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O most adorable! most unador'd!
Where shall thy praise begin, which ne'er should end?
Where'er I turn, what claim on all applause!
If, sick of folly, I relent; he writes
My name in Heaven, with that inverted spear
(A spear deep-dipt in blood!) which pierc'd his side,
And open'd there a font for all mankind,
Who strive, who combat crimes, to drink, and live: How is night's sable mantle labor'd o'er,
This, only this, subdues the fear of death.
How richly wrought with attributes divine!
What wisdom shines! what love! this midnight pomp,
This gorgeous arch, with golden worlds inlaid!
Built with divine ambition! nought to thee;
For others this profusion: thou, apart,
Above! beyond! O tell me, mighty Mind!
Where art thou? Shall I dive into the deep?
Call to the Sun, or ask the roaring winds
For their Creator! Shall I question loud
The thunder, if in that th' Almighty dwells?
Or holds he furious storms in straiten'd reins,
And bids fierce whirlwinds wheel his rapid car?
What mean these questions? Trembling, I retract;
My prostrate soul adores the present God:
Praise I a distant deity? He tunes
And what is this?-Survey the wondrous cure : And at each step, let higher wonder rise!
Pardon for infinite offence! and pardon
Through means that speak its value infinite!
A pardon bought with blood! with blood divine!
With blood divine of him I made my foe!
Persisted to provoke! though woo'd, and aw'd,
Blest, and chastis'd, a flagrant rebel still!
A rebel, 'midst the thunders of his throne!
Nor I alone! a rebel universe!
My species up in arms! not one exempt!
Yet for the foulest of the foul he dies,
Most joy'd, for the redeem'd from deepest guilt!
As if our race were held of highest rank;
And Godhead dearer, as more kind to man!"
Bound, every heart! and every bosom, burn!
O what a scale of miracles is here!
Its lowest round, high planted on the skies;
Its towering summit lost beyond the thought
Of man or angel! O that I could climb
The wonderful ascent, with equal praise!
Praise! flow for ever (if astonishment
Will give thee leave :) my praise! for ever flow;
Praise ardent, cordial, constant, to high Heaven
More fragrant, than Arabia sacrific'd,
And all her spicy mountains in a flame.
My voice (if tun'd;) the nerve, that writes, sustains:
Wrapt in his being, I resound his praise:
But though past all diffus'd, without a shore,
His essence; local is his throne, (as meet,)
To gather the disperst, (as standards call
The listed from afar :) to fix a point,
A central point, collective of his sons,
Since finite every nature but his own.
The nameless He, whose nod is Nature's birth;
And Nature's shield, the shadow of his hand;
Her dissolution, his suspended smile!
The great First-Last! pavilion'd high he sits,
In darkness from excessive splendor borne,
By gods unseen, unless through lustre lost.
His glory, to created glory, bright,
As that to central horrors; he looks down
On all that soars; and spans immensity.
Though night unnumber'd worlds unfolds to view,
Boundless creation! what art thou? A beam
A mere effluvium of his majesty:
So dear, so due to Heaven, shall praise descend,
With her soft plume (from plausive angel's wing
First pluck'd by man) to tickle mortal ears,
Thus diving in the pockets of the great?
Is praise the perquisite of every paw,
Though black as Hell, that grapples well for gold?
Oh love of gold! thou meanest of amours!
Shall praise her odors waste on virtues dead,
Embalm the base, perfume the stench of guilt,
Earn dirty bread by washing Ethiops fair,
Removing filth, or sinking it from sight,
A scavenger in scenes, where vacant posts,
Like gibbets yet untenanted, expect
Their future ornaments? From courts and thrones,
Return, apostate Praise! thou vagabond!
Thou prostitute! to thy first love return,
Thy first, thy greatest, once unrival'd theme.
And shall an atom of this atom-world
Mutter, in dust and sin, the theme of Heaven?
Down to the centre should I send my thought
Through beds of glittering ore, and glowing gems,
Their beggar'd blaze wants lustre for my lay;
Goes out in darkness: if, on towering wing,
I send it through the boundless vault of stars!
The stars, though rich, what dross their gold to thee.
Great! good! wise! wonderful! eternal King!
