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We wear the chains of pleasure and of pride. And, feeling, give assent; and their assent
To thee, from blooming amaranthine bowers And both at once : a point how hard to gain! Where all the language harmony, descends But, what can't wit, when stung by strong desire? Uncall'd, and asks admittance for the Muse:
Wit dares attempt this arduous enterprise. A Muse that will not pain thee with thy prais; Since joys of sense can't rise to reason's taste; Thy praise she drops, by nobler still inspir'd In subtle sophistry's laborious forge,
o thou! Blest Spirit! whether the supreme, Wit hammers out a reason new, that stoops Great antemundane Father ! in whose breast To sordid scenes, and meets them with applause. Embryo creation, unborn being, dwelt, Wit calls the graces the chaste zone to loose; And all its various revolutions roll'd Nor less than a plump god to fill the bowl : Present, though future; prior to themselves; A thousand phantoms, and a thousand spells, Whose breath can blow it into nought again; A thousand opiates scatters, to delude,
Or, from his throne some delegated power, To fascinate, inebriate, lay asleep,
Who, studious of our peace, dost turn the thoaghe, And the fool'd mind delightfully confound. [more; From vain and vile, to solid and sublime ! Thus that which shock'd the judgment, shocks no Unseen thou lead’st me to delicious draughts That which gave pride offence, no more offends. Of inspiration, from a purer stream, Pleasure and pride, by nature mortal foes,
And fuller of the god, than that which burst At war eternal, which in man shall reign,
From fam'd Castalia : nor is yet allay'd By wit's address, patch up a fatal peace,
My sacred thirst; though long my soul has rang And hand in hand lead on the rank debauch, Through pleasing paths of moral and divine, From rank, refin’d to delicate and gay.
By thee sustain'd, and lighted by the stars Art, cursed art! wipes off th' indebted blush By them best lighted are the paths of thought From Nature's cheek, and bronzes every shame. Nights are their days, their most illumin'd hours Man siniles in ruin, glories in his guilt,
By day, the soul, o'erborne by life's career, And infamy stands candidate for praise.
Stunn'd by the din, and giddy with the glare, All writ by man in favour of the soul,
Reels far from reason, jostled by the throng. These sensual ethics far, in bulk, transcend. By day the soul is passive, all her thoughts The flowers of eloquence, profusely pour'd Impos'd, precarious, broken ere mature. O'er spotted vice, fill half the letter'd world. By night, from objects free, from passion cool, Can powers of genius exorcise their page,
Thoughts uncontrollid, and unimpressid, the birds And consecrate enormities with song?
Of pure election, arbitrary range,
Not to the limits of one world confin'd;
Let Indians, and the gay, like Indians, food
Darkness has more divinity for me; To visit being universal there,
It strikes thought inward; it drives back the soul And being's Source, that utmost flight of mind ! To settle on herself, our point supreme ! Yet, spite of this so vast circumference,
There lies our theatre ! there sits our judge. Well knows, but what is moral, nought is great. Darkness the curtain drops o'er life's dull scene; Sing syrens only? Do not angels sing?
'T is the kind hand of Providence stretch'd out There is in poesy a decent pride,
"Twixt man and vanity; 't is reason's reign, Which well becomes her when she speaks to prose, And virtue's too ; these tutelary shades Her younger sister ; haply, not more wise. Are man's asylum from the tainted throng.
Think'st thou, Lorenzo! to find pastimes here? Night is the good man's friend, and guardian too; No guilty passion blown into a flame,
It no less rescues virtue, than inspires. No foible Aatter'd, dignity disgrac'd,
Virtue, for ever frail, as fair, below, No fairy field of fiction, all on flower,
Her tender nature suffers in the crowd, No rainbow colours, here, or silken tale :
Nor touches on the world, without a stain: But solemn counsels, images of awe,
The world 's infectious ; few bring back at eve Truths, which eternity lets fall on man (spheres, Immaculate, the manners of the morn. With double weight, through these revolving Something we thought, is blotted! we resir'de This death-deep silence, and incumbent shade : Is shaken ; we renounc'd, returns again. Thoughts, such as shall revisit your last hour; Each salutation may slide in a sin Visit uncall'd, and live when life expires ;
Unthought before, or fix a former flaw. And thy dark pencil, midnight ! darker still Nor is it strange: light, motion, concours, mais, In melancholy dipt, embrowns the whole.
