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Winds scatter through the mighty void the dry;
Earth reposseses part of what she gave,
And the freed spirit mounts on wings of fire;
Each element partakes our scatter'd spoils;
As Nature, wide, our ruins spread: man's death
Inhabits all things, but the thought of man.
Nor man alone; his breathing bust expires,
His tomb is mortal; empires die: where now
The Roman? Greek? they stalk, an empty name!
Yet few regard them in this useful light;
Though half our learning is their epitaph.
When down thy vale, unlock'd by midnight thought,
That loves to wander in thy sunless realms,
O Death! I stretch my view; what visions rise!
What triumphs! toils imperial! arts divine!
In wither'd laurels glide before my sight!
What lengths of far-fam'd ages, billow'd high
With human agitation, roll along
In unsubstantial images of air!
The melancholy ghosts of dead renown,
Whispering faint echoes of the world's applause,
With penitential aspect, as they pass,
All point at Earth, and hiss at human pride,
The wisdom of the wise, and prancings of the great.
But, O Lorenzo! far the rest above,
Of ghastly nature, and enormous size,
One form assaults my sight, and chills my blood,
And shakes my frame. Of one departed world
I see the mighty shadow: oozy wreath
And dismal sea-weed crown her; o'er her urn
Reclin'd, she weeps her desolated realms,
And bloated sons; and, weeping, prophesies
Another's dissolution, soon, in flames.
But, like Cassandra, prophesies in vain;
In vain, to many; not, I trust, to thee.
For, know'st thou not, or art thou loth to know,
The great decree, the counsel of the skies?
Deluge and conflagration, dreadful powers!
Prime ministers of vengeance! chain'd in caves
Distinct, apart the giant furies roar ;
Apart; or, such their horrid rage for ruin,
In mutual conflict would they rise, and wage
Eternal war, till one was quite devour'd.
But not for this ordain'd their boundless rage;
When Heaven's inferior instruments of wrath,
War, famine, pestilence, are found too weak
To scourge a world for her enormous crimes,
These are let loose, alternate: down they rush,
Swift and tempestuous, from th' eternal throne,
With irresistible commission arm'd,
The world, in vain corrected, to destroy,
And ease creation of the shocking scene.
See'st thou, Lorenzo! what depends on man? The fate of Nature; as for man, her birth. Earth's actors change Earth's transitory scenes, And make creation groan with human guilt. How must it groan, in a new deluge whelm'd, But not of waters! at the destin'd hour, By the loud trumpet summon'd to the charge, See, all the formidable sons of fire, Eruptions, earthquakes, comets, lightnings, play Their various engines; all at once disgorge Their blazing magazines; and take, by storm, This poor terrestrial citadel of man.
Amazing period! when each mountain-height Out-burns Vesuvius; rocks eternal pour Their melted mass, as rivers once they pour'd; Stars rush; and final ruin fiercely drives Her ploughshare o'er creation!—while aloft, More than astonishment! if more can be! Far other firmament than e'er was seen, Than e'er was thought by man! far other stars! Stars animate, that govern these of fire; Far other sun! 1 - A sun, O how unlike The babe at Bethlem! how unlike the man That groan'd on Calvary!- Yet he it is; That Man of Sorrows! O how chang'd! what pomp' In grandeur terrible, all Heaven descends! And gods, ambitious, triumph in his train. A swift archangel, with his golden wing, As blots and clouds, that darken and disgrace The scene divine, sweeps stars and suns aside. And now, all dross remov'd, Heaven's own pure day, Full on the confines of our ether, flames. While (dreadful contrast!) far, how far beneath! Hell, bursting, belches forth her blazing seas, And storms sulphureous; her voracious jaws Expanding wide, and roaring for her prey. Lorenzo! welcome to this scene; the last In Nature's course; the first in wisdom's thought. This strikes, if aught can strike thee; this awakes The most supine; this snatches man from death. Rouse, rouse, Lorenzo, then, and follow me, Where truth, the most momentous man can hear, Loud calls my soul, and ardour wings her flight. I find my inspiration in my theme; The grandeur of my subject is my Muse.
At midnight, when mankind is wrapt in peace, And worldly fancy feeds on golden' dreams; To give more dread to man's most dreadful hour, At midnight, 't is presum'd this pomp will burst From tenfold darkness; sudden as the spark From smitten steel; from nitrous grain, the blaze. Man, starting from his couch, shall sleep no more! The day is broke, which never more shall close! Above, around, beneath, amazement all! Terrour and glory join'd in their extremes ! Our God in grandeur, and our world on fire! All Nature struggling in the pangs of death! Dost thou not hear her? Dost thou not deplore Her strong convulsions, and her final groan ? Where are we now? Ah me! the ground is gone On which we stood: Lorenzo! while thou may'st, Provide more firm support, or sink for ever! Where? How? From whence? Vain hope! it is too late!
Where, where, for shelter, shall the guilty fly,
When consternation turns the good man pale?
Great day! for which all other days were made;
For which Earth rose from chaos, man from Earth;
And an eternity, the date of Gods,
Descended on poor earth-created man!
Great day of dread, decision, and despair!
At thought of thee, each sublunary wish
Lets go its eager grasp, and drops the world;
And catches at each reed of hope in Heaven.
At thought of thee!—and art thou absent then?
Lorenzo! no; 't is here; it is begun ;·
Already is begun the grand assize,
In thee, in all: deputed conscience scales
The dread tribunal, and forestalls our doom;
Forestalls; and, by forestalling, proves it sure.
Why on himself should man void judgment pass
Is idle Nature laughing at her sons?
Who conscience sent, her sentence will support,
And God above assert that god in man.
Thrice happy they! that enter now the court
Heaven opens in their bosoms: but, how rare,
Ah me! that magnanimity, how rare!
What hero, like the man who stands himself;
Who dares to meet his naked heart alone;
Who hears intrepid, the full charge it brings,
Resolv'd to silence future murmurs there?
The coward flies; and, flying, is undone.
(Art thou a coward? No:) the coward flies;
Thinks, but thinks slightly; asks, but fears to know;
Asks, "What is truth?" with Pilate; and retires;
Dissolves the court, and mingles with the throng;
Asylum sad! from reason, hope, and Heaven!
Shall all, but man, look out with ardent eye, For that great day, which was ordain'd for man? O day of consummation! mark supreme
(If men are wise) of human thought! nor least,
Or in the sight of angels, or their King!
Angels, whose radiant circles, height o'er height,
Order o'er order, rising, blaze o'er blaze,
As in a theatre, surround this scene,
Intent on man, and anxious for his fate.
Angels look out for thee; for thee, their Lord,
Ta vindicate his glory; and for thee,
Creation universal calls aloud,