If to those conscious stars thy throne around,
Praise ever-pouring, and imbibing bliss;
There flow redundant; like Meander, flow
Back to thy fountain; to that Parent Power,
Who gives the tongue to sound, the thought to soar, And ask their strain; they want it, more they want,
The soul to be. Men homage pay to men,
Poor their abundance, humble their sublime,
Thoughtless beneath whose dreadful eye they bow Languid their energy, their ardor cold,
In mutual awe profound of clay to clay,
Indebted still, their highest rapture burns;
Short of its mark, defective, though divine.
Of guilt to guilt; and turn their back on thee,
Great Sire! whom thrones celestial ceaseless sing:
To prostrate angels, an amazing scene!
O the presumption of man's awe for man!
Man's Author! End! Restorer! Law! and Judge!
Thine, all; day thine, and thine this gloom of night,
With all her wealth, with all her radiant worlds:
What, night eternal, but a frown from thee?
What, Heaven's meridian glory, but thy smile?
And shall not praise be thine, not human praise?
While Heaven's high host on hallelujahs live?
O may I breathe no longer than I breathe
My soul in praise to him, who gave my soul,
And all her infinite of prospect fair,
Cut through the shades of Hell, great love! by thee, Creation's great superior, man! is thine;
Still more-This theme is man's, and man's alone
Their vast appointments reach it not: they see
On Earth a bounty not indulg'd on high;
And downward look for Heaven's superior praise!
First-born of ether! high in fields of light!
View man, to see the glory of your God!
Could angels envy, they had envied here ;
And some did envy; and the rest, though gods,
Yet still gods unredeem'd, (there triumphs man,
Tempted to weigh the dust against the skies.)
They less would feel, though more adorn, my theme
They sung Creation (for in that they shar'd :)
How rose in melody, that child of love!
Conception unconfin'd wants wings to reach him :
Beyond his reach, the Godhead only, more.
He, the great Father! kindled at one flame
The world of rationals; one spirit pour'd
From spirit's awful fountain: pour'd himself
Through all their souls; but not in equal stream,
Profuse, or frugal, of th' aspiring God,
As his wise plan demanded; and when past
Their various trials in their various spheres,
Here pause, and ponder: was there death in If they continue rational, as made,
Resorbs them all into himself again;
What then on Earth? On Earth, which struck the His throne their centre, and his smile their crown.
Thine is redemption; they just gave the key:
"Tis thine to raise, and eternize, the song;
Though human, yet divine: for should not this
Raise man o'er man, and kindle seraphs here?
Redemption! 'twas creation more sublime;
Redemption! 'twas the labor of the skies;
Far more than labor-It was death in Heaven.
A truth so strange! 'twere bold to think it true;
If not far bolder still to disbelieve!
Why doubt we, then, the glorious truth to sing,
Though yet unsung, as deem'd, perhaps, too bold?
Angels are men of a superior kind ;
Angels are men in lighter habit clad,
Who struck it? Who?-O how is man enlarg'd
Seen through this medium! how the pigmy towers!
How counterpois'd his origin from dust!
How counterpois, to dust his sad return!
How voided his vast distance from the skies!
How near he presses on the seraph's wing!
Which is the seraph? Which the born of clay?
How this demonstrates, through the thickest cloud
Of guilt, and clay condens'd, the son of He ven!
The double son; the made, and the re-ma e!
And shall Heaven's double property best?
Man's double madness only can destroy.
To man the bleeding cross has promis'd all;
The bleeding cross has sworn eternal grace;
Who gave his life, what grace shall he deny?
O ye! who, from this rock of ages, leap,
A postates, plunging headlong in the deep!
What cordial joy, what consolation strong,
Whatever winds arise, or billows roll,
Our interest in the master of the storm!
Cling there, and in wreck'd Nature's ruin smile;
While vile apostates tremble in a calm.
High o'er celestial mountains wing'd in flight;
And men are angels loaded for an hour,
Who wade this miry vale, and climb with pain,
And slippery step, the bottom of the steep.
Angels their failings, mortals have their praise;
While here, of corps ethereal, such enroll'd,
And summon'd to the glorious standard soon,
Which flames eternal crimson through the skies.
