Who could have thought what darkness lay concealed
Within thy beams, oh Sun? Or who could find,
Whilst fly, and leaf, and insect stood revealed,
That to such endless orbs thou mad'st us blind?
Weak man! Why to shun death, this anxious strife?
If light can thus deceive, wherefore not life?
A gifted punster and professional man of letters, Thomas Hood was popular
for his comic and satirical verse as well as for serious, socially conscious
poems such as “The Song of the Shirt” (1843). After serving as assistant
editor of the London Magazine, he went on to edit many other periodicals,
including the Gem, the Comic Annual, and the New Monthly Magazine.
Oh, blessed ease! no more of heaven I ask:
The overseer is gone—that vandal elf—
And hemp, unpicked, may go and hang itself,
While I, untasked, except with Cowper's Task,
In blessed literary leisure bask,
And lose the workhouse, saving in the works
Of Goldsmiths, Johnsons, Sheridans, and Burkes;
Eat prose and drink of the Castalian flask;
The themes of Locke, the anecdotes of Spence,
The humorous of Gay, the Grave of Blair—
Unlearned toil, unlettered labors hence!
But, hark! I hear the master on the stair—
And Thomson's Castle, that of Indolence,
Must be to me a castle in the air.
Shall I rebuke thee, Ocean, my old love,
That once, in rage with the wild winds at strife,
Thou darest menace my unit of a life,
Sending my clay below, my soul above,
Whilst roared thy waves, like lions when they rove
By night, and bound upon their prey by stealth?
Yet did'st thou ne'er restore my fainting health?—
Did'st thou ne'er murmur gently like the dove?
Nay, did'st thou not against my own dear shore
Full break, last link between my land and me?—