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Beckoning the wretch to torments new,
Despair, for ever in his view,
A spectre pale, appear'd;
While, as the shades of eve arose,
And brought the day's unwelcome close, More horrible and huge her giant-shape she rear'd.
'Is this,' mistaken Scorn will cry,
Is this the youth whose genius high
Could build the genuine rhyme?'
Whose bosom mild the favouring Muse
Had stor'd with all her ample views,
Parent of fairest deeds, and purposes sublime.
Ah! from the Muse that bosom mild
By treacherous magic was beguil'd,
To strike the deathful blow:
She fill'd his soft ingenuous mind
With many a feeling too refin'd,
And rous'd to livelier pangs his wakeful sense of woe.
Though doom'd hard penury to prove,
And the sharp stings of hopeless love:
To griefs congenial prone,
More wounds than nature gave he knew,
While misery's form his fancy drew
In dark ideal hues, and horrors not its own.
Then wish not o'er his earthly tomb
The baleful nightshade's lurid bloom
To drop its deadly dew:
Nor oh! forbid the twisted thorn,
That rudely binds his turf forlorn,
With Spring's green-swelling buds to vegetate anew.
What though no marble-piled bust
Adorn his desolated dust,
With speaking sculpture wrought?
Pity shall woo the weeping Nine,
To build a visionary shrine,
Hung with unfading flowers, from fairy regions brought.
What though refus'd each chaunted rite?
Here viewless mourners shall delight
To touch the shadowy shell:
And Petrarch's harp, that wept the doom
Of Laura, lost in early bloom,
In many a pensive pause shall seem to ring his knell.
To soothe a lone, unhallow'd shade,
This votive dirge sad duty paid,
Within an ivied nook:
Sudden the half-sunk orb of day
More radiant shot its parting ray,
And thus a cherub-voice my charm'd attention took:
'Forbear, fond bard, thy partial praise; Nor thus for guilt in specious lays
The wreath of glory twine:
In vain with hues of gorgeous glow
Gay Fancy gives her vest to flow,
Unless Truth's matron-hand the floating folds confine.
'Just Heaven, man's fortitude to prove, Permits through life at large to rove
The tribes of hell-born Woe:
Yet the same power that wisely sends
Life's fiercest ills, indulgent lends
Religion's golden shield to break the' embattled foe.
'Her aid divine had lull'd to rest
Yon foul self-murderer's throbbing breast,
And stay'd the rising storm :)
Had bade the sun of hope appear
To gild his darken'd hemisphere,
And give the wonted bloom to nature's blasted form.
'Vain man! 'tis Heaven's prerogative
To take, what first it deign'd to give,
Thy tributary breath:
In awful expectation plac'd,
Await thy doom, nor impious haste
To pluck from God's right hand his instruments of
THE PLEASURES OF MELANCHOLY. 1745.
Cantus, Melpomene !—
OTHER of musings, Contemplation sage,
Whose grotto stands upon the topmost rock Of Teneriff; 'mid the tempestuous night,
On which, in calmest meditation held,
Thou hear'st with howling winds the beating rain
And drifting hail descend; or if the skies
Unclouded shine, and through the blue serene
Pale Cynthia rolls her silver-axled car,
Whence gazing stedfast on the spangled vault
Raptur'd thou sitt'st, while murmurs indistinct
Of distant billows soothe thy pensive ear
With hoarse and hollow sounds; secure, self-blest,
There oft thou listen'st to the wild uproar
Of fleets encountering, that in whispers low
Ascends the rocky summit, where thou dwell'st
Remote from man, conversing with the spheres!
O lead me, queen sublime, to solemn glooms
Congenial with my soul; to cheerless shades,
To ruin'd seats, to twilight cells and bow'rs,
Where thoughtful Melancholy loves to muse,
Her favourite midnight haunts. The laughing scenes
Of purple Spring, where all the wanton train
Of Smiles and Graces seem to lead the dance
In sportive round, while from their hands they show'r
Ambrosial blooms and flowers, no longer charm ;
Tempé, no more I court thy balmy breeze,
Adieu, green vales! ye broider'd meads, adieu!
Beneath yon ruin'd abbey's moss-grown piles
Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of eve,
Where through some western window the pale moon
Pours her long-levell'd rule of streaming light;
While sullen sacred silence reigns around,
Save the lone screech-owl's note, who builds his bow'r
Amid the mouldering caverns dark and damp,
Or the calm breeze, that rustles in the leaves
Of flaunting ivy, that with mantle green
Invests some wasted tow'r. Or let me tread
Its neighbouring walk of pines, where mus'd of old
The cloister'd brothers: through the gloomy void
That far extends beneath their ample arch
As on I pace, religious horror wraps
My soul in dread repose. But when the world
Is clad in Midnight's raven-colour'd robe,
'Mid hollow charnel let me watch the flame
Of taper dim, shedding a livid glare
O'er the wan heaps; while airy voices talk
Along the glimmering walls; or ghostly shape
At distance seen, invites with beck'ning hand
My lonesome steps, through the far-winding vaults.
Nor undelightful is the solemn noon
Of night, when haply wakeful from my couch
I start: lo, all is motionless around!
Roars not the rushing wind; the sons of men
And every beast in mute oblivion lie;
All nature's hush'd in silence and in sleep.
O then how fearful is it to reflect,
That through the still globe's awful solitude,
No being wakes but me! till stealing sleep
My drooping temples bathes in opiate dews.
Nor then let dreams, of wanton folly born,
My senses lead through flowery paths of joy;
But let the sacred Genius of the night
Such mystic visions send, as Spenser saw,
When through bewildering Fancy's magic maze,
To the fell house of Busyrane, he led
The' unshaken Britomart; or Milton knew
When in abstracted thought he first conceiv'd
All Heav'n in tumult, and the Seraphim
Come towering, arm'd in adamant and gold.
Let others love soft Summer's evening smiles,
As listening to the distant water-fall,
They mark the blushes of the streaky west;
I choose the pale December's foggy glooms.
Then, when the sullen shades of evening close, Where through the room a blindly-glimmering gleam The dying embers scatter, far remote
From Mirth's mad shouts that through the' illumin'd roof
Resound with festive echo, let me sit,
Blest with the lowly cricket's drowsy dirge.
Then let my thought contemplative explore
This fleeting state of things, the vain delights,
The fruitless toils, that still our search elude,
As through the wilderness of life we rove.
This sober hour of silence will unmask
False Folly's smile, that like the dazzling spells
Of wily Comus cheat the' unweeting eye
With blear illusion, and persuade to drink
That charmed cup, which Reason's mintage fair
Unmoulds, and stamps the monster on the man.
Eager we taste, but in the luscious draught
Forget the poisonous dregs that lurk beneath.
Few know that elegance of soul refin'd,
Whose soft sensation feels a quicker joy
From Melancholy's scenes, than the dull pride
Of tasteless splendor and magnificence
Can e'er afford. Thus Eloise, whose mind
Had languish'd to the pangs of melting love,
More genuine transport found, as on some tomb
Reclin'd, she watch'd the tapers of the dead;
Or through the pillar'd aisles, amid pale shrines,
Of imag'd saints, and intermingled graves,
Mus'd a veil'd votaress; than Flavia feels,
As through the mazes of the festive ball,
Proud of her conquering charms, and beauty's blaze,
She floats amid the silken sons of dress,
And shines the fairest of the' assembled fair.
When azure noontide cheers the dædal globe,
And the blest regent of the golden day
Rejoices in his bright meridian tower,
How oft my wishes ask the night's return,
That best befriends the melancholy mind!
Hail, sacred Night! thou too shalt share my song!