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And he, from whom the nations should receive
Justice and freedom, lies himself a slave,
Tortur'd by cruel change of wild desires,
Lash'd by mad rage, and scorch'd by brutal fires.
"O Reason! once again to thee I call;
Accept my sorrow, and retrieve my fall.
Wisdom, thou say'st, from Heaven receiv'd her birth,
Her beams transmitted to the subject Earth:
Yet this great empress of the human soul
Does only with imagin'd power control,
If restless Passion, by rebellious sway,
Compels the weak usurper to obey.
"O troubled, weak, and coward, as thou art,
Without thy poor advice, the laboring heart
To worse extremes with swifter steps would run,
Not sav'd by virtue, yet by vice undone!"
Oft have I said, the praise of doing well
Is to the ear as ointment to the smell.
Now, if some flies, perchance, however small,
Into the alabaster urn should fall,
The odors of the sweets inclos'd would die,
And stench corrupt (sad change!) their place supply.
So the least faults, if mix'd with fairest deed,
Of future ill become the fatal seed;
Into the balm of purest virtue cast,
Annoy all life with one contagious blast.
Lost Solomon! pursue this thought no more:
Of thy past errors recollect the store;
And silent weep, that, while the deathless Muse
Shall sing the just, shall o'er their heads diffuse
Perfumes with lavish hand, she shall proclaim
Thy crimes alone, and, to thy evil fame
Impartial, scatter damps and poisons on thy name.
Awaking, therefore, as who long had dream'd,
Much of my women and their gods asham'd;
From this abyss of exemplary vice
Of human hope by cross event destroy'd, of useless wealth and greatness unenjoy'd, Of lust and love, with their fantastic train,
Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from Heaven, and consumed the burntoffering, and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house."-2 CHRON. vii. 1.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept, when we remembered Sion," &c.-PSALM cxxxvii. 1.
"I said of laughter, It is mad; and of mirth, What doth it ?"-ECCLES. ii. 2.
"No man can find out the work that God maketh, from
the beginning to the end."-Ch. iii. 11.
"Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; nothing can
be put to it, nor any thing taken from it; and God
doeth it, that men should fear before him."-Ver. 14.
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man."-Ch. xii. 13.
Resolv'd, as time might aid my thought, to rise;
Again I bid the mournful goddess write
The fond pursuit of fugitive delight;
Bid her exalt her melancholy wing,
And, rais'd from earth, and sav'd from passion, sing Since that must needs exist, which can impart.
But how cam'st thou to be, or whence thy spring?
For various of thee priests and poets sing.
Solomon considers man through the several stages and conditions of life, and concludes, in general, that we are all miserable. He reflects more particularly upon the trouble and uncertainty of greatness and power; gives some instances thereof from Adam down to himself; and still concludes that all is vanity. He reasons again upon life, death, and a future being; finds human wisdom too imperfect to resolve his doubts; has recourse to religion; is informed by an angel, what shall happen to himself, his family, and his kingdom till the redemption of Israel; and, upon the whole, resolves to submit his inquiries and anxieties to the will of his Creator.
COME then, my soul! I call thee by that name,
Thou busy thing, from whence I know I am:
For, knowing what I am, I know thou art;
Bear'st thou submissive, but a lowly birth,
Their wishes, smiles, and looks, deceitful all, and Some separate particles of finer earth,
A plain effect which Nature must beget,
As motion orders, and as atoms meet;
Companion of the body's good or ill,
From force of instinct, more than choice of will;
Conscious of fear or valor, joy or pain,
As the wild courses of the blood ordain;
Who, as degrees of heat and cold prevail,
In youth dost flourish, and with age shalt fail;
Till, mingled with thy partner's latest breath,
Thou fly'st dissolv'd in air, and lost in death?
Or, if thy great existence would aspire
Texts chiefly alluded to in Book III.
"Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be
broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the
wheel broken at the cistern."-ECCLES. chap. xii. ver. 6.
