1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Campbell

Alexander Balfour, "Stanzas addressed to Thomas Campbell, author of the Pleasures of Hope" Edinburgh Magazine or Literary Miscellany NS 15 (March 1800) 217-18.



While laurel'd busts and sculptur'd columns rise,
To tell the glories of the great in arms,
And peals of triumph echoing to the skies,
Mix the fierce clangour of wild War's alarms;

My pensive muse marks with averted eye
The marshall'd phalanx and the hostile train,
Appal'd she shrinks at Mis'ry's mournful cry,
While Death destructive scours th' empurpl'd plain.

From scenes like these must exil'd Love depart,
Heart-soothing HOPE there veils her face divine;
Each soft sensation banish'd from the heart,
While Peace lies bleeding at Bellona's shrine.

No blood-stain'd page employs my vacant hours;
I plant no laurels round the hero's tomb:
But pleas'd, I cull the sweet sequester'd flow'rs
That 'midst the simple wilds of Nature bloom.

O were it mine a garland fair to frame,
Of fadeless frag'rance and perennial blow!
To flourish, fresh as thy immortal fame,
And mine the bliss, to bind it round thy brow!

Some kindling spark my torpid breast would warm,
Some emanation from Hope's raptur'd eye
Shoot thro' my frame, with dear delusive charm,
And teach, with thee, to range her fairy sky!

Fantastic dream! methinks I see thee spurn
This artless wreath which I attempt to twine;
Yet thou hast taught desponding souls to turn
Where rays of Hope with living lustre shine.

Thy magic pen unlocks her sacred spring,
Replete with bliss to the benighted mind:
'Tis thine to rise on Fancy's eagle-wing,
And soaring, leave a wond'ring world behind.

Still may the goddess of thy matchless song
Preside as queen in thy domestic bow'r;
And round her raise a beauteous infant throng,
Whose seraph sweetness shall declare her pow'r.

Let circling suns still witness in their flight
The Hope confirm'd that hallow'd Love inspires;
And coming years with new born prospects bright,
Waft sacred incense to his mystic fires.

She comes, she comes! primeval Hope descends!
No more the phantom trac'd by Fancy's hand;
See, gentle Peace her ev'ry step attends,
Diffusing bliss o'er many a distant land.

And see her bosom big with rapture heave,
Her bright eye sparkling with celestial day:
In whispers softer than the breath of eve,
When setting sun-beams on the waters play,

She hails her Bard, "The happy morn is near,
Whose heav'nly dawning thou hast dar'd to sing:
'Tis thine, my son, a glorious plant to rear,
Shall wake the force 'of mind's unwearied spring.'

"Then shall the orphan's plaint, the widow's wail,
Sink in the silence of eternal night;
For heav'n-born Justice shall again prevail,
And Truth triumphant shed ethereal light.

"The 'peaceful Bramins' of the distant east
Shall unmolested relish Nature's store;
The 'quiver'd chief of Congo's manly breast'
Shall swell with grief on Indian isles no more.

"Where marshall'd hosts in murd'rous myriads stood,
Ambition's sons and Freedom's frantic race
Shall blushing, spurn their garments roll'd in blood,
Transfusing souls in Friendship's fond embrace.

"The papal prince of once illustrious Rome,
The turban'd Mufti, and the bearded Jew,
In mutual love one people shall become,
When Truth's wide prospect opens to their view.

"No more shall Ignorance in midnight shade,
Unthinking plod along the pathless wild
Nor Superstition's hood-wink'd sons, misled,
Be longer by her meteor flame beguil'd.

"Then frantic zeal, whose ev'ry breath was flame,
Whose smoking altars blush'd with human gore,
And bigots martyr'd, to obtain a name,
Shall sleep forgotten on Oblivion's shore."

Thus have I dar'd of Hope and thee to sing,
And tho' my bosom glows with transport warm,
My falt'ring hand has rudely struck the string,
Which vibrates rapture at thy magic charm.

While Mem'ry's record is with Reason twin'd,
While soothing song delights my list'ning ear,
While Hope's new prospects fire my active mind,
So long, O CAMPBELL, shall thy strain be dear.

Accept the incense of my votive lay,
Whose censer never smok'd at Flatt'ry's shrine:
Thy Muse refulgent in meridian day,
Shall beam the brighter by a star like mine.
Arbroath, March 12, 1800.