« PreviousContinue »
VII.-Description of Mab, Queen of the Fairies.
SHE is the fancy's midwife; and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone,
On the fore finger of an Alderman;
Drawn by a team of little atomies,
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon spokes, made of long spinner's legs:
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
The traces, of the smallest spider's web;
The collars, of the moonshine's wat'ry beams;
Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash of film;
Her wagonner, a small gray-coated gnat ;
Her chariot is an empty hazle-nut,
Made by the joiner Squirrel, or old Grub,
Time out of mind the fairies' coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops, night by night,
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;
O'er lawyer's fingers, who straight dream of fees;
O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream;
And sometimes comes she with the tithe pig's tail,
Tickling the parson as he lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another benefice.
Sometimes she driveth o'er a soldier's neck;
And then he dreams of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscades, Spanish blades;
Of healths five fathoms deep; and then, anon,
Drums in his ears: at which he starts and wakes;
And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two,
And sleeps again.
VIII.-On the Existence of a Deity.
RETIRE the world shut out-thy thoughts call homeImagination's airy wing repress.
Let no passion stir.
Let her reign alone.
Then, in thy soul's deep silence, and the depth
Of nature's silence, midnight, thus inquire,
What am I? and from whence? I nothing know
But that I am; and since I am, conclude
Something eternal. Had there e'er been nought,
Nought still had been. Eternal there must be.
But, what eternal? Why not human race,
And Adam's ancestors, without an end?
'That's hard to be conceiv'd, since every link
Of that long chain'd succession is so frail;
Can every part depend, and not the whole!
Yet, grant it true, new difficulties rise:
I'm still quite out at sea, nor see the shore.
Whence earth and these bright orbs? Eternal too!
Grant matter was eternal: still these orbs
Would want some other father. Much design
Is seen in all their motions, all their makes.
Design implies intelligence and art,
That can't be from themselves
Man scarce can comprehend, could man bestow:
And nothing greater yet allow'd than man.
Who, motion, foreign to the smallest grain,
Shot through vast masses of enormous weight?
Who bid brute matter's restive lump assume
Such various forms, and gave it wings to fly?
Has matter innate motion? Then each atom,
Asserting its indisputable right
To dance, would form an universe of dust.
Has matter none? Then whence these glorious forms,
And boundless flights, from shapeless and repos'd?
Has matter more than motion? Has it thought,
Judgment and genius? Is it deeply learn'd
In mathematics? Has it fram'd such laws,
Which, but to guess, a Newton made immortal?
If art to form, and council to conduct,
And that with greater far than human skill,
Resides not in each block-a GODHEAD reigns-
And if a GOD there is-that God how great!
IX.-Evening in Paradise described. Adam and Eve's
Conversation and Evening Worship.
NOW came still evening on, and twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad.
Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nest
Were sunk, all but the wakeful nightingale ;
She all night long her amorous descant sung:
Silence was pleas'd. Now glow'd the firmament
With living sapphires: Hesperus, that led
The starry host, rode brightest; till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length,
Apparent queen, unveil'd her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.
When Adam thus to Eve. Fair consort, th' hour
Of night, and all things now retir'd to rest,
Mind us of like repose; since God hath set
Labour and rest, as day and night to men,
Successive; and the timely dew of sleep
Now falling, with soft slumb'rous weight inclines
Our eyelids. Other creatures all day long
Rove idle, unemploy'd, and less need rest:
Man hath his daily work of body or mind
Appointed, which declares his dignity,
And the regard of Heaven on all his ways:
While other animals inactive range,
And of their doings God takes no account.
To-morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east
With first approach of light, we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labour, to reform
Yon flow'ry arbours, yonder alleys green,
Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,
That mock our scant manuring, and require
More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth;
Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,
That lie bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth,
Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease:
Meanwhile, as nature wills, night bids us rest.
To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorn'd My author and disposer! what thou bid'st Unargu'd I obey; so God ordains;
God is thy law, thou mine; to know no more
Is woman's happiest knowledge, and her praise.
With thee conversing, I forget all time,
All seasons and their change: all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds: pleasant the sun,
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glist'ning with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild; then silent night,
With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon,
And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train:
But neither breath of morn, when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds; nor rising sun,
On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glist'ning with dew; nor fragrance after showers;
Nor grateful evening mild; nor silent night,
With this her solemn bird; nor walk by moon,
Or glittering starlight, without thee is sweet.
Thus, at their shady lodge arriv'd, both stood,
Both turn'd; and under open sky ador'd
The God that made both sky, air, earth, and heaven
Which they beheld; the moon's resplendent globe,
And starry pole: Thou also mad'st the night,
Maker omnipotent, and thou the day
Which we, in our appointed work employ'd,
Have finish'd; happy in our mutual help
And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss,
Ordain'd by thee; and this delicious place,
For us too large; where thy abundance wants
Partakers, and uncropt, falls to the ground:
But thou hast promis'd from us two, a race
To fill the earth, who shall with us extol
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake,
And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.
X.—Elegy written in a Country Churchyard. THE curfew tolls the knell of parting day; The lowing herds wind slowly o'er the lea; The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me. Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight, And all the air a solemn stillness holds; Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight, And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds. Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower, The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bower, Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath these rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense breathing morn,
The swallow, twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees, the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield;
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke:
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure:
Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await, alike, the inevitable hour;
The paths of glory lead-but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long drawn aisle and fretted vault The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can story'd urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or flatt'ry sooth the dull cold ear of death
Perhaps, in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart, once pregnant with celestial fire:
Hands that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre:
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unrol;
Chill penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,
The dark, unfathom'd caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest;
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade; nor circumscrib'd alone,
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind:
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame :
Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride,
With incense kindled at the muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray-
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply;
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day;
Nor cast one longing, ling'ring look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies;
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
E'en from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of the unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate,
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,