"The Sun ariseth, and the Sun goeth down, and hasteth To causes more sublime, of heavenly fire
Wert thou a spark struck off, a separate ray,
Ordain'd to mingle with terrestrial clay;
With it condemn'd for certain years to dwell,
To grieve its frailties, and its pain to feel;
to his place where he arose."-Ch. i. 5.
"The wind goeth towards the south, and turneth about unto the north. It whirleth about continually; and
the wind returneth again, according to his circuit."-To teach it good and ill, disgrace or fame,
Pale it with rage, or redden it with shame;
To guide its actions with informing care,
In peace to judge, to conquer in the war;
Render it agile, witty, valiant, sage,
"All the rivers run into the sea: yet the sea is not full.
Unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither
they return again."-Ver. 7.
"Then shall the dust return to the earth, as it was: and As fits the various course of human age;
the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."-Till as the earthly part decays and falls,
The captive breaks her prison's mouldering walls;
Ch. xii. 7.
Hovers awhile upon the sad remains, Which now the pile or sepulchre contains; And thence with liberty unbounded flies, Impatient to regain her native skies.
Whate'er thou art, where'er ordain'd to go, (Points which we rather may dispute than know,) Come on, thou little inmate of this breast, Which for thy sake from passions I divest, For these, thou say'st, raise all the stormy strife, Which hinder thy repose, and trouble life. Be the fair level of thy actions laid, As temperance wills, and prudence may persuade: Be thy affections undisturb'd and clear, Guided to what may great or good appear, And try if life be worth the liver's care.
Amass'd in man, there justly is beheld What through the whole creation has excell'd: The life and growth of plants, of beasts the sense, The angel's forecast and intelligence: Say from these glorious seeds what harvest flows, Recount our blessings, and compare our woes. In its true light let clearest reason see
But, looking back, we see the dreadful train
Of woes anew, which were we to sustain,
We should refuse to tread the path again;
Still adding grief, still counting from the first,
Judging the latest evils still the worst,
And sadly finding each progressive hour
Heighten their number and augment their power.
Till, by one countless sum of woes opprest,
Hoary with cares, and ignorant of rest,
We find the vital springs relax'd and worn,
Compell'd our common impotence to mourn.
Thus through the round of age to childhood we.
Reflecting find, that naked from the womb We yesterday came forth; that in the tomb Naked again we must to-morrow lie,
Born to lament, to labor, and to die.
The man dragg'd out to act, and forc'd to be;
Helpless and naked, on a woman's knees
To be expos'd and rear'd as she may please,
Feel her neglect, and pine from her disease:
His tender eye by too direct a ray
Wounded, and flying from unpractis'd day;
His heart assaulted by invading air,
And beating fervent to the vital war;
To his young sense how various forms appear,
That strike his wonder, and excite his fear:
By his distortions he reveals his pains;
He by his tears and by his sighs complains;
Till time and use assist the infant wretch,
By broken words and rudiments of speech,
His wants in plainer characters to show,
And paint more perfect figures of his woe;
Condemn'd to sacrifice his childish years
To babbling ignorance, and to empty fears;
To pass the riper period of his age,
Acting his part upon a crowded stage;
To lasting toils expos'd, and endless cares,
To open dangers, and to secret snares;
To malice, which the vengeful foe intends,
And the more dangerous love of seeming friends.
His deeds examin'd by the people's will,
Prone to forget the good, and blame the ill;
Or sadly censur'd in their curs'd debate,
Who, in the scorner's or the judge's seat,
Dare to condemn the virtue which they hate.
Or, would he rather leave this frantic scene,
And trees and beasts prefer to courts and men,
In the remotest wood and lonely grot
Certain to meet that worst of evils. Thought;
Different ideas to his memory brought,
Some intricate as are the pathless woods,
Impetuous some as the descending floods;
With anxious doubts, with raging passions torn,
No sweet companion near with whom to mourn,
He hears the echoing rock return his sighs,
And from himself the frighted hermit flies.
