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What happy region dost thou please
To make the seat of calms and ease?
Ambition searches all its sphere
Of pomp and state, to meet thee there.
Encreasing avarice would find
Thy presence in its gold enshrined.
The bold advent'rer ploughs his way
Through rocks amidst the foaming sea,
To gain thy love, and then perceives
Thou wert not in the rocks and waves.
The silent heart which grief assails
Treads soft and lonesome o'er the vales,
Sees daisies open, rivers run,
(And seeks, as I have vainly done,
Amusing thought, but learns to know
That solitude's the nurse of woe.
No real happiness is found
In trailing purple o'er the ground;
Or in a soul exalted high
To range the circuit of the sky,
Converse with stars above, and know
All Nature in its forms below
The rest it seeks, in seeking dies,
And doubts at last, for knowledge, rise.
Lovely, lasting peace, appear !
This world itself, if thou art here,
Is once again with Eden blest,
And man contains it in his breast."
’T was thus, as under shade I stood,
I sung my wishes to the wood,
And, lost in thought, no more perceived
The branches whisper as they waved;
It seemed as all the quiet place
Confessed the presence of the Grace;
When thus she spoke: “Go rule thy will;
Bid thy wild passions all be still;
Know God, and bring thy heart to know
The joys which from religion flow :
Then ev'ry Grace shall prove its guest,
And I'll be there to crown the rest.”
Oh, by yonder mossy seat,
In my hours of sweet retreat,
Might I thus my soul employ
With sense of gratitude and joy,
Raised, as ancient prophets were,
In heavenly vision, praise, and pray'r,
Pleasing all men, hurting none,
Pleased and blest with God alone!
Then, while the gardens take my sight
With all the colours of delight,
While silver waters glide along,
To please my ear and court my song,
I'll lift my voice, and tune my string,
And Thee, great Source of Nature, sing.
The sun, that walks his airy way
To light the world and give the day;
The moon, that shines with borrowed light;
The stars, that gild the gloomy night;
The seas, that roll unnumbered waves :
The wood, that spreads its shady leaves;
The field, whose ears conceal the grain,
The yellow treasure of the plain;
All of these, and all I see,
Should be sung, and sung by me:
They speak their Maker as they can,
But want and ask the tongue of man.
Go search among your idle dreams,
Your busy or your vain extremes,
And find a life of equal bliss,
Or own the next begun in this.
By the blue taper's trembling light,
No more I waste the wakeful night,
Intent with endless view to pore
The schoolmen and the sages o'er :
Their books from wisdom widely stray,
Or point at best the longest way;
I'll seek a readier path, and go
Where wisdom 's surely taught below.
How deep yon azure dyes the sky,
Where orbs of gold unnumbered lie,
While through their ranks in silver pride
The nether crescent seems to glide!
The slumb'ring breeze forgets to breathe;
The lake is smooth and clear beneath,
Where once again the spangled show
Descends to meet our eyes below.
The grounds which on the right aspire
In dimness from the view retire;
The left presents a place of graves,
Whose wall the silent water laves;
That steeple guides thy doubtful sight
Among the livid gleams of night;
There pass, with melancholy state,
By all the solemn heaps of Fate,
And think, as softly-sad you tread
Above the venerable dead,
“Time was, like thee they life possessed,
And time shall be that thou shalt rest.”
Those graves, with bending osier bound,
That nameless heave the crumbled ground,
Quick to the glancing thought disclose
Where Toil and Poverty repose.
The flat smooth stones that bear a name,
The chisel's slender help to fame
(Which ere our set of friends decay
Their frequent steps may wear away),
A middle race of mortals own,
Men half ambitious, all unknown.
The marble tombs that rise on high,
Whose dead in vaulted *arches lie,
Whose pillars swell with sculptured stones
Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones,
These, all the poor remains of state,
Adorn the rich or praise the great,
Who, while on earth in fame they live,
Are senseless of the fame they give.
Ha! while I gaze, pale Cynthia fades;
The bursting earth unveils the shades !
All slow, and wan, and wrapped with shrouds,
They rise in visionary crowds,
And all with sober accent cry,
“Think, mortal, what it is to die !"
Now from yon black and fun'ral yew,
That bathes the charnel-house with dew,
Methinks I hear a voice begin
(Ye ravens, cease your croaking din!
Ye tolling clocks, no time resound
O'er the long lake and midnight ground!);
It sends a peal of hollow groans,
Thus speaking from among the bones:
"When men my scythe and darts supply,
How great a King of Fears am I!
They view me like the last of things :
They make, and then they dread, my stings.
Fools! if you less provoked your fears,
No more my spectre-form appears.
Death 's but a path that must be trod,
If man would ever pass to God;
A port of calms, a state of ease
From the rough rage of swelling seas.
Why, then, thy flowing sable stoles,
Deep pendant cypress, mourning poles,
Loose scarfs to fall athwart thy weeds,
Long palls, drawn hearses, covered steeds,
And plumes of black, that, as they tread,
Nod o'er the 'scutcheons of the dead?
Nor can the parted body know,
Nor wants the soul, these forms of woe:
As men who long in prison dwell,
With lamps that glimmer round the cell,
Whene'er their "suffering years are run,
Spring forth to greet the glitt'ring sun,
Such joy, though far transcending sense,
Have pious souls at parting hence;
On earth, and in the body placed,
A few and evil years they waste,
But, when their chains are cast aside,
See the glad scene unfolding wide,
Clap the glad wing, and tow'r away,
And mingle with the blaze of day.
Far in a wild, unknown to public view,
From youth to age a rev'rend hermit grew;
The moss his bed, the cave his humble cell,
His food the fruits, his drink the crystal well:
Remote from man, with God he passed the days,
Pray'r all his business, all his pleasure praise.
A life so sacred, such serene repose,
Seemed heav'n itself till one suggestion rose;
That vice should triumph, virtue vice obey,
This sprung some doubt of Providence's sway:
His hopes no more a certain prospect boast,
And all the tenour of his soul is lost.
So when a smooth expanse receives imprest
Calm Nature's image on its watry breast,
Down bend the banks, the trees depending grow,
And skies beneath with answ'ring colours glow;
But if a stone the gentle scene divide,
Swift ruffling circles curl on ev'ry side,
And glimmering fragments of a broken sun,
Banks, trees, and skies, in thick disorder run.
To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
To find if books or swains report it right
(For yet by swains alone the world he knew,
Whose feet came wand'ring o'er the nightly dew),
He quits his cell: the pilgrim-staff he bore,
And fixed the scallop in his hat before;
Then with the sun a rising journey went,
Sedate to think and watching each event.
The morn was wasted in the pathless grass,
And long and lonesome was the wild to pass;
But when the southern sun had warmed the day,
A youth came posting o'er a crossing way-
His raiment decent, his complexion fair,
And soft in graceful ringlets waved his hair.
Then, near approaching, “Father, hail !” he cried;
“And hail, my son!” the rev'rend sire replied.
Words followed words, from question answer flowed,
And talk of various kind deceived the road;
Till, each with other pleased, and loth to part,
While in their age they differ, join in heart: