Oldalképek
PDF
[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]
[graphic]

This double night, transmit one pitying ray,
THE COMPLAINT:

To lighten, and to cheer. O lead my mind,

(A mind that fain would wander from its woe,) OR,

Lead it through various scenes of life and death, NIGHT-THOUGHTS.

And from each scene, the noblest truths inspire.

Nor less inspire my conduct, than my song;
PREFACE.

Teach my best reason, reason; my best will
As the occasion of this poem was real, not fictitious: Teach rectitude; and fix my firm resolve

so the method pursued in it was rather imposed. Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear: by what spontaneously arose in the author's mind | Nor let the phial of thy vengeance, pour'd on that occasion, than meditated or designed; which/On this devoted head, be pour'd in vain. will appear very probable from the nature of it. The bell strikes one. We take no note of time For it differs from the common mode of poetry. But from its loss. To give it then a/tongue, which is, from long narrations to draw short morals. Ils wise in man. As if an angel spoke, Here, on the contrary, the narrative is short, and I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright, the morality arising from it makes the bulk of the It is the knell of my departed hours : poem. The reason of it is, that the facts men- Where are they? With the years beyond the flood tioned did naturally pour these moral reflections

It is the signal that demands dispatch; on the thought of the writer.

How much is to be done? My hopes and fears
Start up alarm’d, and o'er life's narrow verge

Look down-On what? a fathomless abyss !
NIGHT THE FIRST.

A dread eternity! how surely mine!
ON

And can eternity belong to me,
LIFE, DEATH, AND IMMORTALITY. Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?
TO THE RIGHT HON. ARTHUR ONSLOW, SPEAKER

How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,

How complicate, how wonderful, is man!
OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.

How passing wonder He, who made him such! Tir'Nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep! Who center'd in our make such strange extremes He, like the world, his ready visit pays

From different natures marvellously mixt, Where fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes; Connexion exquisite of distant worlds! Swift on his downy pinion flies from woe,

Distinguish'd link in being's endless chain!
And lights on lids unsullied with a tear.

Midway from nothing to the Deity!
From short (as usual) and disturb'd repose, A beam ethereal, sullied and absorpt!
I wake: How happy they, who wake no more! Though sullied and dishonor'd, still divine!
Yet that were vain, if dreams infest the grave. Dim miniature of greatness absolute !
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams

An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!
Tumultuous; where my wreck'd desponding thought, Helpless immortal! insect infinite!
From wave to wave of fancied misery,

A worm! a god !-I tremble at myself,
At random drove, her helm of reason lost.

And in myself am lost! at home a stranger, Thongh now restor'd, 'tis only change of pain, Thought wanders up and down, surpris'd, aghast, (A bitter change!) severer for severe.

And wondering at her own: How Reason reels! The Day too short for my distress; and Night, O what a miracle to man is man, E'en in the zenith of her dark domain,

Triumphantly distress'd! what joy, what dread! Is sun-shine to the color of my fate.

Alternately transported, and alarmid !
Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne, What can preserve my life? or what destroy ?
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth

An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave; Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumbering world. Legions of angels can't confine me there. Silence, how dead! and darkness, how profound! 'Tis past conjecture; all things rise in proof: Nor eye, nor listening ear, an object finds;

While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread, Creation sleeps. "Tis, as the general pulse What though my soul fantastic measures trod Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause; O'er fairy fields; or mourn'd along the gloom An awful pause! prophetic of her end.

Of pathless woods; or, down the craggy steep And let her prophecy be soon fulfillid;

Hurl'd headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool; Fate! drop the curtain; I can lose no more. Or scal'd the cliff; or danc'd on hollow winds,

Silence and Darkness! solemn sisters! twins With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain? From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought Her ceaseless flight, though devious, speaks her natura To reason, and on reason build resolve,

of subtler essence than the trodden clod; (That column of true majesty in man,)

Active, aërial, towering, unconfin'd, Assist me: I will thank you in the grave; Unfetter'd with her gross companion's fall. The grave, your kingdom: there this frame shall fall E'en silent night proclaims my soul immortal : A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.

E'en silent night proclaims eternal day. But what are ye?

For human weal, Heaven husbands all events; Thou, who didst put to flight

Dull sleep instructs, nor sport vain dreams in vain. Primeval Silence, when the morning stars,

Why then their loss deplore, that are not lost? Exulting, shouted o'er the rising ball!

Why wanders wretched thought their tombs around. O thou, whose word from solid darkness struck In infidel distress? Are angels there? That spark, the Sun; strike wisdom from my soul; Slumbers, rak'd up in dust, ethereal fire ? My soul, which flies to thee, her trust, her treasure, They live! they greatly live a life on Earth As misers to their gold, while others rest.

Unkindled, unconceiv'd; and from an eye Through this opaque of Nature, and of soul, Of tenderness let heavenly pity fall

2 V 2

69

On me, inore justly number'd with the dead. Could you, so rich in rapture, fear an end,
This is the desert, this the solitude:

That ghastly thought would drink up all your joy. How populous, how vital, is the grave!

And quite unparadise the realms of light. This is creation's melancholy vault,

Safe are you lodg'd above these rolling spheres, The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom;

The baleful influence of whose giddy dance The land of apparitions, empty shades!