Thus, through what path soe'er of life we rove,
Rage companies our hate, and grief our love.
Vex'd with the present moment's heavy gloom,
Why seek we brightness from the years to come?
Disturb'd and broken like a sick man's sleep,
Our troubled thoughts to distant prospects leap,
Desirous still what flies us to o'ertake,
For hope is but the dream of those that wake:
Pass we the ills which each man feels or dreads The weight or fallen or hanging o'er our heads; The bear, the lion, terrors of the plain,
The sheepfold scatter'd, and the shepherd slain;
The frequent errors of the pathless wood,
The giddy precipice, and the dangerous flood;
The noisome pestilence, that, in open war,
Terrible marches through the mid-day air,
And scatters death; the arrow that by night
Cuts the dank mist, and fatal wings its flight;
The billowing snow, and violence of the shower,
That from the hills disperse their dreadful store,
And o'er the vales collected ruin pour;
The worm that gnaws the ripening fruit, sad guest,
Canker or locust, hurtful to infest
The blade; while husks elude the tiller's care,
And eminence of want distinguishes the year.
Pass we the slow disease, and subtle pain,
Which our weak frame is destin'd to sustain ;
The cruel stone with congregated war
Tearing his bloody way; the cold catarrh,
With frequent impulse, and continued strife,
Weakening the wasted seats of irksome life;
The gout's fierce rack, the burning fever's rage,
The sad experience of decay; and age,
Herself the sorest ill; while Death and ease,
Oft and in vain invok'd or to appease
Or end the grief, with hasty wings recede
From the vext patient and the sickly bed.
Nought shall it profit, that the charming fair,
Angelic, softest work of Heaven, draws near
To the cold shaking paralytic hand,
Senseless of beauty's touch, or love's command;
Nor longer apt or able to fulfil
The dictates of its feeble master's will.
Nought shall the psaltery and the harp avail,
The pleasing song, or well-repeated tale,
When the quick spirits their warm march forbear,
And numbing coldness has unbrac'd the ear.
The verdant rising of the flowery hill,
The vale enamell'd, and the crystal rill,
The ocean rolling, and the shelly shore,
Beautiful objects, shall delight no more,
When the lax'd sinews of the weaken'd eye
In watery damps or dim suffusion lie.
Day follows night; the clouds return again
After the falling of the latter rain;
But to the aged-blind shall ne'er return
Grateful vicissitude: he still must mourn
The Sun and Moon, and every starry light,
Eclips'd to him, and lost in everlasting night.
Behold where Age's wretched victim lies,
See his head trembling, and his half-clos'd eyes:
Frequent for breath his panting bosom heaves;
To broken sleep his remnant sense he gives,
And only by his pains, awaking, finds he lives.
Loos'd by devouring Time, the silver cord
Dissever'd lies; unhonor'd from the board
The crystal urn, when broken, is thrown by,
And apter utensils their place supply.
These things and thou must share one equal lot,
Die and be lost, corrupt and be forgot;
While still another and another race
Shall now supply, and now give up the place;
From earth all came, to earth must all return,
Frail as the cord, and brittle as the urn.
But be the terror of these ills suppress'd,
And view we man with health and vigor blest.
Home he returns with the declining Sun,
His destin'd task of labor hardly done;
Goes forth again with the ascending ray,
Again his travel for his bread to pay,
And find the ill sufficient to the day.
Haply at night he does with horror shun
A widow'd daughter or a dying son;
His neighbor's offspring he to-morrow sees,
And doubly feels his want in their increase;
The next day, and the next, he must attend
His foe triumphant, or his buried friend.
In every act and turn of life, he feels
Public calamities, or household ills;
The due reward to just desert refus'd,
The trust betray'd, the nuptial bed abus'd;
The judge corrupt, the long-depending cause,
And doubtful issue of misconstrued laws;
The crafty turns of a dishonest state,
And violent will of the wrong-doing great;
The venom'd tongue, injurious to his fame,
Which nor can wisdom shun, nor fair advice re- The name of wise or great, of judge or king?
