Thomas Gent

(1693-1778 / Ireland)

The Chain-Pier Brighton - Poem by Thomas Gent

Hail, lovely morn! and thou, all-beauteous sea!
Sun-sparkling with the diamond's countless rays:
Thy look, how tranquil, one eternal calm,
Which seems to woo the troubled soul to peace!
Now, all is sunshine, and thy boundless breast
Scarce heaves; unruffled, all thy waves subside
(Light murmuring, like the baby sighs of rest)
Into a gentle ripple on the shore.

All hail, dear Woman! saving-ark of man,
His surest solace in this world of woe;
How cheering are thy smiles, which, like the breeze
Of health, play softly o'er the pallid cheek,
And turn its rigid markings to a smile.
England may well be proud of scenes like this;
The beaming Beauty which adorns the PIER!

Hung like a fairy fabric o'er the sea,
The graceful wonder of this wondrous age;
Intrepid Brown,[1] the future page shall tell
Thy generous spirit's persevering aim,
That wrought so much, so well, thy country's weal;
How fit for thee, the gallant seaman's life,
His restless nights, and days of ceaseless toil;
Framed by thy mighty hand, the giant work
Check'd the rude tempest, in its fearful way.
Thy bold inventions gave new life to hope,
Steadied the wavering, and confirm'd the brave,
And bade the timid smile, amidst the storm!

Spirit of Hogarth! had I but one ray
Of that vast sun which warm'd thy varied mind;
How would I now describe the motley groups
Which crowd, in thoughtless ease, thy moving road.
Mark the young Confidence of yesterday,
Offspring of pride, and fortune's blinded fool,
(Engender'd like the vermin of an hour)
All would-be fashion, elegance, and ease,
While, by his side, the weaker vessel smirks,
In tawdry finery, with presuming gait,
As though the world were made for them alone;
Their liveried Lacquey, half-conceal'd in lace,
The vulgar wonder of an upstart race.
How heartlessly they pass that mourner by,
The poor lone Widow, with her death-struck load.
In speechless poverty, she courts the air,
To give its blessing to her suff'ring babe;
Not asking it herself; for life, to her,
Has now no charm-her refuge is the grave!

Here comes the moral Almanack of years-
The prim old maid, and, by her side, her Niece,
Full of bewitching beauty, health, and love.
See, how the tabby watches Laura's eyes,
Lest they should smile upon some pleasing spark,
And violate grim prudery's tyrant ties.
With icy finger, she her charge directs,
To view the faithful dial of the sun,
Whose moral tells how tide and time pass on.
See, there-the fated victim of mischance;
Read, in that hollow eye, and alter'd look,
The deep anxiety which gnaws the heart,
Incessant struggling 'gainst a tide of care,
Which wears his life away;-and there, again,
The empty, lucky Fool, who never thought,
Nor ever will, yet lives and smiles, and thrives!
Mark ye, that Ready-reckoner's figured face?
Cold calculation in his thoughtful step;
The heartless wretch, who never trusts his land,
And never is deceived!-And, next him, comes
Laughing Good-nature, with ruddy cheeks,
And welcome look, determined to be pleased.
He comes to ask-or go with friend to dine;
His labour but to dress-to eat, to sleep:
He knows no suffering equal to bad wine.
There-the prig-Parson, with indented hat,
And formal step-demanding your respect-
Yonder, the lovely insect-chasing Child.
His is, indeed, a life of envious joy;
Hope and anticipation, on the wing,
To him no sad realities e'er bring!

And now, the humble Quaker, plain and proud.
Humility, is this, indeed, thy type?
(I know it is not, for I know the man.)
His lovely Daughter bears an angel form
And mind, that glorifies her sex's charms;
Meekness and charity her life employ-
A seraph sorrowing for a suffering world!
Lo! too, the Matron, with her household gods,
The deities she worships night and day.
Affection has no bounds, nor language words.
To tell a mother's tender ceaseless charge.
Children! can all your future lore repay
The nights of watchfulness, and days of care,
Which a fond parent gives?-
See, last, sad sight! the hardy British Tar,
Cutlass unsheath'd, unlike the truly brave.
Here, watching, night and day-degenerate lot!
To seize a fisherman, or stop a cart,
Or 'fright the wandering spirits from the shore.'
His 'brief authority' has just detain'd
A boat of cockles and a quart of gin!
The smart Lieutenant's epaulette, methinks,
Blushes at this degrading, pimping trade.-
For deeds like these-let objects be employ'd,
Who never shared their country's high renown!
Adieu! vast Ocean, cradle of the brave,
Tablet of England's glory, and her shield!
To thee-and those dear friends who lured me here,
With hospitality's enchanting smile,
And chased away a little age of woe-
Gratefully-I dedicate these
tuneful lays!

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 20, 2010

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