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That awful independent on to-morrow!
Whose work is done; who triumphs in the past;
Whose yesterdays look backwards with a smile;
Nor, like the Parthian, wound him as they fly;
That common, but opprobrious lot! past hours,
If not by guilt, yet wound us by their flight,
If folly bounds our prospect by the grave,
All feeling of futurity benumb'd;
All godlike passion for eternals quencht;
All relish of realities expir'd;
Renounc'd all correspondence with the skies;
Our freedom chain'd; quite wingless our desire;
In sense dark-prison'd all that ought to soar;
Prone to the centre; crawling in the dust;
Dismounted every great and glorious aim;
Embruted every faculty divine;
Heart-buried in the rubbish of the world.
The world, that gulf of souls, immortal souls,
Souls elevate, angelic, wing'd with fire
To reach the distant skies, and triumph there
On thrones, which shall not mourn their masters
Though we from Earth; ethereal, they that fell.
Such veneration due, O man, to man.
Who venerate themselves, the world despise.
For what, gay friend! is this escutcheon'd world,
Which hangs out Death in one eternal night;
A night, that glooms us in the noontide ray,
And wraps our thought, at banquets, in the shroud?
Life's little stage is a small eminence,
Inch-high the grave above; that home of man,
Where dwells the multitude: We gaze around;
We read their monuments; we sigh; and while
We sigh, we sink; and are what we deplor'd;
Lamenting, or lamented, all our lot!
As man's despotic will, perhaps one hour,
(O how omnipotent is time!) decrees;
Should not each warning give a strong alarm?
Warning, far less than that of bosom torn
From bosom, bleeding o'er the sacred dead!
Should not each dial strike us as we pass,
Portentous, as the written wall, which struck,
O'er midnight bowls, the proud Assyrian pake,
Ere-while high-flusht with insolence and wine?
Like that, the dial speaks; and points to thee,
Lorenzo! loth to break thy banquet up.
"O man, thy kingdom is departing from thee;
And, while it lasts, is emptier than my shade."
Its silent language such: nor need'st thou call
Thy Magi, to decipher what it means.
Know, like the Median, fate is in thy walls:
Dost ask, How? Whence? Belshazzar-like, amaz'd?
Man's make incloses the sure seeds of death;
Life feeds the murderer: Ingrate! he thrives
On her own meal, and then his nurse devours.
But here, Lorenzo, the delusion lies:
That solar shadow, as it measures life,
It life resembles too: life speeds away
From point to point, though seeming to stand still
The cunning fugitive is swift by stealth:
Too subtle is the movement to be seen;
Yet soon man's hour is up, and we are gone.
Warnings point out our danger; gnomons, time
As these are useless when the Sun is set;
So those, but when more glorious reason shines.
Reason should judge in all; in renson's eye,
That sedentary shadow travels hard.
But such our gravitation to the wrong,
So prone our hearts to whisper what we wish,
"Tis later with the wise than he's aware:
Is Death at distance? No; he has been on thee, A Wilmington goes slower than the Sun:
And giv'n sure earnest of his final blow.
Those hours that lately smil'd, where are they now?
Pallid to thought, and ghastly! drown'd, all drown'd
In that great deep, which nothing disembogues!
And, dying, they bequeath'd thee small renown.
The rest are on the wing: how fleet their flight!
Already has the fatal train took fire;
A moment, and the world's blown up to thee;
The Sun is darkness, and the stars are dust.
'Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours; And ask them, what report they bore to Heaven ; And how they might have borne more welcome
Their answers form what men experience call;
If wisdom's friend, her best; if not, worst foe.
O reconcile them! Kind Experience cries,
There's nothing here, but what as nothing weighs;
The more our joy, the more we know it vain;
And by success are tutor'd to despair."
Nor is it only thus, but must be so.
Who knows not this, though grey, is still a child.
Loose then from Earth the grasp of fond desire,
Weigh anchor, and some happier clime explore.
Art thou so moor'd thou canst not disengage,
Nor give thy thoughts a ply to future scenes?
