Tag Archives: heroic couplets

Anonymous, “Scattered Thoughts, by a Lady”

ANONYMOUS

“Scattered Thoughts, by a Lady”
Written in a long and painful Illness, after a disturbed and restless night.

While, child of sorrow, on my couch I lie,
And court sweet Sleep to seal my wakeful eye,
Still keenest anguish rankles at my heart,
And pains unceasing pierce each vital part.
I hear the joyless bird of omen sing,                                                          5
And at my casement flap his blacken’d wing;
While nightly spirits hover round my head,
Haunting with horrid thoughts my widow’d bed.
Oh, come, thou kindest nurse! come, gentle Sleep!
Seal with thy wings those eyes which wake to weep.                                10
Distill thy poppies on my unclos’d lid,
And on my pillow thy mild opiates shed.
Through night’s dark gloom I count the measur’d time,
And hear the knell of Death incessant chime:
The spider, spinning in some lonely notch,                                              15
Echoes the knell, and keeps th’ ill-omen’d watch.
My pensive pillow views my early life,
When in youth’s bloom I took the name of wife;
Scarce sixteen suns had dawn’d upon my years,
When I awoke to all a mother’s cares;                                                         20
While, at my breast, the tender blossom hung,
Ere the soft accent loos’d the lisping tongue,
Grief’s sharpest arrows pierc’d my gentle heart,
And wounded Nature felt her festering dart;
No love congenial to my own I found,                                                         25
But joyless pass’d night’s solitary round.
If lost in momentary sleep I lie,
What hideous forms appear to fancy’s eye!
With phantoms of a woe-worn feverish brain
I trembling start,—and wake to keener pain;                                            30
The spectres of delusion still in view,
And the night bag, my waking sense pursue.
My shorten’d sighs quick breathe around my room,
Where horrid darkness sheds a total gloom ;
Save one pale taper of a glimmering light,                                                  35
Which dimly twinkles through the shades of night,
Like a true friend, such silent sorrow shows,
And “waxeth pale”—through sympathy of woes.
Sweet Sympathy! in whate’er form you dwell,
Welcome! thrice welcome! to my tear-wash’d cell.                                   40
Ev’n when I hear the nightly shrill owl scream,
Some friend I think is near—some hope unseen.
Hope! did I say? thou joyful, blessed sound!
Where beams thy ray? where art thou to be found?
Long have I sought thy visionary hand;                                                      45
Lead me, dear phantom! to that blissful land!
That heaven of sure rest! that promis’d shore!
Where Peace shall dwell—and I shall weep no more!
Then strike, grim spectre! strike this yielding heart!
Strike down my sorrows with thy welcome dart.                                       50
And, when this “mortal coil” is laid in earth,
Then may my soul awake to Heaven’s new birth!
Then, like a pilgrim, view this rocky shore,
And rest—where thorns shall pierce my soul NO MORE!

NOTES:

14 knell “To ring (a bell); to ring slowly and solemnly, as for a death or at a funeral, to                       toll” (OED) ; chime Living near the church” [Author’s note].

32 night bag “A travelling bag used to carry things needed for the night” (OED).

35 pale taper A wax candle, in early times used chiefly for devotional or penitential   purposes” (OED).

51 mortal coil The bustle or turmoil of this mortal life” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (October 1787), pp. 914-15.

Edited by Arianna Ordonez

William Hamilton, “The Wish”

WILLIAM HAMILTON

 “The Wish”

If join’d to make up virtue’s glorious tale,
A weak, but pious aid can aught avail,
Each sacred study, each diviner page
That once inspired my youth, shall sooth my age,
Deaf to ambition, and to interest’s call;                                                        5
Honour, my titles, and enough, my all;
No pimp of pleasure, and no slave of state,
Serene from fools, and guiltless of the great,
Some calm and undisturb’d retreat I’ll chuse
Dear to myself and friends. Perhaps the muse                                        10
May grant, while all my thoughts her charms imploy,
If not a future fame, a present joy,
Pure from each feverish hope, each weak desire;
Thoughts that improve, and slumbers that inspire,
A steadfast peace of mind, rais’d far above                                               15
The guilt of hate and weakness of Love
Studious of life, yet free from anxious care,
To others candid, to myself severe,
Filial, submissive to the sovereign will,
Glad of the good, and patient of the ill,                                                      20
I’ll work in narrow sphere, what heaven approves,
Abating hatreds, and increasing loves,
My friendship, studies, pleasures, all my own
Alike to envy, and to fame unknown:
Such in form blest asylum let me ly,                                                           25
Take off my fill of life, and wait, not wish to dy.

