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Want, and incurable Disease, (fell pair!)
On hopeless multitudes remorseless seize
At once; and make a refuge of the grave.
How groaning hospitals eject their dead!
What numbers groan for sad admission there!
What numbers, once in Fortune's lap high-fed,
Solicit the cold hand of Charity!
To shock us more, solicit it in vain!
Ye silken sons of pleasure! since in pains
You rue more modish visits, visit here,
And breathe from your debauch: give, and reduce
Surfeit's dominion o'er you: but so great
Your impudence, you blush at what is right.
Happy! did sorrow seize on such alone.
Not prudence can defend, or virtue save;
Disease invades the chastest temperance;
And punishment the guiltless; and alarm,
Through thickest shades, pursues the fond of peace.
Man's caution often into danger turns;
And his guard, falling, crushes him to death.
Not happiness itself makes good her name;
Our very wishes give us not our wish.
How distant oft the thing we dote on most,
From that for which we dote, felicity!
The smoothest course of Nature has its pains!
And truest friends, through error, wound our rest.
Without misfortune, what calamities!
And what hostilities, without a foe!
Nor are foes wanting to the best on Earth.
But endless is the list of human ills,
And sighs might sooner fail, than cause to sigh.
A part how small of the terraqueous globe
Is tenanted by man! the rest a waste,
Rocks, deserts, frozen seas, and burning sands;
Wild haunts of monsters, poisons, stings, and death.
Such is Earth's melancholy map! but, far
More sad! this Earth is a true map of man.
So bounded are its haughty lord's delights
To woe's wide empire; where deep troubles toss,
Loud sorrows howl, envenom'd passions bite,
Ravenous calamities our vitals seize,
And threatening fate wide opens to devour.
What then am I, who sorrow for myself!
In age, in infancy, from others' aid
Is all our hope; to teach us to be kind.
That, Nature's first, last lesson to mankind:
The selfish heart deserves the pain it feels.
More generous sorrow, while it sinks, exalts;
And conscious virtue mitigates the pang.
Nor virtue, more than prudence, bids me give
Swoln thought a second channel; who divide,
They weaken too, the torrent of their grief.
Take, then, O World! thy much-indebted tear:
How sad a sight is human happiness,
To those whose thought can pierce beyond an hour!
O thou! whate'er thou art, whose heart exults!
Wouldst thou I should congratulate my fate?
Dear is thy welfare; think me not unkind;
I would not damp, but to secure thy joys.
Think not that fear is sacred to the storm:
Stand on thy guard against the smiles of Fate.
Is Heaven tremendous in its frowns? Most sure;
And in its favors formidable too:
Its favors here are trials, not rewards;
A call to duty, not discharge from care;
And should alarm us, full as much as woes;
Awake us to their cause and consequence;
And make us tremble, weigh'd with our desert;
Awe Nature's tumult, and chastise her joys,
Lest, while we clasp, we kill them; nay, invert
To worse than simple misery, their charms
Revolted joys, like foes in civil war,
Like bosom-friendships to resentment sour'd,
With rage envenom'd rise against our peace
Beware what Earth calls happiness; beware
All joys, but joys that never can expire
Who builds on less than an immortal base,
Fond as he seems, condemns his joys to death.
Mine died with thee, Philander! thy last sigh
Dissolv'd the charm; the disenchanted Earth
Lost all her lustre. Where her glittering towers?
Her golden mountains, where? all darken'd down
To naked waste; a dreary vale of tears;
The great magician's dead! Thou poor, pale piece
Of outcast earth, in darkness! what a change
From yesterday! Thy darling hope so near,
(Long-labor'd prize!) O how ambition flush'd
Thy glowing cheek! Ambition truly great,
Of virtuous praise. Death's subtle seed within
(Sly, treacherous miner!) working in the dark,
Smil'd at thy well-concerted scheme, and beckon'd
The worm to riot on that rose so red,
Unfaded ere it fell; one moment's prey!
Man's foresight is conditionally wise;
Lorenzo! wisdom into folly turns
Oft, the first instant, its idea fair
To laboring thought is born. How dim our eye! The present moment terminates our sight;
Clouds, thick as those on doomsday, drown the next, We penetrate, we prophesy in vain.
