1720 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Addison

George Sewell, "A Speech to Westminster Abbey, occasion'd by the Death of Mr. Addison" Miscellany of Original Poems, Translations, and Imitations (1720) 198-200.



Ye Sacred Seats, ye venerable Urns!
Where Gilded Royalty to Dust returns,
Where Bards who promis'd everlasting Breath,
Mock their own Boast, and meet their Kings in Death;
Receive the Debt your cruel Mansions crave,
As great as Nature ever paid the Grave;
Earth open wide! rejoyce thy greedy Womb!
Be proud, O Death! and Triumph o'er the Tomb.
This was a Conquest — at a single Spoil,
To plunder half the Learning of Our Isle.

In Fields of Battle where the Sword wastes wide,
And You o'er Ruin heap'd in Triumph Ride,
Sedate the Thinking Mind the Fate surveys,
Of Creatures form'd to last but half our Days,
And often feels a deeper loss in One,
Mourning a PLATO, or an ADDISON.

Great Bard! what various Thoughts disturb'd my Head,
When I beheld Thee numbred with the Dead!
Only distinguish'd by a decent Care,
To say — what late Immortal Guest lodg'd there:—
Is this I cry'd — then rose the Thought prophane
But by thy Virtue check'd, recoil'd again,
"Such is the Power that good Men's Ashes crave,
To shoot a secret Influence from the Grave;
Their Tombs are Lectures, and discharge the Trust,
Of living Eloquence from silent Dust.
Recovered thus, I view'd around Thee spread,
The Scepter'd Monarch, and the Miter'd Head;
Kings more than Dead, as seeming to accuse
Thy Fate, and want of thy Recording Muse.
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