My dear, afflicted parent! Ere thine eyes
by Thomas Cowherd
Are closed in death, accept this tribute due
From one who is allied by Nature's ties,
And ties which firmer bind both me and you.
My strain is humble, and my muse is rude,
Yet you my lay will now be pleased to hear.
Deem it not vain in me thus to intrude
My unlearned warblings on your dying ear.
'Tis not a thirst for fame that bids me wake
My youthful harp, and strike its solemn chords;
But 'tis the strong desire, for your dear sake,
I feel to treasure up your dying words.
Then come, my Muse; O, condescend to aid
My feeble efforts, while I touch this theme;
Ev'n thou who hoverest now o'er COWPER'S, shade-
Thou Source of Truth! and, with enlightening beam,
Remove the film that does becloud the eye
Of my dark understanding while I sing;
O, guide my trembling fingers, for I'll try
To tune my harp, and touch its every string.
Say now, what was that sound which caught my ear,
While I sat mute upon my father's bed
A sound so sweet it did my spirit cheer,
And made me muse, by contemplation led.
It was the triumph of that holy man-
His deathbed song, in view of yonder heaven
And as he spoke-till then his face was wan-
A brightened countenance was to him given.
'I have a glorious prospect now in sight!'
He said, then raised his voice-''Tis through the blood
Of Jesus Christ; it fills me with delight,
And makes me long to cross dark Jordan's flood!'
But then, as if his words might be construed
To be impatient, he serenely said,
'Let not my language now be wrongly viewed;
I wait God's will-on Him my soul is stayed.'
He still continued, 'Though my suffering's great,
My strength has been quite equal to my day;
God's love to me indeed is very great,
Nor will I murmur though He still delay.
'I reckon all the sufferings of this time
As nothing, when compared with heavenly things!'
He ceased, and left me this to pen in rhyme,
And ponder o'er, when he in Glory sings.
I stood; my eyes were fixed upon that face
Which oft had worn a smile for me, his son;
In retrospect, I then began to trace
The many acts of kindness he had done.
Well I remember-though he was but poor-
How ardently he wished to have me taught
At least to read and write, if nothing more;
My interest to advance was what he sought.
And, aided by a frugal partner's care,
He furnished was with means to gain his end;
Most careful still, they always had to spare
To purchase books which might assistance lend.
Great pleasure then they took to hear me read
The Bible's sacred page; though I, averse
To what was good, would rather have been freed;
And they were grieved to have me to coerce.
I then knew not the value of that Book
Which, since that time, I have so precious found;
And my perverse young temper would not brook
Restraint, though it did much their feelings, wound.
They persevered in pointing out to me
The dangerous path that I was treading in;
At last, it pleased the Lord to let me see
How dreadful was the nature of my sin.
What joy then filled thy bosom, father dear
Thou, too, my mother, didst express delight,
That I was brought to lend a listening ear
To Jesus' voice, and with his soldiers fight.
But ere that time, what pleasure it did give
To hear the warbling of my youthful Muse;
It made you wish that you might only live
To see the day when I would not refuse
To sing of Love omnipotent, Divine!
Such love as Jesus bore to wretched man!
And, aided by the truth which clean doth shine
Shout forth aloud Redemption's finished plan.
For seven long years we have united been
Within a Church, in fellowship and love;
And in that time how often have we seen
Afflictions sent, dire evils to remove.
Let all now left, in gratitude to God-
In meek submission to His sacred will-
Both praise and bless His name! then kiss the rod:
This will our souls with consolation fill!