Thomas Campbell's enormously popular poem, which inverts the theme of Samuel Rogers's The Pleasures of Memory, established the format the series of poems on the pleasures would adopt for a generation to come. While the sentimental scenes described by Campbell often resemble those in Rogers's poem, the martial and inspiring tone of The Pleasures of Hope is naturally very different from the aura of calm characterizing its original. As Campbell puts it, "triumph not, ye peace-enamour'd few! | Fire, Nature, Genius, never dwelt with you!" p. 50. The first part of The Pleasures of Hope consists largely of a descriptive catalogue of the triumph of hope over the misery variously suffered by inhabitants of Europe, America, Africa, and Asia. The second part, following the pattern of Rogers's poem, is concerned with Hope in relation to imagined objects, in books of fiction and history.
The imagery and commonplaces associated with Hope had been thoroughly explored by the previous generation of poets in composing allegorical odes; compare, for instance, William Lisle Bowles's Hope, an Allegorical Sketch (1796). But Campbell's elegant command of the heroic couplet won instant recognition for the poem and the poet, making The Pleasures of Hope the definitive poem on the subject of Hope for generations to come.
Thomas Campbell: "I lived in the Scottish metropolis by instructing pupils in Greek and Latin. In this vocation I made a comfortable livelihood, as long as I was industrious. But The Pleasures of Hope came over me. I took long walks about Arthur's Seat, conning over my own (as I thought them) magnificent lines; and as my Pleasures of Hope got on, my pupils fell off.... The Pleasures of Hope appeared exactly when I was twenty-one years and nine months old. It gave me a general acquaintance in Edinburgh. Dr. Gregory, Henry Mackenzie, the author of the Man of Feeling; Dugald Stewart, the Rev. Archibald Alison, the 'Man of Taste,' and Thomas Telford, the engineer, became my immediate patrons" in Beattie, Life and Letters of Thomas Campbell (1849) 1:226, 254.
Critical Review: "This volume is, we understand, the production of a very young man: we should not have discovered this by a perusal of the poems. They have none of the faults of early writers, none of those pages of imbecility redeemed by occasion flashes of genius. They are characterised by a correct and stately versification.... No plan is discoverable in this poem; and perhaps the subject is not capable of being methodified. On the Pleasures of Hope much may be said, but nothing which could with more propriety be placed at the beginning than in the middle or at the end: the poet may write ten lines or ten thousand at pleasure" NS 27 (October 1799) 158-61.
Alexander Hamilton: "It would be unreasonable to expect, in a poem on this subject, the same exactness and method which occur in the Pleasures of Memory, or perhaps in the Pleasures of Imagination. All that can be done, in delineating the effects of the passion here described, is to form pleasing groupes, and to combine them by natural transitions.... To characterize this performance in a few words, we think that it is an highly interesting poem, although marked with some defects. It has no incident; no story to embellish it; nor is the plan regularly followed up: but we deem it entitled to rank among the productions of our superior Bards of the present day, as it unquestionably contains many striking proofs of the juvenile author's capacity for genuine and sublime poetry" Monthly Review NS 29 (August 1799) 422, 426.
British Critic: "The Pleasures of Hope are surely as good a subject for a rising poet, as can well be chosen. It is the very essence of genius (as is not forgotten in this Poem) to form ideal scenes of future gratification; which, if not at all destined to be realized, confer, for the time, an actual happiness by anticipation; and thus snatch from fate even more than it designs to give. This subject is treated by Mr. Campbell with much genius, and, in general, with good judgment; certainly with a very singular splendour and felicity of versification. There is, however, a material distinction to be made between the first part and the second. There is no comparison between the polish and perfection of the two; the clearness of the style, and of the transitions (most essential points of good writing) and every thing that raises the writer of the first far above the generality of his contemporaries. We should conceive the second part to be an after-thought. Perceiving that he had omitted the most material object of Hope, the hope of a future life, the author wrote perhaps the second part for the sake of leading the reader to it. But he bestowed less care, and exercised less judgment in performing this second task; possibly from weariness, possibly from a pardonable, though injudicious impatience, to lay the composition before the public" 14 (July 1799) 21-22.
Analytical Review: "The poetry of this little volume, if it do not exhibit marks of extraordinary genius, is yet by no means contemptible. It displays a fancy of considerable activity at least, if not vigour; a mind well cultivated, if not philosophical; and sentiments of the most ardent zeal in the cause of liberty. After painting the influence of hope in alleviating the various ills of private life, he invokes her aid in consolation of the public miseries of civil society.... Perhaps but a small portion of [the poem] can be allowed to be descriptive of the 'pleasures of hope.' The second part, which we think inferior to the first, describes rather 'the pleasures of sympathy'" NS 1 (June 1799) 622-23.
John Aikin?: "This exquisite poem is the production of a young man of twenty, who, if we may infer any thing from this astonishing early effort, will probably rank with the first poets of this country. Here we find none of the faults of young writers; no imbecility, compensated for, indeed, by occasional flashes of genius; no extravagance; no sickly sentiment; no meretricious ornament; but an uniformly correct and majestic style, lofty and virtuous sentiments, and pathos of the most touching kind. We rejoice that this youth of genius glows not with poetic fire alone, but with a generous ardour in the cause of freedom: most cordially do we sympathise in the fine strain of indignation which he pours forth against the oppressors of Poland: we should rejoice if we could join in his hope, that the freedom of that unfortunate country will yet be restored. Of France, he says nothing; indeed, Hope itself quits its anchor in that tempestuous ocean of giddy politics, in that incessant wheel of revolutions. — The second part of this poem is on the best hope of man, that of immortal bliss; and so sublime and impressive is the conclusion, that we cannot refrain from adorning our pages with its last lines" in "Retrospect of Domestic Literature" Monthly Magazine 8 (Supplement, 1799) 1051.
Thomas Green: "Read Campbell's Pleasures of Hope. Parts of this Poem, are animated and fine; but the imagery is frequently obscure, the meaning involved, and the connection perplexing. The beautiful allusion with which this Poem opens, is borrowed from one in Johnson's Collection for the Rambler; which I believe he never employed, but which was certainly too good to be lost: see Boswell's Life, 8vo. Ed., Vol. 1, p. 180" 15 May 1800; Extracts from the Diary of a Lover of Literature (1810) 222.
Walter Scott: "The beauties of an highly polished versification, that animated and vigorous tone of moral feeling, that turn of expression, which united the sweetness of Goldsmith with the strength of Johnson, a structure of language alike remote from servile imitation of our more classical poets, and from the babbling and jingling simplicity of ruder minstrels; new, but not singular; elegant, but not trite; justified the admirers of the Pleasures of Hope in elevating its author to a pre-eminent situation among living poets" Review of Campbell, Gertrude of Wyoming; Edinburgh Review 1 (May 1809) 242.
