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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

Fragment of an Ode to the Moon

Henry Kirke White (1785–1806)

MILD orb, who floatest through the realm of night,

A pathless wanderer o’er a lonely wild,

Welcome to me thy soft and pensive light,

Which oft in childhood my lone thoughts beguiled.

Now doubly dear as o’er my silent seat,

Nocturnal study’s still retreat,

It casts a mournful melancholy gleam,

And through my lofty casement weaves,

Dim through the vine’s encircling leaves,

An intermingled beam.

These feverish dews that on my temples hang,

This quivering lip, these eyes of dying flame;

These the dread signs of many a secret pang,

These are the meed of him who pants for fame!

Pale Moon, from thoughts like these divert my soul;

Lowly I kneel before thy shrine on high;

My lamp expires;—beneath thy mild control

These restless dreams are ever wont to fly.

Come, kindred mourner, in my breast

Soothe these discordant tones to rest,

And breathe the soul of peace;

Mild visitor, I feel thee here,

It is not pain that brings this tear,

For thou hast bid it cease.

Oh! many a year has pass’d away

Since I, beneath thy fairy ray,

Attuned my infant reed;

When wilt thou, Time, those days restore,

Those happy moments now no more—


When on the lake’s damp marge I lay,

And mark’d the northern meteor’s dance,

Bland Hope and Fancy, ye were there

To inspirate my trance.

Twin sisters, faintly now ye deign

Your magic sweets on me to shed,

In vain your powers are now essay’d

To chase superior pain.

And art thou fled, thou welcome orb!

So swiftly pleasure flies,

So to mankind, in darkness lost,

The beam of ardour dies.

Wan Moon, thy nightly task is done,

And now, encurtain’d in the main,

Thou sinkest into rest;

But I, in vain, on thorny bed

Shall woo the god of soft repose—