All, scatter us abroad; thought outward bound, Yet this, even this, my laughter-loving friends! Neglectful of our home affairs, flies off Lorenzo ! and thy brothers of the smile !
In fume and dissipation, quits her charge, If, what imports you most, can most engage, And leaves the breast unguarded to the foe. Shall steal your ear, and chain you to my song. Present example gets within our guard, Or if you fail me, know, the wise shall taste And acts with double force, by few repell’d. The truths I sing; the truths I sing shall feel ; Ambition fires ambition ; love of gain
Strikes, like a pestilence, from breast to breast ; 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, From smiling man. A slight, a single glance, But feebly futters, yet untaught to fly; And shot at random, ofter has brought home Or, flying, short her flight, and sure her fall. A sudden fever to the throbbing heart,
Our utmost strength, when down, to rise again; Of envy, rancour, or impure desire.
And not to yield, though beaten, all our praise. We see, we hear, with peril; safety dwells
'Tis vain to seek in men for more than man. Remote from multitude ; the world 's a school Though proud in promise, big in previous thought, Of wrong, and what proficients swarm around! Experience damps our triumph. I who late, We must or imitate, or disapprove ;
Emerging from the shadows of the grave, Must list as their accomplices, or foes;
Where grief detain'd me prisoner, mounting high, That stains our innocence; this wounds our peace. Threw wide the gates of everlasting day, From Nature's birth, hence, wisdom has been smit And call'd mankind to glory, shook off pain, With sweet recess, and languish'd for the shade. Mortality shook off, in ether pure,
This sacred shade, and solitude, what is it? And struck the stars; now feel my spirits fail ; 'T is the felt presence of the Deity.
They drop me from the zenith ; down I rush, Few are the faults we flatter when alone,
Like him whom fable fledg'd with waxen wings, Vice sinks in her allurements, is ungilt,
In sorrow drown'd - but not in sorrow lost. And looks, like other objects, black by night. How wretched is the man who never mourn'd! By night an atheist half-believes a Göd.
I dive for precious pearl in sorrow's stream : Night is fair virtue's immemorial triend ; Not so the thoughtless man that only grieves ; The conscious Moon, through every distant age, Takes all the torment, and rejects the gain Has held a lamp to wisdom, and let fall,
(Inestimable gain !) and gives Heaven leave On contemplation's eye, her purging ray.
To make him but more wretched, not more wise. l'he fam'd Athenian, he who woo'd from Heaven If wisdom is our lesson (and what else Philosophy the fair, to dwell with men,
Ennobles man? what else have angels learnt?) And form their manners, not inflame their pride, Grief! more proficients in thy school are made, While o'er his head, as fearful to molest
Than genius, or proud learning, e'er could boast. His labouring mind, the stars in silence slide, Voracious learning, often over-fed, And seem all gazing on their future guest,
Digests not into sense her motley meal. see him soliciting his ardent suit
This book-case, with dark booty almost burst, In private audience : all the live-long night, This forager on others' wisdom, leaves Rigid in thought, and motionless, he stands; Her native farm, her reason, quite untillid. Nor quits his theme, or posture, till the Sun With mixt manure she surfeits the rank soil, Rude drunkard rising rosy from the main!) Dung'd, but not dress'd; and rich to beggary. Disturbs his nobler intellectual beam,
A pomp untameable of weeds prevails. And gives him to the tumult of the world. (waste Her servant's wealth, encumber'd wisdom mourns. Hail, precious moments ! stol'n from the black And what says genius ? “ Let the dull be wise." Of murder'd time! Auspicious midnight ! hail ! Genius, too hard for right, can prove it wrong ; The world excluded, every passion husht,
And loves to boast, where blush men less inspir'd. And open'd a calm intercourse with Heaven, It pleads exemption from the laws of sense ; Here the soul sits in council ; ponders past, Considers reason as a leveller; Predestines future action ; sees, not feels, And scorns to share a blessing with the crowd. Tumultuous life, and reasons with the storm: That wise it could be, thinks an ample claim All her lies answers, and thinks down her charms. To glory, and to pleasure gives the rest. What aweful joy! what mental liberty !