NOTES:

 3 Diviner “Given by or proceeding from God; having the sanction of or inspired by God” (OED).

19 Filial “Of sentiments, duty, etc.: due from a child to a parent” (OED).

25 Asylum “A benevolent institution affording shelter and support to some class of the afflicted, the unfortunate, the destitute” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (Bangor 1760) pp. 95-96. [Google Books]

Edited by Haley Walker

Anne Ross, “To the memory of a Young Lady, who died in the eleventh year of her age”

[ANNE ROSS]

“To the memory of a Young LADY, who died in the eleventh year of her age”

All ye who mourn
The loss of friends that’s dear,
The mournful scene that is exhibit here,
Bids envy cease, and pity drop a tear.

To you, whose hearts can feel when others mourn,
This is address’d, it soon may be your turn;
Their case to day, to-morrow may be your’s,
The clearest sun oft sets in clouds and showers.

A tender mother reared a darling child,                                                   5
Joy of her friends, and all the country’s pride;
Her person graceful, her complexion fair,
An antient Baronet’s apparent heir.

Her comely face display’d a lively bloom,
Which promis’d health, and many years to come;                               10
T’ inform her mind, and make her wise as fair,
Was still her honour’d mother’s constant care.

For her, to Heav’n, she still address’d her prayer,
That it might always keep her in its care;
That she, in ev’ry stage of life, might shine,                                            15
And see her race, a long and prosp’rous line.

Her aunt and mother saw, with glad surprise,
Inherent virtues near perfection rise:
Their hopes were rais’d, their expectations high;
But soon, alas! their expectations fly.                                                       20

How fleeting are our pleasures, here below?
A stream of joy, now turns a tide of woe.

From bloom of health, this darling child is seiz’d,
Laid on her bed and pain’d with sore disease;
If human aid could cure, that aid was giv’n;                                           25
But who can alter the decree of Heav’n.

How calm and patient in distress she lay;
In all her trouble never ceas’d to pray:
Th’ afflicted mother sends her sighs to Heav’n,
Restore my child, and all I wish is giv’n.                                                   30

If this request’s deny’d, O! help me still,
To be resign’d unto thy heavenly will;
Heav’n, oft in mercy, does our wish deny,
Our surest hope is fix’d above the sky.

The child was quite resign’d; to die was gain,                                           35
Her prayer was not for life, but ease from pain:
Her prayer was not unheard, her wish was given;
Her blessed Saviour takes her home to heaven.

In youth and innocence, the child she dies,
And angels waft her spirit to the skies.                                                     40

NOTES:

Epigraph Unable to trace; possibly provided by the author.

5 reared “To raise a person” (OED).

8 antient “The spelling of ‘ancient’ from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century; it refers to the titles of office or position formerly occupied” (OED).

16 race A poetical term that refers to “a set of children or descendants” (OED).

24 sore “Violent with pain” (Johnson).

40 waft “To carry through the air” (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (Glasgow, 1791), pp. 36-38. [Google Books]

Edited by Ka Wing Tsang

William Thomas Fitzgerald, “An Address to the Company assembled at Freemason’s Hall, on the Anniversary of the Literary Fund, May 2 1799″

[WILLIAM THOMAS FITZGERALD, ESQ.]

“An Address to the Company assembled at Freemason’s Hall, on the Anniversary of the Literary Fund, May 2 1799”

