Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON THE DEATH OF MR. GARRICK, by JANE BOWDLER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ON THE DEATH OF MR. GARRICK, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The last sad rites were done - the sacred ground
Last Line: "and know—whoe'er thou art—the prize is thine."
Subject(s): Death; Future Life; Garrick, David (1717-1779); Graves; Mourning; Silence; Dead, The; Retribution; Eternity; After Life; Tombs; Tombstones; Bereavement

THE last sad rites were done—the sacred ground
Was clos'd—and GARRICK's dust to dust return'd;
In life, in death, with general honours crown'd,
A nation own'd his worth—applauded—mourn'd.

For who, like him, could every sense controul,
To Shakespeare's self new charms, new force, impart;
Bid unknown horrors shake the firmest soul,
And unknown feelings melt the hardest heart?

Oft when his eye, with more than magic pow'r,
Gave life to thoughts which words could ne'er reveal,
The voice of praise awhile was heard no more,
All gaz'd in silence, and could only feel.

Each thought suspended in a general pause,
All shar'd his passions, and forgot their own—
'Till rous'd at length, in thunders of applause,
Th' accordant dictates of each heart were known.

O lost for ever to our wond'ring view!—
Yet faithful memory shall preserve thy name;
E'en distant times thy honours shall renew,
And Garrick still shall share his Shakespeare's fame.

Thus musing, through the lonely aile I stray'd,
Recall'd the wonders of his matchless pow'rs,
And many a former scene in thought survey'd,
While all unheeded pass'd the silent hours.

With mournful awe I trod the sacred stones,
Where kings and heroes sleep in long repose,
And trophies, mould'ring o'er the warrior's bones,
Proclaim how frail the life which fame bestows.

Now sunk the last faint beam of closing day,
Each form was lost, and hush'd was ev'ry found;
All, all was silent as the sleeping clay,
And darkness spread her fable veil around.

At once, methought, a more than midnight gloom
With deathlike horror chill'd my throbbing breast,
When lo! a voice, deep murmuring from the tomb,
These awful accents on my soul imprest:—

"Vain are the glories of a nation's praise;
"The boast of wit, the pride of genius, vain:
"A long, long night succeeds the transient blaze,
"Where darkness, solitude, and silence, reign.

"The shouts of loud applause which thousands gave,
"On me nor pride, nor pleasure, now bestow:
"Like the chill blast that murmurs o'er my grave,
"They pass away—nor reach the dust below.

"One virtuous deed, to all the world unknown,
"Outweighs the highest bliss which these can give,
"Can cheer the soul when youth and strength are flown,
"In sickness triumph, and in death survive.

"What though to thee, in life's remotest sphere,
"Nor nature's gifts, nor fortune's, are consign'd,
"Let brightest prospects to thy soul appear,
"And hopes immortal elevate thy mind.

"The sculptur'd marble shall dissolve in dust,
"And fame, and wealth, and honours, pass away:
"Not such the triumphs of the good and just,
Not such the glories of eternal day.

"These, these shall live, when ages are no more,
"With never-fading lustre still shall shine:——
"Go then, to Heaven devote thy utmost pow'r,
"And know—whoe'er thou art—the prize is thine."

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