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Poem by Thomas Gent

The Grave of Dibdin

Lives there who, with unhallow'd hand, would tear,
One leaf from that immortal wreath which shades
The Hero's living brow, or decks his urn?
Breathes there who does not triumph in the thought
That 'Nelson's language is his mother tongue,'
And that St. Vincent's country is his own?
Oh! these bright guerdons of renown are won
By means most palpable to sense and sight;
By days of peril and by nights of toil;
By Valour's long probation, closed at last
In Victory's arms-consummated and seal'd
In deathless Glory and immortal Fame.

Musing I stand upon
lowly grave,
Who, though he fought no battle-though he pour'd
No hostile thunders on his country's foes,
Achieved for Britain triumphs, less array'd
'In pomp and circumstance,' nor visible
To vulgar gaze-the triumphs of the
He nursed the elements of courage-he
Supplied the aliment that feeds and guides
The daring spirit to its high emprise-
A nation's moral energies, by him
Directed, found a nobler end and aim.
He gave that high discriminating tone
That marks the Brave from mercenary tools-
Features that separate a British Crew
From hireling bravoes, and from pirate hordes.
And yet no marble marks the spot where lies
The dust of DIBDIN;-no inscription speaks
A Nation's gratitude-a Bard's desert.

The youthful Sailor on his midnight watch,
Fixing his gaze upon the tranquil moon,
Felt his heart soften as the thoughts of home
Rush'd on his faithful memory;-then it was
In language meet, and in appropriate strains-
Strains which thy lyre had taught him-he pour'd forth
The feelings of his soul, and all was calm.

Thy Spirit still presides in that carouse,
When to 'the Far away' the toast is given,
And 'absent Wives and Sweethearts' claim their right,
With Woman's constancy thy songs are rife;
And this pure creed still teaches Man t' endure
Privations, danger, and each form of death.

When not a breath responded to the call,
And Seamen whistled to the winds in vain;
When the loose canvass droop'd in lazy folds,
And idle pennants dangled from the mast;-
There, in that trying moment, thou wert found
To teach the hardest lesson man can learn-
Passive endurance-and the breeze has sprung,
As if obedient to the voice of Song:-
And yet unhonour'd here thy ashes lie!

A nobler lesson learn'd the gallant Tar
From his Orphean lyre-to temper right
The lion's courage with the attributes
That to the gentle and the meek belong;
O'er fallen foes to check the eye of fire-
O'er fallen foes to soften heart of oak.

He turn'd the Fatalist's rash eye to Him
In whom the issues are of life and death;
He taught to whom the battle is-to whom
The victory belongs. His cherub, that aloft
Kept sleepless watch, was Providence-not Chance.

And yet no honours are decreed for him-
Friend of the Brave, thy memory cannot die!
Th'inquiring voice, that eagerly demands
Where rest thy ashes?-shall preserve thy fame.
Thine immortality thyself hast wrought;-
Familiar as the terms of art, thy verse,
Thine own peculiar words are still the mode
In which the Seaman aptly would express
His honest passions and his manly thoughts;
His feelings kindle at thy burning words,
Which speak his duty in the battle's front;
His parting whisper to the maid he loves
Is breathed in eloquence he learned from thee;
Thou art his Oracle in every mood-
His trump of victory-his lyre of love! 

Thomas Gent

Thomas Gent's other poems:
  1. On a Delightful Drawing in my Album
  2. On the Portrait of the Son of J.G. Lambton, Esq
  3. Invocation to Sleep
  4. Prometheus
  5. The Chain-Pier, Brighton

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