Hard is the Poet's fate,—but more severe

Hard is the Poet's fate,—but more severe
To luckless bard, who muses here, the doom;
Long he may shed the ineffectual tear,
Then starve, and sink unnoticed to the tomb.

What though his genius burned with dazzling light,
And vied with those who graced imperial Rome?
Wealth he neglected, and the heedless wight
Must seek in bridewell or the grave his home.

But if we spurn the living, shall the dead
Ne'er claim from us the tribute of a sigh?
Taste by exotic streams alone is fed,—
Each tongue is mute, and every cheek is dry.

We might, when years have rolled around his tomb,
Should foreign critics deign to crown his bust,
Or should their praise his withering bays illume,
Drop one scant tear upon the Poet's dust.

Some son of wealth, who thinks he loves the Muse,
May yield a stinted tribute to his fame,
And, 'neath the shelter of low-bending yews,
Erect a wooden altar to his name.

Shame on my country!—shall ignoble gain
Be all that charms or wakes the voice of praise?
O, wilt thou never hear the Poet's strain,
And weave for him Columbia's native bays?
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