« PreviousContinue »
But certes sorely sunk with woe
A NIGHT-PIECE ON DEATH.
By the blue taper's trembling light,
No more I waste the wakeful night, A mortal passion, cleeped fear,
Intent with endless view to pore
The schoolmen and the sages o'er :
Or point at best the longest way.
I'll seek a readier path, and go In accents faltering, ay for ruth,
Where wisdom's surely taught below. Entreats them pity graunt;
How deep yon azure dyes the sky! For als he been a mister wight
Where orbs of gold unnumber'd lie, Betray'd by wandering in the night
While through their ranks in silver pride
The nether crescent seems to glide.
The lake is smooth and clear beneath, “Ah, losel vile," at once they roar :
Where once again the spangled show “And little skill'd of fairie lore,
Descends to meet our eyes below. Thy cause to come, we know :
The grounds, which on the right aspire, Now has thy kestrel courage fell;
In dimness from the view retire :
The left presents a place of graves,
Whose wall the silent water laves.
Among the livid gleams of night.
There pass with melancholy state
By all the solemn heaps of Fate,
And think, as softly-sad you tread
Above the venerable dead,
Time was, like thee, they life possest,
And time shall be, that thou shalt rest.
Those with bending osier bound,
That nameless heave the crumbled ground The revel now proceeds apace,
Quick to the glancing thought disclose,
Where toil and poverty repose.
The flat smooth stones that bear a name, The time with frolic mirth beguile,
The chisel's slender help to fame, And poor Sir Topaz hangs the while
(Which ere our set of friends decay
Their frequent steps may wear away)
Men, half ambitious, all unknown.
The marble tombs that rise on high,
Whose dead in vaulted arches lie,
Whose pillars swell with sculptur'd stones For never spell by fairie laid
Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones,
Adorn the rich, or praise the great;
Are senseless of the fame they give.
Ha! while I gaze, pale Cynthia fades,
The bursting earth unveils the shades !
All slow, and wan, and wrapp'd with shrouds, But wot ye well his harder lot?
They rise in visionary crowds,
And all with sober accent cry,
“ Think, mortal, what it is to die."
Now from yon black and funeral yew,
That bathes the charnel-house with dew, This tale a Sibyl-nurse ared ;
Methinks, I hear a voice begin; She softly strok'd my youngling head,
(Ye ravens, cease your croaking din, And when the tale was done,
Ye tolling clocks, no time resound Thus some are born, my son," she cries, O'er the long lake and midnight ground!) “With base impediments to rise,
It sends a peal of hollow groans,
Thus speaking from among the bones.
When men my scythe and darts supply,
How great a king of fears am I! “But virtue can itself advance
They view me like the last of things; To what the favorite fools of chance
They make, and then they draw, my strings. By fortune seem design'd;
Fools! if you less provok'd your fears, Virtue can gain the odds of Fate,
No more my spectre-form appears.
Death's but a path that must be trod,
If man would ever pass to God;
A port of calms, a state to ease
Now sunk the Sun; the closing hour of day From the rough rage of swelling seas." Came onward, mantled o'er with sober grey; Why then thy flowing sable stoles,
Nature in silence bid the world repose ; Deep pendent cypress, mourning poles,
When near the road a stately palace rose : Loose scarfs to fall athwart thy weeds, There by the Moon through ranks of trees they pass, Long palls, drawn hearses, cover'd steeds, Whose verdure crown'd their sloping sides of grass. And plumes of black, that, as they tread, It chanc'd the noble master of the dome Nod o'er the escutcheons of the dead?
Still made his house the wandering stranger's home: Nor can the parted body know,
Yet still the kindness, from a thirst of praise, Nor wants the soul these forms of woe; Prov'd the vain flourish of expensive ease. As men who long in prison dwell,
The pair arrive: the liv'ried servants wait; With lamps that glimmer round the cell, Their lord receives them at the pompous gate. Whene'er their suffering years are run,
The table groans with costly piles of food, Spring forth to greet the glittering Sun: And all is more than hospitably good. Such joy, though far transcending sense, Then led to rest, the day's long toil they drown, Have pious souls at parting hence.
