Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DIRGE FOR A LIVING POET, by HORACE SMITH



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DIRGE FOR A LIVING POET, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What! Shall the mind of bard -- historian -- sage
Last Line: Restore, restore, o god! Our poet's wandering mind!
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Horatio
Subject(s): Death; Muses; Poetry & Poets; Tears; Voices; Dead, The


WHAT! shall the mind of bard -- historian -- sage,
Be prostrate laid upon oblivion's bier,
Shall darkness quench the beacon of our age,
"Without the meed of one melodious tear?"
Will none, with genius like his own,
Mourn the fine intellect o'erthrown,
That died in giving life to deathless heirs?
Are worthier voices mute? then I
The Muse's humblest votary,
Will pour my wailful dirge and sympathising prayer.

Well may I mourn that mental sun's eclipse,
For in his study have I sate enshrined,
And reverently listened while his lips
Mastered the master-spirits of mankind,
As his expanding wisdom took
New range from his consulted book.
Oh, to what noble thoughts didst thou give birth,
Thou poet-sage, whose life and mind
In mutual perfectness combined
The spirit's loftiest flight, with purest moral worth!

Behold the withering change! amid the rays
That formed a halo round those volumed wits,
Amid his own imperishable lays
In silent, blank fatuity he sits!
Seeking a respite from his curse,
His body, now his spirit's hearse,
Still haunts that book-charmed room, for there alone
Thought-gleams illume his wandering eyes,
As lightnings flicker o'er the skies
Where the departed sun in cloudless glory shone.

Oh withering, woeful change -- oh living death!
Lo! where he strays at Fancy's aimless beck,
On his dementate brow the titled wreath,
A mournful mockery of reason's wreck.
Roaming by Derwent's silent shore
Or dark-hued Greta's rushing roar,
A human statue! His unconscious stare
Knows not the once familiar spot,
Knows not the partner of his lot,
Who, as she guides him, sobs a broken-hearted prayer.

Oh flood and fell, lake, moorland, valley, hill!
Mourn the dark bard who sang your praise of yore.
Oh Rydal-Falls, Lodore, and Dungeon Gill!
Down the rock's cheek your tearful gushes pour.
Ye crag-enveloped Tarns that sleep
In your hushed craters, wake and weep.
Ye mountains! hide your sorrowing heads in cloud:
As sobbing winds around ye moan;
Helvellyn! Skiddaw! wail and groan,
And clothe your giant forms in vapour's mourning shroud.

Why make appeal to these? Ye good and wise
Who worshipped at his intellectual shrine,
Ye kindred natures, who can sympathise
With genius 'reft of reason's light divine,
Ye whom his learning, virtue, lays,
Taught, guided, charmed in other days,
Let all your countless voices be combined,
As on your knees, ye pour on high
This choral supplicating cry --
Restore, restore, O God! our poet's wandering mind!





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