Page images
PDF
EPUB

To priestly domination and the lust
Of lawless courts, their amiable toil
For three inglorious ages have resign'd,
In vain reluctant: and Torquato's tongue
Was tun'd for slavish pans at the throne
Of tinsel pomp: and Raphael's magic hand
Effus'd its fair creation to enchant

The fond adoring herd in Latian fanes

To blind belief; while on their prostrate necks
The sable tyrant plants his heel secure.
But now, behold! the radiant era dawns,
When Freedom's ample fabric, fix'd at length
For endless years on Albion's happy shore
In full proportion, once more shall extend
To all the kindred powers of social bliss
A common mansion, a parental roof.

Than all the blandishments of sound his ear,
Than all of taste his tongue. Nor ever yet
The melting rainbow's vernal-tinctur'd hues
To me have shone so pleasing, as when first
The hand of Science pointed out the path
In which the sunbeams gleaming from the west
Fall on the watery cloud, whose darksome veil
Involves the orient; and that trickling shower
Piercing through every crystalline convex
Of clustering dew-drops to their flight oppos'd,
Recoil at length where concave all behind
The internal surface on each glassy orb
Repels their forward passage into air;
That thence direct they seek the radiant goal

From which their course began; and, as they strike

In different lines the gazer's obvious eye,

There shall the Virtues, there shall Wisdom's train, Assume a different lustre, through the brede

Their long-lost friends rejoining, as of old,
Embrace the smiling family of Arts,
The Muses and the Graces. Then no more
Shall Vice, distracting their delicious gifts
To aims abhorr'd, with high distaste and scorn
Turn from their charms the philosophic eye,
The patriot-bosom; then no more the paths
Of public care or intellectual toil,
Alone by footsteps haughty and severe
In gloomy state be trod: the harmonious Muse,
And her persuasive sisters, then shall plant
Their sheltering laurels o'er the black ascent,
And scatter flowers along the rugged way.
Arm'd with the lyre, already have we dar'd
To pierce divine Philosophy's retreats,
And teach the Muse her lore; already strove
Their long-divided honors to unite,
While tempering this deep argument we sang
Of Truth and Beauty. Now the same glad task
Impends; now urging our ambitious toil,
We hasten to recount the various springs
Of adventitious pleasure, which adjoin
Their grateful influence to the prime effect
Of objects grand or beauteous, and enlarge
The complicated joy. The sweets of sense,
Do they not oft with kind accession flow,
To raise harmonious Fancy's native charm?
So while we taste the fragrance of the rose,
Glows not her blush the fairer? While we view
Amid the noontide walk a limpid rill
Gush through the trickling herbage, to the thirst
Of Summer yielding the delicious draught
Of cool refreshment; o'er the mossy brink
Shines not the surface clearer, and the waves
With sweeter music murmur as they flow?
Nor this alone; the various lot of life
Oft from external circumstance assumes
A moment's disposition to rejoice
Ja those delights which at a different hour
Would pass unheeded. Fair the face of Spring,
When rural songs and odors wake the Morn,
To every eye; but how much more to his
Round whom the bed of sickness long diffus'd
Its melancholy gloom! how doubly fair,
When first with fresh-born vigor he inhales
The balmy breeze, and feels the blessed Sun
Warm at his bosom, from the springs of life
Chasing oppressive damps and languid pain!

Or shall I mention, where celestial Truth
Her awful light discloses, to bestow
A more majestic pomp on Beauty's frame?

For man loves knowledge, and the beams of Truth
More welcome touch his understanding's eye,

Of colors changing from the splendid rose
To the pale violet's dejected hue.

Or shall we touch that kind access of joy,
That springs to each fair object, while we trace
Through all its fabric, Wisdom's artful aim
Disposing every part, and gaining still
By means proportion'd her benignant end?
Speak, ye, the pure delight, whose favor'd steps
The lamp of Science through the jealous maze
Of Nature guides, when haply you reveal
Her secret honors: whether in the sky,
The beauteous laws of light, the central powers
That wheel the pensile planets round the year;
Whether in wonders of the rolling deep,
Or the rich fruits of all-sustaining earth,
Or fine-adjusted springs of life and sense,
Ye scan the counsels of their author's hand.

What, when to raise the meditated scene, The flame of passion through the struggling soul Deep-kindled, shows across that sudden blaze The object of its rapture, vast of size, With fiercer colors and a night of shade? What? like a storm from their capacious bed The sounding seas o'erwhelming, when the might Of these eruptions, working from the depth Of man's strong apprehension, shakes his frame Even to the base; from every naked sense Of pain or pleasure dissipating all Opinion's feeble coverings, and the veil Spun from the cobweb fashion of the times To hide the feeling heart? Then Nature speaks Her genuine language, and the words of men, Big with the very motion of their souls, Declare with what accumulated force The impetuous nerve of passion urges on The native weight and energy of things.

Yet more: her honors where nor beauty claims
Nor shows of good the thirsty sense allure,
From Passion's power alone our nature holds
Essential pleasure. Passion's fierce illapse
Rouses the mind's whole fabric; with supplies
Of daily impulse keeps the elastic powers
Intensely pois'd, and polishes anew

By that collision all the fine machine:
Else rust would rise, and foulness, by degrees
Encumbering, choke at last what Heaven design d
For ceaseless motion and a round of toil.
-But say, does every passion thus to man
Administer delight? That name indeed
Becomes the rosy breath of Love; becomes
The radiant smiles of Joy, the applauding hand
Of Admiration: but the bitter shower
That Sorrow sheds upon a brother's grave,

But the dumb palsy of nocturnal Fear,
Or those consuming fires that gnaw the heart
Of panting Indignation, find we there
To move delight?-Then listen while my tongue
The unalter'd will of Heaven with faithful awe
Reveals; what old Harmodius, wont to teach
My early age; Harmodius, who had weigh'd
Within his learned mind whate'er the schools
Of Wisdom, or thy lonely-whispering voice,
O faithful Nature! dictate of the laws
Which govern and support this mighty frame
Of universal being. Oft the hours
From morn to eve have stolen unmark'd away,
While mute attention hung upon his lips,
As thus the sage his awful tale began.

66

"Twas in the windings of an ancient wood, When spotless youth with solitude resigns To sweet philosophy the studious day, What time pale Autumn shades the silent eve, Musing I rov'd. Of good and evil much, And much of mortal man, my thought revolv'd; When starting full on Fancy's gushing eye The mournful image of Parthenia's fate, That hour, O long belov'd and long deplor'd! When blooming youth, nor gentlest Wisdom's arts, Nor Hymen's honors gather'd for thy brow, Nor all thy lover's, all thy father's tears, Avail'd to snatch thee from the cruel grave; Thy agonizing looks, thy last farewell, Struck to the inmost feeling of my soul

Dark

As with the hand of Death. At once the shade
More horrid nodded o'er me, and the winds
With hoarser murmuring shook the branches.
As midnight storms, the scene of human things
Appear'd before me: deserts, burning sands,
Where the parch'd adder dies; the frozen south,
And Desolation blasting all the west
With rapine and with murder: tyrant Power
Here sits enthron'd with blood; the baleful charms
Of Superstition there infect the skies,
And turn the Sun to horror. Gracious Heaven!
What is the life of man? Or cannot these,
Not these portents thy awful will suffice?
That, propagated thus beyond their scope,

They rise to act their cruelties anew
In my afflicted bosom, thus decreed

The universal sensitive of pain,

The wretched heir of evils not its own!

"Thus I impatient; when, at once effus'd,

A flashing torrent of celestial day

Burst through the shadowy void. With slow descent
A purple cloud came floating through the sky,
And, pois'd at length within the circling trees,
Hung obvious to my view; till opening wide
Its lucid orb, a more than human form
Emerging lean'd majestic o'er my head,
And instant thunder shook the conscious grove.
Then melted into air the liquid cloud,
Then all the shining vision stood reveal'd.
A wreath of palm his ample forehead bound,
And o'er his shoulder, mantling to his knee,
Flow'd the transparent robe, around his waist
Collected with a radiant zone of gold
Ethereal: there in mystic signs engrav'd,
I read his office high, and sacred name,
Genius of human-kind. Appall'd I gaz'd
The godlike presence; for athwart his brow
Displeasure, temper'd with a mild concern,
Look'd down reluctant on me, and his words
Like distant thunders broke the murmuring air.

