Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, INTRODUCTORY VERSES TO MARIA HACK, by BERNARD BARTON



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INTRODUCTORY VERSES TO MARIA HACK, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Nay! Do not half reproachfully exclaim
Last Line: "^1^thomas day, the author of ""sandford and merton."
Alternate Author Name(s): Quaker Poet
Subject(s): Hack, Maria Barton (1777-1844); Sisters; Poetry & Poets


NAY! do not half reproachfully exclaim,
"How foolish!"—Poets are not often wise.
If it be foolishness to love a name
Endear'd by one of nature's strongest ties,
And much that memory's sweetest power supplies,
I' own myself no sage; for, unto me,
Thy own is one which will not bear disguise
Of dash _____ or stars *** such as we often see;
No, let it stand at length, from all concealment free.

Besides, this is not call'd a dedication;
A thing, I own of ominous extent,
And bringing with it fearful expectation
Of all that fulsome flattery can invent:
Nor is it here inscrib'd with THY consent;
So thou art unimpeach'd. On me alone
Rest all the blame of this poor monument,
(Which I will never shrink from, nor disown,)
Built by a Brother's love, to hours for ever flown.

Years have elaps'd, Maria, since we met;
More may revolve before we meet again;
The past, so far from teaching to forget,
Has added but fresh links unto that chain
Which brings no bondage and inflicts no pain;
And if the future be but like the past,
Bring what it may of other loss, or gain,
Of skies with sunshine bright, or overcast,
I have no chilling fear that life can love outlast.

With us it should not; for to either's view,
In memory's busy musings, there should be
Objects and scenes that wear the self-same hue,
Awakening thoughts which have one master-key
To explain their charm. Is it not thus with thee,
When aught resembling things of former years
Attracts thy gaze? be it landscape, house, or tree,
Or ivy-mantled church-tower, which uprears
Its venerable walls, and to the sight appears—

Like a familiar object? But, no more:
In truth I dare not trust myself to dwell
On all that recollection could restore;
Or thou might'st tire, ere I one half could tell:
And that would cruelly dissolve the spell;
Then let it go! I fain would now compare,
But not as rivals do, how ill or well,
Such leisure moments as we both could spare
Have been employ'd by each, and what the fruits they bear.

Mine have been spent in seeking to portray
Feelings and thoughts, which o'er my spirits shed
The doubtful splendour of an April day,
Alike by showers, and sweetest sunshine fed:—
Pensive communion holding with the dead;
Or bodying forth, in simple poesy,
Beautiful scenes, and thoughts which such have bred:—
These, the best fruits of leisure's blighted tree,
Though little they can boast, I now present to thee.

Thou hast, meanwhile, (by thy experience taught
That which thou only couldst have gather'd thence,
Of winning modes to guide the expanding thought,
And knowledge with amusement to dispense)
With noun and adjective, with verb and tense,
With History's page, or Travellers' vast supplies,
Been busily employ'd; and brought from hence
A hoard which parents and their children prize
Alike with gratitude. Thy choice has been most wise.

It is no unsubstantial good to dwell
In childhood's heart, on childhood's guileless tongue;
To be the chosen, favourite oracle,
Consulted by the innocent and young:
To be remember'd as the light that flung
Its first fresh lustre on the unwrinkled brow;
And there are hearts may cleave, as mine has clung,
To hours which I enjoy'd, yet knew not how,
To whom thou shalt be, then, what DAY^1^ to me is now!

A being lov'd and honour'd for the sake
Of past enjoyment; aye! and still possessing
When thoughts of happy infancy awake,
A charm beyond the power of words expressing.
Yes, I am not asham'd of thus confessing
The debt my early childhood seems to owe;
And if I had the power to invoke a blessing
On them who first excited rapture's glow,
'Twould fall on Barbauld, Berquin, Bunyan, Day, Defoe!

Their works were dear to me, before I knew,
Or car'd to know, if they were own'd by Fame;
And after all that life has led me through,
Of pain and pleasure, they are still the same.
Whene'er I meet them, they appear to claim
Familiar greeting not to be denied:
Nor should it; for so complex is the frame
On which the mind's whole store is edified,
'Twere hard for me to tell what they have not supplied.

But to return to thee, although it may
Be only to take leave. It must be so.
I scarcely dar'd, at no far distant day,
To think that ever verse of mine might show
The ardent love I bear thee; and although
Surprise at first forgiveness may impede,
I trust that feelings, cherish'd long ago
By both, will glow afresh when thou shalt read
Affection's fond farewell! and for my pardon plead.

^FOOTNOTE^

^1^Thomas Day, the author of "Sandford and Merton."





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