Time is dealt out by particles; and each,
Ere mingled with the streaming sands of life,
By Fate's inviolable oath is sworn
Deep silence, Where eternity begins."
By Nature's law, what may be, may be now; There's no prerogative in human hours. In human hearts what bolder thought can rise Than man's presumption on to-morrow's dawn? Where is to-morrow? in another world. For numbers this is certain; the reverse Is sure to none; and yet on this perhaps, This peradventure, infamous for lies, As on a rock of adamant, we build
Our mountain-hopes, spin out eternal schemes,
I know thou wouldst; thy pride demands it from me. As we the fatal sisters could out-spin,
And, big with life's futurities, expire.
Let thy pride pardon, what thy nature needs,
The salutary censure of a friend.
Thou happy wretch! by blindness thou art blest;
By dotage dandled to perpetual smiles.
Know, smiler! at thy peril art thou pleas'd!
Thy pleasure is the promise of thy pain.
Misfortune, like a creditor severe,
But rises in demand for her delay;
She makes a scourge of past prosperity,
To sting thee more, and double thy distress.
Not e'en Philander had bespoke his shroud :
Nor had he cause; a warning was denied:
How many fall as sudden, not as safe!
As sudden, though for years admonish'd home.
Of human ills the last extreme beware,
Beware, Lorenzo! a slow sudden death.
How dreadful that deliberate surprise!
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer;
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Lorenzo, Fortune makes her court to thee,
Thy fond heart dances, while the Syren sings.
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.
Of man's miraculous mistakes, this bears
The palm, "That all men are about to live,"
For ever on the brink of being born.
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They one day shall not drivel: and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise;
At least, their own; their future selves applaud;
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead!
Time lodg'd in their own hands is folly's vails;
That lodg'd in fate's, to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone ;
"Tis not in folly, not to scorn a fool;
And scarce in human wisdom, to do more.
As from the wing no scar the sky retains;
The parted wave no furrow from the keel;
So dies in human hearts the thoughts of death.
E'en with the tender tear which Nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
Can I forget Philander? That were strange!
O my full heart!-But should I give it vent,
The longest night, though longer far, would fail,
And the lark listen to my midnight song.
The sprightly lark's shrill matin wakes the morn;
Grief's sharpest thorn hard pressing on my breast,
I strive, with wakeful melody, to cheer
The sullen gloom, sweet Philomel! like thee,
And call the stars to listen: every star
Is deaf to mine, enamour'd of thy lay.
Yet be not vain; there are, who thine excel,
And charm through distant ages: wrapt in shade,
Prisoner of darkness! to the silent hours,
How often I repeat their rage divine,
To lull my griefs, and steal my heart from woe!
I roll their raptures, but not catch their fire.
Dark, though not blind, like thee, Mæonides!
Or, Milton! thee; ah, could I reach your strain!
Or his, who made Mæonides our own.
Man too he sung: immortal man I sing;
Oft bursts my song beyond the bounds of life;
What, now, but immortality can please?
O had he press'd his theme, pursued the track,
Which opens out of darkness into day!
O had he, mounted on his wing of fire,
Soar'd where I sink, and sung immortal man!
How had it blest mankind, and rescued me!
TIME, DEATH, AND FRIENDSHIP.
TO THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF WILMINGTON,
"When the cock crew, he wept”— -smote by that eye
Which looks on me, on all: that power, who bids
This midnight sentinel, with clarion shrill,
Emblem of that which shall awake the dead,
Rouse souls from slumber, into thoughts of Heaven
Shall I, too, weep? Where then is fortitude?
And, fortitude abandon'd, where is man?
I know the terms on which he sees the light;
He that is born, is listed; life is war;
Eternal war with woe. Who bears it best,
Deserves it least.-On other themes I'll dwell.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage: when young, indeed, Lorenzo! let me turn my thoughts on thee,
And thine, on themes may profit; profit there
Where most they need. Themes, too, the genuine
In full content we, sometimes, nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves; and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves; and re-resolves; then dies the same.
Of dear Philander's dust. He thus, though dead,
May still befriend-What themes? Time's wondrous
And why? Because he thinks himself immortal. All men think all men mortal, but themselves; Themselves, when some alarming shock of fate Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden dread;
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soon close; where, past the shaft, no trace is
Death, friendship, and Philander's final scene.
