« EelmineJätka »
My soul's ambition, pleasure, wealth!—my world!
My light in darkness! and my life in death!
My boast through time! bliss through eternity!
Eternity, too short to speak thy praise!
Or fathom thy profound of love to man!
To man, of men the meanest, e'en to me;
My sacrifice! my God!-what things are these!
What then art thou? by what name shall I call
This mouldering, old, partition-wall throw down!
Give beings, one in nature, one abode ?
Oh Death divine! that giv'st us to the skies!
Great future! glorious patron of the past,
And present! when shall I thy shrine adore ?
From Nature's continent, immensely wide,
Immensely blest, this little isle of life,
This dark, incarcerated colony,
Divides us. Happy day! that breaks our chain;
That manumits; that calls from exile home;
That leads to Nature's great metropolis,
And readmits us, through the guardian hand
Of elder brothers, to our Father's throne;
Who hears our Advocate, and, through his wounds
Beholding man, allows that tender name.
"Tis this makes Christian triumph a command:
"Tis this makes joy a duty to the wise;
"Tis impious in a good man to be sad.
See thou, Lorenzo! where hangs all our hope?
Touch'd by the cross, we live; or, more than die;
That touch which touch'd not angels; more divine
Than that which touch'd confusion into form,
And darkness into glory: partial touch!
Ineffably pre-eminent regard!
Sacred to man, and sovereign through the whole
Long golden chain of miracles, which hangs
From Heaven through all duration, and supports
In one illustrious and amazing plan,
Thy welfare, Nature! and thy God's renown;
That touch, with charm celestial, heals the soul
Diseas'd, drives pain from guilt, lights life in death,
Turns Earth to Heaven, to heavenly thrones trans-
Knew I the name devout archangels use,
Devout archangels should the name enjoy,
By me unrivall'd; thousands more sublime,
None half so dear, as that, which, though unspoke,
Still glows at heart: O how omnipotence
Is lost in love! Thou great philanthropist!
Father of angels! but the friend of man!
Like Jacob, fondest of the younger born!
Thou, who didst save him, snatch the smoking brand
From out the flames, and quench it in thy blood!
How art thou pleas'd, by bounty to distress!
To make us groan beneath our gratitude,
Too big for birth! to favor, and confound!
To challenge, and to distance all return!
Of lavish love stupendous heights to soar,
And leave praise panting in the distant vale!
Thy right, too great, defrauds thee of thy due;
And sacrilegious our sublimest song.
But since the naked will obtains thy smile,
Beneath this monument of praise unpaid,
And future life symphonious to my strain,
(That noblest hymn to Heaven!) for ever lie
Intomb'd my fear of death! and every fear,
The dread of every evil, but thy frown.
The ghastly ruins of the mouldering tomb.
Dost ask me when? When he who died returns; Returns, how chang'd! Where then the man of woe?
Whom see I, yonder, so demurely smile?
Laughter a labor, and might break their rest.
Ye quietists, in homage to the skies!
Serene! of soft address! who mildly make
An unobtrusive tender of your hearts,
Abhorring violence; who halt indeed;
But, for the blessing, wrestle not with Heaven!
Think you my song too turbulent? too warm?
Are passions, then, the pagans of the soul?
Reason alone baptiz'd? alone ordain'd
To touch things sacred? Oh for warmer still!
Guilt chills my zeal, and age benumbs my powers:
Oh for an humbler heart! and prouder song!
Thou, my much-injur'd theme! with that soft eye
Which melted o'er doom'd Salem, deign to look
Compassion to the coldness of my breast;
And pardon to the winter in my strain.
In glory's terrors all the Godhead burns;
And all his courts, exhausted by the tide
Of deities, triumphant in his train,
Leave a stupendous solitude in Heaven;
Replenish'd soon, replenish'd with increase
Of pomp, and multitude; a radiant band
Of angels new; of angels from the tomb.
Is this my fancy thrown remote? and rise
Dark doubts between the promise and event?
I send thee not to volumes for thy cure;
Read Nature; Nature is a friend to truth;
Nature is Christian; preaches to mankind;
And bids dead matter aid us in our creed.
Hast thou ne'er seen the comet's flaming flight?
