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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 Autters, yet untaught to fly; And shot at random, often 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, rancor, or impure desire.
And not to yield, though bealen, 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; 'Tis 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 God.
I dive for precious pearl in sorrow's stream: Night is fair virtue's immemorial friend; 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. The 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 laboring 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 livelong night, This forager on others' wisdom, leaves Rigid in thought, and motionless, he stands; Her native farm, her reason, quite untill’d. 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 dressid ; and rich to beggary. Disturbs his nobler intellectual beam,
A pomp untamable of weeds prevails. And gives him to the tumult of the world. Her servant's wealth, encumber'd wisdom mourns. Hail, precious moments! stol'n from the black waste 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 ; sces, 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 awful 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 plows 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 vapor 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 rangd, 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 descond ?
Th'importance of contemplating the tomb;
And, first, th' importance of our end survey d.
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 hy 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 10 Sibyls' books compare, (In ancient story read, thou know'st the tale,) In price still rising, as in number lens, Inestimable quite his final hour.
From a friend's grave how soon we disengage!
Is Death, that ever-threatening, ne'er remote,
(Come when he will) an unexpected guest ?
Is it, that life has sown her joys so thick,
That life is like a vessel on the stream ?
Is this the cause death flies all human thought!
What groan was that, Lorenzo ?-Furies! rise, Then sink again, and quiver into death, And drown in your less execrable yell
That most pathetic herald of our own! Britannia's shame. There took her gloomy flight, How read we such sad scenes? As sent to man On wing impetuous, a black sullen soul,
In perfect vengeance? No; in pity sent; Blasted from Hell, with horrid lust of death. To melt him down, like wax, and then impress, Thy friend, the brave, the gallant Altamont, Indelible, Death's image on his heart; So call'd, so thought-And then he fled the field. Bleeding for others, trembling for himself. Less base the fear of death, than fear of life. We bleed, we tremble, we forget, we smile. O Britain, infamous for suicide!
The mind turns fool, before the cheek is dry. An island in thy manners, far disjoin'd
Our quick-returning folly cancels all; From the whole world of rationals beside! As the tide rushing rases what is writ In ambient waves plunge thy polluted head, In yielding sands, and smoothes the letter'd shore. Wash the dire stain, nor shock the continent. Lorenzo! hast thou ever weigh'd a sigh? But thou be shock'd, while I detect the cause Or studied the philosophy of tears? Of self-assault, expose the monster's birth,
(A science, yet unlectur'd in our schools !) And bid abhorrence hiss it round the world. Hast thou descended deep into the breast, Blame not thy clime, nor chide the distant Sun; And seen their source? If not, descend with me, The Sun is innocent, thy clime absolv'd:
And trace these briny rivulets to their springs. Immortal climes kind Nature never made.
Our funeral tears from different causes rise, The cause I sing, in Eden might prevail,
As if from separate cisterns in the soul, And 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, Who names his soul,) a native of the skies! And stream obsequious to the leading eye. High-born, and free, her freedom should maintain, Some ask more time, by curious art distillid. Unsold, unmortgag'd for Earth's little bribes. Some hearts, in secret hard, unapt to melt, Th' illustrious stranger, in this foreign land, Struck by the magic of the public eye, Like strangers, jealous of her dignity,
Like Moses' smitten rock, gush out amain. Studious 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. With cool reserve light touching, should indulge They dwell on praises, which they think they share, On 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 : To beggarly vile appetites descend;
They weep not to relieve their grief, but show. Ask alms of Earth, for guests that came from Heaven: Some weep in perfect justice to the dead, Sink 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 unappriz'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 When his foul basket gorges them no more, Their sable net-work o'er entangled hearts ! Or their pallid palates lothe the basket full ; As seen through crystal, how their roses glow, Are instantly, with wild demoniac rage,
While liquid pearl runs trickling down their cheek! For breaking all the chains of Providence, Of hers not prouder Egypt's wanton queen, And bursting their confinement; though fast barr'd Carousing gems, herself dissolv'd in love. By laws divine and human; guarded strong Some weep at death, abstracted from the dead, With horrors doubled to defend the pass,
And celebrate, like Charles, their own decease. The blackest, nature, or dire guilt can raise ; By kind construction some are deem'd to weep, And moated round with fathomless destruction, Because a decent veil conceals their joy. Sure to receive, and whelm them in their fall. Some weep in earnest, and yet weep in vain;
Such, Britons! is the cause, to you unknown, As deep in indiscretion, as in woe.
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. Wipe the cold dew, or stay the sinking head, Half-round the globe, the tears pump'd up by death 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, An 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 within.
That wish is praise, and promise; it applauds
How shocking! it makes folly thrice a fool, So wept Lorenzo fair Clarissa's fate ;
And our first childhood might our last despise. 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 wise. 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 labor with severer still!)
Our hearts should leave the world, before the knel 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 grey 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 'tis borne That shortly blows us into worlds unknown; Aloft; nor thinks but on another's grave.
If unconsider'd too, a dreadful scene! Cover'd with shame I speak it, age severe
All should be prophets to themselves; foresee 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 inore than midnight darkness on the soul, Death had advanc'd too near us to be seen: Which sleeps beneath it, on a precipice, Or, that life's loan time ripen'd into right; Puff'd off by the first blast, and lost for ever. And men might plead prescription from the grave; Dost ask, Lorenzo, why so warmly prest, Deathless, from repetition of reprieve.
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 home, 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; And yet we will not hear. What mail defends How warmly to be wish'd! What heart of flesh Our untouch'd hearts? What miracle turns off Would trifle with tremendous ? dare extremes ? The pointed thought, which from a thousand quivers Yawn o'er the fate of infinite ? What hand, Is daily darted, and is daily shunn'd?
Beyond the blackest brand of censure bold, We stand, as in a battle, throngs on throngs (To speak a language too well known to thee) Around us falling; wounded oft ourselves; Would at a moment give its all to chance, Though bleeding with our wounds, immortal still ! And stamp the die for an eternity? We see Time's furrows on another's brow,
Aid me, Narcissa, aid me to keep pace And Death intrench'd, preparing his assault. With Destiny; and ere her scissars cut How few themselves in that just mirror see! My thread of life, to break this tougher thread Or, seeing, draw their inference as strong!
Of moral death, that ties me to the world. There death is certain ; doubtful here: he musi, Sting thou my slumbering reason to send forth And soon; we may, within an age, expire. [green; A thought of observation on the foe; Though grey our heads, our thoughts and aims are To sally; and survey the rapid march Like damag'd clocks, whose hand and bell dissent; Of his ten thousand messengers to man; Folly sings six, while Nature points at twelve. Who, Jehu-like, behind him turns them all.
Absurd longevity! More, more, it cries : All accident apart, by Nature sign’d, More life, more wealth, more trash of every kind. My warrant is gone out, though dormant yet ; And wherefore mad for more, when relish fails? Perhaps behind one moment lurks my fate. Object, and appetite, must club for joy ;
Must I then forward only look for Death? Shall folly labor hard to mend the bow,
Backward I turn mine eye, and find him there Baubles, I mean, that strike us from without, Man is a self-survivor every year. While Nature is relaxing every string?
Man, like a stream, is in perpetual flow
Death 's a destroyer of quotidian prey.
And opens more the character of death;
Give Death his due, the wretched, and the old ; Each moment on the former shuts the grave. E'en let him sweep his rubbish to the grave; While man is growing, life is in decrease ;
Let him not violate kind Nature's laws, And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
But own man born to live as well as die." Our birth is nothing but our death begun;
Wretched and old thou giv'st him; young
gay As tapers waste that instant they take fire. He takes; and plunder is a tyrant's
Shall we then fear, lest that should come to pass, What if I prove, “ That furthest from the fear, Which comes to pass each moment of our lives? Are often nearest to the stroke of fate ?" If fear we must, let that death turn us pale,
All more than common, menaces an end.
As Nature's opposites wage endless war,
Death took swift vengeance. As he life detests, A brother tomb to tell you ye shall die.
More life is still more odious; and, reduc'd That death you dread (so great is Nature's skill!) By conquest, aggrandizes more his power. Know, you shall court before you shall enjoy. But wherefore aggrandiz’d ? By Heaven's decree,
But you are learn'd; in volumes, deep you sit ; To plant the soul on her eternal guard, In wisdom, shallow : pompous ignorance !
In awful expectation of our end. Would you be suill more learned than the learn'd ? Thus runs Death's dread commission: “ Strike, but so Learn well to know how much need not be known, As most alarms the living by the dead." And what that knowledge, which impairs your sense. Hence stratagem delights him, and surprise, Our needful knowledge, like our needful food, And cruel sport with man's securities. Unhedg’d, lies open in life's common field; Not simple conquest, triumph is his aim : And bids all welcome to the vital feast.
And, where least fear'd, there conquest triumphs most. You scorn what lies before you in the page This proves my bold assertion not 100 bold. Of Nature, and Experience, moral truth :
What are his arts to lay our fears asleep? Of indispensable, eternal fruit;
Tiberian arts his purposes wrap up Fruit, on which mortals feeding, turn to gods : In deep dissimulation's darkest night. And dive in science for distinguish'd names, Like princes unconfest in foreign courts, Dishonest fomentation of your pride!
Who travel under cover, Death assumes Sinking in virtue, as you rise in fame.
The name and look of life, and dwells arnong us.
Like Nero, he's a fiddler, charioteer,
He most affects the forms least like himself, Together shook in his impartial urn,
His slender self. Hence burly corpulence Come forth at random : or, if choice is made, Is his familiar wear, and sleek disguise. The choice is quite sarcastic, and insults
Behind the rosy bloom he loves to lurk, All bold conjecture, and fond hopes of man. Or ambush in a smile; or wanton dive What countless multiudes not only leave,
In dimples deep; love's eddies, which draw in But deeply disappoint us, by their deaths ! Unwary hearts, and sink them in despair. Though great our sorrow, greater our surprise. Such, on Narcissa's couch he loiter'd long
Like other tyrants, Dealh delights to smite, Unknown; and, when detected, still was seen What, smitten, most proclaims the pride of power, To smile ; such peace has innocence in death! And arbitrary nod. His joy supreme,
Most happy they! whom least his arts deceive. To bid the wretch survive the fortunate ;
One eye on Death, and one full fix'd on Heaven, The feeble wrap th' athletic in his shroud;
Becomes a mortal, and immortal man.
If 'twas a dream, his genius can explain.
'Twas in a circle of the gay I stood. O how misdated on their flattering tombs !
Death would have enter'd; Nature push'd him back,
His point he gain'd. Then artfully dismist
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