1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Hope.

European Magazine 30 (August 1796) 120.

D. W. D.


An imitation of Milton's L'Allegro, signed "D. W. D., Chester, July 21." This Ode to Hope, which contains several verbal echoes of Collins's Odes, is a contribution to the sequence of eighteenth-century poems treating the Despair theme. The poet varies the usual format by shifting the "hence" portion from the beginning to the center of the poem: "And let that phantom, wan Despair, | To some sequester'd cave repair; | Or to some dark and dreary cell, | Where hideous goblins chuse to dwell." The theme is illustrated with a prisoner who discovers Hope in a dungeon and a group of shipwrecked mariners who discover Hope's "resplendent light" beaming on the shore.



'Tis Hope, whose glowing eye
Delusive sparkles with inviting flame;
On whose angelic name
Th' afflicted call when misery's bane is nigh!
Thou balm of wounding care,
That wip'st away the tears of heart-felt grief,
Affording blest relief;
'Tis thine to cheer the dungeon with a smile,
And ease the captive's toil,
And soothe the dreaded soul-subduing snare!

Be kind, fair daughter of Desire,
Thy solace human woes require.
Thy smiles are sweeter than the rose,
Or any fragrant flow'r that blows;
Yea, they possess more sweets in store
Than perfumes from Arabia's shore.
Beneath thy loosely-waving train,
The gifts of peace securely reign;
The sorrows of th' afflicted breast
Upon thy downy couch find rest.
O Nymph, thine auspices impart,
Deign to console the drooping heart:
Approach, in cheerful garb array'd,
With haste approach, thou heavenly maid!
And with thy bright, all-gladd'ning ray,
Thy balmy influence display,
To banish sorrow from the mind,
To leave pale-visag'd care behind:
And let that phantom, wan Despair,
To some sequester'd cave repair;
Or to some dark and dreary cell,
Where hideous goblins chuse to dwell;
Where nightly ghosts frequent the place,
Unknown to all of human race.
Hence, from 'mong men, thou hated foe,
Inhabit with the fiends below!
Let them behold thy haggard sight,
Secluded from the realms of light!

But hail, blest Hope! thy beauteous face,
Bedeck'd with ev'ry charming grace,
Invites my footsteps to thy shrine,
To seek thy healing pow'r divine;
Thy vital, soothing aid to see,
For Nature seeks support in thee,
Arm'd with thy shield 'gainst woe and strife,
The wise sustain the pains of life;
Relying on thy virtuous pow'r,
The brave, in Mis'ry's baneful hour,
Strongly oppose th' envenom'd dart,
Nor let her poniard pierce the heart.

The wretched prisoner's lonely cell,
Where hideous gloom and torments dwell,
Is cheer'd by thy auspicious ray,
Blest harbinger of Freedom's day.
Thy smiles alleviate his pains,
And ease his limbs from dark Confinement's chains.

O Nymph! I see thy comely mien,
While pow'rful Fancy paints the scene.
But, ah! what dreaded sights appear!
What doleful clangors pierce mine ear!
Against the rock the bark is lost,
See, the wreck floats along the coast!
Alas, what piteous cries I hear!
What horrid scenes of death appear!
The shipwreck'd crew, with struggling hand,
Attempt to reach the distant land.
The tempest rages more and more:
The waves dash loud against the shore!
Around the forked lightning spreads,
Aetherial thunder rolls above their heads!
Yet here thy succour, Hope, is found,
Tho' stern Destruction haunts around,
They see thy fair inviting hand
Benignly pointing to the land.
E'en here, thy kind endearing smile
Can Fate's approaching pow'r beguile;
Inspir'd with thy attractive charms,
They beat the surge with pliant arms,
Whilst, by its clear resplendent light,
Thy torch discovers to their sight
A vista thro' the storm of night.

[p. 120]