1797
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Despondency.

Scots Magazine 59 (November 1797) 841.

E. S. J.


Six quatrains in the manner of Milton's Il Penseroso, signed "E. S. J., Author of William and Ellen. That work, William and Ellen, a Tale (1796) is ascribed to Eaglesfield Smith, who contributed verse to the periodicals but about whom nothing seems to be recorded in the reference books. To Despondency, written in quatrains with a nod towards the ballad tradition, seems to belong to the long series of eighteenth-century poems developed out of the Despair episode in the Faerie Queene — though there is no apparent debt to Spenser in this poem.



Avaunt, the smile of youthful folly,
Since life hath lost all charms for me;
Come sullen melancholy,
And come thou dark Despondency.

How rugged is the black brown brow
Of midnight horror glooming drear;
With shagged locks impending low,
O'er deadly nightshade blooming near.

How fitted for desponding fate,
Yon wildly winding walks along;
Or seeking thro' the church-yard late,
The hoary moss-grown graves among.

Yon Widow lately pass'd them through,
With tear-worn eye and palid look;
With dark despair she's sinking low,
By yonder willow of the brook.

To her no charms the dimpling stream,
Where once the smiling man she pass'd;
All, all is fled! and like a dream,
And all thy hopes with sorrow dash'd.

Still, still she views the chearless wave,
The wave relentless was to thee;
For low she lies in her wet grave,
All under the willow tree.

[p. 841]