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Where the half-cirque which vision bounds,
Like amphitheatre surrounds ;
And woods impervious to the breeze,
Thick phalanx of embodied trees ;
From hills, through plains, in dusk array
Extended far, repel the day.
Here stillness, height, and solemn shade,
Invite, and contemplation aid.
Here nymphs from hollow oaks relate
The dark decrees and will of Fate;
And dreams beneath the spreading beech
Inspire, and docile fancy teach,
While, soft as breezy breath of wind,
Impulses rustle through the mind :
Here Dryads, scorning Phebus? ray,
While Pan melodious pipes away,
In measured motions frisk about,
Till old Silenus puts them out.
There see the clover, pea, and bean,
Vie in variety of green;
Fresh pastures speckled o'er with sheep,
Brown fields their fallow sabbaths keep,
Plump Ceres golden tresses wear,
And poppy top-knots deck her hair,
And silver streams through meadows stray,
And Naiads on the margin play,
And lesser nymphs on side of hills
From plaything urns pour down the rills.
Thus shelter'd, free from care and strife,
May I enjoy a calm through life;
See faction, safe in low degree,
As men at land see storms at sea,
And laugh at miserable elves,
Not kind so much as to themselves ;
Cursed with such souls of base alloy,
As can possess, but not enjoy ;
Debarr'd the pleasure to impart,
By avarice, sphincter of the heart,
Who wealth, hard-earn'd by guilty cares,
Bequeath untouch'd to thankless heirs.
May I, with look ungloom'd by guile,
And wearing virtue's livery smile,
Prone the distressed to relieve,
And little trespasses forgive,
With income not in Fortune's power,
And skill to make a busy hour,
With trips to town, life to amuse,
To purchase books, and hear the news ;
To see old friends, brush off the clown,
And quicken taste at coming down;
Unhurt by sickness' blasting rage,
And slowly mellowing in age,
When fate extends its gathering gripe,
Fall off like fruit grown fully ripe ;
Quit a worn being without pain,
Perhaps to blossom soon again.
But now more serious see me grow, And what I think, my Memmius, know.
Th’ enthusiast's hope, and raptures wild, Have never get my reason foild. His springy soul dilates like air, When free from weight of ambient care, And hush'd in meditation deep, Slides into dreams, as when asleep ; Then, foud of new discoveries grown, Proves a Columbus of her own,
Disdains the narrow bounds of place,
And through the wilds of endless space,
Borne up on metaphysic wings,
Chases light forms and shadowy things,
And, in the vague excursion caught,
Brings home some rare exotic thought.
The melancholy man such dreams
As brightest evidence esteems;
Kain would he see some distant scene
Suggested by his restless Spleen,
And Fancy's telescope applies
With tinctured glass to cheat his eyes.
Such thoughts as love the gloom of night,
I close examine by the light;
For who, though bribed by gain to lie,
Dare sun-beam written truths deny,
And execute plain common sense
On faith's mere hearsay evidenée ?
That superstition mayn?t create
And club its ills with those of fate,
I many a notion take to task,
Made dreadful by its visor-mask.
Thus scruple, spasm of the mind,
Is cured, and certainty I find.
Since optic reason shews me plain,
I dreaded spectres of the brain,
And legendary fears are gone,
Though in tenacious childhood sown;
Thus in opinions I commence
Freeholder in the proper sense,
And neither suit nor service do
Nor homage to pretenders show,
Who boast themselves by spurious roll
Lords of the manor of the soul;
Preferring sense from chin that's bare,
To nonsense throned in whisker'd hair.
To thee, Creator uncreate, O Entium Ens ! divinely great! Hold, Muse, nor melting pinions try, Nor near the blazing glory fly, Nor straining break thy feeble bow, Unfeather'd arrows far to throw : Through fields unknown not madly stray, Where no ideas mark the way. With tender eyes, and colors faint, And trembling hands, forbear to paint. Who features veild by light can hit ? Where can, what has no outline, sit? My soul, the vain attempt forego, Thyself, the fitter subject, know. He wisely shuns the bold extreme, Who soon lays by th' unequal theme, Nor runs, with wisdom's Syrens caught, On quicksands swallowing shipwreck'd thought; But, conscious of his distance, gives Mute praise, and humble negatives. In one, no object of our sight, Immutable and infinite, Who can't be cruel or unjust, Calm and resign'd, I fix my trust; To him my past and present state Lowe, and must my future fate. A stranger into life I'm come; Dying may be our going home,
Transported here by angry Fate,
The convicts of a prior state.
Hence I no anxious thoughts bestow
On matters I can never know;
Through life's foul way, like vagrant passid,
He'll grant a settlement at last,
And with sweet ease the wearied crown,
By leave to lay his being down.
If doom'd to dance th' eternal round
Of life, no sooner lost but found,
And dissolution soon to come,
Like spunge, wipes out life's present sum,
But can't our state of power bereave
An endless series to receive ;
Then, if hard dealt with here by fate;
We balance in another state,
And consciousness must go along,
And sign th' acquittance for the wrong.
He for his creatures must decree
More happiness than misery,
Or be supposed to create,
Curious to try what 'tis to hate :
And do an act which rage infers,
'Cause lameness halts, or blindness errs.
Thus, thus I steer my bark, and sail On even keel with gentle gale ; At helm I make my reason sit, My crew of passions all submit. If dark and blustering prove some nights, Philosophy puts forth her lights; Experience holds the cautious glass, To shun the breakers as I pass,