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The Bell strikes One. We take no Note of Time,
But from its Loss. To give it then a Tongue,
Is wife in Man. As if an Angel spoke,
I feel the folemn Sound. If heard aright,
It is the Knell of my departed Hours :
Where are they? With the Years beyond the Flood.
It is the Signal that demands Dispatch ;
How much is to be done ? my Hopes and Fears
Start up alarm’d, and o’er Life's narrow Verge
Look down-on what? A fathomless Abyss ;
A dread Eternity! how surely mine!
And can Eternity belong to me,
Poor Pensioner on the Bounties of an Hour ?
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful, is Man?
How passing wonder HE, who made him such ?
Who centred in our Make such strange Extremes ?
From diff'rent Natures marvelously mixt,
Connection exquisite of distant Worlds !
Distinguisht Link in Being's endless Chain !
Midway from Nothing to the Deity!
A Beam etherial fully'd, and absorpt!
Tho' fully'd, and dishonour'd, ftill Divine !
Dim Miniature of Greatness absolute !
An Heir of Glory! a frail Child of Duft!
Helpless Immortal ! Insect infinite!
A Worm! a God! I tremble at myself,
And in myself am loft! At home a Stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surpris'd, aghaft,
And wond'ring at her own: How Reason reels !
O what a Miracle to Man is Man,
Triumphantly distress'd! what Joy, what Dread!
Alternately transported, and alarm’d!
What can preserve my Life? or what destroy ?
An Angel's Arm can't snatch me from the Grave;
Legions of Angels can't confine me There.
"Tis paft Conjecture; all things rise in Proof:
While o'er my Limbs Sleep's foft Dominion spread,
What, tho' my Soul phantastic Measures trod
O'er Fairy Fields; or mourn'd along the Gloom
Of pathlefs Woods; or down the craggy Steep
Huri'd headlong, swam with Pain the mantled Pool;
Or scal'd the Cliff; or danc'd on hollow Winds,
With antic Shapes, wild Natives of the Brain?
Her ceaseless Flight, tho' devious, speaks her Nature
Of subtler Effence than the trodden Clod;
Active, aerial, tow'ring, unconfin'd,
Unfetter'd with her gross Companion's Fall.
Ev'n filent Night proclaims my Soul immortal:
Ev'n filent Night proclaims eternal Day.
For human Weal, Heav'n husbands all Events,
Dull Sleep instructs, nor sport vain Dreams in vain.
Why then their Loss deplore, that are not lost?
Why wanders wretched Thought their Tombs around,
In infidel Distress ? Are Angels there?
Slumbers, rak'd up in duft, Etherial Fire ?
They live! they greatly live a Life on Earth
Unkindled, unconceiv'd ; and from an Eye
Of Tenderness, let heav'nly Pity fall
On me, more justly number'd with the Dead.
This is the Desart, this the Solitude:
How populous ! how vital, is the Grave!
This is Creation's melancholy Vault,
The Vale funereal, the fad Cypress Gloom;
The Land of Apparitions, empty Shades !
All, all on Earth is Shadow, all beyond
Is Subfiance ; the Reverse is Folly's Creed:
How solid all, where Change shall be no more ?
This is the Bud of Being, the dim Dawn,
The Twilight of our Day, the Vestibule.
Life's Theatre as yet is fut, and Death,
Strong Death, alone can heave the maffy Bar,
This grofs Impediment of Clay remove,
And make us Embryos of Existence free.
From real Life, but little more remote
Is He, not yet a Candidate for Light,
The future Embryo, flumb'ring in his Sire.
Embryos we muft be, till we burst the Shell,
Yon ambient, azure Shell, and spring to Life,
The Life of Gods: 0 Transport! and of Man
Yet Man, fool Man! bere buries all his Thoughts
Interrs celestial Hopes without one Sigh.
Pris'ner of Earth, and pent beneath the Moon,
Here pinions all his Wishes; wing'd by Heav'n
To fly at Infinite; and reach it there,
Where Seraphs gather Immortality,
On Life's fair Tree, fast by the Throne of God.
What golden Soys ambrofial clust'ring glow,
In HIS full Beam, and ripen for the Just,
Where momentary Ages are no more!
Where Time, and Pain, and Chance, and Death expire!
