Page images
PDF

POPE.
Messiah.—A Sacred Eclogue.

YE nymphs of Solyma! begin the song,
To heav'nly themes sublimer strains belong.
The mossy fountains, and the sylvan shades.
The dreams of Pindus, and the Aonian maids,
Delight no more.—O Thou my voice inspire,
Who touch'd Isaiah's hallowed lips with fire!

Rapt into future times, the bard begun,
A Virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a Son!
From Jesse's root behold a Branch arise,
Whose sacred flow'r with fragrance fills the skies:
Th’ethereal Spirit o'er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descends the mystic dove.
Ye heavens ! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly show'r,
The sick and weak the healing plant shall aid,
From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade;
All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail,
Returning Justice lift aloft her scale;
Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-rob’d Innocence from heaven descend.
Swift fly the years, and rise th' expected morn!
Oh spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born
See Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring:
See lofty Lebanon his head advance,
See nodding forests on the mountains dance,

See spicy clouds from lowly Sharon rise,
And Carmel's flowery top perfumes the skies!
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers;
Prepare the way! A God, a God appears;
A God! a God! The vocal hills reply,
The rocks proclaim th'approaching Deity.
Lo! earth receives him from the bending skies!
Sink down ye mountains, and ye vallies rise !
With heads declin'd, ye cedars, homage pay;
Be smooth ye rocks, ye rapid floods give way!
The Saviour comes by ancient bards foretold:
Hear him, ye deaf, and all ye blind behold!
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eyeball pour the day.
'Tis He th'obstructed paths of sound shall clear,
And bid new music eharm th'unfolding ear:
The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding roe;
No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear,
From ev’ry face He wipes off ev'ry tear.
In adamantine chains shall death be bound,
And hell's grim tyrant feel th' eternal wound.
As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pastures and the purest air,
Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs,
By day o'ersees them, and by night protects,
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hand, and in his bosom warms :
Mankind shall thus His guardian care engage,
The promis'd FATHER of the future age.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes,

Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover'd o'er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more ;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a plough-share end.
Then palaces shall rise; the joyful son
Shall finish what his short liv'd sire begun;
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield,
And the same hand that sow'd shall reap the field.
The swain in barren deserts, with surprise,
Sees lilies spring, and sudden verdure rise,
And starts amidst the thirsty wilds to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear:
On rifted rocks, the dragon's late abodes,
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods.
Waste sandy vallies, once perplex'd with thorn,
The spiry fir and shapely box adorn;
To leafless shrubs the flow'ring palms succeed,
And od’rous myrtle to the noisome weed.
The lambs with wolves shall graze the verdant
mead,
And boys in flow'ry bands the tyger lead;
The steer and lion at one crib shall meet,
And harmless serpents lick the pilgrim's feet.
The smiling infant in his hand shall take
The crested basilisk and speckled snake;
Pleas'd, the green lustre of their scales survey,
And with their forky tongue and pointless sting
shall play.
Rise, crown'd with light, imperial Salem rise!
Exalt thy tow'ring head, and lift thine eyes!
See, a long race thy spacious courts adorn;.
See future sons and daughters, yet unborn,
• P 5

[ocr errors]

In crowding ranks on ev'ry side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies!
See barb"rous nations at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend;
See thy bright altars throng'd with prostrate kings,
And heap'd with products of Sabean springs!
For thee Idume's spicy forests blow,
And seeds of gold in Ophir's mountains glow;
See heav'n its sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a flood of day !
No more the rising sun shall gild the morn,
Nor ev'ning Cynthia fill her silver horn,
But lost, dissolv’d in thy superior rays,
One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze
O'erflow thycourts: the LIGHT Himself shall shine
Reveal’d, and God's eternal day be thine!
The seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away;
But fix'd His word, His saving pow'r remains:
Thy realm forever lasts, thy own MEssi AH reigns.

GAY.

A CoNTEMPLATION on NIGHT.

WHETHER amid the gloom of night I stray,
Or my glad eyes enjoy revolving day,
Still Nature's various face informs my sense,
Of an all-wise, all-powerful PRovidence.

* * *

When the gay Sun first breaks the shades of night,
And strikes the distant eastern hills with light,
Colour returns, the plains their livery wear,
And a bright verdure clothes the smiling year;
The blooming flow'rs with opening beauties glow,
And grazing flocks their milky fleeces show;
The barren cliffs with chalky fronts arise,
And a pure azure arches o'er the skies.
But when the gloomy reign of Night returns,
Stript of her fading pride, all Nature mourns;
The trees no more their wonted verdure boast,
But weep, in dewy tears, their beauty lost.
No distant landscapes draw our curious eyes,
Wrapt in Night's robe the whole creation lies;
Yet still, even now, while Darkness clothes the land,
Weview the traces of the Almighty hand.
Millions of stars in heaven's wide vault appear,
And with new glories hang the boundless sphere :
The silver Moon her western couch forsakes,
And o'er the skies her nightly circle makes;
Her solid globe beats back the sunny rays,
And to the world her borrow'd light repays.

Whether those stars, that twinkling lustre send,
Are suns, and rolling worlds those suns attend,

Man may conjecture and new schemes declare--.
Yet all his systems but conjectures are;
But this we know, that heav'n's eternal King,
Who bid this universe from nothing spring,
Can, at His word, bid num’rous worlds appear,
And rising worlds th’ all-powerful Word shall

hear.

« PreviousContinue »