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THE solitary bird of night
Through the thick shades now wings his flight,
And quits the time-shook tow'r,
Where, shelter'd from the blaze of day,
In philosophic gloom he lay,
Beneath his ivy bow'r.
With joy I hear the solemn sound,
Which midnight echoes waft around,
And sighing gales repeat:
Fav'rite of Pallas! I attend,
And, faithful to thy summons, bend
At Wisdom's awful seat.
She loves the cool, the silent eve,
Where no false shows of life deceive,
Beneath the lunar ray :
Here Folly drops each vain disguise,
Nor sports her gaily-colour'd dyes,
As in the glare of day.
O Pallas! queen of every art
'That glads the sense, or mends the heart,
Bless'd source of purer joys;
In ev'ry form of beauty bright,
That captivates the mental sight
With pleasure and surprise!
At thy unspotted shrine I bow:
Assist thy modest suppliant's vow,
That breathes no wild desires;
But, taught by thy unerring rules
To shun the fruitless wish of fools,
To nobler views aspires.
Not fortune's gem, ambition's plume, Nor Cytherea's fading bloom,
Be objects of my prayer;
Let avʼrice, vanity, and pride,
Those envied glitt'ring toys, divide
The dull rewards of care.
To me thy better gifts impart,
Each moral beauty of the heart,
By studious thought refin'd:
For wealth, the smiles of glad content;
For pow'r, his amplest, best extent,
An empire o'er the mind.
When Fortune drops her gay parade,
When Pleasure's transient roses fade,
And wither in the tomb,
Unchang'd is thy immortal prize,
Thy ever-verdant laurels rise
In undecaying bloom.
By thee protected, I defy
The coxcomb's sneer, the stupid lie
Of ignorance and spite;
Alike contemn the leaden fool,
And all the pointed ridicule
Of undiscerning wit.
From envy, hurry, noise, and strife,
The dull impertinence of life,
In thy retreat I rest,
Pursue thee to thy peaceful groves,
Where Plato's sacred spirit roves,
In all thy graces dress'd.
He bid Ilyssus' tuneful stream
Convey thy philosophic theme
Of perfect, fair, and good:
Attentive Athens caught the sound,
And all her list'ning sons around
In awful silence stood.
Reclaim'd, her wild licentious youth
Confess'd the potent voice of truth,
And felt its just control :
The passions ceas'd their loud alarms,
And virtue's soft persuasive charms
O'er all their senses stole.
Thy breath inspires the poet's song,
The patriot's free unbiass'd tongue,
The hero's gen'rous strife:
Thine are retirement's silent joys,
And all the sweet endearing ties
Of still domestic life.
No more to fabled names confin'd,
To thee, supreme, all-perfect mind,
My thoughts direct their flight:
Wisdom's thy gift, and all her force
From thee deriv'd, unchanging source
Of intellectual light!
O send her sure, her steady ray,
To regulate my doubtful way,
Through life's perplexing road;
The mists of error to control,
And through its gloom direct my soul To happiness and good!
Beneath her clear discerning eye.
The visionary shadows fly
Of Folly's painted show:
She sees through every fair disguise,
That all but Virtue's solid joys
Is vanity and wo.
THY spirit, Independence, let me share,
Lord of the lion-heart and eagle-eye!
Thy steps I follow with my bosom bare,
Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky.
Deep in the frozen regions of the north,
A goddess violated brought thee forth,
Immortal Liberty! whose look sublime
Hath bleach'd the tyrant's cheek in every varying
What time the iron-hearted Gaul,
With frantic Superstition for his guide, Arm'd with the dagger and the pall,
The sons of Woden to the field defied;
The ruthless hag, by Weser's flood,
In Heaven's name urged th' infernal blow;
And red the streams began to flow:
The vanquish'd were baptiz'd with blood !*
* Charlemagne obliged four thousand Saxon prisoners to embrace the Christian religion, and immediately after they were baptized, ordered their throats to be cut. Their prince Vitikind fled for shelter to Gotrick, king of Denmark.
The Saxon prince in horror fled
From altars stain'd with human gore; And liberty his routed legions led
In safety to the bleak Norwegian shore.
There in a cave asleep she lay,
Lull'd by the hoarse-resounding main ;
When a bold savage pass'd that way,
Impell'd by destiny, his name Disdain.
Of ample front the portly chief appear’d:
The hunted bear supplied a shaggy vest;
The drifted snow hung on his yellow beard ;
And his broad shoulders brav'd the furious blast. He stopp'd; he gaz'd; his bosom glow'd,
And deeply felt the impression of her charms: He seiz'd the advantage Fate allow'd;
And straight compress'd her in his vigorous arms.
The curlew scream'd, the tritons blew
Their shells to celebrate the ravish'd rite;
Old Time exulted as he flew;
And Independence saw the light.
The light he saw in Albion's happy plains,
Where, under cover of a flowering thorn,
While Philomel renew'd her warbled strains,
Th' auspicious fruit of stolen embrace was born-
The mountain dryads seiz'd with joy
The smiling infant to their charge consign'd: The Doric Muse caress'd the favourite boy; The hermit Wisdom stor'd his opening mind.