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Of ocean mused; and on the desert waste.
The heavens and earth of every country saw;
Where'er the old inspiring genii dwelt,
Aught that could rouse, expand, refine the soul,
Thither he went, and meditated there.
He touched his harp, and nations heard, entranced.
As some vast river of unfailing source,
Rapid, cxhaustlessy deep, his numbers flowed,
And oped new fountains in the human heart.
Where fancy halted, weary in her flight,
In other men, his fresh as morning rose,
And soared untrodden heights, and seemed at homo
Where angels bashful looked. Others, tho' great,
Beneath their argument seemed struggling whiles;
He from above descending, stooped to touch
The loftiest thought; and proudly stooped, as tho'
It scarce deserved his verse. With Nature's self
He seemed an old acquaintance, free to jest
At will with all her glorious majesty.
He laid his hand upon ' the ocean's mane,'
And played familiar with his hoary locks.
Stood on the Alps, stood on the Apennines,
And with the thunder talked, as friend to friend;
And wove his garland of the lightning's wing,
In sportive twist—the lightning's fiery wing,
Which as the footsteps of the dreadful God,.
Marching upon the storm in Vengeance seemed.—
As some fierce comet of tremendous size,
So he through learning, and through fancy took
His flight sublime; and on the loftiest top
Of fame's dread mountain sat, not soiled and worn,
As if he from the earth had laboured up;
But as some bird of heavenly plumage fair,
He looked, which down from higher regions came,
And perched it there to see what lay beneath.
The nations gazed, and wondered much, and praised. Critics before him fell in humble plight; Confounded fell; and made debasing signs To catch his eye; and stretched, and swelled themselves To bursting nigh, to utter bulky words Of admiration vast: and many too, Many that aimed to imitate his flight, With weaker wing, unearthly fluttering made, And gave abundant sport to after days.
Great man! the nations gazed, and wondered much, And praised: and many called his evil good. Wits wrote in favour of his wickedness; And kings to do him honour took delight. Thus full of titles, flattery, honour, fame, Beyond desire, beyond ambition full— He died—he died of what? Of wretchedness. Drank every cup of joy, heard every trump Of fame; drank early, deeply drank, drank draughts That common millions might have quenched—then died Of thirst, becauee there was no more to drink.
His goddess, Nature, wooed, embraced, enjoyed,
Fell from his arms, abhorred: his passions died;
Died all but dreary, solitary pride;
And all his sympathies in being died.
As some ill-guided bark, well built and tall,
Which angry tide cast out on desert shore,
And then retiring, left it there to rot
And moulder in the winds and rains of heaven:
So he cut from the sympathies of life,
And cast ashore from pleasure's boisterous surge—
A wandering, weary, worn, and wretched tiling;
Scorched, and desolate, and blasted soul;
A gloomy wilderness of dying thought—
Repined, and groaned, and withered from the earth.
His groaning filled the land, his numbers filled;
And yet he seemed ashamed to groan. Poor man!
Ashamed to ask, and yet he needed help.
Proof this, beyond all lingering of doubt,
That not with natural or mental wealth,
Was God delighted, or his peace secured;
That not in natural or mental wealth,
Was human happiness or grandeur found.
Attempt how monstrous I and how surely vain!
With things of earthly sort, with aught but God,
W'ith aught but moral excellence, truth and love,
To satisfy and fill the immortal soul!
Attempt, vain inconceivably! Attempt,
To satisfy the ocean with a drop;
To marry immortality to death;
And with the unsubstantial shade of time,
To fill the embrace of all eternity!
The sun parts faintly from the wave,
The corpse is covered in the grave,
But time conveys with rapid power;
Alike the sweetest, saddest hour!
The rain has showered, the bud has burst,
Nature the birth of evening nurst,
O sacred truth! from heaven descend,
Thou art my guardian and my friend!