Th' illustrious stranger, passing, terror sheds
On gazing nations; from his fiery train
Oh ye cold-hearted, frozen formalists!
On such a theme, 'tis impious to be calm;
Passion is reason, transport temper, here.
Shall Heaven, which gave us ardor, and has shown Of length enormous, takes his ample round
Her own for man so strongly, not disdain
What smooth emollients in theology,
Recumbent virtue's downy doctors, preach;
That prose of piety, a lukewarm praise?
Rise odors sweet from incense uninflam'd?
Devotion, when lukewarm, is undevout;
But when it glows, its heat is struck to Heaven;
To human hearts her golden harps are strung;
High Heaven's orchestra chants amen to man.
Through depths of ether; coasts unnumber'd worlds,
Of more than solar glory; doubles wide
Heaven's mighty cape: and then revisits Earth,
From the long travel of a thousand years.
Thus, at the destin'd period, shall return
He, once on Earth, who bids the comet blaze:
And, with him, all our triumph o'er the tomb.
Hear I, or dream I hear, their distant strain,
Sweet to the soul, and tasting strong of Heaven,
Soft-wafted on celestial pity's plume,
Through the vast spaces of the universe,
To cheer me in this melancholy gloom?
Oh when will Death (now stingless,) like a friend,
Admit me of their choir? O when will Death!
Nature is dumb on this important point;
Or hope precarious in low whisper breathes;
Faith speaks aloud, distinct; e'en adders hear:
But turn, and dart into the dark again.
Faith builds a bridge across the gulf of Death,
To break the shock blind Nature cannot shun,
And lands thought smoothly on the further shore.
Death's terror is the mountain faith removes;
That mountain barrier between man and peace.
"Tis faith disarms destruction; and absolves
From every clamorous charge, the guiltless tomb.
Why disbelieve? Lorenzo!" Reason bids,
All-sacred Reason."-Hold her sacred still;
Nor shalt thou want a rival in thy flame:
All-sacred reason! source, and soul, of all
Demanding praise, on Earth, or Earth above!
My heart is thine: deep in its inmost folds,
Live thou with life; live dearer of the two.
Wear I the blessed cross, by fortune stamp'd
On passive Nature, before thought was born?
My birth's blind bigot! fir'd with local zeal!
No! Reason re-baptiz'd me when adult;
Weigh'd true and false, in her impartial scale;
My heart became the convert of my head,
And made that choice, which once was but my fate. Thrown down the gulf of time; as far from thee
"On argument alone my faith is built;"
As they had ne'er been thine; the day in hand,
Reason pursu'd is faith; and unpursued
Like a bird struggling to get loose, is going;
Where proof invites, 'tis reason, then, no more: Scarce now possess'd, so suddenly 'tis going;
And such our proof, that, or our faith is right, And each swift moment fled, is death advanc'd
Or Reason lies, and Heaven design'd it wrong: By strides as swift; Eternity is all;
Absolve we this? What, then, is blasphemy? And whose Eternity? Who triumphs there ?
Bathing for ever in the font of bliss!
For ever basking in the Deity!
Lorenzo! who?-Thy concience shall reply.
Know ye how wise your choice, how great your gain?
Behold the picture of Earth's happiest man :
"He calls his wish, it comes; he sends it back,
And says, he call'd another; that arrives,
Meets the same welcome; yet he still calls on;
Till one calls him, who varies not his call,
But holds him fast, in chains of darkness bound,
Till Nature dies, and judgment sets him free;
A freedom far less welcome than his chain."
But grant man happy; grant him happy long:
Add to life's highest prize her latest hour;
That hour, so late, is nimble in approach,
That, like a post, comes on in full career :
How swift the shuttle flies, that weaves thy shroud!
Where is the fable of thy former years?
O give it leave to speak; 'twill speak ere long.
Thy leave unask'd: Lorenzo! hear it now,
While useful its advice, its accent mild.
Fond as we are, and justly fond, of faith,
Reason, we grant, demands our first regard;
The mother honor'd, as the daughter dear.
Reason the root, fair faith is but the flower;
The fading flower shall die; but reason lives
Immortal, as her father in the skies.
When faith is virtue, reason makes it so.
