downy measures flow, 
To wing my solitary hours 
With kind, obliterating powrs; 
And tho my pensive, patient heart 
No wild, extatic bliss shall prove, 
Tho life no raptures shall impart, 
No boundless joy, or, maddning love, 
Sweet NIGHTINGALE, thy lenient strain 
Shall mock Despair, AND BLUNT THE SHAFT OF PAIN.

Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. Sonnet 24. O Thou! Meek Orb
  2. The Widows Home
  3. To Cesario
  4. Sonnet 44. Here Droops the Muse
  5. The Poor Singing Dame

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