Is there a sight the heart can hold more dear,
Than what Humanity contemplates here?
Pure the delight that animates the breast,
To see you throng to succour the distress’d.
Manes of Butler, Otway, Dryden, rise!                                                 5
Behold an object grateful to your eyes;
England, at last atoning for her crime—
England, that starv’d the witty and sublime,
With contrite feeling opes her ample store,
And bids the Sons of Genius starve no more.                                  10
‘Tis said, that some to Poesy are foes,
And think that Literature engenders woes:
Such would bring back a barb’rous age again;
For none but Vandals persecute the pen!
Though some profane the Muse’s gift divine,                                   15
And bow at Avarice of Ambition’s shrine;
Though some illiberal Satire’s pen employ,
And mingle hemlock in the cup of joy;
Pierce the recesses of domestic life,
Expose the husband, or defame the wife;                                          20
The tale of scandal bring to public eye,
And in smooth numbers circulate the lie—
The Muse’s happier office is, to prove
The bond of Friendship, and the lamp of Love;
To harmonize the passions of the Mind,                                             25
To please, instruct, and meliorate Mankind.
By her the selfish feelings are suppress’d,
And social virtues kindle in the breast;
She points to Nature’s wise and gen’rous plan,
And shews how strongly man depends on man;                               30
This sacred truth the thatch-roof’d Peasant owns,
And ermin’d Monarchs feel it on their thrones!
A loyal zeal for Freedom she inspires,
And nerves to energy the Patriot’s fires—
Is there a man so base, so lost to shame,                                            35
Who does not venerate the Patriot’s name!
Not the proud leader of the servile crew,
Who grind the many, to enrich the few;
But he who, active in his Country’s cause,                                            40
Asserts her liberties, maintains her laws;
Whose upright mind pursues no private end,
At once the Monarch’s, and the People’s friend!
Who stems Oppression, which much oft’ner springs
From Tyrant Factions than from Tyrant Kings;                                    45
Arms for his Sovereign, to his standard flies;
For Freedom conquers, or for Freedom dies:
Not for that Fiend, detested by the good,
That bath’d unhappy France with kindred blood;
That brutaliz’d a Nation once humane,                                                 50
Whose sire is Discord, and whose offspring Pain!
That drinks the tears despairing orphans shed,
Tortures the living, and insults the dead!
That leads from crime to crime, from bad to worse,
The Prince’s tyrant, and the People’s curse!                                         55
Which, like a torrent bursting ev’ry mound,
Destroys the harvest, desolates the ground;
Saps the foundation of the loftiest tow’r,
And whelms the work of ages in an hour!
This Gallic Daemon, hated by the wise,                                                 60
Shuns the keen searching of the Patriot’s eyes:
‘Tis not for her his country’s foes he braves,
In burning climes, or on the stormy waves;
But for that Freedom, native of our soil,
That dignifies command, and sweetens toil!                                         65
Whose graceful form, unbent by time, appears,
Blooming as youth, though sanctified by years!
For British Liberty—that draws the line,
‘Twixt wild Democracy, and Right Divine;
With equal zeal the Monarch’s powers maintains,                                70
And guards the Subject from despotic chains:
The slave who once imbibes the English air,
Freed from his fetters, owns the Goddess there!
Where Heaven these words, in voice of thunder spoke,
The Tree of Freedom is the British Oak!                                                  75

Excuse the warmth with which my Muse express’d
The subject nearest, dearest to my breast;
But, when the foes of earth and heaven conspire,
To desolate the world with sword, and fire,
Each honest man’s a patriot at the heart,                                               80
And burns to take his King’s and Country’s part.
When Time has swept the present race away,
And friends to Science celebrate this day;
Remembrance shall with more than pleasure name
And give your liberal patronage to Fame—                                              85
To rival Genius—mutual Envy past—
Succeeding ages shall be just at last;
And He, who first this noble fabric rais’d,
Shall with no common gratitude be praised:
Time, that destroys the Hero’s trophied bust,                                         90
Shall spare the bay that blossoms o’er his dust.

NOTES:

Title The Literary Fund Now, “The Royal Literary Fund.” Founded in 1790 by Rev. David Williams, the fund aims to support writers in pursing their work in times of financial hardship. The fund has aided well-known writers like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Joseph Conrad, D.H. Lawrence, and James Joyce, as well as countless other lesser-known authors.

5 Manes of Butler, Otway, Dryden Summoning the souls of poets Samuel Butler (1612-1680), Thomas Otway (1652-1685), and John Dryden (1631-1700).

9 opes Opens, provides opportunity.

11 Poesy Poetry.

17 illiberal “Unscholarly, not refined” (OED).

18 hemlock “The common name of Conium maculatum, a poisonous umbelliferous plant, having a stout branched stem with purplish spots, finely divided leaves, and small white flowers; it is used medicinally as a powerful sedative” (OED).

32 ermin’d “Cloaked in ermine fur; garmented” (OED).

36 venerate “To regard with feelings of respect and reverence” (OED).