Wrong not the Christian; think not reason yours:
'Tis reason our great Master holds so dear;
'Tis reason's injur'd rights his wrath resents;
"Tis reason's voice obey'd his glories crown;
To give lost reason life, he pour'd his own:
Believe, and show the reason of a man;
Believe, and taste the pleasure of a God!
Believe, and look with triumph on the tomb:
Through reason's wounds alone thy faith can die;
Which dying, tenfold terror gives to death,
And dips in venom his twice-mortal sting.
By the great edict, the divine decree,
Truth is deposited with man's last hour;
An honest hour, and faithful to her trust.
Truth, eldest daughter of the Deity;
Truth, of his council, when he made the worlds;
Nor less, when he shall judge the worlds he made
Though silent long, and sleeping ne'er so sound,
Smother'd with errors, and opprest with joys,
That Heaven-commission'd hour no sooner calls
But, from her cavern in the soul's abyss,
Like him they fable under Etna whelm'd,
The goddess bursts, in thunder, and in flame;
Learn hence what honors, what loud paans, due Loudly convinces, and severely pains.
To those, who push our antidote aside;
Those boasted friends to reason and to man,
Whose fatal love stabs every joy, and leaves
Death's terror heighten'd, gnawing on his heart.
These pompous sons of reason idoliz'd
Dark demons I discharge, and hydra stings;
The keen vibration of bright truth-is Hell:
Just definition! though by schools untaught.
Ye deaf to truth! peruse this parson'd page,
And trust, for once, a prophet, and a priest;
And vilified at once; of reason dead,
Men may live fools, but fools they cannot die."
Then deified, as monarchs were of old;
What conduct plants proud laurels on their brow?
While love of truth through all their camp resounds,
They draw Pride's curtain o'er the noontide ray,
Spike up their inch of reason, on the point
Of philosophic wit, call'd argument;
And then, exulting in their taper, cry,
'Behold the Sun:" and, Indian-like, adore.
Talk they of morals? O thou bleeding Love!
Thou maker of new morals to mankind!
The grand morality is love of thee.
As wise as Socrates, if such they were,
(Nor will they 'bate of that sublime renown)
As wise as Socrates, might justly stand
The definition of a modern fool.
A Christian is the highest style of man :
And is there, who the blessed cross wipes off,
As a foul blot from his dishonor'd brow?
If angels tremble, 'tis at such a sight:
The wretch they quit, desponding of their charge,
More struck with grief or wonder, who can tell?
Ye sold to sense! ye citizens of Earth!
(For such alone the Christian banner fly)
NIGHT THE FIFTH.
TO THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF LITCHFIELD.
LORENZO to recriminate is just.
Fondness for fame is avarice of air.
I grant the man is vain who writes for praise,
Praise no man e'er deserv'd, who sought no more.
As just thy second charge. I grant the Muse
Has often blush'd at her degenerate sons,
Retain'd by sense to plead her filthy cause;
To raise the low, to magnify the mean,
And subtilize the gross into refin'd:
As if to magic numbers' powerful charm
"Twas given, to make a civet of their song
Obscene, and sweeten ordure to perfume.
Wit, a true pagan, deifies the brute,
And lifts our swine-enjoyments from the mire.
The fact notorious, nor obscure the cause,
We wear the chains of pleasure and of pride.
These share the man; and these distract him too;
Draw different ways, and clash in their commands.
Pride, like an eagle, builds among the stars,
But pleasure, lark-like, nests upon the ground.
Joys shar'd by brute-creation, pride resents;
Pleasure embraces; man would both enjoy,
And both at once: a point how hard to gain!
But, what can't wit, when stung by strong desire?
Wit dares attempt this arduous enterprise.
Since joy of sense can't rise to reason's taste;
In subtle sophistry's laborious forge,
Wit hammers out a reason new, that stoops
To sordid scenes, and meets them with applause.
Wit calls the graces the chaste zone to loose;
Nor less than a plump god to fill the bowl:
A thousand phantoms, and a thousand spells,
A thousand opiates scatters, to delude,
To fascinate, inebriate, lay asleep,
And the fool'd mind delightfully confound. [more;
Thus that which shock'd the judgment, shocks no
That which gave pride offence, no more offends.
