1792
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sonnet, to Sleep.

Poems: consisting of Essays, Lyric, Elegiac, &c. by Thomas Dermody. Written between the 13th and 16th year of his age.

Thomas Dermody


Three irregular Spenserians (ababcC). One sees Della Cruscan influence here, but perhaps such verbal voluptuousness is meant to illustrate what Thomas Dermody means by "Spencer's ... golden age of poetry ... a beautiful wildness of expression, a noble simplicity, which gains on every polished taste" p. 15.

Thomas Dermody's juvenilia was warmly received by English romantics hoping, no doubt, for a second Thomas Chatterton. Dermody, alas, possessed Chatterton's recklessness without his genius.

Edinburgh Review: "He has considerable sweetness of versification and a copious and easy flow of expression; but we find little original in his conceptions; he is a great copyist; and, where he does not give way to a vein of puerile parody, or vulgar mock heroic, seems generally contented with amplifying, in loose and declamatory language, the ideas which he borrows from our most popular authors. After all, it is by no means so difficult to write tolerable poetry, as the world appears to imagine; nor is the merit of this kind of labour so great, in our apprehension, as to atone for the want of common decency, or to monopolize the charity on which virtuous misfortune has so much stronger a claim" Review of Raymond, Life of Dermody; 8 (April 1806) 167.



The fold is still, the shepherd finds repose,
The dews of night, fall, silent, on the shade,
Slumb'ring, the tardy streamlet, softly flows,
And cruel DAPHNE sleeps, unfeeling maid!
But ah! what sleep can lull my waking woes,
Nor peace, nor holy rest, this tortur'd bosom knows.

Fair SLEEP, if nought avails thy leaden wand,
To soothe my weary'd sense, my throbbing breast;
Beck, some kind Vision, with thy fairy hand,
Some shape fantastic, lovelier then the rest;
On DAPHNE's brow to take her tranquil stand,
With pow'r, prevailing ardors, to command.

Ah! gentle spirit, tell her how I weep,
How, thorns implant my pillow, Love's keen thorns,
How, madly wild, and trembling pale, he burns,
Now, haunted by despair, now, musing deep;
Who feels her chain, and calls the ling'ring Sun,
To see that face, once more, by which he was undone.

[p. 51]