1791
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Winter's Night.

Walker's Hibernian Magazine (December 1791) 560.

Thomas Dermody


A lurid allegorical ode in four "Rowley"Spenserians (ababbcdcdD; one with an extra line) signed "Thomas Dermody." Among other subtle touches, this juvenile poem describes the wall of a ruined castle blown down upon a female vagrant: "Ah me! what now avails the shuddering wretch | Who hugs her orphan infant to her breast; | Beneath some ruined castle's yawning breach, | Hark! the winds whistle o'er the hapless guest; | The shattered walls rock tottering."



The surly Demons of the Tempest yell,
The frozen ground rings sullen on the ear;
Night breathes her cold sighs o'er the shivering dell,
And sheeted horror leagues with wan-cheeked fear.
No more spring's smiling babes, the roses rear
Their blushing heads, but bid a long farewell;
No more the balmy eyelids of the morn,
Awake green-tressed summer from her cell.
With crystal spangles doth she now adorn
Her bosom pale, and chill, and weeps her withering thorn.

Terrific darkness clothes the baleful heath,
While dread's black legions lift her awful veil;
Gigantic terror calls the fiends of death,
And bids the elves their dismal scenes reveal
To the tranc'd traveller's eye, whose heart-strings feel
The horrid shock, and blasted, tear asunder
The forked lightnings round his forehead dance,
Grim howls the flame-robed power that sways the thunder,
He sinks, he dies, the torturing cries advance,
Ne'er shall his children catch their father's sprightly glance.

Ah me! what now avails the shuddering wretch
Who hugs her orphan infant to her breast;
Beneath some ruined castle's yawning breach,
Hark! the winds whistle o'er the hapless guest;
The shattered walls rock tottering; — sprites unblest,
O, spare the meek-eyed mourner — Angels catch
The falling rocks, arrest the sudden death,
Celestial comfort's soft elixir fetch.
Lo, now, even now, she pours her last sad breath,
The frighted darling clings, and gasps, and falls beneath.

Fell winter, tyrant of the blooming year,
Nature's harsh stepsire, mirth's Cimmerian foe,
Fly with thy ruffian-blasts to cavern drear,
Nor mar the lovely woodlands vernal blow,
Thou and thy Ravens shriek the dirge of woe,
In Lapland's haggard waste the rude rocks tear,
And hurl huge fragments to the stagnant wave,
From some blank hill, where witching beldames stare,
But oh, Europa's flowry natives spare,
Zephyr alone his radiant wing shall wave,
And melting thaws serene unbind their icy grave.

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