Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A POEM, DEDICATED TO WILLIAM LAW, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, by ROBERT BLAIR



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A POEM, DEDICATED TO WILLIAM LAW, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, by            
First Line: In silence to suppress my griefs I've tried
Last Line: (the father gone) now to the fatherless.


IN silence to suppress my griefs I've tried,
And kept within its banks the swelling tide!
But all in vain: unbidden numbers flow;
Spite of myself my sorrows vocal grow.
This be my plea. -- Nor thou, dear Shade, refuse
The well-meant tribute of the willing muse,
Who trembles at the greatness of its theme,
And fain would say what suits so high a name.
Which, from the crowded journal of thy fame, --
Which of thy many titles shall I name?
For, like a gallant prince, that wins a crown,
By undisputed right before his own,
Variety thou hast: our only care
Is what to single out, and what forbear.
Though scrupulously just, yet not severe;
Though cautious, open; courteous, yet sincere;
Though reverend, yet not magisterial;
Though intimate with few, yet loved by all;
Though deeply read, yet absolutely free
From all the stiffnesses of pedantry;
Though circumspectly good, yet never sour;
Pleasant with innocence, and never more.
Religion, worn by thee, attractive show'd,
And with its own unborrow'd beauty glow'd:
Unlike the bigot, from whose watery eyes
Ne'er sunshine broke, nor smile was seen to rise;
Whose sickly goodness lives upon grimace,
And pleads a merit from a blubber'd face.
Thou kept thy raiment for the needy poor,
And taught the fatherless to know thy door;
From griping hunger set the needy free;
That they were needy, was enough to thee.
Thy fame to please, whilst others restless be,
Fame laid her shyness by, and courted thee;
And though thou bade the flattering thing give o'er,
Yet, in return, she only woo'd thee more.
How sweet thy accents! and how mild thy look!
What smiling mirth was heard in all thou spoke;
Manhood and grizzled age were fond of thee,
And youth itself sought thy society.
The aged thou taught, descended to the young,
Clear'd up the irresolute, confirm'd the strong;
To the perplex'd thy friendly counsel lent,
And gently lifted up the diffident;
Sigh'd with the sorrowful, and bore a part
In all the anguish of a bleeding heart;
Reclaim'd the headstrong; and, with sacred skill,
Committed hallow'd rapes upon the will;
Soothed our affections; and, with their delight,
To gain our actions, bribed our appetite.
Now, who shall, with a greatness like thy own,
Thy pulpit dignify, and grace thy gown?
Who, with pathetic energy like thine,
The head enlighten, and the heart refine?
Learn'd were thy lectures, noble the design,
The language Roman, and the action fine;
The heads well ranged, the inferences clear,
And strong and solid thy deductions were:
Thou mark'd the boundaries out 'twixt right and wrong,
And show'd the land-marks as thou went along.
Plain were thy reasonings, or, if perplex'd,
Thy life was the best comment on thy text;
For, if in darker points we were deceived,
'Twas only but observing how thou lived.
Bewilder'd in the greatness of thy fame,
What shall the Muse, what next in order name?
Which of thy social qualities commend --
Whether of husband, father, or of friend?
A husband soft, beneficent, and kind,
As ever virgin wish'd, or wife could find;
A father indefatigably true
To both a father's trust and tutor's too;
A friend affectionate and staunch to those
Thou wisely singled out; for few thou chose:
Few, did I say, that word we must recall;
A friend, a willing friend, thou wast to all.
Those properties were thine, nor could we know
Which rose the uppermost, so all wast thou.
So have I seen the many-colour'd mead,
Brush'd by the vernal breeze, its fragrance shed:
Though various sweets the various field exhaled,
Yet could we not determine which prevail'd,
Nor this part rose, that honey-suckle call
But a rich bloomy aggregate of all.
And thou, the once glad partner of his bed,
But now by sorrow's weeds distinguished,
Whose busy memory thy grief supplies,
And calls up all thy husband to thine eyes;
Thou must not be forgot. How alter'd now!
How thick thy tears! How fast thy sorrows flow!
The well known voice that cheer'd thee heretofore,
These soothing accents thou must hear no more.
Untold be all the tender sighs thou drew,
When on thy cheek he fetch'd a long adieu.
Untold be all thy faithful agonies,
At the last anguish of his closing eyes;
For thou, and only such as thou, can tell
The killing anguish of a last farewell.
This earth, yon sun, and these blue-tinctured skies,
Through which it rolls, must have their obsequies:
Pluck'd from their orbits, shall the planets fall,
And smoke and conflagration cover all:
What, then, is man? The creature of a day,
By moments spent, and minutes borne away.
Time, like a raging torrent, hurries on;
Scarce can we say it is, but that 'tis gone.
Whether, fair shade! with social spirits, tell
(Whose properties thou once described so well),
Familiar now thou hearest them relate
The rites and methods of their happy state:
Or if, with forms more fleet, thou roams abroad,
And views the great magnificence of God,
Points out the courses of the orbs on high,
And counts the silver wonders of the sky!
Or if, with glowing seraphim, thou greets
Heaven's King, and shoutest through the golden streets,
That crowds of white-robed choristers display,
Marching in triumph through the pearly way?
Now art thou raised beyond this world of cares,
This weary wilderness, this vale of tears;
Forgetting all thy toils and labours past,
No gloom of sorrow stains thy peaceful breast.
Now, 'midst seraphic splendours shalt thou dwell,
And be what only these pure forms can tell.
How cloudless now, and cheerful is thy day!
What joys, what raptures, in thy bosom play!
How bright the sunshine, and how pure the air!
There's no difficulty of breathing there.
With willing steps a pilgrim at thy shrine,
To dew it with my tears the task be mine;
In lonely dirge, to murmur o'er thy urn
And with new-gather'd flowers thy turf adorn:
Nor shall thy image from my bosom part;
No force shall rip thee from this bleeding heart.
Oft shall I think o'er all I've left in thee,
Nor shall oblivion blot thy memory;
But grateful love its energy express
(The father gone) now to the fatherless.





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