Recreations for Solitary Hours
Stanzas to a Young Poet
Stanzas to a Young Poet.
Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where fame's proud temple shines afar.
Hail friendly youth! fair orient genius!
In answer I employ my pen of steel;
Nor can my muse be so ungenerous
As not in thee a growing pleasure feel!
Nor can my soul its innate joy conceal,
To hear, in symphony, ye tune the lyre:—
Then rouse ye sacred Nine! your powers reveal
And kindle in his breast each quick'ning fire,
As he with inward music loves to join the choir.
Ah! tender youth, ye little know what care,
May dare in ambush, yet belay thy steps;
May Heaven kindly you in favour spare,
And guide thy feet from such engulphing traps,
Which oft arrest the progress of adepts,
Who, often met by barriers of scorn,
And adverse fortunes,—disappointed hopes,
Mid which their labours painfully were borne,—
Are left to meet their fates forgotten and forlorn.
Oh! fly fair flattery, whose delusive tongue
Beguiles with vain enticing words of wind—
Whose company, the root of every wrong,
If once indulged, you no escape will find
While in its close embrace thou art confin'd—
Which siren-like, most charmingly will lull
With praise melodious the unwary mind,
Till pride inflates thee, thus t' ensure thy fall;—
Then keen remorse will vex and harrow up thy soul
Be noble minded! circumspect, reserve;
Of building fancy's airy towers beware,
Lest heedlessly through self-conceit you swerve,
And from thy giddy height—so press'd with care—
Ye headlong tumble, grasping at the air
To break thy fall, to dreadful fate consigned—
A dire arousement! waking in despair,
When all thy hopes and prospects with the wind
Are fled, and not a wreck of fame is left behind.
Is 't future praise—a vain anticipation
Of phantom fame—ye harbour in your breast?
Or is it sport? a sordid degradation
Of genius' gift, of which thou art possess'd:
page 37 The tongue of Time will have it loud express'd,
When round th' eventful wheel of fortune's whirl'd,
To point thy lot high seated with the blest,—
Or high exalted, be to ruin hurl'd,
Then hiss'd and scoff'd at by a scandalizing world!
But what ennobles more the human mind
Than meditation on the works of God,
Exciting magnanimity refined
'Bove all which wealth or honour e'er bestow'd:
But ah! what secular'ties make inroad,
To vex sweet peace, or raise the tattling sneer;
A neighbour's name with infamy to load,
Exposing virtue to opprobrious jeer:—
From such base degradations of thy muse forbear!
Go on! and may you prosper in your sphere,
But mark attentive, ere you've gone afar,
Lest envy should in unawares appear
Against thy hopes and prospects waging war,
Employing all, thy progress to debar:—
Why should I on such themes of grievance dwell?
Be stirr'd!—let no despondence e'er thee mar,
Aim to improve, as ye aspire t' excel;—
Be virtue's friend! and Heaven will bless thy muse—farewell.