"Distance Lends Enchantment"
Context: Campbell composed "The Pleasures of Hope" while working his way through law school in Edinburgh. From the first, though he never achieved major poetic excellence, he sounded the strain of nationalism and patriotism. Though neoclassical in form, the poem is romantic in content; it expresses sympathy with the French Revolution, scorn for the oppressors of Poland, and opposition to Negro slavery. The poem is romantic also in its advocacy of the power of nature, especially through the beauty of the sunset, to brighten the human heart with hope. For nature's beauty is ever present and universal in its effect. Though Peace and Mercy be banished from the plain and withdrawn to Heaven, "Hope, the charmer, lingered still behind." The poem begins:
At summer eve, when Heaven's ethereal bowSpans with bright arch the glittering hills below,Why to you mountain turns the musing eye,Whose sunbright summit mingles with the sky?Why do those cliffs of shadowy tint appearMore sweet than all the landscape smiling near?'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,And robes the mountain in its azure hue.