Thomas Gray, "Ode to Adversity" (1742)

When first thy Sire to send on earth
Virtue, his darling child, designed,
To thee he gave the heavenly birth,
And bade to form her infant mind.
Stern rugged nurse! thy rigid lore
With patience many a year she bore:
What sorrow was, thou bad'st her know,
And from her own she learnt to melt at others' woe.
(9-16)

COMMENTARY

Oh, gently on thy suppliant's head,
Dread goddess, lay thy chastening hand!
Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad,
Nor circled with the vengeful band
(As by the impious thou art seen)
With thundering voice and threatening mien,
With screaming Horror's funeral cry,
Despair and fell Disease and ghastly Poverty.

Thy form benign, oh Goddess, wear,
Thy milder influence impart,
Thy philosophic train be there
To soften, not to wound my heart.
The generous spark extinct revive,
Teach me to love and to forgive,
Exact my own defects to scan,
What others are to feel, and know myself a man.
(33-48)

COMMENTARY

Related terms:

a dictionary of sensibility
term list
source bibliography
critical bibliography