1726 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Dyer

Richard Savage, "The Picture. To Mr. Dyer, when in the Country: occasion'd by the foregoing Verses" Savage, Miscellaneous Poems and Translations (1726) 294-98.



While various Birds in tuneful Consort sing,
And charm the Prospect of the opening Spring;
While to thy Dreams the Nightinal complains,
Till the Lark wakes thee with its mirthful Strains;
My Thoughts all dim'd, all influenc'd by Despair,
A deep, a dire, confirm'd Distraction wear;
Till thy bright Verse and Friendship, ever kind,
Dawn a sweet Comfort o'er my dark'ning Mind.

Oh! cou'd my Soul thro' Depths of Knowledge see,
Cou'd I read Nature and Mankind like Thee;
I shou'd o'ercome, or bear the Shocks of Fate,
And ev'n draw Envy to the humblest State:
But if Designs of Worth my Meaning forms,
Th' unfinish'd Fabricks fall by sudden Storms:
Yet some raise Honour from each ill Event,
From Shocks gain Vigour, and from Want Content.

Think not light Poetry, my Life's chief Care,
The Muse's Mansion is at best but Air!
Not sounding Verse can give great Souls their Aim,
Action alone commands substantial Fame.
Tho' with clip'd Wings I still lie flutt'ring here,
I'd soar sublime and strike the Topmost Sphere.

Falsly, we Those of guilty Pride accuse,
Whose God-like Souls Life's Middle State refuse:
Self-Love, inactive, seeks ignoble Rest,
Care sleeps not calm, when Millions wake unblest.
Mean let Me shrink, or spread sweet Shade o'er All,
Low as the Shrub, or as the Cedar Tall.

Then I'll write on — still I reserve my Hope,
Tho' envious Chance, contracts my Action's Scope;
Tho' Wealth denies that my proud Wants require,
By Wisdom, Sov'reign-like, I'd still aspire;
Thus to Enquiry prompt th' imperfect Mind,
Thus clear dim'd Truth, and bid her bless Mankind.
From the pierc'd Orphan thus draw Shafts of Grief,
Arm Want with Patience, and teach Wealth Relief.

Titles, when worn by Fools, I dare despise;
Yet they claim Homage, when they crown the Wise.
When high Distinction marks deserving Heirs,
Desert still dignifies the Mark it wears.
But who to Birth alone wou'd Honours owe?
Honours, if True, from Seeds of Merit grow:
Those Trees, with sweetest Charms, invite our Eyes,
Which from our own Engraftment fruitful rise!
Still we love best what we with Labour gain,
As the Child's dearer for the Mother's Pain.

The Great, I neither envy nor deride;
Nor stoop to swell a vain Superior's Pride;
Nor view an Equal's Lot with jealous Eyes;
Nor crush the Wretch, Beneath; but mourn his Cries.
Where Friendships flourish, I'd no Jars create,
Nor by Another's Fall advance my State.
Nor misuse Wit, against an absent Friend:
I dare the Vertues of a Foe defend.
Thro' Wealth and Want true Minds preserve their Weight,
Meek, tho' Exalted; tho' Despis'd, Elate:
Refug'd, or wrong'd, They equal Precept know,
And prize the Patron, and forgive the Foe.

Tho' strait my Fortune, still my Thoughts extend,
This is the Picture of thy absent Friend.
Tho' cruel Distance bars my grosser Eye,
My Soul, clear-sighted, draws thy Aspect Nigh;
Tho' lost to comfort, compass'd round by Care,
Spleen in my Breast, and in my View Despair;
Thro' the deep Gloom thy quick'ning Merit gleams,
And lights up Fortitude with Friendship's Beams.