One of the advantages of this newer anthology of Romantic poetry is the number of women poets included. I knew of Charlotte Smith (picture from here) as a novelist but didn’t realise that she was also a poet. This poem, To the South Downs, is from her Elegiac Sonnets, published in 1794. I don’t think any of her novels are in print today, except in expensive POD editions. Pandora reprinted The Old Manor House in their wonderful Mothers of the Novel series back in the 1980s but it’s long out of print. She was said to have been an influence on the Gothic novels of Ann Radcliffe.
This is a lovely though melancholy poem with that love of Nature that inspired many of the most famous Romantic poets.
Ah! hills beloved!–where once, a happy child,
Your beechen shades, ‘your turf, your flowers among,’
I wove your blue-bells into garlands wild,
And woke your echoes with my artless song.
Ah! hills beloved!–your turf, your flowers remain;
But can they peace to this sad breast restore,
For one poor moment soothe the sense of pain,
And teach a breaking heart to throb no more?
And you, Aruna!–in the vale below,
As to the sea your limpid waves you bear
Can you one kind Lethean cup bestow,
To drink a long oblivion to my care?
Ah! no!–when all, e’en Hope’s last ray is gone,
There’s no oblivion–but in death alone!