Anna Seward to Thomas Park: "You ask my opinion of the new poem, Pleasures of Hope, and observe that it is thought an ingenious counterpart to the Pleasures of Memory. It was lent me, for a short time, and my perusal was single and hurried. I rose from it without any impression of having found on its pages much of the strength of original genius" 10 November 1799; Letters, ed. Scott (1811) 5:265-66.
S. E., Jr: "There is a remarkable interest continued throughout both cantos, which enchains the mind, and the reader is unconsciously and imperceptibly hastened along from theme to theme, and from feature to feature, until the unwelcome termination is approached. Nor does the interest decline after one hasty perusal; but the poem possesses that peculiar charm, too seldom discovered in poetry, of preserving the same novelty, and creating the same intensity of interest throughout any number of perusals. Indeed, the oftener it is read, the more enthusiastic feelings are excited; and it is not until we have become familiar with its every sentence, that its whole beauties are developed. Like a favorite air in music, we are never wearied by its repetition, but the more frequently it is heard the greater is our attachment to it" "Campbell" American Monthly Magazine [Boston] 2 (June 1830) 195.
Preface to Poems on the Pleasures: "The Pleasures of Hope is perhaps the most brilliant didactic poem in the language; and it is correspondingly popular. It takes a sufficiently wide and elevated view of the pleasing influence of Hope, and selects topics which are naturally well adapted for poetical representation. It handles these with a freedom often partaking of abruptness, and turns off into digressions sometimes scarcely connected with the main subject, and but remotely elucidative of it, yet so beautiful that no reader would consent to their extinction. The versification of this poem is, taken altogether, perhaps the most exquisite specimen of the ten syllable couplet in the language. No poem of Pope — not even Eloisa to Abelard — surpasses it in mellifluousness; while in freedom, ease, and variety of movement, it seems to leave even that melodious poem behind. Its characteristic beauties are boldness, energy, and dignity of thought, and terseness, gracefulness, and harmony of expression. Its chief blemishes are an occasional obscurity of reasoning, an abruptness in changing the topics, and too great a remoteness of application in the illustrations" (1841) 12-13.
Robert Chambers: "Many can date their first love of poetry from their perusal of Campbell. In youth, the Pleasures of Hope is generally preferred. Like its elder brother, the Pleasures of Imagination, the poem is full of visions of romantic beauty and unchecked enthusiasm — 'The bloom of young Desire, and purple light of Love.' In riper years, when the taste becomes matured, Gertrude of Wyoming rises in estimation. Its beautiful home-scenes go more closely to the heart, and its delineation of character and passion evinces a more luxuriant and perfect genius" Cyclopaedia of English Literature (1844; 1850) 2:371.
William Howitt: "The Pleasures of Hope was published in April, 1799, when Campbell was twenty-two, — about the same age that Shelley published his Revolt of Islam; Keats, his Lamia and Hyperion; and Byron, his first two cantos of Childe Harold. The public heart, refreshed and purified by the writings of Cowper, was in a fit state to receive with the deepest love and the warmest admiration a poem like The Pleasures of Hope. The success of the work was instantaneous, and at once the young author and humble private tutor found himself in the possession of a brilliant reputation, and taking rank among the first poetical names of the age. This poem, remarkable for the harmony of its versification, and the genuine fervour of its style, and for the generous sentiments and feelings of patriotism which pervade it, gained for him the notice and friendship of Dugald Stewart, Professor Playfair, Henry Mackenzie, author of the Man of Feeling, and also gained him the acquaintance of Brougham, Jeffrey, and Sidney Smith" Homes and Haunts of the British Poets (1847) 2:207.
William Beattie: "In writing the Pleasures of Hope, the author did not adapt his subject merely to the age in which he had grown up, but to every succeeding age. The 'thoughts that breathe and words that burn' throughout the poem, can never become obsolete: they address the human heart at all seasons, and under all circumstances, in the same language; they elicit from him who reads them to-day, as they did from him who read them fifty years ago, and as they will from the generation to come — the same kindred sentiments of pleasure and admiration" Life and Letters of Thomas Campbell (1849) 1:261.
David Macbeth Moir: "When we look on The Pleasures of Hope as a work achieved while the author yet stood on the threshold of manhood, it is almost impossible to speak of it in terms of exaggerated praise; and whether taking it in parts, or as a whole, I do not think I overrate its merits in preferring it to any didactic poem of equal length in the English language. No poet, at such an age, ever produced such an exquisite specimen of poetical mastery — that is, of fine conception and of high art combined; but if time matures talent, and the faculties ought to strengthen by exercise, Campbell cannot be said to have redeemed the pledge given by this earliest of his efforts. How could he? With the exception of a few redundancies of diction, he left himself little to improve on, either in matter or manner" Sketches of the Poetical Literature of the Past Half-Century (1851; 1852) 142.
Henry Taylor: "The Pleasures of Hope did obtain a high reputation for its author. It passed through four editions within one year of its publication. And on that reputation, and on its merits rather than its charms, it lived for half a century more or less; and if it is now in a way to be dead and buried, there will be no small amount of poetic material to be buried with it. As in the case of its predecessor and model, it is the dull movement and desultory design which brings it in peril of its life" The English Poets, ed. Thomas Humphry Ward (1880) 4:230.
Oliver Elton: "The state of public appreciation in the year after Lyrical Ballads can be measured by the reception of this poem, one of the last of any worth written in the didactic couplet. Its traditional kind of title, recalling Akenside and Rogers, is a mere formula, serving to cloak a number of disunited episodes; and the whole may be described as 'poetry rejoicing in abstractions.' The language and verse have much of the smoothness, or nap, which Rogers and Darwin strove to attain; but there are also ardours, and generosities, and rushes, to which the style is inadequate; and we are not surprised when Campbell afterwards finds his power in lyric. He is a fervent admirer of the Revolution, and never wholly cools down into the Whiggery of his friends and set. He is full of sympathy with Poland, and with oppressed slaves; and his oratory is sincere and at times potent. Ten years later came another long poem, Gertrude of Wyoming, conventional in manner, and obvious rather than false in its pathos; the subject is a tribute to the growing taste for exotic scenery; and the story is related in fluent Spenserian stanzas of the rhetorical kind" Survey of English Literature 1780-1830 (1912) 68.
A. D. Harvey: "This is the historical importance of The Pleasures of Hope: it was the first commercially successful long poem written in a 'romantic' style; it showed the reading public what they wanted from poetry, and it showed other men of letters what the public wanted" English Poetry in a Changing Society (1980) 75.
The poem is dedicated to Campbell's early patron, Robert Anderson, editor of the British Poets. The Pleasures of Hope is illustrated with notes at the back; in later editions Campbell added material to the second part, which was considerably shorter than the first.
At summer eve, when Heav'n's ethereal bow
Spans with bright arch the glittering hills below,
Why to yon mountain turns the musing eye,
Whose sunbright summit mingles with the sky?