Pleasure and pride, by nature mortal foes,
At war eternal, which in man shall reign,
By wit's address, patch up a fatal peace,
And hand in hand lead on the rank debauch,
From rank, refin'd to delicate and gay.
Art, cursed art! wipes off th' indebted blush
From Nature's cheek, and bronzes every shame.
Man smiles in ruin, glories in his guilt,
And infamy stands candidate for praise.
All writ by man in favor of the soul,
The sensual ethics far, in bulk, transcend.
The flowers of eloquence, profusely pour'd
O'er spotted vice, fill half the letter'd world.
Can powers of genius exorcise their page,
And consecrate enormities with song?
But let not these inexpiable strains
Condemn the Muse that knows her dignity;
Nor meanly stops at time, but holds the world
As 'tis, in Nature's ample field, a point,
A point in her esteem; from whence to start,
And run the round of universal space,
To visit being universal there,
And, feeling, give assent; and their assent
Is ample recompense; is more than praise.
But chiefly thine, O Litchfield! nor mistake;
Think not unintroduc'd I force my way;
Narcissa, not unknown, not unallied,
By virtue, or by blood, illustrious youth!
To thee, from blooming amaranthine bowers,
Where all the language harmony, descends
Uncall'd, and asks admittance for the Muse:
A Muse that will not pain thee with thy praise;
Thy praise she drops, by nobler still inspir'd.
O thou! Blest Spirit! whether the supreme,
Great antemundane Father! in whose breast
Embryo creation, unborn being, dwelt,
And all its various revolutions roll'd
Present, though future; prior to themselves;
Whose breath can blow it into nought again;
Or, from his throne some delegated power,
Who, studious of our peace, dost turn the thought
From vain and vile, to solid and sublime!
Unseen thou lead'st me to delicious draughts
Of inspiration, from a purer stream,
And fuller of the god, than that which burst
From fam'd Castalia: nor is yet allay'd
My sacred thirst; though long my soul has rang'd
Through pleasing paths of moral and divine,
By thee sustain'd, and lighted by the stars.
By them best lighted are the paths of thought;
Nights are their days, their most illumin'd hours.
By day, the soul, o'erborne by life's career,
Stunn'd by the din, and giddy with the glare,
Reels far from reason, jostled by the throng.
By day the soul is passive, all her thoughts
Impos'd, precarious, broken ere mature.
By night, from objects free, from passion cool,
Thoughts uncontroll'd, and unimpress'd, the births
Of pure election, arbitrary range,
Not to the limits of one world confin'd;
But from ethereal travels light on Earth,
As voyagers drop anchor, for repose.
Let Indians, and the gay, like Indians, fond
Of feather'd fopperies, the Sun adore:
Darkness has more divinity for me;
It strikes thought inward; it drives back the soul
To settle on herself our point supreme!
There lies our theatre! there sits our judge.
Darkness the curtain drops o'er life's dull scene;
"Tis the kind hand of Providence stretch'd out
"Twixt man and vanity; 'tis reason's reign,
And being's Source, that utmost flight of mind!
Yet, spite of this so vast circumference,
Well knows, but what is moral, nought is great.
Sing syrens only? Do not angels sing?
There is in poesy a decent pride,
Which well becomes her when she speaks to prose, And virtue's too; these tutelary shades
Her younger sister; haply, not more wise.
Think'st thou, Lorenzo! to find pastimes here?
No guilty passion blown into a flame,
No foible flatter'd, dignity disgrac'd,
No fairy field of fiction, all on flower,
No rainbow colors, here, or silken tale:
But solemn counsels, images of awe,
Truths, which eternity lets fall on man
With double weight, through these revolving spheres,
This death-deep silence, and incumbent shade:
Thoughts, such as shall revisit your last hour;
Visit uncall'd, and live when life expires;
And thy dark pencil, midnight! darker still
In melancholy dipt, embrowns the whole.
Yet this, even this, my laughter-loving friends!
Lorenzo! and thy brothers of the smile!
If, what imports you most, can most engage,
Shall steal your ear, and chain you to my song.
