« EelmineJätka »
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 vale,
Where Darkness, brooding o'er unfinish'd fates, 256
With raven wing incumbent, waits the day
(Drend day!) that interdicts all future change;
That subterranean world, that land of ruin!
Fit walk, Lorenzo! for proud human thought!
There let my thoughts expatiate, and explore
Balsamic truths and healing sentiments,
Of all most wanted, and most welcome, here.
For 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 subdued;
And labour 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 inscribed, 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 ardours, 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 poit from every storm.
Each friend by Fate snatch'd from us is a plume, 285
Pluck'd from the wing of human vanity,
Which makes us stoop from our aerial heights,
And damp'd 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? 295
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
Of every thought? and wish of every hour?
And song of every joy? surprising truth!
The beaten spaniel's fondness not so strange.
To wave the numerous ills that seize on life
As their own property, their lawful prey;
Ere man has measured half his weary stage,
His luxuries have left him no reserve,
No maiden relishes, unbroach'd delights:
On cold-served repetitions he subsists,
And in the tasteless present chews the past;
Disgusted chews, and scarce can swallow down.
Like lavish ancestors, his carlier years
Have disinherited his future hours,
Which starve on orts, and glean their former field.
Live ever here, Lorenzo !-shocking thought! 325 So shocking! they who wish, disown it too; Disown from shame, what they from folly crave. Live ever in the womb, nor see the light? For what, live ever here?-with labouring step To tread our former footsteps? pace the round Eternal? to climb life's worn heavy wheel, Which draws up nothing new? to beat, and beat The beaten track? to bid each wretched day The former mock to surfeit on the same, And yawn our joys? or thank a misery For change though sad! to see what we have scen ? Hear, till unheard, the same old slabber'd tale? To taste the tasted, and at each return
Less tasteful? o'er our palates to descant
Another vintage? strain a flatter year
Through loaded vessels, and a laxer tone?
Crazy machines to grind Earth's wasted fruits!
Ill ground, and worse concocted! load, not life!
The rational foul kennels of excess !
Still-streaming thoroughfares of dull debauch!
Trembling each gulp, lest Death should snatch the bowl.
Such of our fire ones is the wish ref.ed!
So would they have it: elegant desire!
Why not invite the bellowing stalls and wilds?
But such examples might their riot awe.
Through want of virtue, that is, want of thought,
(Though on bright Thought they father all their flights)
To what are they reduced? to love and hate
The same vain world; to censure and espouso
This painted shrew of life, who calls them fool
Each moment of each day; to flatter bad,
Through dread of worse; to cling to this rude rock,
Barren to them of good, and sharp with ills,
And hourly blacken'd with impending storms,
And infamous for wrecks of human hope-
Seared at the gloomy gulf that yawns beneath.
Such are their triumphs! such their pangs of joy!
"Tis time, high time, to shift this dismal scene. This hugg'd, this hideous state, what art can cure? One only, but that one what all may reach : Virtue-she, wonder-working goddess! charms That rock to bloom, and tames the painted shrew, And what will more surprise, Lorenzo! gives To life's sick, nauseous iteration, change; And straightens Nature's circle to a line. Believest thou this, Lorenzo? lend an ear, A patient ear; thou'lt blush to disbelieve.
A languid, leaden iteration reigns,
And ever must, o'er those whose joys are joys
Of sight, smell, taste. The cuckoo-seasons sing 375
The same dull note to such as nothing prize
But what those seasons,
from the teening earth,
To doting sense indulge: but nobler minds,
Which relish fruits unripen'd by the Sun,
Make their days various; various as the dyes
On the dove's neck, which wanton in his rays.
On minds of dovelike innocence possess'd,
On lighten'd minds that bask in Virtue's beams,
Nothing hangs tedious, nothing old revolves
In that for which they long, for which they live. 385
Their glorious efforts, wing'd with heavenly hope,
Each rising morning sees still higher rise ;
Each bounteous dawn its novelty presents
To worth maturing, new strength, lustre, fame;
While Nature's circle, like a chariot-wheel
Rolling beneath their elevated aims,
Makes their fair prospect fairer every hour,
Advancing virtue in a line to bliss;
Virtue, which Christian motives best inspire;
And bliss, which Christian schemes alone ensure
And shall we then, for Virtue's sake, commence
Apostate, and turn infidels for joy?
A truth it is few doubt, but fewer trust,
'He sins against this life, who slights the next. What is this life? how few their favourite know! 400
Fond in the dark, and blind in our embrace,
By passionately loving Life, we make
Loved Life unlovely, hugging her to death.
We give to time cternity's regard,
And dreaming, take our passage for our port.
Life has no value as an end, but means;
An end deplorable! a means divine!
When 'tis our all, 'tis nothing worse than nought;
A nest of pains: when held as nothing, much.
Like some fair humorists, life is most enjoy'd
When courted least; most worth when disesteem'd;
Then 'tis the seat of comfort rich in peace;
In prospect richer far; important! awful!
Not to be mentioned but with shouts of praise !
Not to be thought on but with tides of joy!
The mighty basis of eternal bliss!
Where now the barren rock? the painted shrew?
Where now, Lorenzo, life's eternal round?
Have I not made my triple promise good?
Vain is the world, but only to the vain.
To what compare we then this varying scene,
Whose worth, ambiguous, rises and declines,
Waxes and wanes? (in all propitious Night
Assists me here) compare it to the moon ;
Dark in herself, and indigent, but rich
In borrow'd lustre from a higher sphere.
When gross guilt interposes, labouring Earth,
O'ershadow'd, mourns a deep eclipse of joy;
Her joys at brightest, pallid to that font
Of full effulgent glory whence they flow.
Nor is that glory distant. Oh, Lorenzo
A good man and an angel! these between
How thin the barrier! what divides their fate?
Perhaps a moment, or perhaps a year;
Or if an age, it is a moment still;
A moment, or Eternity's forgot.
Then be what once they were who now are gods;
Be what Philander was, and claim the skies.