What is a king?-a man condemn'd to bear
The public burthen of the nation's care;
Now crown'd some angry faction to appease;
Now falls a victim to the people's ease;
From the first-blooming of his ill-taught youth,
Nourish'd in flattery, and estrang'd from truth;
At home surrounded by a servile crowd,
Prompt to abuse, and in detraction loud;
Abroad begirt with men, and swords, and spears,
His very state acknowledging his fears;
Marching amidst a thousand guards, he shows
His secret terror of a thousand foes:
Who breathes, must suffer; and who thinks, must
And he alone is bless'd, who ne'er was born.
Yet in thy turn, thou frowning preacher, hear
Are not these general maxims too severe ?
Say: cannot power secure its owner's bliss?
And is not wealth the potent sire of peace?
Are victors bless'd with fame, or kings with ease?"
I tell thee, life is but one common care,
And man was born to suffer, and to fear.
"But is no rank, no station, no degree,
From this contagious taint of sorrow free?"
None, mortal! none. Yet in a bolder strain
Let me this melancholy truth maintain.
But hence, ye worldly and profane, retire;
For I adapt my voice, and raise my lyre,
To notions not by vulgar ear receiv'd:
Yet still must covet life, and be deceiv'd;
Your very fear of death shall make you try
To catch the shade of immortality;
Wishing on Earth to linger, and to save
Part of its prey from the devouring grave;
To those who may survive you to bequeath
Something entire, in spite of Time and Death;
A fancied kind of being to retrieve,
And in a book, or from a building, live.
False hope! vain labor! let some ages fly,
The dome shall moulder, and the volume die:
Wretches, still taught, still will ye think it strange,
That all the parts of this great fabric change,
Quit their old station, and primeval frame,
Esteem we these, my friends, event and chance,
Produc'd as atoms from the fluttering dance?
Or higher yet their essence may we draw
From destin'd order and eternal law?
Again, my Muse, the cruel doubt repeat:
Spring they, I say, from accident or Fate?
Yet such we find they are as can control
The servile actions of our wavering soul:
Can fright, can alter, or can chain, the will;
Their ills all built on life, that fundamental ill.
A shadow of delight, a dream of peace,
From years of pain one moment of release;
Hoping at least she may herself deceive,
Against experience willing to believe,
Desirous to rejoice, condemn'd to grieve.
Happy the mortal man, who now at last
Has through this doleful vale of misery past,
Who to his destin'd stage has carried on
The tedious load, and laid his burthen down;
Whom the cut brass, or wounded marble, shows
Victor o'er Life, and all her train of woes.
He, happier yet, who, privileg'd by Fate
To shorter labor and a lighter weight,
Receiv'd but yesterday the gift of breath,
Order'd to-morrow to return to death.
But O! beyond description happiest he,
Who ne'er must roll on life's tumultuous sea;
Who, with bless'd freedom, from the general doom
Exempt, must never force the teeming womb,
Nor see the Sun, nor sink into the tomb!
And lose their shape, their essence, and their name?
Reduce the song: our hopes, our joys, are vain;
Our lot is sorrow, and our portion pain.
What pause from woe, what hopes of comfort
O fatal search! in which the laboring mind,
Still press'd with weight of woe, still hopes to In war, however prudent, great, or brave,
To blind events and fickle chance a slave;
Seeking to settle what for ever flies,
Sure of the toil, uncertain of the prize.
But he returns with conquest on his brow,
Brings up the triumph, and absolves the vow:
The captive generals to his car were tied;
The joyful citizens' tumultuous tide,
Echoing his glory, gratify his pride.
What is this triumph? madness, shouts, and noise
One great collection of the people's voice.
The wretches he brings back in chains relate
What may to-morrow be the victor's fate.
