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THE DYING CHRISTIAN TO HIS SOUL.

ODE.

I.

VITAL spark of heav'nly flame !
Quit, oh quit, this mortal frame:
Trembling, hoping, ling’ring, flying;

Oh the pain, the bliss of dying !
Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.

II.

Hark! they whisper ; Angels say,
Sister Spirit, come away.
What is this absorbs me quite ?

Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws

my

breath? Tell me, my Soul, can this be death?

III.

The world recedes ; it disappears !
Heav'n opens on my eyes ! my ears

With sounds seraphic ring :
Lend, lend your wings ! I mount ! I fly!
O Grave! where is thy Victory?

O Death! where is thy Sting?

This Ode was written, we find, at the desire of Steele ; and our Poet, in a letter to him on that occasion, says,—“You have it, as Cowley calls it, just warm from the brain; it came to me the first moment I waked this morning; yet you'll see, it was not so absolutely inspiration, but that I had in my head, not only the verses of Hadrian, but the fine fragment of Sappho."

It is possible, however, that our Author might have had another composition in his head, besides those he here refers to : for there is a close and surprising resemblance between this ode of Pope, and one of an obscure and forgotten rhymer of the age of Charles the Second, namely Thomas Flatman; from whose dunghill, as well as from the dregs of Crashaw, of Carew, of Herbert, and others (for it is well known he was a great reader of all those poets), Pope has very judiciously collected gold. And the following stanza is, perhaps, the only valuable one Flatman has produced.

When on my sick bed I languish;
Full of sorrow, full of anguish,
Fainting, gasping, trembling, crying,
Panting, groaning, speechless, dying ;
Methinks I hear some gentle spirit say,

Be not fearful, come away! The third and fourth lines are eminently good and pathetic, and the climax well preserved, the very turn of them is closely copied by Pope; as is likewise the striking circumstance of the dying man's imagining he hears a voice calling him away.

Vital spark of heavenly flame,
Quit, О quit, this mortal frame;
Trembling, hoping, ling'ring, Aying,
O the pain, the bliss of dying!
Hark! they whisper! angels say,
Sister spirit, come away!

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AN

ESSAY

ON

CRJ TICIS M.

WRITTEN IN THE YEAR MDCCIX.

* First advertised in the Spectator, No 65. May 15, 1711.

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