A Collection of English Poems, 1660-1800

By Ronald S. Crane | Go to book overview

I come, I come, prepare full Bowls,

Fit Banquet for heroic Souls: 20
What's Life--I scorn this idle Breath,
I smile in the Embrace of Death!


JAMES THOMSON
(1700-1720-1748)

A Poem Sacred to the
Memory of Sir Isaac Newton1

SHALL the great soul of Newton quit this earth,
To mingle with his stars; and every muse,
Astonish'd into silence, shun the weight
Of honours due to his illustrious name?

But what can man?--Even now the sons of light, 5
In strains high-warbled to seraphic lyre,
Hail his arrival on the coast of bliss.
Yet am not I deterr'd, tho' high the theme,
And sung to harps of angels, for with you,
Ethereal Flames! ambitious, I aspire 10
In Nature's general symphony to join.

And what new wonders can ye show your guest!
Who, while on this dim spot, where mortals toil
Clouded in dust, from Motion's simple laws,

Could trace the secret hand of Providence, 15

Wide-working thro' this universal frame.

Have ye not listen'd while he bound the Suns,
And Planets to their spheres! th' unequal task
Of humankind till then. Oft had they roll'd

O'er erring Man the year, and oft disgrac'd 20
The pride of schools, before their course was known
Full in its causes and effects to him,
All-piercing sage! who sat not down and dream'd
Romantic schemes, defended by the din
Of specious words, and tyranny of names; 25
But, bidding his amazing mind attend,
And with heroic patience years on years
Deep-searching, saw at last the System dawn,
And shine, of all his race, on him alone.

What were his raptures then! how pure! how strong! 30

____________________
1
Published in 1727. Text of The Seasons . . . . 1730.

-564-

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