1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Rodman Drake

Fitz-Greene Halleck, "Lines on the late Doctor Joseph R. Drake" Literary and Scientific Repository [New York] 2 (January 1821) 85-86.



The following stanzas, for beauty and exquisite finish, are infinitely superior to the verses generally afforded on similar occasions. They were written by a friend of the late Dr. J. R. Drake, of this city.

To commemorate the virtues and the talents of a departed friend, or to weigh with impartiality his claims to public attention, is indeed no easy task; but the subject of these lines was worthy of all the commemoration and all the sorrow here so beautifully expressed. A devotion to the muses marked his early life: and many of his unpublished productions would not discredit (we speak it confidently) the pen of a Moore, or a Campbell.

He fell an early victim to the Consumption, — a disease, which seems peculiarly to select for the objects of its attack, the amiable, the intelligent and the virtuous.

Green be the turf above thee,
Friend of my better days!
None knew thee but to love thee,
Nor named thee but to praise.

Tears fell, when thou wert dying,
From eyes unused to weep;
And long, where thou art lying,
Will tears the cold turf steep.

When hearts, whose truth was Heaven,
Like thine, are laid in earth,
There should a wreath be woven,
To tell the world their worth:

And I, who woke each morrow,
To clasp thy hand in mine,
Who shared thy joy and sorrow,
Whose weal and wo were thine;

It should be mine to braid it
Around thy faded brow:
But I've in vain essayed it,
And feel, I cannot now.

While memory bids we weep thee,
Nor thoughts nor words are free,—
The grief is fixed too deeply
That mourns a man like thee.