Deep sunk in sleep, and silk, and heaps of down. On Earth, and in the body plac'd,
At length 'tis morn, and at the dawn of day, A few, and evil years, they wasle:
Along the wide canals the zephyrs play: But when their chains are cast aside,
Fresh o'er the gay parterres the breezes creep, See the glad scene unfolding wide,
And shake the neighboring wood to banish sleep. Clap the glad wing, and tower away,
Up rise the guests, obedient to the call :
An early banquet deck'd the splendid hall;
And, but the landlord, none had cause of woe:
His cup was vanish'd ; for in secret guise
The younger guest purloin'd the glittering prize. Far in a wild, unknown to public view,
As one who spies a serpent in his way, From youth to age a reverend hermit grew; Glistening and basking in the summer ray, The moss his bed, the cave his humble cell, Disorder'd stops to shun the danger near, His food the fruits, his drink jhe crystal well: Then walks with faintness on, and looks with fear, Remote from men, with God he pass'd the days, So seem'd the sire ; when far upon the road, Prayer all his business, all his pleasure praise. The shining spoil his wily partner show'd. A life so sacred, such serene repose,
He stopp'd with silence, walk'd with trembling heart, Seem'd Heaven itself, till one suggestion rose ; And much he wish’d, but durst not ask to part : That Vice should triumph, Virtue, Vice obey, Murmuring he lists his eyes, and thinks it hard, This sprung some doubt of Providence's sway : That generous actions meet a base reward. His hopes no more a certain prospect boast,
While thus they pass, the Sun his glory shrouds, And all the tenor of his soul is lost :
The changing skies hang out their sable clouds ; So when a smooth expanse receives imprest A sound in air presag'd approaching rain, Calm Nature's image on its watery breast, And beasts to covert scud across the plain. Down bend the banks, the trees depending grow, Warn'd by the signs, the wandering pair retreat, And skies beneath with answering colors glow: To seek for shelter at a neighboring seat. But if a stone the gentle sea divide,
'Twas built with turrets on a rising ground, Swift ruffling circles curl on every side,
And strong, and large, and unimprov'd around; And glimmering fragments of a broken Sun, Its owner's temper, timorous and severe, Banks, trees, and skies, in thick disorder run. Unkind and griping, caus'd a desert there.
To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight, As near the miser's heavy doors they drew, To find if books, or swains, report it right, Fierce rising gusts with sudden fury blew; (For yet by swains alone the world he knew,' The nimble lightning mix'd with showers began, Whose feet came wandering o'er the nightly dew) And o'er their heads loud rolling thunders ran. He quits his cell; the pilgrim-staff he bore, Here long they knock, but knock or call in vain, And fix'd the scallop in his hat before ;
Driven by the wind, and batter'd by the rain. Then with the Sun a rising journey went, At length some pity warm'd the master's breast, Sedate to think, and watching each event. ('Twas then his threshold first receiv'd a guest);
The morn was wasted in the pathless grass, Slow creaking turns the door with jealous care, And long and lonesome was the wild to pass ; And half he welcomes in the shivering pair; But when the southern Sun had warm'd the day, One frugal fagot lights the naked walls, A youth came posting o'er a crossing way; And Nature's fervor through their limbs recalls : His raiment decent, his complexion fair,
Bread of the coarsest sort, with eager wine, And soft in graceful ringlets wav'd his hair. (Each hardly granted) serv'd them both to dine; Then near approaching, “Father, hail!" he cried, And when the tempest first appeard to cease, “And hail, my son,” the reverend sire replied ; A ready warning bid them part in peace. Words follow'd words, from question answer flow'd, With still remark the pondering hermit view'd, And talk of various kind deceiv'd the road; In one so rich, a life so poor and rude; Till each with other pleas'd, and loth to part, “ And why should such," within himself he cried While in their age they differ, join in heart. · Lock the lost wealth a thousand want beside ?" Thus stands an aged elm in ivy bound,
But what new marks of wonder soon take place, Thus youthful ivy clasps an elm around. in every settling feature of his face ;
When from his vest the young companion bore Though loud at first the pilgrim's passion grew,
But now the clouds in airy tumult fly! But silence here the beauteous angel broke
(The voice of music ravish'd as he spoke.) A fresher green the smelling leaves display,
“Thy prayer, thy praise, thy life to vice unknown, And, glittering as they tremble, cheer the day: In sweet memorial rise before the throne : The weather courts them from the poor retreat, These charms, success in our bright region find, And the glad master bolts the wary gate.