The spoils and trophies, borne before him, show
National loss, and epidemic woe,
Various distress, which he and his may know.
Does he not mourn the valiant thousands slain,
The heroes, once the glory of the plain,
Left in the conflict of the fatal day,
Or the wolf's portion, or the vulture's prey?
Does he not weep the laurel which he wears,
Wet with the soldier's blood, and widow's tears?
See, where he comes, the darling of the war!
See millions crowding round the gilded car!
In the vast joys of this ecstatic hour,
And full fruition of successful power,
One moment and one thought might let him scan
The various turns of life, and fickle state of man.
Are the dire images of sad distrust,
And popular change, obscur'd amid the dust
That rises from the victor's rapid wheel?
Can the loud clarion or shrill fife repel
The inward cries of care? can Nature's voice,
Plaintive, be drown'd or lessen'd in the noise;
Though shouts of thunder loud afflict the air,
Stun the birds, now releas'd, and shake the ivory
"Yon crowd," he might reflect, "yon joyful crowd,
Pleas'd with my honors, in my praises loud,
(Should fleeting Victory to the vanquish'd go,
Should she depress my arms, and raise the foe,)
Would for that foe with equal ardor wait
At the high palace, or the crowded gate;
With restless rage would pull my statues down,
And cast the brass anew to his renown.
"O impotent desire of worldly sway!
That I, who make the triumph of to-day,
May of to-morrow's pomp one part appear,
Ghastly with wounds, and lifeless on the bier!
Then (vileness of mankind!) then of all these,
Whom my dilated eye with labor sees,
Would one, alas! repeat me good, or great,
Wash my pale body, or bewail my fate?
Or, march'd I chain'd behind the hostile car,
The victor's pastime, and the sport of war,
Would one, would one his pitying sorrow lend,
Or be so poor, to own he was my friend?"
Avails it then, O Reason, to be wise?
To see this cruel scene with quicker eyes?
To know with more distinction to complain,
And have superior sense in feeling pain?
Let us revolve that roll with strictest eye,
Where, safe from Time, distinguish'd actions lie;
And judge if greatness be exempt from pain,
Or pleasure ever may with power remain.
Yet why these sorrows heap'd upon the sire,
Becomes nor man, nor angel, to inquire.
Each age sinn'd on, and guilt advanc'd with
The son still added to the father's crime;
Till God arose, and, great in anger, said,
"Lo! it repenteth me that man was made!
Withdraw thy light, thou Sun! be dark, ye skies!
And from your deep abyss, ye waters, rise!"
The frighted angels heard th' Almighty Lord,
And o'er the Earth from wrathful vials pour'd
Tempests and storms, obedient to his word.
Meantime, his providence to Noah gave
The guard of all that he design'd to save.
Exempt from general doom the patriarch stood,
Contemn'd the waves, and triumph'd o'er the flood.
The winds fall silent, and the waves decrease,
The dove brings quiet, and the olive peace;
Yet still his heart does inward sorrow feel,
Which faith alone forbids him to reveal.
If on the backward world his views are cast,
"Tis death diffus'd, and universal waste:
Present, (sad prospect!) can he aught descry
But (what affects his melancholy eye)
The beauties of the ancient fabric lost,
In chains of craggy hill, or lengths of dreary coast?
While, to high Heaven his pious breathings turn'd,
Weeping he hop'd, and sacrificing mourn'd;
When of God's image only eight he found
Snatch'd from the watery grave, and sav'd from
And of three sons, the future hopes of Earth,
The seed whence empires must receive their birth,
One he foresees excluded heavenly grace,
And mark'd with curses, fatal to his race!
Abraham, potent prince, the friend of God,
Of human ills must bear the destin'd load;
By blood and battles must his power maintain,
And slay the monarchs ere he rules the plain;
Must deal just portions of a servile life
To a proud handmaid and a peevish wife;
Must with the mother leave the weeping son,
In want to wander, and in wilds to groan;
Must take his other child, his age's hope,
Order'd to drench his knife in filial blood,
Destroy his heir, or disobey his God.