60 Gallic Daemon References the French version of “freedom,” or “liberté,” one of the rallying cries of the French Revolution (1789-99).

69 Right Divine A reference to the divine right of kings, which asserted that a king’s absolute power was sanctioned by God.

75 British Oak An emblem of British nationalism.

88 He, who first this noble fabric rais’d Rev. David Williams (1738-1816), Welsh minster and philosopher who founded the Literary Fund.

91 the bay Or, laurel; “Leaves or sprigs of this tree, esp. as woven into a wreath or garland to reward a conqueror or poet” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (May 1799), pp. 420-21.

Edited by Tanashati Anderson

Mary Masters, “On Marinda’s Marriage”

MARY MASTERS

“On Marinda’s Marriage”

The Day is come, the mystick Knot is ty’d,
And HYMEN laughs upon the beaut’ous Bride.
Amidst her Maids, see gay MARINDA shine,
Newly conducted from the Sacred Shrine:
Great Heav’n, the wise Disposer of her Charms,                                  5
Consigns them to a happy Lover’s Arms:
Happiest among the Happy here below,
On whom th’ indulging Fates such Gifts bestow.

In fair MARINDA’s Person is exprest,
All that can most delight the Human Breast.                                       10
Motion its Charms in full Perfection spreads,
Where with a graceful Negligence she treads,
And Innocence, which might the First-born Pair
Adorn, displays itself in ev’ry Air.
Yet tho’ her Form has various Beauties join’d,                                     15
It yields in Beauty to her brighter Mind:
Amidst the Virgin Trains the first is nam’d,
For Wit, for Eloquence, and Virtue, fam’d,
When-e’er she speaks, who strives not to be near?
See warm’d Attention bend the list’ning Ear!                                        20
With still Surprise, see the fond Hearers gaze!
While ev’ry Heart beats Measure to her Praise:
Experienc’d Age may by her Youth be taught,
So sage Her Maxims, so sublime her Thought.

But lo! the happy Bridegroom now draws nigh,                           25
His Soul’s in Triumph and his Heart beats high:
A livelier Red inflames his am’rous Cheek,
And in his Voice the tend’rest Accents break:
With Looks erect, and with manly Air
He meets the softer Beauties of the Fair                                               30
The dedicated Nymph each Thought employs,
See from his Eyes the emanating Joys!
He seats himself with Pleasure by her side,
And looks transported on his blushing Bride.

Hail, wedded Pair! O may your Union prove                                  35
The brightest Pattern of Connubial Love!
And may this Day, select by smiling Fate,
Parent of Blessings in your Nuptial State,
Revolving often with the rolling Years,
Ne’er bring less Joy than what the present wears.                               40
Nor melancholy Cares, nor stormy Strife,
Trouble the Tenour of your future Life.

And when the tender Pledges of your Love
In Years to come MARINDA’S Form improve.
New Charmers (yet unborn) shall fire the Muse,                                 45
And endless Beauties endless Verse diffuse.

NOTES:

 2 HYMEN God of marriage.

13 First-born Pair Adam and Eve.

36 Connubial “Of or relating to marriage or a married couple”(OED).

Source: Mary Masters, Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp.17-20. [Google Books]

Edited by Donna Hang

Anonymous, “Epilogue”

ANONYMOUS

“Epilogue”

 Hard is the task to trace the poet’s life,
Where praise and censure ever are at strife;
Where wit and weakness in succession reign
And hold, by turns, th’ enthusiast in their train.
He (to whose rapid eye the Muse hath giv’n                                                    5
“To glance from Heav’n to earth, then earth to Heav’n,”)
O’erlooks all vulgar arts and sober rules,
And leaves the world to knaves and thriving fools:
By all admir’d, rewarded, and carest,
No future cares perplex his anxious breast;                                                    10
No gloomy wants the smiling hours o’ercast,
He paints each year propitious as the last;
Whilst his warm heart, forever unconfin’d,
Expands for all the wants of all mankind.
Hence private griefs from virtuous weakness flow;                                       15
Hence social pleasures prove domestic woe.
Oft’ on this spot the Muse, with solemn mien,
And artful sadness, fills the tragic scene;
The well-feign’d sorrows your attention gain,
Whilst the prompt tear attests the pleasing pain:                                           20
But our sad story needs no poet’s art
To tutor grief, and heave the swelling heart.
To you the deep distress is not unknown,
And, Britons, you have made the cause your own.
—O may your gentle bosoms never prove                                                       25
Th’ untimely loss of those you dearly love!
Since thus your feeling hearts the aid supply
To sooth the widow’s pangs, and orphan’s sigh.

