1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Oliver Goldsmith

William Henry Ireland, "Oliver Goldsmith" Neglected Genius (1812) 43-46.



Child of simplicity, thy strains subdue,
To feeling's voice pathetically true;
'Tis thine to wake the sympathizing sigh,
And call forth tears from mercy's glist'ning eye;
Thy touch controuls with sterling nature's glow,
And stamps as true each fancied scene of woe;
Thy page (reflective mirror) paints mankind,
And shows each secret working of the mind;
Unvarnish'd makes man play his earthly part,
Recording as it is the human heart.
No thought indecorous the mind assails,
There pure morality with sense prevails;
Vice for a season holds unrivall'd sway,
That virtue may emit a brighter ray,
And scare foul sin with its all radiant light,
Hurling the wicked to the realms of night.


Thou wast thyself upon life's rugged way
The traveller of fancy's beamy day;
Human society inspir'd the strain,
A prospect ample for thy teeming brain;
By thee life's checker'd page was understood,
The wise, the great, the innocent, and good;
Feeling's full range a master's hand design'd,
The spirit noble, or the lowly hind;
Want and experience, the preceptors stern,
Whose rigid tenets taught thee to discern.
Still worldly knowledge never cou'd controul
The tender impulse that imbu'd the soul;
Thine heart still melting at another's grief,
Thy hand yet open to dispense relief;
Too good thyself to dread another's art,
The specious knave wou'd oft subdue thine heart,
Draw from thy scanty store soft pity's fee,
The heav'nly boon of true philanthropy.
So mov'd sweet Goldsmith thro' life's shadowy vale,
Thus sang the Bard of Feeling — Feeling's Tale.
Auburn, dear village, thy deserted state
Waken'd true pathos to lament thy fate;
There reigns the poet, there his soul we scan,
His numbers blazon'd forth the living man.
Yet what avails the mind's perception true,
That fathoms man with comprehensive view?
What is pure sensibility of heart,
That plays on earth commiseration's part?
Since human nature sterling sense disdains,
And, selfish, feels not for another's pains.
'Twas thine, O Goldsmith! this sad truth to know,
Few felt for thee with thine inherent glow;
Early thy poet race stern want subdu'd,
While oft fell penury thy course pursu'd,
Clipp'd the wide wings of fancy's soaring flight,
As if the muses spurn'd thee from their sight.
What tho' a failing tainted thy career,
Do not the sons of frailty sojourn here?
And if one fault alone subdu'd the breast,
Thy sum of goodness shou'd have purchas'd rest:
But worldly peace by man is rarely won,
Virtue oft toiling till life's sand is run;
And genius, least of all the goal can claim,
Distress, sure meed of ev'ry poet's fame.


Hallow'd thou sleep'st with the illustrious dead,
The verdant crown still blooming round thine head;
For while the human heart owns pity's sway,
Thy pages must dispense the soothing ray;
In prose as metre feeling rears the throne,
Thy soul engirdled by no frigid zone;
A Goldsmith's Vicar paints religion's store,
And lures the heart obdurate to adore;
Link'd with simplicity truth shines serene,
For virtue, heav'nly virtue, rules the scene.