1800 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Farewell to Care.

The Harp of Erin, containing the Poetical Works of the Late Thomas Dermody. In Two Volumes. [James G. Raymond, ed.]

Thomas Dermody


Eight irregular Spenserians (ababbcdcdD): Thomas Dermody lauds the care-free live of poetry and poverty. "Farewell to Joy" and "Farewell to Care" are companion poems, modelled at several removes upon Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. Thomas Dermody seems to have modeled his philosophy of dissipated genius on the life and legend of Robert Burns.

Charles Brockden Brown?: "It is more indeed to national vanity, and a taste for monsters of all descriptions, than to any tender sympathies for the suffering of genius that we must ascribe the profuse and unmerited bounty which was poured into the purse of this prodigy of verse and debauchery. It would have been quite as well for the world, and much better for himself, had he been allowed to pursue his natural progress, from the house of correction to the gallows; or, at any rate, if he had been left under the wholesome discipline of the sergeants and drummers in the ranks of a regiment of foot" "Account of Thomas Dermody" Literary Magazine and American Register [Philadelphia] 6 (September 1806) 172.

Oliver Elton: "The unlucky, witty Thomas Dermody, who died early in 1802 broken by drink, may be called a lost singer, though his inspiration was by no means always Irish. A hedge-poet in temper and incurably vagrant, he was delightfully ungrateful to the persons of quality who gave him boots and banknotes, and he preferred to be free and not sober. He picked up tatters of the classics, and some of his hand-to-mouth ditties are in the classical manner, the best of them jaunty and reckless. His versification of the scuffle between Wolcot and Gifford in the bookshop is stingingly told and with much relish" Survey of English Literature 1780-1830 (1912) 2:271-72.



Away, ye Cares; ye black-brow'd Cares, away!
Must mortal man aye drag your galling chain?
Away! the sun sits monarch of the day,
The glorious sun; and guides his glitt'ring wain,
His wheels half-hanging o'er the western main.
I drink the influence of his balmy light:
I feel the hot tide throb through every vein:
Young Transport calls, in purple pleasures dight.
Young Transport calls, and why should I remain?
No: let me shun thy shades, and join her rival train.

What though the haughty patron damns my song,
And Malice looks with meagre eye askance?
I'll trip the daisied meadows blithe along,
Braid my loose locks and mingle in the dance.
Not Pride can break this dear delicious trance;
Not Envy style this sylvan joyance wrong.
For who can bound the pennons of the soul?
Who mar those scenes I love to rove among?
Ne mortal word the sweet flow'rs can control;
Or bid the pausing sun frown grim, and cease to roll.

Though Greatness turns away, the rill will pour
In liquid measure from its channell'd bed;
The surge will gleam, and kiss the golden shore;
The blue-topp'd mount will life his awful head.
Though poverty may rule my humble shed,
The teeming wild will grant an unbought store;
The briar will blow, the living nectar spring,
The vernal rushes strew the fragrant floor:
Dainties, in sooth, that well might please a king.
Then cast thy woes aside, and hymns of comfort sing.

The lark is merry though he has no hoard;
The blackbird carols though his house is gone;
Come, spendthrift, come, and feed at Nature's board;
Nature's unkind to luxury alone.
Nor pains nor aches shall vex each tortur'd bone;
Temperance no room for sickness may afford.
Rise with thy brother-bards, in social glee:
The morn will put her brightest purple on.
Fools of this world! what wight would spleen-sick be,
If he could roam at large, and chaunt his joys, with me?

With bards long gone celestial converse hold,
And court coy fancy in her woodbound bow'r;
What time, as by sage Beldames we are told,
Aerial warblings charm the solemn hour;
While marshall'd elves their glitt'ring glow-worms pour,
And "drowsy tinklings lull the distant fold;"
What time bright spirits load the wing of eve,
And frenzy'd minstrels wond'rous sights behold.
Those with soft dreams thy spirit shall relieve,
Till fancy brilliant wreaths of fabled verdure give.

Beneath the awful foliage of yon oak
That shudders at the eddying pool below;
Where abbey-aisles rebound the woodman's stroke
And sister-currents wildly-dimpling flow;
There thou, who bear'st the bitter weight of woe,
Mayst all thy scenes of happier youth revoke;
Nought shall intrude, save when the silver trout
Haply should spring from stripling's hairy yoke;
Comus will never lead his revel rout
To stun thy feelings there with bacchanalian shout.

Those walls, enwrought with age's with'ring grey,
Where hoary blossoms crown the turret's brow,
Ne'er echo to the drunkard's wassail lay.
Here sighs the lover his immortal vow,
Here weeps the friend his parted friend below:
Fond meditation marks each mould'ring clay,
And reverend relics holy horrors tell.
Here ancient Virtue lives, serenely gay.
Old tales have framed each mystic cavern well;
And hidden treasures lurk, eld says, in every cell.

Away, ye Cares; ye black-brow'd Cares, away!
Let Fortune smile or frown, I still can smile;
Constant can fabricate the artless lay,
While conscience whispers that I know no guile.
Full pleasant prospects, lo! reward my toil,
Full glad, I trow, when life 'gins to decay,
Those tranquil joys shall gild declining age;
While Hope's sheen-mirror darts a lucky ray
On the pure breast; and in this mortal cage
Uncensur'd may I sing, nor dread Detraction's rage.

[1:150-53]