Or if you fail me, know, the wise shall taste
The truths I sing; the truths I sing shall feel;
Are man's asylum from the tainted throng.
Night is the good man's friend, and guardian too;
It no less rescues virtue, than inspires.
Virtue, for ever frail, as fair, below,
Her tender nature suffers in the crowd,
Nor touches on the world, without a stain:
The world's infectious; few bring back at eve,
Immaculate, the manners of the morn.
Something we thought, is blotted! we resolv'd,
Is shaken; we renounc'd, returns again.
Each salutation may slide in a sin
Unthought before, or fix a former flaw.
Nor is it strange: light, motion, concourse, noise,
All, scatter us abroad; though outward bound,
Neglectful of our home affairs, flies off
In fume and dissipation, quits her charge,
And leaves the breast unguarded to the foe.
Present example gets within our guard,
And acts with double force, by few repell'd
Ambition fires ambition; love of gain
Strikes, like a pestilence, from breast to breast;
Riot, pride, perfidy, blue vapors breathe;
And inhumanity is caught from man,
From smiling man. A slight, a single glance,
And shot at random, often has brought home
A sudden fever to the throbbing heart,
Of envy, rancor, or impure desire.
We see, we hear, with peril; safety dwells
Remote from multitude; the world's a school
Of wrong, and what proficients swarm around!
We must or imitate; or disapprove;
Must list as their accomplices, or foes;
That stains our innocence; this wounds our peace.
From Nature's birth, hence, wisdom has been smit
With sweet recess, and languish'd for the shade.
This sacred shade, and solitude, what is it?
"Tis the felt presence of the Deity.
Few are the faults we flatter when alone,
Vice sinks in her allurements, is ungilt:
And looks, like other objects, black by night.
By night an atheist half-believes a God.
Night is fair virtue's immemorial friend;
The conscious Moon, through every distant age,
Has held a lamp to wisdom, and let fall,
On contemplation's eye, her purging ray.
The fam'd Athenian, he who woo'd from Heaven
Philosophy the fair, to dwell with men,
And form their manners, not inflame their pride,
While o'er his head, as fearful to molest
His laboring mind, the stars in silence slide,
And seem all gazing on their future guest,
See him soliciting his ardent suit
In private audience all the livelong night,
Rigid in thought, and motionless, he stands;
Nor quits his theme, or posture, till the Sun
(Rude drunkard rising rosy from the main!)
Disturbs his nobler intellectual beam,
And gives him to the tumult of the world.
Hail, precious moments! stol'n from the black waste
Of murder'd time! Auspicious midnight! hail!
The world excluded, every passion husht,
And open'd a calm intercourse with Heaven,
Here the soul sits in council; ponders past,
Predestines future action; sees, not feels,
Tumultuous life, and reasons with the storm:
All her lies answers, and thinks down her charms.
What awful joy! what mental liberty!
I am not pent in darkness; rather say,
(If not too bold,) in darkness I'm embower'd.
Delightful gloom! the clustering thoughts around
Spontaneous rise, and blossom in the shade;
But droop by day, and sicken in the sun.
And hearts obdurate feel her softening shower;
Her golden harvest triumphs in the soil.
If so, Narcissa! welcome my Relapse;
I'll raise a tax on my calamity,
And reap rich compensation from my pain.
I'll range the plenteous intellectual field;
And gather every thought of sovereign power
To chase the moral maladies of man;
Thought borrows light elsewhere; from that first fire, Her seed celestial, then, glad wisdom sows;
Fountain of animation! whence descends
Urania, my celestial guest! who deigns
Nightly to visit me, so mean; and now,
Conscious how needful discipline to man,
From pleasing dalliance with the charms of night
My wandering thought recalls, to what excites
Far other beat of heart! Narcissa's tomb!
Or is it feeble Nature calls me back,
And breaks my spirit into grief again?
Is it a Stygian vapor in my blood?
A cold, slow puddle, creeping through my veins ?
Or is it thus with all men?-Thus with all.
What are we? How unequal! Now we soar,
And now we sink: to be the same, transcends
Our present prowess. Dearly pays the soul
For lodging ill; too dearly rents her clay.
Reason, a baffled counsellor! but adds
The blush of weakness to the bane of woe.
