Lines by Henry Kirke White

Written impromptu, on reading the following passage in Mr. Capel Lofft’s beautiful and interesting Preface to Nathaniel Bloomfield’s Poems, just published:—”It has a mixture of the sportive, which deepens the impression of its melancholy close. I could have wished, as I have said in a short note, the conclusion had been otherwise. The sours of life less offend my taste than its sweets delight it.”

Go to the raging sea, and say, “Be still!”
Bid the wild lawless winds obey thy will;
Preach to the storm, and reason with Despair,
But tell not Misery’s son that life is fair.

Thou, who in Plenty’s lavish lap hast roll’d,
And every year with new delight hast told,
Thou, who, recumbent on the lacquer’d barge,
Hast dropt down joy’s gay stream of pleasant marge,
Thou mayst extol life’s calm untroubled sea,
The storms of misery never burst on thee.

Go to the mat, where squalid Want reclines,
Go to the shade obscure, where merit pines;
Abide with him whom Penury’s charms control,
And bind the rising yearnings of his soul,
Survey his sleepless couch, and, standing there,
Tell the poor pallid wretch that life is fair!

Press thou the lonely pillow of his head,
And ask why sleep his languid eyes has fled;
Mark his dew’d temples, and his half shut eye,
His trembling nostrils, and his deep drawn sigh,
His muttering mouth contorted with despair,
And ask if Genius could inhabit there.

Oh, yes! that sunken eye with fire once gleam’d,
And rays of light from its full circlet stream’d:
But now Neglect has stung him to—the core,
And Hope’s wild raptures thrill his breast no more;
Domestic Anguish winds his vitals round,
And added Grief compels him to the ground.
Lo! o’er his manly form, decay’d and wan,
The shades of death with gradual steps steal on;
And the pale mother, pining to decay,
Weeps for her boy her wretched life away.

Go, child of Fortune! to his early grave,
Where o’er his head obscure the rank weeds wave;
Behold the heart-wrung parent lay her head
On the cold turf, and ask to share his bed.
Go, child of Fortune, take thy lesson there,
And tell us then that life is wondrous fair!

Yet, Lofft, in thee, whose hand is still stretch’d forth,
To encourage genius, and to foster worth;
On thee, the unhappy’s firm, unfailing friend,
‘T is just that every blessing should descend;
‘T is just that life to thee should only show
Her fairer side but little mix’d with woe.

From: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/7149/7149-h/7149-h.htm

Date: 1803

By: Henry Kirke White(1785-1806)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: