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This double night, transmit one pitying ray,
To lighten, and to cheer. O lead my mind,
Lead it through various scenes of life and death,
And from each scene, the noblest truths inspire.
Nor less inspire my conduct, than my song ;
Teach my best reason, reason; my best will
so the method pursued in it was rather imposed, Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear: by what spontaneously arose in the author's mind Nor let the phial of thy vengeance, pour'd on that occasion, than meditated or designed; which On this devoted head, be pour'd in vain. will appear very probable from the nature of it.
The bell strikes one. We take no note of time For it differs from the common mode of poetry, But from its loss. To give it then a tongue, which is, from long narrations to draw short morals. Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke, Here, on the contrary, the narrative is short, and I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright, the morality arising from it makes the bulk of the It is the knell of my departed hours : poem. The reason of it is, that the facts men
Where are they? With the years beyond the flood. tioned did naturally pour these moral reflections It is the signal that demands dispatch'; on the thought of the writer.
How much is to be done? My hopes and fears
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, TO THE RIGHT HON. ARTHUR ONSLOW, SPEAKER
How complicate, how wonderful, is man!
How passing wonder He, who made him such ! Tir'd Nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep! Who center'd in our make such strange extremes ! He, like the world, his ready visit pays
From different natures marvellously mixt, Where fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes; Connexion exquisite of distant worlds! Swift on his downy pinion Mies from woe,
Distinguish'd link in being's endless chain !
Midway from nothing to the Deity!
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!
A worm! a god tremble at myself, At random drove, her helm of reason lost.
And in myself am lost! at home a stranger, Though now restor'd, 'tis only change of pain, Thought wanders up and down, surpris'd, aghast, (A bitter change!) severer for severe.
And wondering at her own: How Reason reels ! The Day too short for my distress; and Night, O what a miracle to man is man, E'en in the zenith of her dark domain,
Triumphantly distress'd! what joy, what dread! Is sun-shine to the color of my fate.
Alternately transported, and alarm'd! Night, sable goddess ! from her ebon throne, What can preserve my life? or what destroy ? In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave; Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumbering world. Legions of angels can't confine mo there. Silence, how dead! and darkness, how profound ! 'Tis past conjecture; all things rise in proof : Nor eye, nor listening ear, an object finds; While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread, Creation sleeps. "Tis, as the general pulse What though my soul fantastic measures trod Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause; O'er fairy fields; or mourn'd along the gloom An awful pause! prophetic of her end.
Of pathless woods; or, down the craggy steep And let her prophecy be soon fulfill’d;
Hurl'd headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool; Fate! drop the curtain; I can lose na more. Or scal'd the cliff; or danc'd on bollow winds,
Silence and Darkness! solemn sisters! twins With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain ? From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought Her ceaseless flight, though devious, speaks her natura To reason, and on reason build resolve,
Of subtler essence than the trodden clod; (That column of true majesty in man,).
Active, aërial, towering, unconfind, Assist me: I will thank you in the grave;
Unfetter'd with her gross companion's fall. The grave, your kingdom : there this frame shall fall E'en silent night proclaims my soul immortal : A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.
E'en silent night proclaims eternal day. But what are ye?
For human weal, Heaven husbands all events; Thou, who didst put to flight
Dull sleep instructs, nor sport vain dreams in vain. Primeval Silence, when the morning stars,
Why then their loss deplore, that are not lost? Exulting, shouted o'er the rising ball!
Why wanders wretched thought their tombs around, O thou, whose word from solid darkness struck In infidel distress? Are angels there? That spark, the Sun; strike wisdom from my soul; Slumbers, rak'd up in dust, ethereal fire ? My soul, which flies to thee, her trust, her treasure, They live! they greatly live a life on Earth As misers to their gold, while others rest.
Unkindled, unconceiv'd; and from an eye Through this opaque of Nature, and of soul, Of tenderness let heavenly pity fall 69
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On me, more justly number'd with the dead. Could you, so rich in rapture, fear an end,
That ghastly thought would drink up all your joy, How populous, how vital, is the grave!
And quite unparadise the realms of light. This is creation's melancholy vault,
Safe are you lodg'd above these rolling spheres ; The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom ; The baleful influence of whose giddy dance The land of apparitions, empty shades !
