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I'll seek a readier path, and go Where wisdom's surely taught below. How deep yon azure dyes the sky! Where orbs of gold unnumber'd lie, While through their ranks in silver pride The nether crescent seems to glide. The slumbering breeze forgets to breathe, The lake is smooth and clear beneath, Where once again the spangled show Descends to meet our eyes below. The grounds which on the right aspire, In dimness from the view retire; The left presents a place of graves, Whose wall the silent water laves. 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 possess'd, And time shall be, that thou shalt rest.' Those, with the 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 sculptured 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 funeral 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 darts 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 provoked 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 pendent 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 the scutcheons of the dead?
'Nor can the parted body know, Nor wants the soul, these 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 glittering sun; Such joy, though far transcending sense, Have pious souls at parting hence. On earth, and in the body placed, 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 tower away, And mingle with the blaze of day.'
LOVELY, lasting peace of mind!
Sweet delight of humankind!
Heavenly born, and bred on high,
To crown the favourites of the sky
With more of happiness below,
Than victors in a triumph know!
Whither, O whither art thou fled,
To lay thy meek, contented head?
What happy region dost thou please
To make the seat of calms and ease?
'Ambition searches all its sphere
Of pomp and state to meet thee there.
Increasing Avarice would find
Thy presence in its gold enshrined.
The bold adventurer ploughs his way,
Through rocks amidst the foaming sea,
To gain thy love; and then perceives
Thou wert not in the rocks and waves.
The silent heart which grief assails,
Treads soft and lonesome o'er the vales;
Sees daisies open, rivers run,
And seeks, (as I have vainly done)
Amusing thought; but learns to know
That Solitude's the nurse of woe.
No real happiness is found
In trailing purple o'er the ground:
Or in a soul exalted high,
To range the circuit of the sky,
Converse with stars above, and know
All nature in its forms below;
The rest it seeks, in seeking dies,
And doubts, at last, for knowledge rise.
Lovely, lasting Peace, appear!
This world itself, if thou art here,
Is once again with Eden bless'd,
And man contains it in his breast.'-
'Twas thus, as under shade I stood,
sung my wishes to the wood,
And, lost in thought, no more perceived
The branches whisper as they waved:
It seem'd, as all the quiet place
Confess'd the presence of the Grace;
When thus she spoke-' Go, rule thy will,
Bid thy wild passions all be still;
Know GOD-and bring thy heart to know
The joys which from religion flow:
Then every Grace shall prove its guest,
And I'll be there to crown the rest.'
Oh! by yonder mossy seat,
In my hours of sweet retreat,
Might I thus my soul employ,
With sense of gratitude and joy:
Raised, as ancient prophets were,
In heavenly vision, praise, and prayer;
Pleasing all men, hurting none,
Pleased and bless'd with GOD alone:
Then while the gardens take my sight,
With all the colours of delight;
While silver waters glide along,
To please my ear, and court my song;
I'll lift my voice, and tune my string,
And thee, great Source of Nature! sing.
The sun that walks his airy way,
To light the world, and give the day;
The moon that shines with borrow'd light;
The stars that gild the gloomy night;
The seas that roll unnumber'd waves;
The wood that spreads its shady leaves;
The field whose ears conceal the grain,
The yellow treasure of the plain;
All of these, and all I see,
Should be sung and sung by me :
They speak their Maker as they can,
But want and ask the tongue of man.
Go search among your idle dreams,
Your busy, or your vain extremes;
And find a life of equal bliss,
Or own the next begun in this.