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When on a day, like that of the last doom,
A conflagration lab’ring in her womb,
Śhe teem'd and heav'd with an infernal birth,
That shook the circling seas and solid earth.
Dark and voluminous the vapours rise,
And hang their horrors in the neighb’ring skies,
While through the stygjan veil that blots the day,
In dazzling streaks, the vivid lightnings play.
But, ch! what muse, and in what pow'rs of song,
Can trace the torrent as it burns along?
Havoc and devastation in the van,
It marches o'er the proftrate works of man-
Vines, olives, herbage, forests, disappear,
And all the charms of a Sicilian year.
Revolving seasons, fruitless as they pass,
See it an uninform’d and idle mass;
Without a soil t'invite the tiller's care,
Or blade that might redeem it from despair.
Yet time at length (what will not time achieve?)
Clothes it with earth, and bids the produce live.
Once more the spiry myrtle crowns the glade,
And ruminating flocks enjoy the shade.
Oh, bliss precarious, and unsafe retreats,
Oh, charming paradise of short-liv'd sweets !
The self-fame gale that wafts the fragrance round
Brings to the distant ear a sullen sound;
Again the mountain feels th' imprison'd foe,
Again pours ruin on the vale below. .
Ten thousand fwains the wasted scene deplore,
That only future ages can restore.
Ye monarchs, whom the lure of honour draws,
Who write in blood the merits of your cause,
Who strike the blow, then plead your own defence-
Glory your aim, but justice your pretence;
Behold in Ætna's emblematic fires
The mischiefs your ambitious pride inspires !
Fast by the stream that bounds your just domain, And tells you where ye haye a right to reign, A nation dwells, not envious of your throne, Studious of peace, their neighbours', and their own.
Ill-fated race ! how deeply must they rue
Their only crime, vicinity to you!
The trumpet sounds, your legions swarm abroad,
Through the ripe harvest lies their destin'd road;
At ev'ry step beneath their feet they tread
The life of multitudes, a nation's bread!
Earth seems a garden in its loveliest drefs
Before them, and behind a wilderness.
Famine, and pestilence, her first-born fon,
Attend to finish what the sword begun;
And, echoing praises such as fiends might earn,
And folly pays, resound at your return;
A calm succeeds — but plenty, with her train
Of heart-felt joys, fucceeds not soon again,
And years of pining indigence must show
What scourges are the gods that rule below.
Yet man, laborious man, by flow degrees,
(Such is his thirst of opulence and ease)
Plies all the finews of industrious toil,
Gleans up the refuge of the gen’ral spoil,
Rebuilds the tow'rs that smok'd upon the plain,
And the sun gilds the shining spires again.
Increasing commerce and reviving art
Renew the quarrel on the conqu’rors' part;
And the sad lesson must be learn’d once more,
That wealth within is ruin at the door.
What are ye, monarchs, laureld heroes, fay-
But Ætnas of the suff’ring world ye sway?
Sweet nature, stripp'd of her embroider'd robe,
Deplores the wasted regions of her globe;
And stands a witness at truth's awful bar,
To prove you, there, destroyers as ye are.
Oh, place me in some heav'n-protected isle,
Where peace, and equity, and freedom, smile ;
Where no volcano pours his fiery flood,
No crested warrior dips his plume in blood;
Where pow'r secures what industry has won;
Where to succeed is not to be undone ;
A land that distant tyrants hate in vain,
In Britain's isle, beneath a George's reign!
THE POET, THE OYSTER, AND . SENSITIVE PLANT.
An Oyster, cast upon the shore,
Was heard, though never heard before,
Complaining in a speech well-worded,
And worthy thus to be recorded
Ah, hapless wretch! condemn’d to dwell
For ever in my native shell;
Ordain’d to move when others please,
Not for my own content or ease;
But toss’d and buffeted about,
Now in the water and now out,
"Twere better to be born a stone,
Of ruder shape, and feeling none,
Than with a tenderness like mine,
And sensibilities so fine !
I envy that unfeeling shrub,
Fast-rooted against ev'ry rub,