« EelmineJätka »
terials for a panegyric not unworthy the pen of some future Pliny.
From so noble a subject as the Earl of Dorset, to so mean a one as myself, is (I confess) a very Pindaric transition: I shall only say one word, and trouble the reader no further. I published my Poems formerly, as Monsieur Jourdain sold his silk: he would not be thought a tradesman; but ordered some pieces to be measured out to his particular friends. Now I give up my shop, and dispose of all my poetical goods at once; I must therefore desire that the public would please to take them in the gross, and that every body would turn over what he does not like.
MAN! foolish man!
Scarce know'st thou how thyself began;
Scarce hast thou thought enough to prove thou art;
Yet, steel'd with studied boldness, thou darest try
To send thy doubting Reason's dazzled eye
Through the mysterious gulf of vast immensity :
Much thou canst there discern, much thence impart.
Vain wretch! suppress thy knowing pride;
Mortify thy learned lust:
Vain are thy thoughts, while thou thyself art dust.
Let Wit her sails, her oars let Wisdom lend;
The helm let politic Experience guide;
Yet cease to hope thy short-lived bark shall ride
Down spreading Fate's unnavigable tide.
What though still it farther tend,
Still ’tis farther from its end,
And, in the bosom of that boundless sea,
Still finds its error lengthen with its way.
I Written in 1688, as an exercise at St. John's college, Cambridge.
With daring pride and insolent delight (crown'd,
Your doubts resolved you boast, your labours
And, EYPHKA! your God, forsooth is found
Incomprehensible and infinite:
But is he therefore found ? Vain searcher! no:
Let your imperfect definition show
That nothing you, the weak definer, know.
Say, why should the collected main
Itself within itself contain ?
Why to its caverns should it sometimes creep,
And with delighted silence sleep
On the loved bosom of its parent deep?
Why should its numerous waters stay,
In comely discipline and fair array,
Till winds and tides exert their high command?
Then, prompt and ready to obey,
Why do the rising surges spread
Their opening ranks o’er earth's submissive head,
Marching through different paths to different lands?
Why does the constant sun,
With measured steps his radiant journies run?
Why does he order the diurnal hours
To leave earth's other part, and rise in ours ?
Why does he wake the correspondent moon,
And fill her willing lamp with liquid light,
Commanding her, with delegated powers,
To beautify the world and bless the night?
Why does each animated star
Love the just limits of its proper sphere?
Why does each consenting sign,
With prudent harmony, combine
In turns to move, and subsequent appear,
To gird the globe and regulate the year ?
Man does with dangerous curiosity
These unfathom'd wonders try:
With fancied rules, and arbitrary laws,
Matter and motion he restrains,
And studied lines and fictious circles draws;
Then, with imagined sovereignty,
Lord of this new hypothesis he reigns.
He reigns! How long ? till some usurper rise !
And he, too, mighty thoughtful, mighty wise,
Studies new lines, and other circles feigns.
From this last toil again what knowledge flows ?
Just as much, perhaps, as shows
That all his predecessors' rules
Were empty cant, all jargon of the schools;
That he on the others' ruin rears his throne,
And shows his friend's mistake, and thence con-
firms his own.
On earth, in air, amidst the seas and skies,
Mountainous heaps of wonders rise,
Whose towering strength will ne'er submit
To Reason's batteries, or the mines of Wit:
Yet still inquiring, still mistaking man,
Each bour repulsed, each hour dares onward press,
And, levelling at God his wandering guess,
(That feeble engine of his reasoning war,
Which guides his doubts and combats bis despair)
Laws to his Maker the learn'd wretch can give;
Can bound that nature, and prescribe that will,
Whose pregnant Word did either ocean fill;
Can tell us whence all beings are, and how they
move and live.
Through either ocean, foolish man!
That pregnant Word sent forth again,
Might to a world extend each atom there; (star.
For every drop call forth a sea, a heaven for every
Let cunning earth her fruitful wonders hide,
And only lift thy staggering reason up
To trembling Calvary's astonish'd top;
Then mock thy knowledge, and confound thy pride,
Explaining how Perfection suffer'd pain,
Almighty languish'd, and Eternal died;
How by her patient victor Death was slain,
And earth profaned, yet bless'd with Deicide.
Then down with all thy boasted volumes, down;
Only reserve the sacred one:
Low, reverently low,
Make thy stubborn knowledge bow;
Weep out thy reason's and thy body's eyes;
Deject thyself that thou may'st rise;
To look to Heaven, be blind to all below.
Then Faith, for Reason's glimmering light, shall
Her immortal perspective,
And Grace's presence Nature's loss retrieve :
Then thy enliven'd soul shall see,
That all the volumes of philosophy,
With all their comments, never could invent
So politic an instrument
To reach the heaven of heavens, the high abode,
Where Moses places his mysterious God,
As was that ladder which old Jacob reard,
When light divine had human darkness clear'd,
And his enlarged ideas found the road
Which faith had dictated and angels trod.