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1 DEIGN, heav'nly Muses, to assist my Song:
2 To heav'nly Muses heav'nly Themes belong.
3 But chiefly Thou, O GOD, my Soul inspire,
4 And touch my Lips with thy celestial Fire:
5 If Thou delight'st in flow'ry Carmel's Shade,
6 Or Jordan's Stream; from thence I crave thy Aid:
7 Instruct my Tongue, and my low Accents raise,
8 To sing thy Wonders, and display thy Praise:
9 Thy Praise let all the Sons of Judah hear,
10 And to my Song the distant Tribes repair.
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11 So pray'd the Shunammite; Heav'n heard the Dame;
12 The distant Tribes around her list'ning came,
13 To hear th'amazing Tale; while thus her Tongue,
14 Mov'd by some heav'nly Pow'r, began the Song.
15 ATTEND, ye Seed of ABRAM, and give Ear,
16 While I JEHOVAH's glorious Acts declare:
17 How Life from Death, and Joy from Sadness spring,
18 If He assist the Muse, the Muse shall sing.
19 My Lord and I, to whom all-bounteous Heav'n
20 His Blessings with no sparing Hand had giv'n,
21 Like faithful Stewards of our wealthy Store,
22 Still lodg'd the Stranger, and reliev'd the Poor.
23 And as ELISHA, by divine Command,
24 Came preaching Virtue to a sinful Land;
25 He often deign'd to lodge within our Gate,
26 And oft receiv'd an hospitable Treat:
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27 A decent Chamber for him we prepar'd;
28 And he, the gen'rous Labour to reward,
29 Honours in Camp, or Court, to us propos'd;
30 Which I refus'd, and thus my Mind disclos'd:
31 HEAV'N's King has plac'd us in a fertile Land,
32 Where he show'rs down his Gifts with copious Hand:
33 Already we enjoy an affluent Store;
34 Why should we be solicitous for more?
35 Give Martial Camps, and Kingly Courts to them,
36 Who place their only Bliss in fleeting Fame:
37 There let them live in golden Chains of State;
38 And be unhappy, only to be great.
39 But let us in our native Soil remain,
40 Nor barter Happiness for sordid Gain.
41 Here may we feed the Indigent in Peace,
42 Or cloath the Bare with the superfluous Fleece,
43 And give the weary fainting Pilgrim Ease.
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44 This we prefer to Pomp, and formal Show,
45 Which only serve to varnish o'er our Woe;
46 Refulgent Ornaments, which dress the Proud,
47 Objects of Wonder to the gazing Crowd;
48 Yet seldom give Content, or solid Rest,
49 To the vain Man, by whom they are possess'd.
50 ALL Blessings, but a Child, had Heav'n supply'd;
51 And only that th'Almighty had deny'd:
52 Which when the holy prescient Sage had heard,
53 He said, and I before him strait appear'd:
54 And, as my Feet approach'd his awful Room,
55 I saw his Face diviner Looks assume;
56 Not such a Wildness, and fanatic Mien,
57 With which, some say, the Delphic Priests are seen;
58 When they, for Mysteries of Fate, explain
59 The odd Chimera's of a frantic Brain;
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60 But with a grave majestic Air he stood,
61 While more than human in his Aspect glow'd;
62 Celestial Grace sat on his radiant Look,
63 And Pow'r diffusive shone, before he spoke.
64 Then thus: "Hail, gen'rous Soul! Thy pious Cares
65 " Are not forgot, nor fruitless are thy Pray'rs:
66 "Propitious Heav'n, thy virtuous Deeds to crown,
67 " Shall make thy barren Womb conceive a Son. "
68 So spake the Seer; and, to complete my Joy,
69 As he had spoke, I bore the promis'd Boy.
70 SOON to my Friends the welcome News was known,
71 Who crowded in apace to see my Son,
72 Hailing, with kind Salutes, the recent Child;
73 And, with their pious Hymns, my Pain beguil'd.
74 When all had said, I mov'd my joyful Tongue;
75 And thus to Heav'n address'd my grateful Song:
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76 "O GOD, what Eloquence can sing thy Praise?
