Page images




From the FIRST BOOK.

OME, heav'nly muse, my raptur'd foul inspire,
Touch with one beam of thy celestial fire,

A foul, that rifing with fublime delight
Leaves worlds behind in its aerial flight;
Mounts o'er the skies, unufual heights to foar,
Where YOUNG and Angels only flew before.
I leave unheeded ev'ry mortal care,

The victor's pomp, and all the scenes of war:
A nobler aim invites my fong to rise:
No praise I fing, but his who form'd the skies:
No fcenes, but nature's burning vaults difplay'd;
No pow'r, but that which wakes the sleeping dead.
My theme how vaft! the fun's extinguish'd rays;
Ten thousand stars in one devouring blaze ;

That doom, the guilty wretch must dread to hear;
The laft loud trump that ftops the rolling fphere;
The crowds that burft from earth's diffolving frame;
All heaven defcending, and a world on flame.

O Thou, whofe hands the bolted thunder form,
Whose wings the whirlwind, and whose breath the storm:
Tremendous God! this wond'ring bosom raise,
And warm each thought that would attempt thy praise.


O! while I mount along th' etherial


To fofter regions, and unclouded day,

Pass the long tracks where darting lightnings glow,
Or trembling view the boiling deeps below;
Lead thro' the dubious maze, direct the whole,
Lend heav'nly aid to my transported foul,
Teach ev'ry nobler power to guide my tongue,
And touch the heart, while thou infpir'ft the song.
'Twas at the hour, when midnight ghosts affume
Some frightful fhape, and fweep along the gloom;
When the pale spectre bursts upon the view;
When fancy paints the fading taper blue ;
When fmiling virtue refts, nor dreads a foe;
And flumber fhuts the weeping eyes of woe:
'Twas then, amid the filence of the night,
A graceful feraph stood before my fight,
And blaz'd meridian day-the rocking ground
Flam'd as he mov'd, and totter'd as he frown'd.
As fome vaft meteor, whofe expanded glare
Shoots a long ftream that brightens all the air,
So flam'd his burning eyes :-earth heard and shook,
When from his lips thefe dreadful accents broke:
"Now is that hour, when at th' Almighty's call,

[ocr errors]

Surrounding flames fhall melt the yielding ball; "When worlds must blaze amid the general fire, And funs and stars with all their hofts expire. The long-delay'd, th' important day is come, (All nature quake with terror at the doom.)


• For

"For which creation rofe fupremely fair,

"Each world was launch'd, and hung upon the air, "O'er fyftem system roll d, a fhining throng, "And mov'd in filent harmony along.

"That hour is come, when God himself shall rise, "Sublime in wrath, and rend the burning skies; "Arreft the boundless planets, as they roll,

And burft the labouring earth from pole to pole; "Bid hell's remote dominions hear and shake, "While nature finks, and all the dead awake." Warm'd as he spoke, I felt th' enliv'ning ray; Then loos'd from earth, triumphing foar'd away: "We mount at once, and, lighter than the wind, Left, as we flew, the diftant clouds behind. Then far remov'd beheld th' abodes below, And wait in deep fufpenfe the impending blow. Now o'er the brightning east Aurora spread, And ting'd the blushing cloud with morning red; The hill's proud fummit caught the waving gleam: The pale ray trembled on the quiv'ring ftream; Then opening gradual from the fhades of night The cloud-topt foreft fhone with dawning light; Serene the beauteous landscape rofe to view,

The mead's green mantle wet with spangling dew, The gay-rob'd flow'rs that glow'd with heighten'd bloom,

And bow'ring dales, and groves that breath'd perfume. So when the tempeft's fweepy blast is o'er,

Nor bursts the rushing wind, nor prattling show'r :


No hov'ring mist obfcures th' emerging day,
Wide o'er the prospect pours the streamy ray;
A fresher cloud the dewy fields exhale,
With richer fragrance blows the balmy gale,
The echoing hills with louder notes rebound,
And all th' illumin'd landscape rings around,
Charm'd and furpriz'd we saw the fair abode,
The plains with beauty's flow'ry offspring strow'd,
Beheld the city's distant spires arise,

Or tow'r's dim top that touch'd the bending skies ;
Or view'd the wild, with trackless paths o'ercast,
Where roams the lion thro' the naked waste;
Or penfive, ey'd the folitary pile

Where flits the night-bird thro' the glimm'ring ifle:
Struck deep with woe, we mark'd the domes o'erthrown
Where once the beauty bloom'd, the warrior fhone;
We fay Palmyra's mould'ring tow'rs decay'd,
The loofe wall tott'ring o'er the trembling fhade!
Or fall'n Perfepolis that defert lay!

Or Balbec's fanes that catch'd the quiv'ring ray!
Vain pomp of pow'r!-now in the throne of kings
Shrieks the 'lone owl, the raven shakes her wings.
Then o'er the boundlefs deeps our eyes were roll'd,
The waves all brightning flam'd with beamy gold.
Here mov'd in gradual rows the billows heave,
There on the rough rock foams the madning wave,
Or dash the torrents down the cliff's steep fide,
Or thro' the cavern fweeps the rushing tide;


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »