Ode to Poverty.

[The following is the production of a humble Scottish rustic,
William Park, who acts as a farm-servant, or “minister’s man,” to
the Rev. Mr Brown of Eskdale-Muir. That sentiments so re-
fined, and thoughts so profound, should reside in a peasant, whose
opportunities of improving his mind are probably of the most
limited nature, is in itself most wonderful, and proves, if proof
were wanting, how highly the rural people of Scotland are ex-
alted in the scale of intellect. It also proves a far more impor-
tant thing—that there is no lot so mean but it may be ennobled
by virtuous feeling, and the triumphs of inborn genius.]
Hail ! mighty power ! who o’er my lot1
President uncontroll’d and free ;2
Sole ruler of the rural cot,3
I bid thee hail, dread Poverty !4
Thine aid I crave to guide my strain,5
Nor shall I supplicate in vain.6
When on this world of woe and toil,7
A helpless stranger I was cast,8
Like mariner on desert isle,9
The sport and victim of the blast,10
Thy russet robe was o’er me flung,11
And to thy cold lean hand I clung.12
In youth I felt thy guardian care,13
Each saving, self-denying rule,14
Awful for those of fortune spare,15
I learnt and practised in thy school ;16
And of my lengthen’d life at large,17
Thou still hast taken special charge.18
Much have I seen—much more I’ve heard,19
Of chance and change in this vain world ;20
The low to high estate preferr’d21
From high estate the haughty hurl’d ;22
But chance or change ne’er pass’d o’er me23
I’m still thy subject, Poverty !24
(Oh, how unwise are they who scorn25
Thy homely garb and homely fare ;26
Who scale the tropic’s burning bourne,27
Ideal happiness to share !28
They tread the wild, and plough the wave,29
In quest of gold—but find a grave).30
There are who know thee but by name,31
Who spurn thy salutary laws,32
And count thy badge a mark of shame,33
And hold it sin to own thy cause.34
Fools that they are !  they never knew35
Thy guiltless pride—thy spirit true.36
Full oft in danger’s darkest day37
Thy sons have proved their country’s shield,38
When wealth’s effeminate array39
Appear’d not on the battle field :—40
’Twas theirs to grasp the patriot brand,41
That dropp’d from luxury’s nerveless hand.42
Full oft, where wealth-engender’d crime43
Roll’d o’er the land its whelming tide,44
Their fervent faith and hope sublime45
Have stable proved, though sorely tried :46
In virtue’s heavenward path they trode,47
When Pleasure’s sons forsook their God.48
And yet nor stone, nor poet’s strain,49
Records their honours undefil’d ;50
Even poesy would weave in vain51
The laurel wreath for penury’s child :52
Should fashion sneer, or fortune frown,53
’Twould wither ere the sun went down.54
But greater, happier far is he,55
More ample his reward of praise56
Though he should misery’s kinsman be,57
Though hardships cloud his early days58
Who triumphs in temptation’s hour,59
Than he who wins the warlike tower.60
What though he may not write his name61
On history’s ever living page !62
What though the thrilling trump of fame63
Echo it not from age to age !64
’Tis blazoned bright in realms on high,65
Enroll’d in records of the sky.66
What though the hireling bard be mute,67
When humble worth for notice calls,68
There wants not voice of harp or lute69
To hymn it high in heavenly halls :70
Around the cell where virtue weeps,71
His nightly watch the seraph keeps.72
If peace of mind your thoughts employ,73
Ye restless murmuring sons of earth !74
Ah ! shun the splendid haunts of joy,75
Peace dwells not with unholy mirth,76
But oft amidst a crowd of woes,77
As in the desert blooms the rose.78
Thick fly the hostile shafts of fate,79
And wreck and ruin mark their course,80
But the pure spirit, firm, sedate,81
Nor feels their flight, nor fears its force ;82
So storms the ocean’s surface sweep,83
While calm below the waters sleep.84
Oh ! may eternal peace be mine,85
Though outward woes urge on their war,86
And Hope do thou my path define,87
And light it with thy radiant star.88
Thou, Hope ! who through the shades of sorrow,89
Couldst trace the dawn of joy’s bright morrow.90