Why do those cliffs of shadowy tint appear
More sweet than all the landscape smiling near?—
'Tis Distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its azure hue.
Thus, with delight, we linger to survey
The promis'd joys of life's unmeasur'd way;
Thus, from afar, each dim-discover'd scene
More pleasing seems than all the past hath been;
And every form, that Fancy can repair
From dark oblivion, glows divinely there.
What potent spirit guides the raptur'd eye
To pierce the shades of dim futurity?
Can Wisdom lend, with all her heav'nly pow'r,
The pledge of Joy's anticipated hour?
Ah, no! she darkly sees the fate of man—
Her dim horizon bounded to a span;
Or, if she hold an image to the view,
'Tis Nature pictur'd too severely true.
With thee, sweet Hope! resides the heav'nly light
That pours remotest rapture on the sight:
Thine is the charm of life's bewilder'd way,
That calls each slumb'ring passion into play.
Wak'd by thy touch, I see the sister band,
On tiptoe watching, start at thy command,
And fly where'er thy mandate bids them steer,
To Pleasure's path, or Glory's bright career.
Primeval Hope, the Aonian Muses say,
When Man and Nature mourn'd their first decay;
When every form of death, and every woe,
Shot from malignant stars to earth below;
When Murder bared his arm, and rampant War
Yok'd the red dragons of her iron car;
When Peace and Mercy, banish'd from the plain,
Sprung on the viewless winds to Heav'n again;
All, all forsook the friendless guilty mind,
But Hope, the charmer, linger'd still behind.
Thus, while Elijah's burning wheels prepare
From Carmel's height to sweep the fields of air,
The prophet's mantle, ere his flight began,
Dropt on the world — a sacred gift to man.
Auspicious Hope! in thy sweet garden grow
Wreaths for each toil, a charm for every woe:
Won by their sweets, in Nature's languid hour
The way-worn pilgrim seeks thy summer bow'r;
There, as the wild bee murmurs on the wing,
What peaceful dreams thy handmaid spirits bring;
What viewless forms th' Aeolian organ play,
And sweep the furrowed lines of anxious thought away!
Angel of life! thy glittering wings explore
Earth's loneliest bounds, and Ocean's wildest shore.
Lo! to the wint'ry winds the pilot yields
His bark careering o'er unfathom'd fields;
Now on the Atlantic waves he rides afar,
Where Andes, giant of the western star,
With meteor-standard to the winds unfurl'd,
Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world.
Now far he sweeps, where scarce a summer smiles
On Behring's rocks, or Greenland's naked isles;
Cold on his midnight watch the breezes blow
From wastes that slumber in eternal snow;
And waft, across the wave's tumultuous roar,
The wolf's long howl from Oonalaska's shore.
Poor child of danger, nursling of the storm,
Sad are the woes that wreck thy manly form!
Rocks, waves, and winds the shatter'd bark delay;
Thy heart is sad, thy home is far away.
But Hope can here her moonlight vigils keep,
And sing to charm the spirit of the deep:
Swift as yon streamer lights the starry pole,
Her visions warm the watchman's pensive soul.
His native hills that rise in happier climes,
The grot that heard his song of other times,
His cottage home, his bark of slender sail,
His glassy lake, and broomwood-blossom'd vale,
Rush on his thought; he sweeps before the wind,
Treads the lov'd shore he sighed to leave behind;
Meets at each step a friend's familiar face,
And flies at last to Helen's long embrace;
Wipes from her cheek the rapture-speaking tear,
And clasps, with many a sigh, his children dear!
While, long neglected, but at length caress'd,
His faithful dog salutes the smiling guest,
Points to his master's eyes (where'er they roam)
His wistful face, and whines a welcome home.
Friend of the brave! in peril's darkest hour
Intrepid Virtue looks to thee for pow'r;
To thee the heart its trembling homage yields
On stormy floods, and carnage-cover'd fields,
When front to front the banner'd hosts combine,
Halt ere they close, and form the dreadful line.
When all is still on Death's devoted soil,
The march-worn soldier mingles for the toil;
As rings his glittering tube, he lifts on high
The dauntless brow, and spirit-speaking eye,
Hails in his heart the triumph yet to come,
And hears thy stormy music in the drum!
And such thy strength-inspiring aid that bore
The hardy Byron to his native shore—
In horrid climes, where Chiloe's tempests sweep
Tumultuous murmurs o'er the troubled deep,
'Twas his to mourn misfortune's rudest shock,
Scourg'd by the winds, and cradled on the rock,
To wake each joyless morn, and search again
The famish'd haunts of solitary men,
Whose race, unyielding as their native storm,
Knows not a trace of Nature but the form;
Yet, at thy call, the hardy tar pursued,
Pale but intrepid, sad but unsubdued,
Pierc'd the deep woods, and, hailing from afar
The moon's pale planet and the northern star,
Paus'd at each dreary cry, unheard before,
Hyenas in the wild, and mermaids on the shore;
Till, led by thee o'er many a cliff sublime,
He found a warmer world, a milder clime,
A home to rest, a shelter to defend,
Peace and repose, a Briton and a friend!
Congenial Hope! thy passion-kindling pow'r,
How bright, how strong, in youth's untroubled hour!
On yon proud height, with Genius hand in hand,
I see thee light, and wave thy golden wand.
"Go, child of Heav'n! (thy winged words proclaim)
'Tis thine to search the boundless fields of fame!
Lo! Newton, priest of nature, shines afar,
Scans the wide world, and numbers every star!
Wilt thou, with him, mysterious rites apply,
And watch the shrine with wonder-beaming eye?
Yes, thou shalt mark, with magic art profound,
The speed of light, the circling march of sound;
With Franklin grasp the lightning's fiery wing,
Or yield the lyre of Heav'n another string.
"The Swedish sage admires, in yonder bow'rs,
His winged insects, and his rosy flow'rs;
Calls from their woodland haunts the savage train
With sounding horn, and counts them on the plain—
So once, at Heav'n's command, the wand'rers came
To Eden's shade, and heard their various name.
"Far from the world, in yon sequester'd clime,
Slow pass the sons of Wisdom, more sublime;
Calm as the fields of Heav'n, his sapient eye
The lov'd Athenian lifts to realms on high;
Admiring Plato, on his spotless page,
Stamps the bright dictates of the Father sage:
'Shall Nature bound to Earth's diurnal span
The fire of God, th' immortal soul of man?'
"Turn, Child of Heav'n, thy rapture-lighten'd eye
To Wisdom's walks; the sacred Nine are nigh:
Hark! from bright spires that gild the Delphian height,
From streams that wander in eternal light,
Ranged on their hill, Harmonia's daughters swell
The mingling tones of horn, and harp, and shell;
Deep from his vaults, the Loxian murmurs flow,
And Pythia's awful organ peals below.