So could I touch these themes, as might obtain
Thine ear, nor leave thy heart quite disengag'd,
The good deed would delight me; half impress
On my dark cloud an Iris; and from grief
Call glory.-Dost thou mourn Philander's fate?
I know thou say'st it: Says thy life the same?
He mourns the dead, who lives as they desire.
Where is that thirst, that avarice of time,
(O glorious avarice!) thought of death inspires,
As rumor'd robberies endear our gold?
O time! than gold more sacred; more a load
Than lead, to fools; and fools reputed wise.
What moment granted man without account?
What years are squander'd, wisdom's debt unpaid!
Our wealth in days, all due to that discharge.
Haste, haste, he lies in wait, he's at the door,
Insidious Death! should his strong hand arrest,
No composition sets the prisoner free.
Eternity's inexorable chain
Fast binds; and vengeance claims the full arrear.
How late I shudder'd on the brink! how late
Life call'd for her last refuge in despair!
That time is mine, O Mead! to thee I owe;
Fain would I pay thee with eternity.
But ill my genius answers my desire;
My sickly song is mortal, past thy cure.
Accept the will;-that dies not with my
For what calls thy disease, Lorenzo? not
For Esculapian, but for moral aid.
Thou think'st it folly to be wise too soon.
Youth is not rich in time, it may be poor;
Part with it as with money, sparing; pay
No moment, but in purchase of its worth;
And what its worth, ask death-beds; they can tell
Part with it as with life, reluctant; big
With holy hope of nobler time to come;
Time higher aim'd, still nearer the great mark
Of men and angels; virtue more divine.
Is this our duty, wisdom, glory, gain?
(These Heaven benign in vital union binds)
And sport we like the natives of the bough,
When vernal suns inspire? Amusement reigns
Man's great demand: to trifle, is to live: And is it then a trifle, too, to die?
Thou say'st I preach, Lorenzo! 'tis confest.
What if, for once, I preach thee quite awake?
Who wants amusement in the flame of battle?
Is it not treason to the soul immortal,
Her foes in arms, eternity the prize?
Will toys amuse, when medicines cannot cure?
When spirits ebb, when life's enchanting scenes
Their lustre lose, and lessen in our sight,
As lands, and cities with their glittering spires,
To the poor shatter'd bark, by sudden storm
Thrown off to sea, and soon to perish there?
Will toys amuse? No: thrones will then be toys,
And earth and skies seem dust upon the scale.
Redeem we time?-Its loss we dearly buy. What pleads Lorenzo for his high-priz'd sports? He pleads time's numerous blanks; he loudly pleads
The straw-like trifles on life's common stream.
From whom those blanks and trifles, but from thee?
No blank, no trifle, Nature made, or meant.
Virtue, or purpos'd virtue, still be thine;
This cancels thy complaint at once.
In act no trifle, and no blank in time.
This greatens, fills, immortalizes all;
This, the blest art of turning all to gold;
This the good heart's prerogative to raise
A royal tribute from the poorest hours;
Immense revenue! every moment pays,
If nothing more than purpose in thy power;
Thy purpose firm, is equal to the deed:
Who does the best his circumstance allows,
Does well, acts nobly; angels could no more.
Our outward act indeed admits restraint;
On all-important time, through every age,
Though much, and warm, the wise have urg'd; the
Is yet unborn, who duly weighs an hour.
"I've lost a day"-the prince who nobly cried
Had been an emperor without his crown;
Of Rome? Say, rather, lord of human race:
He spoke, as if deputed by mankind.
So should all speak: so Reason speaks in all:
From the soft whispers of that God in man,
Why fly to folly, why to frenzy fly,
For rescue from the blessing we possess?
Time, the supreme-Time is Eternity;
Pregnant with all eternity can give;
Pregnant with all that makes archangels smile.
Who murders time, he crushes in the birth
A power ethereal, only not adorn'd.
Ah! how unjust to Nature and himself,
Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!
Like children babbling nonsense in their sports,
We censure Nature for a span too short;
That span too short, we tax as tedious too;
Torture invention, all expedients tire,
To lash the lingering moments into speed,
And whirl us (happy riddance!) from ourselves.
