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Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.
Of man's miraculous mistakes this bears
The palm, ' That all men are about to live,'
For ever on the brink of being born:
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They one day shall not drivel, and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise ;
At least their own; their future selves applauds,
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
Time lodg'd in their own hands is Folly's vails;
That lodg'd in Fate's to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone.
Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage. When young, indeed,
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,
Unapxious for ourselves, and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve ;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.
And why? because he thinks himself immortal. All men think all men mortal but themselves; Themselves, when some alarming shock of Fate Strikes thro' their wounded hearts the sudden dread: But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air, Soon close; where past the shaft no trace is found As from the wing no scar the sky retains, The parted wave no furrow from the keel,
So dies in human hearts the thought of death :
Ev'n with the tender tear which Nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
Can I forget Philander? that were strange !
O my full heart ! But should I give it vent,
The longest night, though longer far, would fail,
And the lark listen to my midnight song.
The sprightly lark's shrill matin wakes the morn.
Grief's sharpest thorn hard pressing on my breast,
I strive, with wakeful melody, to cheer
The sullen gloom, sweet' Philomel ! like thee,
And call the stars to listen : every star
Is deaf to mine, enamour'd of thy lay.
Yet be not vain ; there are who thine excel,
And charm through distant ages. Wrapt in shade,
Prisoner of darkness! to the silent hours
How often I repeat their rage divine,
To lull my griefs, and steal my heart from woe !
I roll their raptures, but not catch their fire.
Dark, though not blind, like thee, Mæonides !
Or, Milton! thee; ah, could I reach your strain !
Or his who made Mæonides our own.
Man, too, he şung : immortal man I sing :
Oft bursts my song beyond the bounds of life:
What, now, but immortality can please?
O had he press'd his theme, pursued the track
Which opens out of darkness into day!
O had he mounted on his wing of fire,
Soar'd where I sink, and sung immortal man,
How had it blest mankind, and rescued me!
To Her Grace the Dutchess of Portland.
Ignoscenda quidem, scirent si ignoscere manes.
FROM dreams, where thought in Fancy's maze
To reason, that heav'n-lighted lamp in man,
Once more I wake; and at the destin'd hour,
Punctual as lovers to the moment sworn,
I keep my assignation with my woe.
0! lost to virtue, lost to manly thought,
Lost to the noble sallies of the soul!
Who think it solitude to be alone.
Communion sweet! communion large and high!
Our reason, guardian-angel, and our god !
Then nearest these, when others most remote;
And all, ere long, shall be remote but these:
How dreadful, then, to meet them all alone,
A stranger! unacknowledg'd! unapprov'd!
Now woo them, wed them, bind them to thy breast:
To win thy wish creation has no more :
Or if we wish a fourth, it is a friend. ---
But friends how mortal! dangerous the desire.
Take Phæbus to yourselves, ye basking bards! Inebriate at fair Fortune's fountain-head, And reeling through the wilderness of joy, Where Sense runs savage, broke from Reason's chain, And sings false peace, till smother'd by the pall. My fortune is unlike, unlike my song, Unlike the deity my song invokes. I to day's soft-ey'd sister pay my court, (Endymion's rival) and her aid implore, Now first implor'd in succour to the Muse.
Thou who didst lately borrow Cynthia's form, And modestly forego thine own! O thou
Who didst thyself, at midnight hours, inspire!
Say, why not Cynthia, patroness of song ?
As thou her crescent, she thy character
Assumes, still more a goddess by the change.
Are there demurring wits who dare dispute
This revolution in the world inspir'd ?
Ye train Pierian! to the lunar sphere,
In silent hour, address your ardent call
For aid immortal, less her brother's right.
She with the spheres harmonious nightly leads
The mazy dance, and hears their matchless strain,
A strain for gods, deny'd to mortal ear.
Transmit it heard, thou silver queen of Heav'o!
What title or what name endears thee most?
Cynthia! Cyllene! Phæbe-or dost hear
With higher gust, fair Portland of the skies?
Is that the soft inchantment calls thee down,
More powerful than of old Circean charm?
Come, but from heavenly banquets with thee bring
The soul of song, and whisper in mine ear
The theft divine; or in-propitious dreams
(For dreams are thine) transfuse it through the breast
Of thy first votary-but not thy last,
If, like thy namesake, thou art ever kind.
And kind thou wilt be, kind on such a theme ; A theme so like thee, a quite lunar theme, Soft, modest, melancholy, female, fair ! A theme that rose all pale, and told my soul 'Twas night; on her fond hopes perpetual night; A night which struck a damp, a deadlier damp Than that which smote me from Philander's tomb. Narcissa follows ere his tomb is clos'd. Woes cluster ; rare are solitary woes; They love a train ; they tread each other's heel ; Her death invades his mournful right, and claims The grief that started from my lids for him ; Seizes the faithless, alienated tear, Or shares it ere it falls. So frequent Death, Sorrow he more than causes; he confounds; For human sighs his rival strokes contend,
And make distress distraction. Oh, Philander !
What was thy fate? a double fate to me;
Portent and plain ! a menace and a blow!
Like the black raven hovering o'er my peace,
Not less a bird of omen than of prey.
It callid Narcissa long before her hour;
It call's her tender soul by break of bliss,
From the first blossom, from the buds of joy ;
Those few our noxious fate unblasted leaves
In this inclement clime of human life.
Sweet harmonist! and beautiful as sweet!
And young as beautiful ! and soft as young!
And gay as soft! and innocent as gay!
And bappy (if aught happy here) as good!
For Fortune fond, had built her nest on high.
Like birds quite exquisite of note and plume,
Transfix'd by Fate (who loves a lofty mark)
How from the summit of the grove she fell,
And left it unharmonious! all its charm
Extinguish'd in the wonders of her song!
Her song still vibrates in my ravish'd ear,
Still melting there, and with voluptuous pain
(O to forget her!) thrilling through my heart!
Song, beauty, youth, love, virtue, joy! this group
Of bright ideas, flowers of Paradise,
As yet unforfeit! in one blaze we bind,
Kneel, and present it to the skies, as all
We guess of Heav'n; and these were all her own;
And she was mine; and I was-was !-most blest
Gay title of the deepest misery!
As bodies grow more pond'rous robb'd of life,
Good lost weighs more in grief than gain'd in joy.
Like blossom'd trees o'erturn'd by vernal storm,
Lovely in death the beauteous ruin lay;
And if in death still lovely, lovelier there,
Far lovelier! pity swells the tide of love.
And will not the severe excuse a sigh?
Scorn the proud man that is asham'd to weep.
Our tears indulg'd indeed deserve our shame.
Ye that e'er lost an angel, pity me!