1784 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charlotte Smith

Eliza, "To Mrs. Smith, of Bignor Park, on reading her Poems lately published" Westminster Magazine 12 (October 1784) 549-50.



Cold wint'ry blasts succeed kind autumn's store,
And heavy rains descending drown the plain:
But smiling Spring, with her enliv'ning pow'r,
Foretells the summer's blest return again.
And if the darkling clouds of mortal grief,
Spread desolation o'er each brighter thought;
Sure gentle hope invok'd can yield relief,
And bid her whisper's be with comfort fraught.
Say, gentle Songstress, — child of feeling, say,
Whence flow these strains so much with woe bedight?
Why hangs pale sorrow o'er thy pensive lay?
Why from thy breast hath pleasure wing'd her flight?
'Tis thine an artless elegance to sing,
While on thy numbers dwell expressive grief;
Ah! sure thine heart hath felt the rankling sting
Of wearying care; — gay pleasure's envious thief.
Or can the milk of human kindness force
From thy soft mind such sympathetic sighs?
Hath other's mis'ry to thy plaints resource;
And doth it bid thy soothing's hush its cries?
Of what avail were mines of glitt'ring ore,
Unless Humanity adorn'd the soul?
Their bare possessor despicably poor,
Each blast can ruffle, and his joys controul.
Rich as thou art in nature's choicest gifts,
To thee her sensibility she sends;
Above the grov'ling herd thy mind she lifts,
And with harmonic sweets each thought befriends.
And may thy rising image be so blest,
And in the daughter all the mother shine,
Of thy pure fancy amply be possest,
Which thy instructive lips can well refine.
And in the calm — the reconciling hours,
When life's great bustle, and concern shall cease,
When recollection calls forth all her pow'rs,
May thine bring happiness and lasting peace!
And while thy numbers shall delight our eyes,
While thy emotions bid our hearts admire;
Be fame and conscious rectitude thy pride,
Which few attain — to which all should aspire.
Woolwich.