Art, brainless Art! our furious charioteer
(For Nature's voice unstifled would recall)
Drives headlong towards the precipice of death;
Death, most our dread; death thus more dreadful
How heavily we drag the load of life!
Blest leisure is our curse; like that of Cain,
It makes us wander; wander Earth around
O what a riddle of absurdity!
Leisure is pain; takes off our chariot-wheels;
"Tis not in things o'er thought to domineer;
Guard well thy thought; our thoughts are heard in Cares are employments, and without employ
The soul is on a rack; the rack of rest,
To fly that tyrant, Thought. As Atlas groan'd
The world beneath, we groan beneath an hour.
We cry for mercy to the next amusement;
The next amusement mortgages our fields;
Slight inconvenience! Prisons hardly frown,
From hateful Time if prisons set us free.
Yet when Death kindly tenders us relief,
We call him cruel; years to moments shrink,
Ages to years. The telescope is turn'd.
To man's false optics (from his folly false)
Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings,
And seems to creep, decrepit with his age;
Behold him, when past by; what then is seen,
But his broad pinions swifter than the winds?
And all mankind, in contradiction strong,
Rueful, aghast! cry out on his career.
Leave to thy foes these errors, and these ills; To Nature just, their cause and cure explore. Not short Heaven's bounty, boundless our expense; No niggard, Nature; men are prodigals. We waste, not use our time; we breathe, not live. Time wasted is existence, us'd is life,
And bare existence, man, to live ordain'd,
Wrings, and oppresses with enormous weight.
And why? since Time was given for use, not waste,
Enjoin'd to fly; with tempest, tide, and stars,
To keep his speed, nor ever wait for man;
Time's use was doom'd a pleasure; waste, a pain ;
That man might feel his error, if unseen:
And, feeling, fly to labor for his cure;
Not, blundering, split on idleness for ease.
Life's cares are comforts; such by Heaven design'd;
He that has none, must make them, or be wretched.
To souls most adverse; action all their joy.
Here then, the riddle, mark'd above, unfolds When time turns torment, when man turns a fool. We rave, we wrestle, with great Nature's plan; We thwart the Deity; and 'tis decreed, Who thwart his will, shall contradict their own. Hence our unnatural quarrels with ourselves; Our thoughts at enmity; our bosom-broil; We push Time from us, and we wish him back: Lavish of lustrums, and yet fond of life; Life we think long, and short; Death seek, and
Is truly man's; 'tis fortune's-Time's a god.
Hast thou ne'er heard of Time's omnipotence;
For, or against, what wonders he can do!
And will: to stand blank neuter he disdains.
Not on those terms was Time (Heaven's stranger!)
On his important embassy to man.
Lorenzo! no: On the long-destin'd hour,
From everlasting ages growing ripe,
That memorable hour of wondrous birth,
When the Dread Sire, on emanation bent,
And big with Nature, rising in his might,
Call'd forth creation (for then Time was born,)
By Godhead streaming through a thousand worlds;
Not on those terms, from the great days of Heaven,
From old Eternity's mysterious orb,
Was Time cut off, and cast beneath the skies;
The skies, which watch him in his new abode,
Measuring his motions by revolving spheres;
That horologe machinery divine.
Hours, days, and months, and years, his children play,
Like numerous wings around him, as he flies:
Or, rather, as unequal plumes, they shape
His ample pinions, swift as darted flame,
To gain his goal, to reach his ancient rest,
And join anew Eternity, his sire;
In his immutability to nest,
When worlds, that count his circles now, unhing'd
(Fate the loud signal sounding) headlong rush
To timeless night and chaos, whence they rose.
Why spur the speedy? Why with levities
New-wing thy short, short day's too rapid flight?
Know'st thou, or what thou dost, or what is done?
Man flies from Time, and Time from man; too soon
In sad divorce this double flight must end;
And then, where are we? where, Lorenzo! then
'I hy sports? thy pomps?-I grant thee, in a state
Not unambitious; in the ruffled shroud,
Thy Parian tomb's triumphant arch beneath.
Has Death his fopperies? Then well may Life
Put on her plume, and in her rainbow shine.
Ye well-array'd! ye lilies of our land!
Ye lilies male! who neither toil, nor spin,
(As sister lilies might) if not so wise
As Solomon, more sumptuous to the sight!