The noblest spirit, fighting her hard fate,
In this damp, dusty region, charg'd with storms,
But feebly flutters, yet untaught to fly;
Or, flying, short her flight, and sure her fall.
Our utmost strength, when down, to rise again;
And not to yield, though beaten, all our praise.
"Tis vain to seek in men for more than man.
Though proud in promise, big in previous thought,
Experience damps our triumph. I who late,
Emerging from the shadows of the grave,
Where grief detain'd me prisoner, mounting high,
Threw wide the gates of everlasting day,
And call'd mankind to glory, shook off pain,
Mortality shook off, in ether pure,
And struck the stars; now feel my spirits fail;
They drop me from the zenith; down I rush,
Like him whom fable fledg'd with waxen wings,
In sorrow drown'd-but not in sorrow lost.
How wretched is the man who never mourn'd!
I dive for precious pearl in sorrow's stream:
Not so the thoughtless man that only grieves;
Takes all the torment, and rejects the gain,
|(Inestimable gain!) and gives Heaven leave
To make him but more wretched, not more wise.
If wisdom is our lesson (and what else
Ennobles man? what else have angels learnt?)
Grief! more proficients in thy school are made,
Than genius, or proud learning, e'er could boast.
Voracious learning, often over-fed,
Digests not into sense her motley meal.
This book-case, with dark booty almost burst,
This forager on others' wisdom, leaves
Her native farm, her reason, quite untill'd.
With mixt manure she surfeits the rank soil,
Dung'd, but not dress'd; and rich to beggary.
A pomp untamable of weeds prevails.
Her servant's wealth, encumber'd wisdom mourns.
And what says genius? Let the dull be wise." Genius, too hard for right, can prove it wrong; And loves to boast, where blush men less inspir'd. It pleads exemption from the laws of sense; Considers reason as a leveller;
And scorns to share a blessing with the crowd.
That wise it could be, thinks an ample claim
To glory, and to pleasure gives the rest.
Crassus but sleeps, Ardelio is undone.
Wisdom less shudders at a fool, than wit.
But wisdom smiles, when humbled mortals weep. When sorrow wounds the breast, as plows the glebe,
Thoughts, which may bear transplanting to the skies,
Though natives of this coarse penurious soil:
Nor wholly wither there, where seraphs sing,
Refin'd, exalted, not annull'd, in Heaven.
Reason, the sun that gives them birth, the same
In either clime, though more illustrious there.
These choicely cull'd, and elegantly rang'd,
Shall form a garland for Narcissa's tomb;
And, peradventure, of no fading flowers.
Say on what themes shall puzzled choice descond?
"Th'importance of contemplating the tomb;
Why men decline it; suicide's foul birth;
The various kind of grief; the faults of age;
And death's dread character-invite my song."
And, first, th' importance of our end survey'd.
Friends counsel quick dismission of our grief:
Mistaken kindness! our hearts heal too soon.
Are they more kind than he, who struck the blow?
Who bid it do his errand in our hearts,
And banish peace, till nobler guests arrive,
And bring it back, a true and endless peace?
Calamities are friends: as glaring day
Of these unnumber'd lustres robs our sight;
Prosperity puts out unnumber'd thoughts
Of import high, and light divine, to man.
The man how blest, who, sick of gaudy scenes, (Scenes apt to thrust between us and ourselves!) Is led by choice to take his favorite walk, Beneath death's gloomy, silent, cypress shades, Unpierc'd by vanity's fantastic ray ; To read his monuments, to weigh his dust, Visit his vaults, and dwell among the tombs! Lorenzo! read with me Narcissa's stone; (Narcissa was thy favorite!) let us read
Her moral stone! few doctors preach so well;
Few orators so tenderly can touch
The feeling heart. What pathos in the date!
Apt words can strike: and yet in them we see
Faint images of what we, here, enjoy.
What cause have we to build on length of life?
Temptations seize, when fear is laid asleep;
And ill foreboded is our strongest guard.
See from her tomb, as from an humbler shrine,
Truth, radiant goddess! sallies on my soul,
And puts Delusion's dusky train to flight;
Dispels the mists our sultry passions raise,
From objects low, terrestrial, and obscene:
And shows the real estimate of things;
Which no man, unafflicted, ever saw;
Pulls off the veil from Virtue's rising charms;
Detects Temptation in a thousand lies.