NOTES:

6 “To glance… Heav’n” Quotation from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (V.i.1842). The original reads: “The poets eye, in fine frenzy rolling,/ Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to Heaven.”

9 carest Caressed.

24 Britons British people.

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine (June 1777), pp. 286-87.

Edited by Cydnei Jordan

“C.S.,” Written in a Fit of Sickness, On Shipboard”

[C.S.]

“Written in a Fit of Sickness, On Shipboard”

As tender plants in parching days, are seen
Withering to droop, forgetful to be green;
So droops my soul, so waste my limbs away;
So fade my cheeks, and so my pow’rs decay.
Some wrathful Angel sure infests the skies,                                       5
And scatters poison’d arrows as he flies;
He smites my head, the organs of my breath
Confess the baleful influence of Death.
Relentless Pow’r! why dost thou blast my bloom?
My age is yet unworthy of the tomb;                                                  10
Too early dost thou come, this youthful breast
Is fitter to receive a softer guest:
To hoary heads, and bosoms cold repair,
More proper is thy reign, and grateful there.
Relentless Pow’r! remonstrances are vain,                                          15
His vengeful weapons rankle in my brain;
Where’er the circling life a channel knows,
His arrows gall me, and his venom flows.

Ah me! no tender parent here is by,
No sympathizing kind companion nigh;                                              20
Nor one kind matron to attend my bed,
Living to cherish, or enshroud me dead.

With Heav’n’s just vengeance I can be content,
But why should men my miseries augment?
Me here they keep, where things in all degrees,                                  25
Are foes to health, and enemies to ease;
With stench the smell, with noise the ear’s annoy’d:
A place, of ev’ry consolation void.

For this, may Heav’n avenging fix their doom,
With sorrow to descend into the tomb.                                                30
In their distress be no fond parent by,
Nor one of all their friends, or blood be nigh;
Nor one kind matron to attend their bed,
Living to cherish, or enshroud them dead.

NOTES:

8  baleful  “Full of malign, deadly, or noxious influence; pernicious, destructive” (OED).

9  bloom  “The blossom or flower of a plant” (OED).

13  hoary heads  Old people.

15  remonstrances  “An appeal, a request” (OED).

16  rankle  “A festering sore; the fact or condition of festering” (OED).

17  channel  “A tube or tubular passage, natural or artificial, usually for liquids or fluids” (OED).

18  gall  “The secretion of the liver, bile. With reference to the bitterness of gall, ‘to dip one’s pen in gall’, to write with virulence and rancor” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1768), pp.19-21. [Google Books]

Edited by Geordie Stock

 

 

Jacob Axford, “On my sudden going on board the Orford and her leaving the Land”

JACOB AXFORD

 “On my sudden going on board the Orford and her leaving the Land”

