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And give to future times a sweeter strain,
Than Erin's harp may e'er resound again.
The sacred few, whose just “applause is fame,” 945
No more will turn in pity from his name;
But hear the strain with unreproving sighs,
So when the Sun, that blaz'd with noontide beam,
Casts from the glowing West a parting gleam, 950
The wondering eye can ev'ry tint admire,
Of equal splendor but diminish'd fire;
And now, in confidence, the Orb explore,
Whose dazzling rays it dar'd not meet before.
If such were all, whose names untold remain, 955
The voice of censure would be heard in vain.
But in the breasts of few this spirit lives,
And isolated Genius scarce survives:
While Dulness scatters wide her hundred arms,
On downy pillows sheds her potent charms; 900
Treads in the forum, hovers round the throne,
And makes e'en Britain's Senators her own.
What numbers still, all “honorable men,”
Press on my thoughts, and crowd upon my pen!—
But these I leave to some adventious knight, 965
Who loves with “Shadows of a Shade.”" to fight;
And, wearied by my toils, will ne'er resume
The Gorgon shield, and sable-tinctur'd plume.
Here, Satire, then we pause; my descant sung,
My mirror clouded, and my lyre unstrung ; , 970
I, whom nor politics, nor party rage,
Nor darker Envy, forc’d upon the stage,
Will keep my hard, rebellious spirit down,
* Strange to relate, but wonderfully true,
That even shadows have their shadows too!
The eye, delighted with a scene so fair,
Shall disappointed turn to what we are,
With moody Barbauld I may take my stand,
Read the sad presage of my native land
Inscrib'd, like Babylon's, upon the wall,
And mourn in silence o'er its hapless fall.
Far, far from me, that cold, affected art,
That sullen, callous apathy of heart,
Which Nature's genial impulse ne'er obeys,
But finds in all, still something to dispraise.
No, in my earliest youth I learnt t'admire,
Falsely, perhaps, but with ingenuous fire;
To view an error only in its cause,
And honor all that merited applause.
Then, too, I hallow'd first th’Aonian Mount, 995
And quaffed delighted from the Muse's fount;
Not, as from Lethe's dark and fateful stream,
To drown the World in one oblivious dream,
But, with its spell, to charm the languid hours,
And strew my future path of life with flow’rs. 1000
And,—if, nor Fancy's flatt’ring hope mislead,
Nor chast'ning Heav'n, in wisdom, hath decreed
That Death shall prematurely close the strain,
And make the dreams of youth, like Gifford's", vain,
The Muse, whose honest warmth, or right or wrong,
Braves all the rancour of the Sons of Song,
Shall dauntless mix among her willing foes,
And tempt that justice which she now bestows.
Yet, tho' her bounded pow'rs forbid to rise,
And bear from older, wiser heads the prize, 1010
Pride shall restrain her from the humble group,
Who to the town and all its idols stoop,
And point to themes that Judgment may allow,
Nor Friendship blame, nor Virtue disavow.
This may be mine, ere age shall chill the fire, 1015
That, scarce repress'd, has ventur'd to aspire.
This anticipation may yet be verified; but Mr. Gifford should
recollect the words of Young:
Life speeds away
From point to point, tho' seeming to stand still.
The cunning fugitive is swift by stealth,
Too subtle is the movement to be seen;
Yet soon man's hour is up, and we are gone,