A descriptive poem published in 1800, in which Thomas Dermody contrasts the rural virtues he had known in Ireland with his experience abroad in London, endeavoring "by depicting the flagitiousness of mercenary passion in its most vivid colours, to pourtray the transports of real love, founded on the sympathy of hearts, in the most amiable light" p. 42. Dermody's chief model is Goldsmith's The Deserted Village, though the theme and construction of The Retrospect also resemble Samuel Rogers's The Pleasures of Memory (1792), itself indebted to Goldsmith. Fallen on hard times, a chastened Dermody takes a more favorable view of the Irish patrons he had previously rejected: "Tho' MARO triumph'd in AUGUSTAN sway, | Tho' great ELIZA smil'd on SPENCER'S lay, | Yet, princely MOIRA, may my artless line | Boast no ignoble patronage in thine!" p. 32. The poem is followed by a seven-page postscript in which Dermody defends the irregular beauties of descriptive poetry against the "classic" strictures of Samuel Johnson.
Preface: "The Retrospect stands first in this Collection, though five years have now elapsed since that little piece was prepared for the press, and so sensible am I, at this period, of the very desultory manner in which it is written, that it should never insult 'the garish eye of day,' had it not met with the partial approbation of a friend esteemed, and an author I admired; one, whose dramatic productions will be long dear to the English Theatre, while Comedy, not unworthy the School of Congreve, can boast any attraction, superior to the wild and distempered pageants of the present day" iv.
The poem opens with reflections on the mutability of states before quickly turning to the author's life, compared to a peasant's hut going up in flames: "Yet why should I lament as I survey | How kingdoms flourish, and how realms decay, | When ev'n in my own youth's unfinish'd bound, | Each strange vicissitude of fortune's found" p. 7. In opposition to the overly-refined works of the "sons of classic art," Dermody's descriptions of peasant life will appeal to nature itself: "Ev'n in life's humblest, most contracted span | We mark the nobler principles of man" p. 10; he will emulate Oliver Goldsmith, "And to the lewd metropolis unfold | These laws, to love, which is but to behold" p. 12. The venality of the city is illustrated with a lurid character of a prostitute, contrasted with the shy innocence displayed in the poet's pursuit of a rural lover. At the center of the poem Dermody appeals to his friend Wray to recall the mutual joys of their young life in the country.
As a boy, the poet's imagination had been elevated by reading Virgil and John Dyer until "The world forgot me, I the world forgot, | And my ELYSIUM centred in that spot!" p. 20; his growing sense of virtue was inspired by visits to the local castle where he inspected the stored munitions and enjoyed the hospitality of the residents. Among Dermody's boyhood friends in Ireland was an elderly man who had the venal attractions of the metropolis to return home; from him the wealthy heir might "learn to propagate his wealth at home" p. 22; he died sincerely lamented and long remembered by all his tenants. Why does man not display towards man the kind of charity the Creator bestows on the creation?
Dermody fondly recalls his native village, where his early songs were conned by the schoolmaster and the barber. As Virgil had enjoyed the patronage of Augustus, and Spenser, Elizabeth, so Dermody is profoundly grateful for the favors of the Countess of Moira. But those former pleasures are a source of pain to a poet at sea, tormented by hearing "Wan ghosts, slow-rising from their wat'ry grave, | Moan to the murmur of the falling wave" p 34. Possibly, given Dermody's personal identification with Spenser, this odd passage involves not only a remembrance of Oliver Goldsmith's emigration to London but a recollection of Colin Clouts come Home Again. Dermody himself was destined to die impoverished in London. The poem concludes with a pious prayer.
British Critic: "There is great modesty, and much merit, in these Poems; but perhaps the author's best talent is humour" 17 (January 1801) 79.
Thro' HISTORY'S faithful glass when I survey
What kingdoms flourish, and what realms decay;
Now touch'd with pity, now inspir'd with rage,
Scarce can I trust the long-recorded page,
New, fatal proofs from ancient Annals call,
Yet deem these ancient Annals, fable all!
Lo! once in learned pomp where Athens rose
The green pool stagnates, and the hemlock grows;
One dreary sepulchre, one mingled gloom,
Lo! deep in ruin droops imperial ROME!
Say, where that wide unconquerable sway
Where once the MACEDONIAN MADMAN lay?
Burst like a gaudy bubble on the stream,
'Tis past, and all it's glory but a dream.
Yet, since, see VENICE, solitary isle,
Like VENUS, mid the genial Ocean smile;
With awe, the rich COLUMBIAN tract behold
Clasp half our Globe in it's gigantic fold;
BRITAIN, sublime it's subject shores among,
And fair JUVERNA, nurse of lofty song.
Thro' heedless luxury, ambitious pride,
Thro' lust of plunder, or thro' heav'n defy'd;
When slow destruction mines the towery wall,
When the huge pillars of a nation fall,
Succeeding nations gradual fill it's place,
To swell of boundless Time the mighty space.
In climes least favour'd by benignant skies,
The white sails flap, and stately bulwarks rise,
COMMERCE and patient INDUSTRY atchieve
What SLOTH and OPULENCE untempted leave,
Soon the dry wilderness is seen no more;
Huge cities shine where deserts lay before:
Mid the deep glen amaz'd the hermit views
The long canal, the garden's vernal hues;
Or by the mountain's rough but sheltering side,
The newly-risen hamlet's rustic pride.
Yet why should I lament as I survey
How kingdoms flourish, and how realms decay,
When ev'n in my own youth's unfinish'd bound,
Each strange vicissitude of fortune's found,
And all the changes of the tragic scene
Glare full as copious on the rural green.
Each dear delight of childhood's cloudless morn,
When blush'd the rose without the fest'ring thorn,
Each harmless sport that vacant pastime knew,
False to hoar reason, to gay fancy true,
With eagle-pinion rolling o'er my head
Sadly I mourn, — and sicken when they're fled.
Thus the poor peasant mourns, when homeward bound,
(As the dank eve-dew settles on the ground,)
His decent cottage canopy'd in trees,
One ruddy blaze, with horrent hair, he sees,
Each mouldering fragment of domestic care
Pausing he marks, ineffable despair!
Still o'er the little couch, the table's frame,
The beachen seat, pursues the greedy flame,
Nor from the spot averts his gaze forlorn,
Till high in air the native hut is torn.
O! ne'er let me forget the summer shade,
Where studious thro' its fragrant copse I stray'd,
Where slow I wander'd thro' the waving bow'r,
When the leaves bent beneath a stilly show'r,
And woodland echo, soften'd to a sigh,
Scarce caught a sound, unwilling to reply.
Ev'n now IMAGINATION'S forceful sway
Thro' each long landscape hurries me away,
The well known cliff, whose blue aerial brow
Majestic beetles on the vale below,
The daisy'd pasture, whose luxuriant plain
The dim discover'd flocks, a snowy train!
Profusely deck; and dripping from the tide,
Shake to the flashing sun their fleecy pride,
Unmov'd I view: — nay, the train hedge along
I hearken to the ploughboy's matin song,
Or follow on the crumbling path afar
The lazy passage of the creaking Car.
Hark! from yon hill that centers in the cloud,
I hear the opening hound, and hunter loud,
His bugle winds thro' many a tuneful maze,
The mellow tones my sinking spirit raise,
And down the virid steep, with headlong speed
Impell'd, I mount a visionary steed!
Now, sooth'd again, with slow and skilful eye,
Eager, I watch my friends fictitious fly,
By some lone bank, along whose level side,
Dimpling and quick the lucid waters glide;
His pensile bait the speckled trout beguiles,
At length he's caught, at length the angler smiles;
At length, with cautious and well-guided hand,
He trails the glittering captive on the sand.
