Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
A Mournful Lamentation for the Death of Mr Old Tenor
By Joseph Green (1706–1780)
A DOLEFUL 1 tale prepare to hear,
  As ever yet was told:
The like, perhaps, ne’er reach’d the ear
  Of either young or old.
’T is of the sad and woeful death        5
  Of one of mighty fame,
Who lately hath resign’d his breath;
  Old Tenor was his name.
In vain ten thousands intercede,
  To keep him from the grave;        10
In vain, his many good works plead;
  Alas! they cannot save.
The powers decree, and die he must,
  It is the common lot,
But his good deeds, when he’s in dust,        15
  Shall never be forgot.
He made our wives and daughters fine,
  And pleased everybody:
He gave the rich their costly wine,
  The poor their flip and toddy.        20
The laborer he set to work;
  In ease maintain’d the great:
He found us mutton, beef, and pork,
  And everything we eat.
To fruitful fields, by swift degrees,        25
  He turn’d our desert land:
Where once nought stood but rocks and trees,
  Now spacious cities stand.
He built us houses, strong and high,
  Of wood, and brick, and stone;        30
The furniture he did supply;
  But now, alas! he ’s gone.
The merchants too, those topping folks,
  To him owe all their riches;
Their ruffles, lace, and scarlet cloaks,        35
  And eke their velvet breeches.
He launch’d their ships into the main,
  To visit distant shores;
And brought them back, full fraught with gain,
  Which much increased their stores.        40
Led on by him our soldiers bold,
  Against the foe advance;
And took, in spite of wet and cold,
  Strong Cape Breton from France.
Who from that fort the French did drive,        45
  Shall he so soon be slain?
While they, alas! remain alive,
  Who gave it back again.
From house to house, and place to place,
  In paper doublet clad,        50
He pass’d, and where he show’d his face,
  He made the heart full glad.
But cruel death, that spareth none,
  Hath robbed us of him too;
Who through the land so long hath gone,        55
  No longer now must go.
In senate he, like Cæsar, fell,
  Pierced through with many a wound,
He sunk, ah, doleful tale to tell!
  The members sitting round:        60
And ever since that fatal day,
  Oh! had it never been,
Closely confined at home he lay,
  And scarce was ever seen,
Until the last of March, when he        65
  Submitted unto fate;
In anno regis twentythree,
  Ætatis fortyeight.
For ever gloomy be that day,
  When he gave up the ghost;        70
For by his death, oh! who can say,
  What hath New England lost?
Then, good Old Tenor, fare thee well,
  Since thou art dead and gone;
We mourn thy fate, e’en while we tell        75
  The good things thou hast done.
Since the bright beams of yonder sun,
  Did on New England shine,
In all the land, there ne’er was known
  A death so mourn’d as thine.        80
Of every rank are many seen,
  Thy downfal to deplore;
For ’t is well known that thou hast been
  A friend to rich and poor.
We ’ll o’er thee raise a silver tomb,        85
  Long may that tomb remain,
To bless our eyes for years to come,
  But wishes, ah! are vain.
And so God bless our noble state,
  And save us all from harm,        90
And grant us food enough to eat,
  And clothes to keep us warm.
Send us a lasting peace, and keep
  The times from growing worse;
And let us all in safety sleep,        95
  With silver in our purse.
Note 1. Old Tenor: A New England currency. [back]

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