And is it in the Flight of threescore Years,
To push Eternity from human Thought,
And smother Souls immortal in the Duft:
A Soul immortal, spending all her Fires,
Wasting her Strength in ftrenuous Idleness,
Thrown into Tumult, raptur'd, or alarm'd,
At ought this Scene can threaten, or indulge,
Resembles Ocean into Tempest wrought,
To waft a Feather, or to drown a Fly.
Where falls this Censure? It o'erwhelms myself.
How was my Heart incrusted by the World !
O how self-fetter'd was my groveling Soul !
How, like a Worm, was I wrapt round and round
In filken Thought, which reptile Fancy spun,
Till darken'd Reason lay quite clouded o’er
With soft Conceit of endless Comfort here,
Nor yet put forth her Wings to reach the Skies !
Night-visions may befriend (as sung above) :
Our waking Dreams are fatal, How I dreamt
Of things Impoflible? (Could Sleep do more?)
Of Joys perpetual in perpetual Change?
Of stable Pleasures on the tosling Wave ?
Eternal Sunshine in the Storms of Life?
How richly were my noon-tide Trances hung
With gorgeous Tapestries of pictur'd Joys?
Joy behind Joy, in endless Perspective!
Till at Death's Toll, whose restless Iron Tongue
Calls daily for his Millions at a Meal,
Starting I woke, and found myself undone.
Where now my Frenzy's pompous Furniture ?
The cobweb'd Cottage, with its ragged Wall
Of mould'ring Mud, is Royalty to me!
The Spider's most attenuated Thread
Is Cord, is Cable, to Man's tender Tie
On earthly Bliss; it breaks at ev'ry Breeze.
Oye blest Scenes of permanent Delight!
Full, above measure! lafting, beyond Bound !
A Perpetuity of Bliss, is Bliss.
Could you, so rich in Rapture, fear an End,
That ghaftly Thought would drink up all your Joy,
And quite unparadise the Realms of Light.
Safe are you lodg'd above these rolling Spheres ;
The baleful Influence of whose giddy Dance
Sheds fad Viciffitude on all beneath.
Here teems the Revolutions ev'ry Hour ;
And rarely for the better ; or the best,
More mortal than the common Births of Fate.
Each Moment has its Sickle, emulous
Of Time's enormous Scythe, whose ample Sweep
Strikes Empires from the Root; each Moment plays
His little Weapon in the narrower Sphere
Of sweet domeftic Comfort, and cuts down
The faireft Bloom of sublunary Bliss.
Bliss ! sublunary Bliss !--Proud Words, and vain!
Implicit Treason to divine Decree !
A bold Invasion of the Rights of Heav'n!
I clasp'd the Phantoms, and I found them Air.
O had I weigh'd it ere my fond Embrace !
What Darts of Agony had miss’d my Heart!
Death! Great Proprietor of All ! 'tis thine
To tread out Empire, and to quench the Stars.
The Sun himself by thy Permission fhines;
And, one Day, thou shalt pluck him from his Sphere,
Amid such mighty Plunder, why exhaust
Thy partial Quiver on a Mark so mean?
Why thy peculiar Rancour wreck'd on me?
Insatiate Archer! could not one One suffice ?
Thy Shaft flew thrice; and thrice my Peace was slain;
And thrice, ere thrice yon Moon had fill'd her Horn.
O Cynthia! why so pale? Doft thou lament
Thy wretched Neighbour? Grieve to see thy Wheel
Of ceaseless Change outwhirld in human Life?
How wanes my borrow'd Bliss ! from Fortune's Smile,
Precarious Courtesy ! not Virtue's sure,
Self-given, solar, Ray of found Delight.
In ev'ry vary'd Posture, Place, and Hour,
How widow'd ev'ry Thought of ev'ry Joy!
Thought, busy Thought ! too busy for my Peace!
Thro' the dark Poftern of Time long elaps’d,
Led softly, by the Stilness of the Night,
Led, like a Murderer, (and such it proves !
Strays, (wretched Rover !) o'er the pleasing Paft;
In queft of Wretchedness perversely ftrays;
And finds all desart now; and meets the Ghosts
Of my departed Joys; a num'rous Train!
I rue the Riches of
Sweet Comfort's blasted Clusters I lament;
I tremble at the Blessings once so dear ;
And ev'ry Pleasure pains me to the Heart.
Yet why complain? or why complain for One ?
Hangs out the Sun his Luftre but for me,
The single Man ? Are Angels all beside ?
I mourn for Millions : 'Tis the common Lot;
In this Shape, or in that, has Fate entaild