Sheds sad vicissitude on all beneath. All, all on Earth, is shadow, all beyond
Here teems with revolutions every hour;
And rarely for the better; or the best,
Each moment has its sickle, emulous
Of Time's enormous scythe, whose ample sweep Life's theatre as yet is shut, and Death,
Strikes empires from the root; each moment plays Strong Death, alone can heave the massy bar, His little weapon in the narrower sphere This gross impediment of clay remove,
of sweet domestic comfort, and cuts down And make us embryoes of existence free.
The fairest bloom of sublunary bliss. From real life, but little more remote
Bliss ! sublunary bliss -proud words, and vain ! Is he, not yet a candidate for light,
Implicit treason to divine decree! The future embryo, slumbering in his sire.
A bold invasion of the rights of Heaven! Embryoes we must be, till we burst the shell, I clasp'd the phantoms, and I found them air. Yon ambient azure shell, and spring to life, O had I weigh'd it ere my fond embrace ! The life of gods, O transport ! and of man. What darts of agony had miss'd my heart! Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts ; Death! great proprietor of all! 'tis thine Inters celestial hopes without one sigh.
To tread out empire, and to quench the stars. Prisoner of Earth, and pent beneath the Moon, The Sun himself by thy permission shines ; Here pinions all his wishes; wing'd by Heaven And, one day, thou shalt pluck him from his sphere. To fly at infinite ; and reach it there,
Amid such mighty plunder, why exhaust
Thy partial quiver on a mark so mean?
Thy shaft flew thrice ; and thrice my peace was slain Where momentary ages are no more!
And thrice, ere thrice yon Moon had fill'd her horn Where Time, and Pain, and Chance, and Death expire! O Cynthia! why so pale? Dost thou lament And is it in the flight of threescore years,
Thy wretched neighbor ? Grieve to see thy wheel To push eternity from human thought,
Of ceaseless change outwhirl'd in human life? And smother souls immortal in the dust?
How wanes my borrow'd bliss! from fortune's smile A soul immortal, spending all her fires,
Precarious courtesy! not virtue's sure, Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness, Self-given, solar ray of sound delight. Thrown into tumult, raptur'd or alarm’d,
In every varied posture, place, and hour, At aught this scene can threaten or indulge, How widow'd every thought of every joy! Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
Thought, busy thought! too busy for my peace! To waft a feather, or to drown a fly,
Through the dark postern of time long elaps'd,
I rue the riches of my former fate;
Night-visions may befriend (as sung above :) I tremble at the blessings once so dear;
Hangs out the Sun his lustre but for me, Of stable pleasures on the tossing wave!
The single man? Are angels all beside ? Eternal sun-shine in the storms of life!
I mourn for millions : 'tis the common lor; How richly were my noon-tide trances hung In this shape, or in that, has Fate entaila With gorgeous tapestries of pictur'd joys !
The mother's throes on all of woman born, Joy behind joy, in endless perspective!
Not more the children, than sure heirs, of pain. Till at Death's toll, whose restless iron tongue War, Famine, Pest, Volcano, Storm, and Fire, Calls daily for his millions at a meal,
Intestine broils, Oppression, with her heart
Here, plung’d in mines, forgets a Sun was made. Of mouldering mud, is royalty to me!
There, beings deathless as their haughty lord, The spider's most attenuated thread
Are hammer d to the galling oar for life ; Is cord, is cable, to man's tender tie
And plow the winter's wave, and reap despair. On earthly bliss! it breaks at every breeze. Some, for hard masters, broken under arms,
Oye blest scenes of permanent delight! In battle lopt away, with half their limbs, Full, above measure! lasting, beyond bound ! Beg bitter bread through realms their valor sar'd. A perpetuity of bliss is bliss.
If so the tyrant, or his minion, doom.
Want, and incurable Disease, (fell pair!)
Dear is thy welfare ; think me not unkind; On hopeless multitudes remorseless seize
I would not damp, but to secure thy joys. At once; and make a refuge of the grave. Think not that fear is sacred to the storm : How groaning hospitals eject their dead !
Stand on thy guard against the smiles of Fate. What numbers groan for sad admission there! Is Heaven tremendous in its frowns ? Most sure; What numbers, once in Fortune's lap high-fed, And in its favors formidable too: Solicit the cold hand of Charity!
