1805 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charlotte Smith

Anonymous, "Parodies of Charlotte Smith's Sonnets" Port Folio [Philadelphia] 5 (22 June 1805) 190.



The plaintive and affected style of Charlotte Smith has been ridiculed, both in Great Britain and America. Criticism has frowned upon the verbose grief of this sobbing poetess, and wit has laughed at "the dejected haviour of her visage," and the "trappings and suits" of her woe. The following are harmless jokes at the expense of a few of her minor poems. We emphasize the word few, for the majority of this lady's compositions are entitled to much praise, both for their matter and style.

Pensive at eve on the hard world I mus'd,
And my poor heart was sad: so at the moon
I gazed — and sigh'd — and sigh'd — for ah how soon
Eve darkens into night. Mine eye perus'd
With fearful vacancy the dampy grass,
Which wept and glitter'd in the play ray;
And I did pause me on my lonely way,
And mus'd me on those wretched ones, who pass
O'er the black heath of sorrow. But, alas!
Most of myself I thought! when it befel;
That the sooth spirit of the breezy wood
Breath'd in mine ear — "All this is very sweet,"
But much of one thing is for nothing good,
Ah! my poor heart's inexplicable swell.

TO SIMPLICITY.
Oh I do love thee, meek simplicity!
For of thy lays the lulling simpleness
Goes to my heart, and sooths each small distress,
Distress though small yet haply great to me.
'Tis true, on Lady Fortune's gentlest pad
I amble on; yet though I know not why
So sad I am! but should a friend and I
Grow cool and miff, oh! I am very sad!
And then with sonnets and with sympathy
My dreary bosom's mystic woes I pall;
Now of my false friend plaining plaintively,
Now raving at mankind in general;
But whether sad or fierce, 'tis simple all,
All very simple meek simplicity!

ON A RUINED HOUSE IN A ROMANTIC COUNTRY.
And this reft house is that the which he built,
Lamented Jack! and here his malt he pil'd
Cautious in vain. These rats that squeak so wild,
Squeak not unconscious of their father's guilt.
Did he not see her, gleaming through the glade,
Belike 'twas she the maiden all forlorn,
What though she milk no cow with crumpled horn,
Yet aye she haunts the dale were erst she stray'd:
And aye beside her stalks her amorous knight,
Still on his thighs their wonted brogues are worn,
And through those brogues, still tatter'd and betorn,
His hindward charms gleam an unearthly white,
As when through broken clouds at nights' high noon,
Peeps in fair fragments forth the full orb'd harvest moon.