Poems on several occasions: By Stephen Duck.
Duck, Stephen, 1705-1756.
Page  5


NO Ill on Earth we tim'rous Mortals fly
With so much Dread, as abject Poverty:
O despicable Name! We, thee to shun,
On ev'ry other Evil blindly run.
For fear of thee, distrustful Niggards go
In tatter'd Rags, and starve their Bodies too,
And still are poor, for fear of being so.
For fear of thee, the cheating Trader vows,
His Wares are good, altho' his Conscience knows,
He has employ'd his utmost Skill and Care,
To hide their Faults, and make their Beauties glare.
The Sailor, terrify'd with Thoughts of thee,
Boldly attempts the Dangers of the Sea;
Page  6 From East to West, o'er Rocks and Quicksands steers;
'Tis Poverty, and that alone, he fears;
The Soldier too, whom nought but thee can scare,
In Hopes of Plunder, bravely meets the War;
To fly from Poverty, he runs on Death,
And shews he prizes Riches more than Breath.
Strange Terror of Mankind! By thee misled,
Not Conscience, Quicksands, Rocks, or Death they dread!
And yet thou art no formidable Foe,
Except to little Souls, who think thee so:
Who thro' the Glass of Prejudice survey
Thy Face, a thousand frightful Forms display.
THUS Men, at Night, in foolish Fears grown old,
Who mind the Fairy Tales their Nurses told,
Start at a Goblin, which their Fancy made,
And, for a Spectre, often take a Shade.
Page  7
CONTENTED Poverty's no dismal Thing,
Free from the Cares unwieldy Riches bring:
At Distance both alike deceive our View;
Nearer approach'd, they take another Hue.
The poor Man's Labour relishes his Meat;
His Morsel's pleasant, and his Rest is sweet:
Not so the Rich, who find their weary'd Taste
Pall'd with the Prospect of the cumb'rous Feast;
For what they have more than they can enjoy,
Instead of satisfying, does but cloy.
BUT let us state the Case another way:
Were Poverty so hideous as they say,
'Tis nobler chearfully to bear our Fate,
Than murmur and repine beneath its Weight.
That Man deserves the Praise of human Kind,
Who bears ill Fortune with a Christian Mind:
Page  8 How does his great heroic Soul aspire
Above that sordid Wealth the rest admire!
His nobler Thoughts are fix'd on Things above;
His faithful Eyes survey the GOD of Love
Hold forth the heav'nly Prize, which makes him run
His mortal Race, to gain th'immortal Crown.
Not all the Snares a crafty Dev'l can lay,
Can intercept, or daunt him in his Way.
Not all the scornful Insults of the Proud,
Not all the Censures of the grov'ling Croud,
Not Poverty, in all her Terrors drest,
Can shake the solid Quiet of his Breast:
Unmov'd he stands against the worst of Foes,
And mocks the Darts, which adverse Fortune throws,
Calm and compos'd, amidst or Ease or Pain;
And finds Content, which others seek in vain.
Page  9
So stands a steady Rock, sublimely steep,
Within the Confines of the briny Deep;
Lash'd by the foaming Surge on ev'ry Side,
Yet can't be shaken by the furious Tide.
THEN why should Phantoms discompose the Mind;
Or Woes, so far from real, fright Mankind?
Since Wealth can never make the Vicious blest,
Nor Poverty subdue the virtuous Breast;
Since both from Heav'n's unerring Hand are sent,
LORD, give me either; give me but CONTENT.