Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON PATIENCE, by JOHN BYROM

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ON PATIENCE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A verse on patience?' yes; but then prepare
Last Line: Learn to have patience with ourselves, and mend!
Subject(s): Patience


"A VERSE on patience?" yes; but then prepare
Your mind friend T—c—t, with a reading share;
Or else to hear it, rather less than more
It will impart than you possess'd before:
If it be mine to write, it is your task
To bear the lines which you are pleas'd to ask.

Patience the theme!—A blessed inmate this!
The nursing parent of our bosom bliss.
Abroad for bliss she bids us not to roam,
But cultivate its real fund at home.
A noble treasure, when the patient soul
Sits in the centre, and surveys the whole!

The bustling world to fetch her out from thence
Will urge it's ev'ry plausible pretence;
Will praise perfections of a grander name,
Sound great exploits, and call her out to fame;
Amuse and flatter, till the soul, too prone
To self-activity, deserts her throne.

Be on your guard; the bus'ness of a man
Is properly, to do what good he can;
But first at home let patience rule within,
Where charity, you know, must first begin;
Not monied love, as fondly understood,
But calm, sedate propensity to good.

This is the product of the virtue, friend,
Which you oblige me here to recommend;
The trial this of all the rest beside,
For, without patience, they are all but pride;———
A strong ambition shines within its sphere,
But proves its weakness when it cannot bear.

There lies the test; bring ev'ry thing to that;
It shews us plainly what we would be at.
Of gen'rous actions we may count the sum,
Scarcely their worth, till disappointments come;
Men oft are then most gen'rously absurd,
Their own good actions have their own bad word.

Impatience hates ingratitude, forsooth!
For it discovers this ungrateful truth,
That, having done for int'rest or for fame
Such and such doings, she has lost her aim;
While all unthankful people in her debt
Have got their ends, and put her in a fret.

Possess'd of patience, a right humble mind
At all events is totally resign'd;
Does good for sake of good, not for th' event;
Leaves that to Heav'n, and keeps to its content;
Good to be done it acts; it bears the ill
To be endur'd, with meek, submissive will.

"Enough, enough! Now tell me, if you please,
"How best I may obtain this MENTAL EASE."
God knows, I know not, how it is acquir'd;
But this I know, if heartily desir'd,
We shall be thankful for the Donor's leave
To ask, to hope, to wait till we receive.


"Virtues, you say, by patience must be tried;
"If that be wanting, they are all but pride:
"Of rule so strict I want to have a clue."
Well, if you'll have the same indulgence too,
And take a fresh compliance in good part,
I'll do the best I can, with all my heart.

Pride is the grand distemper of the mind,
The source of ev'ry vice of ev'ry kind.
That love of self, wherein its essence lies,
Excites bad tempers, and affords supplies;
We coin a world of names for them, but still
All comes to—fondness for our own dear will.

We see by facts, upon the triple stage
Of this short life,—Youth, Manhood, and old Age,—
How three conditions commonly bewitch,
To be delighted,—honoured,—and rich.
'Tis selfish pride, if human faults you weigh,
That grows from young to old, from green to grey.

Pride is, indeed, a more accustom'd name
For quest of grandeur, eminence, or fame;
But search for pleasure, and for gold, betrays
What inward principle it is that sways:
The rake's young dotage, and the miser's old,
The same enslaving love to self unfold.

If pride be thus the fountain of all vice,
Whence must we say that virtue has its rise,
But from humility? And what, the sure
And certain sign that even this is pure?
For pride will like humility appear,
When nothing comes to precious self too near.

But when provok'd, admit unjustly too,
Then pride disrobes itself; makes much ado;
Then, who can blame the passion of a pride
That has got reason,—reason on its side?
He's in the wrong, and I am in the right;—
Resentment, come! Humility, good night!

Now the criterion, I apprehend,
If any, upon which we may depend,
Is patience,—is to bear, and to forbear,—
To which the truly virtuous adhere;
Resolv'd to suffer, without Pro and Con,
A thousand evils rather than do one.

To be devoid of patience, yet not proud,
Is contradiction not to be allow'd;
All eyes are open to so plain a cheat,
Except those blinded by the self-deceit,
Who, with a like consistency, may tell,
That nothing ails them, though they are not well.

Strict is the rule, its consequences true,
However I fall short of it, or you;
Our stock we shall augment, if it be small,
By dealing in it with our neighbours all;
And then, who knows but we shall, in the end,
Learn to have patience with ourselves, and mend!

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