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Maria claims it from that sable bier,
Where cold and wan the slumberer rests her head; In still small whispers to reftection's ear
She breathes the solemn dictates of the dead. O catch the awful notes, and lift them loud!
Proclaim the theme by sage, by fool, rever'd; Hear it, ye young, ye vain, ye great, ye proud!
'Tis Nature speaks, and Nature will be heard. Yes; ye shall hear, and tremble as ye hear,
While high with health, your hearts exulting leap; E'en in the midst of pleasure's mad career,
The mental monitor shall wake and weep! For say, than Coventry's propitious star,
What brighter planet on your births arose ? Or gave of fortune's gifts an ampler share,
In life to lavish, or by death to lose? Early to lose! While, borne on busy wing,
Ye sip the nectar of each varying bloom ; Nor fear, while basking in the means of spring,
The wint'ry storm that sweeps you to the tomb; Think of her fate! revere the heavenly hand
That led her hence, tho' soon by steps so slow; Long at her couch Death took his patient stand,
And menac'd oft, and oft withheld the blow : To give reflection time, with lenient art
Each fond delusion from her soul to steal; Teach her from folly peaceably to part,
And wean her from a world she lov'd so well Say, are ye sure his mercy shall extend
To you so long a span? Alas, ye sigh ! Make then, while yet ye may, your God your friend,
And learn with equal ease to sleep or die ! Nor think the Muse, whose sober voice ye hear,
Contracts with bigot frown her sullen brow: Casts round religion's orb the mists of fear,
Or shades with horrors what with smiles should glow,
No-she would warm you with seraphic fire,
Heirs as ye are of heaven's eternal day; Would bid you boldly to that heaven aspire,
Not sink and slumber in your cells of clay.
In yon etherial founts of bliss to lave:
The sting from death, the victory from the grave! Is this the bigot's rant? Away, ye vain,
Your hopes, your fears, in doubt in dulness steep; Go sooth your souls, in sickness, grief, or pain,
With the sad solace of eternal sleep! Yet will I praise you, triflers as ye are,
More than those preachers of your fav'rite creed, Who proudly swell the brazen throat of war,
Who form the phalanx, bid the battle bleed, Nor wish for more; who conquer but to die.
Hear, Folly, hear, and triumph in the tale! Like you they reason, not like you enjoy
The breeze of bliss that fills your silken sail ! On pleasure's glittering stream ye gaily steer
Your little course to cold oblivion's shore; Then dare the storm, and thro' th' inclement year
Stem the rough surge, and brave the torrent's roar. Is it for glory? That just fate denies;
Long must the warrior moulder in his shroud, Ere from her trump the heaven-breath'd accents rise,
That lift the hero from the fighting crowd! Is it his grasp of empire to extend ?
To curb the fury of insulting foes? Ambition, cease! the idle contest end :
'Tis but a kingdom thou canst win or lose. And why must murder'd myriads lose their all,
(If life be all,) why desolation lower With famish'd frown on this affrighted ball,
That thou may'st flame the meteor of an hour?
Go, wiser ye, that flutter life away,
Crown with the mantling juice the goblet high! Weave the light dance with festive freedom gay,
And live your moment, since the next ye die !
Yet know, vain sceptics ! know, the Almighty Mind
Who breath'd on man a portion of his fire, Bade his free soul, by earth nor time confin'd,
To heaven, to immortality aspire.
Nor shall the pile of hope his mercy rear'd
By vain philosophy be e'er destroy'd : Eternity, by all or wish'd or fear'd,
Shall be by all or suffer'd or enjoy'd !
Note. In a book of French verses, intitled, Oeuvres du Philosophe de Sans Souci, and lately reprinted at Berlin by authority, under the title of Poesies Diverses, may be found an Epistle to Marshal Keith, written professedly against the immortality of the soul. By way of specimen of the whole, take the following lines :
De l'avenir, cher Keith, jugeons par le passe :
It is to this Epistle that the latter part of the Elegy alludes.
FROM PSALM 148.
BEGIN, my soul, the exalted lay !
Let each epraptured thought obey,
And praise the Almighty's name. Lo I heaven and earth, and seas and skies, In one melodious concert rise,
To swell the inspiring theme.
Ye fields of light, celestial plains,
Ye scenes divinely fair !
And breath'd the fluid air.
Ye angels, catch the thrilling sound !
His boundless mercy sing:
And touch the sweetest string.
Join, ye loud spheres, the vocal choir;
The mighty chorus aid :
And praise him in the shade.
Thou heaven, of heavens, his vast abode,
Who call'd yon worlds from night:
And nature sprung to light.
United praise bestow :
Ye swelling deeps below.
Let every element rejoice:
To him who bids you roll;
And breath it to the soul.
To him, ye graceful cedars, bow;
Your great Creator own;
And trembled at his frown.
Ye flocks, that haunt the humble vale,
In mutual concourse rise :
In incense to the skies.
Wake, all ye mounting tribes, and sing;
Harmonious anthems raise
And tun'd your voice to praise.