Oh! sweet repast, when for the wish'd embrace,
Two cherub-rivals his mild visage trace,
Climb on his knee, surround his easy chair,
And hope, elate, the shining spoil to share,
Meanwhile, with looks of meek paternal love,
He seems with gentle pushes, to reprove,
Yet, as they struggle, tenderly severe,
Drops on each baby-cheek a silent tear.
Say what ye will, ye Sons of classic art,
Whose finewrought fancies seldom reach the heart,
Ev'n in life's humblest, most contracted span
We mark the nobler principles of man,
The watch-dog beaten from the wicker'd door,
To give an easy entrance to the poor;
The busy care by tenderness made light,
To strew the pilgrim's rushy bed at night;
Or round the glimmering hearth, with wonder pale,
And simple awe, to note the soldier's tale;
These sweet civilities, these social ties,
In which the very spring of nature lies,
Are of more worth than all the glossing rhyme,
Your Schoolmen polish'd from remotest time.
Eternal NATURE! thine the mighty pow'r
To rule o'er every sense in every hour,
The mastery thine with absolute controul,
To wring, correct, or sublimate the soul;
Confest to thy superior eye is seen
The mazy movements of the nice machine,
Thy secret influence, thy sovereign call,
Commands them when to rise and where to fall;
And in the SULTAN'S and the NEGRO'S frame
Thy rapid force is general and the same.
Nor small the task with no frail varnish fraught,
To deck in sylvan dress, the sylvan thought,
Peculiar art it claims, and oft requires
Than the bold epic more exalted fires,
Fires, that each fibre to their purpose wrest,
Electric, rushing on the ravish'd breast;
Hence, unoppos'd, in full despotic fame,
Sweet AUBURN'S BARD must ever be the same,
Hence, the fair descant wove in MEMORY'S loom,
Perennial rose and myrtle shall perfume,
Hence, wayward minstrel of th' attentive vale,
The VILLAGE CURATE pour his pleasing tale,
Hence, too, the heart its choicest incense breathe
On warbling SYMPATHY'S immortal wreath.
Tho' here no foreign wonders I rehearse,
Tuneful enchantment in each vary'd verse;
Here, tho' no bright resistless magic shines,
Which rapture moulds, and classic care refines,
Nor mystic melodies of measur'd sound
That wild'ring, lead the servient passions round,
Yet, unambitious of a larger claim,
My subject not less humble than my aim,
Perchance, I hold, with pardonable grace,
The muse's mirror up to nature's face;
For me enough; (if aught my verse may boast
Of genuine feeling, where refinement's lost,)
From the dull crowd my straggling sense to wean,
To charm the critics of the village-green;
To bid their innocent amusements shew
All public vice the source of private woe;
And to the lewd metropolis unfold
These laws, to love, which is but to behold.
Oh! mid the venal city who can prove
That sweetest, that divinest passion, LOVE?
Balm of all wounds, without whose solace mild,
Existence were a melancholy wild,
In sullen hate where hostile tribes would run
Unciviliz'd, and loath the rising Sun;
Oh! who without his store of Scorn compleat,
Can see it purchas'd in the public street?
The venom'd fold, the mercenary kiss,
The murdering rapture, and the baleful bliss,
The softest luxury of soaring thought,
Oh! who can see like each low barter — bought?
Pity the wretched daughter of despair,
Nor slight her sorrow, tho' you shun her snare;
She once in beauteous innocence was blest,
Pure was her pleasure, tranquil was her rest,
And at the song obscene, the lawless flame,
And broken vow, she blush'd unconscious shame,
Once fenced with honour as the thorny rose,
Now bare she lies to every wind that blows,
Like some vile weed, impregnate with decay,
Which rots, yet stings athwart the public way.
Art thou not shock'd that dulcet voice to hear
Tun'd to the felon-oath and scoff severe,
And art thou not still doubly shock'd to find
That voice's echo in th' abandon'd mind?
Ev'n in the loose delight no bliss she feels,
The purse she pilfers, the rich toy conceals,
Acts with feign'd passion the incentive part,
Her features less disguis'd than is her heart.