Nor are our brothers thoughtless of their kin,
Yet absent; but not absent from their love.
Michael has fought our battles; Raphael sung
Our triumphs; Gabriel on our errands flown,
Sent by the Sovereign: and are these, O man!
Thy friends, thy warm allies? and thou (shame burr.
The cheek to cinder!) rival to the brute?
Religion's All. Descending from the skies
To wretched man, the goddess, in her left,
Holds out this world, and, in her right, the next;
Religion! the sole voucher man is man;
E'en in this night of frailty, change, and death,
She gives the soul a soul that acts a god.
Religion! Providence! an after-state!
Here is firm footing; here is solid rock!
This can support us; all is sea besides ;
Sinks under us; bestorms, and then devours.
His hand the good man fastens on the skies,
And bids Earth roll, nor feels her idle whirl.
Man! know thyself. All wisdom centres there; Supporter sole of man above himself;
To none man seems ignoble, but to man;
Angels that grandeur, men o'erlook, admire :
How long shall human nature be their book,
Degenerate mortal! and unread by thee?
The beam dim reason sheds shows wonders there;
What high contents! Illustrious faculties!
But the grand comment, which displays at full
Our human height, scarce sever'd from divine,
By Heaven compos'd, was publish'd on the cross.
Who looks on that, and sees not in himself
An awful stranger, a terrestrial god?
A glorious partner with the Deity
In that high attribute, immortal life?
If a god bleeds, he bleeds not for a worm:
I gaze, and, as I gaze, my mounting soul
Catches strange fire, Eternity! at thee;
And drops the world-or rather, more enjoys:
How chang'd the face of Nature! how improv'd!
What seem'd a chaos, shines a glorious world,
Or, what a world, an Eden; heighten'd all!
It is another scene! another self!
And still another, as time rolls along;
And that a self far more illustrious still.
Beyond long ages, yet roll'd up in shades
Unpierc'd by bold conjecture's keenest ray,
What evolutions of surprising fate!
How Nature opens, and receives my soul
In boundless walks of raptur'd thought! where gods
Encounter and embrace me! What new births
Of strange adventure, foreign to the Sun;
Where what now charms, perhaps, whate'er exists, Like soft, smooth oil, outblazing other fires?
Old time, and fair creation, are forgot!
Can prayer, can praise, avert it ?-Thou, my All!
My theme! my inspiration! and my crown!
My strength in age! my rise in low estate!
Is this extravagant? Of man we form Extravagant conception, to be just:
As when a wretch, from thick, polluted air,
Darkness and stench, and suffocation-damps,
And dungeon-horrors, by kind fate, discharg'd,
Climbs some fair eminence, where ether pure
Surrounds him, and Elysian prospects rise,
His heart exults, his spirits cast their load;
As if new-born, he triumphs in the change;
So joys the soul, when, from inglorious aims,
And sordid sweets, from feculence and froth
Of ties terrestrial, set at large, she mounts
To reason's region, her own element,
Breathes hopes immortal, and affects the skies.
Religion! thou the soul of happiness;
And, groaning Calvary, of thee! There shine
The noblest truths; there strongest motives sting;
There sacred violence assaults the soul;
There, nothing but compulsion is forborne.
Can love allure us? or can terror awe?
He weeps!-the falling drop puts out the Sun;
He sighs-the sigh Earth's deep foundation shakes.
If in his love so terrible, what then
His wrath inflam'd? his tenderness on fire?
My soul's ambition, pleasure, wealth!-my world!
My light in darkness! and my life in death!
My boast through time! bliss through eternity!
Eternity, too short to speak thy praise!
Or fathom thy profound of love to man!
To man, of men the meanest, e'en to me;
My sacrifice! my God!-what things are these!
What then art thou? by what name shall I call
This mouldering, old, partition-wall throw down?
Give beings, one in nature, one abode ?
Oh Death divine! that giv'st us to the skies!
Great future! glorious patron of the past,
And present! when shall I thy shrine adore?
From Nature's continent, immensely wide,
Immensely blest, this little isle of life,
This dark, incarcerated colony,
Divides us. Happy day! that breaks our chain;
That manumits; that calls from exile home;
That leads to Nature's great metropolis,
And readmits us, through the guardian hand
Of elder brothers, to our Father's throne;
Who hears our Advocate, and, through his wounds
Beholding man, allows that tender name.
