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Ode. The Dying Christian to his Soul.
VITAL spark of heavenly flame!
Quit, oh quit this mortal frame:
Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying,
Oh the pain, the bliss of dying !
Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.
Hark! they whisper ; angels say,
Sister spirit, come away.
What is this absorbs me quite,
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath ?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?
The world recedes ; it disappears !
Heaven opens on my eyes; my ears
With sounds seraphic ring :
Lend, lend your wings ! I mount! I fly!
O grave, where is thy victory?
o death, where is thy sting?
Born A.D. 1700, died A.D. 1748.
The Happiness of a
Life. Oh, knew he but his happiness, of men The happiest he who, far from public rage, Deep in the vale, with a choice few retir'd, Drinks the pure pleasures of the rural life. What though the dome be wanting, whose proud gate Each morning vomits out the sneaking crowd Of flatterers false, and in their turn abus'd! Vile intercourse! What though the glittering robe, Of every hue reflected light can give, Or floating loose, or stiff with mazy gold, The pride and gaze of fools, oppress him not!
What though, from utmost land and sea purvey'd,
For him each rarer tributary life
Bleeds not, and his insatiate table heaps
With luxury and death! What though his bowl
Flames not with costly juice; nor sunk in beds,
Oft of gay care, he tosses out the night,
Or melts the thoughtless hours in idle state!
What though he knows not those fantastic joys
That still amuse the wanton, still deceive;
A face of pleasure, but a heart of pain ;
Their hollow moments undelighted all !
peace is his; a solid life, estrang'd
To disappointment and fallacious hope :
Rich in content; in Nature's bounty rich,
In herbs and fruits ; whatever greens the Spring
When heaven descends in showers; or bends the bough
When Summer reddens and when Autumn beams;
Or in the wintry glebe whatever lies
Conceal’d, and fattens with the richest sap :
These are not wanting ; nor the milky drove,
Luxuriant, spread o'er all the lowing vale ;
Nor bleating mountains, nor the chide of streams,
And hum of bees, inviting sleep sincere
Into the guiltless breast, beneath the shade,
Or thrown at large amid the fragrant hay;
Nor aught besides of prospect, grove, or song,
Dim grottoes, gleaming lakes, and fountain clear:
Here too dwells simple Truth, plain Innocence,
Unsullied Beauty; sound unbroken Youth,
Patient of labour, with a little pleas'd ;
Health ever blooming, unambitious Toil,
Calm Contemplation, and poetic Ease.
The Bursting of Spring.
Nor only through the lenient air this change
Delicious breathes : the penetrative sun,
His force deep darting to the dark retreat
Of vegetation, sets the streaming pow'r
At large, to wander o'er the verdant earth
In various hues; but chiefly thee, gay green!
Thou smiling nature's universal robe!
United light and shade, where the sight dwells
With growing strength and ever-new delight.
From the moist meadow to the wither'd hill,
Led by the breeze, the vivid verdure runs,
And swells and deepens to the cherish'd
The hawthorn whitens, and the juicy groves
Put forth their buds, unfolding by degrees,
Till the whole leafy forest stands display'd
In full luxuriance to the sighing gales,
Where the deer rustle through the twining brake,
And the birds sing conceal'd. At once array'd
In all the colours of the flushing year,
By nature's swift and secret-working hand,
The garden glows, and fills the liberal air
With lavish fragrance; while the promis'd fruit
Lies yet a little embryo, unperceiv'd,
Within its crimson folds. Now from the town,
Buried in smoke, and sleep, and noisome damps,
Oft let me wander o'er the dewy fields,
Where freshness breathes, and dash the trembling drops
From the bent bush, as through the verdant maze
Of sweet-brier edges I pursue my walk ;
Or taste the smell of dairy; or ascend
Some eminence, Augusta, in thy plains,
And see the country far diffus'd around,
One boundless blush, one white-empurpled show'r
Of mingled blossoms, where the raptur'd eye
Hurries from joy to joy, and, hid beneath
The fair profusion, yellow Autumn spies.
But happy they, the happiest of their kind,
Whom gentler stars unite, and in one fate
Their hearts, their fortunes, and their beings blend.
'Tis not the coarser tie of human laws,
Unnatural oft and foreign to the mind,
That binds their peace, but harmony itself,
Attuning all their passions into love;
Where friendship full exerts her softest power,
Perfect esteem, enliven’d by desire
Ineffable and sympathy of soul;
Thought meeting thought, and will preventing will,
With boundless confidence ; for nought but love
Can answer love, and render bliss secure.
Let him, ungen'rous, who, alone intent
To bless himself, from sordid parents buys
The loathing virgin, in eternal care,
Well merited, consume his nights and days ;
Let barbarous nations, whose inhuman love
Is wild desire, fierce as the suns they feel,-
Let eastern tyrants from the light of heaven
Seclude their bosom slaves, meanly possess'd
Of a mere lifeless violated form:
While those whom love cements in holy faith
And equal transport free as Nature live,
Disdaining fear. What is the world to them,
Its pomp, its pleasure, and its nonsense all,
Who in each other clasp whatever fair
High fancy forms and lavish hearts can wish ?
Something than beauty dearer, should they look
Or on the mind or mind-illumin'd face;
Truth, goodness, honour, harmony, and love,
The richest bounty of indulgent Heaven.
Meantime a smiling offspring rises round,
And mingles both their graces. By degrees
The human blossom blows; and every day,
Soft as it rolls along, shews some new charm,
The father's lustre and the mother's bloom.
Then infant reason grows apace, and calls
For the kind hand of an assiduous care.
Delightful task ! to rear the tender thought,
To teach the young idea how to shoot,
pour the fresh instruction o'er the mind,
To breathe th’ enlivening spirit, and to fix
The generous purpose in the glowing breast.
Oh, speak the joy, ye whom the sudden tear
Surprises often, while you look around,
And nothing strikes your eye but sights of bliss,
All various nature pressing on the heart !
An elegant sufficiency, content,
Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books,
Ease and alternate labour, useful life,
Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven, -
These are the matchless joys of virtuous love,
And thus their moments fly. The Seasons thus,
As ceaseless round a jarring world they roll,
Still find them happy, and consenting Spring
Sheds her own rosy garland on their heads ;
Till evening comes at last, serene and mild ;
When, after the long vernal day of life,
Enamour'd more, as more remembrance swells
With many a proof of recollected love,
Together down they sink in social sleep :
Together freed, their gentle spirits fly
To scenes where love and bliss immortal reign.
Summer Heat. 'Tis raging noon; and, vertical, the sun Darts on the head direct his forceful rays. O’er heaven and earth, far as the ranging eye Can sweep, a dazzling deluge reigns, and all From pole to pole is undistinguish'd blaze. In vain the sight, dejected, to the ground Stoops for relief; thence hot ascending steams And keen reflection pain. Deep to the root Of vegetation parch’d, the cleaving fields And slippery lawn an arid hue disclose, Blast fancy's bloom, and wither e'en the soul. Echo no more returns the cheerful sound Of sharpening scythe ; the mower, singing, heaps O'er him the humid hay with flow'rs perfumed ; And scarce a chirping grasshopper is heard Through the dumb mead. Distressful Nature pants. The very streams look languid from afar ; Or, through th' unshelter'd glade, impatient seem To hurl into the covert of the grove.