- The Shipwreck
- Oh were it mine with sacred Maro's art
To wake to sympathy the feeling heart,
Then might I, with unrivaled strains deplore
Th' impervious horrors of a leeward shore.
--Patrick O'Brian's Mr. Mowett
Oh, were it mine with sacred Maro's art,
To wake to sympathy the feeling heart;
Like him, the smooth and mournful verse to dress
In all the pomp of exquisite distress;
Then, too severely taught by cruel fate,
To share in all the perils I relate,
Then might I, with unrivall'd strains, deplore
The impervious horrors of a leeward shore.
I always suspected that Patrick O'Brian was quoting actual published poetry rather than writing his own. I find nothing wrong with that. There's no way I would have read the whole of that Shipwreck poem (which goes on forever) to find that little gem. I do wonder, however, whether he sites his sources anywhere. I never read them in print, so I don't know whether there's any sort of index or specific acknowledgements.
I found this one, by the way, in a Google Books Result which not only showed me that it was in The Ionian Mission, but also showed me the page, so I could transcribe those lines. Pretty cool, eh?