Hence doubt, and ev'n in the delicious fold
The muscles slacken, and the pulse is cold,
The lillies blacken on the harlot's face,
Hence lusty HEALTH is chill'd in the embrace;
Oh! from that hollow cheek, and beamless eye,
Precipitate as from a fury fly,
Tho' silently it's painted beauties seize,
There lurk the fiends, distraction and disease,
Scowl in the dimple, taint the fragrant breath,
And in the yellow clasp present you death.
How, lovely woman, how can you depart
From all those graceful fires that warm the heart,
How, witching prodigal, can you bestow
Your brightest gem for infamy and woe,
Roseless the cheek, extinguish'd is the eye,
And even your darling vanity must die;
Ask yon pale prey, deserted and decay'd,
Whose easy trust some villain has betray'd,
If all her vital senses are not cold,
Cold as some statue in the venal fold,
When gay deceit, (heart-sick, yet gay) must move
The sleeping embers of unhallow'd love?
Oh! she will tell you, and she tells you true,
That she the seraph transport never knew,
That from the dragon-grasp, the baneful breath
Of each wild suitor, came disgust and death,
Since first within that glowing breast she lay
From whence she fled: — ah! lost, lamented day,
Then turtle PEACE that unbought odours shed,
TRUTH, FEELING, FAITH, and maiden CANDOUR fled,
Then thou poor female! from thy hopeless view,
Clad in thick clouds ev'n HEAV'N itself withdrew!
Oft by the sloping outskirts of the wood,
Fond search thro' brake and bramble I pursu'd,
Intent, (nor could it with her lip compare,)
To cull the honey'd strawberry for my fair,
When at the village-dance her hand I caught,
My feet were light, and restless as my thought,
By times, the coy extended kiss I stole,
While mutual glances stream'd the melting soul;
But when some wealthier youth her cheek imprest,
A thousand timid falsehoods fill'd my breast,
I rav'd, I wept, I curs'd the guiltless maid,
And at deep midnight sought a deeper shade,
Yet, soon, the partial heart was reconcil'd,
I own'd my frailty, and the angel smil'd.
She smil'd — thro' winding dell, by ozier'd stream,
The livelong summer-day she was my theme,
From every object of the boundless plain
I snatch'd some grace to decorate my strain,
Blue as the violet's bell her rolling eye,
Cowslip her front, her cheek the tulip's dye,
Her mouth carnation, hyacinth her hair,
Straight as the poplar, as the woodbine fair,
And from her nectarine breath, that fann'd my flame,
The peabloom and the scented clover came.
Yes, in the ready numbers as they flow'd,
My feelings flutter'd, and my wishes glow'd,
Unnumber'd monuments of truth I form'd,
Nought tir'd, with my own pleasing folly charm'd,
'Till smote at length by reason's temperate ray,
The transitory vision died away.
So have I seen, with brittle chain embost,
When the smooth river sleeps beneath the frost,
By tiny fingers rear'd an icy pile;
It's sparkling points the dazzled sight beguile,
Lo! proudly splendid in the solar beam,
Twinkle its corners, its thin columns gleam;
Till, melted quite, or on false surface plac'd,
Prone the moist structure lies, a shining waste!
Oh! WRAY, associate of the smiling hour
When dewy summer spread life's opening flow'r,
Long parted from my pleasure or my pain,
Where'er you wander, oh! accept this strain.
Whate'er it's lights disclose, or shades conceal,
Their force your kindred spirit best can feel;
Enthusiast of the wildly-simple scene,
In what romantic raptures have we been,
What gales favonian on our forehead blew,
Upon our ken what swelling beauties grew,
What radiant turrets, flamy spires would rise,
How green our haunts! how azure were our skies!
How musical the burnish'd billows roll'd,
And how the prospect gleam'd with living gold!
Each slightest object, or of shore, or sea,
Was tenderest ecstacy when shar'd with thee,
For, ne'er, sublim'd by Feeling's social spell,
Did delicate sensations join so well,
Mutual our joy, and when condemn'd to part,
Ah! mutual, more than mutual was the smart;
From that sad moment paradisial bloom
And orient hues, are solitude and gloom!
