« PreviousContinue »
No., Doth he purpose its salvation? No. Enchanting novelty, that moon at full, That finds out every crevice of the head That is not sound and perfect, hath in theirs Wrought this disturbance. But the wane is near, And his own cattle must suffice him soon. ” Thus idly do we waste the breath of praise, And dedicate a tribute, in its use And just direction sacred, to a thing Doom'd to the dust, or lodged already there. Encomium in old time was poets' work I But poets, having lavishly long since Exhausted all materials of the art, The task now falls into the public hand; And I, contented with an humble theme, Have pour'd my stream of panegyric down The vale of Nature, where it creeps and winds Among her lovely works with a secure And unambitious course, reflecting clear, If not the virtues, yet the worth, of brutes. And I am recompensed, and deem the toils Of poetry not lost, if verse of mine May stand between an animal and woe, And teach one tyrant pity for his drudge. The groans of Nature in this nether world, Which Heaven has heard for ages, have an end. Foretold by o and by poets sung, Whose fire was kindled at the prophets' lamp, The time of rest, the promised Sabbath, comes. Six thousand years of sorrow have well nigh Fulfill'd their tardy and disastrous course Over a sinful world; and what remains Of this tempestuous state of human things Is merely as the working of a sea Before a calm, that rocks itself to rest : For He, whose car the winds are, and the clouds The dust that waits upon his sultry march, When sin hath moved him, and his wrath is hot, Shall visit earth in mercy; shall descend Propitious in his chariot paved with love; And what his storms have blasted and defaced For man's revolt, shall with a smile repair. Sweet is the harp of prophecy; too sweet Not to be wrong'd by a mere mortal touch: Nor can the wonders it records be sung To meaner music, and not suffer loss. But when a poet, or when one like me, Happy to rove among poetic flowers, Though poor in skill to rear them, lights at last On some fair theme, some theme divinely fair, Such is the impulse and the spur he feels, To give it praise proportion'd to its worth, That not to attempt it, arduous as he deems The labour, were a task more arduous still.
0 scenes surpassing fable, and yet true,
Scenes of accomplish’d bliss! which who can see,
Though but in distant prospect, and not feel
His soul refresh'd with foretaste of the joy!
Rivers of gladness water all the earth,
And clothe all climes with beauty; the reproach
Of barrenness is past. The fruitful field
Laughs with abundance; and the land, once lean,
& Or fertile only in its own disgrace,
- Exults to see its thistly curse repeal’d.
The various seasons woven into one,
And that one season an eternal spring,
The garden fears no blight, and needs no fence,
For there is none to covet, all are full.
The lion, and the libbard, and the bear
Graze with the fearless flocks; all bask at noon
Together, or all gambol in the shade
Of the same grove, and drink one common stream.
Antipathies are none. No foe to man
Lurks in the serpent now; the mother sees
And smiles to see, her infant's playful hand
Stretch'd forth to dally with the crested worm,
To stroke his azure neck, or to receive
The lambent homage of his arrowy tongue.
All creatures worship man, and all mankind
One Lord, one Father. Error has no place;
That creeping pestilence is driven away;
The breath of heaven has chased it. In the heart
No passion touches a discordant string,
But all is harmony and love. Disease
Is not: the pure and uncontaminate blood
Holds its due course, nor fears the frost of age.
One song employs aiinations ; and all cry,
“Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain for us!"
The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks
Shout to each other, and the mountain tops
From distant mountains catch the flying joy;
Till, nation after nation taught the strain,
Earth rolls the rapturous Hosannah round.
Behold the measure of the promise fill'd ;
See Salem built, the labour of a God;
Bright as a sun, the sacred city shines;
All kingdoms and all princes of the earth
Flock to that light; the glory of all lands
Flows into her; oij. is her joy,
And endless her increase. Thy rams are there,
Nebaioth, and the flocks of Kedar there; *
The looms of Ormus, and the mines of Ind,
And Saba's spicy groves, pay tribute there.
Praise is in all her gates: upon her walls,
And in her streets, and in her spacious courts,
Is heard salvation. Eastern Java there
Kneels with the native of the farthest west;
And AEthiopia spreads abroad the hand,
And worships. IHer report has travell'd forth
Into all lands. From every clime they come
To see thy beauty and to share thy joy,
O Sions an assembly such as earth
Saw never, such as Heaven stoops down to see. -
Thus heavenward all things tend. For all were once
Perfect, and all must be at length restored.
So God has greatly purposed; who would else
In his dishonour'd works himself endure
Dishonour, and be wreng'd without redress.
Haste, then, and wheel away a shatter'd world,
Ye slow-revolving seasons ! we would see
(A sight to which our eyes are strangers yet)
A world that does not dread and hate his law
And suffer for its crime; would learn how fair
The creature is that God pronounces good,
How pleasant in itself what pleases him.
Here every drop of honey hides a sting;
Worms wind themselves into our sweetest flowers;
And e'en the joy that haply some poor heart
Derives from heaven, pure as the fountain is,
Is sullied in the stream, taking a taint
From touch of human lips, at best impure.
