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There pass with melancholy state
By all the solemn heaps of fate;
And think, as softly sad you tread
Above the venerable dead,
Time was, like thee they life possest,
And time shall be, that thou shalt rest.
Those graves with bending osier bound,
That nameless heave the crumbled ground,
Quick to the glancing thought disclose
Where Toil and Poverty repose.
The flat smooth stones that bear a name,
The chissel's slender help to fame,
(Which ere our set of friends decay
Their frequent steps may wear away)
A Middle Race of mortals own,
Men half ambitious, all unknown.
The marble tombs that rise on high, Whose dead in vaulted arches lie, Whose pillars swell with sculptur'd stones, Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones, These (all the poor remains of state) Adorn the Rich, or praise the Great; Who, while on earth in fame they live, Are senseless of the fame they give.
Ha! while I gaze, pale Cynthia fades,
The bursting earth unveils the shades ;
All slow, and wan, and wrapt with shrouds,
They rise in visionary crouds,
And all with sober accent cry,
Think, Mortal, what it is to die.
Now from yon black and fun'ral yew,
That bathes the charnel-house with dew,
Methinks I hear a Voice begin;
(Ye ravens, cease your croaking din,
Ye tolling clocks, no time resound
O'er the long lake and midnight ground)
It sends a peal of hollow groans,
Thus speaking from among the bones.
When men my scythe and darts supply,
How great a King of Fears am 1!
They view me like the last of things,
They make, and then they dread my stings.
Fools! if you less provok'd your fears,
No more my spectre-form appears,
Death's but a path that must be trod,
If man would ever pass to God:
A port of calms, a state of ease
From the rough rage of swelling seas.
Why then thy flowing sable stoles,
Deep pendant cypress, mourning poles,
Loose scarfs to fall athwart thy weeds,
Long palls, drawn hearses, cover'd steeds,
And plumes of black, that, as they tread,
Nod o'er the 'scutcheons of the dead?
Nor can the parted body know,
Nor wants the soul these forms of woe:
As men who long in prison dwell,
With lamps that glimmer round the cell,
Whene'er their suff'ring years are run,
Spring forth to meet the glitt'ring sun;
Such joy, tho' far transcending sense,
Have pious souls at parting hence.
On Earth, and in the body plac'd,
A few and evil years they waste:
But when their chains they cast aside,
See the glad scene unfolding wide,
Clap the glad wing, and tow'r away,
And mingle with the blaze of day.
HEALTH; an ECLOGUE.
Now early shepherds o'er the meadow pass,
And print long footsteps in the glitt'ring grass;
The cows neglectful of their pasture stand,
By turns obsequious to the milker's hand.
When Damon softly trod the shaven lawn,
Damon, a youth from city-cares withdrawn;
Long was the pleasing walk he wander'd thro',
A cover'd arbour clos'd the distant view;
There rests the Youth, and while the feather'd throng
Raise their wild music, thus contrives a song.
Here wafted o'er by mild Etesian air,
Thou, country Goddess, beauteous Health! repair!
Here let my breast, thro' quiv'ring trees, inhale
Thy rosy blessings with the morning-gale;
What are the fields, or flow'rs, or all I see?
Ah! tasteless all, if not enjoy'd with thee.
Joy to my soul! I feel the Goddess nigh,
The face of nature cheers as well as I ;
O'er the flat green refreshing breezes run,
The smiling daisies blow beneath the sun,
The brooks run purling down with silver waves,
The planted lanes rejoice with dancing leaves,
The chirping birds from all the compass rove
To tempt the tuneful echoes of the grove:
High sunny summits, deeply-shaded dales,
Thick mossy banks, and flow'ry winding vales,
With various prospect gratify the sight,
And scatter fix'd attention in delight.
Come, country Goddess, come; nor thou suffice,
But bring thy mountain-sister, Exercise.
Call'd by thy lively voice, she turns her pace,
Her winding horn proclaims the finish'd chase;
She mounts the rocks, she skims the level plain;
Dogs, hawks, and horses, crowd her early train;
Her hardy face repels the tanning wind,
And lines and meshes loosely float behind.
All these as means of toil the feeble see,
But these are helps to pleasure join'd with thee.
Let Sloth lie soft'ning till high noon in down,
Or lolling fan her in the sultry town,
Unnerv'd with rest; and turn her own disease,
Or foster others in luxurious ease:
I mount the courser, call the deep-mouth'd hounds,
The fox unkennell'd flies to covert grounds;
I lead where stags thro' tangled thickets tread,
And shake the saplings with their branching head;
I make the falcons wing their airy way,
And soar to seize, or stooping strike their prey:
To snare the fish I fix the luring bait;
To wound the fowl I load the gun with fate.
'Tis thus thro' change of exercise I range,
And strength and pleasure rise from ev'ry change.
Here beauteous Health for all the year remain,
When the next comes, I'll charm thee thus again.
Oh come, thou Goddess of my rural song,
And bring thy daughter, calm Content, along,
Dame of the ruddy cheek and laughing eye,
From whose bright presence clouds of sorrow fly:
For her I mow my walks, I plat my bow'rs,.
Clip my low hedges, and support my flow'rs;
To welcome her this summer-seat I drest,
And here I court her when she comes to rest;
When she from exercise to learned ease
Shall change again, and teach the change to please.
Now friends conversing my soft hours refine,
And Tully's Tusculum revives in mine:
Now to grave books I bid the mind retreat,
And such as make me rather good than great.
Or o'er the works of easy Fancy rove,
Where flutes and innocence amuse the grove :
The native Bard that on Sicilian plains
First sung the lowly manners of the swains;
Or Maro's muse, that in the fairest light
Paints rural prospects and the charms of sight.
These soft Amusements bring content along,
And Fancy, void of Sorrow, turns to Song.
Here beauteous Health for all the year remain,
When the next comes, I'll charm the thus again.
A CONTEMPLATION on NIGHT.
WHETHER amid the gloom of night I stray,
Or my glad eyes enjoy revolving day,
Still Nature's various face informs my sense,
Of an all-wise, all-powerful Providence.
When the gay sun first breaks the shades of night,
And strikes the distant eastern hills with light,
Colour returns, the plains their liv'ry wear,
And a bright verdure clothes the smiling year;
The blooming flow'rs with opening beauties glow,
And grazing flocks their milky fleeces show,
The barren cliffs with chalky fronts arise,
And a pure azure arches o'er the skies.
But when the gloomy reign of night returns,
Stript of her fading pride all nature mourns:
The trees no more their wonted verdure boast,
But weep in dewy tears their beauty lost;
No distant landskips draw our curious eyes,
Wrapt in Night's robe the whole creation lies.
Yet still, ev'n now, while darkness veils the land,
We view the traces of th' Almighty hand;
Millions of stars in heav'n's wide vault appear,
And with new glories hang the boundless sphere:
The silver Moon her western couch forsakes,
And o'er the skies her nightly circle makes,
Her solid globe beats back the sunny rays,
And to the world her borrow'd light repays.
Whether those stars, that twinkling lustre send,
Are suns, and rolling worlds those suns attend,
Man may conjecture, and new schemes declare,
Yet all his systems but conjectures are ;
But this we know, that Heav'n's eternal King,
Who bid, this universe from nothing spring,
Can at his Word bid num'rous worlds appear,
And rising worlds th' all-powerful Word shall hear.
When to the western main the sun descends,
To other lands a rising day he lends,
The spreading dawn another shepherd spies,
The wakeful flocks from their warm folds arise;
Refresh'd, the peasant seeks his early toil,
And bids the plough correct the fallow soil;
While we in sleep's embraces waste the night,
The climes oppos'd enjoy meridian light;
And when those lands the busy sun forsakes,
With us again the rosy morning wakes;
In lazy sleep the night rolls swift away,
And neither clime laments his absent ray.
When the pure soul is from the body flown, No more shall Night's alternate reign be known: The sun no more shall rolling light bestow, But from th' Almighty streams of glory flow. Oh, may some nobler thought my soul employ Than empty, transient, sublunary joy! The stars shall drop, the sun shall lose his flame, But thou, O God! for ever shine the same.
A THOUGHT on ETERNITY.
ERE the foundations of the world were laid,
Ere kindling light th' Almighty Word obey'd,
Thou wert; and when the subterraneous flame
Shall burst its prison, and devour this frame,
From angry heav'n when the keen lightning flies,
When fervent heat dissolves the melting skies,
Thou still shalt be; still, as thou wert before,
And know no change, when time shall be no more.