77 " Or who can fathom thy stupendous Ways?
78 "All Things obey at thy divine Command;
79 " Thou mak'st a fruitful Field of barren Land:
80 "Obdurate Rocks a fertile Glebe shall be,
81 " And bring forth copious Crops, if bid by Thee;
82 "Arabian Deserts shall with Plenty smile,
83 " And curling Vines adorn the sterile Soil.
84 As thus she spake, her Audience raise their Voice;
85 And interrupt her Song, as they rejoice:
86 "O GOD, we gladly hear thy mighty Pow'r,
87 " With joyful Heart thy gracious Name adore:
88 "All Nature is subservient to thy Word;
89 " And shifts her wonted Course, to please her Lord.
90 "We, for thy Servant's Joy, our Thanks express;
91 " As grows the Child, so may her Bliss increase:
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92 "And may the Guardian Angels, who preside
93 " Over the Bless'd, his future Actions guide;
94 "Make spotless Virtue crown his vital Date,
95 " And hoary Honour end his Life but late;
96 "Then safely bear" The Dame here wav'd her Hand;
97 The People straight obey her mute Command:
98 All silent stand, and all attentive look,
99 Waiting her Words, while thus she, mournful, spoke:
100 ALL Pleasures are imperfect here below;
101 Our sweetest Joys are mix'd with bitter Woe:
102 The Draught of Bliss, when in our Goblet cast,
103 Is dash'd with Grief; or spilt, before we taste.
104 Ere twice four Years were measur'd by my Son,
105 (So soon, alas! the greatest Blessing's gone)
106 In Harvest-time he to the Reapers goes,
107 To view the bearded Sheaves, erect in Rows,
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108 Like an embattled Army in the Field;
109 A new delightful Prospect to the Child!
110 But either there the scorching Sun display'd
111 His Heat intense, and on his Vitals prey'd;
112 Or else some sudden apoplectic Pain,
113 With racking Torture, seiz'd his tender Brain;
114 His Spirits fail'd, he straight began to faint,
115 And to his Father vainly made Complaint:
116 The glowing Rose was quickly seen to fade;
117 At once his Beauty, and his Life, decay'd.
118 SOON, at my House, the dismal News I heard;
119 Soon, at my House, the dying Child appear'd:
120 T'embrace him I, with fond Affection, run;
121 And, O! said I, what Pain afflicts my Son?
122 He try'd to speak; but, fault'ring, gave a Groan;
123 No perfect Word proceeded from his Tongue;
124 But on his Lips the broken Accents hung.
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125 All Means I us'd, that might allay his Pain;
126 All Means I us'd, but us'd them all in vain.
127 Yet, while he liv'd, my Soul would not despair;
128 Nor, till he ceas'd to breathe, I ceas'd my Pray'r:
129 Deluding Hope now stopt the falling Tears;
130 Now his increasing Pains increas'd my Fears:
131 By Hope and Fear alternate was I toss'd,
132 Till Hope, in a sad Certainty, was lost:
133 Short, and more short, he drew his panting Breath,
134 (Too sure Presage of his approaching Death!)
135 Till soon the Blood, congealing, ceas'd to flow;
136 He dropt his Head with a declining Bow:
137 Thrice, from my Breast, to raise himself he try'd,
138 And thrice sunk down again; then, groaning, dy'd.
139 THUS, when with Care we've nurs'd a tender Vine,
140 And taught the docile Branches where to twine;
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141 An Eastern Gale, or some pernicious Frost,