O for a world in principle as chaste
As this is gross and selfish over which
Custom and prejudice shall bear no sway,
That govern all things here, shouldering aside
The meek and modest Truth, and forcing her
To seek a refuge from the tongue of Strife
In nooks obscure, far from the ways of men:
Where Violence shall never lift the sword,
Nor Cunning justify the proud man's wrong,
Leaving the poor no remedy but tears:
Where he, that fills an office, shall esteem
The occasion it presents of doing good
More than the perquisite: where Law shall speak
Seldom, and never but as Wisdom prompts
And Equity; not jealous more to guard
A worthless form, than to decide aright:-
Where Fashion shall not sanctify abuse,
Nor smooth Good-breeding (supplemental grace)
With lean performance ape the work of Lovel
Come then, and, added to thy many crowns,
Receive yet one, the crown of all the earth,
Thou who alone art worthy | It was thine
By ancient covenant, ere Nature's birth;
And thou hast made it thine by purchase since,
And overpaid its value with thy blood.
Thy saints proclaim thee king; and in their hearts
Thy title is engraven with a pen
Dipp'd in the fountain of eternal love.
Thy saints proclaim thee king; and thy delay
Gives courage to their foes, who, could they see
The dawn of thy last advent, long desired,
Would creep into the bowels of the hills,
And flee for safety to the falling rocks.
The very spirit of the world is tired
Of its own taunting question, ask'd so long,
“Where is the promise of your Lord's approach?"
The infidel has shot his bolts away,
Till, his exhausted quiver yielding none,
He gleans the blunted shafts that have recoil'd,
And aims them at the shield of Truth again.
The veil is rent, rent too by priestly hands,
That hides divinity from mortal eyes;
And all the mysteries to faith proposed,
Insulted and traduced, are cast aside,
As useless, to the moles and to the bats.
They now are deem'd the faithful, and are praised,
Who, constant only in rejecting the,
Deny thy Godhead with a martyr's zeal,
And quit their office for their error's sake.
Blind, and in love with darkness! yet e'en these
worthy, compared with sycophants, who kneel
Thy name adoring, and then preach thee man
So fares thy church. But how thy church may fare
The world takes little thought. ho will may preach,
And what they will. All pastors are alike
To wandering sheep, resolved to follow none.
Two gods divide them all—Pleasure and Gain:
For these they live, they sacrifice to these,
And in their service wage perpetual war
With Conscience and with thee. Lust in their hearts
And mischief in their hands, they roam the earth
To #. . each other: stubborn, fierce,
High-minded, foaming out their own disgrace.
Thy F. speak of such ; and, noting down
The features of the last degenerate times,
Exhibit every lineament of these.
Come then, and, added to thy many crowns,
Receive yet one, as radiant as the rest,
Due to thy last and most effectual work,
To word fulfill'd, the conquest of a world !
e is the happy man whose life e'en now
Shows somewhat of that happier life to come ;
Who, doom'd to an obscure but tranquil state,
Is pleased with it, and, were he free to choose,
Would make his fate his choice; whom peace, the fruit
Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith,
Prepare for happiness; bespeak him one
Content indeed to sojourn while he must
Below the skies, but having there his home.
The world o'erlooks him in her busy search
Of objects, more illustrious in her view;
And, occupied as earnestly as she,
Though more sublimely, he o'erlooks the world.
She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not;
He seeks not hers, for he has proved them vain.
He cannot skim the ground like summer birds
Pursuing gilded flies; and such he deems
Her honours, her emoluments, her joys.
Therefore in Contemplation is his bliss,
Whose power is such, that whom she lifts from earth
She makes familiar with a heaven unseen,
And shows him glories yet to be reveal’d.
Not slothful he, though seeming unemploy'd,
And censured oft as useless. Stillest streams
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird
That flutters least is longest on the wing.
Ask him, indeed, what trophies he has raised,
Or what achievements of immortal fame
He purposes, and he shall answer—None.
His warfare is within. There, unfatigued,
His fervent spirit labours. There he fights,
And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself,
And never-withering wreaths, compared with which
The laurels that a Caesar reaps are weeds.
Perhaps the self-approving haughty world,
That as she sweeps him with her whistling silks
Scarce deigns to notice him, or, if she see,
Deems him a cipher in the works of God,
Receives advantage from his noiseless hours,
Of which she little dreams. , Perhaps she owes
Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring
And plenteous harvest, to the prayer he makes,
When, Isaac-like, the solitary saint
Walks forth to meditate at even-tide,
And think on her who thinks not for herself.
Forgive him, then, thou bustler in concerns
Of little worth, an idler in the best,
If, author of no mischief and some good,
He seek his†. happiness by means
That may advance, but cannot hinder, thine.
Nor, though he tread the secret path of life,
Engage no notice, and enjoy much ease,
Account him an encumbrance on the state,
Receiving benefits, and jof none.
His sphere, though humble, if that humble sphere
Shine with his fair example, and though small
His influence, if that influence all be spent
In soothing sorrow and in quenching strife,
In aiding helpless indigence, in works
From which at least a grateful few derive
Some taste of comfort in a world of woe;
Then let the supercilious great confess
He serves his country, recompenses well
The state, beneath the shadow of whose vine
He sits secure, and in the scale of life
Holds no ignoble, though a slighted, place.