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Of outcast earth, in darkness! what a change
From yesterday! Thy darling hope so near,
(Long-labour'd prize!) O how ambition flush'd
Thy glowing cheek! ambition truly great,
Of virtuous praise. Death's subtle seed within,
(Sly, treacherous miner !) working in the dark,
Smil'd at thy well-concerted scheme, and beckon'd
The worm to riot on that rose so red,
Unfaded ere it fell, one moment's prey!
Man's foresight is conditionally wise.
Lorenzo! wisdom into folly turns,
Oft the first instant its idea fair
To labouring thought is born. How dim our eye! The present moment terminates our sight;
Clouds, thick as those on Doomsday, drown the next: We penetrate, we prophesy in vain,
Time is dealt out by particles, and each
Are mingled with the streaming sands of life.
By Fate's inviolable oath is sworn
Deep silence, Where eternity begins."
By Nature's law what may be may be now;
There's no prerogative in human hours.
In human hearts what bolder thought can rise
Than man's presumption on to-morrow's dawn?
Where is to-morrow? In another world.
For numbers this is certain; the reverse
Is sure to none; and yet on this perhaps,
This peradventure, infamous for lies,
As on a rock of adamant we build
Our mountain-hopes, spin out eternal schemes,
As we the Fatal Sisters could outspin,
And, big with life's futurities, expire.
Not ev'n Philander had bespoke his shroud;
Nor had he cause; a warning was denied.
How many fall as sudden, not as safe?
As sudden, though for years admonish'd home;
Of human ills the last extreme beware;
Beware, Lorenzo! a slow-sudden death,
How dreadful that deliberate surprise!
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer:
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.
Of man's miraculous mistakes this bears
The palm, That all men are about to live,'
For ever on the brink of being born:
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They one day shall not drivel, and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise;
At least their own; their future selves applauds,
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
Time lodg'd in their own hands is Folly's vails;
That lodg'd in Fate's to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone.
Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage. When young, indeed,
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves, and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.
And why? because he thinks himself immortal.
All men think all men mortal but themselves;
Themselves, when some alarming shock of Fate
Strikes thro' their wounded hearts the sudden dread:
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soon close; where past the shaft no trace is found
As from the wing no scar the sky retains,
The parted wave no furrow from the keel,
So dies in human hearts the thought of death:
Ev'n with the tender tear which Nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
Can I forget Philander? that were strange !
O my full heart!-But should I give it vent,
The longest night, though longer far, would fail,
And the lark listen to my midnight song.
The sprightly lark's shrill matin wakes the morn.
Grief's sharpest thorn hard pressing on my breast,
I strive, with wakeful melody, to cheer
The sullen gloom, sweet Philomel! like thee,
And call the stars to listen: every star
Is deaf to mine, enamour'd of thy lay.
Yet be not vain; there are who thine excel,
And charm through distant ages. Wrapt in shade, Prisoner of darkness! to the silent hours
How often I repeat their rage divine,
To lull my griefs, and steal my heart from woe!
I roll their raptures, but not catch their fire.
Dark, though not blind, like thee, Mæonides!
Or, Milton! thee; ah, could I reach your strain!
Or his who made Mæonides our own.
Man, too, he sung: immortal man I sing:
Oft bursts my song beyond the bounds of life:
What, now, but immortality can please?
O had he press'd his theme, pursued the track
Which opens out of darkness into day!
O had he mounted on his wing of fire,
Soar'd where I sink, and sung immortal man,
How had it blest mankind, and rescued me!
To reason, that heav'n-lighted lamp in man,
Once more I wake; and at the destin'd hour,
Punctual as lovers to the moment sworn,
I keep my assignation with my woe.
O! lost to virtue, lost to manly thought,
Lost to the noble sallies of the soul!
Who think it solitude to be alone.
Communion sweet! communion large and high!
Our reason, guardian-angel, and our god!
Then nearest these, when others most remote;
And all, ere long, shall be remote but these:
How dreadful, then, to meet them all alone,
A stranger! unacknowledg'd! unapprov'd!
Now woo them, wed them, bind them to thy breast:
To win thy wish creation has no more:
Or if we wish a fourth, it is a friend.-
But friends how mortal! dangerous the desire.
Take Phœbus to yourselves, ye basking bards!
Inebriate at fair Fortune's fountain-head,
And reeling through the wilderness of joy,
Where Sense runs savage, broke from Reason's chain,
And sings false peace, till smother'd by the pall.
My fortune is unlike, unlike my song,
Unlike the deity my song invokes.
I to day's soft-ey'd sister pay my court,
(Endymion's rival) and her aid implore,
Now first implor'd in succour to the Muse.
Thou who didst lately borrow Cynthia's form,
And modestly forego thine own! O thou
Who didst thyself, at midnight hours, inspire!
Say, why not Cynthia, patroness of song?
As thou her crescent, she thy character
Assumes, still more a goddess by the change.
Are there demurring wits who dare dispute
This revolution in the world inspir'd?
Ye train Pierian! to the lunar sphere,
In silent hour, address your ardent call
For aid immortal, less her brother's right.
She with the spheres harmonious nightly leads
The mazy dance, and hears their matchless strain,
A strain for gods, deny'd to mortal ear.
Transmit it heard, thou silver queen of Heav'n!
What title or what name endears thee most?
Cynthia! Cyllene! Phœbe-or dost hear
With higher gust, fair Portland of the skies?
Is that the soft inchantment calls thee down,
More powerful than of old Circean charm?
Come, but from heavenly banquets with thee bring
The soul of song, and whisper in mine ear
The theft divine; or in-propitious dreams
(For dreams are thine) transfuse it through the breast Of thy first votary-but not thy last,
If, like thy namesake, thou art ever kind.
And kind thou wilt be, kind on such a theme;
A theme so like thee, a quite lunar theme,
Soft, modest, melancholy, female, fair!
A theme that rose all pale, and told my soul
'Twas night; on her fond hopes perpetual night;
A night which struck a damp, a deadlier damp
Than that which smote me from Philander's tomb.
Narcissa follows ere his tomb is clos'd.
Woes cluster; rare are solitary woes;
They love a train; they tread each other's heel;
Her death invades his mournful right, and claims
The grief that started from my lids for him;
Seizes the faithless, alienated tear,
Or shares it ere it falls. So frequent Death,
Sorrow he more than causes; he confounds;
For human sighs his rival strokes contend,