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I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams
Tumultuous; where my wreck'd, desponding thought,
From wave to wave of fancied misery,
At random drove, her helm of reason lost.
Though now restored, 'tis only change of pain
(A bitter change!) severer for severe.
The Day too short for my distress; and Night,
E'en in the zenith of her dark domain,
Is sunshine to the color of my fate.
Night, sable goddess I from her ebon throne,
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumbering world.
Silence, how dead! and darkness, how profound!
Nor eye, nor listening ear, an object finds;
Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the general pulse
Of life stood still, and nature made a pause;
An awful pause! prophetic of her end.
And let her prophecy be soon fulfiU'd;
Fate! drop the curtain; I can lose no more.
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 sound. 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 despatch:
How much is to be done I My hopes and fears
Start up alarm'd, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down—On what? a fathomless abyss;
A dread eternity I how surely mine 1
And can eternity belong to mo,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful is man 1
How passing wonder He, who made him such!
Who centred in our make such strange extremes!
From different natures marvellously mixt,
Connection exquisite of distant worlds!
Distinguish'd link in Being's endless chain!
Midway from Notliing to the Deity!
A beam ethereal,.sullied, and absorpt!
Though sullied and dishonor'd, still divine!
Dim miniature of greatness absolute!
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!
Helpless immortal! insect infinite!
A worm! a god!—I tremble at myself,
And in myself am lost! At home a stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surprise.!, aghast,
And wondering at her own: How reason reels!
O what a miracle to man is man,
Triumphantly distress'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 ma there.
Tig past conjecture; all things rise in proof: While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread What though my soul fantastic 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 scaled the cliff; or danced on hollow winds, With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain? Her ceaseless flight, though devious, speaks her nature Of subtler essence than the trodden clod; Active, aerial, towering, unconfined, Unfetter'd with her gross companion's fall. E'en silent night proclaims my soul immortal: E'en silent night proclaims eternal day. For human weal, heaven husbands all events; Dull sleep instructs, nor sport vain dreams in vain.
Why then their loss deplore, that are not lost!
Why wanders wretched thought their tombs around,
In infidel distress? Are angels there?
Slumbers, raked up in dust, ethereal fire *
They live! they greatly live a life on earth
Unkindled, unconceived j and from an eye
Of tenderness let heavenly pity fall
On me, more justly number'd with the dead.
This is the desert, this the solitude:
How populous, how vital, is the grave 1
This is creation's melancholy vault,
The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom;
The land of apparitions, empty shades 1
All, all on earth, is Shadow, all beyond
Is Substance; the reverse is folly's creed:
How solid all, where change shall be no more!
Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts j
Inters celestial hopes without one sigh.
Prisoner of earth, and pent beneath the moon,
Here pinions all his wishes; wing'd by heaven
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 ambrosial clustering glow,
In His 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 flight of threescore years,
To push eternity from human thought,
And smother souls immortal in the dust*'
A soul immortal, spending all her fires,
Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness,
Thrown into tumult, raptured 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.
Man's Resolutions To Reform.
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 applaud;
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead!
Tjme lodged in their own hands is folly's vails j
That lodged 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 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:
E'en with the tender tear which nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
LIFE AND DEATH.
Life makes the soul dependent'on the dust; Death gives her wings to mount above the spheres. Through chinks, styled organs, dim life peeps at light; Death bursts th' involving cloud, and all is day; All eye, all ear, the disembodied power. Death has feign'd evils, nature shall not feel; Life, ills substantial, wisdom cannot shun. Is not the mighty mind, that son of heaven! By tyrant life dethroned, imprison'tl, pain'd? By death enlarged, ennobled, deified? Death but entombs the body; life the soul.
Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour?
What though we wade in wealth, or soar in fame I
Earth's highest station ends in "Here he lies,"
And "dust to dust'' concludes her noblest song.
If this song lives, posterity shall know
One, though in Britain born, with courtiers bred,
Who thought e'en gold might come a day too late;
Nor on his subtle death-bed plann'd his scheme
For future vacancies in church or state;
Some avocation deeming it—to die,
Unbit by rage canine of dying rich;
Guilt's blunder! and the loudest laugh of hell!
SOCIETY NECESSARY FOR HAPPINESS.
Wisdom, though richer than Peruvian mines.
And sweeter than the sweet ambrosial hive,
What is she, but the means of Happiness?
That unobtain'd, than folly more a fool;
A melancholy fooL without her bells.
Friendship, the means of wisdom, richly gives
The precious end, which makes our wisdom wife.
Nature, in zeal for human amity,
Denies, or damps, an undivided joy:
Joy is an import; joy is an exchange;
Joy flies monopolists: it calls for Two;
Rich fruit! heaven-planted! never pluck'd by One.
Needful auxiliars are our friends, to give
To social man true relish of himself.
Full on ourselves, descending in a line,
Pleasure's bright beam is feeble in delight:
Delight intense is taken by rebound;
Reverberated pleasures fire the breast
INSUFFICIENCY OF OENIUS AND STATION WITHOUT VIRTUE.
Genius and art, ambition's boasted wings,
Our boast but ill deserve. A feeble aid!
Daedalian enginery! If these alone
Assist our flight, fame's flight is glory's fall.
Heart merit wanting, mount we ne'er so high,
Our height is but the gibbet of our name.
A celebrated wretch, when I behold;
When I behold a genius bright, and base,
Of towering talents, and terrestrial aims;
Methinks I see, as thrown from her high sphere,
The glorious fragments of a soul immortal,
With rubbish mix'd, and glittering in the dust.
Struck at the splendid, melancholy sight,
At once compassion soft, and envy, rise-
But wherelbre envy? Talents angel-bright,
If wanting worth, are shining instruments
In false ambition's hand, to finish faults
Illustrious, and give infamy renown.
Great ill is an achievement of great powers.
Plain sense but rarely leads us far astray.
Reason the means, affections choose our end;
Means have no merit, if our end amiss.
If wrong our hearts, our heads are right in vain;
Hearts are proprietors of all applause.
Right ends and means make wisdom: Worldly-wise
Is but half-witted, at its highest praise.
Let genius then despair to make thee great;
Nor flatter station: What is station high?
Tis a proud mendicant; it boasts and begs;
It begs an alms of homage from the throng,
And oft the throng denies its charity.
Monarchs and ministers are awful names;
Whoever wear them, challenge "bur devoir.
Religion, public order, both exact
External homage, and a supple knee.
To beings pompously set up, to serve
The meanest slave; all more is merit's duo,
Her sacred and inviolable right
Nor ever paid the monarch, but the man.
Our hearts ne'er bow but to superior worth;
Nor ever fail of their allegiance there.
Fools, indeed, drop the man in their account,
And vote the mantle into majesty.
Let the small savage boast his silver fur;
His royal robe unborrow'd and unbought,
His own, descending fairly from his sires.
Shall man bo proud to wear his livery,
And souls in ermine scorn a soul without?
Can place or lessen us or aggrandize?
Pygmies are pygmies still, though perch'd on Alps;
And pyramids are pyramids in vales.
Each man makes his own stature, builds himself:
Virtue alone outbuilds the pyramids:
Her monuments shall last, when Egypt's fall.
Of these sure truths dost thou demand the cause?
The cause is lodged in immortality.
Hear, and assent Thy bosom burns for power;
What station charms thee? I'll install thee there;
Tis thine. And art thou greater than beforo?
Then thou before wast something less than man.
Has thy new post betray'd thee into pride 1
That treacherous pride betrays thy dignity;
That prido defames humanity, and calls
The being mean, which staffs or strings can raise.
High worth is elevated place: Tis more; It makes the post stand candidate for Thee; Makes more than monarchs—makes an honest man; Though no exchequer it commands, 'tis wealth; And though it wears no ribbon, 'tis renown; Renown, that would not quit thee, though disgraced. Nor leave thee pendent on a master's smile. Other ambition nature interdicts; Nature proclaims it most absurd in man, pointing at his origin, and end; Ik, and a swath, at first, his whole demand; His whole domain, at last, a turf, or stone; To whom, between, a world may seem too small.