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Man! foolish man!
Scarce know'st thou how thyself began;
Scarce hast thou thought enough to prove thou art;
Yet steel'd with study'd boldness, thou dar'st try
To send thy doubting reason's dazzled eye
Through the mysterious gulf of vast immensity.
Much thou canst there discern, much thence impart.
Vain wretch! suppress thy knowing pride;
Mortify thy learned lust.
Vain are thy thoughts, while thou thyself art dust.
Let Wit her sails, her oars let Wisdom lend;
The helm let politic Experience guide:
Yet cease to hope thy short-liv'd bark shall ride
Down spreading fate's unnavigable tide.
What though still it farther tend
Still 'tis farther from its end;
And, in the bosom of that boundless sea,
Still finds its error lengthen with its way.
* Well written, and interesting on account of its similarity to the First Book of his Solomon.
With daring pride, and insolent delight,
Your doubts resolv'd you boast, your labours crown'd;
And, 'EYPHKA! your God, forsooth, is found,
Incomprehensible and infinite.
But is he therefore found? Vain searcher! no:
Let your imperfect definition show,
That nothing you, the weak definer, know.
Say, why should the collected main
Itself within itself contain?
Why to its caverns should it sometimes creep,
And with delighted silence sleep
On the lov'd bosom of its parent deep?
Why should its num'rous waters stay
In comely discipline, and fair array,
Till winds and tides exert their high command ?
Then, prompt and ready to obey,
Why do the rising surges spread Their op'ning ranks o’er earth's submissive head, Marching through diff'rent paths to diff'rent lands?
Why does the constant sun
With measur'd steps his radiant journeys run?
Why does he order the diurnal hours
To leave earth's other part, and rise in ours?
Why does he wake the correspondent moon,
And fill her willing lamp with liquid light,
Commanding her with delegated powers
To beautify the world, and bless the night?
Why does each animated star
Love the just limits of its proper sphere?
Why does each consenting sign
With prudent harmony combine
In turns to move, and subsequent appear,
To gird the globe, and regulate the year?
Man does with dang’rous curiosity
These unfathom'd wonders try:
With fancied rules and arbitrary laws
Matter and motion he restrains;
And studied lines and fictious circles draws:
Then with imagin'd sov'reignty
Lord of his new hypothesis he reigns.
He reigns: how long? till some usurper rise;
And he too, mighty thoughtful, mighty wise,
Studies new lines, and other circles feigns.
From this last toil again what knowledge flows:
Just as much, perhaps, as shows
That all his predecessor's rules
Were empty cant, all jargon of the schools;
That he on t'other's ruin rears his throne;
And shows his friend's mistake, and thence confirms his own.
On earth, in air, amidst the seas and skies,
Mountainous heaps of wonders rise:
Whose tow'ring strength will ne'er submit
To reason's batt'ries, or the mines of wit:
Yet still inquiring, still mistaking, man,
Each hour repuls’d, each hour dares onward press;
And levelling at God his wand'ring guess,
(That feeble engine of his reas’ning war,
Which guides his doubts, and combats his despair,)
Laws to his Maker the learn’d wretch can give:
Can bound that nature, and prescribe that will,
Whose pregnant word did either ocean fill:
Can tell us whence all beings are, and how they move
Through either ocean, foolish man!
That pregnant word sent forth again,
Might to a world extend each atom there;
For every drop call forth a sea, a heav'n for every star.
Let cunning earth her fruitful wonders hide;
And only lift thy staggering reason up
To trembling Calvary's astonish'd top;
Then mock thy knowledge, and confound thy pride,
Explaining how perfection suffer'd pain,
Almighty languish'd, and Eternal died:
How by her patient victor Death was slain;
And earth profan’d, yet bless'd with deicide.
Then down with all thy boasted volumes, down;
Only reserve the sacred one;
Low, reverently low,
Make thy stubborn knowledge bow;
Weep out thy reason's, and thy body's eyes;
Deject thyself, that thou may'st rise;
To look to heav'n, be blind to all below.
Then faith, for reason's glimm'ring light, shall give
Her immortal perspective;
And grace's presence nature's loss retrieve:
Then thy enliven'd soul shall see,
That all the volumes of philosophy,
With all their comments, never could invent
So politic an instrument,
To reach the heav'n of heav'ns, the high abode,
Where Moses places his mysterious God,