'To lock the breast, and steel th' obdurate heart, / Amid the piercing cries of sore distress / Impenetrable"

— Dyer, John (bap. 1699, d. 1757)

'To lock the breast, and steel th' obdurate heart, / Amid the piercing cries of sore distress / Impenetrable"
Metaphor in Context
How doth it please and fill the memory
With deeds of brave renown, while on each hand
Historic urns and breathing statues rise,
And speaking busts! Sweet Scipio, Marius stern,
Pompey superb, the spirit-stirring form
Of Cæsar, raptur'd with the charm of rule
And boundless fame; impatient for exploits,
His eager eyes upcast, he soars in thought
Above all height: and his own Brutus see,
Desponding Brutus, dubious of the right,
In evil days of faith, of public weal,
Solicitous and sad. Thy next regard
Be Tully's graceful attitude; uprais'd,
His out-stretch'd arm he waves, in act to speak
Before the silent masters of the world,
And Eloquence arrays him. There behold,
Prepar'd for combat in the front of war,
The pious brothers; jealous Alba stands
In fearful expectation of the strife,
And youthful Rome intent: the kindred foes
Fall on each other's neck in silent tears;
In sorrowful benevolence embrace--
Howe'er, they soon unsheath the flashing sword,
Their country calls to arms; now all in vain
The mother clasps the knee, and ev'n the fair
Now weeps in vain; their country calls to arms.
Such virtue Clelia, Cocles, Manlius, rous'd;
Such were the Fabii, Decii; so inspir'd
The Scipios battled, and the Gracchi spoke:
So rose the Roman state. Me now, of these
Deep-musing, high ambitious thoughts inflame
Greatly to serve my country, distant land,
And build me virtuous fame; nor shall the dust
Of these fall'n piles with show of sad decay
Avert the good resolve, mean argument,
The fate alone of matter.--Now the brow
We gain enraptur'd; beauteously distinct
The num'rous porticos and domes upswell,
With obelisks and columns interpos'd,
And pine, and fir, and oak: so fair a scene
Sees not the dervise from the spiral tomb
Of ancient Chammos, while his eye beholds
Proud Memphis' relics o'er the Ægyptian plain:
Nor hoary hermit from Hymettus' brow,
Though graceful Athens, in the vale beneath,
Along the windings of the Muse's stream,
Lucid Ilyssus, weeps her silent schools
And groves, unvisited by bard or sage.
Amid the tow'ry ruins, huge, supreme,
Th' enormous amphitheatre behold,
Mountainous pile! o'er whose capacious womb
Pours the broad firmament its varied light;
While from the central floor the seats ascend
Round above round, slow-wid'ning to the verge,
A circuit vast and high: nor less had held
Imperial Rome, and her attendant realms,
When drunk with rule she will'd the fierce delight,
And op'd the gloomy caverns, whence out-rush'd,
Before th' innumerable shouting crowd,
The fiery, madded, tyrants of the wilds,
Lions and tigers, wolves and elephants,
And desp'rate men, more fell. Abhorr'd intent!
By frequent converse with familiar death,
To kindle brutal daring apt for war;
To lock the breast, and steel th' obdurate heart,
Amid the piercing cries of sore distress
-But away thine eye!
Behold yon steepy cliff; the modern pile
Perchance may now delight, while that, rever'd
In ancient days, the page alone declares,
Or narrow coin through dim cærulean rust.
The fane was Jove's, its spacious golden roof,
O'er thick-surrounding temples beaming wide,
Appear'd, as when above the morning hills
Half the round sun ascends; and tow'rd aloft,
Sustain'd by columns huge, innumerous
As cedars proud on Canaan's verdant heights
Dark'ning their idols, when Astarte lur'd
Too prosp'rous Israel from his living strength.
(cf. pp. 6-10 in 1740; cf. pp. 224-7 in Dodsley)
Searching "heart" and "steel" in HDIS (Poetry); confirmed in ECCO and ECCO-TCP.
John Dyer, The Ruins of Rome. A Poem. (London: Printed for Lawton Gilliver, at Homer’s Head in Fleetstreet, 1740). <Link to ESTC>

See also Dodsley's A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. by Several Hands (London: Printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763).
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.