142 Nips the young Tree, and all our Labour's lost.
143 WITH Horror chill'd, a-while I speechless stood,
144 Viewing the Child, and trembling as I view'd:
145 My Eyes discharg'd their humid Store apace,
146 And Tears succeeded Tears adown my Face:
147 Scarcely my Heart the Load of Grief sustain'd;
148 At length, recov'ring Speech, I thus complain'd:
149 O fleeting Joys! inconstant as the Wind!
150 Which only for a Moment please the Mind;
151 Then fly, and leave a Weight of Woes behind!
152 But yet in vain I thus lament and mourn;
153 The Soul, once fled, shall never more return;
154 And the fair Body now must be convey'd
155 To Earth's dark Bosom, and eternal Shade
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156 Yet let me not prescribe a Bound to Heav'n;
157 'Twas by a Miracle the Child was giv'n;
158 Nor can I think the Wonder is more great,
159 Should the departed Soul resume her Seat.
160 What if I to Mount Carmel haste away,
161 To him who did his mystic Birth display?
162 His pow'rful Word the barren fruitful made;
163 His pow'rful Word, perhaps, may raise the Dead.
164 The famous Tishbite rais'd a Widow's Son;
165 ELISHA has as wond'rous Actions done.
166 When he to Jordan's rapid Torrent came;
167 And, with the Mantle, smote th'impetuous Stream;
168 Obsequious to the Stroke, the Waves divide;
169 And raise a liquid Wall on either Side!
170 At Jericho long had the barren Soil
171 Deceiv'd the Husbandman, and mock'd his Toil;
172 Yet, at his Word, it grew a fertile Field,
173 And pois'nous Springs did wholsome Waters yield.
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174 Nor can he only such great Blessings send;
175 But Curses, if invok'd, his Call attend:
176 Else how at Bethel brought he Vengeance down,
177 As a just Scourge, on that opprobrious Town?
178 Again, when Moab Peace with Israel broke,
179 And vainly strove to quit the servile Yoke;
180 Our pow'rful Kings led forth th'embattled Host
181 Thro' Edom's sultry Wilds, and Air adust;
182 Where the confed'rate Troops no Water found,
183 Dry were the Springs, and sterile was the Ground;
184 The Captains wonted Strength and Courage fail'd,
185 When Thirst and Foes at once their Host assail'd:
186 The Kings to him their joint Petitions made,
187 And fainting Soldiers crav'd his timely Aid;
188 Nor crav'd in vain: The pow'rful Word he spake,
189 And flowing Waters form'd a spacious Lake;
190 The shining Streams advanc'd their humid Train,
191 Till Edom's Wilds became a liquid Plain:
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192 Not in more Plenty did the Waters run
193 Out of the Rock, when struck by AMRAM's Son.
194 And who can that amazing Deed forget,
195 Which he perform'd to pay the Widow's Debt?
196 Whose Quantity of Oil one Pot contain'd;
197 Yet num'rous Vessels fill'd, before 'twas drain'd.
198 Sure he, who such stupendous Acts has done,
199 If GOD propitious prove, can raise my Son.
200 So saying, up I caught the Child with Speed;
201 And laid him on the sacred Prophet's Bed;
202 Then call'd my Servant to prepare the Steed.
203 Pensive and sad, my mourning Husband said,
204 'Tis now in vain to crave ELISHA's Aid:
205 No God To-day the Prophet does inspire;
206 Nor can he answer, what thou wouldst inquire.
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207 RATHER than sink, said I, attempt to raise
208 My Hopes, nor talk of Ceremonial Days;
209 His God is present still, and hears him when he prays.
210 Thus said, urging my Steed with eager Haste,
211 Swift as a Mountain Roe, the Plains I pass'd;
212 O'er Hills and Dales my Journey I pursu'd;
213 Nor slack'd my Pace, till Carmel's Mount I view'd;
214 On whose delightful Brow, in cool Retreat,
215 Among the curling Vines, the Prophet sat;
216 Whose twining Arms a verdant Arbour made;
217 The verdant Arbour form'd a grateful Shade;
218 The fanning Zephyrs gently play'd around,
219 And shook the trembling Leaves, and swept the Ground;
220 Down humbly at his Feet I prostrate fell,
221 Submiss; and, weeping, told the mournful Tale.
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222 STRIVE to compose thy anxious Soul, said he;
