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Tired Nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep!
He, like the world, his ready visit pays
Where Fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes:
Swift on his downy pinion Alies from wo,
And lights on lids unsullied with a tear.
From short (as usual) and disturbed repose
I wake: how happy they who wake no more!
Yet that were vain, if dreams infest the grave.
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams
Tumultuous; where my wrecked desponding thought,
From wave to wave of fancied misery
At random drove, her helm of reason lost.
Though now restored, 'tis only change of pain,
The day too short for my distress; and night,
E’en in the zenith of her dark domain,
Is sunshine to the colour of my fate.
Night, sable Goddess ! from her ebon throne,
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumbering world.
Silence how dead! and darkness how profound !
Nor eye, nor list’ning ear, an object finds;
Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the general pulse
Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause ;
An awful pause! prophetic of her end.
And let her prophecy be soon fulfilled :
Fate! drop the curtain ; I can lose no more.
Silence and darkness! soleinn sisters ! twins
From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought
To reason, and on reason build resolve,
(That column of true majesty in man,)
Assist me: I will thank you in the grave ;
The grave, your kingdom : there this frame shall fall
A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.
But what are ye ?-
Thou, who didst put to flight Primæval silence, when the morning star Exulting, shouted o’er the rising ball : O Thou ! whose word from solid darkness struck That spark, the sun, strike wisdom from my soul; My soul, which flies to thee, her trust, her treasure, As misers to their gold, while others rest. Through this opaque of nature and of soul, This double night, transmit one pitying ray, To lighten and to cheer. O lead my mind, (A mind that fain would wander from its wo,) Lead it through various scenes of life and death, And from each scene the noblest truths inspire.
Teach my best reason, reason; my best will
Teach rectitude ; and fix my firm resolve
Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear:
Nur let the phial of thy vengeance, poured
On this devoted head, be poured in vain.
The bell strikes one. We take no note of time,
But from its loss: to give it then a tongue
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,
I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright,
It is the knell of my departed hours.
Where are they? With the years beyond the flood.
It is the signal that demands dispatch:
How much is to be done? My hopes and fears
Start up alarmed, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down-on what ? A fathomless abyss !
A dread eternity! How surely mine!
And can eternity belong to me,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour ?
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful is man !
How passing wonder He, who made him such !
Who centered in our make such strange extremes,
From different natures marvellously mixed,
Connexion exquisite of distant worlds!
Distinguished link in being's endless chain !
Midway from nothing to the Deity!
A beam ethereal, sullied, and absorpt!
Though sullied and dishonoured, still divine !
Dim miniature of greatness absolute !
An heir of glory! à frail child of dust!
Helpless inimortal ! insect infinite!
A worm! a God !-I tremble at myself,
And in myself am lost At home, a stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surprised, aghast,
And wondering at her own. How reason reels !
O what a miracle to man is man!
Triumphantly distressed! What joy! what dread!
Alternately transported and alarmed!
What can preserve my life! or what destroy !
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave ;
Legions of angels can't confine me there.
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer:
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is pushed out of life!
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 'tís so frequent, this is stranger still.
Of man's miraculous mistakes this bears
The palm, “ That all men are about to live,"
For ever on the brink of being born :
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They one day shall not drivel, and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise ;
At least their own; their future selves applaua
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
Time lodged in their own hands is Folly's vails;
That lodged in Fate's, to wisdom they consign ;
The thing they can't but purpose, thicy postpone
'Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool;
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage. When young, indeed,
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves, and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise
At thirty, man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve ;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.
And why? because he thinks himself immortal.
All men think all men mortal but themselves;
Theinselves, when some alarming shock of Fate
Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden dread:
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soon close; where, past the haft, no trace is found.
As from the wing no scar the sky retains,
The parted wave no furrow from the keel,
So dies in human hearts the thought of death.
Even with the tender tear which nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.