Poem of the day

Ode to Evening
by William Collins (1721-1759)

If aught of oaten stop or pastoral song
May hope, chaste EVE, to soothe thy modest ear,
         Like thy own solemn springs,
         Thy springs, and dying gales,
O NYMPH reserved, while now the bright-haired sun
Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,
         With brede ethereal wove,
         O’erhang his wavy bed:
Now air is hushed, save where the weak-eyed bat
With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing,
         Or where the beetle winds
         His small but sullen horn,
As oft he rises ’midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum:
         Now teach me, Maid composed,
         To breathe some softened strain,
Whose numbers stealing through thy dark’ning vale
May not unseemly with its stillness suit,
         As, musing slow, I hail
         Thy genial loved return!
For when thy folding-star arising shows
His paly circlet, at his warning lamp
         The fragrant Hours, and Elves
         Who slept in flow’rs the day,
And many a Nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge
And sheds the fresh’ning dew, and lovelier still,
         The PENSIVE PLEASURES sweet
         Prepare thy shadowy car.
Then lead, calm Vot’ress, where some sheety lake
Cheers the lone heath, or some time-hallow’d pile,
         Or upland fallows grey
         Reflect it’s last cool gleam.
But when chill blust’ring winds, or driving rain
Forbid my willing feet, be mine the hut
         That from the mountain’s side
         Views wilds, and swelling floods
And hamlets brown and dim-discover’d spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks o’er all
         Thy dewy fingers draw
         The gradual dusky veil.
While Spring shall pour his show’rs, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve;
         While Summer loves to sport
         Beneath thy lingering light;
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves;
Or Winter, yelling thro’ the troublous air,
         Affrights thy shrinking train
         And rudely rends thy robes;
So long, sure-footed beneath the Sylvan shed,
Shall FANCY, FRIENDSHIP, SCIENCE, rose-lip’d HEALTH,
         Thy gentlest influence own,
         And love thy favourite name!

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