Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
Extracts from The Grave: Self-Murder
By Robert Blair (1699–1746)
(See full text.)

  SELF-MURDER! name it not: our island’s shame,
That makes her the reproach of neighbouring states.
Shall nature, swerving from her earliest dictate,
Self-preservation, fall by her own act?
Forbid it, Heaven!—let not upon disgust        5
The shameless hand be foully crimsoned o’er
With blood of its own lord.—Dreadful attempt!
Just reeking from self-slaughter, in a rage,
To rush into the presence of our Judge
As if we challenged him to do his worst        10
And mattered not his wrath: unheard-of tortures
Must be reserved for these, these herd together,
The common damned shun their society,
And look upon themselves as fiends less foul.
Our time is fix’d and all our days are numbered,        15
How long, how short we know not; this we know,
Duty requires we calmly wait the summons,
Nor dare to stir till Heaven shall give permission,
Like sentries that must keep their destined stand
And wait the appointed hour till they’re relieved.        20
Those only are the brave that keep their ground,
And keep it to the last. To run away
Is but a coward’s trick. To run away
From this world’s ills, that at the very worst
Will soon blow o’er, thinking to mend ourselves        25
By boldly venturing on a world unknown
And plunging headlong in the dark—’tis mad,
No phrenzy half so desperate as this.

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