« PreviousContinue »
Some few there are of sordid mould,
Who barter youth and bloom for gold;
Careless with what or whom they mate,
Their ruling passion's all for state.
But Hymen, geu'rous, just, and kind,
Abhors the mercenary mind :
Such rebels groan beneath his rod,
For Hymen's a vindictive god :
“Be joyless every night,” he said,
“And barren be their nuptial bed!"
Attend, my fair, to Wisdom's voice,
A better fate shall crowu thy choice.
A married life, to speak the best,
Is all a lottery confest:
Yet if my fair-one will be wise;
I will insure my girl a prize;
Though not a prize to match thy worth,
Perhaps thy equal's not on earth.
'Tis an important point to know,
There's no perfection here below.
Man's an odd compound after all,
And ever has been since the Fall.
Say, that he loves you from his soul,
Still man is proud, nor brooks controul;
And though a slave in Love's soft school,
In wedlock claims his right to rule.
The best, in short, has faults about him;
If few those faults, you must not flout him.
Join voices, all ye living souls, ye birds,
That singing up to heaven-gate ascend,
Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise.
Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk
The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep;
Witness, if I be silent, morn or even,
To hill or valley, fountain or fresh shade,
Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise.
Hail, universal Lord! be bounteous still
To give us only good; and if the night
Have gather'd aught of evil, or conceald,
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark,
Now came still evening on, and twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;
She all night long her amorous descant sung:
Silence was pleas'd: now glow'd the firmament
With living sapphires. Hesperus, that led
The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen, unveil'd her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.
When Adam thus to Eve: “ Fair consort, th' hour
Of night, and all things now retir'd to rest,
Mind us of like repose, since God hath set
Labour and rest, as day and night, to men
Successive; and the timely dew of sleep,
Now falling with soft slumb'rous weight, inclines
Our eye-lids: other creatures all day long
Rove idly unen ploy'd, and less need rest;
Man hath his daily work of body or mind
Appointed, which declares his dignity,
And the regard of heav'n on all his ways;
While other animals unactive range,
And of their doings God takes no account.
To-morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east
With first approach of light, we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labour, to reform
Yon flow'ry arbours, yonder alleys green,
Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,
That mock our scant mnanuring, and require
More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth;
Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,
That lie bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth,
Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease :
Meanwhile, as nature wills, night bids us rest.”
To whom thus Eve, with persect beauty adorn'd: • My author and disposer, what thou bidst Unargu'd I obcy; so God ordains: God is thy law, thou mive: to know no more Is woman's happiest knowledge and her praise. With thee conversing, I forget all time; All seasons and their change, all please alike. Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet, With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun, When first on this delightful land he spreads His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flow'r, Glist'ring with dew; fragrant the fertile earth After soft show'rs; and sweet the coming on Of grateful evening mild; then silent night, With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon, And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train: But neither breath of morn, when she ascends With charın of earliest birds; nor rising sun On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flow's, Glistring with dew; nor fragrance after show'rs; Nor grateful evening mild; nor silent night With this her solemn bird; nor walk by moon Or glittring star-light, without thee is sweet. But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?"
To whom our general ancestor reply'd:
Daughter of God and man, accomplish'd Eve, These have their course to finish round the earth
By morrow evening, and from land to land
In order, though to nations yet unborn,
Minist’ring light prepar'd, they set and rise;
Lest total darkness should by night regain
Her old possession, and extinguish life
In nature and in all things; which these soft fires
Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat
Of various influence foment and warm,
Temper or nourish, or in part shed down
Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow
On earth, made hereby apter to receive
Perfection from the sun's more potent ray.
These then, though unbeheld in deep of night,
Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were none,
That Heav'n would want spectators, God want praise.
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep:
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night. How often from the steep
Of echoing hill or thicket bave we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole, or responsive to each other's note,
Singing their great Creator? oft in bands
While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk
With heav'nly touch of instrumental sounds;
In full harmonic number join'd, their songs
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven.”
Thus talking, hand in hand, alone they pass'd
On to their blissful bower.