Sheds sad vicissitude on all beneath. All, all on Earth, is shadow, all beyond

Here teems with revolutions every hour;
Is substance ; the reverse is folly's creed :

And rarely for the better; or the best,
How solid all, where change shall be no more! More morial than the common births of fate.
This is the bud of being, the dim dawn,

Each moment has its sickle, emulous
The twilight of our day, the vestibule :

Of Time's enormous scythe, whose ample sweep Life's theatre as yet is shut, and Death,

Strikes empires from the root; each moment plays Strong Death, alone can heave the massy bar, His little weapon in the narrower sphere This gross inipediment of clay remove,

Of sweet domestic comfort, and cuts down And make us embryoes of existence free.

The fairest bloom of sublunary bliss. From real life, but little more remote

Bliss ! sublunary bliss -proud words, and vain! Is he, not yet a candidate for light,

Implicit treason to divine decree! The future embryo, slumbering in his sire.

A bold invasion of the rights of Heaven! Embryoes we must be, till we burst the shell, I clasp'd the phantoms, and I found them air. Yon ambient azure shell, and spring to life,

O had I weigh'd it ere my fond embrace ! The life of gods, O transport! and of man. What darts of agony had miss'd my heart! Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts ; | Death! great proprietor of all! 'tis thine Inters celestial hopes without one sigh.

To tread out empire, and to quench the stars. Prisoner of Earth, and pent beneath the Moon, 'The Sun himself by thy permission shines ; Here pinions all his wishes; wing'd by Heaven And, one day, thou shalt pluck him from his sphere To fly at infinite ; and reach it there,

Amid such mighty plunder, why exhaust
Where seraphs gather immortality,

Thy partial quiver on a mark so mean?
On life's fair tree, fast by the throne of God. Why thy peculiar rancor wreak'd on me?
What golden joys ambrosial clustering glow, Insatiate archer! could not one suffice ?
In his full beam, and ripen for the just,

Thy shaft flew thrice; and thrice my peace was slain Where momentary ages are no more!

And thrice, ere thrice yon Moon had filld her horr. Where Time, and Pain, and Chance, and Death expire! 0 Cynthia! why so pale? Dost thou lament And is it in the flight of thrcescore years,

Thy wretched neighbor ? Grieve to see thy wheel To push eternity from human thought,

Of ceaseless change outwhirl'd in human life? And smother souls immortal in the dust?

How wanes my borrow'd bliss! from fortune's smile A soul immortal, spending all her fires,

Precarious courtesy ! not virtue's sure, Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness, Self-given, solar ray of sound delight. Thrown into tumult, raptur'd or alarm'd,

In every varied posture, place, and hour, At aught this scene can threaten or indulge, How widow'd every thought of every joy! Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,

Thought, busy thought! too busy for my peace! To waft a feather, or to drown a fly.

| Through the dark postern of time long elaps'd,
Where falls this censure? It o'erwhelms myself; Led softly, by the stillness of the night,
How was my heart incrusted by the world! Led, like a murderer, (and such it proves!)
O how sell-fetter'd was my grovelling soul! Strays (wretched rover!) o'er the pleasing past ;
How, like a worm, was I wrapt round and round In quest of wretchedness perversely strays,
In silken thought, which reptile Fancy spun, And finds all desert now; and meets the ghosts
Till darken'd Reason lay quite clouded o'er Of my departed joys; a numerous train!
With soft conceit of endless comfort here,

I rue the riches of my former fate;
Nor yet put forth her wings to reach the skies! Sweet comfort's blasted clusters I lament;

Night-visions may befriend (as sung above :) I tremble at the blessings once so dear;
Our vaking dreams are fatal. How I dreamt And every pleasure pains me to the heart.
of things impossible! (Could sleep do more ?) Yet why complain? or why complain for one :
Of joys perpetual in perpetual change!

Hangs out the Sun his lustre but for me, of stable pleasures on the tossing wave!

The single man? Are angels all beside ? Eternal sun-shinc in the storms of life!

I mourn for millions : 'tis the common lot; How richly were my noon-tide frances hung In this shape, or in that, has Fate entail'd (Yith gorgeous tapestries of picturd joys!

The mother's throes on all of woman born, Joy behind joy, in endless perspective!

Not more the children, than sure heirs, of pain. Till at Death's toll, whose restless iron tongue | War, Famine, Pest, Volcano, Storm, and Fire, Calls daily for his millions at a meal,

Intestine broils, Oppression, with her heart
Starting I woke, and found myself undone. Wrapt up in triple brass, besiege mankind.
Where now my frenzy's pompous furniture ? God's image disinherited of day,
The cobweb'd cottage, with its ragged wall

Here, plung'd in mines, forgets a Sun was made of mouldering mud, is royally to me!

There, beings deathless as their haughty lord, The spider's most attenuated thread

Are hammer'd to the galling oar for life; Is cord, is cable, to man's tender tie

And plow the winter's wave, and reap despair. On earthly bliss! it breaks at every breeze.

Some, for hard masters, broken under arms, O ye blest scenes of permanent delight!

In battle lopt away, with half their limbs, Full, above measure! Jasting, beyond bound ! Beg bitter bread through realms their valor say'd A per luity of bliss is bliss.

If so the tyrant, or his minion, doom.

« ElőzőTovább »