Adam, great type, for whom the world was made, To trembling Moriam's melancholy top,
The fairest blessing to his arms convey'd,
A charming wife; and air, and sea, and land,
And all that move therein, to his command
Render'd obedient: say, my pensive Muse,
What did these golden promises produce?
Scarce tasting life, he was of joy bereav'd:
One day, I think, in Paradise he liv'd;
Destin'd the next his journey to pursue,
Where wounding thorns and cursed thistles grew.
Ere yet he earns his bread, adown his brow,
Inclin'd to earth, his laboring sweat must flow;
His limbs must ache, with daily toils oppress'd,
Ere long-wish'd night brings necessary rest.
Sull viewing, with regret, his darling Eve,
He for her follies and his own must grieve;
Bewailing still afresh their hapless choice;
His ear oft frighted with the imag'd voice
Of Heaven, when first it thunder'd; oft his view
Aghast, as when the infant lightning flew,
And the stern cherub stopp'd the fatal road,
Arm'd with the flames of an avenging God.
His younger son on the polluted ground,
First-fruit of Death, lies plaintive of a wound
Given by a brother's hand: his eldest birth
Flies, mark'd by Heaven, a fugitive o'er Earth.
Moses beheld that God; but how beheld?
The Deity in radiant beams conceal'd,
And clouded in a deep abyss of light;
While present, too severe for human sight,
Nor staying longer than one swift-wing'd night.
The following days, and months, and years, decreed
To fierce encounter, and to toilsome deed.
His youth with wants and hardships must engage
Plots and rebellions must disturb his age;
Some Corah still arose, some rebel slave,
Prompter to sink the state, than he to save:
And Israel did his rage so far provoke,
That what the Godhead wrote, the prophet broke,
His voice scarce heard, his dictates scarce believ'd
In camps, in arms, in pilgrimage, he liv'd;
And died obedient to severest law,
Forbid to tread the promis'd land he saw.
My father's life was one long line of care,
A scene of danger, and a state of war.
Alarm'd, expos'd, his childhood must engage
The bear's rough gripe, and foaming lion's rage
By various turns his threaten'd youth must fear
Goliah's lifted sword, and Saul's emitted spear.
In the still shades of Death: for dread and pain,
And griefs, will find their shafts elanc'd in vain,
And their points broke, retorted from the head,
Safe in the grave, and free among the dead.
Yet tell me, frighted Reason! what is death?
Blood only stopp'd, and interrupted breath;
The utmost limit of a narrow span,
And end of motion, which with life began.
As smoke that rises from the kindling fires
Is seen this moment, and the next expires;
As empty clouds by rising winds are tost,
Their fleeting forms scarce sooner found than lost
So vanishes our state, so pass our days;
So life but opens now, and now decays;
The cradle and the tomb, alas! so nigh,
To live, is scarce distinguish'd from to die.
Cure of the miser's wish, and coward's fear,
Death only shows us what we knew was near.
With courage, therefore, view the pointed hour,
Dread not Death's anger, but expect his power;
Nor Nature's law with fruitless sorrow mourn,
But die, O mortal man! for thou wast born.
Cautious thro' doubt, by want of courage wise,
To such advice the reasoner still replies.
Yet measuring all the long-continued space,
Every successive day's repeated race,
Since Time first started from his pristine goal,
Till he had reach'd that hour wherein my soul,
Join'd to my body, swell'd the womb; I was
(At least I think so) nothing: must I pass
Again to nothing, when this vital breath,
Ceasing, consigns me o'er to rest and death?
Must the whole man, amazing thought! return
To the cold marble, or contracted urn?
And never shall those particles agree,
That were in life this individual he?
But, sever'd, must they join the general mass,
Through other forms and shapes ordain'd to pass,
Nor thought nor image kept of what he was?
Does the great Word, that gave him sense, ordain
Young as I was, I hasted to fulfil
The cruel dictates of my parent's will.