"Vain are thy thoughts, O child of mortal birth!

And impotent thy tongue. Is thy short span
Capacious of this universal frame?
Thy wisdom all-sufficient? Thou, alas!
Dost thou aspire to judge between the Lord
Of Nature and his works? to lift thy voice
Against the sovereign order he decreed,
All good and lovely? to blaspheme the bands
Of tenderness innate, and social love,
Holiest of things! by which the general orb
Of being, as by adamantine links,
Was drawn to perfect union, and sustain'd
From everlasting? Hast thou felt the pangs
Of softening sorrow, of indignant zeal,
So grievous to the soul, as thence to wish
The ties of Nature broken from thy frame;
That so thy selfish, unrelenting heart
Might cease to mourn its lot, no longer then
The wretched heir of evils not its own?
O fair benevolence of generous minds!
O man by Nature form'd for all mankind!'
He spoke; abash'd and silent I remain'd,
As conscious of my tongue's offence, and aw'd
Before his presence, though my secret soul
Disdain'd the imputation. On the ground

[ocr errors]

I fix'd my eyes; till from his airy couch
He stoop'd sublime, and touching with his hand
My dazzling forehead, Raise thy sight,' he cried,
And let thy sense convince thy erring tongue.'

"I look'd, and lo! the former scene was chang'd
For verdant alleys and surrounding trees,
A solitary prospect, wide and wild,
Rush'd on my senses. "Twas an horrid pile
Of hills, with many a shaggy forest mix'd,
With many a sable cliff and glittering stream.
Aloft, recumbent o'er the hanging ridge,
The brown woods wav'd; while ever-trickling
springs

Wash'd from the naked roots of oak and pine
The crumbling soil; and still at every fall
Down the steep windings of the channel'd rock,
Remurmuring rush'd the congregated floods
With hoarser inundation; till at last
They reach'd a grassy plain, which from the skirts
Of that high desert spread her verdant lap,
And drank the gushing moisture, where, confin'd
In one smooth current, o'er the lilied vale
Clearer than glass it flow'd. Autumnal spoils,
Luxuriant spreading to the rays of morn,
Blush'd o'er the cliffs, whose half-encircling mound
As in a sylvan theatre inclos'd

That flowery level. On the river's brink
I spied a fair pavilion, which diffus'd
Its floating umbrage 'mid the silver shade
Of osiers. Now the western Sun reveal'd
Between two parting cliffs his golden orb,
And pour'd across the shadow of the hills,
On rocks and floods, a yellow stream of light
That cheer'd the solemn scene. My listening powers
Were aw'd, and every thought in silence hung,
And wondering expectation. Then the voice
Of that celestial power, the mystic show
Declaring, thus my deep attention call'd.

[ocr errors][merged small]

The bounds of true felicity complete; Yet by immense benignity inclin'd

To spead around him that primeval joy
Which fill'd himself, he rais'd his plastic arm,
And sounded through the hollow depth of space
The strong, creative mandate. Straight arose
These heavenly orbs, the glad abodes of life
Effusive kindled by his breath divine
Through endless forms of being. Each inhal'd
From him its portion of the vital flame,

In measure such, that, from the wide complex
Of coexistent orders, one might rise,
One Order, all-involving and entire.
He too beholding in the sacred light
Of his essential reason, all the shapes
Of swift contingence, all successive ties
Of action propagated through the sum
Of possible existence, he at once,
Down the long series of eventful time,
So fix'd the dates of being, so dispos'd,
To every living soul of every kind
The field of motion and the hour of rest,
That all conspir'd to his supreme design,
To universal good: with full accord
Answering the mighty model he had chosen,
The best and fairest of unnumber'd worlds,
That lay from everlasting in the store
Of his divine conceptions. Nor content,
By one exertion of creative power

His goodness to reveal; through every age,
Through every moment up the tract of time,
His parent-hand, with ever-new increase
Of happiness and virtue, has adorn'd
The vast harmonious frame: his parent-hand,
From the mute shell-fish gasping on the shore,
To men, to angels, to celestial minds,
For ever leads the generations on

To higher scenes of being; while, supplied
From day to day with his enlivening breath,
Inferior orders in succession rise

To fill the void below. As flame ascends,
As bodies to their proper centre move,
As the pois'd ocean to the attracting Moon
Obedient swells, and every headlong stream
Devolves its winding waters to the main;
So all things which have life aspire to God,
The Sun of being, boundless, unimpair'd,
Centre of souls! Nor does the faithful voice
Of Nature cease to prompt their eager steps
Aright; nor is the care of Heaven withheld
From granting to the task proportion'd aid;
That in their stations all may persevere
To climb the ascent of being, and approach
For ever nearer to the life divine.

"That rocky pile thou see'st, that verdant lawn Fresh-water'd from the mountains. Let the scene Paint in thy fancy the primeval seat

Of man, and where the will supreme ordain'd
His mansion, that pavilion fair diffus'd
Along the shady brink; in this recess
To wear the appointed season of his youth,
Till riper hours should open to his toil
The high communion of superior minds,
Of consecrated heroes and of gods.
Nor did the Sire Omnipotent forget
His tender bloom to cherish; nor withheld
Celestial footsteps from his green abode.
Oft from the radiant honors of his throne,
He sent whom most he lov'd, the sovereign fair,
The effluence of his glory, whom he plac'd

Before his eyes for ever to behold;

The goddess from whose inspiration flows
The toil of patriots, the delight of friends;
Without whose work divine, in Heaven or Earth,
Nought lovely, nought propitious, comes to pass,
Nor hope, nor praise, nor honor. Her the Sire
Gave it in charge to rear the blooming mind,
The folded powers to open, to direct
The growth luxuriant of his young desires,
And from the laws of this majestic world
To teach him what was good. As thus the nymph
Her daily care attended, by her side

With constant steps her gay companions stay'd,
The fair Euphrosyné, the gentle queen
Of smiles, and graceful gladness, and delights
That cheer alike the hearts of mortal men
And powers immortal. See the shining pair!
Behold, where from his dwelling now disclos'd
They quit their youthful charge and seek the skies.
"I look'd, and on the flowery turf there stood,
Between two radiant forms, a smiling youth,
Whose tender cheeks display'd the vernal flower
Of beauty; sweetest innocence illum'd
His bashful eyes, and on his polish'd brow
Sate young Simplicity. With fond regard
He view'd the associates, as their steps they mov'd;
The younger chief his ardent eyes detain'd,
With mild regret invoking her return.
Bright as the star of evening she appear'd
Amid the dusky scene. Eternal youth

O'er all her form its glowing honors breath'd;
And smiles eternal from her candid eyes
Flow'd, like the dewy lustre of the morn
Effusive trembling on the placid waves.
The spring of Heaven had shed its blushing spoils
To bind her sable tresses: full diffus'd
Her yellow mantle floated in the breeze;
And in her hand she wav'd a living branch
Rich with immortal fruits, of power to calm
The wrathful heart, and from the brightening eyes
To chase the cloud of sadness. More sublime
The heavenly partner mov'd. The prime of age
Compos'd her steps. The presence of a god,
High on the circle of her brow enthron'd,
From each majestic motion darted awe,
Devoted awe! till, cherish'd by her looks
Benevolent and meet, confiding love
To filial rapture soften'd all the soul.
Free in her graceful hand she pois'd the sword
Of chaste dominion. An heroic crown

Display'd the old simplicity of pomp
Around her honor'd head. A matron's robe,
White as the sun-shine streams through vernal

clouds,

Her stately form invested. Hand in hand
The immortal pair forsook the enamel'd green,
Ascending slowly. Rays of limpid light
Gleam'd round their path; celestial sounds were

heard,

And through the fragrant air ethereal dews
Distill'd around them; till at once the clouds,
Disparting wide in midway sky, withdrew
Their airy veil, and left a bright expanse
Of empyréan flame, where, spent and drown'd,
Afflicted vision plung'd in vain to scan
What object it involv'd. My feeble eyes
Endur'd not. Bending down to Earth I stood,
With dumb attention. Soon a female voice,
As watery murmurs sweet, or warbling shades,
With sacred invocation thus began.

"Father of gods and mortals! whose right arm With reins eternal guides the moving heavens, Bend thy propitions ear. Behold well-pleas'd

I seek to finish thy divine decree.
With frequent steps I visit yonder seat

Of man, thy offspring; from the tender seeds
Of justice and of wisdom, to evolve
The latent honors of his generous frame;
Till thy conducting hand shall raise his lot
From Earth's dim scene to these ethereal walks,
The temple of thy glory. But not me,
Not my directing voice, he oft requires,
Or hears delighted: this enchanting maid,
The associate thou hast given me, her alone
He loves, O Father! absent, her he craves;
And but for her glad presence ever join'd,
Rejoices not in mine: that all my hopes
This thy benignant purpose to fulfil,
I deem uncertain: and my daily cares
Unfruitful all and vain, unless by thee
Still further aided in the work divine.'

44

She ceas'd; a voice more awful thus replied.
O thou! in whom for ever I delight,
Fairer than all the inhabitants of Heaven,
Best image of thy author! far from thee
Be disappointment, or distaste, or blame;
Who, soon or late, shall every work fulfil,
And no resistance find.. If man refuse
To hearken to thy dietates; or, allur'd
By meaner joys, to any other power
Transfer the honors due to thee alone;
That joy which he pursues he ne'er shall taste,
That power in whom delighteth ne'er behold.
Go then, once more, and happy be thy toil
Go then! but let not this thy smiling friend
Partake thy footsteps. In her stead, behold!
With thee the son of Nemesis I send ;

Her features. From the glooms which hung around
No stain of darkness mingled with the beam
Of her divine effulgence. Now they stoop
Upon the river-bank; and now, to hail
His wonted guests, with eager steps advanc'd
The unsuspecting inmate of the shade.

"As when a famish'd wolf, that all night long Had rang'd the Alpine snows, by chance at morn Sees from a cliff incumbent o'er the smoke

Of some lone village, a neglected kid
That strays along the wild for herb or spring;
Down from the winding ridge he sweeps amain,
And thinks he tears him: so with tenfold rage,
The monster sprung remorseless on his prey.
Amaz'd the stripling stood with panting breast
Feebly he pour'd the lamentable wail
Of helpless consternation, struck at once,
And rooted to the ground. The queen beheld
His terror, and with looks of tenderest care
Advanc'd to save him. Soon the tyrant felt
Her awful power. His keen, tempestuous arm
Hung nerveless, nor descended where his rage
Had aim'd the deadly blow: then dumb retir'd
With sullen rancor. Lo! the sovran maid
Folds with a mother's arms the fainting boy,
Till life rekindles in his rosy cheek;
Then grasps his hands, and cheers him with her tongue
"O wake thee, rouse thy spirit! Shall the spite
Of yon tormenter thus appal thy heart,
While I, thy friend and guardian, am at hand
To rescue and to heal? O let thy soul
Remember, what the will of Heaven ordains
Is ever good for all; and if for all,
Then good for thee. Nor only by the warmth
And soothing sun-shine of delightful things,
Do minds grow up and flourish. Oft misled
By that bland light, the young unpractis'd views

The fiend abhorr'd! whose vengeance takes account Of reason wander through a fatal road,
Of sacred Order's violated laws.

See where he calls thee, burning to be gone,
Fierce to exhaust the tempest of his wrath
On yon devoted head. But thou, my child,
Control his cruel frenzy, and protect

Thy tender charge; that when Despair shall grasp
His agonizing bosom, he may learn,

Then he may learn to love the gracious hand
Alone sufficient in the hour of ill

To save his feeble spirit; then confess
Thy genuine honors, O excelling fair!
When all the plagues that wait the deadly will
Of this avenging demon, all the storms
Of night infernal, serve but to display
The energy of thy superior charms

With mildest awe triumphant o'er his rage,

And shining clearer in the horrid gloom.'

[ocr errors]

'Here ceas'd that awful voice, and soon I felt
The cloudy curtain of refreshing eve
Was clos'd once more, from that immortal fire
Sheltering my eyelids. Looking up, I view'd
A vast gigantic spectre striding on

Through murmuring thunders and a waste of clouds,
With dreadful action. Black as night, his brow
Relentless frowns involv'd. His savage limbs
With sharp impatience violent he writh'd,
As through convulsive anguish; and his hand,
Arm'd with a scorpion-lash, full oft he rais'd
In madness to his bosom; while his eyes
Rain'd bitter tears, and bellowing loud he shook
The void with horror. Silent by his side
The virgin came. No discomposure stirr'd

Far from their native aim; as if to lie
Inglorious in the fragrant shade, and wait
The soft access of ever-circling joys,
Were all the end of being. Ask thyself,
This pleasing error did it never lull
Thy wishes? Has thy constant heart refus'd
The silken fetters of delicious ease?
Or when divine Euphrosyné appear'd
Within this dwelling, did not thy desires
Hang far below the measure of thy fate,
Which I reveal'd before thee? and thy eyes,
Impatient of my counsels, turn away
To drink the soft effusion of her smiles?
Know then, for this the everlasting Sire
Deprives thee of her presence, and instead,
O wise and still benevolent! ordains
This horrid visage hither to pursue
My steps; that so thy nature may discern
Its real good, and what alone can save
Thy feeble spirit in this hour of ill
From folly and despair. O yet belov'd!
Let not this headlong terror quite o'erwhelm
Thy scatter'd powers; nor fatal deem the rage
Of this tormenter, nor his proud assault,
While I am here to vindicate thy toil,
Above the generous question of thy arm.
Brave by thy fears, and in thy weakness strong,
This hour he triumphs; but confront his might,
And dare him to the combat, then with ease
Disarm'd and quell'd, his fierceness he resigns
To bondage and to scorn: while thus inur'd
By watchful danger, by unceasing toil,

The immortal mind, superior to his fate,
Amid the outrage of external things,
Firm as the solid base of this great world,
Rests on his own foundations. Blow, ye winds!
Ye waves! ye thunders! roll your tempest on;
Shake, ye old pillars of the marble sky!
Till all its orbs and all its worlds of fire
Be loosen'd from their seats; yet still serene,
The unconquer'd mind looks down upon the wreck;
And ever stronger as the storms advance,
Firm through the closing ruin holds his way,
Where Nature calls him to the destin'd goal.'

"So spake the goddess; while through all her frame
Celestial raptures flow'd, in every word,
In every motion kindling warmth divine
To seize who listen'd. Vehement and swift,
As lightning fires the aromatic shade
In Ethiopian fields, the stripling felt
Her inspiration catch his fervid soul,

And, starting from his languor, thus exclaim'd:
Then let the trial come! and witness thou,

If terror be upon me; if I shrink
To meet the storm, or falter in my strength
When hardest it besets me. Do not think
That I am fearful and infirm of soul,

As late thy eyes beheld; for thou hast chang'd
My nature; thy commanding voice has wak'd
My languid powers to bear me boldly on,
Where'er the will divine my path ordains
Through toil or peril: only do not thou
Forsake me; O be thou for ever near,
That I may listen to thy sacred voice,
And guide by thy decrees my constant feet.
But say, for ever are my eyes bereft?
Say, shall the fair Euphrosyné not once
Appear again to charm me? Thou, in Heaven!
O thou eternal arbiter of things!
Be thy great bidding done: for who am I,
To question thy appointment? Let the frowns
Of this avenger every morn o'ercast

