Churchill’s Muse Returns


Thence simple bards, by simple prudence taught,
To this wise town by simple patrons brought,
In simple manner utter simple lays,
And take, with simple pensions, simple praise.
Waft me, some Muse, to Tweed’s inspiring stream,
Where all the little Loves and Graces dream;
Where, slowly winding, the dull waters creep,
And seem themselves to own the power of sleep;
Where on the surface lead, like feathers, swims;
There let me bathe my yet unhallow’d limbs,
As once a Syrian bathed in Jordan’s flood—
Wash off my native stains, correct that blood
Which mutinies at call of English pride,
And, deaf to prudence, rolls a patriot tide.
From solemn thought which overhangs the brow
Of patriot care, when things are—God knows how;
From nice trim points, where Honour, slave to Rule,
In compliment to Folly, plays the fool [. . .]

From: The Prophecy of Famine by Charles Churchill (1732– 1764)

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From Storied Urns to Animated Busts

Can storied urn or animated bust

Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?

Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust,

Or Flatt’ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

 

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;

Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d,

Or wak’d to ecstasy the living lyre.

 

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page

Rich with the spoils of time did ne’er unroll;

Chill Penury repress’d their noble rage,

And froze the genial current of the soul.

 

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,

The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:

Full many a flow’r is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

 

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast

The little tyrant of his fields withstood;

Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,

Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood.

 

Th’ applause of list’ning senates to command,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise,

To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land,

And read their hist’ry in a nation’s eyes,

 

Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib’d alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin’d;

Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,

And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

 

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,

To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,

Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride

With incense kindled at the Muse’s flame.

 

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,

Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;

Along the cool sequester’d vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

 

Stanzas from:  Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard  by Thomas Gray (1751)

 

 

Two from Henry

Peace
My Soul, there is a country
Afar beyond the stars,
Where stands a winged sentry
All skillful in the wars;
There, above noise and danger
Sweet Peace sits, crown’d with smiles,
And One born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.
He is thy gracious friend
And (O my Soul awake!)
Did in pure love descend,
To die here for thy sake.
If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flow’r of peace,
The rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress, and thy ease.
Leave then thy foolish ranges,
For none can thee secure,
But One, who never changes,
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.

 

The Relapse

My God, how gracious art thou! I had slipt
Almost to hell,
And on the verge of that dark, dreadful pit
Did hear them yell,
But O thy love! thy rich, almighty love
That sav’d my soul,
And checkt their fury, when I saw them move,
And heard them howl;
O my sole comfort, take no more these ways,
This hideous path,
And I will mend my own without delays,
Cease thou thy wrath!
I have deserv’d a thick, Egyptian damp,
Dark as my deeds,
Should mist within me, and put out that lamp
Thy spirit feeds;
A darting conscience full of stabs and fears;
No shade but Yew,
Sullen, and sad eclipses, cloudy spheres,
These are my due.
But he that with his blood, (a price too dear,)
My scores did pay,
Bid me, by virtue from him, challenge here
The brightest day;
Sweet, downy thoughts; soft lily-shades; calm streams;
Joys full and true;
Fresh, spicy mornings; and eternal beams
These are his due.

 

Henry Vaughn (1622-95) ROCKS !
Don’t you agree ?