Ye delicate! who nothing can support,
Yourselves most insupportable! for whom
The winter rose must blow, the Sun put on
A brighter beam in Leo; silky-soft
Favonius breathe still softer, or be chid;
And other worlds send odors, sauce, and song,
And robes, and notions, fram'd in foreign looms!
O ye Lorenzos of our age! who deem
One moment unamus'd, a misery
And her dread diary with horror fills.
Not the gross act alone employs her pen;
She reconnoitres Fancy's airy band;
A watchful foe! the formidable spy,
Listening, o'erhears the whispers of our camp:
Our dawning purposes of heart explores,
And steals our embryoes of iniquity.
As all-rapacious usurers conceal
Their doomsday-book from all-consuming heirs ;
Thus, with indulgence most severe, she treats
Us spendthrifts of inestimable time;
Unnoted, notes each moment misapplied;
In leaves more durable than leaves of brass
Writes our whole history: which Death shall read
In every pale delinquent's private ear;
And Judgment publish; publish to more worlds
Than this; and endless age in groans resound.
|Lorenzo, such that sleeper in thy breast!
Such is her slumber; and her vengeance such
For slighted counsel; such thy future peace!
And think'st thou still thou canst be wise too soon?
But why on time so lavish
On this great theme kind Nature keeps a school,
To teach her sons herself. Each night we die,
Each morn are born anew: each day, a life!
And shall we kill each day? If Trifling kills;
Sure Vice must butcher. O what heaps of slain
Cry out for vengeance on us! Time destroy'd
Is suicide, where more than blood is spilt.
Time flies, Death urges, knells call, Heaven invites
Hell threatens: All exerts; in effort, all;
More than creation labors!-labors more?
And is there in creation what, amidst
This tumult universal, wing'd dispatch,
And ardent energy, supinely yawns ?
Man sleeps; and man alone; and man, whose fate,
Fate irreversible, entire, extreme,
Endless, hair-hung, breeze-shaken, o'er the gulf
A moment trembles; drops! and man, for whom
All else is in alarm! man, the sole cause
Of this surrounding storm! and yet he sleeps,
As the storm rock'd to rest.-Throw years away?
Throw empires, and be blameless. Moments seize,
Heaven's on their wing: a moment we may wish,
When worlds want wealth to buy. Bid Day stand
Bid him drive back his car, and re-import
The period past, re-give the given hour.
Lorenzo, more than miracles we want;
Lorenzo-O for yesterdays to come!
Such is the language of the man awake;
His ardor such, for what oppresses thee.
And is his ardor vain, Lorenzo? No;
That more than miracle the gods indulge;
To-day is yesterday return'd; return'd
Full-power'd to cancel, expiate, raise, adorn,
And reinstate us on the rock of peace.
Let it not share its predecessor's fate;
Nor, like its elder sisters, die a fool.
Shall it evaporate in fume? fly off
Fuliginous, and stain us deeper still?
Shall we be poorer for the plenty pour'd?
More wretched for the clemencies of Heaven?
Not made for feeble man! who call aloud
For every bawble drivel'd o'er by sense;
For rattles, and conceits of every cast,
For change of follies, and relays of joy,
To drag your patient through the tedious length
Of a short winter's day-say, sages! say,
Wit's oracles! say, dreamers of gay dreams!
How will you weather an eternal night,
Where such expedients fail?
Where shall I find him? Angels! tell me where.
You know him he is near you: point him out:
O treacherous Conscience! while she seems to sleep
On rose and myrtle, lull'd with syren song;
While she seems, nodding o'er her charge, to drop Shall I see glories beaming from his brow?
On headlong appetite the slacken'd rein,
And give us up to license unrecall'd,
Unmark'd;-see, from behind her secret stand,
The sly informer minutes every fault,
Or trace his footsteps by the rising flowers?
Your golden wings, now hovering o'er him, shed
Protection; now, are waving in applause
To that blest son of foresight! lord of fate!
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!
Is Death at distance? No; he has been on thee, 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 emmets, 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!)
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 reason'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:
A Wilmington goes slower than the Sun:
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 rame;
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 air,
And spoil, like bales unopen'd to the Sun.
Had thought been all, sweet speech had been denied ;