Ode to Evening

Original Text: 
Robert Dodsley, A Collection of Poems by Several Hands (London: R. Dodsley, 1748). B-10 9141 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
2May hope, chaste Eve, to soothe thy modest ear,
3     Like thy own solemn springs,
4     Thy springs and dying gales,
5O nymph reserv'd, while now the bright-hair'd sun
6Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,
8     O'erhang his wavy bed:
9Now air is hush'd, save where the weak-ey'd bat,
11     Or where the beetle winds
12     His small but sullen horn,
13As oft he rises 'midst the twilight path,
14Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum:
15     Now teach me, maid compos'd,
16     To breathe some soften'd strain,
18May not unseemly with its stillness suit,
19     As musing slow, I hail
20     Thy genial lov'd return!
21For when thy folding-star arising shows
22His paly circlet, at his warning lamp
24     Who slept in flow'rs the day,
25And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge,
26And sheds the fresh'ning dew, and, lovelier still,
27     The pensive Pleasures sweet,
28     Prepare thy shadowy car.
29Then lead, calm vot'ress, where some sheety lake
30Cheers the lone heath, or some time-hallow'd pile,
31     Or upland fallows grey
32     Reflect its last cool gleam.
33But when chill blust'ring winds, or driving rain,
34Forbid my willing feet, be mine the hut
35     That from the mountain's side
36     Views wilds, and swelling floods,
37And hamlets brown, and dim-discover'd spires,
38And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all
39     Thy dewy fingers draw
40     The gradual dusky veil.
41While Spring shall pour his show'rs, as oft he wont,
42And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve;
43     While Summer loves to sport
44     Beneath thy ling'ring light;
45While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves;
46Or Winter, yelling thro' the troublous air,
47     Affrights thy shrinking train,
48     And rudely rends thy robes;
49So long, sure-found beneath the sylvan shed,
50Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, rose-lipp'd Health,
51     Thy gentlest influence own,
52     And hymn thy fav'rite name!


1] The text is from Dodsley's Collection of Poems (1748) and evidently constitutes a later revision by Collins. The stanza is an imitation of Milton's translation of Horace, Odes, 1, 5: "What slender youth, bedew'd with liquid odours, / Courts thee on roses in some pleasant cave, / Pyrrha. For whom bind'st thou / In wreaths thy golden hair?" And this, in turn, is an attempt to reproduce in English the metre of the original: "Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa / Perfusus liquidis urget odoribus, / Grato, Pyrrha, sub antro? / Cui flavam religas comam?"
Cf. Milton, Comus, 345: "Our sound of pastoral reed with oaten stops." Back to Line
7] brede: antiquated for braid, embroidery. Back to Line
10] Cf. Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II, xii, 36: "The leather-winged bat, day's enemy." Back to Line
17] numbers: cadences. Back to Line
23] Hours: in classic myth, the attendants on the day and the seasons. Back to Line
Publication Notes: 
William Collins, Odes on several descriptive and allegoric subjects (London: A. Millar ..., 1747 [i.e. 1746]). pam Fisher Library (Rare Books)
RPO poem Editors: 
G. G. Falle
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.213.