1746 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

Thomas Blacklock, "An Elegy on Mr. Pope" Blacklock, Poems on Several Occasion (1746) 72-82.



While yet I scarce awake from dumb surprize,
And tepid streams profusely bathe my eyes;
While soul-dissolving sighs my bosom strain,
And all my Being sinks, oppress'd with pain:
Deign you, whose souls, like mine, are form'd to know
The nice poetic sense of bliss and woe:
To those sad accents deign a pitying ear;
Strong be our sorrow, as the cause severe.

O, Pope! what tears thy obsequies attend!
Britain a Poet, mankind mourns a friend:
For thee, their darling, weep th' Aonian choir,
Mute the soft voice, unstrung the tuneful lyre:
For thee, the virtuous and the sage shall mourn,
And virgin sorrows bathe thy sacred urn:
One vail of grief o'er heav'n and earth be thrown,
And vice and envy flaunt in smiles alone:
Sure, these may rest, with all their busy train,
Or vent their dulness and their spleen in vain.

Cibber, in vain, may vent his gloomy spite,
And learn from Bedlam, or the stews, to write;
In buskins bully, or in satire hiss,
To pay his debt, or to oblige his Miss:
But why should venal Cibber give offence,
Guiltless alike of satire, or of sense?

Thy destin'd sphere, O prudent laureat! know,
Nor soar too high, thou can'st not sink too low.
Leave those whom heav'n impells, and genius fires,
To fix on shadowy fame their fond desires;
Leave them, to raise the soul, and warm the heart,
And rival nature with the force of art:
Thou, form'd for life, and fortune's smile to gain,
Still burlesque art, and nature's self prophane.

And shall ev'n death, man's last best friend, in vain
Attempt to shield the great and good from pain?
And shall each fool approach the sacred shrine,
By Phoebus lov'd, and hallow'd to the nine?
Must Pope be curst a thousand various ways,
In life with satire, and in death with praise?

Hence, reptile herd, lest just reluctant ire
Exert her strength, and kindle all her fire:
then cease your hopes, from satire's rage to fly;
Nor hell shall prove too deep, nor heav'n too high.

Forgive, great Shade, if in the midst of woe,
I lift the scourge, and aim the vengeful blow:
Gods! who can see such insects buzz and fly,
And not with choler or with laughter die!

Ah, me! far other thoughts my soul inspire;
Far other accents breathes the plaintive lyre:
Thee, tho' the muses bless'd with all their art,
And pour'd their sacred raptures on thy heart;
Though thy lov'd virtu, with a mother's pain,
Deplores thy fate, alas! deplores in vain:
Silent and pale thy tuneful frame remains;
Death seals thy sight, and freezes in thy veins:
"Cold is that breast, that warm'd the world before,
And that heav'n-prompted tongue shall charm no more."

Curst he, who, without ectasy sincere,
The poet's soul effus'd in song can hear:
From him unheard, the needful aid require;
Unmov'd he views his dearest friends expire:
Nature, and nature's God, that wretch detest;
Unsought his friendship, and his days unbless'd:
Hell's mazy frauds deep in his bosom roll,
And all her gloom hangs heavy on his soul.
As when the sun begins his eastern way,
To bless the nations with returning day,
Crown'd with unfading splendor, on he flies;
Reveals the world, and kindles all the skies;
The prostrate east, the radiant God adore:
So, POPE, we view'd thee, but must view no more.
Thee late th' immortals saw with glad surprize,
Glow with their themes, and to their accents rise:
All heav'n was mute, with silent rapture fir'd,
As we the angels, angels thee admir'd;
Bold to disclose the providential plan,
"And vindicate the ways of God to man."

Arm'd with impartial satire, when thy muse
Triumphant vice with all her rage pursues;
To hell's dread gloom the monster scours away,
Far from the haunts of men, and scenes of day:
There curst, and cursing, rack'd with raging woe,
Shakes with incessant howls the realms below.
But soon, too soon, the fiend to light shall rise;
Her steps the earth scarce bound, her head the skies;
Till his red terrors Jove again display,
Assert his laws, and vindicate his sway.
When Ovid's numbers mourn the Lesbian Fair,
Her slighted love, and her intense despair;
By thee improv'd, in each soul-moving line,
Not Ovid's wit, but Sappho's sorrows shine.
When Heloisa mourns her hapless fate,
What heart can cease with all her pangs to beat?

While pointed wit, with flowing numbers grac'd,
Excites the laugh, ev'n in the guilty breast;
The gaudy coxcomb, and the fickle fair,
Shall dread the satire of thy ravish'd hair.

Not the Cecilian breath'd a sweeter song,
While Arethusa charm'd, and listning, hung;
For whom each muse, from her dear seat retir'd,
His flocks protected, and himself inspir'd:
Nor he, who sung while sorrow fill'd the plain,
How Cytherea mourn'd Adonis slain;
Nor Tyterus, who, in immortal lays,
Taught Mantua's echoes Gallatea's praise.

No more let Mantua boast unrival'd fame;
Thy Windsor now shall equal honours claim:
Eternal fragrance shall each breeze perfume,
And in each grove eternal verdure bloom.