Crassus but sleeps, Ardelio is undone. I am not pent in darkness ; rather say,
Wisdom less shudders at a fool, than wit. (If not too bold,) in darkness I'm embower'd. But wisdom smiles, when humbled mortals weep. Delightful gloom! the clustering thoughts around When sorrow wounds the breast, as ploughs the Spontaneous rise, and blossom in the shade ;
glebe, But droop by day, and sicken in the sun.
And hearts obdurate feel her softening shower ; Thought borrows light elsewhere ; from that first fire, Her seed celestial, then, glad wisdom sows; Fountain of animation ! whence descends
Her golden harvest triumphs in the soil. Urania, my celestial guest! who deigns
If so, Narcissa! welcome my Relapse ; Nightly to visit me, so mean; and now,
I'll raise a tax on my calamity, Conscious how needful discipline to man,
And reap rich compensation from my pain. From pleasing dalliance with the charms of night I'll range the plenteous intellectual field; My wandering thought recalls, to what excites And gather every thought of sovereign power Far other beat of heart! Narcissa's tomb !
To chase the moral maladies of man; Or is it feeble Nature calls me back,
Thoughts, which may bear transplanting to the skies, And breaks my spirit into grief again ?
Though natives of this coarse penurious soil : Is it a Stygian vapour in my blood ?
Nor wholly wither there, where seraphs sing, A cold, slow puddle, creeping through my veins ? Refin'd, exalted, not annull’d, in Heaven. Or is it thus with all men ? - Thus with all. Reason, the sun that gives them birth, the same What are we? How unequal! Now we soar, In either clime, though more illustrious there, And now we sink : to be the same, transcends These choicely cull’d, and elegantly rang'd, Our present prowess. Dearly pays the soul Shall form a garland for Narcissa's tomb; For lodging ill; too dearly rents her clay. And, peradventure, of no fading flowers. Reason, a baffled counsellor! but adds
Say on what themes shall puzzled choice descend ?
“ Th' importance of contemplating the tomb ; For that who thrones can offer, offer thrones; Why men decline it; suicide's foul birth;
Insolvent worlds the purchase cannot pay. The various kind of grief; the faults of age ; “ Oh let me die his death !" all Nature cries And death's dread character invite my song." “ Then live his life.” - All Nature faulters there
And, first, th' importance of our end survey'd. Our great physician daily to consult, Friends counsel quick dismission of our grief : To commune with the grave, our only cure. Mistaken kindness ! our hearts heal too soon.
What grave prescribes the best? - A friends Are they more kind than he, who struck the blow ? Who bid it do his errand in our hearts,
From a friend's grave how soon we disengage! And banish peace, till nobler guests arrive,
E'en to the dearest, as his marble, cold. And bring it back, a true and endless peace? Why are friends ravisht from us? 'T is to bind, Calamities are friends : as glaring day
By soft affection's ties, on human hearts, Of these unnumber'd lustres robs our sight; The thought of death, which reason, too supine, Prosperity puts out unnumber'd thoughts
Or misemploy'd, so rarely fastens there. Of import high, and light divine, to man.
