To Robert Southey, Esq. On Reading His "Remains Of Henry Kirke White."

A poem by Thomas Gent

Southey! high placed on the contested throne
Of modern verse, a Muse, herself unknown,
Sues that her tears may consecrate the strains
Pour'd o'er the urn enrich'd with WHITE'S Remains!
While touch'd to transport, Taste's responding tone
Makes the rapt poet's ecstasies thine own;
Ah! think that he, whose hand supremely skill'd,
The heart's fine chords with deep vibration thrill'd,
In stagnant silence and petrific gloom,
Unconscious sleeps, the tenant of the tomb!
Extinct that spirit, whose strong-bidding drew
From Fancy's confines Wonder's wild-eyed crew,
Which bade Despair's terrific phantoms pass
Like Macbeth's monarchs in the mystic glass.
Before the youthful bard's impassion'd eye,
Like him, led on, to triumph and to die;
Like him, by mighty magic compass'd round,
And seeking sceptres on enchanted ground.
Such spells invest, such blear illusion waits
The trav'ller bound for Fame's receding gates,
Delusive splendours gild the proud abode,
But lurking demons haunt th' alluring road;
There gaunt-eyed Want asserts her iron reign,
There, as in vengeance of the world's disdain,
This half-flesh'd hag midst Wit's bright blossoms stalks,
And, breathing winter, withers where she walks;
Though there, long outlaw'd, desp'rate with disgrace,
Invidious Dulness wields the critic mace,
And sworn in hate, exerts his ruffian might
Where'er young genius meditates his flight.
Erewhile, when WHITE, by this fell fiend oppress'd,
Felt Hope's fine fervours languish in his breast,
When shrunk with scorn, and trembling to aspire,
He dropp'd desponding his insulted lyre.
Alert in zeal, with art benigh endued,
SOUTHEY! thy hand his blasted strength renew'd,
And lured him on, his labours scarce begun,
To win those laurels which thyself had won.
In vain! though vivified with pristine force,
O'er learning's realms he shot with meteor course;
To worth relentless, Fate's despotic frown
Scowl'd in the bright perspective of renown:
Timeless he falls, in Death's pale triumph led.
And his first laurels shade his grassy bed.
So sinks the Muse's offspring, doom'd to try,
Like a caged eagle panting tow'rds the sky,
A foil'd ascent, while adverse fortune flings
Her strong link'd meshes o'er his flutt'ring wings,
Sinks, while exalted Ignorance supine,
Unheeded slumbers like the pamper'd swine;
Obsequious slaves in his voluptuous bowers
Young pleasures warble, while the dancing Hours
In sickly sweetness languishingly move,
Like new-waked virgins flush'd with dreams of love--
Him, when by Death's dark angel swept away
From sloth's embrace, in premature decay,
Surviving friends, donation'd into grief,
Shall mourn with anguish audible and brief,
And pander-bards ring round in goodly chime
His liberal heart, high wit, and soul sublime;
But Flattery's frauds impartial Time disowns,
Funereal pomp, and adulative tones;
Slow where she moves through monumental aisles,
With stern contempt insulted Reason smiles,
While Falsehood, shrined above th' emblazon'd palls,
Shames sanctity from consecrated walls:
She seeks, with pensive step and saintly eyes,
Some lonely grave, where rude the grass-tufts rise;
Nor sculptured angels tell, nor chisell'd lines,
There slumbers CHATTERTON--here WHITE reclines!
But nobler triumphs WHITE'S probation claims
Than ever blazon'd Wit's recorded names;
For Virtue's sons, to bliss immortal born,
Tower to their native heaven, and view with scorn
The vain distinction of the trophied sod,
'Tis theirs to gain distinction with their God!

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