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An Address to Poetry

I.

While envious crowds the summit view,
Where Danger with Ambition strays;
Or far, with anxious step, pursue
Pale Av'rice, thro' his winding ways;
The selfish passions in their train,
Whose force the social ties unbind,
And chill the love of human kind,
And make fond Nature's best emotions vain;

II.

O, poesy! O nymph most dear,
To whom I early gave my heart,--
Whose voice is sweetest to my ear
Of aught in nature or in art;
Thou, who canst all my breast controul,
Come, and thy harp of various cadence bring,
And long with melting music swell the string
That suits the present temper of my soul.

III.

O! ever gild my path of woe,
And I the ills of life can bear;
Let but thy lovely visions glow,
And chase the forms of real care;
O still, when tempted to repine
At partial Fortune's frown severe,
Wipe from my eyes the anxious tear,
And whisper that thy soothing joys are mine!

IV.

When did my fancy ever frame
A dream of joy by thee unblest?
When first my lips pronounc'd thy name,
New pleasure warm'd my infant breast.
I lov'd to form the jingling rhyme,
The measur'd sounds, tho' rude, my ear could please,
Could give the little pains of childhood ease,
And long have sooth'd the keener pains of time.

V.

The idle crowd in fashion's train,
Their trifling comment, pert reply,
Who talk so much, yet talk in vain,
How pleas'd for thee, O nymph, I fly!
For thine is all the wealth of mind,
Thine the unborrow'd gems of thought;
The flash of light by souls refin'd,
From heav'n's empyreal source exulting caught.

VI.

And ah! when destin'd to forego
The social hour with those I love,--
That charm which brightens all below,
That joy all other joys above,
And dearer to this breast of mine,
O Muse! than aught thy magic power can give,--
Then on the gloom of lonely sadness shine,
And bid thy airy forms around me live.

VII.

Thy page, O SHAKESPEARE ! let me view,
Thine! at whose name my bosom glows;
Proud that my earliest breath I drew
In that blest isle where SHAKESPEARE rose!
Where shall my dazzled glances roll?
Shall I pursue gay Ariel's flight?
Or wander where those hags of night
With deeds unnam'd shall freeze my trembling soul?

VIII.

Plunge me, foul sisters! in the gloom
Ye wrap around yon blasted heath:
To hear the harrowing rite I come,
That calls the angry shades from death!
Away--my frighted bosom spare!
Let true Cordelia pour her filial sigh,
Let Desdemona lift her pleading eye,
And poor Ophelia sing in wild despair!

IX.

When the bright noon of summer streams
In one wide flash of lavish day,
As soon shall mortal count the beams,
As tell the powers of SHAKESPEARE'S lay!
O, Nature's Poet! the untaught,
The simple mind thy tale pursues,
And wonders by what art it views
The perfect image of each native thought.

X.

In those still moments, when the breast,
Expanded, leaves its cares behind,
Glows by some higher thought possest,
And feels the energies of mind;
Then, awful MILTON , raise the veil
That hides from human eye the heav'nly throng!
Immortal sons of light! I hear your song,
I hear your high-tun'd harps creation hail!

XI

Well might creation claim your care,
And well the string of rapture move,
When all was perfect, good, and fair,
When all was music, joy, and love!
Ere Evil's inauspicious birth
Chang'd Nature's harmony to strife;
And wild Remorse, abhorring life,
And deep Affliction, spread their shade on earth.

XII

Blest Poesy! O, sent to calm
The human pains which all must feel,
Still shed on life thy precious balm,
And every wound of nature heal!
Is there a heart of human frame
Along the burning track of torrid light,
Or 'mid the fearful waste of polar night,
That never glow'd at thy inspiring name?

XIII.

Ye Southern Isles,* emerg'd so late
Where the Pacific billow rolls,
Witness, though rude your simple state,
How heav'n-taught verse can melt your souls!
Say, when you hear the wand'ring bard,
How thrill'd ye listen to his lay,
By what kind arts ye court his stay,--
All savage life affords his sure reward.

XIV.

So, when great HOMER 'S chiefs prepare,
Awhile from War's rude toils releas'd,
The pious hecatomb, and share
The flowing bowl, and genial feast:
Some heav'nly minstre
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:53 min read
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Helen Maria Williams

Helen Maria Williams was a British novelist poet and translator of French-language works A religious dissenter she was a supporter of abolitionism and of the ideals of the French Revolution she was imprisoned in Paris during the Reign of Terror but nonetheless spent much of the rest of her life in France A controversial figure in her own time the young Williams was favorably portrayed in a 1787 poem by William Wordsworth but she was portrayed by other writers as irresponsibly politically radical and even as sexually wanton more…

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    "An Address to Poetry" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 2 Aug. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/17098/an-address-to-poetry>.

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