George Pope Morris
Address For The Benefit Of William Dunlap. - Poem by George Pope Morris
What gay assemblage greets my wondering sight!
What scene of splendor--conjured here to-night!
What voices murmur, and what glances gleam!
Sure 'tis some flattering unsubstantial dream.
The house is crowded--everybody's here
For beauty famous, or to science dear;
Doctors and lawyers, judges, belles, and beaux,
Poets and painters--and Heaven only knows
Whom else beside!--And see, gay ladies sit
Lighting with smiles that fearful place, the pit--
(A fairy change--ah, pray continue it.)
Gray heads are here too, listening to my rhymes,
Full of the spirit of departed times;
Grave men and studious, strangers to my sight,
All gather round me on this brilliant night.
And welcome are ye all. Not now ye come
To speak some trembling poet's awful doom;
With frowning eyes a 'want of mind' to trace
In some new actor's inexperienced face,
Or e'en us old ones (oh, for shame!) to rate
'With study good--in time--but--never great:'
Not like you travelled native, just to say
'Folks in this country can act a play--
The can't 'pon honor!' How the creature starts!
His wit and whiskers came from foreign parts!
Nay, madam, spare your blushes--you I mean--
There--close beside him--oh, you're full nineteen--
You need not shake your flowing locks at me--
The man, your sweetheart--then I'm dumb you see;
I'll let him off--you'll punish him in time,
Or I've no skill in prophecy or rhyme!
A nobler motive fills your bosoms now,
To wreathe the laurel round the silvered brow
Of one who merits it--if any can--
The artist, author, and the honest man.
With equal charms his pen and pencil drew
Bright scenes, to nature and to virtue true.
Full oft upon these boards hath youth appeared,
And oft your smiles his faltering footsteps cheered;
But not alone on budding genius smile,
Leaving the ripened sheaf unowned the while;
To boyish hope not every bounty give
And only youth and beauty bid to live.
Will you forget the services long past--
Turn the old war-horse out to die at last?--
When, his proud strength and noble fleetness o'er,
His faithful bosom dares the charge no more!
Ah, no!--The sun that loves his beams to shed
Round every opening floweret's tender head,
With smiles as kind his genial radiance throws
To cheer the sadness of the fading rose:
Thus he, whose merit claims this dazzling crowd,
Points to the past, and has his claims allowed;
Looks brightly forth, his faithful journey done,
And rests in triumph--like the setting sun.
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