Since by life's passing breath, blown up from Earth,
Light as the summer's dust, we take in air
A moment's giddy flight, and fall again;
Join the dull mass, increase the trodden soil,
And sleep, till Earth herself shall be no more;
Since then (as ernmets, their small world o'erthrown)
We, sore amaz'd, from out Earth's ruins crawl,
And rise to fate extreme of foul or fair,
As man's own choice (controller of the skies!)
And all mankind mistake their time of day;
E'en age itself. Fresh hopes are hourly sown
In furrow'd brows. To gentle life's descent
We shut our eyes, and think it is a plain.
We take fair days in winter, for the spring;
And turn our blessing into bane. Since oft
Man must compute that age he cannot feel,
He scarce believes he's older for his years.
Thus, at life's latest eve, we keep in store
One disappointment sure, to crown the rest;
The disappointment of a promis'd hour.
On this, or similar, Philander! thou
Whose mind was moral, as the preacher's tongue,
And strong, to wield all science, worth the name;
How often we talk'd down the summer's Sun,
And cool'd our passions by the breezy stream!
How often thaw'd and shorten'd winter's eve,
By conflict kind, that struck out latent truth,
Best found, so sought; to the recluse more coy!
Thoughts disentangle passing o'er the lip;
Clean runs the thread; if not, 'tis thrown away,
Or kept to tie up nonsense for a song;
Song, fashionably fruitless; such as stains
The fancy, and unhallow'd passion fires;
Chiming her saints to Cytherea's fane.
Know'st thou, Lorenzo! what a friend contains?
As bees mixt nectar draw from fragrant flowers,
So men from friendship, wisdom and delight;
Twins tied by Nature; if they part, they die.
Hast thou no friend to set thy mind abroach?
Good sense will stagnate. Thoughts shut up want
And spoil, like bales unopen'd to the Sun.
Had thought been all, sweet speech had been denied;
Speech, thought's canal! speech, thought's criterion
Thought, in the mine, may come forth gold, or dross;
When coin'd in word, we know its real worth.
If sterling, store it for thy future use:
"Twill buy thee benefit; perhaps renown.
Thought, too, deliver'd, is the more possest;
Teaching, we learn; and, giving, we retain
The births of intellect; when dumb, forgot.
Speech ventilates our intellectual fire;
Speech burnishes our mental magazine;
Brightens, for ornament; and whets, for use.
What numbers, sheath'd in erudition, lie,
Plung'd to the hilts in venerable tomes,
And rusted in; who might have borne an edge,
And play'd a sprightly beam, if born to speech;
If born blest heirs of half their mother's tongue!
"Tis thought's exchange, which, like th' alternate
Of waves conflicting, breaks the learned scum,
And defecates the student's standing pool.
In contemplation is his proud resource?
"Tis poor, as proud, by converse unsustain'd.
Rude thought runs wild in contemplation's field;
Converse, the menage, breaks it to the bit
Of due restraint; and emulation's spur
Gives graceful energy, by rivals aw'd.
"Tis converse qualifies for solitude;
As exercise, for salutary rest.
By that untutor'd, Contemplation raves;
And Nature's fool, by Wisdom is undone.
Wisdom, though richer than Peruvian mines,
And sweeter than the sweet ambrosial hive,
What is she, but the means of happiness?
That unobtain'd, than folly more a fool;
A melancholy fool, without her bells.
Friendship, the means of wisdom, richly gives
The precious end, which makes our wisdom wise.
Nature, in zeal for human amity,
Denies, or damps, an undivided joy.
Joy is an import; joy is an exchange;
Joy flies monopolists: it calls for two;
Rich fruit! Heaven-planted! never pluckt by one.
Needful auxiliars are our friends, to give
To social man true relish of himself.
Full on ourselves, descending in a line,
Pleasure's bright beam is feeble in delight:
Delight intense is taken by rebound;
Reverberated pleasures fire the breast.
Celestial Happiness, whene'er she stoops
To visit Earth, one shrine the goddess finds,
And one alone, to make her sweet amends
For absent Heaven-the bosom of a friend;
Where heart meets heart, reciprocally soft,
Each other's pillow to repose divine.
Beware the counterfeit; in passion's flame
Hearts melt, but melt like ice, soon harder froze.
True love strikes root in reason; passion's foe:
Virtue alone entenders us for life:
I wrong her much-entenders us for ever:
Of Friendship's fairest fruits, the fruit most fair
Is virtue kindling at a rival fire,
And, emulously, rapid in her race.
O the soft enmity! endearing strife!
This carries friendship to her noontide point,
And gives the rivet of eternity.
From Friendship, which outlives my former themes,
Glorious survivor of old Time and Death;
From Friendship, thus, that flower of heavenly seed;
The wise extract Earth's most Hyblean bliss,
Superior wisdom, crown'd with smiling joy.
But for whom blossoms this Elysian flower?
Abroad they find, who cherish it at home.
Lorenzo! pardon what my love extorts,
An honest love, and not afraid to frown.
Though choice of follies fasten on the great,
None clings more obstinate than fancy, fond,
That sacred Friendship is their easy prey;
Caught by the wafture of a golden lure,
Or fascination of a high-born smile.
Their smiles, the great, and the coquet, throw out
For others' hearts, tenacious of their own;
And we no less of ours, when such the bait.
Ye fortune's cofferers! Ye powers of wealth!
Can gold gain friendship? Impudence of hope!
As well mere man an angel might beget.
Love, and love only, is the loan for love.
Lorenzo! pride repress; nor hope to find
A friend, but what has found a friend in thee.
All like the purchase; few the price will pay;
And this makes friends such miracles below.
What if (since daring on so nice a theme)
I show thee friendship delicate, as dear,
Of tender violations apt to die?
Reserve will wound it; and distrust, destroy.
Deliberate in all things with thy friend.
But since friends grow not thick on every bough,
Nor every friend unrotten at the core;
First, on thy friend, deliberate with thyself;
Pause, ponder, sift; not eager in the choice,
Nor jealous of the chosen; fixing, fix;
Judge before friendship, then confide till death.
Well, for thy friend; but nobler far for thee;
How gallant danger for Earth's highest prize!
A friend is worth all hazards we can run.
"Poor is the friendless master of a world:
A world in purchase for a friend is gain."
So sung he, (angels hear that angels sing!
Angels from friendship gather half their joy,)
So sung Philander, as his friend went round
In the rich ichor, in the generous blood
Of Bacchus, purple god of joyous wit,
A brow solute, and ever-laughing eye.
He drank long health, and virtue, to his friend;
His friend, who warm'd him more, who more in
Friendship's the wine of life; but friendship new
(Not such was his) is neither strong, nor pure.
O! for the bright complexion, cordial warmth,
And elevating spirit, of a friend,
For twenty summers ripening by my side,
All feculence of falsehood long thrown down;
All social virtues rising in his soul;
As crystal clear; and smiling as they rise!
Here nectar flows; it sparkles in our sight;
Rich to the taste, and genuine from the heart:
High-flavor'd bliss for gods! on Earth how rare!
On Earth how lost!-Philander is no more.
Think'st thou the theme intoxicates my song?
Am I too warm? Too warm I cannot be.
I lov'd him much; but now I love him more.
Like birds, whose beauties languish, half-conceal'd,
Till, mounted on the wing, their glossy plumes
Expanded shine with azure, green, and gold ;
How blessings brighten as they take their flight'
His flight Philander took; his upward flight,
If ever soul ascended. Had he dropt,
(That eagle genius!) O had he let fall
One feather as he flew: I, then, had wrote,
What friends might flatter; prudent foes forbear;
Rivals scarce damn; and Zoilus reprieve.
Yet what I can, I must; it were profane
To quench a glory lighted at the skies,
And cast in shadows his illustrious close.
Strange! the theme most affecting, most sublime,
Momentous most to man, should sleep unsung!
And yet it sleeps, by genius unawak'd,
Painim or Christian; to the blush of wit.
Man's highest triumph! man's profoundest fall!
The death-bed of the just! is yet undrawn
By mortal hand! it merits a divine:
Angels should paint it, angels ever there:
There, on a post of honor, and of joy.
Dare I presume, then? but Philander bids;
And glory tempts, and inclination calls-
Yet am I struck; as struck the soul, beneath
Aerial groves' impenetrable gloom;
Or, in some mighty ruin's solemn shade;
Or, gazing by pale lamps on high-born dust,
In vaults; thin courts of poor unflatter'd kings;
Or, at the midnight altar's hallow'd flame.
Is it religion to proceed? I pause-
And enter, aw'd, the temple of my theme.
Is it his death-bed? No: it is his shrine:
Behold him, there, just rising to a god.
The chamber where the good man meets his fate,
Is privileg'd beyond the common walk
Of virtuous life, quite in the verge of Heaven.
Fly, ye profane! If not, draw near with awe,
Receive the blessing, and adore the chance,
That threw in this Bethesda your disease;
If unrestor'd by this, despair your cure.
For, here, resistless demonstration dwells;
A death-bed's a detector of the heart.
Here tir'd dissimulation drops her mask,
Through life's grimace, that mistress of the scene!
Here real, and apparent, are the same.
You see the man; you see his hold on Heaven,
If sound his virtue; as Philander's sound.
Heaven waits not the last moment; owns her friends
On this side death, and points them out to men;
A lecture, silent, but of sovereign power!
To vice, confusion; and to virtue, peace.
Whatever farce the boastful hero plays,
Virtue alone has majesty in death!
And greater still, the more the tyrant frowns.
Philander! he severely frown'd on thee.
"No warning given! Unceremonious Fate!
A sudden rush from life's meridian joy!
A wrench from all we love! from all we are!
A restless bed of pain! a plunge opaque
Beyond conjecture! feeble Nature's dread!
Strong Reason's shudder at the dark unknown!
A sun extinguisht! a just-opening grave!
And oh! the last, last,-what? (can words express?
Thought reach it?) the last-silence of a friend!"
Where are those horrors, that amazement, where
This hideous group of ills, which singly shock,
Demand from man?-I thought him man till now.
Through Nature's wreck, through vanquisht |
With unreluctant grandeur, gives, not yields
His soul sublime; and closes with his fate.
How our hearts burnt within us at the scene!
Whence this brave bound o'er limits fixt to man?
His God sustains him in his final hour!
His final hour brings glory to his God!
Man's glory Heaven vouchsafes to call her own
We gaze, we weep; mixt tears of grief, of joy!
Amazement strikes! devotion bursts to flame!
Christians adore! and Infidels believe!
As some tall tower, or lofty mountain's brow
Detains the Sun, illustrious, from its height;
While rising vapors, and descending shades,
With damps and darkness, drown the spacious vale;
Undampt by doubt, undarken'd by despair,
Philander, thus, augustly rears his head,
At that black hour, which general horror sheds
On the low level of th' inglorious throng:
Sweet Peace, and heavenly Hope, and humble Joy,
Divinely beam on his exalted soul;
Destruction gild, and crown him for the skies,
With incommunicable lustre bright.
TO HER GRACE THE DUCHESS OF PORTLAND.
Ignoscenda quidem, scirent si ignoscero manes.
FROM dreams, where thought in fancy's maze runs
To reason, that heaven-lighted lamp in man,
Once more I wake; and at the destin'd hour,
Punctual as lovers to the moment sworn,
I keep my assignation with my woe.
O! lost to virtue, lost to manly thought,
Lost to the noble sallies of the soul!
Who think it solitude to be alone.
Communion sweet! communion large and high!
Our reason, guardian angel, and our God!
Then nearest these, when others most remote;
And all, ere long, shall be remote, but these.
How dreadful, then, to meet them all alone,
A stranger! unacknowledg'd! unapprov'd!
Now woo them; wed them; bind them to thy breast;
To win thy wish, creation has no more.
Or if we wish a fourth, it is a friend-
But friends, how mortal! dangerous the desire!
Take Phoebus to yourselves, ye basking bards
Inebriate at fair Fortune's fountain-head;
And reeling through the wilderness of joy;
Where Sense runs savage, broke from Reason's chain!
And sings false peace, till smother'd by the pall.
My fortune is unlike; unlike my song;
Unlike the deity my song invokes.
I to Day's soft-ey'd sister pay my court,
(Endymion's rival!) and her aid implore;
Now first implor'd in succor to the Muse.
Thou, who didst lately borrow Cynthia's form,*
[gloom,) And modestly forego thine own! O thou,
(Like the stars struggling through this midnight Who didst thyself, at midnight hours, inspire!
