Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE PLEASURES OF HOPE: 2, by THOMAS CAMPBELL

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE PLEASURES OF HOPE: 2, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: In joyous youth, what soul hath never known
Last Line: And light thy torch at nature's funeral pile.
Subject(s): Hope; Imagination; Optimism; Fancy

IN joyous youth, what soul hath never known
Thought, feeling, taste, harmoneous to its own?
Who hath not paused while Beauty's pensive eye
Asked from his heart the homage of a sigh?
Who hath not owned, 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 mailed: --
But, triumph not, ye peace-enamored few!
Fire, Nature, Genius, never dwelt with you!
For you no fancy consecrates the scene
Where rapture uttered vows, and wept between;
'Tis yours, unmoved, to sever and to meet;
No pledge is sacred, and no home is sweet!

Who that would ask a heart to dulness 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 bower!
In vain the viewless seraph lingering there,
At starry midnight charmed the silent air;
In vain the wild-bird carolled on the steep,
To hail the sun, slow wheeling from the deep;
In vain, to soothe the solitary shade,
Aerial notes in mingling measure played;
The summer wind that shook the spangled tree,
The whispering wave, the murmur of the bee; --
Still slowly passed 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, sighed - till woman smiled!

True, the sad power to generous hearts may bring
Delirious anguish on his fiery wing;
Barred from delight by Fate's untimely hand,
By wealthless lot, or pitiless command;
Or doomed 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 forever brood,
The willing victim of a weary mood,
On heartless cares that squander life away,
And cloud young Genius brightening into day? --
Shame to the coward thought that e'er betrayed
The noon of manhood to a myrtle shade! --
If HOPE's creative spirit can not 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 Heaven's fair harbinger delight to pour
Her blissful visions on thy pensive hour,
No tear to blot thy memory's pictured 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 arrayed
The queen of Beauty in her Cyprian shade,
The happy master mingled on his piece
Each look that charmed him in the fair of Greece.
To faultless Nature true, he stole a grace
From every finer form and sweeter face;
And as he sojourned on the AEgean isles,
Wooed all their love, and treasured all their smiles;
Then glowed the tints, pure, precious, and refined,
And mortal charms seemed heavenly when combined!
Love on the picture smiled! Expression poured
Her mingling spirit there -- and Greece adored!

So thy fair hand, enamored Fancy! gleans
The treasured pictures of a thonsand 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 embosomed in Idalian bowers!
Remote from busy Life's bewildered 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 brightening roses of the sky,
And muse on Nature with a poet's eye! --
And when the sun's last splendor lights the deep,
The woods and waves, and murmuring winds asleep,
When fairy harps the 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 ravished eye to bound,
Heaven, 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 darkening world, and tempest-troubled deep!
Though boundless snows the withered 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-chained waters slumbering on the shore,
How bright the fagots in his little hall
Blaze on the hearth, and warm the pictured wall!
How blest he names, in Love's familiar tone,
The kind, fair friend, by nature marked his own;
And, in the waveless mirror of his mind,
Views the fleet years of pleasure left behind,
Since when her empire o'er his heart began!
Since first he called her his before the holy man!

Trim the gay taper in his rustic dome,
And light the wintry paradise of home;
And let the half-uncurtained 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, with 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!
Charmed as they read the verse too sadly true,
How gallant Albert, and his weary crew,
Heaved all their guns, their foundering bark to save,
And toiled -- and shrieked -- and perished 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 blessed 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 kissed, with many a tear,
His hand, blood-stained, but ever, ever dear!
Hung on the tortured bosom of her lord,
And wept and prayed perdition from his sword!
Nor sought in vain! at that heart-piercing cry
The strings of Nature cracked with agony!
He, with delirious laugh, the dagger hurled,
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,
Marched by their Charles to Dnieper's swampy shore!
Faint in his wounds and shivering in the blast,
The Swedish soldier sunk -- and groaned his last!
File after file the stormy showers benumb,
Freeze every standard-sheet, and hush the drum!
Horseman and horse confessed 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 turned his eye,
Thought of his home, and closed it with a sigh!
Imperial Pride looked sullen on his plight,
And Charles beheld -- nor shuddered at the sight!

