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On Dr. Brown's Death

Thomas Parnell 1679 (Dublin) – 1718



I.
Alas will nothing do,
Nothing arrest the arm of Death
Must learning, sence, nay virtue too,
Must these or. real blessings go
like all things else beneath?
Must these best guifts while here yey shine
Like ye great Stagyrites stars in solid spheres
A common power wth. worthless meteors share
To guild the orbs they're in?
Yes now we find it so since he is gone
In whom enough of goodness shone
T'adorn an age, a second Sodom save
but not himself from the devouring grave
He's gone & that prodigious store
Of piety wch. here he bore
Sat on him onely like the Summers pride
Which crown'd ye ancients victims 'ere they dy'd

II.
He's gon far far on high
Born on ye wings of virtue to his skye
for sure this world was lesse yn. t'other, his,
So much he courted that, so little this,
Besides had he been hers ye earth had mourn'd his loss
In dreadfull heavings & unwonted flows
But silently he stole away
Like some celestial ray
Wch. plays awhile upon ye wings of day
Then soft retiring off ye Air
Do's without troubling nature disappear.

III.
Sure (but avert ye omen fate)
Sure a decay of learning's state,
Is now just now a pressing on
Wn. thus her great good pillar tumbles down
Wn. the light's gone wch. show'd us to advance
Thro ye Ægyptian night of ignorance
For why, why mayn't we fear
'Twill ye same course wth. nature run?
Wch. when ye generall dissolution's near,
Shall see a genuine night Ecclypse her sun.
How well, how too too well does death,
The cause of ignorance maintain,
Robbing her rivalls leader of his breath,
To fix his Tyrant sisters reign.
How too, too well he mocks or. blooming joys
& him & all or. hopes destroys
Him of the tree of life depriving thus
& of the tree of knowledge us
Thus have his arms disabled at a blow
Both learnings Monarch & its empire too
Just so ye Epick muse indites
Ending wth. some great life ye enterprise
Nor longer toyles she ore her pageant fights
The work is ended wn. an Heroe dyes.

IV.
Curst be the Hour, ye Day, ye Year,
Curst ye disease that ravish'd hence or. seer,
Whose sacrilegious dart cou'd show,
That one so good was not immortall too;
Yet wt. alas can this avail?
Why all this mad distemper'd Zeal
As wt it did were the effects of chance,
& not of providence.
No the impatient heavens thought long to want
In their blest choirs so true a saint,
And sent a ministring sickness from above,
his earthy fetters to remove.
It came ye call he knew,
& streight obey'd & streight wthdrew,
Loos'd from ye chains of flesh his freer mind
Rose up to sacred love,
To perfect saint or seraphim refin'd,
Quitting his lump of clay,
As subtle spirits fume away
Loos'd from their earth they upward mount, they flye,
They light, they shine, & blaze along the skye.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:39 min read
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Thomas Parnell

Thomas Parnell was an Anglo-Irish poet and clergyman who was a friend of both Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. He was the son of Thomas Parnell of Maryborough, Queen's County now Port Laoise, County Laoise}, a prosperous landowner who had been a loyal supporter of Cromwell during the English Civil War and moved to Ireland after the restoration of the monarchy. Thomas was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and collated archdeacon of Clogher in 1705. He however spent much of his time in London, where he participated with Pope, Swift and others in the Scriblerus Club, contributing to The Spectator and aiding Pope in his translation of The Iliad. He was also one of the so-called "Graveyard poets": his 'A Night-Piece on Death,' widely considered the first "Graveyard School" poem, was published posthumously in Poems on Several Occasions, collected and edited by Alexander Pope and is thought by some scholars to have been published in December of 1721 (although dated in 1722 on its title page, the year accepted by The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature; see 1721 in poetry, 1722 in poetry). It is said of his poetry 'it was in keeping with his character, easy and pleasing, ennunciating the common places with felicity and grace. more…

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