223 Tears can't revoke JEHOVAH's fix'd Decree:
224 We live and die, and both, as He thinks fit,
225 Who may command; but Mortals must submit.
226 This Fate the King, as well as Peasant, finds;
227 Nor is it evil, but to evil Minds
228 Yet if from Heav'n I can my Suit obtain,
229 Thy lifeless Son shall yet revive again.
230 THUS said, with Looks divine, his Staff he views,
231 As if some pow'rful Charm he would infuse:
232 Then calls his Servant hastily, and said,
233 On the Child's Face let this be quickly laid.
234 O Thou, said I, on whom my Hopes depend,
235 Do not this Work to Servants Care commend:
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236 If Thou thyself with me refuse to go,
237 Here, to the list'ning Vines, I'll vent my Woe;
238 Still prostrate lie, lamenting for my Son,
239 Till ev'ry Hill prove vocal to my Moan.
240 More had I said, but Grief the Words supprest;
241 Yet Sighs, and silent Tears, explain'd the rest.
242 At length he from his verdant Seat arose,
243 And hastily adown the Mountain goes:
244 To Shunem we, with Speed, our Way pursue;
245 The City soon appears within our View;
246 And the obedient Servant, at the Gate,
247 Returning sad, without Success, we met:
248 The beauteous Child by Death still vanquish'd lay;
249 Still Death insulted o'er the beauteous Prey;
250 Till to the House the sacred Seer was come,
251 And, with supernal Pow'r, approach'd the Room.
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252 BY the dead Child, a-while, he pensive stood;
253 Then from the Chamber put the mourning Crowd:
254 That done, to GOD he made his ardent Pray'r,
255 And breath'd upon the Child with vital Air:
256 And now the Soul resumes her pristine Seat;
257 And now the Heart again begins to beat;
258 Life's purple Current o'er the Body spreads,
259 While Death, repuls'd, ingloriously recedes.
260 THUS, when a prowling Wolf has stol'n a Lamb,
261 He sternly guards it from the bleating Dam;
262 But if the Keeper comes, he quits his Prey,
263 And low'ring, with Reluctance, makes away.
264 AND now the Prophet, to my longing Arms,
265 Resign'd the Child, with more than wonted Charms:
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266 The blushing Rose shone fresher in his Face,
267 And Beauty smil'd with a superior Grace.
268 SO, when Heav'n's Lamp, that rules the genial Day,
269 Behind the sable Moon pursues his Way;
270 Affrighted Mortals, when th'Eclipse is o'er,
271 Believe him more illustrious than before.
272 HERE ends the Dame; and the promiscuous Throng,
273 With Hallelujahs, thus conclude the Song:
274 "Holy and good art Thou, Lord God of Host,
275 " And all thy Works are wonderful and just:
276 "Both Life and Death are in thy pow'rful Hand;
277 " Both Life and Death obey thy great Command:
278 "By thy great Pow'r the Heav'ns and Earth are aw'd;
279 " Then let the Heav'ns and Earth adore their GOD.
280 "Thou glorious Sun, that measur'st all our Days,
281 " Rising and setting, still advance his Praise:
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282 "Thou Moon, and ye less glitt'ring Orbs, that dance
283 " Round this terrestrial Globe, his Praise advance:
284 "Ye Seas, for ever waving to and fro,
285 " Praise, when ye ebb, and praise him, when ye flow:
286 "Ye wand'ring Rivers, and each purling Stream,
287 " As ye pursue your Course, his Praise proclaim:
288 "Ye Dews, and Mists, and humid Vapours, all,
289 " Praise, when ye rise; and praise him, when ye fall:
290 "But chiefly Israel, who dost daily view
291 " His pow'rful Works, his daily Praise renew. "


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): The SHUNAMMITE. To Mrs. STANLEY.
Author: Stephen Duck
Themes: biblical history
Genres: heroic couplet; address

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Source edition

Duck, Stephen, 1705-1756. Poems on several occasions: By Stephen Duck. London: printed for the author, 1736, pp. 28-46. xl,334,[2]p. ; 4⁰. (ESTC T90234; OTA K073280.000)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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