« PreviousContinue »
How to secure in some propitious hour,
The point of intrest, or the post of pow'r,
A soul serene, and equally retir'd
From objects too much dreaded or desir'd,
Safe from the clamours of perverse dispute,
At least are friendly to the great pursuit.
of God's extensive plan,
We find a little isle, this life of man;
Eternity's unknown expanse appears
Circling around and limiting his years.
The busy race examine and explore
Each creek and cavern of the dang’rous shore,
With care collect what in their eyes excels,
Some shining pebbles, and some weeds and shells;
Thus laden, dream that they are rich and great,
And happiest he that groans beneath his weight.
The waves o’ertake them in their serious play,
And ev'ry hour sweeps multitudes away;
They shriek and sink, survivors start and weep,
Pursue their sport, and follow to the deep.
A few forsake the throng; with lifted eyes
Ask wealth of Heav'n, and gain a real prize,
Truth, wisdom, grace, and peace like that above,
Seal'd with his signet whom they serve and love;
Scorn'd by the rest, with patient hope they wait
A kind release from their imperfect state,
And unregretted are soon snatch'd away
From scenes of sorrow into glorious day.
Nor these alone prefer a life recluse,
Who seek retirement for its proper use ;
The love of change, that lives in ev'ry breast,
Genius and temper, and desire of rest,
Discordant motives in one centre meet,
And each inclines its votéry to retreat.
Some minds by nature are averse to noise,
And hate the tumult half the world enjoys,
The lure of av'rice, or the pompous prize,
That court displays before ambitious eyes;
The fruits that hang on pleasure's flow'ry stem,
Whate'er enchants them, are no snares to them.
To them the deep recess of dusky groves,
Or forest, where the deer securely roves,
The fall of waters, and the song of birds, silah
And hills that echo to the distant herds,
Are luxuries excelling all the glare
The world can boast, and her chief fav’rites share.
With eager step, and carelessly array'd,
For such a cause the poet seeks the shade,
From all he sees he catches new delight,
Pleas'd Fancy claps her pinions at the sight,
The rising or the setting orb of day,
The clouds that flit, or slowly float away.
Nature in all the various shapes she wears,
Frowning in storms, or breathing gentle airs;
The snowy robe her wintry state assumes,
Her summer heats, her fruits, and her perfumes;
All, all alike transport the glowing bard,
Success his rhyme and glory and reward,
0, Nature! whose Elysian scenes disclose
His bright perfections, at whose words they rose,
Next to that pow'r, who form'd thee and sustains,
Be thou the great inspirer of my strains.
Still, as I touch the lyre, do thou expand
Thy genuine charms, and guide an artless hand,
That I may catch a fire but rarely known,
Give useful light, though I should miss renown,
And, poring on thy page, whose ev'ry line
Bears proof of an intelligence divine,
May feel a heart enrich'd by what it pays,
That builds its glory on its Maker's praise.
Woe to the man, whose wit disclaims its use,
Glittring in vain, or only to seduce,
Who studies nature with a wanton eye,
Admires the work, but slips the lesson by;
His hours of leisure and recess employs
In drawing pictures of forbidden joys,
Retires to blazon his own worthless name,
Or shoot the careless with a surer aim.
The lover too shuns business and alarms,
Tender idolater of absent charms.
Saints offer nothing in their warmest pray’rs,
That he devotes not with a zeal like theirs ;
'Tis consecration of his heart, soul, time,
And ev'ry thought that wanders is a crime.
In sigbs he worships his supremely fair,
And weeps a sad libation in despair;
Adores a creature, and, devout in vain,
Wins in return an answer of disdain.
As woodbine weds the plant within her reach,
Rough elm, or smooth-grain’d ash, or glossy beech,
In spiral rings ascends the trunk, and lays
Her golden tassels on the leafy sprays,
But does a mischief while she lends a grace,
Strait’ning its growth by such a strict embrace;
So love, that clings around the noblest minds,
Forbids th' advancement of the soul he binds :
The suitor's air indeed he soon improves,
And forms it to the taste of her he loves,
Teaches his eyes a language, and no less
Refines his speech, and fashions his address ;
But, farewell promises of happier fruits,
Manly designs, and learning's grave pursuits :
Girt with a chain he cannot wish to break,
His only bliss is sorrow for her sake;
Who will may pant for glory, and excel,
Her smile his aim, all higher aims farewell !
Thyrsis, Alexis, or whatever name
May least offend against so pure a flame,
Though sage advice of friends the most sincere
Sounds harshly in so delicate an ear,
And lovers, of all creatures, tame or wild,
Can least brook management, however mild:
Yet let a poet (poetry disarms
The fiercest animals with magic charms)