"Belov'd of Heav'n! the smiling Muse shall shed
Her moonlight halo on thy beauteous head;
Shall swell thy heart to rapture unconfin'd,
And breathe a holy madness o'er thy mind.
I see thee roam her guardian pow'r beneath,
And talk with spirits on the midnight heath;
Inquire of guilty wand'rers whence they came,
And ask each blood-stain'd form his earthly name;
Then weave in rapid verse the deeds they tell,
And read the trembling world the tales of hell.
"When Venus, thron'd in clouds of rosy hue,
Flings from her golden urn the vesper dew,
And bids fond man her glimmering noon employ,
Sacred to love, and walks of tender joy;
A milder mood the goddess shall recall,
And soft as dew thy tones of music fall;
While Beauty's deeply-pictur'd smiles impart
A pang more dear than pleasure to the heart—
Warm as thy sighs shall flow the Lesbian strain,
And plead in Beauty's ear, nor plead in vain.
"Or wilt thou Orphean hymns more sacred deem,
And steep thy song in Mercy's mellow stream;
To pensive drops the radiant eye beguile—
For Beauty's tears are lovelier than her smile;—
On Nature's throbbing anguish pour relief
And teach impassion'd souls the Joy of grief?
"Yes; to thy tongue shall seraph words be given,
And pow'r on earth to plead the cause of Heav'n;
The proud, the cold untroubled heart of stone,
That never mus'd on sorrow but its own,
Unlocks a generous store at thy command,
Like Horeb's rocks beneath the prophet's hand.
The living lumber of his kindred earth,
Charm'd into soul, receives a second birth;
Feels thy dread pow'r another heart afford,
Whose passion-touch'd harmonious strings accord
True as the circling spheres to Nature's plan;
And man, the brother, lives the friend of man!
"Bright as the pillar rose at Heav'n's command,
When Israel march'd along the desert land,
Blazed through the night on lonely wilds afar,
And told the path, — a never-setting star;
So! heav'nly Genius, in thy course divine,
Hope is thy star, her light is ever thine."
Propitious Pow'r! when rankling cares annoy
The sacred home of Hymenean joy;
When, doom'd to Poverty's sequester'd dell,
The wedded pair of love and virtue dwell
Unpitied by the world, unknown to fame,
Their woes, their wishes, and their hearts the same—
Oh there, prophetic Hope! thy smile bestow,
And chase the pangs that worth should never know—
There, as the parent deals his scanty store
To friendless babes, and weeps to give no more,
Tell that his manly race shall yet assuage
Their father's wrongs, and shield his latter age.
What though for him no Hybla sweets distil,
Nor bloomy vines wave purple on the hill;
Tell, that when silent years have pass'd away,
That when his eye grows dim, his tresses grey,
These busy hands a lovelier cot shall build,
And deck with fairer flow'rs his little field,
And call from Heav'n propitious dews to breathe
Arcadian beauty on the barren heath;
Tell that while Love's spontaneous smile endears
The days of peace, the sabbath of his years,
Health shall prolong to many a festive hour
The social pleasures of his humble bow'r.
Lo! at the couch where infant beauty sleeps,
Her silent watch the mournful mother keeps;
She, while the lovely babe unconscious lies,
Smiles on her slumbering child with pensive eyes,
And weaves a song of melancholy joy—
"Sleep, image of thy father, sleep, my boy:
No ling'ring hour of sorrow shall be thine;
No sigh that rends thy father's heart and mine;
Bright as his manly sire the son shall be
In form and soul; but, ah! more blest than he!
Thy fame, thy worth, thy filial love, at last,
Shall soothe his aching heart for all the past—
With many a smile my solitude repay,
And chase the world's ungenerous scorn away.
"And say, when summon'd from the world and thee
I lay my head beneath the willow tree,
Wilt thou, sweet mourner! at my stone appear,
And soothe my parted spirit ling'ring near?
Oh, wilt thou come, at ev'ning hour to shed
The tears of Memory o'er my narrow bed;
With aching temples on thy hand reclin'd,
Muse on the last farewell I leave behind,
Breathe a deep sigh to winds that murmur low,
And think on all my love, and all my woe?"
So speaks affection, ere the infant eye
Can look regard, or brighten in reply;
But when the cherub lip hath learnt to claim
A mother's ear by that endearing name;
Soon as the playful innocent can prove
A tear of pity, or a smile of love,
Or cons his murm'ring task beneath her care,
Or lisps with holy look his ev'ning prayer,
Or gazing, mutely pensive, sits to hear
The mournful ballad warbled in his ear;
How fondly looks admiring Hope the while,
At every artless tear, and every smile;
How glows the joyous parent to descry
A guileless bosom, true to sympathy!
Where is the troubled heart, consign'd to share
Tumultuous toils, or solitary care,
Unblest by visionary thoughts that stray
To count the joys of Fortune's better day?
Lo, nature, life, and liberty relume
The dim-ey'd tenant of the dungeon gloom,
A long-lost friend, or hapless child restor'd,
Smiles at his blazing hearth and social board;
Warm from his heart the tears of rapture flow,
And virtue triumphs o'er remember'd woe.
Chide not his peace, proud Reason! nor destroy
The shadowy forms of uncreated joy
That urge the lingering tide of life, and pour
Spontaneous slumber on his midnight hour.
Hark! the wild maniac sings to chide the gale
That wafts so slow her lover's distant sail;
She, sad spectatress, on the wint'ry shore
Watch'd the rude surge his shroudless corse that bore,
Knew the pale form, and, shrieking in amaze,
Clasped her cold hands, and fix'd her maddening gaze:
Poor widowed wretch! 'twas there she wept in vain
Till memory fled her agonizing brain;—
But Mercy gave, to charm the sense of woe,
Ideal peace, that truth could ne'er bestow:—
Warm on her heart the joys of Fancy beam,
And aimless Hope delights her darkest dream.
Oft when yon moon has climb'd the midnight sky,
And the lone sea-bird wakes its wildest cry,
Pil'd on the steep her blazing faggots burn
To hail the bark that never can return;
And still she waits, but scarce forbears to weep
That constant love can linger on the deep.
And mark the wretch, whose wand'rings never knew
The world's regard, that soothes though half untrue,
Whose erring heart the lash of sorrow bore,
But found not pity when it err'd no more.
Yon friendless man, at whose dejected eye
The unfeeling proud one looks — and passes by,
Condemn'd on Penury's barren path to roam,
Scorn'd by the world, and left without a home—
Ev'n he, at evening, should he chance to stray
Down by the hamlet's hawthorn-scented way,
Where, round the cot's romantic glade, are seen
The blossom'd bean-field, and the sloping green,
Leans o'er its humble gate, and thinks the while—
Oh! that for me some home like this would smile,
Some hamlet shade, to yield my sickly form
Health in the breeze, and shelter in the storm;
There should my hand no stinted boon assign
To wretched hearts with sorrow such as mine;—
That generous wish can soothe unpitied care,
And Hope half mingles with the poor man's prayer.