Nor reason, nor affection, no, nor both The man how blest, who, sick of gaudy scenes, Combin'd, can break the witchcrafts of the world (Scenes apt to thrust between us and ourselves !) Behold, th' inexorable hour at hand! Is led by choice to take his favourite walk,
Behold, th' inexorable hour forgot! Beneath death's gloomy, silent, cypress shades, And to forget it, the chief aim of life, Unpierc'd by vanity's fantastic ray;
Though well to ponder it, is life's chief end. To read his monuments, to weigh his dust,
Is Death, that ever-threatening, ne'er remote, Visit his vaults, and dwell among the tombs! That all-important, and that only sure, Lorenzo ! read with me Narcissa's stone;
(Come when he will) an unexpected guest? (Narcissa was thy favourite !) let us read
Nay, though invited by the loudest calls Her moral stone! few doctors preach so well; Of blind imprudence, unexpected still? Few orators so tenderly can touch
Though numerous messengers are sent before, The feeling heart. What pathos in the date ! To warn his great arrival. What the cause, Apt words can strike: and yet in them we see The wondrous cause, of this mysterious ill? Faint images of what we, here, enjoy.
All Heaven looks down astonish'd at the sight What cause have we to build on length of life? Is it, that life has sown her joys so thick, Temptations seize, when fear is laid asleep; We can't thrust in a single care between? And ill foreboded is our strongest guard.
Is it, that life has such a swarm of cares, See from her tomb, as from an humbler shrine, The thought of death can't enter for the throng? Truth, radiant goddess ! sallies on my soul, Is it, that time steals on with downy feet, And puts Delusion's dusky train to flight; Nor wakes indulgence from her golden dream? Dispels the mists our sultry passions raise,
To-day is so like yesterday, it cheats ; From objects low, terrestrial, and obscene : We take the lying sister for the saine. And shows the real estimate of things;
Life glides away, Lorenzo! like a brook ; Which no man, unafflicted, ever saw ;
For ever changing, unperceiv'd the change. Pulls off the veil from Virtue's rising charms; In the same brook none ever bath'd him twice: Detects Temptation in a thousand lies.
To the same life none ever twice awoke. Truth bids me look on men, as autumn leaves, We call the brook the same; the same we think And all they bleed for, as the summer's dust, Our life, though still more rapid in its flow; Driven by the whirlwind : lighted by her beams, Nor mark the much, irrevocably laps'd, I widen my horizon, gain new powers,
And mingled with the sea. Or shall we say See things invisible, feel things remote,
(Retaining still the brook to bear us on) Am present with futurities ; think nought
That life is like a vessel on the stream? To man so foreign, as the joys possest ;
In life embark'd, we smoothly down the tide Nought so much his, as those beyond the grave. Of time descend, but not on time intent; No folly keeps its colour
Amus'd, unconscious of the gliding wave; Pale worldly wisdom loses all her charms ;
Till on a sudden we perceive a shock; In pompous promise, from her schemes profound, We start, awake, look out ; what see we there? If future fate she plans, 't is all in leaves,
Our brittle bark is burst on Charon's shore. Like Sibyl, unsubstantial, fleeting bliss !
Is this the cause death flies all human thought? At the first blast it vanishes in air.
Or is it judgment, by the will struck blind, Not so, celestial : wouldst thou know, Lorenzo ! That domineering mistress of the soul ! How differ worldly wisdom, and divine ?
Like him so strong, by Dalilah the fair? Just as the waning, and the waxing Moon. Or is it fear turns startled reason back, More empty worldly wisdom every day;
From looking down a precipice so steep? And every day more fair her rival shines.
'T is dreadfui ; and the dread is wisely plac'i, When later, there 's less time to play the fool. By Nature, conscious of the make of man. Soon our whole term for wisdom is expir'd : A dreadful friend it is, a terrour kind, (Thou know'st she calls no council in the grave :) A flaming sword to guard the tree of life. And everlasting fool is writ in fire,
By that unaw'd, in life's most smiling hour, Or real wisdom wafts us to the skies.
The good-man would
repine ; would suffer joys As worldly schemes resemble Sibyls' leaves, And burn impatient for his promis'd skies The good man's days to Sibyls' books compare, The bad, on each punctilious pique of pride, (In ancient story read, thou know'st the tale,) Or gloom of humour, would give rage the rein ; In price still rising, as in number less,
Bound o'er the barrier, rush into the dark, I nestimable quite his final hour.