Diffusive checquer'd o'er the dale beneath,
When purple TWILIGHT rested on the heath,
When from the furze the nimble rabbet sprung,
And on each spray unusual lustre hung,
What wayward forms, eccentrically fair,
Have I oft pictur'd on the dappled air,
While, dropt by the fantastic hand of Ev'n,
Small countless specks have pav'd the floor of heav'n,
There mid the silver scenery would I roam,
Nor tho' the church-bell tinkled, think of home.
Oh! when to FRIENDSHIP'S curious ear I told
Heroic feats, and godlike acts of old,
Which (maxims meet for my unpractic'd age,)
Haply I glean'd from the historic page,
How blithe would I the breezy hillock climb,
And in the big narration swell sublime,
Then, when aloft Night's pale assembly rose,
What downy slumbers of divine repose,
What gay ideas throng'd the frolic dream,
What mental joys the aery wing would stream!
No bowl, with palatable poison fill'd,
Fev'rish, and foul, my aching forehead thrill'd,
No malice, rankling in th' eternal wound,
No fierce desire was in my bosom found,
But round my pillow would undaunted play
Content, still reckless of the coming day.
Soon as cold ZEPHYR woke the virgin MORN,
And the bright dew-drop trembled on the thorn,
Up the green lane I stray'd; on either side
In thickest notes each vocal bush reply'd,
My tongue was silent, printless was my tread,
The SPRING'S whole CHOIR collected o'er my head!
Entranced I stood; lull'd by pure MANTUAN lays,
Or, what sage DYER pip'd to later days;
The world forgot me, I the world forgot,
And my ELYSIUM centred in that spot!
Now tow'rds yon castle, whose tall turrets shake
On the smooth bosom of the shaded lake,
I turn; hoarse ravens croak in solemn state,
The frisking pointer meets me at the gate,
Crows the shrill cock, the turkey gobbles near,
All seem to indicate my welcome there.
Thro' the wide room the hasty servants run,
Here limps the nurse, there creeps the butler's son,
While, inly fir'd with military pride,
I count the shatter'd pikes on every side:
The pointless faulchion, thro' it's scabbard thrust,
The massy Bible, strew'd with reverend dust,
The sable chess-board, on the wainscot laid,
The pensive kitten, purring in the shade,
The dusky glass, half-glist'ning in the sun,
Hook'd o'er the antique hearth the rusty gun,
The sculptur'd desk, the pictures in a row,
The fox's tail, and fishing-net I know!
There once plump HOSPITALITY would sit,
Grey-bearded HEALTH, plain SENSE, and native WIT.
In the brown cup they wash'd all pride away,
And not one poor man round them but was gay,
By sober rules they spent their small estate,
Kept want aloof, nor wish'd a higher fate,
For, all that frugal nature claims below,
Nature's own hoards abundantly bestow,
When for superfluous treasure we intreat,
Sour in possession, though in prospect sweet,
Kindness, not cruelty, the wish denies,
So weak is erring man, and GOD so wise!
Their fields, their flocks, their harvest-heaps could give
Enough, to bid them and their children live,
All else beyond, to no profusion led,
But lent the wretch a supper and a bed.
Erewhile, the MODEL of a MAN I knew,
Who made, ev'n then, my best encomium true,
Early, in this bad world's profuse career,
Himself profuse, he bought experience dear,
With still enough, 'twas all his last desire,
To line his couch, and light his country fire;
Back he return'd from the distracting din
Of pageant villainy and painted sin,
Convinced, (the keen conviction cost a tear,)
That humbler merit had no business there;
With cordial glee the hoary Sires attend,
With sparkling eyes they meet their good, old friend;
In foaming tankards frequent healths go down,
And all inquire, how he escap'd the TOWN?
