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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.


By Thomas Campbell (1777–1844)

From the ‘Pleasures of Hope’

AT summer eve, when Heaven’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 promised joys of life’s unmeasured way;

Thus, from afar, each dim-discovered 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 raptured eye

To pierce the shades of dim futurity?

Can Wisdom lend, with all her heavenly power,

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 pictured too severely true.

With thee, sweet Hope, resides the heavenly light

That pours remotest rapture on the sight;

Thine is the charm of life’s bewildered way,

That calls each slumbering passion into play.

Waked 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….

Where is the troubled heart consigned 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-eyed tenant of the dungeon gloom;

A long-lost friend, or hapless child restored,

Smiles at his blazing hearth and social board;

Warm from his heart the tears of rapture flow,

And virtue triumphs o’er remembered 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 wintry shore,

Watched the rude surge his shroudless corse that bore,

Knew the pale form, and shrieking in amaze,

Clasped her cold hands, and fixed 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 climbed the midnight sky,

And the lone sea-bird wakes its wildest cry,

Piled on the steep, her blazing fagots 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.