Above, below, in Ocean, Earth, and Sky,
Thy fairy worlds, Imagination, lie,
And HOPE attends, companion of the way,
Thy dream by night, thy visions of the day!
In yonder pensile orb, and every sphere
That gems the starry girdle of the year;
In those unmeasured words, she bids thee tell,
Pure from their God, created millions dwell,
Whose names and natures, unrevealed below,
We yet shall learn, and wonder as we know;
For, as Iona's saint, a giant form,
Throned on her towers, conversing with the storm.
(When o'er each Runic alter, weed-entwined,
The vesper clock tolls mournful to the wind,)
Counts every wave-worn isle, and mountain hoar,
From Kilda to the green Ierne's shore;
So, when thy pure and renovated mind
This perishable dust hath left behind,
Thy seraph eye shall count the starry train,
Like distant isles embosomed in the main;
Rapt to the shrine where motion first began,
And light and life in mingling torrent ran;
From whence each bright rotundity was hurled,
The throne of God, -- the centre of the world!

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 grief and passions of our greener age,
Though dull the close of life, and far away
Each flower 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 loves them still!
Thus, with forgiving tears, and reconciled,
The king of Judah mourned his rebel child!
Musing on days, when yet the guiltless boy
Smiled on his sire, and filled 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!
Heaven 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!

Oh! deep-enchanting prelude to repose,
The dawn of bliss, the twilight of our woes!
Yet half I hear the panting spirit sigh,
It is a dread and awful thing to die!
Mysterious worlds, untravelled by the sun!
Where Time's far wandering tide has never run,
From your unfathomed shades, and viewless spheres,
A warning comes, unheard by other ears.
'Tis Heaven's commanding trumpet, long and loud,
Like Sinai's thunder, pealing from the cloud!
While Nature hears, with terror-mingled trust,
The shock that hurls her fabric to the dust:
And, like the trembling Hebrew, when he trod
The roaring waves, and called upon his God,
With mortal terrors clouds immortal bliss,
And shrieks, and hovers o'er the dark abyss!

Daughter of Faith, awake, arise, illume
The dread unknown, the chaos of the tomb;
Melt, and dispel, ye spectre-doubts, that roll
Cimmerian darkness o'er the parting soul!
Fly, like the moon-eyed herald of Dismay,
Chased on his night-steed by the star of day!
The strife is o'er -- the pangs of Nature close,
And life's last rapture triumphs o'er her woes.
Hark! as the spirit eyes, with eagle gaze,
The noon of Heaven undazzled by the blaze,
On heavenly winds that waft her to the sky,
Float the sweet tones of star-born melody;
Wild as that hallowed anthem sent to hail
Bethlehem's shepherds in the lonely vale,
When Jordan hushed his waves, and midnight still
Watched on the holy towers of Zion hill!

Soul of the just! companion of the dead!
Where is thy home, and whither art thou fled?
Back to its heavenly source thy being goes,
Swift as the comet wheels to whence he rose;
Doomed on his airy path awhile to burn,
And doomed, like thee, to travel, and return. --
Hark! from the world's exploding centre driven,
With sounds that shook the firmament of Heaven,
Careers the fiery giant, fast and far,
On bickering wheels, and adamantine car;
From planet whirled to planet more remote,
He visits realms beyond the reach of thought;
But, wheeling homeward, when his course is run,
Curbs the red yoke, and mingles with the sun!
So hath the traveller of earth unfurled
Her trembling wings, emerging from the world;
And o'er the path by mortal never trod,
Sprung to her source, the bosom of her God!

Oh! lives there, Heaven! beneath thy dread expanse,
One hopeless, dark idolater of Chance
Content to feed, with pleasures unrefined,
The lukewarm passions of a lowly mind;
Who, mouldering earthward, 'reft of every trust,
In joyless union wedded to the dust,
Could all his parting energy dismiss,
And call this barren world sufficient bliss? --
There live, alas! of heaven-directed mien,
Of cultured soul, and sapient eye serene,
Who hail thee, Man! the pilgrim of a day,
Spouse of the worm, and brother of the clay,
Frail as the leaf in Autumn's yellow bower,
Dust in the wind, or dew upon the flower;
A friendless slave, a child without a sire,
Whose mortal life, and momentary fire,
Light to the grave his chance-created form,
As ocean-wrecks illuminate the storm;
And, when the gun's tremendous flash is o'er,
To night and silence sink for evermore! --

Are these the pompous tidings ye proclaim,
Lights of the world, and demi-gods of Fame?
Is this your triumph -- this your proud applause,
Children of Truth, and champions of her cause?
For this hath Science searched, on weary wing,
By shore and sea -- each mute and living thing!
Launched with Iberia's pilot from the steep,
To worlds unknown and isles beyond the deep?
Or round the cope her living chariot driven,
And wheeled in triumph through the signs of Heaven.
Oh! star-eyed Science, hast thou wandered there,
To waft us home the message of despair?
Then bind the palm, thy sage's brow to suit,
Of blasted leaf, and death-distilling fruit!
Ah me! the laurelled wreath that Murder rears,
Blood-nursed, and watered by the widow's tears,
Seems not so foul, so tainted, and so dread,
As waves the night-shade round the skeptic head.
What is the bigot's torch, the tyrant's chain?
I smile on death, if Heaven-ward HOPE remain:
But, if the warring winds of Nature's strife
Be all the faithless charter of my life,
If Chance awakened, inexorable power,
This frail and feverish being of an hour;
Doomed o'er the world's precarious scene to sweep,
Swift as the tempest travels on the deep,
To know Delight but by her parting smile,
And toil, and wish, and weep a little while;
Then melt, ye elements, that formed in vain
This troubled pulse, and visionary brain!
Fade, ye wild flowers, memorials of my doom,
And sink, ye stars, that light me to the tomb!
Truth, ever lovely, -- since the world began,
The foe of tyrants, and the friend of man, --
How can thy words from balmy slumber start
Reposing Virtue, pillowed on the heart!
Yet, if thy voice the note of thunder rolled,
And that were true which Nature never told,
Let Wisdom smile not on her conquered field;
No rapture dawns, no treasure is revealed!
Oh! let her read, nor loudly, nor elate,
The doom that bars us from a better fate;
But, sad as angels for the good man's sin,
Weep to record, and blush to give it in!

And well may Doubt, the mother of Dismay,
Pause at her martyr's tomb, and read the lay.
Down by the wilds of yon deserted vale,
It darkly hints a melancholy tale!
There, as the homeless madman sits alone,
In hollow winds he hears a spirit moan!
And there, they say, a wizard ogie crowds,
When the Moon lights her watch-tower in the clouds.
Poor lost Alonzo! Fate's neglected child!
Mild be the doom of Heaven -- as thou wert mild!
For oh! thy heart in holy mould was cast,
And all thy deeds were blameless, but the last.
Poor lost Alonzo! still I seem to hear
The clod that struck thy hollow-sounding bier!
When Friendship paid, in speechless sorrow drowned,
Thy midnight rites, but not on hallowed ground!

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 power 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 harmonized to joy! --
But why so short is Love's delighted hour?
Why fades the dew on Beauty's sweetest flower?
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 power 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 widowed 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 Wo?
No! but a brighter soothes the last adieu, --
Souls of impassioned 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 choked thy long and last adieu!
Daughter of Conrad? when he heard his knell,
And bade his country and his child farewell!
Doomed 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 returned, to bless thee, and to part;
Thrice from his trembling lips he murmured low
The plaint that owned unutterable wo;
Till Faith, prevailing o'er his sullen doom,
As bursts the morn on night's unfathomed gloom,
Lured 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 passed away!
Cold in the dust this perished heart may lie,
But that which warmed 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,
Unveiled by darkness -- unassuaged by tears!

"Yet, on the barren shore and stormy deep,
One tedious watch is Conrad doomed 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 ast 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 piled;
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,
Scorned 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
Pealed their first notes to sound the march of Time,
Thy joyous youth began -- but not to fade. --
When all the sister planets have decayed;
When wrapt in fire the realms of ether glow,
And Heaven's last thunder shakes the world below;
Thou, undismayed, shalt o'er the ruins smile,
And light thy torch at Nature's funeral pile.

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