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JAMES BEATTIE. 1735–1803.
THE MINSTREL; OR, THE PROGRESS OF GENIUS. AA! who can tell how hard it is to climb The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar; Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime Has felt the influence of malignant star, And waged with Fortune an eternal war ; Chec'k by the scoff of Pride, by Envy's frown, And Poverty's unconquerable bar, In life's low vale remote has pined alone, Then dropp'd into the grave, unpitied and unknown! And yet the languor of inglorious days Not equally oppressive is to all ; Him who ne'er listen’d to the voice of praise, The silence of neglect can ne'er appal. There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call, Would shrink to hear th' obstreperous trump of
His waving locks and beard all hoary gray : While from his bending shoulder decent hung His harp, the sole companion of his way, Which to the whistling wind responsive rung; And ever, as he went, some merry lay he sung. Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride, That a poor villager inspires my strain; With thee let Pageantry and Power abide : The gentle Muses haunt the sylvan reign; Where, through wild groves at eve the lonely swain Enraptured roams, to gaze on Nature's charms. They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain, The parasite their influence never warms, Nor him whose sordid soul the love of gold alarms. Though richest hues the peacock's plumes adorn, Yet horror screams from his discordant throat. · Rise, sons of Harmony, and hail the morn, While warbling larks on russet pinions float: Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote, Where the gray linnets carol from the hill. Oh, let them ne'er, with artificial note, To please a tyrant, strain the little bill, But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where
they will. Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand; Nor was perfection made for man below. Yet all her schemes with nicest art are plann'd, Good counteracting ill, and gladness wo. With gold and gems if Chilian mountains glowIf bleak and barren Scotia's hills ariseThere plague and poison, lust and rapine grow; Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies, And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes. Then grieve not thou, to whom th' indulgent Muse Vouchsafes a portion of celestial fire : Nor blame the partial Fates if they refuse Th' imperial banquet and the rich attire.
Know thine own worth, and reverence the lyre.