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The gods of winds drew sounds of deep delightWhence, with just cause, the harp of Æolus it hight.
Ah me! what hand can touch the string so fine?
Who up the lofty diapason roll
Such sweet, such sad, such solemn airs divine,
Then let them down again into the soul?
Now rising love they fanned; now pleasing dole
They breathed, in tender musings, through the heart;
And now a graver sacred strain they stole,
As when seraphic hands an hymn impart:
Wild-warbling Nature all, above the reach of Art!
Such the gay splendour, the luxurious state,
Of Caliphs old, who on the Tigris' shore,
In mighty Bagdat populous and great,
Held their bright court, where was of ladies store,
And verse, love, music still the garland wore:
When sleep was coy, the bard in waiting there
Cheered the lone midnight with the Muse's lore;
Composing music bade his dreams be fair,
And music lent new gladness to the morning air.
Near the pavilions where we slept, still ran Soft-tinkling streams, and dashing waters fell, And sobbing breezes sighed, and oft began (So worked the wizard) wintry storms to swell As heaven and earth they would together mell; At doors and windows, threatening, seemed to call The demons of the tempest, growling fell, Yet the least entrance found they none at all: Whence sweeter grew our sleep, secure in massy hall. 1736-48. 1748.
LOVE OF FAME, THE UNIVERSAL PASSION
A PROPER IDLER
Narcissus the Tartarian club disclaims,
Nay, a Freemason with some terror names;
Omits no duty, nor can envy say
He missed, these many years, the church or play.
He makes no noise in Parliament, 't is true,
But pays his debts and visit, when 't is due.
His character and gloves are ever clean,
And then he can out-bow the bowing dean.
A smile eternal on his lip he wears,
Which equally the wise and worthless shares.
In gay fatigues this most undaunted chief,
Patient of idleness beyond belief,
Most charitably lends the town his face,
For ornament, in ev'ry public place:
As sure as cards, he to th' assembly comes,
And is the furniture of drawing-rooms;
When ombre calls, his hand and heart are free,
And, joined to two, he fails not-to make three.
Narcissus is the glory of his race,
For who does nothing with a better grace?
Lavinia is polite, but not profane,
To church as constant as to Drury Lane.
She decently, in form, pays Heaven its due,
And makes a civil visit to her pew.
Her lifted fan, to give a solemn air,
Conceals her face, which passes for a prayer;
Curtsies to curtsies then, with grace, succeed-
Not one the fair omits but at the creed.
Or if she joins the service, 't is to speak:
Through dreadful silence the pent heart might break; 10
Untaught to bear it, women talk away
To God himself, and fondly think they pray;
But sweet their accent, and their air refined,
For they're before their Maker-and mankind:
When ladies once are proud of praying well,
Satan himself will toll the parish bell.
NIGHT, SABLE GODDESS
Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep!
He, like the world, his ready visit pays
Where Fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes,
Swift on his downy pinion flies from woe,
And lights on lids unsullied with a tear.
From short (as usual) and disturbed repose,
I wake: how happy they who wake no more!
Yet that were vain, if dreams infest the grave.
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams
Tumultuous, where my wrecked, desponding thought
From wave to wave of fancied misery
At random drove, her helm of reason lost;
Though now restored, 't is only change of pain,
A bitter change! severer for severe.
The day too short for my distress; and Night,
Even in the zenith of her dark domain,
Is sunshine to the colour of my fate.
Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne,
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
Her leaden scepter o'er a slumbering world.
Silence how dead! and darkness how profound!
Nor eye nor list'ning ear an object finds:
Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the general pulse
Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause,
An awful pause, prophetic of her end.
And let her prophecy be soon fulfilled!
Fate, drop the curtain! I can lose no more.
Silence and Darkness, solemn sisters, twins
From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought
To reason, and on reason build resolve
(That column of true majesty in man),
Assist me! I will thank you in the grave,
The grave your kingdom; there this frame shall fall
A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.
But what are ye?-
Thou Who didst put to flight
Primeval Silence. when the morning stars,
Exulting, shouted o'er the rising ball,
O Thou Whose word from solid darkness struck
That spark, the sun, strike wisdom from my soul!
My soul, which flies to Thee, her trust, her treasure,
As misers to their gold, while others rest.
Through this opaque of Nature and of soul,
This double night, transmit one pitying ray,
To lighten and to cheer! O lead my mind
(A mind that fain would wander from its woe),
Lead it through various scenes of life and death,
And from each scene the noblest truths inspire!
Nor less inspire my conduct than my song:
Teach my best reason, reason; my best will,
Teach rectitude; and fix my firm resolve
Wisdom to wed and pay her long arrear;
Nor let the vial of thy vengeance, poured
On this devoted head, be poured in vain!
By Nature's law, what may be, may be now;
There's no prerogative in human hours.
In human hearts what bolder thought can rise
Than man's presumption on to-morrow's dawn?
Where is to-morrow? in another world:
For numbers this is certain; the reverse
Is sure to none; and yet on this "perhaps,"
This "peradventure,” infamous for lies,
As on a rock of adamant we build
Our mountain hopes, spin out eternal schemes
As we the Fatal Sisters could out-spin,
And, big with life's futurities, expire.
Not even Philander had bespoke his shroud,
Nor had he cause-a warning was denied:
How many fall as sudden, not as safe;
As sudden, though for years admonished home.
Of human ills the last extreme beware,
Beware, Lorenzo, a slow-sudden death!
How dreadful that deliberate surprise!
Be wise to-day; 't is madness to defer:
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is pushed out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 't is so frequent, this is stranger still.
While some affect the sun, and some the shade,
Some flee the city, some the hermitage,
Their aims as various as the roads they take
In journeying through life, the task be mine
To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb,
Th' appointed place of rendezvous, where all
These trav'llers meet. Thy succours I implore,
Eternal King! whose potent arm sustains
The keys of hell and death.—The Grave, dread thing!
Men shiver when thou 'rt named: Nature, appalled,
Shakes off her wonted firmness. Ah, how dark
Thy long-extended realms and rueful wastes!
Where naught but silence reigns, and night, dark night,
Dark as was chaos ere the infant sun
Was rolled together or had tried his beams
Athwart the gloom profound. The sickly taper
By glimm'ring through thy low-browed misty vaults,
Furred round with mouldy damps and ropy slime,
Lets fall a supernumerary horror,
And only serves to make thy night more irksome.
Well do I know thee by thy trusty yew,
Cheerless, unsocial plant! that loves to dwell
Midst skulls and coffins, epitaphs and worms;
Where light-heeled ghosts and visionary shades,
Beneath the wan cold moon (as fame reports)
Embodied thick, perform their mystic rounds.
No other merriment, dull tree, is thine.