« EelmineJätka »
When in his courtiers' ears I pour my plaint,
They drink it as the nectar of the great,
And squeeze my hand, and beg me come to-morrow.
Refusal canst thou wear a smoother form?
Indulge me, nor conceive I drop my theme.
Who cheapens life abates the fear of death.
Twice told the period spent on stubborn Troy,
Court-favour, yet untaken, I besiege;
Ambition's ill judged effort to be rich.
Alas! ambition makes my little less,
Imbittering the possess'd. Why wish for more?
Wishing of all employments is the worst ;
Philosophy's reverse, and health's decay!
Were I as plump as stall'd Theology,
Wishing would waste me to this shade again.
Were I as wealthy as a South Sea dream,
Wishing is an expedient to be poor.
Wishing, that constant hectic of a fool,
Caught at a court, purged off by purer air
And simpler diet, gifts of rural life!
Bless'd be that hand divine, which gently laid
My heart at rest, beneath this humble shed.
The world's a stately bark, on dangerous seas
With pleasure seen, but boarded at our peril ·
Here on a single plank, thrown safe ashore,
hear the tumult of the distant throng,
As that of seas remote, or dying storms!
And meditate on scenes more silent still;
Pursue my theme, and fight the fear of death.
Here, like a shepherd gazing from his hut,
Touching his reed, or leaning on his staff,
Eager Ambition's fiery chase I see;
I see the circling hunt of noisy men
Burst law's enclosure, leap the mounds of right,
Pursuing and pursued, each other's prey;
As wolves for rapine, as the fox for wiles,
Till Death, that mighty hunter, earths them all.
Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour?
What though we wade in wealth, or soar in fame?
Earth's highest station ends in, ' Here he lies ;'
And dust to dust concludes her noblest song.
If this song lives, posterity shall know
One, though in Britain born, with courtiers bred,
Who thought e'en gold might come a day too late ;
Nor on his subtle deathbed plann'd his schemo
For future vacancies in church or state,
Some avocation deeming it-to die ;
Unbit by rage canine of dying rich,
Guilt's blunder! and the loudest laugh of Hell.
O my coevals! remnants of yourselves.
Poor human ruins tottering o'er the grave!
Shall we, shall aged men, like aged trees,
Strike deeper their vile root, and closer cling,
Still more enamour'd of this wretched soil?
Shall our pale wither'd hands be still stretched out,
Trembling, at once, with eagerness and age?
With avarice and convulsions, grasping hard?
Grasping at air! for what has earth beside?
(Man wants but little, nor that little long :)
How soon must he resign his very dust,
Which frugal Nature lent him for an hour!
Years unexperienced rush on numerous ills:
And soon as man, expert from time, has found
The key of life, it opes the gates of death.
When in this vale of years I backward look,
And miss such numbers, numbers too, of such
Firmer in health, and greener in their age,
And stricter on their guard, and fitter far
To play life's subtle game, I scarce believe
I still survive. And am I fond of life,
Who scarce can think it possible I live?
Alive by miracle! or, what is next,
Alive by Mead! if I am still alive,
Who long have buried what gives life to live,
Firmness of nerve, and energy of thought.
Life's lee is not more shallow than impure
And vapid: Sense and Reason show the door,
Call for my bier, and point me to the dust. ́
O thou great Arbiter of life and death'
Nature's immortal, immaterial Sun!
Whose all-prolific beam late call'd me forth
From darkness, teeming darkness, where I lay
The worm's inferior; and, in rank, bencath
The dust I tread on; high to bear my brow,
To drink the spirit of the golden day,
And triumph in existence; and couldst know
No motive but my bliss; and hast ordain'd
A rise in blessing! with the patriarch's joy,
Thy call I follow to the land unknown;
I trust in thee, and know in whom I trust:
Or life or death is equal; neither weighs;
All weight in this-O let me live to Thee!
Though Nature's terrors thus may be repress'd,
Still frowns grim Death; guilt points the tyrant's spear.
And whence all human guilt?-From death forgot.
Ah me! too long I set at nought the swarm
Of friendly warnings which around me flew,
And smiled unsmitten. Small my cause to smile!
Death's admonitions, like shafts upward shot,
More dreadful by delay; the longer cre
They strike our hearts, the deeper is their wound: 160
O think how deep, Lorenzo! here it stings;
Who can appease its anguish? How it burns!
What hand the barb'd, envenom'd thought can draw ?
What healing hand can pour the balm of peace,
And turn my sight undaunted on the tomb?
With joy, with grief, that healing hand I sce;
Ah! too conspicuous! it is fixed on high.
On high?—what means my frenzy? I blaspheme:
Alas! how low! how far beneath the skies!
The skies it form'd, and now it bleeds for me-
But bleeds the balm I want-yet still it bleeds;
Draw the dire stecl-ah, no! the dreadful blessing
What heart or can sustain, or dares forego?
There hangs all human hope; that nail supports
The falling universe: that gone, we drop;
Horror receives us, and the dismal wish
Creation had been smother'd in her birth--
Darkness his curtain, and his bed the dust,
When stars and sun are dust beneath his throne;
In Heaven itself can such indulgence dwell?
O what a groan was there! a groan not his :
He seized our dreadful right, the load sustain'd,
And heaved the mountain from a guilty world.
A thousand worlds, so bought, were bought too dear;
Sensations new in angels' bosoms rise,
Suspend their song, and make a pause in bliss.
O for their song to reach my lefty theme!
Inspire me, Night! with all thy tuneful spheres:
Whilst I with seraphs share seraphic themes,
And show to men the dignity of man;
Lest I blaspheme my subject with my song.
Shall Pagan pages glow celestial flame,
And Christian languish? On our hearts, not heads, Falls the foul infamy. My heat! a.rake:
What can awake thee, unawaked by this,
Expended Deity on human weal?'
Feel the great truths which burst the tenfold night
Of Heathen error with a golden flood
Of endless day. To feel is to be fired;
And to believe, Lorenzo! is to feel.
Thou most indulgent, most tremendous Power!
Still more tremendous for thy wonderous love!
That arms with awe more awful thy commands.
And foul transgression dips in sevenfold guilt;
How our hearts tremble at thy love immense !
In love immense, inviolably just!
Thou, rather than thy justice should be strain'd,
Didst stain the Cross; and, work of wonders far
The greatest, that thy dearest far might bleed.
Bod thought! shall I dare speak it or repress? 210 Should man more execrate or boast the guilt
Which roused such vengeance? which such love inflamed?
O'er guilt (how mountainous !) with outstretch'd arms
Stern Justice and soft-smiling Love embrace,
Supporting in full majesty thy throne,
When seem'd its majesty to need support;
Or that, or man, inevitably lost :
What but the fathomless of thought divine
Could labour such expedient from despair,
And rescue both? Both rescue! both exalt!
O how are both exalted by the deed!
The wondrous deed! or shali I call it more?
A wonder in Omnipotence itself!
A mystery no less to gods than men !
Not thus our infidels the' Eternal draw, A God all o'er consummate, absolute,
Full orb'd, in his whole round of rays complete :
They set at odds Heaven's jarring attributes,
And with one excellence another wound;
Maim Heaven's perfection, break its equal beams, 230
Bid mercy triumph over- -God himself,
Undeified by their opprobrious praise :
A God all mercy is a God unjust.
Ye brainless wits! ye baptized infidels!
Ye worse for mending! wash'd to fouler stains! 235
The ransom was paid down; the fund of Heaven,
Heaven's inexhaustible, exhausted fund,
Amazing and amazed, pour'd forth the price,
All price beyond: though curious to compute,
Archangels fail'd to cast the mighty sum:
Its value vast, ungrasp'd by minds create,
For ever hides and glows in the Supreme.
And was the ransom paid? it was; and paid
(What can exalt the bounty more :) for you!
The Sun beheld it.-No, the shocking scene
Drove back his chariot: midnight veil'd his face;
Not such as this, not such as Nature makes:
A midnight Nature shudder'd to behold;