'Twere well would many a titled heir, who longs
For olive arbours and Italian songs,
Trace the same sapient track, no longer roam,
But learn to propagate his wealth at home,
Hence, might the sturdy arm which help'd to raise
That wealth, attain it's profit, and it's praise.
Just by the pathway rose his neat abode,
As if to woo the trav'ler from the road;
Before, a chrystal vein of water stood,
Behind, 'twas shadow'd by a waving wood;
The green-ey'd duck that waddled in the yard,
The gritting wheel that on the pavement jarr'd,
The flail, with sudden dash that stunn'd the ear,
The plaint, that gurgled from the dove-house near,
The playful curs that would each other chase,
All lent the whitewash'd dome a pastoral grace,
And all, by spleen-sick Fashion unconfin'd,
Were but the copious comment of his mind.
Yes, happy master of that small domain,
Thine was the honest blessing of the swain,
With thy big praise the stranger's breast would glow,
Still doubly dear to every child of woe,
Yes, thou would'st smile, unselfishly o'erjoy'd,
To view the peasant in thy field employ'd,
From thence procuring, (there no need to steal,)
For his weak tribe the comfortable meal;
Delightful toil! while the slow load he led
Of golden grain, a family he fed;
Then at hush'd eve, the chaste connubial kiss,
Was his reward, and Love's domestic bliss,
Nor did he (oft in heav'n-ward sigh exprest,)
Forget the generous Donor of his rest,
Ev'n cradled infant, taught by nurturing dame,
Full well could lisp it's second Father's name.
Thus lives the GOOD MAN! — how a country sighs
With genuine anguish, when the GOOD MAN dies;
Musing, behold athwart yon black'ning mead,
In solemn march his funeral pomp proceed,
Pride and Protector of the mournful throng,
Sad burthen! see him slowly mov'd along;
Far off the long procession's dusky hue
Now ent'ring at the churchyard-gate I view,
And, now, while it's new guest looks down from heav'n,
Falls the full tear, and dust to dust is giv'n;
From hearts his bounty eas'd, what sorrows rise!
That last shriek was his passport to the skies!
Kind, courteous SPIRIT, affably benign,
Round thy glad front serenest glories shine,
On everlasting archives are anneal'd,
These deeds thy virtuous diffidence conceal'd,
Nor, shall thy gen'rous mem'ry fade on earth,
Theme of the summer seat, and evening hearth,
Primrose and pansy, bath'd in pearly dew,
On thy green sod ethereal fingers strew,
And palmer Piety's ambrosial wreath
Entwines the desolating scythe of Death.
Ah! ye hard landlords, can no plea prevail
To keep your tardy tenant from the jail,
Will you, for losses he could not avert,
Unkindly wring the suffering parent's heart,
In tenfold woe the widow's portion steep,
And pluck it's morsel from the orphan's lip?
Ev'n now your surly slaves their victim seize,
Three pallid infants shrieking at his knees,
His skirt they grasp, they mount for the embrace,
And hope to read some comfort in his face.
Ye thoughtless great, with supercilious eye
Daily who pass the naked wanderer by,
Who grudge one mite of that enormous store
You idly squander, to the shivering poor,
How can you talk of sympathies refin'd,
The liberal spirit and th' extensive mind?
Oh! witness heav'n! with heart and door unshut,
The labouring hind that shrinks into his hut,
Whose latch the mendicant may freely raise,
Nor for the little alms exhaust his praise,
More virtue oft, more native honour knows
Than Grandeur strutting in his birth-day clothes.
I see him, having prest his homely fare,
Pursue some cherish'd trav'ler with a pray'r,
And thank in secret the indulgent sky,
That gave him pow'r to wipe the weeping eye.
Cherubic CHARITY, how soft a show'r
Of balm benign thy silent favours pour,
In the dark dungeon how thy presence charms,
Aims the fond hope, the blighted project warms,
Pervades, with open hand, the sorrowing earth,
And to misfortune lends the laugh of mirth;
In thy most winning, most resistless mien,
Thou deign'st to visit the sequester'd scene,
There the sick couch from ruder blast defend,
And art its best physician and its Friend!