'Tis this makes Christian triumph a command:
"Tis this makes joy a duty to the wise;
"Tis impious in a good man to be sad.
See thou, Lorenzo! where hangs all our hope?
Touch'd by the cross, we live; or, more than die;
That touch which touch'd not angels; more divine
Than that which touch'd confusion into form,
And darkness into glory: partial touch!
Ineffably pre-eminent regard!
Sacred to man, and sovereign through the whole
Long golden chain of miracles, which hangs
From Heaven through all duration, and supports
In one illustrious and amazing plan,
Knew I the name devout archangels use,
Devout archangels should the name enjoy,
By me unrivall'd; thousands more sublime,
None half so dear, as that, which, though unspoke,
Still glows at heart: O how omnipotence
Is lost in love! Thou great philanthropist!
Father of angels! but the friend of man!
Like Jacob, fondest of the younger born!
Thou, who didst save him, snatch the smoking brand
From out the flames, and quench it in thy blood!
How art thou pleas'd, by bounty to distress!
To make us groan beneath our gratitude,
Too big for birth! to favor, and confound!
To challenge, and to distance all return!
Of lavish love stupendous heights to soar,
And leave praise panting in the distant vale!
Thy right, too great, defrauds thee of thy due;
And sacrilegious our sublimest song.
But since the naked will obtains thy smile,
Beneath this monument of praise unpaid,
And future life symphonious to my strain,
(That noblest hymn to Heaven!) for ever lie
Intomb'd my fear of death! and every fear,
The dread of every evil, but thy frown.
Whom see I, yonder, so demurely smile?
Laughter a labor, and might break their rest.
Ye quietists, in homage to the skies!
Serene! of soft address! who mildly make
An unobtrusive tender of your hearts,
Abhorring violence; who halt indeed;
But, for the blessing, wrestle not with Heaven!
Think you my song too turbulent? too warm?
Are passions, then, the pagans of the soul?
Reason alone baptiz'd? alone ordain'd
To touch things sacred? Oh for warmer still!
Guilt chills my zeal, and age benumbs my powers:
Oh for an humbler heart! and prouder song!
Thou, my much-injur'd theme! with that soft eye
Which melted o'er doom'd Salem, deign to look
Compassion to the coldness of my breast;
And pardon to the winter in my strain.
Is this my fancy thrown remote? and rise
Dark doubts between the promise and event?
I send thee not to volumes for thy cure;
Read Nature; Nature is a friend to truth;
Nature is Christian; preaches to mankind;
And bids dead matter aid us in our creed.
Hast thou ne'er seen the comet's flaming flight?
Th' illustrious stranger, passing, terror sheds
On gazing nations; from his fiery train
Oh ye cold-hearted, frozen formalists!
On such a theme, 'tis impious to be calm;
Passion is reason, transport temper, here.
Shall Heaven, which gave us ardor, and has shown Of length enormous, takes his ample round
Her own for man so strongly, not disdain
What smooth emollients in theology,
Recumbent virtue's downy doctors, preach;
That prose of piety, a lukewarm praise?
Rise odors sweet from incense uninflam'd?
Devotion, when lukewarm, is undevout;
But when it glows, its heat is struck to Heaven;
To human hearts her golden harps are strung;
High Heaven's orchestra chants amen to man.
Through depths of ether; coasts unnumber'd worlds,
Of more than solar glory; doubles wide
Heaven's mighty cape: and then revisits Earth,
From the long travel of a thousand years.
Thus, at the destin'd period, shall return
He, once on Earth, who bids the comet blaze:
And, with him, all our triumph o'er the tomb.
Hear I, or dream I hear, their distant strain,
Sweet to the soul, and tasting strong of Heaven,
Soft-wafted on celestial pity's plume,
Through the vast spaces of the universe,
To cheer me in this melancholy gloom?
Oh when will Death (now stingless,) like a friend,
Admit me of their choir? O when will Death!
Thy welfare, Nature! and thy God's renown ;
That touch, with charm celestial, heals the soul
Diseas'd, drives pain from guilt, lights life in death,
Turns Earth to Heaven, to heavenly thrones trans-
The ghastly ruins of the mouldering tomb.
