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Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race,
Disporting on thy margent green,
The paths of pleasure trace;
Who foremost now delight to cleave,
With pliant arms, the glasly wave?
The captive linnet which enthral ?
What idle progeny succeed
To chace the rolling circle's speed,
Or urge the flying ball ?
While some on earnest bul’ness bent
Their murm’ring labours ply
'Gainst graver hours that bring constraint
To sweeten liberty:
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,
And unknown regions dare descry:
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in ev'ry wind,
And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possesl’d;
The tear forgot as soon as shed,
The sunshine of the breast:
Theirs buxom health of rosy hue,
Wild wit, invention ever new,
And lively cheer, of vigour born;
The thoughtless day the easy night,
The spirits pure, the slumbers light,
That fly th’approach of morn.
Alas! regardless of their doom,
The little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come,
Nor care beyond to-day:
Yet see, how all around 'em wait
The ministers of human fate,
And black Misfortune's baleful train!
Ah, shew then where in ambush stand,
To seize their prey, the murd'rous band!
Ah, tell them they are men!
These shall the fury passions tear,
The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful anger, pallid fear,
And shame that skulks behind;
Or pining love shall waste their youth,
Or jealousy with rankling tooth,
That inly knaws the secret heart;
And envy wan, and faded care,
Grim-visag'd comfortless despair,
And sorrow's piercing dart.
Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter scorn a sacrifice,
And grinning infamy.
The stings of falsehood those shall try,
And hard unkindness' alter'd eye,
That mocks the tear it forc'd to flow;
And keen remorse with blood delil'd,
And moody madness laughing wild
Amid feverest woe.
Lo! in the vale of years, beneath
A grisly troop, are seen
The painful family of Death,
More hideous than their queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That ev'ry labouring finew strains,
Those in the deeper vitals rage:
Lo, poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,
And slow-consuming age.
To each his suff'rings; all are men,
Condemn’d alike to groan;
The tender for another's pain,
Th’unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate!
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise, - No more-where ignorance is bliss,
Tis folly to be wise.
W H AT dire offence from am’rous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things ,
I sing – This verse to Caryl, Muse! is due :
This, ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view :
Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,
If She inspire, and He approve my lays.
Say what strange motive, Goddess! could compel
A well-bred Lord t'assault a gentle Belle ?
O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor'd,
Could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord ?
In tasks so bold, can little men engage,
And in soft bofoms dwells such mighty rage ?
Sol thro' white curtains shot a tim'rous ray, And ope'd those eyes that must eclipse the day: Now lap-dogs gave themselves the rouzing shake, And sleepless lovers' just at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knock'd the ground, And the press’d watch return'd a silver sound. Belinda still her downy pillow prest, Her guardian Sylph prolong’d the balmy rest:
Twas He had summon’d to her silent bed
The morning-dream that hover'd o'er her head,
A youth more glitt’ring than a birth-night beau,
(That e’en in slumber made her cheek to glow)
Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay,
And thus in whispers said, or seem'd to say:
Fairest of mortals, thou distinguish'd care
Of thousand bright inhabitants of air!
If e'er one vision touch thy infant thought,
Of all the Nurse and all the Priest have taught;
Of airy elves by moonlight shadows seen,
The filver token, and the circled green,
Of virgins visited by Angel-pow'rs,
With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly flow'rs;
Hear and believe! thy own importance know,
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.
Some secret truths, from learned pride conceald,
To maids alone and children are reveald:
What tho' no credit doubting wits may give ?
The fair and innocent shall still believe.
Know then, unnumber'd spirits round thee fly,
The light Militia of the lower sky:
These, tho' unseen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o'er the box, and hover round the ring.
Think what an equipage thou hast in air,
And view with scorn two pages and a chair.