1804
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Horror.

Bickleigh Vale with other Poems.

Nathaniel Howard


Nathaniel Howard adopts the Della Cruscan mode in a poem derived, as so much Della Cruscan poetry was, from William Collins's odes and John Milton's companion poems. Tame in conception, To Horror strives for sublimity in its imagery: "In sullen silence thou hast sought | Black groves, with dark collected thought, | Where erst the Druids met thy view, | And human victims grimly slew! | Thou heard'st their death-denouncing cries, | They bled beneath thy savage eyes" p. 113. Howard was much more successful as a compiler of grammar books than he was as a poet. Among his pupils was the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon, friend of John Keats.

British Critic: "Prettiness, rather than vigour, is the characteristic of modern poetry; and though the present volume may occasionally participate in the languid taste of the day, we do not hesitate to say that it is very far superior to the generality of such productions. Bickleigh Vale has much poetical merit.... This elegant publication is ornamented with several engravings, and furnishes no bad specimen of York typography" 25 (May 1805) 556-57.



Dread power! in realms of darkness nurst
'Midst shrieks of guilt, and groans accurst,
Where grins Despair in ghastly pain,
And rapturous Madness clanks his chain, . . .
THEE, I invoke! . . . Gay bowers, adieu!
Where Pleasure leads her bounding crew,
Blithe Health, and frolic Youth that roves
Thro' gardens and ambrosial groves,
Brisk Mirth, whose bright-expanding bloom
Ne'er felt the damp of Sorrow's gloom,
Adieu! the surly evening sheds
Deep shadows o'er the mountain-heads:
Low groan the refted woodlands bleak,
The spirits of the cataracts shriek! . . . . .
HORROR! with strange, delightful fear
Lead my fit soul to deserts drear;
To church-yards, where hyenas roam,
And tear the body from the tomb;
To vast savannas full of dread,
Where human footsteps never tread;
Or, where vex'd Midnight never sleeps
Mid torrents hoarse and howling steeps!
Or, where the hoary ANDES shroud
Their stormy cliffs in many a cloud,
Which Danger, heedless of alarms,
Upclimbs with lightning-blasted arms!

To damp dark dungeons let me stray
Where the lone captive pines away;
Where no warm sun, no summer gale
Sheds freshness on his visage pale:
There see him raise his wither'd head,
Deep groaning o'er his flinty bed,
Whilst ever-hopeless Silence lowers,
And, slow, slow lag the gloomy hours.

Stern, awful HORROR! thou canst tell
What pangs the mother's bosom swell,
When bare on distant rocks outcast
Her child's corse blisters to the blast,
Alone, unnotic'd; — while the surge
Hoarse-heaving, moans the mournful dirge!

In sullen silence thou hast sought
Black groves, with dark collected thought,
Where erst the Druids met thy view,
And human victims grimly slew!
Thou heard'st their death-denouncing cries,
They bled beneath thy savage eyes.

Oh! lay me oft at gloom of night
Where hags perform their direful rite;
And, wrapt in terrors, flash on high
Their livid lightning thwart the sky;
Or, on some victim's hated form
Dart the full fury of their storm!
. . . For lightnings shoot, and thunders roll,
Dear, and congenial to my soul.

[pp. 110-14]