Nor deem that PENURY can ne'er invade,
With sharpest anguish, the forbidden shade:
A weak surmise! mid wintery snows severe,
Her bleakest residence is often there.
Where in that marshy desert far away
The rushlight flings it's intermitting ray,
With sickness leagu'd, from Pity's eye remov'd,
Her pangs, and speechless agonies are prov'd!
On the damp clay, or scanty straw reclin'd,
With scarce a tatter'd cov'ring from the wind,
There, fever-struck, a SIRE delirious lies,
There with convulsive gasp a MOTHER dies,
Unheard, ascends the miserable cry,
And fainting sob, of famish'd INFANCY.
While costly physick tends the couch of state,
Cold, cold, this night, and comfortless your fate,
No dose to lull, no potion to sustain,
But the deep thunder, and the rattling rain!
Oh! SAVING POWER, when rough inclement hail,
And showery sleet, the wand'ring LAMB assail!
At midnight o'er the distant mountain stray'd;
To THEE he bleats, nor bleats in vain for aid,
Thy impulse soft to some thick shelter guides,
Dries the wet turf, the wholesome herb provides,
Nor leaves thy harmless trust, till, pacing by,
The shepherd marks him with a careful eye.
Yet, melancholy thought, shall MAN not hear
Thy sweet embosom'd accents whisp'ring near?
Shall hapless MAN, with solitary moan
Destin'd to die, escape thy gaze alone;
Oh! wilt not THOU by the hard pillow stand,
Blend the cool draught, and stretch the healing hand?
All kindness THOU, THY intervening form
Alike defends the warrior and the worm;
The dole of Good in just libration weighs,
Nor plunders THOSE to dissipate on THESE;
From MAN, base fellow MAN, all sorrows spring;
'Tis his ungentle slight imprints the sting,
HE tears the wound, his skill alone can close,
'Tis HE that revels in a BROTHER'S woes!
Branded with all the curses of the dead,
Hide, villain, hide thy pestilential head,
Whose latent wile, and unsuspected snare,
Has at AFFLICTION'S threshold fix'd DESPAIR;
Ne'er to offended MERCY, impious, dare
In death's frore grasp to violate a pray'r,
At thy dark deeds the palsy'd cheek is pale,
The stiff blood curdles at the infernal tale,
To savage wastes begone, where human eye
May ne'er thy desecrated hovel spy,
Where the gaunt wolf, and shaggy bear may be
For thy profane retreat, fit company!
When the last arrowy splendors streak the air,
What as yon ORCHARD so divinely fair,
How meltingly the borrow'd tints unite
On the round balls the crimson and the white?
As half amid their clustering leaves they hide,
In blushes deeper than the morning dy'd.
Oh! cease your farewel to the setting sun,
Ye shriller throats! — The nightingale's begun;
A note so soft, so querulously clear,
Starts from the closing lid th' obedient tear,
While Contemplation heaves a tribute sigh
Enrapt, and silent droops he knows not why.
Away now all ye noisy storms of day,
Ye narrow passions, envious feuds, away;
Away, ye sounding rattles of this world,
When to the dungeon from the throne is hurl'd
AMBITION'S maniac, and his jewell'd head
In grim mock-triumph to the scaffold led;
Let FORTUNE'S minions worship at her shrine,
For what I've got sincerest thanks be mine,
Fatal expence will drain the coffer'd ore,
When GRATITUDE may make my trifle more:
Hail GRATITUDE, of TRUTH the lovely child,
O'er Thee, the gods, in glittering synod smil'd,
To thee the intellectual charm they gave,
White HONOUR, with DISCRETION, truly brave,
Mild as the halcyon mid the howling wave!
Whilom, what wayward ditties would I frame?
My tender breast then emulous of FAME,
Ev'n then, when the sage Pedagogue austere,
For tuneful truantry would draw the tear,
Ev'n then, I melted in melodious joy,
With wild-wreaths quaintly crown'd, the Muse's boy!
