1799 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Elihu Hubbard Smith

Anonymous, "On the Death of J. Smith" [for E. H.?] Weekly Magazine [Philadelphia] 3 (9 February 1799) 158.



When he expired you poured the sorrowing lay,
O Nine! and wept on that disast'rous day!
For you presided at his birth, and smiled,
And partial owned him for your favourite child;
Bade him with wonder and with rapture trace
The laughing lines of Nature's matchless face,
O'er your illustrious bards impassioned pore
And learn their sweet traditionary lore;
Wake with nice touch the silver-sounding lyre,
Sweep the loud chords and wing the song with fire.

But when Contagion with envenomed breath,
Through air's pure ocean strewed the seeds of death,
In vain you called him to your green retreats,
Your flower-fringed fountains and your moss-clad seats;
Devoid of fear, with learning by his side,
Unmoved, the typographic art he plied.

The dire disease, waked by some daemon's rage,
With tyrant might o'erpowers his vig'rous age;
Now steals along his frame th' tremours fleet,
Shakes his lax arms, and chills his turpid feet;
Now in his fiery cheeks and eye-balls glows,
Burns in his bosom, rends his aching brows;
Or with delirium fierce assails, inshrined
In the bright brain, the shadowy tribes of mind.

Forth from pale lips dark pitchy currents flow,
Or winding seek the long canal below;
And bile absorbed, with deep suffusion dyes
His lifeless limbs, wan cheeks, and beamless eyes;
Weak throbs his heart, faint burns the living fire;
And faultering lungs with hollow sound respire;
Death's noisome dew his clay-cold frame o'erspread;
And the young bard lies numbered with the dead.

You shed, O Nine! on that disastrous day,
The tender tear, and breathed the sorrowing lay!