Hope! when I mourn, with sympathizing mind,
The wrongs of fate, the woes of human kind,
Thy blissful omens bid my spirit see
The boundless fields of rapture yet to be;
I watch the wheels of Nature's mazy plan,
And learn the future by the past of man.
Come, bright Improvement! on the car of Time,
And rule the spacious world from clime to clime:
Thy handmaid arts shall every wild explore,
Trace every wave, and culture every shore.
On Erie's banks, where tygers steal along,
And the dread Indian chaunts a dismal song,
Where human fiends on midnight errands walk,
And bathe in brains the murd'rous tomahawk;
There shall the flocks on thymy pasture stray,
And shepherds dance at Summer's op'ning day,
Each wand'ring genius of the lonely glen
Shall start to view the glittering haunts of men;
And silence watch, on woodland heights around,
The village curfew as it tolls profound.
In Libyan groves, where damned rites are done,
That bathe the rocks in blood, and veil the sun,
Truth shall arrest the murd'rous arm profane;
Wild Obi flies — the veil is rent in twain.
Where barb'rous hordes on Scythian mountains roam,
Truth, Mercy, Freedom, yet shall find a home;
Where'er degraded Nature bleeds and pines,
From Guinea's coast to Sibir's dreary mines,
Truth shall pervade th' unfathom'd darkness there,
And light the dreadful features of despair:—
Hark! the stern captive spurns his heavy load,
And asks the image back that Heav'n bestow'd.
Fierce in his eye the fire of valour burns,
And, as the slave departs, the man returns!
Oh! sacred Truth! thy triumph ceas'd awhile,
And Hope, thy sister, ceas'd with thee to smile,
When leagu'd Oppression pour'd to Northern wars
Her whisker'd pandoors and her fierce hussars,
Wav'd her dread standard to the breeze of morn,
Peal'd her loud drum, and twang'd her trumpet horn;
Tumultuous horror brooded o'er her van,
Presaging wrath to Poland — and to man!
Warsaw's last champion from her height survey'd
Wide o'er the fields, a waste of ruin laid,—
Oh! Heav'n! he cried, my bleeding country save!—
Is there no hand on high to shield the brave?—
Yet, though destruction sweep these lovely plains,
Rise, fellow men! our country yet remains!
By that dread name we wave the sword on high,
And swear for her to live! — with her to die!
He said, and on the rampart-heights, array'd
His trusty warriors, few but undismay'd;
Firm-pac'd and slow, a horrid front they form,
Still as the breeze, but dreadful as the storm;
Low murm'ring sounds along their banners fly,
Revenge, or death, — the watch-word and reply;
Then peal'd the notes, omnipotent to charm,
And the loud tocsin toll'd their last alarm!—
In vain, alas! in vain, ye gallant few!
From rank to rank your volley'd thunder flew:—
Oh! bloodiest picture in the book of Time,
Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime;
Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,
Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe!
Dropt from her nerveless grasp the shatter'd spear,
Clos'd her bright eye, and curb'd her high career;—
Hope, for a season, bade the world farewell,
And Freedom shriek'd — as KOSCIUSKO fell!
The sun went down, nor ceas'd the carnage there.
Tumultuous murder shook the midnight air—
On Prague's proud arch the fires of ruin glow,
His blood-dy'd waters murm'ring far below;—
The storm prevails, the rampart yields a way;
Bursts the wide cry of horror and dismay!—
Hark! as the smouldering piles with thunder fall,
A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call!
Earth shook — red meteors flash'd along the sky,
And conscious Nature shudder'd at the cry!
Oh! Righteous Heav'n! ere Freedom found a grave,
Why slept the sword, omnipotent to save?
Where was thine arm, O Vengeance! where thy rod,
That smote the foes of Zion and of God,
That crush'd proud Ammon, when his iron car
Was yok'd in wrath, and thunder'd from afar?
Where was the storm that slumber'd till the host
Of blood-stain'd Pharaoh left their trembling coast,
Then bade the deep in wild commotion flow,
And heav'd an ocean on their march below?
Departed spirits of the mighty dead!
Ye that at Marathon and Leuctra bled!
Friends of the world! restore your swords to man,
Fight in his sacred cause, and lead the van!
Yet for Sarmatia's tears of blood atone,
And make her arm puissant as your own:—
Oh! once again to Freedom's cause return
The patriot Tell — the BRUCE OF BANNOCKBURN!
Yes! thy proud lords, unpitied land! shall see
That man hath yet a soul — and dare be free!
A little while, along thy saddening plains,
The starless night of desolation reigns;
Truth shall restore the light by Nature giv'n,
And, like Prometheus, bring the fire of Heav'n!
Prone to the dust Oppression shall be hurl''d,
Her name, her nature, wither'd from the world!
Ye that the rising morn invidious mark,
And hate the light — because your deeds are dark;
Ye that expanding truth invidious view,
And think, or wish, the song of Hope untrue;
Perhaps your little hands presume to span
The march of Genius, and the pow'rs of man;
Perhaps ye watch, at Pride's unhallow'd shrine,
Her victims, newly slain, and thus divine:—
"Here shall thy triumph, Genius, cease, and here
Truth, Science, Virtue, close your short career."
Tyrants! in vain ye trace the wizard ring;
In vain ye limit mind's unwearied spring:
What! can ye lull the winged winds asleep,
Arrest the rolling world, or chain the deep?
No: — the wild wave contemns your scepter'd hand;—
It roll'd not back when Canute gave command!
Man! can thy doom no brighter soul allow?
Still must thou live a blot on Nature's brow?
Shall War's polluted banner ne'er be furl'd?
Shall crimes and tyrants cease but with the world?
What! are thy triumphs, sacred Truth, belied?
Why then hath Plato liv'd — or Sydney died?
Ye fond adorers of departed fame,
Who warm at Scipio's worth, or Tully's name!
Ye that, in fancied vision, can admire
The sword of Brutus, and the Theban lyre!
Rapt in historic ardour, who adore
Each classic haunt, and well-remember'd shore,
Where Valour tun'd, amid her chosen throng,
The Thracian trumpet and the Spartan song;
Or, wand'ring thence, behold the later charms
Of England's glory, and Helvetia's arms!
See Roman fire in Hampden's bosom swell,
And fate and freedom in the shaft of Tell!
Say, ye fond zealots to the worth of yore,
Hath Valour left the world — to live no more?
No more shall Brutus bid a tyrant die,
And sternly smile with vengeance in his eye?
Hampden no more, when suffering Freedom calls,
Encounter fate, and triumph as he falls?
Nor Tell disclose, through peril and alarm,
The might that slumbers in a peasant's arm?
Yes! in that generous cause for ever strong,
The patriot's virtue and the poet's song,
Still, as the tide of ages rolls away,
Shall charm the world, unconscious of decay!
Yes! there are hearts, prophetic Hope may trust,
That slumber yet in uncreated dust,
Ordain'd to fire the adoring sons of earth
With every charm of wisdom and of worth;
Ordain'd to light with intellectual day,
The mazy wheels of Nature as they play,
Or, warm with Fancy's energy, to glow,
And rival all but Shakspeare's name below!
And say, supernal Powers! who deeply scan
Heav'n's dark decrees, unfathom'd yet by man,
When shall the world call down, to cleanse her shame,
That embryo spirit, yet without a name,—
That friend of Nature, whose avenging hands
Shall burst the Libyan's adamantine bands?
Who, sternly marking on his native soil
The blood, the tears, the anguish, and the toil,
Shall bid each righteous heart exult to see
Peace to the slave, and vengeance on the free!
Yet, yet, degraded men! the expected day
That breaks your bitter cup, is far away;
Trade, wealth, and fashion, ask you still to bleed,
And holy men give scripture for the deed;
Scourg'd and debas'd, no Briton stoops to save
A wretch, a coward; yes, because a slave!—
Eternal Nature! when thy giant hand
Had heav'd the floods, and fix'd the trembling land,
When life sprung startling at thy plastic call,
Endless her forms, and man the lord of all!
Say, was that lordly form inspir'd by thee
To wear eternal chains and bow the knee?
Was man ordain'd the slave of man to toil,
Yok'd with the brutes, and fetter'd to the soil;
Weigh'd in a tyrant's balance with his gold?
No! — Nature stamp'd us in a heav'nly mould!
She bade no wretch his thankless labour urge,
Nor, trembling, take the pittance and the scourge!
No homeless Libyan, on the stormy deep,
To call upon his country's name, and weep!—
Lo! once in triumph on his boundless plain,
The quiver'd chief of Congo lov'd to reign;
With fires proportion'd to his native sky,
Strength in his arm, and light'ning in his eye;
Scour'd with wild feet his sun-illumin'd zone,
The spear, the lion, and the woods his own;
Or led the combat, bold without a plan,
An artless savage, but a fearless man!
The plunderer came: — alas! no glory smiles
For Congo's chief on yonder Indian isles;
For ever fallen! no son of Nature now,
With Freedom charter'd on his manly brow!
Faint, bleeding, bound, he weeps the night away,
And, when the sea-wind wafts the dewless day,
Starts, with a bursting heart, for evermore
To curse the sun that lights their guilty shore!
The shrill horn blew; at that alarum knell
His guardian angel took a last farewell!
That funeral dirge to darkness hath resign'd
The fiery grandeur of a generous mind!—
Poor fetter'd man! I hear thee whispering low
Unhallowed vows to Guilt, the child of Woe!
Friendless thy heart; and canst thou harbour there
A wish but death — a passion but despair?
The widow'd Indian, when her lord expires,
Mounts the dread pile, and braves the funeral fires!
So falls the heart at Thraldom's bitter sigh!
So Virtue dies, the spouse of Liberty!
But not to Libya's barren climes alone,
To Chili, or the wild Siberian zone,
Belong the wretched heart and haggard eye,
Degraded worth, and poor misfortune's sigh!—
Ye orient realms, where Ganges' waters run!
Prolific fields! dominions of the sun!
How long your tribes have trembled and obey'd!
How long was Timour's iron sceptre sway'd!
Whose marshall'd hosts, the lions of the plain,
From Scythia's northern mountains to the main,
Rag'd o'er your plunder'd shrines and altars bare,
With blazing torch and gory scimitar,—
Stunn'd with the cries of death each gentle gale,
And bath'd in blood the verdure of the vale!
Yet could no pangs th' immortal spirit tame,
When Brama's children perish'd for his name;
The martyr smil'd beneath avenging pow'r,
And brav'd the tyrant in his torturing hour!
When Europe sought your subject realms to gain,
And stretch'd her giant sceptre o'er the main,
Taught her proud barks their winding way to shape,
And brav'd the stormy spirit of the Cape;
Children of Brama! then was mercy nigh
To wash the stain of blood's eternal dye?
Did Peace descend, to triumph and to save,
When free-born Britons crossed the Indian wave?
Ah, no!—to more than Rome's ambition true,
The Nurse of Freedom gave it not to you!
She the bold route of Europe's guilt began,
And, in the march of nations, led the van!
Rich in the gems of India's gaudy zone,
And plunder pil'd from kingdoms not their own,
Degenerate Trade! thy minions could despise
The heart-born anguish of a thousand cries;
Could lock, with impious hands, their teeming store,
While famish'd nations died along the shore:
Could mock the groans of fellow-men, and bear
The curse of kingdoms peopled with despair;
Could stamp disgrace on Nature's hollow name,
And barter, with their gold, eternal shame!
But hark! as bow'd to earth the Bramin kneels,
From heav'nly climes propitious thunder peals!
Of India's fate her guardian spirits tell,
Prophetic murmurs breathing on the shell,
And solemn sounds, that awe the list'ning mind,
Roll on the azure paths of ev''ry wind.
"Foes of mankind! (her guardian spirits say),
Revolving ages bring the bitter day,
When Heav'n's unerring arm shall fall on you,
And blood for blood these Indian plains bedew;
Nine times have Brama's wheels of light'ning hurl'd
His awful presence o'er the prostrate world;
Nine times hath Guilt, through all his giant frame,
Convulsive trembled, as the Mighty came;
Nine times hath suffering Mercy spar'd in vain—
But Heav'n shall burst her starry gates again!
He comes! dread Brama shakes the sunless sky
With murmuring wrath, and thunders from on high!
Heav'n's fiery horse, beneath his warrior form,
Paws the light clouds, and gallops on the storm!
Wide waves his flickering sword; his bright arms glow
Like summer suns, and light the world below!
Earth, and her trembling isles in Ocean's bed,
Are shook; and Nature rocks beneath his tread!
"To pour redress on India's injured realm,
The oppressor to dethrone, the proud to whelm;
To chase destruction from her plunder'd shore
With arts and arms that triumph'd once before,
The tenth Avatar comes! at Heav'n's command
Shall Seriswattee wave her hallowed wand!
And Camdeo bright, and Ganesa sublime,
Shall bless with joy their own propitious clime!
Come, Heav'nly Powers! primeval peace restore!
Love! — Mercy! — Wisdom! — rule for evermore!"
In joyous youth, what soul hath never known
Thought, feeling, taste, harmonious to its own?
Who hath not paused while Beauty's pensive eye
Asked from his heart the homage of a sigh?
Who hath not own'd, with rapture-smitten frame,
The power of grace, the magic of a name?
