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POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS.
A PARAPHRASE ON THE LATTER PART OF THE
SIXTH CHAPTER OF ST MATTHEW.
WHEN my breast labours with oppressive care,
And o'er my cheek descends the falling tear;
While all my warring passions are at strife,
Oh, let me listen to the words of life!
Rapture deep-felt His doctrine did impart,
And thus He rais'd from earth the drooping heart :
“ Think not, when all your scanty stores afford
Is spread at once upon the sparing board ;
Think not, when worn the homely robe appears,
While on the roof the howling tempest bears ;
• What farther shall this feeble life sustain ?
And what shall clothe these shivering limbs again?
Say, does not life its nourishment exceed,
And the fair body its investing weed ? .
“ Behold, and look away your low despair!
See the light tenants of the barren air :
To them nor stores nor granaries belong,
Naught but the woodland and the pleasing song ;
Yet your kind Heavenly Father bends His eye
On the least wing that flits along the sky.
To Him they sing, when Spring renews the plain ;
To Him they cry, in Winter's pinching reign ;
Nor is their music, nor their plaint, in vain :
He hears the gay, and the distressful, call,
And with unsparing bounty fills them all.
“ Observe the rising lily's snowy grace,
Observe the various vegetable race :
They neither toil nor spin, but careless grow;
Yet see how warm they blush ! how bright they glow!
What regal vestments can with them compare ?
What king so shining ? or what queen so fair ?
“ If ceaseless thus the fowls of heav'n He feeds,
If o'er the fields such lucid robes He spreads ;
Will He not care for you, ye faithless ? say !
Is He unwise ? or are ye less than they?"
Hail, mildly pleasing Solitude,
Companion of the wise and good;
But from whose holy, piercing eye
The herd of fools and villains fly!
Oh, how I love with thee to walk,
And listen to thy whisper'd talk,
Which innocence and truth imparts,
And melts the most obdurate hearts !
A thousand shapes you wear with ease,
And still in every shape you please.
Now, wrapp'd in some mysterious dream,
A lone philosopher you seem ;
Now quick from hill to vale you fly,
And now you sweep the vaulted sky.
A shepherd next, you haunt the plain,
And warble forth your oaten strain :
A lover now, with all the grace
Of that sweet passion in your face :
Then, calm’d to friendship, you assume
The gentle-looking Hertford's bloom,
As, with her Musidora, she
(Her Musidora fond of thee),
Amid the long-withdrawing vale,
Awakes the rivall’d nightingale.
Thine is the balmy breath of Morn,
Just as the dew-bent rose is born ;
And, while meridian fervours beat,
Thine is the woodland dumb retreat :
But chief, when evening-scenes decay,
And the faint landscape swims away,
Thine is the doubtful soft decline,
And that best hour of musing thine.
Descending angels bless thy train,
The virtues of the sage and swain ;
Plain Innocence, in white array'd,
Before thee lifts her fearless head :
Religion's beams around thee shine,
And cheer thy glooms with light divine :
About thee sports sweet Liberty ;
And rapt Urania sings to thee.
Oh, let me pierce thy secret cell, And in thy deep recesses dwell! Perhaps from Norwood's oak-clad hill, When Meditation has her fill, I just may cast my careless eyes Where London's spiry turrets rise, Think of its crimes, its cares, its pain, Then shield me in the woods again.
RECTOR OF STRADDISHALL IN SUFFOLK. MDCCXXXVIII.
Thus safely low, my friend, thou canst not fall :
Here reigns a deep tranquillity o'er all ;
No noise, no care, no vanity, no strife ;
Men, woods, and fields, all breathe untroubled life.
Then keep each passion down, however dear;
Trust me, the tender are the most severe.
Guard, while 'tis thine, thy philosophic ease,
And ask no joy but that of virtuous peace;
That bids defiance to the storms of fate :
High bliss is only for a higher state.
EPITAPH ON MISS STANLEY.1
HERE, STANLEY, rest! escap'd this mortal strife,
Above the joys, beyond the woes, of life!
Fierce pangs no more thy lively beauties stain,
And sternly try thee with a year of pain :
No more sweet patience, feigning oft relief,
Lights thy sick eye, to cheat a parent's grief :
With tender art, to save her anxious groan,
No more thy bosom presses down its own :
Now well-earn'd peace is thine, and bliss sincere:
Ours be the lenient, not unpleasing, tear!
I Miss Stanley:' see Summer.'
Oh, born to bloom, then sink beneath the storm! To show us Virtue in her fairest form ; To show us artless Reason's moral reign, What boastful Science arrogates in vain Th' obedient Passions knowing each their part; Calm light the head, and harmony the heart !
Yes, we must follow soon, will glad obey ; When a few suns have rolld their cares away, Tired with vain life, will close the willing eye : 'Tis the great birthright of mankind to die ! Bless'd be the bark that wafts us to the shore, Where death-divided friends shall part no more! To join thee there, here with thy dust repose, Is all the hope thy hapless mother knows.
ON THE DEATH OF MR AIKMAN,1
A PARTICULAR FRIEND OF THE AUTHOR'S.
As those we love decay, we die in part,
String after string is sever'd from the heart;
Till loosen'd life, at last, but breathing clay,
Without one pang, is glad to fall away.
Unhappy he who latest feels the blow,
Whose eyes have wept o'er ev'ry friend laid low,
Dragg'd ling’ring on from partial death to death,
Till, dying, all he can resign is breath.
1. Mr Aikman:' a painter of the period. He died in 1731.