Its favors here are trials, not rewards ;
A call to duty, not discharge from care ;
Awake us to their cause and consequence ;
Happy! did sorrow seize on such alone. To worse than simple misery, their charms
Revolted joys, like foes in civil war,
All joys, but joys that never can expire
Mine died with thee, Philander! thy last sigh How distant oft the thing we dote on most, Dissolv'd the charm; the disenchanted Earth From that for which we dote, felicity!
Lost all her lustre. Where her glittering towers ? The smoothesl course of Nature has its pains ! Her golden mountains, where ? all darken'd down And truest friends, through error, wound our rest. To naked waste ; a dreary vale of tears; Without misfortune, what calamities!
The great magician's dead! Thou poor, pale piece And what hostilities, without a foe!
Of outcast earth, in darkness! what a change Nor are foes wanting to the best on Earth. From yesterday! Thy darling hope so near, But endless is the list of human ills,
(Long-labor'd prize !) O how ambition flush'd And sighs might sooner fail, than cause to sigh. Thy glowing cheek! Ambition truly great,
A part how small of the terraqueous globe Of virtuous praise. Death's subtle seed within Is tenanted by man! the rest a waste,
(Sly, treacherous miner!) working in the dark, Rocks, deserts, frozen seas, and burning sands; Smild at thy well-concerted scheme, and beckon'd Wild haunts of monsters, poisons, stings, and death. The worm io riot on that rose so red, Such is Earth's melancholy map! but, far Unfaded ere it fell ; one moment's prey! More sad! this Earth is a true map of man. Man's foresight is conditionally wise ; So bounded are its haughty lord's delights Lorenzo! wisdom into folly turns To woe's wide empire ; where deep troubles toss, Oft, the first instant, its idea fair Loud sorrows howl, envenom'd passions bite, To laboring thought is born. How dim our eye! Ravenous calamities our vitals seize,
The present moment terminates our sight; And threatening fate wide opens to devour. Clouds, thick as those on doomsday, drown the next;
What then am I, who sorrow for myself ! We penetrate, we prophesy in vain. In age, in infancy, from others' aid
Time is dealt out by particles; and each, Is all our hope; to teach us to be kind.
Ere mingled with the streaming sands of life, That, Nature's first, last lesson to mankind : By Fate's inviolable oath is sworn The selfish heart deserves the pain it feels. Deep silence, “Where eternity begins." More generous sorrow, while it sinks, exalts ; By Nature's law, what may be, may be now ; And conscious virtue mitigates the pang.
There's no prerogative in human hours. Nor virtue, more than prudence, bids me give In human hearts what bolder thought can rise Swoln thought a second channel ; who divide, Than man's presumption on to-morrow's dawn? They weaken too, the torrent of their grief. Where is to-morrow? in another world. Take, then, O World! thy much-indebted tear : For numbers this is certain; the reverse How sad a sight is human happiness,
Is sure to none; and yet on this perhaps, To those whose thought can pierce beyond an hour! This peradventure, infamous for lies, O thou! whate'er thou art, whose heart exults! As on a rock of adamant, we build Wouldst thou I should congratulate my fate? Our mountain-hopes, spin out eternal schemes, I know thou wouldst; thy pride demands it from me. As we the fatal sisters could out-spin, Let thy pride pardon, what thy nature needs, And, big with life's futurities, expire. The salutary censure of a friend.
Not e'en Philander had bespoke his shroud : - Thou happy wretch! by blindness thou art blest ; Nor had he cause ; a warning was denied : By dotage dandled to perpetual smiles.
How many fall as sudden, not as safe ! Know, smiler! at thy peril art thou pleas’d! As sudden, though for years admonish'd home. Thy pleasure is the promise of thy pain.
Of human ills the last extreme beware, Misfortune, like a creditor severe,
Beware, Lorenzo! a slow sudden death. But rises in demand for her delay ;
How dreadful that deliberate surprise! She makes a scourge of past prosperity,
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer; To sting thee more, and double thy distress. Next day the fatal precedent will plead ;
Lorenzo, Fortune makes her court to thee, Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life. Thy fond heart dances, while the Syren sings. Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
Night THE SECOND.
TIME, DEATH, AND FRIENDSHIP.
This midnight sentinel, with clarion shrill, At least, their own; their future selves applaud; Emblem of that which shall awake the dead, How excellent that life they ne'er will lead ! Rouse souls from slumber, into thoughts of Heater Time lodg‘d in their own hands is folly's vails ; Shall I, too, weep? Where then is fortitude! That lodg'd in fate's, to wisdom they consign; And, fortitude abandon'd, where is man? The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone ; I know the terms on which he sees the light; "Tis not in folly, not to scorn a fool;
He that is born, is 'listed ; life is war; And scarce in huma: wisdom, to do more.