And force an angel down, to calm thy mind; While hence they walk, the pilgrim's bosom For this, commission'd, I forsook the sky, wrought
Nay, cease to kneel—thy fellow-servant I. With all the travel of uncertain thought;
“Then know the truth of government divine, His partner's acts without their cause appear, And let these scruples be no longer thine. 'Twas there a vice, and seem'd a madness here: "The Maker justly claims that world he made, Detesting that, and pitying this, he goes,
In this the right of Providence is laid ; Lost and confounded with the various shows. Its sacred majesty through all depends
Now Night's dim shades again involve the sky, On using second means to work his ends : Again the wanderers want a place to lie,
"Tis thus, withdrawn in state from human eye, Again they search, and find a lodging nigh, The power exerts his attributes on high, The soil improv'd around, the mansion neat, Your actions uses, nor controls your will, And neither poorly low, nor idly great :
And bids the doubting sons of men be still. It seem'd to speak its master's turn of mind,
“What strange events can strike with more surContent, and not to praise, but virtue kind.
prise, Hither the walkers turn with weary feet, Than those which lately struck thy wondering eyes? Then bless the mansion, and the master greet: Yet, taught by these, confess th' Almighty just, Their greeting fair, bestow'd with modest guise, And where you can't unriddle, learn to trust! The courteous master hears, and thus replies: “The great, vain man, who far'd on costly food,
“Without a vain, without a grudging heart, Whose life was too luxurious to be good; To him who gives us all, I yield a part;
Who made his ivory stands with goblets shine, From him you come, for him accept it here, And forc'd his guests to morning draughts of wine, A frank and sober, more than costly cheer.” Has, with the cup, the graceless custom lost, He spoke, and bid the welcome table spread, And still he welcomes, but with less of cost. Then talk of virtue till the time of bed,
* The mean, suspicious wretch, whose bolted door When the grave household round his hall repair, Ne'er moy'd in duty to the wandering poor ; Warn'd by a bell, and close the hours with prayer. With him I left the cup, to teach bis mind
At length the world, renew'd by calm repose, That Heaven can bless, if mortals will be kind. Was strong for toil, the dappled Morn arose ; Conscious of wanting worth, he views the bowl, Before the pilgrims part, the younger crept And feels compassion touch his grateful soul. Near the clos'd cradle where an infant slept, Thus artists melt the sullen ore of lead, And writh'd his neck: the landlord's little pride, With heaping coals of fire upon his head; O strange return! grew black, and gasp'd, and died. In the kind warmth the metal learns to glow, Horror of horrors ! what! his only son!
And loose from dross the silver runs below.
To all but thee, in fits he seem'd to go,
Wild, sparkling rage inflames the father's eyes, Thus Heaven instructs thy mind : this trial o'er, He bursts the bands of fear, and madly cries, Depart in peace, resign, and sin no more.” “ Detested wretch!"-—But scarce his speech began, On sounding pinions here the youth withdrew, When the strange partner seem'd no longer man : The sage stood wondering as the seraph flew. His youthful face grew more serenely sweet; Thus look'd Elisha when, to mount on high, His robe turn'd white, and flow'd upon his feet; His master took the chariot of the sky; Fair rounds of radiant points invest his hair; The fiery pomp ascending left to view; Celestial odors breathe through purpled air; The prophet gaz'd, and wish'd to follow too. And wings, whose colors glitter'd on the day, The bending hermit here a prayer begun, Wide at his back their gradual plumes display. “Lord! as in Heaven, on Earth thy will be done :' The form ethereal burst upon his sight,
Then gladly turning sought his ancient place, And moves in all the majesty of light.
And pass'd a life of piety and peace.
To fix the loom, instruct the reeds to part,
Croes the long weft, and close the web with art :
An useful gift; but what profuse expense,
What world of fashions, took its rise from hence !
Young Hermes next, a close contriving god,
Her brows encircled with his serpent rod;
Full on the fair his beams Apollo flung,
Those sacred Virgins whom the bards revere
In days of yore (no matter where or when, To make her sense with double charms abound, "Twas ere the low creation swarm'd with men) Or make her lively nonsense please by sound. That one Prometheus, sprung of heavenly birth, To dress the maid, the decent Graces brought (Our author's song can witness) liv'd on Earth : A robe in all the dyes of beauty wrought, He carv'd the turf to mould a manly frame, And plac'd their boxes o'er a rich brocade, And stole from Jove his animating flame.
Where pictur'd Loves on every cover play'd ; The sly contrivance o'er Olympus ran,
Then spread those implements that Vulcan's art When thus the monarch of the stars began : Had fram'd to merit Cytherea's heart;
“O vers'd in arts! whose daring thoughts aspire, The wire to curl, the close indented comb To kindle clay with never-dying fire !
To call the locks, that lightly wander, home; Enjoy thy glory past, that gift was thine ;
And chief, the mirror, where the ravish'd maid The next thy creature meets, be fairly mine: Beholds and loves her own reflected shade. And such a gift, a vengeance so design'd,
Fair Flora lent her stores ; the purpled Hours As suits the counsel of a god to find;
Confind her tresses with a wreath of flowers; A pleasing bosom-cheat, a specious ill,
Within the wreath arose a radiant crown; Which felt the curse, yet covets still to feel." A veil pellucid hung depending down;
He said, and Vulcan straight the sire commands, Back roll'd her azure veil with serpent fold, To temper mortar with ethereal hands ;
The purfled border deck'd the floor with gold. In such a shape to mould a rising fair,
Her robe (which closely by the girdle brac'd As virgin goddesses are proud to wear;
Reveal'd the beauties of a slender waist) To make her eyes with diamond-water shine, Flow'd to the feet, to copy Venus' air, And form her organs for a voice divine.
When Venus' statues have a robe to wear. 'Twas thus the sire ordain'd: the power obey'd ; The new-sprung creature, finish'd thus for harma And work'd, and wonder'd at the work he made; Adjusts her habit, practises her charms, The fairest, softest, sweetest frame beneath, With blushes glows, or shines with lively smiles, Now made to seem, now more than seem to breathe. Confirms her will, or recollects her wiles: As Vulcan ends, the cheerful queen of charms
Then, conscious of her worth, with easy pace Clasp'd the new-panting creature in her arms: Glides by the glass, and turning views ber face. From that embrace a fine complexion spread, A finer flax than what they wrought before, Where mingled whiteness glow'd with softer red. Through Time's deep cave, the sister Fates explore, Then in a kiss she breath'd her various arts, Then fix the loom, their fingers nimbly weave, of trifling prettily with wounded hearts;
And thus their toil prophetic songs deceive. A mind for love, but still a changing mind :
"Flow from the rock, my flax! and swiftly flow The lisp affected, and the glance design'd; Pursue thy thread; the spindle runs below. The sweet confusing blush, the secret wink, A creature fond and changing, fair and vain, The gentle swimming walk, the courteous sink ; The creature woman, rises now to reign. The stare for strangeness fit, for scorn the frown; New beauty blooms, a beauty form'd to fly; For decent yielding, looks declining down; New love begins, a love produc'd to die; The practis'd languish, where well-feign'd desire New parts distress the troubled scenes of life, Would own its melting in a mutual fire;
The fondling mistress, and the ruling wife. Gay smiles lo comfort: April showers to move ;
“Men born to labor, all with pains provide ; And all the nature, all the art of love.