There be, perhaps, who barren hearts avow,
Cold as the rocks on Torneo's hoary brow;
There be, whose loveless wisdom never failed,
In self-adoring pride securely mail'd;—
But, triumph not, ye peace-enamour'd few!
Fire, Nature, Genius, never dwelt with you!
For you no fancy consecrates the scene
Where rapture utter'd vows, and wept between;
'Tis yours, unmov'd, to sever and to meet;
No pledge is sacred, and no home is sweet!
Who that would ask a heart to dullness wed,
The waveless calm, the slumber of the dead?
No; the wild bliss of Nature needs alloy,
And fear and sorrow fan the fire of joy!
And say, without our hopes, without our fears,
Without the home that plighted love endears,
Without the smile from partial beauty won,
Oh! what were man? — a world without a sun!
Till Hymen brought his love-delighted hour,
There dwelt no joy in Eden's rosy bow'r!
In vain the viewless seraph, ling'ring there,
At starry midnight, charm'd the silent air;
In vain the wild bird carol'd on the steep,
To hail the sun, slow wheeling from the deep;
In vain, to soothe the solitary shade,
Aerial notes in mingling measure play'd—
The summer wind that shook the spangled tree,
The whispering wave, the murmur of the bee—
Still slowly pass'd the melancholy day,
And still the stranger wist not where to stray,—
The world was sad! — the garden was a wild!—
And Man, the hermit, sigh'd—till Woman smil'd!
True! the sad power to generous hearts may bring
Delirious anguish on his fiery wing!
Barr'd from delight by Fate's untimely hand,
By wealthless lot, or pitiless command;
Or doom''d to gaze on beauties that adorn
The smile of triumph or the frown of scorn;
While Memory watches o'er the sad review,
Of joys that faded like the morning dew.
Peace may depart — and life and nature seem
A barren path — a wildness, and a dream!
But, can the noble mind for ever brood,
The willing victim of a weary mood,
On heartless cares that squander life away,
And cloud young Genius bright'ning into day?
Shame to the coward thought that e'er betray'd
The noon of manhood to a myrtle shade!—
If Hope's creative spirit cannot raise
One trophy sacred to thy future days,
Scorn the dull crowd that haunt the gloomy shrine
Of hopeless love to murmur and repine!
But, should a sigh of milder mood express
Thy heart-warm wishes true to happiness;
Should Heav'n's fair harbinger delight to pour
Her blissful visions on thy pensive hour,
No tear to blot thy memory's pictur'd page,
No fears but such as Fancy can assuage;
Though thy wild heart some hapless hour may miss
The peaceful tenor of unvaried bliss,
(For love pursues an ever devious race,
True to the winding lineaments of grace);
Yet still may Hope her talisman employ
To snatch from Heaven anticipated joy,
And all her kindred energies impart
That burn the brightest in the purest heart!
When first the Rhodian's mimic art array'd
The queen of Beauty in her Cyprian shade,
The happy master mingled on his piece
Each look that charm'd him in the fair of Greece;
To faultless Nature true, he stole a grace
From every finer form and sweeter face;
And, as he sojourn'd on the Aegean isles,
Woo'd all their love, and treasur'd all their smiles;
Then glow'd the tints, pure, precious, and refin'd,
And mortal charms seem'd heav'nly when combin'd!
Love on the picture smiled! Expression pour'd
Her mingling spirit there — and Greece ador'd!
So thy fair hand, enamour'd Fancy! gleans
The treasur'd pictures of a thousand scenes!
Thy pencil traces on the Lover's thought
Some cottage-home, from towns and toil remote,
Where Love and Lore may claim alternate hours,
With Peace embosom'd in Idalian bow'rs!
Remote from busy Life's bewilder'd way,
O'er all his heart shall Taste and Beauty sway!
Free on the sunny slope, or winding shore,
With hermit steps to wander and adore!
There shall he love, when genial morn appears,
Like pensive Beauty smiling in her tears,
To watch the bright'ning roses of the sky,
And muse on Nature with a poet's eye!—
And, when the sun's last splendour lights the deep,
The woods and waves, and murm'ring winds asleep;
When fairy harps th' Hesperian planet hail,
And the lone cuckoo sighs along the vale,
His path shall be where streamy mountains swell
Their shadowy grandeur o'er the narrow dell,
Where mouldering piles and forests intervene,
Mingling with darker tints the living green;
No circling hills his ravish'd eye to bound,
Heav'n, Earth, and Ocean, blazing all around!
The moon is up — the watch-tower dimly burns—
And down the vale his sober step returns;
But pauses oft, as winding rocks convey
The still sweet fall of Music far away;
And oft he lingers from his home awhile
To watch the dying notes! — and start, and smile!
Let Winter come! let polar spirits sweep
The dark'ning world and tempest-troubled deep!
Though boundless snows the wither'd heath deform,
And the dim sun scarce wanders through the storm,
Yet shall the smile of social love repay
With mental light, the melancholy day!
And, when its short and sullen noon is o'er,
The ice-chain'd waters slumbering on the shore,
How bright the faggots in his little hall
Blaze on the hearth, and warm the pictur'd wall!
How blest he names, in Love's familiar tone,
The kind fair friend, by Nature mark'd his own;
And, in the waveless mirror of his mind,
Views the fleet years of pleasure left behind,
Since Anna's empire o'er his heart began!
Since first he call'd her his before the holy man!
Trim the gay taper in his rustic dome,
And light the wint'ry paradise of home;
And let the half-uncurtain'd window hail
Some way-worn man benighted in the vale!
Now, while the moaning night-wind rages high,
As sweep the shot-stars down the troubled sky,
While fiery hosts in Heaven's wide circle play,
And bathe in lurid light the milky-way,
Safe from the storm, the meteor, and the shower,
Some pleasing page shall charm the solemn hour—
With pathos shall command, and wit beguile,
A generous tear of anguish, or a smile—
Thy woes, Arion! and thy simple tale,
O'er all the heart shall triumph and prevail!
Charm'd as they read the verse too sadly true,
How gallant Albert, and his weary crew,
Heav'd all their guns, their foundering bark to save,
And toil'd — and shriek'd — and perish'd on the wave!
Yes, at the dead of night, by Lonna's steep,
The seaman's cry was heard along the deep;
There, on his funeral waters, dark and wild,
The dying father blest his darling child!
Oh! Mercy, shield her innocence, he cried,
Spent on the prayer his bursting heart, and died!
Or they will learn how generous worth sublimes
The robber Moor, and pleads for all his crimes!
How poor Amelia kiss'd, with many a tear,
His hand bloodstain'd, but ever, ever dear!
Hung on the tortur'd bosom of her lord,
And wept, and pray'd perdition from his sword!
Nor sought in vain! at that heart-piercing cry
The strings of nature crack'd with agony!
He, with delirious laugh, the dagger hurl'd,
And burst the ties that bound him to the world!
