Saturday, April 21, 2012

Poet - Thomas Campbell - The River of Life

Thomas Campbell (1777-1844)

The River of Life

The more we live, more brief appear
Our life's succeeding stages;
A day to childhood seems a year,
And years like passing ages.

The gladsome current of our youth,
Ere passion yet disorders,
Steals lingering like a river smooth
Along its grassy borders.

But as the careworn cheek grows wan,
And sorrow's shafts fly thicker,
Ye stars, that measure life to man,
Why seem your courses quicker?

When joys have lost their bloom and breath,
And life itself is vapid,
Why, as we reach the Falls of Death
Feel we its tide more rapid?

It may be strange—yet who would change
Time's course to slower speeding,
When one by one our friends have gone,
And left our bosoms bleeding?

Heaven gives our years of fading strength
Indemnifying fleetness;
And those of youth, a seeming length,
Proportion'd to their sweetness.


THOMAS CAMPBELL was born in Glasgow, Scotland, July 27, 1777, and he died at Bologne, July 15, 1844, at the age of sixty-seven. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

At an early age he gave proofs of his aptitude for literary composition, especially in the department of poetry; and so strong was his addiction to these pursuits, that he could not bring himself seriously to adopt the choice of a profession

In 1799, his poem, "The Pleasures of Hope," was published. For more than three-fourths of a century, the poem has increased its popularity.

Campbell went abroad, and passed some time on the continent, without any definite aim. His finances were soon exhausted, and he was reduced to extreme poverty. Returning to Britain, his reputation soon gained him literary employment, but his tardiness in fulfilling engagements placed him in bad repute among the strong publishers, who hesitated often in offering him work.

But he was constantly popular with the public, and an occasional poem from his pen found its way into print. In 1803 the poet moved to London, and devoted himself to literature as a profession. He married, and in 1805, through the influence of a friend, received a government pension.

In 1809 he published "Gertrude of Wyoming, a Pennsylvania Tale." This was the second of his great poems, and it was exceedingly admired. Campbell settled down at Sydenham, in England. His home was a happy one. The society in which he moved was of the most refined and intellectual character, and he enjoyed the personal friendship of many of his distinguished contemporaries.

In 1820 he accepted the editorship of the "New Monthly Magazine," and acted in that capacity until he resigned it to take charge of the "Metropolitan." Many of his minor poems appeared in the "Magazine;" and one of these, "The Last Man," may be ranked among his greatest conceptions.

In 1824 he published "Theodric and Other Poems;" and though busy in establishing the London University, he was, in 1827, elected lord rector of the university of his native city.

It is on his lyrics that the future reputation of Campbell must principally rest. They have taken their place, never to be disturbed, in the popular heart; and, until the language in which they are composed perishes, they are certain to endure.

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