Sarah Dixon, “On the Death of My Dear Brother…”

[SARAH DIXON]

“On the DEATH of My Dear BROTHER, Late of University College, OXFORD. Who Dy’d Young.”

Mournful the Night! with utmost Horror spread;
Which told my trembling Soul, that thine was fled.
To Sense ’twas dreadful, Nature cou’d not bear
So great a Breach, nor the sad Tidings hear,
Without the Symptoms of a wild Despair.                                           5
’Twas then I lost, a Brother and a Friend!
What poinant Grief, must such a Stroke attend?
Tho’ as prophetick of so short a Date,
His Soul was disciplin’d, to meet his Fate,
Yet my Distress no Mitigation finds;                                                      10
That Blessing is reserv’d for stronger Minds:
Minds like his own, who can extend their View;
Sit loose to every transient Good below,
Rise to aetherial Joys, and the bright Track pursue.
Wond’rous young Man! thou early blooming Good,                            15
Snatch’d hence, e’re half thy Virtue’s understood.
In useful Learning, what swift Progress made!
How soon the tender Parents Care repaid.
His toward Genius did with Ease attain,
What some by long Fatigue have sought in vain;                                20
Strict were his Morals, his Address polite!
Wit, Judgment, and Humanity, unite
To make his Loss esteem’d, as infinite.
Ah! faint Description, of a Worth so great;
This a short Sketch, th’ Original compleat.                                            25
Like some Noviciate, I attempt to show,
Those Lines a Master Hand wants Skill to do:
Who can paint Souls? or trace to Realms of Light,
Spirits prepar’d, to reach that glorious Height.
’Twas Heav’n, not Death, that ravish’d him away,                                30
For such Perfection never can decay.

NOTES:

Title On the DEATH of my Dear BROTHER A reference to James Dixon Jr. (1673-1700), brother of Sarah Dixon whose death inspired the poem (Kennedy, Poetic Sisters, 129).

7 poinant Poignant; “painfully sharp to the physical or mental feelings” (OED).

8 prophetick Prophetic; “of the nature of a prophecy or prediction” (OED).

10 Mitigation “Compassion, mercy, or favour” (OED).

14 aetherial Ethereal; “Of or relating to heaven, God, or the gods; heavenly, celestial” (OED).

26 Noviciate “A beginner, a novice; a person who is new to something” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (Canterbury, 1740), pp. 169-170. [Google Books]

Edited by Lee Hammel


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