1818
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Stanzas.

Poems, by Arthur Brooke, Esq.

John Chalk Claris


Five Spenserians consisting of whining Byronic sentiments: "The slighted by contempt no more are stung, | And unreproach'd the thoughtless may remain | Wrapt in their selfish joys: — the dust can not complain."

Literary Gazette: "We presume that Arthur Brooke is a fictitious name; for, however blind men are to their own demerits, it is hardly possible that any person wishing to live well in society should avow himself the author os such immoral sentiments and detestable principles as kindle the verse of this author. In the true cant of the writers in the profligate class to which he belongs, he sets out with expressing a hope, that his 'tender tone,' and 'wilder songs,' may be relished by the 'gentle few,' though he anticipates the 'Worldling's frown' and 'Cynic's sneer'; or in other words, foresees that there are a majority of readers still left in this country, who will rebuke indecency and view with indignation the bold attempts to inculcate doctrines subversive of the very foundation of human happiness. Of all the errors which taint the mind of man, there is not one more falsely grounded, or more fatal in its consequences, than that abominable selfishness which assumes the form of free liberality" review of Claris, "Thoughts and Feelings" (5 February 1820) 88-89.



I have seen all mine earlier joys depart,
Scarce with a wish again to trace them o'er;
I have tried earthly pleasures, till the heart
Which found them false, has sicken'd at its core;
Then my sunk spirit has essay'd to soar
To holier scenes, — where as a foundering bark,
It wildly wander'd, ne'er to reach the shore,
Through clouds and storms, without one pitying spark
From Heaven's high light of love far beaconing through the dark.

If then to truths where others' hopes revive,
This breast remains insensible and blind,
Why was I fram'd thus tremblingly alive
To all the faults and frailties of our kind,
Which like a spell come palsying o'er my mind?
Have I some sin which may not be forgiven,
That, — barr'd from the sweet hope which others find,
Yet hardly ask for, — I should thus be driven,
Though with least love for earth, the farthest still from heaven?

Yet can I lean on Death as on a friend,
And hope my years of suffering now but few;
For who would wish this being to extend
In the vain dream that bliss might yet ensue?
Since all that Joy's imagining e'er drew,
Could scarce for long endear this dark abode;
But when each aspect wears a cloudier hue,
And heavier presses Care's increasing load,
Well may we seek that rest which mocks the oppressor's goad.

There is one grave, — Earth holds no more of mine—
O'er which perchance these eyes have scarcely wept,
But where the grief that shews no outward sign
Hath not the less its lonely vigils kept;
Too deeply feeling that within it slept
What had but liv'd to waste in worst decay,
Too keenly conscious that the worm which crept
Around that mouldering frame, could only prey
Where the fell tooth of Care first work'd its deadlier way.

It is a thought from which the soul will shrink;—
To know that our remembrance must be wrung,
Scarce ere beneath the closing turf we sink,
E'en from the hearts on which our best hopes hung;
From kindred bosoms like a flower be flung,
Whose sweets are wasted! — but neglect is vain,
The slighted by contempt no more are stung,
And unreproach'd the thoughtless may remain
Wrapt in their selfish joys: — the dust can not complain.

[pp. 75-77]