Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
Elegy to the Memory of Mr Thomas Godfrey
By Nathaniel Evans (1742–1767)
O DEATH! thou victor of the human frame!
The soul’s poor fabric trembles at thy name!
How long shall man be urged to dread thy sway,
For those whom thou untimely tak’st away?
Life’s blooming spring just opens to our eyes,        5
And strikes the senses with a sweet surprise,
When thy fierce arm uplifts the fatal blow
That hurls us breathless to the earth below.
  Sudden, as darts the lightning through the sky,
Around the globe thy various weapons fly.        10
Here war’s red engines heap the field with slain,
And pallid sickness there extends thy reign;
Here the soft virgin weeps her lover dead,
There maiden beauty sinks the graceful head;
Here infants grieve their parents are no more,        15
There reverend sires their children’s deaths deplore;
Here the sad friend—O! save the sacred name,
Yields half his soul to thy relentless claim;
O pardon, pardon the descending tear!
Friendship commands, and not the muses, here.        20
O say, thou much loved, dear departed shade,
To what celestial region hast thou stray’d?
Where is that vein of thought, that noble fire,
Which fed thy soul, and bade the world admire?
That manly strife with fortune to be just,        25
That love of praise? an honorable thirst!
The soul, alas! has fled to endless day,
And left its house a mouldering mass of clay.
  There, where no fears invade, nor ills molest,
Thy soul shall dwell immortal with the blest;        30
In that bright realm, where dearest friends no more
Shall from each other’s throbbing breasts be tore,
Where all those glorious spirits sit enshrined,
The just, the good, the virtuous of mankind.
There shall fair angels in a radiant ring,        35
And the great Son of heaven’s eternal King,
Proclaim thee welcome to the blissful skies,
And wipe the tears for ever from thine eyes.
  How did we hope—alas! the hope how vain!
To hear thy future more enripen’d strain;        40
When fancy’s fire with judgment had combined
To guide each effort of the enraptured mind.
Yet are those youthful glowing lays of thine
The emanations of a soul divine;
Who heard thee sing, but felt sweet music’s dart        45
In thrilling transports pierce his captive heart?
Whether soft melting airs attuned thy song,
Or pleased to pour the thundering verse along,
Still nobly great, true offspring of the Nine,
Alas! how blasted in thy glorious prime!        50
So when first ope the eyelids of the morn,
A radiant purple does the heavens adorn,
Fresh smiling glory streaks the skies around,
And gaily silvers each enamel’d mound,
Till some black storm o’erclouds the ether fair,        55
And all its beauties vanish into air.
  Stranger, whoe’er thou art, by fortune’s hand
Toss’d on the baleful Carolinian strand,
Oh! if thou seest perchance the poet’s grave,
The sacred spot with tears of sorrow lave;        60
Oh! shade it, shade it with ne’er fading bays.
Hallow’d ’s the place where gentle Godfrey lays.
(So may no sudden dart from death’s dread bow,
Far from the friends thou lov’st, e’er lay thee low,)
There may the weeping morn its tribute bring,        65
And angels shield it with their golden wing,
Till the last trump shall burst the womb of night,
And the purged atoms to their soul unite!

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