And mar the schemes of Providence below.
What groan was that, Lorenzo ? -- Furies! rise, | Then sink again, and quiver into death, nd drown in your less execrable yell
That most pathetic herald of our own! ritannia's shame. There took her gloomy flight, How read we such sad scenes? As sent to man -'n wing impetuous, a black sullen soul,
In perfect vengeance ? No; in pity sent; lasted from Hell, with horrid lust of death, To melt him down, like wax, and then impress, hy friend, the brave, the gallant Altamont, Indelible, Death's image on his heart; o call'd, so thought - And then he fled the field. Bleeding for others, trembling for himself. ess base the fear of death, than fear of life. We bleed, we tremble, we forget, we smile. Britain, infamous for suicide !
The mind turns fool, before the cheek is dry. .n island in thy manners,
Our quick-returning folly cancels all ; rom the whole world of rationals beside!
As the tide rushing rases what is writ i ambient waves plunge thy polluted head, In yielding sands, and smooths the letter'd shore. Vash the dire stain, nor shock the continent.
Lorenzo! hast thou ever weigh'd a sigh? ut thou be shock'd, while I detect the cause Or study'd the philosophy of tears ? of self-assault, expose the monster's birth,
(A science, yet unlectur'd in our schools!) nd bid abhorrence hiss it round the world.
Hast thou descended deep into the breast, lame not thy clime, nor chide the distant Sun; And seen their source? If not, descend with me, 'he Sun is innocent, thy clime absolv'd :
And trace these briny rivulets to their springs. nmoral climes kind Nature never made.
Our funeral tears from different causes rise, he cause I sing, in Eden might prevail,
As if from separate cisterns in the soul, ind proves, it is thy folly, not thy fate.
Of various kinds, they flow. From tender hearts, The soul of man (let man in homage bow, By soft contagion call’d, some burst at once, Vho names his soul), a native of the skies ! And stream obsequious to the leading eye. ligh-born, and free, her freedom should maintain, Some ask more time, by curious art distill’d. insold, unmortgag'd for Earth's little bribes. Some hearts, in secret hard, unapt to melt, h' illustrious stranger, in this foreign land, Struck by the magic of the public eye, ike strangers, jealous of her dignity,
Like Moses' smitten rock, gush out amain. tudious of home, and ardent to return,
Some weep to share the fate of the deceas'd, of Earth suspicious, Earth's enchanted cup So high in merit, and to them so dear. Vith cool reserve light touching, should indulge They dwell on praises, which they think they share; In immortality, her godlike taste, (there. And thus, without a blush, commend themselves. There take large draughts ; make her chief banquet Some mourn, in proof, that something they could But some reject this sustenance divine ;
love : o beggarly vile appetites descend; (Heaven : They weep not to relieve their grief, but show. isk alms of Earth, for guests that came from Some weep in perfect justice to the dead, ink into slaves; and sell, for present hire,
As conscious all their love is in arrear. Their rich reversion, and (what shares its fate) Some mischievously weep, not unappris'd. Their native freedom, to the prince who sways Tears, sometimes, aid the conquest of an eye. This nether world. And when his payments fail, With what address the soft Ephesians draw Vhen his foul basket gorges them no more, Their sable net-work o'er entangled hearts ! Dr their pall'd palates loath the basket full; As seen through crystal, how their roses glow, Ire instantly, with wild demoniac rage,
While liquid pearl runs trickling down their cheek! or breaking all the chains of Providence,
Of hers not prouder Egypt's wanton queen,
And celebrate, like Charles, their own decease.
Such, Britons! is the cause, to you unknown, As deep in indiscretion, as in woe.
Or gazes like an idiot, unconcern'd;
Knows not it speaks to her, and her alone.
And full as short! The cruel grief soon tam'd, At once to shun, and meditate, his end.
