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No; these were vigorous as their sires,
Nor plague nor famine came : This annual tribute Death requires,
And never waves his claim.
Like crowded forest-trees we stand,
And some are mark’d to fall;
And soon shall smite us all.
Green as the bay-tree, ever green,
With its new foliage on,
I pass’d, and they were gone. .
Read, ye that run, the solemn truth,
With which I charge my page; A worm is in the bud of youth,
And at the root of age.
No present health can health ensure
For yet an hour to come;
Can always baulk the tomb.
And oh! that humble as my lot,
And scorn'd as is my strain, These truths, though known, too much forgot,
I may not teach in vain.
So prays your clerk with all his heart,
And, ere he quits the pen,
And answer all — Amen!
ADDRESSED TO HENRY COWPER, ESQ. OX HIS EMPHATICAL AND INTERESTING DELIVERY OF THE DEFENCE OF
WARREN HASTINGS, ESQ. IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS. [This gentleman was cousin to the poet, and they had been intimate in early life. The Sonnet was first printed anonymously in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1788; General Cowper copied and sent it to the author, as something with which he had been exceedingly pleased.] COWPER, whose silver voice, task'd sometimes hard,
Legends prolix delivers in the ears
(Attentive when thou read'st) of England's peers, Let verse at length yield thee thy just reward.
Thou wast not heard with drowsy disregard,
Thy generous powers; but silence honour'd thee,
Thou art not voice alone, but hast beside
Of Attic phrase and senatorial tone,
Of others' speech, but magic of thy own.
THE POET'S NEW-YEAR'S GIFT.
[This little piece, which, according to the decision of a living critic, “ includes one of the most delicate complimentary turns that ever poet paid or woman received,” was presented to Lady Throckmorton on the first day of the year 1788.]
Maria! I have every good
For thee wish'd many a time,
But never yet in rhyme.
To wish thee fairer is no need,
More prudent, or more sprightly,
From temper-flaws unsightly.
What favour then not yet possess'd,
Can I for thee require,
To thy whole heart's desire ?
None here is happy but in part:
Full bliss is bliss divine ;
And, doubtless, one in thine.
That wish, on some fair future day,
Which Fate shall brightly gild,
I wish it all fulfill’d.
ODE TO APOLLO.
ON AN INKGLASS ALMOST DRIED IN THE SUN.
For Insurpassably beautiful in conception,” says Montgomery, “and in itself an answer to the prayer which it contains.” Some of the allusions have perhaps a quaintness which takes from their ease.]
PATRON of all those luckless brains,
That, to the wrong side leaning,
And little or no meaning:
Ah why, since oceans, rivers, streams,
That water all the nations,
In constant exhalations,
Why, stooping from the noon of day,
Too covetous of drink,
A poet's drop of ink ?
Upborne into the viewless air
It floats a vapour now,
By all the winds that blow.
Ordain'd, perhaps, ere summer flies,
Combined with millions more,
Though black and foul before.
Illustrious drop! and happy then
Beyond the happiest lot
So soon to be forgot!
Phoebus, if such be thy design,
To place it in thy bow,
With equal grace below.
PITY FOR POOR AFRICANS.
[This piece, and the two following on the same subject, were composed in 1788, with the intention of being printed and dispersed as ballads; they were not, however, published till they appeared in the first collected edition of the Author's poems.]
Video meliora proboque
I own I am shock'd at the purchase of slaves,
knaves ; What I hear of their hardships, their tortures, and
groans, Is almost enough to draw pity from stones.
I pity them greatly, but I must be mum,
Besides, if we do, the French, Dutch, and Danes,
If foreigners likewise would give up the trade,
Your scruples and arguments bring to my mind
A youngster at school, more sedate than the rest,
He was shock’d, sir, like you, and answered « Oh no!
“ You speak very fine, and you look very grave,
They spoke, and Tom ponder'd~" I see they will go:
“ If the matter depended alone upon me,
His scruples thus silenced, Tom felt more at ease,