Mary Barber

(1690-1757 / England)

To Alexander Pope, Esq. - Poem by Mary Barber

Shall for the Man of Ross thy Lyre be strung,
And sleeps illustrious Thanet yet unsung?
Since to distinguish Merit is thy Care,
Let Thanet in thy deathless Praises share:
Let me, unequal to the Task, excite
Thy matchless Muse, to do his Merit Right.
Numbers, like thine, should call his Virtues forth;
Poetic Mirrors should be true to Worth;
Disdaining to reflect those glitt'ring Rays,
Which flow from Pomp, or from Ambition's Blaze.

From Scenes of Woe, unmov'd, whilst Others fly,
And turn from Anguish the unmelting Eye;
Thanet pursues the Footsteps of the Poor,
And silent enters thro' the lonely Door;
Fair Plenty in his Train, and Joy, and Health,
Seeking Distress, as Others seek for Wealth;
With God like Pity ev'ry Pray'r receives,
Each Wish fulfils, and ev'ry Want relieves:
Where Sickness reigns, he, to his utmost Pow'r,
Softens the Anguish of each dismal Hour:
He smooths the rugged Brow of anxious Care,
And gilds the gloomy Prospect of Despair:
Whilst Libertines on Vice their Wealth employ,
He makes the Widow's Heart to sing for Joy:
Orphans no more their Parents lost complain;
In Thanet's Bounty they revive again.
Nor for this Life alone would he provide;
To Life eternal Thanet was their Guide:
Nor on Morality alone depends;
But to the noblest Heights of Faith ascends:
Devotion's heav'nly Flame inspir'd his Breast;
Still in the Temple were his Vows address'd:
Tho' he in Virtue's Paths, delighted, trod,
Studious to please, and imitate his God;
The hallow'd Altar, grateful, he survey'd,
And there his lowly Adoration paid.

See the pale, childless Miser hoard up Wealth,
And, trembling, snatch an anxious View by Stealth;
Amass the shining Ore with guilty Care,
To aggrandize some distant, worthless Heir;
Who longs, impatient, for the solemn Toll,
Which, slow, proclaims the sad--departed Soul;
Then eyes with Joy the care--collected Hoard,
And spends, profuse, what Avarice had stor'd;
By Fortune's sudden Smiles to Madness fir'd,
He wastes on ev'ry Vice, what Guilt acquir'd.

So dwells on Mountain--Tops the Northern Snow,
Congeal'd by Frosts, for Years untaught to flow;
Till hotter Suns more vig'rous Beams display;
The Mass relents, the glitt'ring Piles decay;
Sudden, from high, resounding Torrents flow,
Impetuous rushing on the Vales below;
O'erwhelm the Harvest of the pining Swain,
And curse with Floods, which should have bless'd the Plain.

On Thanet Heav'n its happier Influence shed;
A num'rous Off--spring grac'd his nuptial Bed:
And yet those Motives to paternal Care
Steel'd not his Breast against the Suppliant's Pray'r.
Studious to draw down Blessings on his Race,
His Bountics with his Progeny increase.
Like Egypt's Flood, beneficent he rose;
Silent, tho' vast, his well--judg'd Bounty flows;
O'er the parch'd Earth it spreads its ample Course,
Profuse of Good, but, modest, hides its Source.
Ask not, to what his Charities amount;
So many Myriads swell the vast Account.

Ye vain Pretenders to superior Sense,
Ye empty Boasters of Beneficence,
Who in the Scorners Seat, exulting, sit,
And vaunt your impious Raillery for Wit,
The Gospel--Rule defective you pretend,
When you the social Duties recommend;
In Thanet see them heighten'd and refin'd;
In Thanet see the Friend of human Kind;
Heighten'd by Faith, see ev'ry Virtue's Force;
By Faith, their surest Sanction, noblest Source.
Loudly ye boast a more than Christian Zeal,
For Virtue's Int'rest, and the public Weal;
Best by Effects are Boastings understood;
Come, prove your Ardor for the public Good!
The mighty Heroes of your Tribe survey,
Their ev'ry hidden Excellence display;
Or dead, or living, set their Virtues forth;
Let all, united, vie with Thanet's Worth;
Free--thinkers, Moralists, on you I call,
Can Thanet's Worth be equall'd by you all?

Accept, illustrious Shade! these artless Lays;
My Soul this Homage, to thy Virtue pays:
Led by that sacred Light, a Stranger--Muse
Attempts those Paths, which abler Feet refuse;
In distant Climes thy Virtue she admires,
In distant Climes thy Worth her Strain inspires.

Long to thy Tomb the Wretched shall repair,
And to thy Ashes pay a silent Tear;
Shall to the Traveller thy Worth relate,
And Emulation thro' the World create:
Ages to come shall celebrate thy Fame,
And Orphans, yet unborn, shall bless thy Name.

When the firm Basis of the Earth gives Way,
And Nature's Self shall feel her last Decay;
When those, who from the Wretched turn'd their Eye.
Too late relenting, shall for Mercy cry;
The Thousands thou hast fed, shall, in thy Praise,
Their loud Hosanna's to JEHOVAH raise;
Thy modest Worth shall veil itself no more;
Angels shall tell what Thanet hid before.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010



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