1744 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

S. Bradbury, "On the Death of Alexander Pope" General Advertiser (20 June 1744).



Since POPE, long lov'd, long honour'd, and admir'd,
Sated with Earth's delusive Joys, retir'd,
With what distinguish'd Sorrows Nations mourn?
How copious fall their Tears around his Urn?
And, sure, the tender Stream of gen'ral Woe
Ne'er for a nobler Bard was taught to flow:
Tho' Virgil's Loss was justly wept before,
And Milton sings to Mortal Ear no more.

His Verse adds Charms to Windsor's vernal Scene,
And bids her Forests bloom with livelier Green;
Her Palace rise with more majestick Pride,
And Thames more beauteous roll his silver Tide.

See! how Isaiah in his Numbers shines!
How great Messiah dignifies the Lines!
What Muse, but his, could in an equal Strain
Paint the bright Glories of that peaceful Reign?

Need I to any, charming Poet, shew
To thee what Statius, Ovid, Horace owe?
Pleas'd, in thy Lay, they see their Beauties shine,
Unsullied with Defects; and own the Glory thine.

But when aloft you soar on Homer's Wing,
The direful Wrath of Peleus' Son to sing.
I hear the Shouts encount'ring Armies yield;
I see the Tumult of the ensanguin'd Field;
The Carnage thicken, and the Battle rage,
Nor Men alone, but Gods with Gods engage.

To your keen Satire now, and pointed Wit,
Fantastic Folly, and bold Vice submit.

Now, when a yet more gen'rous Theme you chuse,
And, to reform, invoke the Ethick Muse,
What deep Philosophy thy Verse displays?
What moral Truths in what harmonious Lays?

Whether you sing the Joys of am'rous Swains,
And Virgins sporting on the flow'ry Plains:
Or in melodious, plaintive Notes relate
An ill-starr'd Love, and Eloisa's Fate:
Whether, to make superior Merit known,
Sad, you inscribe the Monumental Stone:
Raise the bright Temple of immortal Fame,
Or teach the Critics what to praise, what blame:
'Tis thine, O POPE, in every Shape to please,
With Judgment witty, accurate with Ease.
And tho' imperious Death's relentless Dart
Asserts his Empire o'er thy mortal Part;
Yet shall thy Fame elude the greedy Tomb:
Still with unfading Lustre shall it bloom,
And flourish fresh thro' Ages yet to come.