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Alexander Pope (1688–1744). Complete Poetical Works. 1903.

Early Poems

A Paraphrase (On Thomas à Kempis)

  • L. III. C. 2
  • Supposed to have been written in 1700; first published from the Caryll Papers in the Athenæum, July 15, 1854.

  • SPEAK, Gracious Lord, oh, speak; thy servant hears:

    For I ’m thy servant and I ’ll still be so:

    Speak words of comfort in my willing ears;

    And since my tongue is in thy praises slow,

    And since that thine all Rhetoric exceeds:

    Speak thou in words, but let me speak in deeds!

    Nor speak alone, but give me grace to hear

    What thy celestial Sweetness does impart;

    Let in not stop when enter’d at the ear,

    But sink, and take deep rooting in my heart.

    As the parch’d Earth drinks rain (but grace afford)

    With such a gust will I receive thy word.

    Nor with the Israelites shall I desire

    Thy heav’nly word by Moses to receive,

    Lest I should die: but Thou who didst inspire

    Moses himself, speak Thou, that I may live.

    Rather with Samuel I beseech with tears,

    Speak, gracious Lord, oh, speak, thy servant hears.

    Moses, indeed, may say the words, but Thou

    Must give the Spirit, and the Life inspire;

    Our Love to thee his fervent breath may blow,

    But ’t is thyself alone can give the fire:

    Thou without them may’st speak and profit too;

    But without thee what could the Prophets do?

    They preach the Doctrine, but thou mak’st us do ’t;

    They teach the myst’ries thou dost open lay;

    The trees they water, but thou giv’st the fruit;

    They to Salvation show the arduous way,

    But none but you can give us strength to walk;

    You give the Practice, they but give the Talk.

    Let them be silent then; and thou alone,

    My God! speak comfort to my ravish’d ears;

    Light of my eyes, my Consolation,

    Speak when thou wilt, for still thy servant hears.

    Whate’er thou speak’st, let this be understood:

    Thy greater Glory, and my greater Good!