Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XXVI. Melancholy
On the Death of Mr. Robert Levet, a Practiser in Physic
By Samuel Johnson (1709–1784)
 
CONDEMN’D to Hope’s delusive mine,
  As on we toil from day to day,
By sudden blasts or slow decline
  Our social comforts drop away.
 
Well tried through many a varying year,        5
  See Levet to the grave descend,
Officious, innocent, sincere,
  Of ev’ry friendless name the friend.
 
Yet still he fills affection’s eye,
  Obscurely wise and coarsely kind;        10
Nor, letter’d Arrogance, deny
  Thy praise to merit unrefined.
 
When fainting nature call’d for aid,
  And hov’ring death prepared the blow,
His vig’rous remedy display’d        15
  The pow’r of art without the show.
 
In Misery’s darkest cavern known,
  His useful care was ever nigh,
Where hopeless Anguish pour’d his groan,
  And lonely Want retired to die.        20
 
No summons mock’d by chill delay,
  No petty gain disdain’d by pride;
The modest wants of ev’ry day
  The toil of ev’ry day supplied.
 
His virtues walk’d their narrow round        25
  Nor made a pause, nor left a void;
And sure th’ Eternal Master found
  The single talent well employ’d.
 
The busy day, the peaceful night,
  Unfelt, uncounted, glided by;        30
His frame was firm—his powers were bright,
  Though now his eightieth year was nigh.
 
Then with no fiery throbbing pain,
  No cold gradations of decay,
Death broke at once the vital chain,        35
  And freed his soul the nearest way.
 
 
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