1818
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Stanzas.

Poems, by Arthur Brooke, Esq.

John Chalk Claris


"Arthur Brooke" pad out his volume with six additional stanzas of Byronic melancholy: "Muse of past years! unfold thy glorious page, | Whose lore divine my rapt thoughts shall employ, | And e'en the griefs it may not cure, assuage."

New Monthly Magazine: "There is much pathetic poetry in this interesting little volume, and though we cannot subscribe to the opinions of its author on some points, we shall nevertheless feel happy to award him the full meed of praise he is entitled to, for the genius by which it is so eminently characterized. Such a terrible tone of sincerity — such a fearful manifestation of the agonies of a wounded spirit breaks forth in almost every page, as to demand from our hearts a more than common sympathy. The author's fate appears to have been peculiarly unfortunate" 10 (October 1818) 250-51.



Yes! 'tis a cheerless strain; — and if I sung
For the world's ear, 'twere meet I chang'd the theme;
And chas'd the clouds which round me long have hung,
Dark'ning my thoughts as in a maniac's dream.
Well might the warbling of the wild harp seem
But sorrow's mockery to the heedless throng;
Seen but the surface, they could hardly deem
A deeper meaning couch'd beneath the song,
As the dark adder coils the flower's fair leaves among.

In the vain warfare with a suffering lot,
Where from my heart its quivering strings were riven,
Much have I seen that ne'er can be forgot,
Much have I felt that ne'er shall be forgiven.
Hopeless I sunk before the frowns of Heaven,
While at my breast was bent its chastening bow,
But when the shaft struck, and was deeper driven,
E'en by the hands which should have eas'd the blow,
Then it seem'd something still, to such no love to owe!

'Tis said Affliction's is the best of schools;
Well! be it so: — e'en I in part believe,
For hearts o'er which its withering sceptre rules,
Shrunk in themselves, will less unwilling leave
A world, which taught them but to wish or grieve,
When each alike was fruitless; — for the prayer
Of woe is vain; the purest breast may heave
Its sighs unheeded to the careless air,
Till, mock'd by Hope too long, it breathes but by despair.

Come then, thou last, thou best, unchanging joy!
Muse of past years! unfold thy glorious page,
Whose lore divine my rapt thoughts shall employ,
And e'en the griefs it may not cure, assuage.
That when I plod lone through the vale of age,
(Should Fate prolong what Wisdom scarce would crave)
The proud example, and the precept sage,
Which taught my youth, unfriended else, to brave
The bitterest ills of life, may guide me to my grave.

There, though I lose the soul's ethereal trust,
And rest in coldness, why should I repine?
With such as made this earth almost divine;
But if I rise, oh! may it be to join
Their shades immortal where the mind's high quest
These humbling chains of clay no more confine;
With them perchance my spirit may be blest,
Of one unbounded sense of Light and Truth possess'd!

But to the hour that wraps me in the shroud,
(An hour perchance I may not court — nor shun)
Still must I turn disgusted from the crowd,
Stealing through life far from the common sun.
Yet can I not forget that there was one
Who smil'd when all was night — a more than friend;—
Such as I once might love; — but that is done;
The spell that winds round me with me shall end,
Nor to so dear a breast my madness e'er extend!

[pp. 126-29]