« PreviousContinue »
" Plac'd on the line that parts the scene,
Bifronted Solitude is seen ;
Each coast alike her rule obeys,
And each at once the queen surveys ;
On this she turns a smiling face,
Of dimpled youth, and matchless grace;
And stretches here, with looks of love,
A sceptre ending in a dove;
To that a mien severe appears,
Deform'd with frowns, inspiring fears,
A knotted scourge her hand sustains,
And threatens long inflicted pains.
« Know then, that heaven or hell below
The power you seek must still bestow;
To Vice and Virtue she divides
Her realm, so Fate itself decides ;
The test yon magic glass supplies,
Which Memory holds, and Conscience eyes;
In that, if fair thy semblance be,
Yon scenes of bliss are all for thee :
If foul,--yon dreary haunts of woe :-
Go then, if yet 'tis best to go ?”
I answer'd not, but forward still
Pass'd silent, thoughtful, down the hill,
Approach'd the Queen, with hope and dread;
Then took the glass :- the vision fied.
When Jove at first from nothing call'd forth all,
And various beings fill'd this pendant ball;
Io rank superior to our boasted race,
Subaltern Gods, now seldom seen, had place;
Immortal these, but of a doubtful birth,
And all with man joint sojourners on earth :
Sacred to some bright nymph was every tree,
To Naiads brooks, to Nereids all the sea.
By Jove in mercy to her care consign'd
Reason, bright empress ! claim'd the human mind.
radiance that resides above, And guides the councils of immortal Jove, But humbler far, though honour'd with the name, And less in pow'r, in essence though the same. With man coeral time began to be, Form'd from an atom of eternity. Earth's genial pow'r produc'd a giant son Ignorance his name, a wretch beloy'd of none. From these deriv'd, a motley race began, Not kind with kind commixing as in man.
Time, in the youth of all that vig'rous pow'r Which still sustains him in his waning hour, Smit with fair Reason bright in blooming charms, Clasp'd the consenting goddess in his arms ; Nor barren joys the fond embrace bestows, A lovely daughter hence, fair Knowledge, rose; Favor'd by both, of Time and Reason bred, The father nurs'd her, and the mother fed ; Her charms improving as her stature grew, Unknown desir’d, and lov'd by all who knew. Truth's radiant hand adorn'd her form with care, And Virtue, fondly smiling, call'd her fair.
Fast by the foot of proud Parnassus stood, Remote from vulgar view, a sacred wood ; Here Contemplation keeps her hallow'd court, And young ideas on the breezes sport;
Celestial truths in holy dreams are taught,
And busy silence plumes the wings of thought.
Here Knowledge shelter'd from the noontide ray,
Frequent was wont with chaste delight to stray;
Yet none; not deities, if born below,
The fates exempt from violence and woe :
For here as once she sate in thought profound,
Her mind in heav'n, her eyes upon the ground,
And mus'd on man's free will, Jove's fixt decrees,
On choice, on prescience which all future sees,
On acts impelld by motives strong as fate,
Rewarded, punished, in an endless state,
On chance, necessity, effect, and cause,
Great nature's end, and truth's eternal laws.-
Lo! the huge form of Ignorance appear’d,
Whom known by instinct, she by instinct fear'd:
With terror wing'd the virgin flies the place,
The monster follows with unequal pace;
Though, fir’d with brutal rage, he perseveres,
The wid’ning distance half dispellid her fears;
When now, too much elated with her speed,
Her lifted eyes no more her footsteps heed;
She stumbles, falls ;-the ravisher is nigh ;-
'Tis vain to plead, impossible to fly;--
His ideot form compress'd the trembling maid,
And his rude joys profan'd the conscious shade:
But from the loath'd embrace the pregnant dame
Conceiv'd a son, and Doubt, when born, his name ;
Fond of his mother's virtues to partake,
Who shuns and hates him for his father's sake,
Thou! at whose touch the snow-clad mountains smoke,
Eternal wisdom ! touch my lips profane!
Otouch my heart! my heart, tho' cold shall glow,
My lips breathe eloquence divine ! for not
Of earth, in earth-born strains, I mean to sing
Adren'trous, but of thee, thy love, alone
Thy wisdom knows, thy love my awful theme !
Let me not err, low grov'ling in the dust;
Let me not fall, high tow'ring to the sky-
0! where shall I begin? how trace the source
Of all! how fathom vast immensity!
Long as the God has been who ne'er began,
Trac'd back and backward still, but trac'd in vain,
Love has so long existed; God is love!
Who name bim other, know not yet his name ;
And if they seek him, lost in error's gloom,
Or superstition's lab'rynth, find him not.
Whate'er the glimm'ring lamp of reason show'd
Of God, through pagan darkness, all was love;
Whate'er the bright effulgence of thy sun,
Blest revelation ! has display'd, all still
Is love! this pendent world, those rolling orbs,
Nature's whole system speaks its maker kind.
The varied fruits and flow'rs, the pleasing change
Of day and night, the painted landscape round
Of hill and dale, clear fountain, shady wood,
The glitt'ring dew of morn, the crimson'd cloud
Of ev’ning mild, the sweetly varied song,
The peopled earth, and air, and sea, all parts
Of one stupendous whole, and fram'd for bliss,
Proclaim him good-Lord of this blest domain,
Not male alone, but male and female formid,
When man receiv'd the breath of life, and took
The stamp divine, the image of the God,
What gift was each to each! how lovely both!
Who can their form describe, or who conceive?
Consummate beauty, test of skill divine.
Thrice happy pair-to late degen’rate times
Your morn and evening song had some blest bard
Transmitted fair, in strains by heav'n inspir’d.
These had the gloomy bigot read abashid,
And own'd that God is love; but man, alas!
Fell from the perfect beauty, pure desire,
Fell to deformity, and age, and death,
And hate, and envy, violence, and guilt-
He fell; yet unremitted goodness spoke
To man, apostate as he was, the words
Of peace; gave mis’ry hope, and showd above
A brighter paradise, than Eden's grove,
His portion, when the woman's promis'd seed
Should bruise the serpent's head :- amazing grace!
The promis'd seed was giv'n; the fullness then
Of Godhead dwelt in flesh! high heaven itself
No more contains th' astonishment and joy,
But down its radiant hosts impatient pour
And peace proclaim on earth, good will to man.
Oh! join the transports of th' angelic choir,
And sing, responding to the hallow'd strain
To God be glory—but, tremendous scene !
Whom do I see, in yon drear waste, forlorn!
Whom tempted there! who stretch'd on earth sweats
What ruffian band is that? whom do they drag
Betray'd, insulted, through a scoffing crowd?