The cheerful dawn, and every evening damp
With double night my dwelling; I will learn
To hail them both, and unrepining bear
His hateful presence; but permit my tongue
One glad request, and if my deeds may
find
Thy awful eye propitious, O restore
The rosy-featur'd maid, again to cheer
This lonely seat, and bless me with her smiles.'
"He spoke; when instant through the sable
glooms

With which that furious presence had involv'd
The ambient air, a flood of radiance came
Swift as the lightning flash; the melting clouds
Flew diverse, and amid the blue serene
Euphrosyné appear'd. With sprightly step
The nymph alighted on the irriguous lawn,
And to her wondering audience thus began.

"Lo! I am here to answer to your vows,
And be the meeting fortunate! I come
With joyful tidings; we shall part no more.-
Hark! how the gentle Echo from her cell
Talks through the cliffs, and murmuring o'er the

stream

Repeats the accents-we shall part no more.
O my delightful friends! well-pleas'd on high
The Father has beheld you, while the might
Of that stern foe with bitter trial prov'd
Your equal doings; then for ever spake
The high decree: That thou, celestial maid!
Howe'er that grisly phantom on thy steps

May sometimes dare intrude, yet never more
Shalt thou, descending to the abode of man,
Alone endure the rancor of his arm,
Or leave thy lov'd Euphrosyné behind.'

"She ended; and the whole romantic scene
Immediate vanish'd; rocks, and woods, and rills,
The mantling tent, and each mysterious form,
Flew like the pictures of a morning dream,
When sun-shine fills the bed. Awhile I stood
Perplex'd and giddy; till the radiant power
Who bade the visionary landscape rise,
As up to him I turn'd, with gentlest looks
Preventing my inquiry, thus began.

"There let thy soul acknowledge its complaint How blind! how impious! There behold the ways Of Heaven's eternal destiny to man, For ever just, benevolent, and wise: That Virtue's awful steps, howe'er pursued By vexing Fortune and intrusive Pain, Should never be divided from her chaste, Her fair attendant, Pleasure. Need I urge Thy tardy thought through all the various round Of this existence, that thy softening soul At length may learn what energy the hand Of Virtue mingles in the bitter tide Of passion, swelling with distress and pain, To mitigate the sharp with gracious drops Of cordial pleasure? Ask the faithful youth Why the cold urn of her whom long he lov'd So often fills his arms; so often draws His lonely footsteps at the silent hour, To pay the mournful tribute of his tears? Oh! he will tell thee, that the wealth of worlds Should ne'er seduce his bosom to forego That sacred hour, when, stealing from the noise Of care and envy, sweet remembrance soothes With Virtue's kindest looks his aching breast, And turns his tears to rapture.-Ask the crowd Which flies impatient from the village-walk To climb the neighboring cliffs, when far below The cruel winds have hurl'd upon the coast Some helpless bark; while sacred Pity melts The general eye, or Terror's icy hand Smites their distorted limbs and horrent hair; While every mother closer to her breast Catches her child, and, pointing where the waves Foam through the shatter'd vessel, shrieks aloud, As one poor wretch that spreads his piteous arms For succor, swallow'd by the roaring surge, As now another, dash'd against the rock, Drops lifeless down: O! deemest thou indeed No kind endearment here by Nature given To mutual terror and Compassion's tears? No sweetly-melting softness which attracts, O'er all that edge of pain, the social powers To this their proper action and their end? -Ask thy own heart; when at the midnight hour, Slow through that studious gloom thy pausing eye, Led by the glimmering taper, moves around The sacred volumes of the dead, the songs Of Grecian bards, and records writ by Fame For Grecian heroes, where the present power Of Heaven and Earth surveys th' immortal page Even as a father blessing, while he reads The praises of his son If then thy soul, Spurning the yoke of these inglorious days, Mix in their deeds and kindle with their flame; Say, when the prospect blackens on thy view, When rooted from the base, heroic states Mourn in the dust, and tremble at the frown

« PreviousContinue »