My song to hear, with venerable mien,
And brow-intent, the parish-clerk would lean,
And conn'd by rote, the garrulous barber knew
To spread each sonnet the whole village thro'.
Nor was the village negligent of rhime,
There, minstrels were rever'd since eldest time,
Nor ceas'd my HARETON'S relics to inspire
The sprightly viol, and th' heroic lyre.
Romantic HARETON! in thy fairy glade,
All seasons, and their sweetness, were display'd,
Thy fairy glade, where elfin bevies dance,
Twinkling their light heels to the lunar glance;
Whether coy SPRING disclos'd her balmy store,
Trembling, and scar'd by blasts she felt before,
Or SUMMER, high her sheafy crest would raise,
Luxurious nodding in the noontide blaze,
Or matron AUTUMN'S browner beauties leave
Their pensive pressure on the gleaming eve,
Or ev'n mid central WINTER'S icy bound,
Some dear, peculiar blessings might be found,
There, there, erewhile, th' enamour'd eye could trace
Blessings that blossom'd in no other place.
Ah! o'er the TUSCAN beverage I may try,
What madding joys in wassail tumult lie,
To distant shores depart, where deep enshrin'd,
Lascivious banquets lull the vanquish'd mind,
Yet still lay real happiness behind!
Though winds round MARO'S cottage MINCIO'S rill,
Tho' MULLA, taught by SPENCER, murmurs still,
Yet SHANNON, may thy wizard waters tell
Of bards who struck the many-chorded shell,
Tho' MARO triumph'd in AUGUSTAN sway,
Tho' great ELIZA smil'd on SPENCER'S lay,
Yet, princely MOIRA, may my artless line
Boast no ignoble patronage in thine!
Ah! POESY, on whose superior state
Innum'rous ills, and daily perils wait,
Full oft have I had cause, (if Woe severe
A cause can give,) thy converse to forswear;
Yet, with those various evils in thy train,
Methinks thy pleasure far exceeds thy pain;
As thro' the frothing surge, with desperate sweep
The smooth keel cuts and harrows up the deep,
While the tough cordage cracks, and yelling loud
The fierce north blusters in the frozen shroud,
In this pent vessel's narrow womb confin'd,
Slave to the mercy of the wave and wind,
Who sets my bold unshackled FANCY free,
Who, oh! celestial Visitant! but THEE!
The hazel bow'r, for studious leisure wove,
The boxen seat amid the ivy'd grove;
The nibbling sheep, that fed the tufts among;
The goats, that on the giddy summit hung;
The weather-mark that whistled to the wind;
The crooked path, where mingled bri'rs entwin'd,
The startling thrush that warbled as he flew,—
Dear former sights! oh! when shall I review?
Say, how can cruel MEMORY retain
Those pleasures here, which but augment my pain,
Here, where full many a dismal tempest past,
At the still hour, the frequent corse is cast
In the wide deep, without one sacred tear;—
Meanwhile, distinct to musing fancy's ear,
Wan ghosts, slow-rising from their wat'ry grave,
Moan to the murmur of the falling wave;
Yet, vain delusion, I expect, once more,
Secure to sit, nor dread the billowy roar,
Bound o'er the thicket, gambol on the lawn,
And taste of all the transports I have drawn.
Grant me, oh! GOD, immensely good and WISE,
That quiet cell where true RELIGION lies,
Where modes of faith, and bigot strife aside,
CONSCIENCE itself the generous act will guide,
The monkish cowl, the drear monastic gloom,
The saintly gaud and consecrated tomb,
Despis'd; let INSTINCT, each revolving hour,
In every part embrace the SOVEREIGN POW'R,
Let every bird I hear, and bud I see,
Still closer link my grateful soul to THEE,
For, each fresh object of my fostering care,
The shrub I rear'd, its fruit I wish'd to share,
The flight, the throb of thought, the magic line,
Thou gav'st them all, and all of them are THINE!