Eternal war with woe. Who bears it best, All promise is poor dilatory man,
Deserves it least.-On other themes I'll dwell. And that through every stage: when young, indeed, Lorenzo! let me turn my thoughts on thee, In full content we, sometimes, nobly rest,
And thine, on themes may profit; profit there Unanxious for ourselves ; and only wish,
Where most they need. Themes, too, the genuine As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
growth At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Of dear Philander's dust. He thus, though dead, Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
May still befriend—What themes? Time's wondrous At fifty chides his infamous delay,
price, Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve ;
Death, friendship, and Philander's final scene. In all the magnanimity of thought
So could I touch these themes, as might obiain Resolves; and re-resolves; then dies the same. Thine ear, nor leave thy heart quite disengag'd,
And why? Because he thinks himself immortal. The good deed would delight me; half impress All men think all men mortal, but themselves; On my dark cloud an Iris; and from grief Themselves, when some alarming shock of fate Call glory.- Dost thou mourn Philander's fate! Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden I know thou say'st it: Says thy life the same! dread;
He mourns the dead, who lives as they desire. But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air, Where is that thirst, that a varice of time, Soon close ; where, past the shaft, no trace is (O glorious avarice!) thought of death inspires, found.
As rumor'd robberies endear our gold ? As from the wing no scar the sky retains ; O time! than gold more sacred; more a load The parted wave no furrow from the keel ; Than lead, to fools; and fools reputed wise. So dies in human hearts the thoughts of death. What moment granted man without account? E'en with the tender tear which Nature sheds What years are squander'd, wisdom's debt unpaid! O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave. Our wealth in days, all due to that discharge. Can I forget Philander? That were strange! Haste, haste, he lies in wait, he's at the door, O my full heart-But should I give it vent, Insidious Death! should his strong hand arrest, The longest night, though longer far, would fail, No composition sets the prisoner free. And the lark listen to my midnight song.
Eternity's inexorable chain The sprightly lark's shrill matin wakes the morn; Fast binds; and vengeance claims the full arrear. Grief's sharpest thorn hard pressing on my breast, How late I shudder'd on the brink! how late I strive, with wakeful melody, to cheer
Life call’d for her last refuge in despair! The sullen gloom, sweet Philomel ! like thee, That time is mine, O Mead! to thee I owe; And call the stars to listen: every star
Fain would I pay thee with elernity. Is deaf to mine, enamour'd of thy lay.
But ill my genius answers my desire; Yet be not vain; there are, who thine excel, My sickly song is mortal, past thy cure. And charm through distant ages: wrapt in shade, Accept the will ;—that dies not with my Prisoner of darkness! to the silent hours,
For what calls thy disease, Lorenzo ? mot
For Esculapian, but for moral aid.
And what its worth, ask death-beds; they can tell Man too he sung: immortal man I sing ;
Part with it as with life, reluctant; big Oft bursts my song beyond the bounds of life; With holy hope of nobler time to come; What, now, but immortality can please ?
Time higher aim'd, still nearer the great merk O had he press d his theme, pursued the track, Of men and angels ; virtue more divine. Which opens out of darkness into day!
Is this our duty, wisdom, glory, gain? O had he, mounted on his wing of fire,
(These Heaven benign in vital union binds) Soard where I sink, and sung immortal man! And sport we like the natives of the bough, How had it blest mankind, and rescued me! When vernal suns inspire ? Amusement reigns
Man's great demand : to trifle, is to live :
How heavily we drag the load of life! And is it then a trifle, too, to die?
Bleşt leisure is our curse ; like that of Cain, Thou say'st I preach, Lorenzo! 'tis confest. It makes us wander; wander Earth around What if, for once, I preach thee quite awake ? To fly that tyrant, Thought. As Atlas groan'd Who wants amusement in the flame of battle? The world beneath, we groan beneath an hour. Is it not treason to the soul immortal,
We cry for mercy to the next amusement; Her foes in arms, eternity the prize ?
