1750 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Aaron Hill

T. L., "On the Death of Aaron Hill, Esq." British Magazine 5 (March 1750) 126.



Departed kings demand a grateful lay,
And heroes, famous for their glorious deeds,
Claim from the world the tribute of a tear;
And shall those bards, whose never dying verse,
Lifts men to heroes, heroes to the gods,
Quit life, without an elegiac song,
To mourn their exit, and their virtues tell?
No, I, tho' meanest of the muses train,
"Tho' young in art poetic, and in age,"
Attempt (lamenting Hill) to string the lyre,
And tho' his works have him immortaliz'd,
With mournful cyprus deck the poets tomb.
Whene'er the tragic muse employ'd his pen,
How grand his thoughts! his language how refin'd!
This truth let Zara speak, who shews how well
He knew to trace love's all commanding force;
It's rage in Osman he has well display'd,
In Zara gentle, and as Zephyrs calm;
Thy charms, fair goddess, fairer than the race
Of fall'n mankind (thou offspring of the gods)
Full well he knew, and shews how weak is love
Oppos'd to virtues all subduing pow'r.
In Merope how all the mother shines!
How well is touch'd the duty of the son!
But these, tho' of themselves immortal works,
From which less poets might have gain'd a name,
Are nought, compar'd with his heroic song:
There Gideon lives immortal in his lines,
And thro' each page the hero stands confess'd,
Yield now ye Grecians, ye fam'd Romans yield,
This god-like hero stands far, far above,
Achilles and Aeneas boasted names,
And thou, Britannia, empress of the isles,
Joy in the work of thy much favour'd son,
And let all fierce contending nations know,
Thou art alike for arts or arms renown'd.
But stop, my muse, nor let thy impious grief,
So far transport thee as to wish him back,
To groan beneath the load of life again,
But ev'ry hour strive perfectly to learn
Each virtue he has so divinely sung.
This 'tis will make the saints of heaven rejoice,
To see their works advantage those who now
Are citizens of earth, as once were they.
And thou, great poet, if of earthly things,
Thou now regardest ought, look kindly down
On frail mankind, and chief on Britain smile;
Exalt each tuneful genius to the pitch,
To which thy own once soar'd; and, oh, inspire
My breast, that tho' the lowest of the train
Of Phoebus' sons, I may hereafter rise
Above those awful and amazing heights,
Which seem reserv'd for none but Missing's pen,
Missing, who sung the gentle Isaac's death
In melting lines, and who full well, O Hill,
Could mourn thy loss in far sublimer strains.
Portsmouth,
Feb. 24th, 1749.