Women have time to sacrifice to pride : Gold scepter'd Juno next exalts the fair ; They want the care of man, their want they know Her touch endows her with imperious air,
And dress to please with heart-alluring show; Self-valuing fancy, highly-crested pride,
The show prevailing, for the sway contend, Strong sovereign will, and some desire to chide ; And make a servant where they meet a friend. For which, an eloquence, that aims to vex,
“ Thus in a thousand wax-erected forts With native troops of anger, arms the sex. A loitering race the painful bee supports ; Minerva, skilful goddess, train'd the maid
From sun to sun, from bank to bank he flies, To twirl the spindle by the twisting thread ; With honey loads his bag, with wax his thighs;
Fly where he will, at home the race remain, The curse of jealousy; expense and strife ;
Yet here and there we grant a gentle bride, The rival's sword; the qualm that takes the fair ;
These, and a thousand yet unnam'd, we find ; Fond to relieve, or resolute to share ;
Ah! fear the thousand yet unnam'd behind ! Happy the man whom thus his stars advance ! Thus on Parnassus luneful Hesiod sung, The curse is general, but the blessing chance." The mountain echo'd, and the valley rung,
Thus sung the sisters, while the gods admire The sacred groves a fix'd attention show, Their beauteous creature, made for man in ire ; The crystal Helicon forebore to flow, The young Pandora she, whom all contend The sky grew bright, and (if his verse be true) To make too perfect not to gain her end : The Muses came to give the laurel too. Then bid the winds, that fly to breathe the spring, But what availd the verdant prize of wit, Return to bear her on a gentle wing;
If Love swore vengeance for the tales he writ? With wafting airs the winds obsequious blow, Ye fair offended, hear your friend relate And land the shining vengeance safe below. What heavy judgment proy'd the writer's fate, A golden coffer in her hand she bore,
Though when it happend no relation clears,
Her gay descent the man perceiv'd afar, There oft a tender pair, for amorous play
A Locrian youth, the gentle Troilus he,
The dire disgrace her brothers count their own, Or swears that Venus' must be such as hers. And track her steps, to make its author known. She, proud to rule, yet strangely fram'd to tease, It chanc'd one evening, 'twas the lover's day, Neglects his offers while her airs she plays, Conceal'd in brakes the jealous kindred lay; Shoots scornful glances from the bended frown, When Hesiod, wandering, mus'd along the plain, In brisk disorder trips it up and down;
And fix'd his seat where love had fix'd the scene Then hums a careless tune to lay the storm, A strong suspicion straight possess their mind, And sits, and blushes, smiles, and yields, in form. (For poeis ever were a gentle kind,)
** Now take what Jove design'd," she softly cried, But when Evanthe near the passage stood, “ This box thy portion, and myself the bride.". Flung back a doubtful look, and shot the wood, Fir'd with the prospect of the double charms, " Now take" (at once they cry) “ thy due reward," He snatch'd the box, and bride, with eager arms. And, urg'd with erring rage, assauli the bard.
Unhappy man! to whom so bright she shone, His corpse the sea receiv'd. The dolphins bore The fatal gift, her tempting self, unknown! ('Twas all the gods would do) the corpse to shore The winds were silent, all the waves asleep, Methinks I view the dead with pitying eyes, And Heaven was trac'd upon the flattering deep: And see the dreams of ancient wisdom rise : But, whilst he looks unmindful of a storm, I see the Muses round the body cry, And thinks the water wears a stable form, But here a Cupid loudly laughing by ; What dreadful din around his ears shall rise! He wields his arrow with insulting hand, What frowns confuse his picture of the skies ! And thus inscribes the moral on the sand.
At first the creature man was fram'd alone, " Here Hesiod lies: ye future bards, beware Lord of himself, and all the world his own. How far your moral tales incense the fair. For him the nymphs in green forsook the woods, Unlov'd, unloving, 'twas his fate to bleed; For him the nymphs in blue forsook the floods; Without his quiver, Cupid caus'd the deed : In vain the Satyrs rage, the Tritons rave,
He judg'd this turn of malice justly due,
And Hesiod died for joys he never knew."
AN ALLEGORY ON MAN.
What name the gods have callid him too.)
Contriv'd a shape empower'd to breathe,
And be the worldling here beneath. Abroad the labor, and at home the noise,
The man rose, staring like a stake; (Man's double sufferings for domestic joys,)
Wondering to see himself awake!