A Hymn to Contentment

Original Text: 
Richard Steele, Poetical miscellanies, consisting of original poems and translations, by the best hands, 1st edn. (London: Tonson, 1714). B-10 4855 Fisher Rare Book Library
1Lovely, lasting peace of mind!
2Sweet delight of human-kind!
3Heavenly-born, and bred on high,
4To crown the fav'rites of the sky
5With more of happiness below,
6Than victors in a triumph know!
7Whither, O whither art thou fled,
8To lay thy meek, contented head;
9What happy region dost thou please
10To make the seat of calms and ease!
11Ambition searches all its sphere
12Of pomp and state, to meet thee there.
13Increasing Avarice would find
14Thy presence in its gold enshrin'd.
15The bold advent'rer ploughs his way
16Through rocks amidst the foaming sea,
17To gain thy love; and then perceives
18Thou wert not in the rocks and waves.
19The silent heart which grief assails,
20Treads soft and lonesome o'er the vales,
21Sees daisies open, rivers run,
22And seeks (as I have vainly done)
23Amusing thought; but learns to know
24That solitude's the nurse of woe.
25No real happiness is found
26In trailing purple o'er the ground;
27Or in a soul exalted high,
28To range the circuit of the sky,
29Converse with stars above, and know
30All nature in its forms below;
31The rest it seeks, in seeking dies,
32And doubts at last, for knowledge, rise.
33Lovely, lasting peace, appear!
34This world itself, if thou art here,
35Is once again with Eden blest,
36And man contains it in his breast.
37'Twas thus, as under shade I stood,
38I sung my wishes to the wood,
39And lost in thought, no more perceiv'd
40The branches whisper as they wav'd:
41It seem'd, as all the quiet place
42Confess'd the presence of the Grace.
43When thus she spoke--"Go rule thy will,
44Bid thy wild passions all be still,
45Know God--and bring thy heart to know
46The joys which from religion flow:
47Then ev'ry Grace shall prove its guest,
48And I'll be there to crown the rest."
49Oh! by yonder mossy seat,
50In my hours of sweet retreat,
51Might I thus my soul employ,
52With sense of gratitude and joy!
53Rais'd as ancient prophets were,
54In heavenly vision, praise, and pray'r;
55Pleasing all men, hurting none,
56Pleas'd and bless'd with God alone:
57Then while the gardens take my sight,
58With all the colours of delight;
59While silver waters glide along,
60To please my ear, and court my song;
61I'll lift my voice, and tune my string,
62And thee, great source of nature, sing.
63The sun that walks his airy way,
64To light the world, and give the day;
65The moon that shines with borrow'd light;
66The stars that gild the gloomy night;
67The seas that roll unnumber'd waves;
68The wood that spreads its shady leaves;
69The field whose ears conceal the grain,
70The yellow treasure of the plain;
71All of these, and all I see,
72Should be sung, and sung by me:
73They speak their maker as they can,
74But want and ask the tongue of man.
75Go search among your idle dreams,
76Your busy or your vain extremes;
77And find a life of equal bliss,
78Or own the next begun in this.
Publication Start Year: 
1714
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.543; RPO 1996-2000.
Form: