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George Pope Morris

(1802-1864 / USA)

Address For The Benefit Of James Sheridan Knowles.


Nay, Mr. Simpson!--'Tis not kind--polite--
To shut me out, sir?--I'm in such a fright!--
I can not speak the lines, I'm sure!--Oh, fie!
To say I must!--but if I must--I'll try!

From him I turn to these more generous souls
The drama's patrons and the friends of KNOWLES.
Why, what a brilliant galaxy is here!
What stars adorn this mimic hemisphere!
Names that shine brightest on our country's page!
The props of science--literature--the stage!
Above--below--around me--woman smiles,
The fairest floweret of these western wilds--
All come to pay the tribute of their praise
To the first dramatist of modern days:
And welcome, to the green home of the free,
With heart and hand, the bard of liberty!

His is a wizard-wand. Its potent spell
Broke the deep slumber of the patriot Tell,
And placed him on his native hills again,
The pride and glory of his fellow-men!
The poet speaks--for Rome Virginia bleeds!
Bold Caius Gracclius in the forum pleads!
Alfred--the Great, because the good and wise,
Bids prostrate England burst her bonds and rise!
Sweet Bess, the Beggar's Daughter, beauty's queen,
Walks forth the joy and wonder of the scene!
The Hunchback enters--kindly--fond--severe--
And last, behold the glorious Wife appear!

These are the bright creations of a mind
Glowing with genius, chastened and refined.
In all he's written, be this praise his lot:
'Not one word, dying, would he wish to blot!'

Upon my life 'tis no such easy thing
To land the bard, unless an eagle's wing
My muse would take; and, fixing on the sun
Her burning eye, soar as his own has done!

Did you speak, sir?--What, madam, did he say?
Wrangling!--for shame!--before your wedding-day!
Nay, gentle lady, by thine eyes of blue,
And vermeil blushes, I did not mean you!
Bless me, what friends at every glance I see!
Artists and authors--men of high degree;
Grave politicians, who have weighed each chance,
The next election, and the war with France;
Doctors, just come from curing half a score--
And belles, from killing twice as many more;
Judges, recorders, aldermen, and mayors,
Seated, like true republicans, down stairs!
All wear a glow of sunshine in their faces
Might well become Apollo and the graces,
Except one yonder, with a look infernal,
Like a blurred page from Fanny Kemble's Journal!

But to my task. The muse, when I began,
Spoke of the writer--welcome ye the man.
Genius, at best, acts but an humble part,
Unless obedient to an honest heart.
And such a one is his, for whom, to-night,
These walls are crowded with this cheering sight
Ye love the poet--oft have conned him o'er,
Knew ye the man, ye'd love him ten times more.
Ye critics, spare him from your tongue and quill,
Ye gods, applaud him; and ye fops--be still!

Submitted: Wednesday, October 06, 2010

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