Of his fair deeds a distant view I took,
But turn'd the tube, upon his faults to look,
Forgot his youth, spent in his country's cause,
His care of right, his reverence to the laws;
But could with joy his years of folly trace,
Broken and old in Bathsheba's embrace;
Could follow him, where'er he stray'd from good,
And cite his sad example, whilst I trod
Paths open to deceit, and track'd with blood.
Soon docile to the secret acts of ill,
With smiles I could betray, with temper kill;
Soon in a brother could a rival view,
Watch all his acts, and all his ways pursue.
In vain for life he to the altar fled :
Ambition and revenge have certain speed.
Ev'n there, my soul, ev'n there he should have fell, That life shall never wake that sense again?
But that my interest did my rage conceal.
Doubling my crime, I promise, and deceive,
Purpose to slay, whilst swearing to forgive.
Treaties, persuasions, sighs, and tears, are vain;
With a mean lie curs'd vengeance I sustain,
Join fraud to force, and policy to power,
Till, of the destin'd fugitive secure,
In solemn state to parricide I rise,
And, as God lives, this day my brother dies.
Be witness to my tears, celestial Muse;
In vain I would forget, in vain excuse,
Fraternal blood by my direction spilt;
In vain on Joab's head transfer the guilt;
The deed was acted by the subject's hand;
The sword was pointed by the king's command.
Mine was the murder; it was mine alone:
Years of contrition must the crime atone;
Nor can my guilty soul expect relief,
But from a long sincerity of grief.
And will no power his sinking spirits save
From the dark caves of Death, and chambers of the
With an imperfect hand, and trembling heart,
Her love of truth superior to her art,
Already the reflecting Muse has trac'd
The mournful figures of my actions past.
The pensive goddess has already taught
How vain is hope, and how vexatious thought;
From growing childhood to declining age,
How tedious every step, how gloomy every stage.
This course of vanity almost complete,
Tir'd in the field of life, I hope retreat
Forlorn he must and persecuted fly,
Climb the steep mountain, in the cavern lie,
And often ask, and be refus'd, to die.
For ever, from his manly toil, are known
The weight of power, and anguish of a crown.
What tongue can speak the restless monarch's woes,
When God and Nathan were declar'd his foes?
When every object his offence revil'd,
The husband murder d, and the wife defil'd,
The parent's sins impress'd upon the dying child?
What heart can think the grief which he sustain'd,
When the king's crime brought vengeance on the
And the inexorable prophet's voice
Gave famine, plague, or war, and bid him fix his
He died; and, oh! may no reflection shed
Its poisonous venom on the royal dead!
Yet the unwilling truth must be express'd,
Which long has labor'd in this pensive breast:
Dying, he added to my weight of care;
He made me to his crimes undoubted heir;
Left his unfinish'd murder to his son,
And Joab's blood entail'd on Judah's crown.
Each evening I behold the setting Sun,
With downward speed, into the Ocean run:
Yet the same light (pass but some fleeting hours)
Exerts his vigor, and renews his powers;
Starts the bright race again: his constant flame
Rises and sets, returning still the same.
I mark the various fury of the winds;
These neither seasons guide, nor order binds;
They now dilate, and now contract their force;
Various their speed, but endless is their course.
From his first fountain and beginning ouze,
Down to the sea each brook and torrent flows:
Though sundry drops or leave or swell the stream,
The whole still runs, with equal pace, the same;
Still other waves supply the rising urns,
And the eternal flood no want of water mourns.
Why then must man obey the sad decree,
Which subjects neither sun, nor wind, nor sea?
A flower, that does with opening morn arise,
And, flourishing the day, at evening dies;
A winged eastern blast, just skimming o'er
The ocean's brow, and sinking on the shore;
A fire, whose flames through crackling stubble fly,
A meteor shooting from the summer sky;
A bowl adown the bending mountain roll'd;
A bubble breaking, and a fable told;