And must I go? so sudden the Surprize!
Not one last Look to feed my longing Eyes?
No Time to tell the Part’ner of my Heart,
How long, or wherefore we so soon must part?
Be torn from all, that ALL my Soul held dear?                                      5
My Life, my Love, my Bliss, my All was her.
The kind Companion of each anxious Hour,
Fair Nature’s Pride, and Virtue’s choicest Flower:
Whose Conversation charm’d the tedious Day,
Whilst the wing’d Hours stole unperceiv’d away:                                10
Who soft’ned Anguish with the Sweets of Love,
The last best Blessing of all bounteous Jove.
The Orford now, impatient for the Seas,
Waits the Conveyance of a gentle Breeze.
Th’ expectant Seaman now with eager Eyes                                         15
Sees the kind Zephyrs o’er the Waters rise.
The Waters whiten with th’ auspicious Gales
That fan the Air, and fill the swelling Sails:
The lofty Vessel thro’ the liquid Way
Triumphant rides, and cuts the yielding Sea:                                        20
To fair Britannia bids a long Adieu,
And with far distant Countries in her View
Mounts o’er the Billows, glides along the Main,
Nor leaves th’ Impression on the watry Plain.
Adieu, fair Britain, native lovely Isle,                                                 25
On whom Heaven deigns propitiously to smile;
Bright regal Seat of Princes and of Kings,
To whom each distant World its Tribute brings:
Blest Soil, where Plenty reigns thro’ every Part,
Where bounteous Ceres chears each honest Heart:                            30
Where every Blessing Nature can demand
The GOD of Nature gives with liberal Hand;
And all that Luxury can require, or Pride,
Is by the obedient Sea from far suppli’d:
Where pure Religion shines divinely bright;                                          35
Untainted here, and in its native Light:
Where Heaven born Liberty uprears its Head,
Its Godlike Influence thro’ the Land to spread;
Where beauteous Virgins crown each amouros Swain,
And happy Subjects bless great George’s Reign:                                  40
Farwel fair Isle! may every Blessing crown
Thy happy Shore, and mark it with Renown:
Thy mighty Arms may Conquest still attend,
Till haughty Spain shall sue to be thy Friend:
Till Europe’s Foes be greatly overthrown,                                                45
France find Submission and Lorrain a Throne:
O may no Faction vex thy friendly Shore,
But Peace prevail, and Discord be no more:
May differing Parties lay their Hatred by,
Ambition cease, and baneful Envy die:                                                   50
Bliss, Love, and Union reign throughout thy Isle,
And Joys eternal on thy Natives smile.
The mighty Vessel lab’ring with the Wind,
By narrow Seas no longer now confin’d,
To the vast Ocean wings her watry Way                                                 55
And cuts her Passage thro’ th’ Atlantic Sea.
So when th’ immortal Soul and Body part,
And Nature’s Call o’er-powers the Strength of Art;
Th’ aerial Mind from the embodying Clay
At the dread Summons breaks like Light away;                                     60
And, from the narrow Bound of Time set free,
Plunges into th’ Abyss of vast Eternity:
Stupendous Thought! here stop my Soul, and know
Th’ amazing Change that all must undergo:
When pale Disease proclaims thy parting Breath,                                 65
And sick’ning Nature tells approaching Death:
When the grim King of Terrors shall appear,
Thy tott’ring Frame when strong Convulsions tare:
How wilt thou dare to view thy future State?
Or stand the Shock of thy incumbent Fate?                                            70
Dar’st thou reflect upon that awful Day,
When the great Judge in terrible Array,
To doom the guilty and the just to clear,
In all his Father’s Glory shall appear?
Leaves conscious Guilt no Stain upon thy Mind?                                   75
Hast thou no unrepented Vice behind?
Within the secret Chamber of thy Breast,
Lurks there no guilty no deceitful Guest?
Is all serene, and calm, and clear within?
Does Recollection tell no darling Sin?                                                      80
Then boldly venture on the unknown Shore;
Death with his Terrors can affright no more:
Beyond the peaceful Mansions of the Grave,
No dismal Views thy guiltless Mind can have:
No Hopes, no Cares, thy Peace shall e’er annoy,                                   85
But Death shall prove thy Entrance into Joy:
When on the Bed of Sickness thou shalt lie,
And thy weak Frame shall totter, sink and die,
Thy conscious Innocence thy Mind shall chear,
And glorious Prospects op’ning shall appear:                                         90
Blest Choirs of Angels wait thy fleeting Soul,
And circling Joys thro’ endless Ages roll.
Eternity shall short liv’d Time devour,
And Guilt, and Pain, and Sorrow be no more.

NOTES:

Title Orford Ship possibly named after the Royal Navy Officer Edward Russell, the first Earl of Orford 1653-1727. Edward was one of the “Immortal Seven” who encouraged William of Orange to usurp James II (“Edward Russell” Wikipedia).

 12 Jove “The supreme deity of the ancient Romans, corresponding to the Greek Zeus; the ruler of gods and men, and the god of the heavens, whose weapon was the thunderbolt” (OED).

16 Zephyrs “A soft mild gentle wind or breeze” (OED).

 23 Billows A swelling wave of the sea produced by a high wind, but often used as a poetical reference to ‘the sea’ (OED).

 23 Main As in mainsail, which is “the principal sail of a ship” (OED).

26 Propitiously “Of God, the fates, etc.: disposed to be favorable; gracious; merciful, lenient” (OED).

30 Ceres “In Roman religion and mythology, goddess of grain; daughter of Saturn and Ops. She was identified by the Romans with the Greek Demeter. Her worship was connected with that of the earth goddess and involved not only fertility rites but also rites for the dead” (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia).

