Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, POSTHUMOUS TALES: TALE 7. THE SCHOOL-FELLOW, by GEORGE CRABBE



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POSTHUMOUS TALES: TALE 7. THE SCHOOL-FELLOW, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Yes! I must leave thee, brother of my heart
Last Line: But learn one lesson from my buried friend.


I

YES! I must leave thee, brother of my heart,
The world demands us, and at length we part;
Thou whom that heart, since first it felt, approved --
I thought not why, nor question'd how I loved;
In my first thoughts, first notions, and first cares,
Associate: partner in my mind's affairs,
In my young dreams, my fancies ill-express'd
But well conceived, and to the heart address'd.
A fellow-reader in the books I read,
A fellow-mourner in the tears I shed,
A friend, partaking every grief and joy,
A lively, frank, engaging, generous boy.
At school each other's prompters, day by day
Companions in the frolic or the fray;
Prompt in disputes -- we never sought the cause,
The laws of friendship were our only laws;
We ask'd not how or why the strife began,
But David's foe was foe to Jonathan.
In after-years my Friend, the elder boy,
Would speak of Love, its tumult and its joy;
A new and strong emotion thus imprest,
Prepared for pain to come the yielding breast;
For though no object then the fancy found,
She dreamt of darts, and gloried at the wound;
Smooth verse and tender tales the spirit moved,
And ere the Chloes came the Strephons loved.
This is the Friend I leave; for he remains
Bound to his home by strong but viewless chains:
Nor need I fear that his aspiring soul
Will fail his adverse fortunes to control,
Or lose the fame he merits: yet awhile
The clouds may lour -- but then his sun will smile.
Oh! Time, thou teller of men's fortunes, lend
Thy aid, and be propitious to my Friend!
Let me behold him prosperous, and his name
Enroll'd among the darling sons of Fame;
In love befriend him, and be his the bride,
Proud of her choice, and of her lord the pride.
'So shall my little bark attendant sail,' --
(As Pope has sung) -- and prosperous be the gale!

II

HE is not here: the Youth I loved so well
Dwells in some place where kindred spirits dwell:
But I shall learn. Oh! tell me of my Friend,
With whom I hoped life's evening-calm to spend;
With whom was spent the morn, the happy morn!
When gay conceits and glorious views are born;
With whom conversing I began to find
The early stirrings of an active mind,
That, done the tasks and lessons of the day,
Sought for new pleasures in our untried way;
And stray'd in fairy land, where much we long'd to stray.
Here he abides not! could not surely fix
In this dull place, with these dull souls to mix;
He finds his place where lively spirits meet,
And loftier souls from baser kind retreat.
First, of my early Friend I gave the name,
Well known to me, and, as I judged, to Fame;
My grave informer doubted, then replied,
'That Lad! -- why, yes! -- some ten years since he died.'
P. Died! and unknown! the man I loved so well!
But is this all? the whole that you can tell
Of one so gifted? --
F. Gifted! why, in truth,
You puzzle me; how gifted was the Youth?
I recollect him, now -- his long, pale face --
He dress'd in drab, and walk'd as in a race.
P. Good Heaven! what did I not of him expect?
And is this all indeed you recollect --
Of wit that charm'd me, with delightful ease --
And gay good-humour that must ever please --
His taste, his genius! know you nought of these?
F. No, not of these: -- but stop! in passing near,
I've heard his flute -- it was not much to hear:
As for his genius -- let me not offend:
I never had a genius for a friend,
And doubt of yours; but still he did his best,
And was a decent Lad -- there let him rest!
He lies in peace, with all his humble race,
And has no stone to mark his burial place;
Nor left he that which to the world might show
That he was one that world was bound to know,
For aught he gave it. -- Here his story ends!
P. And is this all? This character my Friend's!
That may, alas! be mine -- -- 'a decent Lad!' --
The very phrase would make a Poet mad!
And he is gone! -- Oh! proudly did I think
That we together at that fount should drink,
Together climb the steep ascent of Fame,
Together gain an ever-during name,
And give due credit to our native home --
Yet here he lies, without a name or tomb!
Perhaps not honour'd by a single tear,
Just enter'd in a parish-register,
With common dust, forgotten to remain --
And shall I seek, what thou could'st not obtain --
A name for men when I am dead to speak? --
Oh! let me something more substantial seek;
Let me no more on man's poor praise depend,
But learn one lesson from my buried Friend.





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