Turn from his dying words, that smite with steel
The shuddering thoughts, or wind them on the wheel—
Turn to the gentler melodies that suit
Thalia's harp, or Pan's Arcadian lute;
Or, down the stream of Truth's historic page
From clime to clime descend, from age to age!
Yet there, perhaps, may darker scenes obtrude
Than Fancy fashions in her wildest mood;
There shall he pause with horrent brow, to rate
What millions died—that Caesar might be great!
Or learn the fate that bleeding thousands bore,
March'd by their Charles to Dneiper's swampy shore;
Faint in his wounds, and shivering in the blast,
The Swedish soldier sunk — and groan'd his last!
File after file, the stormy showers benumb,
Freeze every standard-sheet, and hush the drum!
Horseman and horse confess'd the bitter pang,
And arms and warriors fell with hollow clang!
Yet, ere he sunk in Nature's last repose,
Ere life's warm torrent to the fountain froze,
The dying man to Sweden turn'd his eye,
Thought of his home, and closed it with a sigh!
Imperial Pride look'd sullen on his plight,
And Charles beheld — nor shudder'd at the sight!
Oh! vainly wise, the moral Muse hath sung
That suasive Hope hath but a Syren tongue!
True; she may sport with life's untutored day,
Nor heed the solace of its last decay,
The guileless heart her happy mansion spurn,
And part like Ajut — never to return!
But yet, methinks, when Wisdom shall assuage
The griefs and passions of our greener age,
Though dull the close of life, and far away
Each flow'r that hailed the dawning of the day;
Yet o'er her lovely hopes, that once were dear,
The time-taught spirit, pensive, not severe,
With milder griefs her aged eye shall fill,
And weep their falsehood, though she love them still!
Thus, with forgiving tears, and reconcil'd,
The king of Judah mourn'd his rebel child!
Musing on days, when yet the guiltless boy
Smil'd on his sire, and fill'd his heart with joy!
My Absalom! the voice of Nature cried!
Oh! that for thee thy father could have died!
For bloody was the deed, and rashly done,
That slew my Absalom! — my son! — my son!
Unfading Hope! when life's last embers burn,
When soul to soul, and dust to dust return!
Heav'n to thy charge resigns the awful hour!
Oh! then thy kingdom comes! immortal Power!
What though each spark of earth-born rapture fly
The quivering lip, pale cheek, and closing eye!
Bright to the soul thy seraph hands convey
The morning dream of life's eternal day—
Then, then, the triumph and the trance begin,
And all the Phoenix spirit burns within!
Cease, every joy, to glimmer on my mind,
But leave — oh! leave the light of Hope behind!
What though my winged hours of bliss have been,
Like angel-visits, few and far between;
Her musing mood shall every pang appease,
And charm — when pleasures lose the pow'r to please!
Yes! let each rapture, dear to Nature, flee;
Close not the light of Fortune's stormy sea—
Mirth, music, friendship, Love's propitious smile,
Chase every care, and charm a little while,
Ecstatic throbs the fluttering heart employ,
And all her strings are harmoniz'd to Joy!—
But why so short is Love's delighted hour?
Why fades the dew on Beauty's sweetest flow'r?
Why can no hymned charm of music heal
The sleepless woes impassioned spirits feel?
Can Fancy's fairy hands no veil create,
To hide the sad realities of fate?—
No! not the quaint remark, the sapient rule,
Nor all the pride of Wisdom's worldly school
Have pow'r to soothe, unaided and alone,
The heart that vibrates to a feeling tone!
When stepdame Nature every bliss recalls,
Fleet as the meteor o'er the desert falls;
When, reft of all, yon widow'd sire appears
A lonely hermit in the vale of years;
Say, can the world one joyous thought bestow
To Friendship, weeping at the couch of Woe?
No! but a brighter soothes the last adieu,—
Souls of impassion'd mould, she speaks to you!
Weep not, she says, at Nature's transient pain;
Congenial spirits part to meet again!
What plaintive sobs thy filial spirit drew,
What sorrow chok'd thy long and last adieu!
Daughter of Conrad! when he heard his knell,
And bade his country and his child farewell!
Doom'd the long isles of Sydney Cove to see,
The martyr of his crimes, but true to thee.
Thrice the sad father tore thee from his heart,
And thrice return'd to bless thee, and to part;
Thrice from his trembling lips he murmur'd low
The plaint that own'd unutterable woe;
Till Faith, prevailing o'er his sullen doom,
As bursts the morn on night's unfathom'd gloom,
Lur'd his dim eye to deathless hopes sublime,
Beyond the realms of Nature and of Time!
"And weep not thus," he cried, "young Ellenore;
My bosom bleeds, but soon shall bleed no more!
Short shall this half-extinguished spirit burn,
And soon these limbs to kindred dust return!
But not, my child, with life's precarious fire,
The immortal ties of Nature shall expire;
These shall resist the triumph of decay,
When time is o'er, and worlds have pass'd away;
Cold in the dust this perish'd heart may lie,
But that which warm'd it once shall never die!
That spark unburied in its mortal frame,
With living light, eternal, and the same,
Shall beam on Joy's interminable years,
Unveil'd by darkness — unassuag'd by tears!
"Yet, on the barren shore and stormy deep,
One tedious watch is Conrad doom'd to weep;
But when I gain the home without a friend,
And press the uneasy couch where none attend,
This last embrace, still cherished in my heart,
Shall calm the struggling spirit ere it part!
Thy darling form shall seem to hover nigh,
And hush the groan of life's last agony!
"Farewell! when strangers lift thy father's bier,
And place my nameless stone without a tear;
When each returning pledge hath told my child
That Conrad's tomb is on the desert pil'd;
And when the dream of troubled Fancy sees
Its lonely rank-grass waving in the breeze;
Who then will soothe thy grief, when mine is o'er?
Who will protect thee, helpless Ellenore?
Shall secret scenes thy filial sorrows hide,
Scorn'd by the world, to factious guilt allied?
Ah! no! methinks the generous and the good
Will woo thee from the shades of solitude!
O'er friendless grief compassion shall awake,
And smile on Innocence, for Mercy's sake!"
Inspiring thought of rapture yet to be,
The tears of love were hopeless, but for thee!
If in that frame no deathless spirit dwell,
If that faint murmur be the last farewell;
If fate unite the faithful but to part,
Why is their memory sacred to the heart?
Why does the brother of my childhood seem
Restored awhile in every pleasing dream?
Why do I joy the lonely spot to view,
By artless friendship blessed when life was new?
Eternal Hope! when yonder spheres sublime
Peal'd their first notes to sound the march of Time,
Thy joyous youth began — but not to fade.—
When all the sister planets have decay'd,
When wrapt in fire the realms of ether glow,
And Heaven's last thunder shakes the world below,
Thou, undismay'd, shalt o'er the ruin smile,
And light thy torch at Nature's funeral pile!