Truth bids me look on men, as autumn leaves,
And all they bleed for, as the summer's dust,
Driven by the whirlwind: lighted by her beams,
I widen my horizon, gain new powers,
See things invisible, feel things remote,
Am present with futurities; think nought
To man so foreign, as the joys possest;
Nought so much his, as those beyond the grave.
No folly keeps its color in her sight;
Pale worldly wisdom loses all her charms;
In pompous promise, from her schemes profound,
If future fate she plans, 'tis all in leaves,
Like Sibyl, unsubstantial, fleeting bliss!
At the first blast it vanishes in air.
Not so, celestial: wouldst thou know, Lorenzo!
How differ worldly wisdom, and divine?
Just as the waning, and the waxing Moon.
More empty worldly wisdom every day;
And every day more fair her rival shines.
When later, there's less time to play the fool.
Soon our whole term for wisdom is expir'd:
(Thou know'st she calls no council in the grave:)
And everlasting fool is writ in fire,
Or real wisdom wafts us to the skies.
As worldly schemes resemble Sibyls' leaves, The good man's days to Sibyls' books compare, (In ancient story read, thou know'st the tale,) In price still rising, as in number less, Inestimable quite his final hour.
For that who thrones can offer, offer thrones;
Insolvent worlds the purchase cannot pay.
"Oh let me die his death!" all Nature cries.
"Then live his life."-All Nature falters there.
Our great physician daily to consult,
To commune with the grave, our only cure.
What grave prescribes the best ?-A friend's; and yet,
From a friend's grave how soon we disengage!
E'en to the dearest, as his marble, cold.
Why are friends ravisht from us? "Tis to bind,
By soft affection's ties, on human hearts,
The thought of death, which reason, too supine,
Or misemploy'd, so rarely fastens there,
Nor reason, nor affection, no, nor both
Combin'd, can break the witchcrafts of the world
Behold, th' inexorable hour at hand!
Behold, th' inexorable hour forgot!
And to forget it, the chief aim of life,
Though well to ponder it, is life's chief end.
Is Death, that ever-threatening, ne'er remote,
That all-important, and that only sure,
(Come when he will) an unexpected guest?
Nay, though invited by the loudest calls
Of blind imprudence, unexpected still?
Though numerous messengers are sent before,
To warn his great arrival. What the cause,
The wondrous cause, of this mysterious ill ?
All Heaven looks down astonish'd at the sight.
Is it, that life has sown her joys so thick, We can't thrust in a single care between? Is it, that life has such a swarm of cares, The thought of death can't enter for the throng? Is it, that time steals on with downy feet, Nor wakes indulgence from her golden dream? To-day is so like yesterday, it cheats; We take the lying sister for the same. Life glides away, Lorenzo! like a brook; For ever changing, unperceiv'd the change. In the same brook none ever bath'd him twice: To the same life none ever twice awoke. We call the brook the same; the same we think Our life, though still more rapid in its flow; Nor mark the much, irrevocably laps'd, And mingled with the sea. Or shall we say (Retaining still the brook to bear us on) That life is like a vessel on the stream? In life embark'd, we smoothly down the tide Of time descend, but not on time intent; Amus'd, unconscious of the gliding wave; Till on a sudden we perceive a shock; We start, awake, look out; what see we there ? Our brittle bark is burst on Charon's shore.
Is this the cause death flies all human thought? Or is it judgment, by the will struck blind, That domineering mistress of the soul! Like him so strong, by Dalilah the fair? Or is it fear turns startled reason back, From looking down a precipice so steep? "Tis dreadful; and the dread is wisely plac'd, By Nature, conscious of the make of man. A dreadful friend it is, a terror kind, A flaming sword to guard the tree of life. By that unaw'd, in life's most smiling hour, The good man would repine; would suffer joys, And burn impatient for his promis'd skies. The bad, on each punctilious pique of pride, Or gloom of humor, would give rage the rein; Bound o'er the barrier, rush into the dark, And mar the schemes of Providence below.