Dost ask me when? When he who died returns; Returns, how chang'd! Where then the man of woe?
In glory's terrors all the Godhead burns;
And all his courts, exhausted by the tide
Of deities, triumphant in his train,
Leave a stupendous solitude in Heaven;
Replenish'd soon, replenish'd with increase
Of pomp, and multitude; a radiant band
Of angels new; of angels from the tomb.
Nature is dumb on this important point;
Or hope precarious in low whisper breathes;
Faith speaks aloud, distinct; e'en adders hear:
But turn, and dart into the dark again.
Faith builds a bridge across the gulf of Death,
To break the shock blind Nature cannot shun,
And lands thought smoothly on the further shore.
Death's terror is the mountain faith removes;
That mountain barrier between man and peace.
"Tis faith disarms destruction; and absolves
From every clamorous charge, the guiltless tomb.
Why disbelieve? Lorenzo!" Reason bids,
All-sacred Reason."-Hold her sacred still;
Nor shalt thou want a rival in thy flame:
All-sacred reason! source, and soul, of all
Demanding praise, on Earth, or Earth above!
My heart is thine: deep in its inmost folds,
Live thou with life; live dearer of the two.
Wear I the blessed cross, by fortune stamp'd
On passive Nature, before thought was born?
My birth's blind bigot! fir'd with local zeal!
No! Reason re-baptiz'd me when adult;
Weigh'd true and false, in her impartial scale;
My heart became the convert of my head,
But grant man happy; grant him happy long:
Add to life's highest prize her latest hour;
That hour, so late, is nimble in approach,
That, like a post, comes on in full career :
How swift the shuttle flies, that weaves thy shroud!
Where is the fable of thy former years?
And made that choice, which once was but my fate. Thrown down the gulf of time; as far from thee
"On argument alone my faith is built;"
As they had ne'er been thine; the day in hand,
Reason pursu'd is faith; and unpursued
Like a bird struggling to get loose, is going;
Where proof invites, 'tis reason, then, no more: Scarce now possess'd, so suddenly 'tis going;
And such our proof, that, or our faith is right, And each swift moment fled, is death advanc'd
Or Reason lies, and Heaven design'd it wrong: By strides as swift; Eternity is all;
Absolve we this? What, then, is blasphemy? And whose Eternity? Who triumphs there?
Bathing for ever in the font of bliss!
For ever basking in the Deity!
Lorenzo! who?-Thy concience shall reply.
O give it leave to speak; 'twill speak ere long.
Thy leave unask'd: Lorenzo! hear it now,
While useful its advice, its accent mild.
By the great edict, the divine decree,
Truth is deposited with man's last hour;
An honest hour, and faithful to her trust.
Truth, eldest daughter of the Deity;
Truth, of his council, when he made the worlds;
Nor less, when he shall judge the worlds he made;
Though silent long, and sleeping ne'er so sound,
Smother'd with errors, and opprest with joys,
That Heaven-commission'd hour no sooner calls
But, from her cavern in the soul's abyss,
Like him they fable under Etna whelm'd,
The goddess bursts, in thunder, and in flame;
Fond as we are, and justly fond, of faith,
Reason, we grant, demands our first regard;
The mother honor'd, as the daughter dear.
Reason the root, fair faith is but the flower;
The fading flower shall die; but reason lives
Immortal, as her father in the skies.
When faith is virtue, reason makes it so.
Wrong not the Christian; think not reason yours:
"Tis reason our great Master holds so dear;
"Tis reason's injur'd rights his wrath resents;
"Tis reason's voice obey'd his glories crown;
To give lost reason life, he pour'd his own:
Believe, and show the reason of a man;
Believe, and taste the pleasure of a God!
Believe, and look with triumph on the tomb:
Through reason's wounds alone thy faith can die;
Which dying, tenfold terror gives to death,
And dips in venom his twice-mortal sting.
Know ye how wise your choice, how great your gain?
Behold the picture of Earth's happiest man :
He calls his wish, it comes; he sends it back,
And says, he call'd another; that arrives,
Meets the same welcome; yet he still calls on;
Till one calls him, who varies not his call,
But holds him fast, in chains of darkness bound,
Till Nature dies, and judgment sets him free;
A freedom far less welcome than his chain."
What conduct plants proud laurels on their brow?
While love of truth through all their camp resounds,
They draw Pride's curtain o'er the noontide ray,
Spike up their inch of reason, on the point
Of philosophic wit, call'd argument;
And then, exulting in their taper, cry,
Behold the Sun:" and, Indian-like, adore.
Talk they of morals? O thou bleeding Love!
Thou maker of new morals to mankind!
The grand morality is love of thee.
As wise as Socrates, if such they were,
(Nor will they 'bate of that sublime renown)
As wise as Socrates, might justly stand
The definition of a modern fool.
Learn hence what honors, what loud paans, due Loudly convinces, and severely pains.
To those, who push our antidote aside;
Those boasted friends to reason and to man,
Whose fatal love stabs every joy, and leaves
Death's terror heighten'd, gnawing on his heart.
These pompous sons of reason idoliz'd
Dark demons I discharge, and hydra stings;
The keen vibration of bright truth-is Hell:
Just definition! though by schools untaught.
Ye deaf to truth! peruse this parson'd page,
And trust, for once, a prophet, and a priest;
And vilified at once; of reason dead,
Then deified, as monarchs were of old;
Men may live fools, but fools they cannot die."
A Christian is the highest style of man:
And is there, who the blessed cross wipes off,
As a foul blot from his dishonor'd brow?
If angels tremble, 'tis at such a sight:
The wretch they quit, desponding of their charge,
More struck with grief or wonder, who can tell?
Ye sold to sense! ye citizens of Earth!
For such alone the Christian banner fly)
NIGHT THE FIFTH.
TO THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF LITCHFIELD.
LORENZO! to recriminate is just.
Fondness for fame is avarice of air.
I grant the man is vain who writes for praise,
Praise no man e'er deserv'd, who sought no more.
As just thy second charge. I grant the Muse
Has often blush'd at her degenerate sons,
Retain'd by sense to plead her filthy cause;
To raise the low, to magnify the mean,
And subtilize the gross into refin'd:
As if to magic numbers' powerful charm
"Twas given, to make a civet of their song
Obscene, and sweeten ordure to perfume.
Wit, a true pagan, deifies the brute,
And lifts our swine-enjoyments from the mire.
The fact notorious, nor obscure the cause,
We wear the chains of pleasure and of pride.
These share the man; and these distract him too;
Draw different ways, and clash in their commands.
Pride, like an eagle, builds among the stars,
But pleasure, lark-like, nests upon the ground.
Joys shar'd by brute-creation, pride resents;
Pleasure embraces; man would both enjoy,
And both at once: a point how hard to gain!
But, what can't wit, when stung by strong desire?
Wit dares attempt this arduous enterprise.
Since joy of sense can't rise to reason's taste;
In subtle sophistry's laborious forge,
Wit hammers out a reason new, that stoops
To sordid scenes, and meets them with applause.
Wit calls the graces the chaste zone to loose;
Nor less than a plump god to fill the bowl:
A thousand phantoms, and a thousand spells,
A thousand opiates scatters, to delude,
To fascinate, inebriate, lay asleep,
And the fool'd mind delightfully confound. [more;
Thus that which shock'd the judgment, shocks no
That which gave pride offence, no more offends.
Pleasure and pride, by nature mortal foes,
At war eternal, which in man shall reign,
By wit's address, patch up a fatal peace,
And hand in hand lead on the rank debauch,
From rank, refin'd to delicate and gay.
Art, cursed art! wipes off th' indebted blush
From Nature's cheek, and bronzes every shame.
Man smiles in ruin, glories in his guilt,
And infamy stands candidate for praise.
All writ by man in favor of the soul,
The sensual ethics far, in bulk, transcend.
The flowers of eloquence, profusely pour'd
O'er spotted vice, fill half the letter'd world.
Can powers of genius exorcise their page,
And consecrate enormities with song?
