Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ODE TO FEAR, by WILLIAM COLLINS (1721-1759)



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ODE TO FEAR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Thou, to whom the world unknown / with all its shadowy shapes is shown
Last Line: And I, o fear, will dwell with thee!
Subject(s): Fear


Thou, to whom the World unknown
With all its shadowy Shapes is shown;
Who see'st appall'd th' unreal Scene,
While Fancy lifts the Veil between:
Ah Fear! Ah frantic Fear!
I seem I see Thee near.
I know thy hurried Step, thy haggard Eye!
Life Thee I start, like Thee disorder'd fly,
For lo what Monsters in thy train appear!
Danger, whose Limbs of Giant Mold
What mortal Eye can fix'd behold?
Who stalks his Round, an hideous Form,
Howling amidst the Midnight Storm,
Or throws him on the ridgy steep
Of some loose hanging Rock to sleep:
And with him thousand Phantoms join'd,
Who prompt to Deeds accurs'd the Mind:
And those, the Fiends, who near allied,
O'er Nature's Wounds, and Wrecks preside;
Whilst Vengeance, in the lurid Air,
Lifts her red Arm, expos'd and bare:
On whom that rav'ning Brood of Fate,
Who lap the Blood of Sorrow, wait;
Who, Fear, this ghastly Train can see,
And look not madly wild, like Thee?

EPODE

In earliest Greece to Thee with partial Choice,
The Grieg-full Mise addrest her infant Tongue;
The Maids and Matrons, on her awful Voice,
Silent and pale in wild Amazement hung.

Yet He, the Bard who first invok'd thy Name,
Disdain'd in Marathon its Pow'r to feel:
For not alone he nurs'd the Poet's flame,
But reach'd from Virtue's Hand the Patriot's Steel.

But who is He whom later Garlands grace,
Who left a-while o'er Hybla's Dews to rove,
With trembling Eyes thy dreary Steps to trace,
Where Thou and Furies shar'd the baleful Grove?

Wrapt in thy cloudy Veil th' Incestuous Queen
Sigh'd the sad Call her Son and Husband hear'd,
Where once alone it broke the silent Scene,
And He the Wretch of Thebes no more appear'd.

O Fear, I know Thee by my throbbing Heart,
Thy with'ring Pow'r inspir'd each mournful Line,
Tho' gentle Pity claim her mingled Part,
Yet all the Thunders of the Scene are thine!

ANTISTROPHE

Thou who such weary Lenghts hast past,
Where wilt thou rest, mad Nymph, at last?
Say, wilt thou shroud in haunted Cell,
Where gloomy Rape and Murder dwell?
Or in some hollow'd Seat,
'Gainst which the big waves beat,
Hear drowning Sea-men's Cries in Tempests brought!
Dark Pow'r, with shudd'ring meek submitted Thought.
Be mine, to read the Visions old,
Which thy awak'ning Bards have told:
And lest thou meet my blasted View,
Hold each strange Tale devoutly true;
Ne'er I be found, by Thee o'eraw'd,
In that thrice-hallow'd Eve abroad,
When Ghosts, as Cottage-Maids believe,
Their pebbled Beds permitted leave,
And Gobblins haunt from Fire, or Fen,
Or Mine, or Flood, the Walks of Men!
O Thou whose Spirit most possest
The sacred Seat of Shakespear's Breast!
By all that from thy Prophet broke,
In thy Divine Emotions spoke:
Hither again thy Fury deal,
Teach me but once like Him to feel:
His Cypress Wreath my Meed decree,
And I, O Fear, will dwell with Thee!




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