35 pure Religion Protestantism.

 39 amouros Swain A male servant who is in love, enamored, or fond (OED).

 40 George’s Reign George III (1738-1820), reigned from 1760.

 43-46 Thy mighty arms…France find Submission The Second Hundred Years’ War consisted of a series of military conflicts between France and England, including the Seven Years’ War over the colonization of North America. Such conflicts caused England and France to be bitter rivals, while Spain and France remained allies (“Second Hundred Years’ War,” Wikipedia; “Pacte de Famille,” Enclopedia Britannica).

46 Lorrain a Throne Dominion over Lorraine was exchanged between France and the Habsburgs of the Holy Roman Empire throughout the seventeenth century. “Lorraine was given to Stanisław I, the former king of Poland and father-in-law of the French king Louis XV, by the treaties (1738) ending the War of the Polish Succession.” After Stanislaw I’s death in 1766, Lorraine was officially under French rule (“Lorraine Region, France,” Encyclopedia Britannica).

50 baneful “Destructive to well-being, pernicious, injurious” (OED).

 68 tare “The weight of the wrapping, receptacle, or conveyance containing goods, which is deducted from the gross in order to ascertain the net weight” (OED).

Source: Poems on Various Subjects, Divine, Moral and Entertaining: The Posthumous Works of Mr. Jacob Axford, Of the city of Bath, Late Surgeon of his Majesty’s Ship, Scipio; Written for his own Amusement. (Bath: S. Martin, 1764), pp. 16-19). [Google Books]

Edited by Kandace Linstrom

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

Philip Freneau, “Port Royal”

PHILIP FRENEAU

Port Royal”

 HERE, by the margin of the murmuring main,
While her proud remnants I explore in vain,
And lonely stray through these dejected lands
Fann’d by the noon-tide breeze on burning sands,
Where the dull Spaniard once possess’d these shades,                                  5
And ports defended by his Pallisades —–
Tho’ lost to us, PORT-ROYAL claims a sigh,
Nor shall the Muse the unenvied verse deny,
Of all the towns that grac’d Jamaica’s isle
This was her glory, and the proudest pile,                                                         10
Where toils on toils bade wealth’s gay structures rise,
And commerce swell’d her glory to the skies:
St. Sago, seated on a distant plain,
Ne’er saw the tall ship entering from the main,
Unnotic’d streams her Cobra’s margin lave                                                       15
Where yond’ tall plantains shade her glowing wave,
And burning sands or rock-surrounded hill
Confess its founder’s fears — or want of skill.
While o’er these wastes with wearied step I go,
Past scenes of death return, in all their woe,                                                   20
O’er these sad shores in angry pomp be pass’d,
Mov’d in the winds and rag’d with everything blast–
Here, opening gulphs confess’d the almighty hand,
Here, the dark ocean roll’d across the land,
Here, piles on piles an instant tore away,                                                         25
Here, crowds on crowds in mingled ruin lay,
Whom fate scarce gave to end their noon-day feast,
Or time to call the sexton, or the priest.
Where yond’ tall barque, with all her ponderous load,
Commits her anchor to its dark abode,                                                           30
Eight fathoms down, where unseen waters flow
To quench the sulphur of the caves below,
There midnight sounds torment the sailor’s ear,
And drums and fifes play drowsy concerts there,
Sad songs of woe prevent the hours of sleep,                                               35
And fancy aids the fiddlers of the deep
Dull Superstition hears the ghostly hum,
Smit with the terrors of the world to come.
What now is left of your boasted pride!
Lost are those glories that were spread so wide,                                           40
A spit of sand is thine, by heaven’s decree,
And waiting shores that scarce resist the sea:
In this Port-Royal on Jamaica’s coast,
The Spaniard’s envy, and the Briton’s boast!
A shatter’d roof o’er every hut appears,                                                          45
And mouldering brick-work prompts the traveller’s fears,
A church, with half a priest, I grieve to see,
Grass round its door, and rust upon its key!—
One only inn with tiresome search I found
Where one sad negro dealt his beverage round;—                                       50
His was the part to wait the impatient call,
He was the landlord, post-boy, pimp, and all;
His wary eyes on every side were cast,
Beheld the present, and revolv’d the past,
Now here, now there, in swift succession stole,                                             55
Glanc’d at the bar, or watch’d the unsteady bowl.
No sprightly lads, or gay bewitching maids
Walk on these wastes or wander in these shades;
To other shores past times beheld them go,
And some are slumbering in the caves below;                                               60
A negro tribe but ill their place supply,
With bending back, short hair, and downcast eye;
A swarthy race lead up the evening dance
Trip o’er the sands and dart the alluring glance:
A feeble rampart guards the unlucky town,                                                   65
Where banish’d Tories come to seek renown,
Where worn-out slaves their bowls of beer retail,
And sun-burnt strumpets watch the approaching sail.
Here (scarce esap’d the wild tornado’s rage)
Why sail’d I here to swell my future page!                                                      70
To these dull scenes with eager haste I came
To trace the reliques of their ancient fame,
Not worth the search!—what domes are left to fall,
Guns, gales, and earthquakes shall destroy them all—
All shall be lost!–tho’ hosts their aid implore,                                               75
The TWELVE APOSTLES shall protect no more,
Nor guardian HEROES awe the impoverish’d plain;
No priest shall mutter, and no church remain,
Nor this palmetto yield her evening shade,
Where the dark negro his dull music play’d,                                                 80
Or casts his view beyond the adjacent strand
And points, still grieving, to his native land,
Turns and returns from yonder murmuring shore,
And pants for countries his must see no more–
Where shall I go, what Lethe shall I find                                                         85
To drive these dark ideas from my mind!
No buckram heroes can relieve the eye,
And George’s honors only raise a sigh—
Ye mountains vast, whose heights the heaven sustain,
Adieu, ye mountains, and fair KINGSTON’S plain,                                         90
Where Nature still the toils of art transcends—
In this dull spot the enchanting prospect ends:
Where burning sands are wing’d by every blast,
And these mean fabrics but entomb the past;
Where want, and death, and care, and grief reside,                                     95
And threatening moons advance the imperious tide:
Ye stormy winds, awhile your wrath suspend;
Who leaves the land, and bottle, and a friend,
Quits this bright isle for yon’ blue seas and sky,
Or even Port-Royal quits—without a sigh!                                                    100