But let not these inexpiable strains
Condemn the Muse that knows her dignity;
Nor meanly stops at time, but holds the world
As 'tis, in Nature's ample field, a point,
A point in her esteem; from whence to start,
And run the round of universal space,
To visit being universal there,
And, feeling, give assent; and their assent
Is ample recompense; is more than praise.
But chiefly thine, O Litchfield! nor mistake;
Think not unintroduc'd I force my way;
Narcissa, not unknown, not unallied,
By virtue, or by blood, illustrious youth!
To thee, from blooming amaranthine bowers,
Where all the language harmony, descends
Uncall'd, and asks admittance for the Muse:
A Muse that will not pain thee with thy praise;
Thy praise she drops, by nobler still inspir'd.
O thou! Blest Spirit! whether the supreme,
Great antemundane Father! in whose breast
Embryo creation, unborn being, dwelt,
And all its various revolutions roll'd
Present, though future; prior to themselves;
Whose breath can blow it into nought again;
Or, from his throne some delegated power,
Who, studious of our peace, dost turn the thought
From vain and vile, to solid and sublime!
Unseen thou lead'st me to delicious draughts
Of inspiration, from a purer stream,
And fuller of the god, than that which burst
From fam'd Castalia: nor is yet allay'd
My sacred thirst; though long my soul has rang'd
Through pleasing paths of moral and divine,
By thee sustain'd, and lighted by the stars.
By them best lighted are the paths of thought;
Nights are their days, their most illumin'd hours.
By day, the soul, o'erborne by life's career,
Stunn'd by the din, and giddy with the glare,
Reels far from reason, jostled by the throng.
By day the soul is passive, all her thoughts
Impos'd, precarious, broken ere mature.
By night, from objects free, from passion cool,
Thoughts uncontroll'd, and unimpress'd, the births
Of pure election, arbitrary range,
Not to the limits of one world confin'd;
But from ethereal travels light on Earth,
As voyagers drop anchor, for repose.
Let Indians, and the gay, like Indians, fond
Of feather'd fopperies, the Sun adore:
Darkness has more divinity for me;
And being's Source, that utmost flight of mind!
Yet, spite of this so vast circumference,
Well knows, but what is moral, nought is great.
Sing syrens only? Do not angels sing?
There is in poesy a decent pride,
It strikes thought inward; it drives back the soul
To settle on herself our point supreme!
There lies our theatre! there sits our judge.
Darkness the curtain drops o'er life's dull scene;
"Tis the kind hand of Providence stretch'd out
"Twixt man and vanity; 'tis reason's reign,
Which well becomes her when she speaks to prose, And virtue's too; these tutelary shades
Her younger sister; haply, not more wise.
Think'st thou, Lorenzo! to find pastimes here?
Are man's asylum from the tainted throng.
Night is the good man's friend, and guardian too;
It no less rescues virtue, than inspires.
No guilty passion blown into a flame,
No foible flatter'd, dignity disgrac'd,
No fairy field of fiction, all on flower,
No rainbow colors, here, or silken tale:
But solemn counsels, images of awe,
Truths, which eternity lets fall on man
With double weight, through these revolving spheres,
This death-deep silence, and incumbent shade:
Thoughts, such as shall revisit your last hour;
Visit uncall'd, and live when life expires;
And thy dark pencil, midnight! darker still
In melancholy dipt, embrowns the whole.
Virtue, for ever frail, as fair, below,
Her tender nature suffers in the crowd,
Nor touches on the world, without a stain:
The world's infectious; few bring back at eve,
Immaculate, the manners of the morn.
Something we thought, is blotted! we resolv'd,
Is shaken; we renounc'd, returns again.
Each salutation may slide in a sin
Unthought before, or fix a former flaw.
Nor is it strange: light, motion, concourse, noise,
All, scatter us abroad; though outward bound,
Neglectful of our home affairs, flies off
In fume and dissipation, quits her charge,
And leaves the breast unguarded to the foe.
Yet this, even this, my laughter-loving friends!
Lorenzo! and thy brothers of the smile!
If, what imports you most, can most engage,
Shall steal your ear, and chain you to my song.
Or if you fail me, know, the wise shall taste
The truths I sing; the truths I sing shall feel;
Present example gets within our guard,
And acts with double force, by few repell'd.
Ambition fires ambition; love of gain