They make a pastime of the stingless tale ; When by the bed of languishment we sit,
Far as the deep resounding knell they spread (The seat of wisdom ! if our choice, not fate,) The dreadful news, and hardly feel it more. Or, o'er our dying friends, in anguish hang, No grain of wisdom pays them for their woe. [cleath Wipe the cold dew, or stay the sinking head,
Half-round the globe, the tears pump'd up by Number their moments, and, in every clock, Are spent in watering vanities of life; Start at the voice of an eternity;
In making folly flourish still more fair, See the dim lamp of life just feebly lift
When the sick soul, her wonted stay withdrawn, Au agonizing beam, at us to gaze,
Reclines on earth, and sorrows in the dust;
Instead of learning, there, her true support, Ask thought for joy; grow rich, and hoard stir de
That wish is praise, and promise ; it applauda Presents her weed, well fancied, at the ball, Past life, and promises our future bliss. And raffles for the death's head on the ring.
What weakness see not children in their sires? So wept Aurelia, till the destin'd youth
Grand-climacterical absurdities! Stepp'd in, with his receipt for making smiles, Gray-hair'd authority, to faults of youth, And blanching sables into bridal bloom.
How shocking! it makes folly thrice a fool; So wept Lorenzo fair Clarissa's fate;
And our first childhood might our last despise it Who gave that angel boy, on whom he dotes; Peace and esteem is all that age can hope. And died to give him, orphan'd in his birth! Nothing but wisdom gives the first; the last, Not such, Narcissa, my distress for thee.
Nothing, but the repute of being uise. I'll make an altar of thy sacred tomb,
Folly bars both; our age is quite undone. To sacrifice to wisdom. What wast thou ?
What folly can be ranker? Like our shadows “ Young, gay, and fortunate !" Each yields a theme. Our wishes lengthen, as our sun declines
. I'll dwell on each, to shun thought more severe ; No wish should loiter, then, this side the grave (Heaven knows I labour with severer still!) Our hearts should leave the world, before the line I'll dwell on each, and quite exhaust thy death. Calls for our carcasses to mend the soil. A soul without reflection, like a pile
Enough to live in tempest, die in port; Without inhabitant, to ruin runs.
Age should fly concourse, cover in retreat And, first, thy youth. What says it to gray hairs ? Defects of judgment, and the will subdue ; Narcissa, I'm become thy pupil now
Walk thoughtful on the silent, solemn shore Early, bright, transient, chaste, as morning dew, Of that vast ocean it must sail so soon ; She sparkled, was exhal'd, and went to Heaven. And put good-works on board ; and wait the wind Time on this head has snow'd ; yet still 't is borne That shortly blows us into worlds unknown; Aloft; nor thinks but on another's
If unconsider'd too, a dreadful scene ! Cover'd with shame I speak it, age severe
All should be prophets to themselves ; forume Old worn-out vice sets down for virtue fair ; Their future fate; their future fate foretaste; With graceless gravity, chastising youth,
This art would waste the bitterness of death. That youth chastis'd surpassing in a fault.
The thought of death alone, the fear destroys Father of all, forgetfulness of death :
A disaffection to that precious thought As if, like objects passing on the sight,
Is more than midnight darkness on the soul
, Death had advanc'à too near us to be seen :
Which sleeps beneath it, on a precipice,
By repetition hammer'd on thine ear, Deathless ? far from it! such are dead already ; The thought of death? That thought is the machine, Their hearts are buried, and the world their grave. The grand machine ! that heaves us from the dust
, Tell me, some god ! my guardian angel! tell, And rears us into men. That thought
, plied bei What thus infatuates ? what enchantment plants Will soon reduce the ghastly precipice The phantom of an age, 'twixt us and death O'er-hanging Hell, will soften the descent, Already at the door? He knocks, we hear,
And gently slope our passage to the grave;
Beyond the blackest brand of censure bold,
Aid me, Narcissa! aid me to keep pace
Must I then forward only look for Death?
Backward I turn mine eye, and find him there.
Man, like a stream, is in perpetual flow.