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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Much-Loved Child

By Aquila Rose (1695–1723)

[From Poems on Several Occasions. 1740.]

THOU mournful muse, bewail the lovely boy,

The parents’ hope, and near relations’ joy;

In notes that suit my sorrow, guide my quill,

And tear the cypress from the sacred hill.

Aurelius, lovely boy! how soon thou’rt fled,

To silent mansions of the peaceful dead!

So nipping frosts the tender buds decay,

And make the finest flowers to fade away:

So death’s sharp scythe all human things destroys,

Mars our chief hopes, and spoils our greatest joys:

The youth but came, and saw, and passed away,

Snatched in the morning of the flowery day.

Mourn, all ye loves, beneath the sacred shade,

Aurelius in his bloom of youth is dead.

His lisping tongue a future wit declared,

And every accent was with pleasure heard:

His actions gave a presage to the sense

Of pious love, with graceful negligence.

No affectation in his humor passed,

He seemed a child with manly virtues graced;

Yet him, nor grace, nor wit, nor beauty save,

Too soon he leaves us for the darksome grave.

Mourn, all ye youths, the fair Aurelius lies,

In death’s cold arms, a mournful sacrifice.

Mean were our joys, too worthless, and too vile,

That would his truth and innocence beguile;

Tired with the sight, his spirit left the earth,

For those immortal realms that gave him birth;

Whilst all his friends lament his absence here,

And spend in every thought of him a tear;

Their memories paint his image still in view,

And the dear shade their care and griefs renew:

The halcyons so, in briny grief complain

To the deaf billows and relentless main;

With new-made wings their feathered breasts they beat,

And Œnus’ death in mournful notes repeat.

Clymene so, and so her daughters, mourn

The generous youth from Phœbus’ chariot borne.

So Philomel bewailed sad Isis’ fate,

And mournful accents still her woes relate.

So mourn the youth, adorned with wit and grace,

Who breathless lies in chilly death’s embrace.

But mourning ’s vain: no tears will control,

Or stop one moment the departing soul:

What mortal dares with Providence contend;

He ruled the birth, and will command the end?

Can we a life, to death-struck plants, supply,

Or save the meanest flower that ’s doomed to die?

Our skill ’s too weak to ward off potent death,

No physick’s aid can call the flying breath;

Our lengthened years are measured by a span,

And fleeting shuttles show the state of man.

We’re poor and helpless at our infant breath,

And old-age-childhood terminates in death:

Whilst death at once can set the spirit free,

To find a state that shall forever be.

No longer mourn, Aurelius happy reigns,

Himself a cherub in th’ etherial plains.

No more, my friends, let sorrow thus arise,

Nor pierce with your complaints the distant skies:

Let holy David mitigate your grief,

David will sure at once afford relief;

Whilst his dear child in deadly sickness lay,

That heaven might spare the boy he’d sigh and pray;

But when the will of heaven at once he found,

And his soul fled through death’s capacious wound,

He dried his eyes, bedewed with briny tears,

Left off his sorrows, and dispelled his fears;

Then quiet rests: “I shall to him,” said he,

“Return in peace, he cannot come to me.”

No longer mourn, ye friends, no longer mourn,

All heavenly forms must sure to heaven return.