What gleams of joy! what more than human peace!
Where, the frail mortal? the poor abject worm?
No, not in death, the mortal to be found.
His conduct is a legacy for all;
Richer than Mammon's for his single heir.
His comforters he comforts; great in ruin,
Say, why not Cynthia patroness of song?
As thou her crescent, she thy character
Assumes; still more a goddess by the change.
Are there demurring wits, who dare dispute
* At the Duke of Norfolk's masquerade.
This revolution in the world inspir'd?
Ye train Pierian! to the lunar sphere,
In silent hour, address your ardent call
For aid immortal; less her brother's right.
She, with the spheres harmonious, nightly leads
The mazy dance, and hears their matchless strain,
A strain for gods, denied to mortal ear.
Transmit it heard, thou silver queen of Heaven!
What title, or what name, endears the most!
Cynthia! Cyllené! Phoebe! or dost hear
With higher gust, fair Portland of the skies?
Is that the soft enchantment calls thee down,
More powerful than of old Circean charm?
And if in death still lovely, lovelier there,
Far lovelier! pity swells the tide of love.
And will not the severe excuse a sigh!
Scorn the proud man that is asham'd to weep;
Our tears indulg'd indeed deserve our shame.
Ye that e'er lost an angel! pity me.
Soon as the lustre languish'd in her eye,
Dawning a dimmer day on human sight;
And on her cheek, the residence of Spring,
Pale omen sat; and scatter'd fears around
On all that saw, (and who would cease to gaze,.
That once had seen?) with haste, parental haste,
I flew, I snatch'd her from the rigid North,
Come; but from heavenly banquets with thee bring Her native bed, on which bleak Boreas blew,
The soul of song, and whisper in my ear
The theft divine; or in propitious dreams
And bore her nearer to the Sun; the Sun
(As if the Sun could envy) check'd his beam,
(For dreams are thine) transfuse it through the breast Denied his wonted succor; nor with more
Of thy first votary-But not thy last;
If, like thy namesake, thou art ever kind.
And kind thou wilt be; kind on such a theme;
A theme so like thee, a quite lunar theme,
Soft, modest, melancholy, female, fair!
A theme that rose all-pale, and told my soul
"Twas night; on her fond hopes perpetual night;
A night which struck a damp, a deadlier damp,
Than that which smote me from Philander's tomb.
Narcissa follows, ere his tomb is clos'd.
Woes cluster; rare are solitary woes;
They love a train, they tread each other's heel;
Her death invades his mournful right, and claims
The grief that started from my lids for him:
Seizes the faithless, alienated tear,
Or shares it, ere it falls. So frequent death,
Sorrow he more than causes, he confounds;
For human sighs his rival strokes contend,
And make distress, distraction. Oh Philander!
What was thy fate? A double fate to me;
Portent, and pain! a menace, and a blow!
Like the black raven hovering o'er my peace,
Not less a bird of omen, than of prey.
It call'd Narcissa long before her hour;
It call'd her tender soul, by break of bliss,
From the first blossom, from the buds of joy;
Those few our noxious fate unblasted leaves
In this inclement clime of human life.
Sweet harmonist! and beautiful as sweet!
And young as beautiful! and soft as young!
And gay as soft! and innocent as gay!
And happy (if aught happy here) as good!
For fortune fond had built her nest on high.
Like birds quite exquisite of note and plume,
Transfixt by fate (who loves a lofty mark,)
How from the summit of the grove she fell,
And left it unharmonious! all its charms
Extinguisht in the wonders of her song!
Her song still vibrates in my ravish'd ear,
Still melting there, and with voluptuous pain
(O to forget her!) thrilling through my heart!
Song, beauty, youth, love, virtue, joy; this group
Of bright ideas, flowers of Paradise,
As yet unforfeit! in one blaze we bind,
Kneel and present it to the skies; as all
We guess of Heaven: and these were all her own,
And she was mine; and I was-was!—most
Gay title of the deepest misery!
As bodies grow more ponderous, robb'd of life;
Good lost weighs more in grief, than gain'd in joy,
Like blossom'd trees o'erturn'd by vernal storm,
Lovely in death the beauteous ruin lay;
Regret beheld her drooping, than the bells
Of lilies; fairest lilies, not so fair!
