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With prominent wens globose-till at the last
The rottenness, which time is charg'd to inflict
On other mighty ones, found also thee.
What exhibitions various hath the world
Witness'd of mutability in all
That we account most durable below!
Change is the diet on which all subsist,
Created changeable, and change at last
Destroys them. Skies uncertain pow the heat
Transmitting cloudless, and the solar beam
Now quenching in a boundless sea of clouds
Calm and alternate storm, moisture and drought,
Invigorate by turns the springs of life
In all that live, plant, animal, and man,
And in conclusion mar them. Nature's threads,
Fine passing thought, e'en in her coarsest works,
Delight in agitation, yet sustain
The force that agitates not unimpair’d;
But, worn by frequent impulse, to the cause
Of their best tone their dissolution owe.
Thought cannot spend itself, comparing still The great and little of thy lot, thy growth From almost nullity into a state Of matchless grandeur, and declension thence, Slow, into such magnificent decay. Time was, when, settling on thy leaf, a-fly Could shake thee to the root--and time has been When tempests could not. At thy firmest age Thou hadet within thy bole solid contents That might have ribb'd the sides and plank'd the deck
Of some flagg’d admiral; and tortuous arms,
The shipwright's darling treasure, didst present
To the four-quarter'd winds, robust and bold,
Warp'd into tough knee-timber, many a load!
But the ax spar'd thee. In those thriftier days
Oaks fell not, héwn by thousands, to supply
The bottomless demands of contest wag'd
For senatorial honours. Thus to Time
The task was left to whittle thee away
With his sly scythe, whose ever-nibbling edge,
Noiseless, an atom, and an átom more,
Disjoining from the rest, has, unobserv'd,
Achiev'd a labour which had, far and wide,
By man perform'd, made all the forest ring.
Embowell'd now, and of thy ancient self
Possessing nought but the scoop'd rind that seems
An huge throat calling to the clouds for drink,
Which it would give in rivulets to thy root,
Thou tèmptest none, but rathér much forbidd'st
The feller's toil, which thou couldst ill requite.
Yet is thy root sincere, sound as the rock,
A quarry of stout spurs and knotted fangs,
Which, crook'd into a thousand whimsies, clasp
The stubborn soil, and hold thee still erect.
So stands a kingdom, whose foundation yet . Fails not, in virtue and in wisdom laid, Though all the superstructure, by the tooth Pulveriz'd of venality, a shell Stands now, and semblance only of itself!
Thine arms have left thee. Winds have rent
them off Long since, and rovers of the forest wild With bow and shaft, have burnt them. Some have
A splinter'd stump bleach'd to a snowy white;
And some, memorial none where once they grew. s
Yet life still lingers in thee, and puts forth
Proof not contemptible of what she can,
Even where death predominates. The Spring
Finds thee not less alive to her sweet force
Than yonder upstarts of the neighb’ring wood,
So much thy juniors, who their birth receiv'd
Half a millennium since the date of thine.
But since, although well qualified by age
To teach, no spirit dwells in thee, nor voice
May be expected from thee, seated here
On thy distorted root, with hearers none,
Or prompter, save the scene, I will perform
Myself the oracle, and will discourse
In my own car such matter as I may.
One man alone, the father of us all,
Drew not his life from woman; never gaz'd, .
With mute unconsciousness of what he saw, .
On all around him; learn'd not by degrees, .
Nor ow'd articulation to his ear; .
But, moulded by his Maker into man
At once, upstood intelligent, survey'd .
All creatures, with precision understood
Their purport, uses, properties, assign'd
To each his name significant, and, fill’d.
With love and wisdom, render'd back to Heav'n
In praise harmonious the first air. he drew.
He was excus'd the penalties of dull
Minority. No tutor charg'd his hand
With the thought-tracing quill, or task'd his mind
With problems. History, not wanted yet,
Lean'd.on her elbow, watching Time, whose course,
Eventful, should supply her with a theme; ....
The twentieth year is well nigh past,
Since first our sky was overcast;
Ah would that this might be the last!
Thy spirits have a fainter flow,
I see thee daily weaker grow
'Twas my distress that brought thee, low,
Thy needles, once a shining store,
For my sake restless heretofore,
Now rust.disus'd, and shine no more ;
For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil
The same kind office for me still,
Thy sight now seconds not thy will,
But well thou play'dst the housewife's part,
And all thy threads with magic art
Have wound themselves about this heart,
Thy indistinct expressions seem
Like language utter'd in a dream;
Yet me they charm, whate'er the theme,
.... My Mary!
Thy silver locks, once auburn bright,
Are still more lovely in my sight
Than golden beams of orient light,
For, could I view nor them nor thee,
What sight worth seeing could I see?
The sun would rise in vain for me,
Partakers of thy sad decline, .
Thy hands their little force resign;
Yet gently prest, press gently mine,