Oliver Goldsmith

(10 November 1730 – 4 April 1774 / County Longford / Ireland)

Threnodia Augustalis: Overture - A Solemn Dirge - Poem by Oliver Goldsmith

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF HER LATE ROYAL HIGHNESS
THE PRINCESS DOWAGER OF WALES.

AIR -- TRIO.

ARISE, ye sons of worth, arise,
And waken every note of woe;
When truth and virtue reach the skies,
'Tis ours to weep the want below!

CHORUS.
When truth and virtue, etc.

MAN SPEAKER.
The praise attending pomp and power,
The incense given to kings,
Are but the trappings of an hour --
Mere transitory things!
The base bestow them: but the good agree
To spurn the venal gifts as flattery.
But when to pomp and power are join'd
An equal dignity of mind --
When titles are the smallest claim --
When wealth and rank and noble blood,
But aid the power of doing good --
Then all their trophies last; and flattery turns to fame.

Bless'd spirit thou, whose fame, just born to bloom
Shall spread and flourish from the tomb,
How hast thou left mankind for heaven!
Even now reproach and faction mourn.
And, wondering how their rage was borne,
Request to be forgiven.
Alas! they never had thy hate:
Unmov'd in conscious rectitude,
Thy towering mind self-centred stood,
Nor wanted man's opinion to be great.
In vain, to charm thy ravish'd sight,
A thousand gifts would fortune send;
In vain, to drive thee from the right,
A thousand sorrows urg'd thy end:
Like some well-fashion'd arch thy patience stood,
And purchas'd strength from its increasing load.
Pain met thee like a friend that set thee free;
Affliction still is virtue's opportunity!
Virtue, on herself relying,
Ev'ry passion hush'd to rest,
Loses ev'ry pain of dying
In the hopes of being blest.
Ev'ry added pang she suffers
Some increasing good bestows,
Ev'ry shock that malice offers
Only rocks her to repose.

SONG. BY A MAN -- AFFETTUOSO.
Virtue, on herself relying,
Ev'ry passion hush'd to rest,
Loses ev'ry pain of dying
In the hopes of being blest.

Ev'ry added pang she suffers
Some increasing good bestows,
Ev'ry shock that malice offers,
Only rocks her to repose.

WOMAN SPEAKER.
Yet, ah! what terrors frowned upon her fate --
Death, with its formidable band,
Fever and pain and pale consumptive care,
Determin'd took their stand:
Nor did the cruel ravagers design
To finish all their efforts at a blow;
But, mischievously slow,
They robb'd the relic and defac'd the shrine.
With unavailing grief,
Despairing of relief,
Her weeping children round
Beheld each hour
Death's growing power,
And trembled as he frown'd.

As helpless friends who view from shore
The labouring ship, and hear the tempest roar,
While winds and waves their wishes cross --
They stood, while hope and comfort fail,
Not to assist, but to bewail
The inevitable loss.
Relentless tyrant, at thy call
How do the good, the virtuous fall!
Truth, beauty, worth, and all that most engage,
But wake thy vengeance and provoke thy rage.

SONG. BY A MAN. -- BASSO. -- STACCATO. -- SPIRITOSO.
When vice my dart and scythe supply,
How great a king of terrors I!
If folly, fraud, your hearts engage,
Tremble, ye mortals, at my rage!
Fall, round me fall, ye little things,
Ye statesmen, warriors, poets, kings;
If virtue fail her counsel sage,
Tremble, ye mortals, at my rage!

MAN SPEAKER.
Yet let that wisdom, urged by her example,
Teach us to estimate what all must suffer;
Let us prize death as the best gift of nature --
As a safe inn, where weary travellers,
When they have journeyed through a world of cares,
May put off life and be at rest for ever.
Groans, weeping friends, indeed, and gloomy sables,
May oft distract us with their sad solemnity:
The preparation is the executioner.
Death, when unmasked, shows me a friendly face,
And is a terror only at a distance;
For as the line of life conducts me on
To Death's great court, the prospect seems more fair.
'Tis Nature's kind retreat, that's always open
To take us in when we have drained the cup
Of life, or worn our days to wretchedness.
In that secure, serene retreat,
Where all the humble, all the great,
Promiscuously recline;
Where wildly huddled to the eye,
The beggar's pouch and prince's purple lie,
May every bliss be thine.
And ah! bless'd spirit, wheresoe'er thy flight,
Through rolling worlds, or fields of liquid light,
May cherubs welcome their expected guest;
May saints with songs receive thee to their rest;
May peace that claimed while here thy warmest love,
May blissful endless peace be thine above!

SONG. BY A WOMAN. -- AMOROSO.
Lovely, lasting Peace below,
Comforter of every woe,
Heav'nly born, and bred on high,
To crown the favourites of the sky --
Lovely, lasting Peace, appear;
This world itself, if thou art here,
Is once again with Eden blest,
And man contains it in his breast.

WOMAN SPEAKER.
Our vows are heard! Long, long to mortal eyes,
Her soul was fitting to its kindred skies:
Celestial-like her bounty fell,
Where modest want and patient sorrow dwell;
Want pass'd for merit at her door,
Unseen the modest were supplied,
Her constant pity fed the poor --
Then only poor, indeed, the day she died.
And oh! for this! while sculpture decks thy shrine,
And art exhausts profusion round,
The tribute of a tear be mine,
A simple song, a sigh profound.
There Faith shall come, a pilgrim gray,
To bless the tomb that wraps thy clay;
And calm Religion shall repair
To dwell a weeping hermit there.
Truth, Fortitude, and Friendship shall agree
To blend their virtues while they think of thee.

AIR. CHORUS. -- POMPOSO.
Let us, let all the world agree,
To profit by resembling thee.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010



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