1829
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Invocation.

The Philadelphia Album, and Ladies' Literary Gazette 3 (1 April 1829) 345.

Willis Gaylord Clark


A Horatian ode in five Spenserian stanzas signed "W. G. C." The poet is astonished at the gulf separating his childhood happiness from his present condition: "Oh for the newness of my faded years! | The o'ergladdened heart, that slept not in its glee!— | How brightly blue that early sky appears, | Rich with the echoing song, the melody | That through its depths went roaming, rich and free!" The poet was twenty-one years old, and had recently arrived in Philadelphia to work at the Ladies' Literary Gazette, a situation that evidently did not work out.



Oh! blessed Heaven, whose power is mighty! give,
Give to my soul the dreams of other years;
The thoughts, whose freshness could earth's waste revive,
Pouring a halo through its mournful tears!
Whose memory now the shadowy past endears;
That sinless Eden, with its pastures green,
Touched with a glow, as of ambrosial spheres;
Its crystal waters with their glittering sheen;
Its eve of guileless rest, each joyous day between!

Give me the buoyancy of heart — the light,
Which from hope's plume was o'er my pathway shed,
Painting all objects with a young delight,
While her calm heaven the laughing hours o'erspread,
Ere yet the cadence of her voice had fled,
Or the light faded from her truant wing;
Ere grief's lone prayer had over love been said—
Ere love had withered like the glow of spring,
Or autumn's laboring moon thro' storm-clouds flickering.

Oh for the newness of my faded years!
The o'ergladdened heart, that slept not in its glee!—
How brightly blue that early sky appears,
Rich with the echoing song, the melody
That through its depths went roaming, rich and free!
Voice of a spirit like the firmament—
Gleaning pure thought from wave, and plain, and tree;
O'erspreading earth — with heavenly radiance blent,
And with a golden glow in its own element!

Alas! that glow hath been the meteor's gleam,
Or the sun's blessing in an April sky;
The autumnal star upon the rushing stream,
While the red leaf upon the blast goes by,
And the storm-spirit lifts his voice on high!
Ask of that vision, oh relentless fate!
Ask why the light hath passed from manhood's eye;
Why did the blossoms of love's blessed state
Die on my wearied heart — making it desolate?

Turn not, my spirit! look, oh look not back,
Rousing the ashes from pale memory's urn;
Gathering the dead leaves in its lonely track,
Picturing its gladness which may ne'er return,
And waking fires which may but briefly burn,
With their proud light in the soul's treasure-cell,
With their sad lessons, which men's hearts must learn,
Till it becomes a story which they tell,
Of severed chains of love, and that wild world — farewell!

[p. 345]