Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ODE TO WISDOM, by ELIZABETH CARTER



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ODE TO WISDOM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The solitary bird of night
Last Line: Is vanity and woe.
Subject(s): Wisdom


The solitary bird of night
Through the thick shades now wings his flight,
And quits this time-shook tower;
Where shelter'd from the blaze of day,
In philosophic gloom he lay,
Beneath his ivy bower.

With joy I hear the solemn sound,
Which midnight echoes waft around,
And sighing gales repeat:
Favourite of Pallas! I attend,
And faithful to thy summons, bend
At Wisdom's awful seat.

She loves the cool, the silent eve,
Where no false shows of life deceive,
Beneath the lunar ray.
Here Folly drops each vain disguise,
Nor sports her gaily-colour'd dyes,
As in the glare of day.

O Pallas! queen of ev'ry art,
That glads the sense and mends the heart,
Blest source of purer joys:
In ev'ry form of beauty bright,
That captivates the mental sight,
With pleasure and surprise:

To thy unspotted shrine I bow:
Attend thy modest suppliant's vow,
That breathes no wild desires:
But, taught by thy unerring rules,
To shun the fruitless wish of fools,
To nobler views aspires.

Not Fortune's gem, Ambition's plume,
Nor Cytheraea's fading bloom,
Be objects of my prayer:
Let Avarice, Vanity, and Pride,
Those envied, glittering toys, divide,
The dull rewards of care.

To me thy better gifts impart,
Each moral beauty of the heart,
By studious thoughts refined;
For Wealth, the smiles of glad content,
For Power, its amplest, best extent,
An empire o'er the mind.

When Fortune drops her gay parade,
When Pleasure's transient roses fade,
And wither in the tomb;
Unchang'd is thy immortal prize,
Thy ever-verdant laurels rise
In undecaying bloom.

By thee protected, I defy
The coxcomb's sneer, the stupid lie
Of ignorance and spite:
Alike contemn the leaden fool,
And all the pointed ridicule
Of undiscerning wit.

From envy, hurry, noise, and strife.
The dull impertinence of life,
In thy retreat I rest:
Pursue thee to the peaceful groves
Where Plato's sacred spirit roves,
In all thy beauties drest.

He bade Ilissus' tuneful stream
Convey thy philosophic theme,
Of perfect fair and good:
Attentive Athens caught the sound,
And all her listening sons around
In awful silence stood:

Reclaim'd, her wild licentious youth,
Confess'd the potent voice of truth,
And felt its just control:
The passions ceas'd their loud alarms,
And Virtue's soft persuasive charms
O'er all their senses stole.

Thy breath inspires the poet's song,
The patriot's free unbiass'd tongue,
The hero's generous strife:
Thine are retirement's silent joys,
And all the sweet engaging ties
Of still, domestic life.

No more to fabled names confined,
To thee, supreme, all perfect Mind,
My thoughts direct their flight;
Wisdom's thy gift, and all her force
From Thee derived, eternal source
Of intellectual light!

O send her sure, her steady ray,
To regulate my doubtful way,
Through life's perplexing road;
The mists of error to control,
And through its gloom direct my soul
To happiness and good!

Beneath her clear discerning eye,
The visionary shadows fly
Of Folly's painted show:
She sees, through every fair disguise,
That all but Virtue's solid joys
Is vanity and woe.





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