1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. James Hurdis

P. H., "To the Memory of the Author of the Village Curate, &c." Poems by the Rev. James Hurdis (1808) 1:23-26.



Sweet Bard, whose pencil could with Nature vie,
To thee shall no kind friend one tribute pay?
And shall the ground, where thy cold relics lie,
Be still unhallow'd by the Muse's lay?

Yet not inglorious in thy coffin sleeps
With thee that song, whose beauty charms the soul:
Still shall the virgin, as with thee she weeps,
O'er all her senses own thy soft controul.

While Pity reads the tributary verse
Thy hand inscrib'd upon a sister's bier,
Fancy shall view the slow-proceeding hearse,
And with the mourner's mix her sacred tear:

Shall feel, when dust on dust is thrown, the sound
Strike deep on each warm fibre of the heart,
And tell with solemn voice to all around,
"That hour must come, when love from love must part."

Yet shall thy muse excite by turns to joy,
And to the mind her fairer views disclose:
For why should sorrow all our thoughts employ,
Why waste our years in unavailing woes?

With thee, sweet Bard, we tread thy village lawn,
And taste each pleasure of thy rural scene;
Mark with thy raptur'd eye the flecker'd dawn,
When June's gay month has deck'd the world in green:

And then when Evening comes, a pilgrim sad,
Each livelier tint of Nature's face to shroud;
While rising slow, in silver mantle clad,
The moon hangs pillow'd on an eastern cloud;

We hear thy nightingale her anthem raise,
Amidst the stillness of thy quiet grove;
While thine own organ with accordant praise
Swells the loud notes of gratitude and love.

Or in thy study, fill'd with ancient lore,
Where learning smil'd upon thy peaceful hours,
We see thee seated midst a numerous store,
Culling fresh fragrance from the Muse's flowers:

Or proudly marshalling thy classic bands,
Where all, well rang'd, in gilded livery shine,
As some great leader midst his army stands,
And darts his eye along the goodly line.

Oh blameless triumph! and oh blest mankind,
Had the world's victors been content, like thee,
The wreath of science on their brows to bind,
And sought such laurels as with Peace agree!

Far happier thou! of nature's charms to sing,
Thine was the lot, from din of arms retir'd;
To rise from earth on Contemplation's wing,
By Faith, by Hope, by Charity inspir'd.

'Twas thine with Peace the rural shades to rove,
To taste the bliss domestic life bestows;
To feel the fondness of thy sisters' love,
Their joys to heighten, and to sooth their woes.

'Twas thine with these to pass the studious day;
To blend with Hurdis, Cowper's honour'd name;
To charm his fancy with thy woodland lay,
To share his friendship, and partake his fame.

Nor didst thou wake thy heavenly harp in vain:
Though cold's the hand that strung the immortal lyre,
Still soft Compassion listens to the strain,
And hangs enchanted o'er the trembling wire.

E'en from the tomb such sweet vibrations ring,
As steal from Princesses the trickling tear;
So Love fraternal struck the sorrowing string,
That matron Majesty bows down to hear.

And oh! what jewel on a Prince's brow
Shines like the drop, which Pity's grief betrays?
'Tis this that pales the ruby's living glow,
And dims the brightness of the diamond's blaze.
P. H.
Magd. Coll.