Charlotte Smith

(4 May 1749 – 28 October 1806 / London)

Ode To Despair


FROM THE NOVEL OF EMMELINE.
THOU spectre of terrific mien!
Lord of the hopeless heart and hollow eye,
In whose fierce train each form is seen
That drives sick Reason to insanity!
I woo thee with unusual prayer,
'Grim visaged, comfortless Despair:'
Approach; in me a willing victim find,
Who seeks thine iron sway--and calls thee kind!
Ah! hide for ever from my sight
The faithless flatterer Hope--whose pencil, gay,
Portrays some vision of delight,
Then bids the fairy tablet fade away;

While in dire contrast, to mine eyes,
Thy phantoms, yet more hideous, rise,
And Memory draws from Pleasure's wither'd flower,
Corrosives for the heart--of fatal power!
I bid the traitor Love adieu!
Who to this fond believing bosom came,
A guest insidious and untrue,
With Pity's soothing voice--in Friendship's name;
The wounds he gave, nor Time shall cure,
Nor Reason teach me to endure.
And to that breast mild Patience pleads in vain,
Which feels the curse--of meriting its pain.
Yet not to me, tremendous Power!
Thy worst of spirit-wounding pangs impart,
With which, in dark conviction's hour,
Thou strik'st the guilty unrepentant heart;
But of illusion long the sport,
That dreary, tranquil gloom I court,
Where my past errors I may still deplore,
And dream of long-lost happiness no more!
To thee I give this tortured breast,
Where Hope arises but to foster pain;
Ah! lull its agonies to rest!
Ah! let me never be deceived again!
But callous, in thy deep repose,
Behold, in long array, the woes
Of the dread future, calm and undismay'd,
Till I may claim the hope--that shall not fade!

Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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