Edmund Cartwright (1743-1823)

To ------

Chained to the oar and hopeless of reprieve,
From year to year to one dull task confined--
A task that needs no effort of the mind,
A task mere honest dulness might achieve--
Tell me, sincerely, though too proud to grieve
Or murmur at thy destinies unkind,
Dost thou not feel at least the chains that bind
Thy spirit down to toils it must not leave?

To have decked the shrine of Ceres with the flowers
That science gave to thy collecting hand;
To have served, by useful arts, thy native land:
These were thy hopes; on these were bent thy powers.
These hopes foregone, repress thy vain desires;
Curb thy aspiring soul and quench her useless fires.