Ye tuneful shepherds, and ye beauteous maids,
From fair Ladona's banks, and Windsor's shades,
Whose souls in transport melted at his song,
Soft as your sighs, and as your wishes strong;
O come! your copious annual tributes bring,
The full luxuriance of the rifled spring;
Strip various nature of each fairest flow'r,
And on his tomb the gay profusion show'r:
Let long-liv'd pansies here their scents bestow,
The violet's languish, and the rose's glow;
In yellow glory let the crocus shine,
Narcissus here his love-sick head recline;
Here, hyacinths in purple sweetness rise,
And tulips, ting'd with beauty's fairest dyes.

Who shall succeed to thee, O darling swain!
Attempt thy reeds, or emulate thy strain!
Each painted warbler of the vocal grove
Laments thy fate, unmindful of his love:
Thee, thee the breezes, thee the fountains mourn,
And solemn moans responsive rocks return;
Shepherds and flocks protract the doleful sound,
And nought is heard but mingled plaints around.

Calliope, when first thy death she knew,
Immortal tears her faded cheeks bedew;
Her pow'rless hand the tuneful harp resign'd;
The conscious harp her griefs, low murm'ring join'd;
Her voice in trembling cadence dy'd away,
And lost in anguish all the goddess lay.
Such pangs she felt, when, from the realms of light,
The fates, in Homer, ravish'd her delight.
To thee her sacred hand consign'd his lyre,
And in thy bosom kindled all his fire:
Hence, in our tongue, his glorious labours drest,
Breathe all the God that warm'd their author's breast.

When horrid war informs the sacred page,
And men and gods with mutual wrath engage,
The clash of arms, the trumpet's awful sound,
And groans and clamours shake the mountains round.
The nations rock, earth's solid bases groan,
And quake heav'n's arches to th' eternal throne;
When Eolus dilates the lawless wind
On nature's face, to revel unconfin'd,
Bend heav'n's blue concave, sweep the fruitful plain,
Tear up the forest, and enrage the main;
In horrid native pomp the tempests shine,
Ferment, and roar, and estuate in each line.
When Sysiphus, with many a weary groan,
Rolls up the hill the still revolving stone;
The loaded line, like it, seems to recoil,
Strains his bent nerves, and heaves with his full toil:
But, when resulting rapid from its height,
Precipitate the numbers emulate the flight:
As when creative energy, employ'd,
With various beings, fill'd the boundless void:
With deep survey th' omniscient Parent view'd
The mighty fabric, and confess'd it good:
He view'd, exulting with immense delight,
The lovely transcript, as th' idea, bright.
So swell'd the bard with ecstasy divine,
When full and finish'd rose his bright design:
So, from th' Elysian bow'rs, he joy'd to see
All his immortal self reviv'd in thee.
While fame enjoys thy consecrated fane,
First of th' inspir'd, with him for ever reign;
With his, each distant age shall rank thy name,
And ev'n reluctant envy hiss acclaim.
But, ah! blind fate will no distinction know;
Swift down the torrent all alike must flow:
Wit, virtue, learning, are alike its prey;
All, all must tread th' irremiable way.

No more fond wishes in my breast shall roll,
Distend my heart, and kindle all my soul,
To breathe my honest raptures in thy ear,
And feel thy kindness in returns sincere,
To wake the muse, and reach her voice to sing,
Direct her flight, and prune her infant wing:
Now, muse, be dumb; or let thy song deplore
Thy pleasures blasted, and thy hopes no more.

Tremendous Pow'rs! who rule th' eternal state;
Whose voice is thunder, and whose nod is fate;
Did I for empire, second to your own,
Cling round the shrine, and importune the throne?
Pray'd I, that fame should bear my name on high
Thro' nation'd earth, or all-involving sky?
Woo'd I for me the sun to toil and shine,
The diamond brighten, and the ore refine?
Tho' deep involv'd in adamantine night,
Ask'd I again to view heav'n's chearful light?
POPE'S love I sought; that only boon deny'd,
O, life! what pleasure canst thou boast beside,
Worth my regard, or equal to my pride?

Tho' vain my sorrow, yet sincere my heart;
Tho' deep my sighs, yet faithless to my smart;
Then, ah! forbear my honest tears to blame;
Indulgence is the sole reward they claim.

Tho' private sighs a private pain regret,
A world, a feeling world, must weep thy fate:
Where polish'd arts, and sacred science reigns,
Where'er the muse her tuneful presence deigns;
For thee each human breast shall heave with sighs;
To thy great name immortal statues rise:
From clime to clime thy boundless fame shall run,
Soar to the skies, and circle with the sun;
Till ev'n the spheres, in their eternal round,
Forget their former themes, and catch th' exalted sound:
And ev'ry star forgets the long run way;
When in oblivion nature disappears,
Swept down the prone descent of rolling years,
Who from the wreck thy numbers shall reclaim,
Extinct thy genius, and forgot thy fame;
To both, the fates one period have assign'd;
And that shall cease to be, when this to charm mankind.