Queen lilies! and ye painted populace!
Who dwell in fields, and lead ambrosial lives!
In morn and evening dew, your beauties bathe,
And drink the Sun; which gives your cheeks to
And out-blush (mine excepted) every fair;
You gladlier grew, ambitious of her hand,
Which often cropt your odors, incense meet
To thought so pure! Ye lovely fugitives!
Coeval race with man! for man you smile!
Why not smile at him too? You share indeed
His sudden pass; but not his constant pain.
So man is made; nought ministers delight,
But what his glowing passions can engage;
And glowing passions, bent on aught below,
Must, soon or late, with anguish turn the scale;
And anguish, after rapture, how severe !
Rapture? Bold man! who tempt'st the wrath
By plucking fruit denied to mortal taste,
While here, presuming on the rights of Heaven.
For transport dost thou call on every hour,
Lorenzo? At thy friend's expense, be wise;
Lean not on Earth; 'twill pierce thee to the heart;
A broken reed, at best; but oft, a spear;
On its sharp point peace bleeds, and hope expires.
Turn, hopeless thought! turn from her:-Thought
Resenting rallies, and wakes every woe.
Snatch'd ere thy prime! and in thy bridal hour!
And when kind fortune, with thy lover, smil'd!
And when high-flavor'd thy fresh-opening joys!
And when blind man pronounc'd thy bliss complete!
And on a foreign shore; where strangers wept!
Strangers to thee; and more surprising still,
Strangers to kindness, wept: their eyes let fall
Inhuman tears! strange tears! that trickled down
From marble hearts! obdurate tenderness!
A tenderness that call'd them more severe;
In spite of Nature's soft persuasion, steel'd!
While Nature melted, Superstition rav'd;
That mourn'd the dead; and this denied a grave.
Their sighs incens'd; sighs foreign to the will!
Their will the tiger suck'd, outrag'd the storm.
For, oh! the curst ungodliness of zeal'
While sinful flesh relented, spirit nuret
In blind Infallibility's embrace,
The sainted spirit petrified the breast
Denied the charity of dust, to sprea
O'er dust! a charity their dogs enjoy.
What could I do? What succor? What resource?
With pious sacrilege, a grave I stole ;
With impious piety, that grave I wrong'd;
Short in my duty! coward in my grief!
More like her murderer, than friend, I crept,
With soft-suspended step, and muffled deep
In midnight darkness, whisper'd my last sigh.
I whisper'd what should echo through their realms;
Nor writ her name, whose tomb should pierce the
Presumptuous fear! How durst I dread her foes,
While Nature's loudest dictates I obey'd?
Pardon necessity, blest shade! Of grief
And indignation rival bursts I pour'd;
Half execration mingled with my prayer;
Kindled at man, while I his God ador'd;
Sore grudg'd the savage land her sacred dust;
Stampt the curst soil; and with humanity
(Denied Narcissa) wish'd them all a grave.
Glows my resentment into guilt? What guilt
Can equal violations of the dead?
The dead how sacred! Sacred is the dust
Of this Heaven-labor'd form, erect, divine!
This Heaven-assum'd majestic robe of Earth,
He deign'd to wear, who hung the vast expanse
With azure bright, and cloth'd the Sun in gold.
When every passion sleeps that can offend;
When strikes us every motive that can melt;
When man can wreak his rancor uncontroll'd,
That strongest curb on insult and ill-will;
Then, spleen to dust! the dust of innocence!
An angel's dust!-This Lucifer transcends;
When he contended for the patriarch's bones,
'Twas not the strife of malice, but of pride;
The strife of pontiff pride, not pontiff gall.
For less than this is shocking in a race
Most wretched, but from streams of mutual love;
And uncreated, but for love divine,
And, but for love divine, this moment lost,
By fate resorb'd, and sunk in endless night.
Man hard of heart to man! of horrid things
Most horrid! 'Mid stupendous, highly strange!
Yet oft his courtesies are smoother wrongs;
Pride brandishes the favors he confers,
And contumelious his humanity;
What then his vengeance? Hear it not, ye stars!
And thou, pale Moon! turn paler at the sound;
Man is to man the sorest, surest ill.
A previous blast foretells the rising storm;
O'erwhelming turrets threaten ere they fall;
Volcanoes bellow ere they disembogue;
Earth trembles ere her yawning jaws devour;
And smoke betrays the wide-consuming fire:
Ruin from man is most conceal'd when near,
And sends the dreadful tidings in the blow.
Is this the flight of fancy? Would it were!
Heaven's Sovereign saves all beings, but himself,
That hideous sight, a naked human heart.
Fir'd is the Muse? And let the Muse be fir'd:
Who not inflam'd, when what he speaks, he feels,
And in the nerve most tender, in his friends?
Shame to mankind! Philander had his foes:
He felt the truths I sing, and I in him.
But he, nor I, feel more; past ills, Narcissa!
Are sunk in thee, thou recent wound of heart!
Which bleeds with other cares, with other pangs;
Pangs numerous, as the numerous ills that swarm'd
O'er thy distinguish'd fate, and, clustering there
Thick as the locusts on the land of Nile,
Made death more deadly, and more dark the grave.
Reflect (if not forgot my touching tale)
How was each circumstance with aspics arm'd?
An aspic, each! and all, an hydra woe:
What strong Herculean virtue could suffice?-
Or is it virtue to be conquer'd here?
This hoary cheek a train of tears bedews;
And each tear mourns its own distinct distress;
And each distress, distinctly mourn'd, demands
Of grief still more, as heighten'd by the whole.
A grief like this proprietors excludes:
Not friends alone such obsequies deplore;
They make mankind the mourner; carry sighs
Far as the fatal Fame can wing her way;
And turn the gayest thought of gayest age,
Down their right channel, through the vale of death
The vale of death! that hush'd Cimmerian vaie,
Where darkness, brooding o'er unfinish'd fates,
With raven wing incumbent, waits the day
(Dread day!) that interdicts all future change!
That subterranean world! that land of ruin!
Fit walk, Lorenzo, for proud human thought!
There let my thought expatiate, and explore
Balsamic truths and healing sentiments,
Of all most wanted, and most welcome, here.
gay Lorenzo's sake, and for thy own,
My soul! "The fruits of dying friends survey;
Expose the vain of life; weigh life and death;
Give death his eulogy; thy fear subdue;
And labor that first palm of noble minds,
A manly scorn of terror from the tomb."
This harvest reap from thy Narcissa's grave.
As poets feign'd, from Ajax' streaming blood
Arose, with grief inscrib'd, a mournful flower;
Let wisdom blossom from my mortal wound.
And first, of dying friends; what fruit from these
It brings us more than triple aid; an aid
To chase our thoughtlessness, fear, pride, and guilt.
Our dying friends come o'er us like a cloud,
To damp our brainless ardors; and abate
That glare of life which often blinds the wise.
Our dying friends are pioneers, to smooth
Our rugged pass to death; to break those bars
Of terror and abhorrence Nature throws
Cross our obstructed way; and, thus to make
Welcome, as safe, our port from every storm.
Each friend by fate snatch'd from us, is a plume
Pluck'd from the wing of human vanity,
Which makes us stoop from our aërial heights,
And, dampt with omen of our own decease,
On drooping pinions of ambition lower'd,
Just skim Earth's surface, ere we break it up,
O'er putrid earth to scratch a little dust,
And save the world a nuisance. Smitten friends
Are angels sent on errands full of love;
For us they languish, and for us they die :
And shall they languish, shall they die, in vain ?
Ungrateful, shall we grieve their hovering shades,
Which wait the revolution in our hearts?
Shall we disdain their silent, soft address;
Their posthumous advice, and pious prayer?
Senseless, as herds that graze their hallow'd graves
Tread under foot their agonies and groans;
Frustrate their anguish, and destroy their deaths?
Lorenzo! no; the thought of death indulge;
Give it its wholesome empire! let it reign,
That kind chastiser of thy soul in joy!
Its reign will spread thy glorious conquests far,
And still the tumults of thy ruffled breast:
Auspicious era! golden days, begin!
The thought of death shall, like a god, inspire.
And why not think on death Is life the theme