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OTHOU, whose word from solid darkness struck
That spark, the fun ; strike wisdom from my soul;
My soul, which flies to Thee, her truít, her treasure,
As misers to their gold, while others relt.
Thro' this opaque of Nature, and of Soul,
This double night, transmit one pitying ray,
To ligliten, and to chear. O lead my mind,
(A mind that fain would wander from its woe)
Lead it thro’ various scenes of Life and Death ;
And from each scene, the nobleft truths inspire.
Nor less inspire my Conduct, than my Song ;
my best reason, reason; my best will
Teach rectitude ; and fix my firm resolve
Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear:
Nor let the phial of thy vengeance, pour'd
On this devoted head, be pour'd in vain.
The bell strikes One. We take no note of time,
But from its loss. To give it then a tongue,
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,
I feel the solemn found. 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
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 paffing wonder HE, who made him fuch?
Who centred in our make such strange extremes ?
From diff'rent natures marvelously mixt,
Connexion exquisite of distant worlds !
Distinguisht link in being's endless chain !
Midway from Nothing to the Deity!
A beam ethereal, 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!
Flelpless immortal! infect infinite ! | !
A worm! a god . I tremble at myself,
And in myself am loft! at home a stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surpriz'd, aghaft,
And wond’ring at her own: How reason reels ?
O what a miracle to man is man,
Triumphantly diftress'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 past conjecture ; all things rise in proof:
While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread,
What tho' my soul phantastic measures trod
O'er fairy fields ; or mourn'd along the gloom
Of pathless woods; or down the craggy steep
Hurl'd headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool ;
Or scald 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 essence than the trodden clod;
Active, aëreal, 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 fleep instructs, nor sport vain dreams in vain.
Why then their loss deplore, that are not loft?
Why wanders wretched thought their tombs around,
In infidel distress ? Are Ingels there?
Slumbers, rak'd up in dust, ethereal 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 juftly number'd with the dead.
This is the defait, this the folitude :
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 Substance; the reverse is folly's creed :
How folid 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 fhut, and death,
Strong death, alone can heave the maffy bar,
This gross impediment of clay remove,
And make us embryos of existence free.
From real life, but little more remote
Is be, not yet a candidate for light,
The future embryo, Numb'ring in his fire.
Embryos we must be, till we burft the shell,
Yon ambient azure Shell, and spring to life,
The life of gods, O transport ! and of man.
Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts ;
Interrs celestial hopes without one figh.
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 joys ambrofial clust'ring glow,
In HI S 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 fight of threescore years,
To push eternity from human thought,
And smother souls immortal in the dust?
A foul immortal, spending all her fires,
Wasting her strength in ftrenuous idleness,
Thrown into tumult, raptur’d, or alarm'd,
At aught 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 grov'ling soul ! How, like a worm, was I wrapt round and round
In filken thought, which reptile Fancy spun,
Till darken'd Reafon 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 impoffible? (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 redless iron tongue:
Calls daily for his millions at a meal,
Starting I woke, and found myself undone.
Where now my phrenzy's pompous furniture
The cobweb'd cottage, with its ragged wall
Of mould'ring mud, is rayalty to me!
The Spider's most attenuated thread
Je cord, is cable, to man's tender tie
On earthly bliss ; it breaks at every breeze.
Oye blest scenes of permanent delight!
Full, above measure ! lasting, beyond bound 1:
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 whoss giddy dance