Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ELEGY OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF REV. SAMUEL STILLMAN, by ROYALL TYLER



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ELEGY OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF REV. SAMUEL STILLMAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Oh, death! Fell tyrant of a ruined world
Last Line: The peaceful sabbath of the tomb is thine.
Alternate Author Name(s): Old Simon; S.
Subject(s): Stillman, Samuel (1737-1807)


OH, Death! fell tyrant of a ruined world,
Can nothing from thy power despotick save?
And must the virtuous, the revered be hurled
In sad succession to the putrid grave?

Thy voice terrifick must we all obey?
Will nought avail the prayer or tearful eye?
Must thou o'er all yet hold thy equal sway,
And reign with dreadful impartiality?

Yes; for that stronger voice, which at the first
From sluggish earth bade man in beauty bloom,
So by its word ordained, that "Dust to dust,"
Must be of man the dread perpetual doom.

But hark! what loud lament, what sobs of wo,
What gloom o'er every passing face is spread!
The ruthless tyrant gives the fatal blow,
And numbers STILLMAN with the sainted dead.

Mute is that warning voice, whose power awoke
The sleeping conscience from its dread repose;
Closed are those eyes, which, more than words, bespoke
What his full heart sustained for human woes.

That voice no more shall his full heart express,
Or truths sublime in glowing style dispense,
His active arm shall never more impress
The fervid Preacher's thundering eloquence.

The stately cenotaph, the Parian bust,
The sculptured urn, let polished Europe raise;
In gorgeous fabricks place the mitred dust,
On brazen tablets grave the Hierarch's praise.

No proud cathedrals here their pomp display,
Whose fretted domes their spacious concaves spread,
Where through the pictured panes the dubious day
Shades the prized reliques of the honoured dead.

What though no massy fanes his dust inclose,
No brass or marble his loved form supply;
Yet, not forgotten shall his dust repose,
Nor yet unhonoured shall the good man die.

No; while one ray of poesy divine
Cheers the sad poet in this darksome scene,
Still in his humble verse the just shall shine,
Still shall his laurels bloom eternal green:

And memory, faithful to its sacred trust,
Shall from oblivion snatch the good man's name;
When art's proud monuments shall sink in dust,
On living tablets shall engrave his fame.

O, could I breathe that vivifying breath,
Which the rapt prophet's God alone could give,
Which, in the arid vale of numerous death,
Made the dry fragment bones to rise and live!

Then should the Christian sage from forth the fold
Of fetid death in pristine might ascend,
And many a grief-swoln eye again behold
The husband, father, preacher, and the friend.

Then should the sabbath's hallowed chimes expand,
And crowding converts to the church repair,
STILLMAN again should lead the new born band,
And raise the incense of the fervent prayer.

Lo! in the sacred desk I see him stand,
His form, his features once again I trace;
And, like th' angelick choir in Judah's land,
He brings 'glad tidings' to man's ruined race.

Hark! hear ye not again that voice sublime?
It calls the dead in sin to life and light;
Say, mark you not that countenance divine,
That troubled gesture, and that arm of might?

See, whilst the glowing truth assails the mind,
And wakes the passions from their fatal sleep,
The spirit rushes like a mighty wind,
The flint dissolves, the hardened sinners weep!

But ah! how soon the poet's dream is past,
The fleeting vision flits like mortal breath,
Nought but the last loud trumpet's potent blast,
Can rouse the slumberer from the bed of death.

Ah, where is now affliction's constant friend,
Where the consoler of the mind distrest?
Whose prayerful skill the broken heart co[u]ld mend,
And soothe the troubled conscience into rest.

Ah, where is he, who, by the dying bed,
Calmed the last passage of the struggling breath,
Illumed with gospel hope the fainting head,
And changed to bursts of joy the pangs of death!

And you, ye wretched many, who have gone
In weeds of sorrow through this vale of wo,
Who oft have wept the near connection borne
To the dark regions of man's conquering foe,

No more shall STILLMAN seek your roofs of pain,
With mild consoling voice the wretched cheer;
No more the widow's sinking heart sustain,
Or wipe the anguished orphan's scalding tear.

To the grave fathers of our favoured land,
No more shall he enforce the freeman's right;
Or at the bidding of the warriour band,
Teach the true christian soldier how to fight.

No more the malefactor, doomed to die,
From STILLMAN'S lips shall learn a Saviour's name,
Learn, like th' expiring thief on Calvary,
To mount to glory from the depths of shame.

But cease, fond muse, his virtues to recount;
Vain is the task which thy rash pen employs;
When all is done, 'tis but the sad account,
The sable schedule of departed joys.

Peace to thy ashes, then, thou man of God;
To thy approving Judge we thee resign:
'TIS OURS to bear the chastenings of his rod,
The peaceful Sabbath of the tomb is THINE.





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