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That steeple guides thy doubtful sight
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 graves with bending osier bound, That nameless heave the crumbled ground, Quick to the glancing thought disclose Where toil and poverty repose.
The flat smooth stones that bear a name, (The chissel's slender help to fame, Which ere our set of friends decay, Their frequent steps may wear away;) A middle race of mortals own, 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, Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones, These, all the poor remains of state, Adorn the rich, or praise the great;
Who, while on earth, in fame they live,
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,
They rise in visionary crowds,
And all with sober accent cry,
Think, mortal, what it is to die!
Now from yon black and fun'ral yew That bathes the charnel house with dew, Methinks I hear a voice begin;
(Ye ravens, cease your croaking din,
Ye tolling clocks, no time resound
O'er the long lake and midnight ground)
It sends a peal of hollow groans,
Thus speaking from among the bones.
When men my scythe and dart supply, How great a king of fears am I! They view me like the last of things; They make, and then they dread my stings. Fools! if you less provok'd your fears, 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 of ease,
From the rough rage of swelling seas.
Why then thy flowing sable stoles, Deep pendant cypress, mourning poles, Loose scarfs to fall athwart thy weeds, Long palls, drawn hearses, cover'd steeds, And plumes of black, that, as they tread, Nod o'er th' escutcheons of the dead?
Nor can the parted body know, Nor wants the soul those forms of woe: As men who long in prison dwell, With lamps that glimmer round the cell, Whene'er their suffering years are run, Spring forth to greet the glitt'ring sun: Such joy, though far transcending sense, Have pious souls at parting hence. On earth, and in the body plac'd, A few and evil years, they waste; But when their chains are cast aside, See the glad scene unfolding wide, Clap the glad wing, and tow'r away, And mingle with the blaze of day.
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 hallow'd lips with fire!
Wrapt 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' æthereal spirit o'er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descend the mystic dove.
Ye heav'ns! from high the dewy nectre 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 heav'n descend.
Swift fly the years, and rise th' expected morn;
O 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 flow'ry 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 valleys, 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 eye-ball pour the day;
"Tis he th' obstructed path of sound shall clear,
And bid new music charm 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.