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And makes the World the wilderness it is.
The few that pray at all, pray oft amiss,
And, seeking grace l' improve the prize they hold,
Would urge a wiser suit ihan asking more.
The night was winter in its roughest mood;
The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon
Upon the southern side of the slant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast,
The season smiles, resigning all its rage,
And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
With a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling splendour of the scene below.
Again the harmony comes o'er the vale ;
And through the trees I view th' embattled tow'r,
Whence all the musick. I again perceive
The soothing influence of the wasted strains,
And setlle in soft musings as I tread
The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms,
Whose outspread branches overarch the glade.
The roof, though moveable through all its length
As the wind sways it, has yet well suffic'd,
And, intercepting in their silent fall
The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me.
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought.
The red breast warbles still, but is content
With slender notes, and more than half suppress'd :
Pleas'd with his solitude, and flitting light
From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendent drops of ice,
Tbat tinkle in the wither'd leaves below.
Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft,
Charms more than silence. Meditation here
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart
May give a useful lesson to the head,
And Learning wiser grow without his books.
Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one,
Have ofttimes no connexion. Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men ;
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
The mere materials with which Wisdom builds,
Till smooth’d, and squar'd, and fitted to its place,
Does but encumber whom it seems t' enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
Books are not seldom talismans and spells,
By which the magick art of shrewder wits
Hold an unthinking multitude enthrall’d.
Some to the fascination of a name,
Surrender judgment hood-wink'd. Some the style
Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds
Of errour leads them, by a tune entranc'd.
While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear
The insupportable fatigue of thought,
And swallowing, therefore, without pause or choice
The total grist unsifted, husks and all.
But tree and rivulets, whose rapid course
Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer,
And sheep walks populous with bleating lambs,
And lanes, in which the primrose ere her time
Peeps through the moss, that clothes the hawthorn root,
Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and truth,
Not shy, as in the world, and to be won
By slow solicitation, seize at once
The roving thought, and fix it on themselves.
What prodigies can pow'r divine perform
More grand than it produces year by year,
And all in sight of inattentive man?
Familiar with th' effect, we slight the cause,
And in the constancy of Nature's course,
The regular return of genial months,
And renovation of a faded world, See nought to wonder at. Should God again, As once in Gibeon, interrupt the race of th' undeviating and punctual sun, How would the world admire! But speaks it less An agency divine, to make him know His moment when to sink and when to rise, Age after age, than to arrest his course ? All we behold is miracle ; but seen So duly, all is miracle in vain. Where now the vital energy, that mov'd While summer was, the pure and subtle lymph Through th' imperceptible meand'ring veins Of leaf and flow'r? It sleeps; and th' icy touch Of unprolifick winter has impress'd A cold stagnation on th' intestine tide. But let the months go round, a few short months, And all shall be restor’d. These naked shoots, Barren as lances, among which the wind Makes wintry musick, sighing as it goes, Shall put their graceful foliage on again, And, more aspiring, and with ampler spread, Shall boast new charms, and more than they have lost. • Then each in its peculiar honours clad, Shall publish even to the distant eye Its family and tribe. Laburnum, rich In streaming gold; syringa, iv'ry pure; The scentless and the scented rose; this red And of a humbler growth, the other* tall, And throwing up into the darkest gloom of neighb'ring cypress, or more sable yew, Her silver globes, light as the foamy surf, That the wind severs from the broken wave; The lilack, various in array, now white,
Now sanguine, and her beauteous head now set
With purple spikes pyramidal, as if
Studious of ornament, yet unresolv'd
Which hue she most approv'd, she chose them all;
Copious of flowers, the woodbine, pale and wan,
But well compensating her sickly looks
With never cloying odours, early and late;
Hypericum all bloom, so thick a swarm
of flowers, like flies clothing her slender rods,
That scarce a leaf appears ; mezereon, too,
Though leafless, well-attir'd and thick beset
with blushing wreaths, investing every spray;
Althea with the purple eye ; the broom
Yellow and bright, as bullion unalloy'd,
Her blossoms; and luxuriant above all
The jasmine, throwing wide her elegant sweets,
The deep dark green of whose unvarnish'd leaf
Makes more conspicuous, and illumines more
The bright profusion of her scatter'd stars.-
These have been, and these shall be in their day;
And all this uniform uncolour'd scene
Shall be dismantled of its fleecy load,
And flush into variety again.
From dearth to plenty, and from death to life,
Is Nature's progress, when she lectures man
In heav'nly truth; evincing, as she makes
The grand transition, that their lives and works
A soul in all things, and that soul is God.
The beauties of the wilderness are his,
That makes so gay the solitary, place,
Where no eye sees them. And the fairer forms
That cultivation glories in, are his.
He sets the bright procession on its way,
And marshals all the order of the year;
He marks the bounds, which winter may not pass,
And blunts his pointed fury; in its case,
Russet and rude, folds up the tender germ,
Uninjur'd, with inimitable art;
And, ere one flow'ry season fades and dies,
Designs the blooming wonders of the next.
Some say that in the origin of things,
when all creation started into birth,
The infant elements receiv'd a law
From which they swerv'd not since. That under force
of that controlling ordinance they move,
And need not His immediate hand who first
Prescrib'd their course, to regulate it now.
Thus dream they, and contrive to save a God
Th’ encumbrance of his own concerns,
The great artificer of all that moves
The stress of a continual act, the pain
of unremitted vigilance and care,
As too laborious and severe a task.
So man, the moth, is not afraid, it seems,
To span omnipotence, and measure inight
That knows no measure, by the scanty rule
And standard of his own, that is to-day,
And is not ere to-morrow's sun go down.
But how should matter occupy a charge,
Dull as it is, and satisfy a law
So vast in its demands, unless impell'd
To ceaseless service by a ceaseless force,
And under pressure of some conscious cause?
The Lord of all, himself through all diffus'd,
Sustains, and is the life of all that lives.
Nature is but a name for an effect,
Whose ause is God. He feeds the secret fire,
By which the mighty process is maintain'd,
Who sleeps not, is not weary; in whose sight
Slow circling ages are as transient days;
Whose work is without labour; wbosé designs
No flaw deforms, no difficulty thwarts ;