NOTES:

6 pallisades “A narrow strip of land about seven miles in length, running nearly from north to south, and forming the harbors of Point Royal and Kingston” [Author’s Note, 1809 edition].

13 St. Sago Variant of “Santiago,” the original Spanish name for Jamaica.

15 Cobra’s “A small river falling into Kingston Bay, nearly opposite Port Royal — and which has its source in the hills beyond Spanish Town” [Author’s Note, 1809 edition].

15 lave “To wash against, to flow along, or past” (OED).

16 plantains “A low-growing plant that typically has a rosette of leaves and a slender green flower spike” (OED).

23 Here, opening gulphsOLD Port-Royal, in the island of Jamaica, contained more than 1500 buildings, and these for the most part large and elegant. This unfortunate town was for a long time reckoned the most considerable mart of trade in the West Indies. It was destroyed on the 17th of Jun, 1692, by an earthquake, which in two minutes sunk the far greater part of the buildings; by which disaster near 3000 people lost their lives” [Author’s Note].

28 sexton “An officer responsible for a church and its property, and for tasks relating to its maintenance or management” (OED).

29 barque “A boat” (OED).

44 the Briton’s boast The British took control of Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655.

66 Tories In this context, American colonists who supported the British during the American Revolution (OED).

76 TWELVE APOSTLES “A Battery so called, on the side of the harbor opposite to Port-Royal” [Author’s Note].

77 HEROES “Demi-gods” (OED).

79 Palmetto “From Spanish palmito, literally ‘small palm’” (OED).

85 Lethe “A river in Hades whose water when drunk made the souls of the dead forget their life on earth; Via Latin from Greek lēthē ‘forgetfulness’” (OED).

87 buckram heroes An allusion to Shakespeare’s 1 Henry IV, II.4. 210–50, meaning “non-existent;” a hero that does not exist.

88 George’s honors Refers to the author’s British contemporaries who were loyal to King George III, who was king of Britain at the time of publication.

90 KINGSTON’S “ “Founded in 1693, it became capital [of Jamaica] in 1870” (OED).

Source: Poems Written Between the Years 1768 & 1794 (Monmouth, N.J., 1795), pp. 295-97. [Google Books]

Edited by Briana Williams