Who said Poetry was Dead? An Ode to the Chirurgeon-Embalmer (1705)


TO HIS INGENIOUS FRIEND MR. THOMAS GREENHILL

‘Tis great and worthy of our Praise to lead
The Living thro’ the Dwellings of the Dead;
Death’s grisly Terrors by your Skill to Charm,
And his fell Furies of their Stings disarm:
The Mighty Maker has on you bestow’d
The wond’rous Science for a general Good.
The Labours of your Studies he has crown’d
With Art, alike Important and Profound;
With Death and Time he’s taught you to engage,
And save his best Creation from their Rage.
MAN, the true Image of his heav’nly Form,
Was a rich Prey to the devouring Worm;
Scarce had his Breath it’s Vital Seat forsook
But frozen were his Limbs, and frightful was his Look,
Livid his Lips, his whole Complexion wan,
And Nature loath’d to view the lifeless Man;
A poor Precarious Being he enjoy’d,
And soon the Grave his beauteous Frame destroy’d,
Till you had learn’d by equal Thought and Care
To keep him, as he was created, Fair;
To heal the ghastly Wounds that Death had made,
And give new Beauties which shall never fade:
Heav’n has to you the Sacred Art reveal’d,
Which had for twice ten Ages been conceal’d;
From common Ruine you the Body keep,
And turn the filthiness of Death to Sleep;
Fair as the Slumbers of a Virgin seem,
Who dreams of Joy, and blushes at her Dream,
Youth you preserve, and by your Science save
The living Graces in the rotting Grave.
Sooner the Egyptian King’s aspiring Tomb
May fall, the Marble waste, the Brass consume,
Old Time may sooner run his destin’d Race,
Than the new Wonders of your Art deface:
The Balm and Eastern Odours you employ,
The Noxious Vapours of the Vault destroy;
You reconcile us to the Things we loath,
We feel the Flesh is firm, the Features smooth;
We see, we smell, by e’ry Sense we try
Your Skill, and are no more afraid to Die.
Go on —– And may you equal Favour find,
With the vast Service you have done Mankind:
May the vile Quacks, who Heav’ns high Form prophane,
The base Impostors of the Funeral Trade,
Who cheat at once the Living and the Dead,
Be punish’d and expos’d, and Art restor’d
To her old Honours, and her due Reward:
So late Posterity shall sing your Praise,
And Fame bright Statues to your Glory raise.

– J. Oldmixon

By | 2010-10-14T14:05:10+00:00 October 14th, 2010|Casebooks|0 Comments

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