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New life ordain’d and brighter scenes to share,
Once prone on earth, now buoyant upon air,
Whose shape would make them hadtheybulk and size,
More hideous foes than fancy can devise;
With helmet-heads, and dragon-scales adorn’d,
The mighty myriads now securely scorn'd,
Would mock the majesty of man's high birth,
Despise his bulwarks, and unpeople earth.
Then with a glance of fancy to survey,
Far as the faculty can stretch away,
Ten thousand rivers pour'd at his command
From urns, that never fail, through ev'ry land;
These like a deluge with impetuous force,
Those winding modestly a silent course;
The cloud-surmounting Alps, the fruitful vales :
Seas, on which ev'ry nation spreads her sails ;.
The sun, a world whence other worlds drink light,
The crescent moon, the diadem of night;
Stars countless, each in his appointed place,
Fast anchor'd in the deep abyss of space-
At such a sight to catch the poet's flame,
And with a rapture like his own exclaim,
These are thy glorious works, thou Source of Good,
How dimly seen, how faintly understood !
Thine, and upheld by thy paternal care,
This universal frame, thus wondrous fair;
Thy pow'r divine, and bounty beyond thought,
Ador'd and prais'd in all that thou hast wrought.
Absorb'd in that immensity I see,
I shrink abas’d, and yet aspire to thee;
Instruct me, guide me to that heav'nly day,
Thy words more clearly than thy words display,
That, while thy truths my grosser thoughts refine,
I may resemble thee, and call thee mine.
o, blest proficiency ! surpassing all, That men erroneously their glory call, The
recompense that arts or arms can yield, The bar, the senate, or the tented field.
Compar'd with this sublimest life below,
Ye kings and rulers, what have courts to show ?
Thus studied, us’d and consecrated thus,
On earth what is, seemed formed indeed for us :
Not as the plaything of a froward child,
Fretful unless diverted and beguild,
Much less to feed and fan the fatal fires
Of pride, ambition, or impure desires,
But as a scale, by which the soul ascends
From mighty means to more important ends,
Securely, though by steps but rarely trod,
Mounts from inferior beings up to God,
And sees, by no fallacious light or dim,
Earth made for man, and man himself for him.
Not that I mean t' approve, or would enforce,
A superstitious and monastic course :
Truth is not local, God alike pervades
And fills the world of traffic and the shades,
And may be fear'd amidst the busiest scenes,
Or scorn’d where business never intervenes.
But 'tis not easy with a mind like ours,
Conscious of weakness in its noblest pow'rs,
And in a world where, other ills apart,
The roving eye misleads the careless heart,
To limit Thought, by nature prone to stray
Wherever freakish Fancy points
way ; To bid the pleadings of Self-love be still, Resign our own and seek our Maker's will ; To spread the page of Scripture and compare Our conduct with the laws engraven there; To measure all that passes in the breast, Faithfully, fairly, by that sacred test; To dive into the secret deeps within, To spare no passion and no fav’rite sin, And search the themes, important above all, Ourselves, and our recov'ry from our fall. But leisure, silence, and a mind releas'd From anxious thoughts how wealth may be increas'd,
How to secure in some propitious hour,
The point of int'rest, or the post of pow'r,
A soul serene, and equally retir'd
From objects too much dreaded or desir'd,
Safe from the clamours of perverse dispute,
At least are friendly to the great pursuit.
Op'ning the map of God's extensive plan,
We find a little isle, this life of man;
Eternity's unknown expanse appears
Circling around and limiting his years.
The busy race examine and explore
Each creek and cavern of the dang’rous shore,
With care collect what in their eyes excels,
Some shining pebbles, and some weeds and shells;
Thus laden, dream that they are rich and great,
And happiest he that groans beneath his weight.
The waves o’ertake them in their serious play,
And ev'ry hour sweeps multitudes away;
They shriek and sink, survivors start and weep,
Pursue their sport, and follow to the deep.
A few forsake the throng; with lifted eyes
Ask wealth of Heav'n, and gain a real prize,
Truth, wisdom, grace, and peace like that above,
Seal'd with his signet whom they serve and love;
Scorn'd by the rest, with patient hope they wait
A kind release from their imperfect state,
And unregretted are soon snatch'd away
From scenes of sorrow into glorious day.
Nor these alone prefer a life recluse,
Who seek retirement for its proper use;
The love of change, that lives in ev'ry breast,
Genius and temper, and desire of rest,
Discordant motives in one centre meet,
And each inclines its vot'ry to retreat.
Some minds by nature are averse to noise,
And hate the tumult half the world enjoys,
The lure of av'rice, or the pompous prize,
That court displays before ambitious eyes;
The fruits that hang on pleasure's flow'ry stem,
Whate'er enchants them, are no snares to them.
To them the deep recess of dusky groves,
Or forest, where the deer securely roves,
The fall of waters, and the song of birds,
And hills that echo to the distant herds,
Are luxuries excelling all the glare
The world can boast, and her chief fav'rites share.
With eager step, and carelessly array'd,
For such a cause the poet seeks the shade,
From all he sees he catches new delight,
Pleas'd Fancy claps her pinions at the sight,
The rising or the setting orb of day,
The clouds that flit, or slowly float away.
Nature in all the various shapes she wears,
Frowning in storms, or breathing gentle airs;
robe her wintry state assumes,
Her summer heats, her fruits, and her perfumes;
All, all alike transport the glowing bard,
Success his rhyme and glory and reward,
0, Nature ! whose Elysian scenes disclose
His bright perfections, at whose words they rose,
Next to that pow'r, who form’d thee and sustains,
Be thou the great inspirer of my
strains. Still, as I touch the lyre, do thou expand Thy genuine charms, and guide an artless hand, That I may catch a fire but rarely known, Give useful light, though I should miss renown, And, poring on thy page, whose ev'ry line Bears proof of an intelligence divine, May feel a heart enrich'd by what it pays, That builds its glory on its Maker's praise. Woe to the man, whose wit disclaims its use, Glittring in vain, or only to seduce, Who studies nature with a wanton eye; Admires the work, but slips the lesson by; His hours of leisure and recess employs In drawing pictures of forbidden joys,
Retires to blazon his own worthless name,
Or shoot the careless with a surer aim.
The lover too shuns business and alarms,
Tender idolater of absent charms.
Saints offer nothing in their warmest pray’rs,
That he devotes not with a zeal like theirs ;
'Tis consecration of his heart, soul, time,
And ev'ry thought that wanders is a crime.
In sighs he worships his supremely fair,
And weeps a sad libation in despair;
Adores a creature, and, devout in vain,
Wins in return an answer of disdain.
As woodbine weds the plant within her reach,
Rough elm, or smooth-grain'd ash, or glossy beech,
In spiral rings ascends the trunk, and lays
Her golden tassels on the leafy sprays,
But does a mischief while she lends a grace,
Straitning its growth by such a strict embrace ;
So love, that clings around the noblest minds,
Forbids th’ advancement of the soul he binds :
The suitor's air indeed he soon improves,
And forms it to the taste of her he loves,
Teaches his eyes a language, and no less
Refines his speech, and fashions his address;
But, farewell promises of happier fruits,
Manly designs, and learning's grave pursuits :
Girt with a chain he cannot wish to break,
His only bliss is sorrow for her sake;
Who will may pant for glory, and excel,
Her smile his aim, all higher aims farewell !
Thyrsis, Alexis, or whatever name
May least offend against so pure a flame,
Though sage advice of friends the most sincere
Sounds harshly in so delicate an ear,
And lovers, of all creatures, tame or wild,
Can least brook management, however mild:
Yet let a poet (poetry disarms
The fiercest animals with magic charms)