The next amusement mortgages our fields; Will toys amuse, when medicines cannot cure Slight inconvenience! Prisons hardly frown, When spirits ebb, when life's enchanting scenes From hateful Time if prisons set us free. Their lustre lose, and lessen in our sight,
Yet when Death kindly tenders us relief, As lands, and cities with their glittering spires, We call him cruel; years to moments shrink, To the poor shatter'd bark, by sudden storm Ages to years. The telescope is turn'd. Thrown off to sea, and soon to perish there? To man's false optics (from his folly false) Will toys amuse? No: thrones will then be toys, Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings, And earth and skies seem dust upon the scale. And seems to creep, decrepit with his age ;
Redeem we time ?- Its loss we dearly buy. Behold him, when past by; what then is seen, What pleads Lorenzo for his high-priz'd sports ? But his broad pinions swifter than the winds ? He pleads time's numerous blanks; he loudly And all mankind, in contradiction strong, pleads
Rueful, aghast! cry out on his career. The straw-like trisles on life's common stream. Leave to thy foes these errors, and these ills; From whom those blanks and trifles, but from thee? To Nature just, their cause and cure explore. No blank, no trifle, Nature made, or meant. Not short Heaven's bounty, boundless our expense; Virtue, or purpos'd virtue, still be thine ;
No niggard, Nature; men are prodigals. This cancels thy complaint at once. This leaves We waste, not use our time; we breathe, not live. In act no trifle, and no blank in time.
Time wasted is existence, us'd is life, This greatens, fills, immortalizes all;
And bare existence, man, to live ordain'd, This, the blest art of turning all to gold ;
Wrings, and oppresses with enormous weight. This the good heart's prerogative to raise
And why? since Time was given for use, not waste, A royal tribute from the poorest hours;
Enjoin'd to fly; with tempest, tide, and stars, Immense revenue! every moment pays,
To keep his speed, nor ever wait for man; If nothing more than purpose in thy power; Time's use was doom'd a pleasure; waste, a pain ; Thy purpose firm, is equal to the deed :
That man might feel his error, if unseen: Who does the best his circumstance allows, And, feeling, fly to labor for his cure; Does well, acts nobly; angels could no more. Not, blundering, split on idleness for ease. Our outward act indeed admits restraint ;
Life's cares are comforts; such by Heaven design'd; "Tis not in things o'er thought to domineer; He that has none, must make them, or be wretched. Guard well thy thought ; our thoughts are heard in Cares are employments, and without employ Heaven.
The soul is on a rack; the rack of rest, On all-important time, through every age,
To souls most adverse ; action all their joy. Though much, and warm, the wise have urg'd; the Here then, the riddle, mark'd above, unfolds
When time turns torment, when man turns a fool. Is yet unborn, who duly weighs an hour.
We rave, we wrestle, with great Nature's plan ; " I've lost a day"—the prince who nobly cried We thwart the Deity; and 'tis decreed, Had been an emperor without his crown;
Who thwart his will, shall contradict their own. Cf Rome? Say, rather, lord of human race: Hence our unnatural quarrels with ourselves; He spoke, as if deputed by mankind.
Our thoughts at enmity; our bosom-broil ; So should all speak: so Reason speaks in all : We push Time from us, and we wish him back : From the soft whispers of that God in man, Lavish of lustrums, and yet fond of life; Why fly to folly, why to frenzy fly,
Life we think long, and short ; Death seek, and For rescue from the blessing we possess?
shun: Time, the supreme !—Time is Eternity;
Body and soul, like peevish man and wife,
United jar, and yet are loth to part.
Gone! they ne'er go; when past, they haunt us Ah! how unjust to Nature and himself,
Nor death, nor life delight us. If time past, That span too short, we tax as tedious too; And time possest, both pain us, what can please ? Torture invention, all expedients tire,
That which the Deity to please ordain'd, To lash the lingering moments into speed,
Time us'd. The man who consecrates his hours And whirl us (happy riddance!) from ourselves. By vigorous effort, and an honest aim, Art, brainless Art! our furious charioteer
At once he draws the sting of life and death; (For Nature's voice unstified would recall) He walks with Nature; and her paths are peace. Drives headlong towards the precipice of death ; Our error's cause and cure are seen: see next Death, most our dread; death thus more dreadful Time's nature, origin, importance, speed ; made :
And thy great gain from urging his career.O what a riddle of absurdity!
All-sensual man, because untouch'd, unseen, Leisure is pain; takes off our chariot-wheels; He looks on Time as nothing. Nothing else