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But, that once fixed, 'tis past the power of art
To chase the dear idea from the heart;
'Tis liberty of choice that sweetens life,
Makes the glad husband and the happy wife.
CXX MATTHEW GREEN.
POETICAL DREAMERS. When I lean politicians mark Grazing on ether in the park ; Who e'er on wing with open throats Fly at debates, expresses, votes, Just in the manner swallows use, Catching their airy food of news; Whose latrant stomachs oft molest The deep-laid plans their dreams suggest; Or see some poet pensive sit, Fondly mistaking spleen for wit ; Who, though short-winded, still will aim To sound the epic trump of fame; Who still on Phæbus' smiles will dote, Nor learn conviction from his coat: I bless my stars I never knew Whimsies, which, close pursued, undo, And have from old experience been Both parent and the child of spleen. These subjects of Apollo's state, Who from false fire derive their fate, With airy purchases undone Of lands, which none lend money on, Born dull, had follow'd thriving ways, Nor lost one hour to gather bays. Their fancies first delirious grew, And scenes ideal took for true. Fine to the sight Parnassus lies, And with false prospects cheats their eyes • The fabled gods the poets sing, A season of perpetual spring, Brooks, flowery fields, and groves of trees, Affording sweets and similes,
Gay dreams inspired in myrtle bowers,
And wreaths of undecaying flowers,
Apollo's harp with airs divine,
The sacred music of the Nine,
Views of the temple raised to fame,
And for a vacant niche proud aim,
Ravish their souls, and plainly show
What Fancy's sketching power can do.
They will attempt the mountain steep,
Where on the top, like dreams in sleep,
The Muses revelations show,
That find men cracked or make them so.
What am I? how produced ? and for what en:1 ?
Whence drew I being ? to what period tend ?
Am I the abandoned orphan of blind chance,
Dropt by wild atoms in disorder'd dance ?
Or from an endless chain of causes wrought,
And of unthinking substance, born with thought ?
By motion which began without a cause,
Supremely wise, without design or laws ?
Am I but what I seem, mere flesh and blood;
A branching channel, with a mazy flood ?
The purple stream that through my vessels glides,
Dull and unconscious flows like common tides :
The pipes through which the circling juices stray,
Are not that thinking I, no more than they:
This frame compacted with transcendent skill,
Of moving joints obedient to my will,
Nursed from the fruitful glebe, like yonder tree,
Waxes and wastes : I call it mine, not me.
New matter still the mouldering mass sustains,
The mansion changed, the tenant still remains :
And from the fleeting streams, repaired by food,
Distinct, as is the swimmer from the flood.
What am I then ? sure, of a nobler birth, By parent's right, I own, as mother, earth;
But claim superior lineage by my sire,
Who warmed the unthinking clod with heavenly fire;
Essence divine, with lifeless clay allayed,
By double nature, double instinct swayed :
With look erect, I dart my longing eye,
Seem winged to part and gain my native sky:
I strive to mount, but strive, alas ! in vain,
Tied to this massy globe with magic chain.
Now with swift thought I range from pole to pole,
View worlds around their flaming centres roll ;
What steady powers their endless motions guide
Through the same trackless paths of boundless void !
Around me, lo! the thinking thoughtless crew
(Bewildered each) their different paths pursue :
Of them I ask the way: the first replies
“Thou art a god,” and sends me to the skies :
“Down on the turf,” the next “thou two-legg'd beast:
There fix thy lot, thy bliss and endless rest;
Between these wide extremes the length is such,
I find I know too little or too much.
I. ON THE BEING OF A GOD. Retire !—The world shut out :--Thy thoughts call home: Imagination's airy wing repress ;Lock up thy senses ;—Let no passion stir :Wake all to reason-Let her reign alone; Then, in thy soul's deep silence, and the depth Of Nature's silence, midnight, thus inquire ; What am I ? and from whence ?-I nothing know, But that I am ; and, since I am, conclude Something eternal; had there e'er been nought, Nought still had been : eternal there must be But what eternal ? Why not human race; And Adam's ancestors without an end ? That's hard to be conceiv'd; since every link Of that long chain'd succession is so frail : Can every part depend, and not the whole ?
Yet grant it true; new difficulties rise ;
I'm still quite out at sea, nor see the shore.
Whence earth, and these bright orbs ?-Eternal too?
Grant matter was eternal; still these orbs
Would want some other Father : much design
Is seen in all their motions, all their makes :
Design implies intelligence, and art :
That can't be from themselves or man : that art
Man scarce can comprehend, could man bestow ?
And nothing greater, yet allow'd than man.
Who motion, foreign to the smallest grain,
Shot through vast masses of enormous weight ?
Who bid rude matter's restive lumps assume
Such various forms, and gave it wings to fly ?
Has matter innate motion ? Then each atom,
Asserting its indisputable right
To dance, would form an universe of dust.
Has matter none ? Then whence these glorious forms,
And boundless flights, from shapeless and repos’d ?
Has matter more than motion? Has it thought, .
Judgment, and genius ? Is it deeply learned
In mathematics ? Has it fram’d such laws,
Which but to guess a Newton made inmortal ?
If art to form, and counsel to conduct,
And that with greater far than human skill,
Resides not in each block,-
,-a Godhead reignsAnd if a God there is, that God how great !
2. ON PROCRASTINATION.
Be wise to day: ’tis madness to defer :
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.
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 ride
ī 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, Unanxious 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 through their wounded hearts the sudden drend:
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 ;
E'en with the tender tear which nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
Survey the warlike horse ! didst thou invest
With thunder his robust distended chest ?
No sense of fear his dauntless soul allays;
'Tis dreadful to behold his nostrils blaze :
To paw the vale he proudly takes delight,
And triumphs in the fulness of his might;
High raised, he snuffs the battle from afar,
Aud burns to plunge amid the raging war: