Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
The Hypocrite’s Hope
By Lemuel Hopkins (1750–1801)
 
BLEST is the man, who from the womb,
  To saintship him betakes,
And when too soon his child shall come,
  A long confession makes.
 
When next in Broad Church-alley, he        5
  Shall take his former place,
Relates his past iniquity,
  And consequential grace;
 
Declares how long by Satan vex’d,
  From truth he did depart,        10
And tells the time, and tells the text,
  That smote his flinty heart.
 
He stands in half-way-covenant sure;
  Full five long years or more,
One foot in church’s pale secure,        15
  The other out of door.
 
Then riper grown in gifts and grace,
  With every rite complies,
And deeper lengthens down his face,
  And higher rolls his eyes.        20
 
He tones like Pharisee sublime,
  Two lengthy prayers a day,
The same that he from early prime,
  Has heard his father say.
 
Each Sunday perch’d on bench of pew,        25
  To passing priest he bows,
Then loudly ’mid the quavering crew,
  Attunes his vocal nose.
 
With awful look then rises slow,
  And prayerful visage sour,        30
More fit to fright the apostate foe,
  Then seek a pardoning power.
 
Then nodding hears the sermon next,
  From priest haranguing loud;
And doubles down each quoted text,        35
  From Genesis to Jude.
 
And when the priest holds forth address,
  To old ones born anew,
With holy pride and wrinkled face,
  He rises in his pew.        40
 
Good works he careth nought about,
  But faith alone will seek,
While Sunday’s pieties blot out
  The knaveries of the week.
 
He makes the poor his daily prayer,        45
  Yet drives them from his board:
And though to his own good he swear,
  Through habit breaks his word.
 
This man advancing fresh and fair,
  Shall all his race complete;        50
And wave at last his hoary hair,
  Arrived in deacon’s seat.
 
There shall he all church honors have,
  By joyous brethren given—
Till priest in funeral sermon grave,        55
  Shall send him straight to heaven.
 
 
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