1818
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Address to Lord Byron, on reading one of his later Productions.

Poems, by Arthur Brooke, Esq.

John Chalk Claris


Six Spenserians: a "votive lay" vainly emulating the master's melancholy madness. Several years later John Chalk Claris would settle down as editor of the Kent Herald.

Gentleman's Magazine: "A vein of plaintive melancholy pervades nearly the whole of the many tender poems contained in this volume" 88 (August 1819) 148.

New Monthly Magazine: "It is a delicate task to particularize any flower 'in a wreath where all are fair alike.' We cannot, however, help observing, that the verses entitled The Suicide are remarkable for a force of thought and energy of expression which has not often been surpassed. There is, also, a fine apostrophe to Lord Byron, worthy of the illustrious subject which inspired it" 10 (October 1818) 251.



Lord of the mightiest lyre that ever thrill'd
In human hands! once more thy song I hail;
Oh! Thou whose cup the immortal Muse hath fill'd
Fresh from a found whose pure springs never fail!
Vainly shall envy — hatred — pain, assail
That breast, which swelling with celestial fire
Against all earth-born passions must prevail;
Vainly shall Man those subject thoughts require,
Which from his sordid haunts to their own Heaven aspire!

And though on me that Muse hath never smil'd,
Yet have I lov'd her; and have listen'd long
To her delights, and many an hour beguil'd
With the great masters of our native song;
And I have talk'd with that time-hallow'd throng
Whose names yet unborn ages must adore;
But not a voice that classic choir among,
And not a lay from aught of later lore,
Hath come to me like thine, shaking my rapt heart's core.

Not now too lightly mov'd: — this heart hath felt
Much that again it will not, cannot feel.
While yet its infant sympathies would melt
To tears and tenderness, with rods of steel
They crush'd its pulses; though the wound might heal,
The scar grew cold and callous; Love decay'd;
And Passion vainly urg'd its fond appeal;
Yet Misery never there a false parade
Of stoic virtues form'd, to veil the wreck she'd made.

Though yet but young, my bloom of life is gone,
For I have pass'd through many a painful year;
While firm, though friendless, I have stood alone,
Oppos'd to all which others shun and fear:
The fool's reproof, the worldly-wise man's sneer,
On me have fall'n, and yet perhaps may fall;—
But vain is a Hate where Friendship could not cheer;
Fate hath long chang'd my heart's best blood to gall,
For Love comes never there, nor Hope — which comes to all.

Look on this pallid cheek, ye who have known
Its earlier brightness, and have smiling said
That ye could wish transported to your own
The fresh suffusion of its healthful red.
Where is the eye's quick lustre? all is fled—
My heavy glance scarce brooks the blaze of day;
Where are the heart's warm answers? chill'd and dead
In my lone breast; — and yet but short delay
Ere from these lips, perhaps, the last breath ebbs away.

There are few earthly feelings touch me now,
Alike insensible to joy or pain.
Yet did I feel my breast rekindling glow,
Warm'd by the quick'ning wonders of thy strain.
I had not thought to raise my voice again
To beings fram'd of Man's unworthy clay,
But at thy harp's inspiring sound 'twere vain
The enraptur'd soul's impassion'd gush to stay;
Deign, mighty Bard, then deign to accept this votive lay!

[pp. 140-43]