The Affectionate Heart by Joseph Cottle

Let the great man, his treasures possessing,
Pomp and splendour for ever attend:
I prize not the shadowy blessing;
I ask — the affectionate friend.

Tho’ foibles may sometimes o’ertake him,
His footsteps from wisdom depart;
Yet, my spirit shall never forsake him,
If he own the affectionate heart.

Affection! thou soother of care,
Without the unfriended we rove;
Thou canst make e’en the desert look fair,
And thy voice is the voice of the dove.

‘Mid the anguish that preys on the breast
And the storms of mortality’s state;
What shall lull the afflicted to rest,
But the joys that on sympathy wait?

What is Fame, bidding Envy defiance,
The idol and bane of mankind;
What is wit, what is learning or science,
To the heart that is stedfast and kind?

Even Genius may weary the sight,
By too fierce and too constant a blaze;
But Affection, mild planet of night!
Grows lovelier the longer we gaze.

It shall thrive when the flattering forms,
That encircle creation decay;
It shall live mid the wide-wasting storms
That bear all undistinguishe’ away.

When Time, at the end of his race,
Shall expire with expiring mankind;
It shall stand on its permanent base’
It shall last till the wreck of the mind.

From: Southey, Robert; Coleridge, Samuel Taylor; and Lamb, Charles (eds.), The Annual Anthology, Volume I. 1799, 1799, Biggs and Co: Bristol, pp. 83-84.

Date: 1799

By: Joseph Cottle (1770-1853)

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