Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, VERSES TO A FRIEND, by BERNARD BARTON

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VERSES TO A FRIEND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I promis'd thee, that, soon or late
Last Line: But graver—lead to heaven!
Alternate Author Name(s): Quaker Poet
Subject(s): Churchyards

I PROMIS'D thee, that, soon or late,
Your burial-ground should be,
Wouldst thou with gentle-patience wait,
A theme of verse to me.

So long, alas! did I delay
The tribute thus decreed it,
That thou, half angrily, didst say,
When wrote, thou would'st not read it!

But I defy the idle threat,
In peevish mood held out,
For reasons two-fold, which, as yet,
I see no cause to doubt.

The first is curiosity!
Your sex's master-spell.
Nay! look not so reproachfully,
I feel its force as well.

Nor am I much asham'd to own
This fault, if fault it be;
Much worse, I guess, might soon be shown,
Or 'twere not shar'd with thee.

But let that pass: one reason yet
Remains for thee to hear,
Why I should hold thy playful threat
As one I need not fear.

It is because the spot, thus made
The scene of thoughts of mine,
Is one that often is portray'd
By Fancy unto thine.

When absent from it, does it not
Arise to Memory's view,
Like an endear'd and hallow'd spot,
Where thought and feeling grew—

From strength to strength? Oh, thus it should!
For, howsoe'er we roam,
Hearts happy, guileless, pure, and good,
Must turn to childhood's home.

Then be the song which owes its birth
To thee, by thee approv'd;
If not for its intrinsic worth,
Yet for its theme belov'd.

And should it seem to thee to wear
Of graver thoughts the hue,
With such I know that thou wilt bear,
If feeling own them true.

The brightest, gayest thoughts of mirth,
If thought to mirth be given,
Can only lend a charm to earth;
But graver—lead to heaven!

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