1835 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Charles Crocker, "To Mr. H. W. Freeland, who had presented the Writer with Dr. Johnson's Lives of the Poets, and Dr. Currie's Life of Burns" 1835 ca.; Poetical Works (1860) 152-53.



'Twas wisely done, my generous Friend! to place
Before my view the fortunes of a race
Of all mankind least happy, though possest
Of gifts, by heaven design'd to make man blest.
Had bounteous Nature kindled in my mind
The flame of Genius — hallow'd and refin'd,
Bade me to honors and to fame aspire,
And taught my hand to sweep with skill the lyre,—
Surely the woes the Muse's sons oft feel,
Which Collins found that faith alone could heal,
Which Otway — Savage, bore, — might well restrain
Each wish to join the inspir'd, yet stricken train.
'Tis sad to think how oft the clouds of woe
In blackness gather round the Poet's brow,—
That while admiring throngs applaud his lay,
Himself mid want and misery pines away.
If such their fate, who live but to explore
Learning's bright regions, gleaning classic lore,
Shall I, debarr'd such privilege, dare rely
Upon the broken reed of Poesy?
Should I, by Vanity led on, thus dare,
Reason and Duty would exclaim, "Forbear;"
And I would not resign the joys that grace
My hearth-stone for the Minstrel's proudest place.
But while my song can charm a weary day;
While Friends, indulgent, listen to my lay;
Still will I sing and labour — well content;
For with my toil the Muse hath kindly blent
Unnumber'd pleasures — and not least I prize
The tributes Friendship's liberal hand supplies:
O'er each, fond Memory hangs with grateful care,
And, Freeland, yields, to thine no common share.