Page images
PDF
EPUB

To worse than simple misery their charms.
Revolted joys, like foes in civil war,
Like bosom friendships to resentment sour'd,
With rage envenom'd rise against our peace.
Beware what earth calls happiness; beware
All joys but joys that never can expire.
Who builds on less than an immortal base,
Fond as he seems, condemns his joys to death.

Mine died with thee, Philander; thy last sigh
Dissolved the charm; the disenchanted earth
Lost all her lustre. Where her glittering towers?
Her golden mountains where? all darken'd down
To naked waste; a dreary vale of tears.
The great magician's dead! Thou poor, pale piece
Of outcast earth, in darkness : what a change
From yesterday! Thy darling hope so near,
(Long-labour'd prize!) O how ambition flush'd
Thy glowing cheek! ambition truly great,
Of virtuous praise. Death's subtle seed within,
(Sly, treacherous miner !) working in the dark,
Smiled at thy well-concerted scheme, and beckon'd
The worm to riot on that rose so red,
Unfaded ere it fell, one moment's prey !

Man's foresight is conditionally wise; Lorenzo! wisdom into folly turns Oft, the first instant, its idea fair To labouring thought is born. How dim our eye! The present moment terminates our sight; Clouds, thick as those on Doomsday, drown the We penetrate, we prophesy in vain, [next: Time is dealt out by particles, and each Are mingled with the streaming sands of life. By Fate's inviolable oath is sworn Deep silence,—where Eternity begins,

[ocr errors]

· ON LIFE, DEATH, AND IMMORTALITY. 73
. By Nature's law, what may be may be now;
There's no prerogative in human hours.
In human hearts what bolder thought can rise
Than man's presumption on to-morrow's dawn?
Where is to-morrow? In another world.
For numbers this is certain; the reverse
Is sụre to none; and yet on this perhaps,
This peradventure, infamous for lies,
As on a rock of adamant, we build
Our mountain-hopes, spin out eternal schemes,
As we the Fatal Sisters could outspin,
And, big with life's futurities, expire.

Not e’en Philander had bespoke bis shroud;
Nor had he cause; a warning' was denied.
How many fall as sudden, not as safe!
As sudden, though for years admonish'd home;
Of human ills the last extreme beware;
Beware, Lorenzo! a slow, sudden death :
How dreadful that deliberate surprise!
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer:
Next day the fatal precedent will plead ;
Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.

Of man's miraculous mistakes this bears
The palm, That all men are about to live,'
For ever on the brink of being born:
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They one day shall not drivel, and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise;

At least their own; their future selves applauds,
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
Time lodged in their own hands is Folly's vails ;
That lodged in Fate's to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone.
'Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man, [deed,
And that through every stage. When young, in-
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves, and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool ;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan ;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same,

And why? because he thinks himself immortal, All men think all men mortal but themselves ; Themselves, when some alarming shock of Fate Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden

dread : But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air, Soon close; where past the shaft no trace is found. As from the wing no scar the sky retains, The parted wave no furrow from the keel, So dies in human hearts the thought of death ; E'en with the tender tear which Nature sheds O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave. Can I forget Philander? that were strange! O my full heart!—But should I give it vent, The longest night, though longer far, would fail, And the lark listen to my midnight song.

The sprightly lark's shrill matin wakes the morn;
Grief's sharpest thorn hard pressing on my breast,
I strive, with wakeful melody, to cheer
The sullen gloom, sweet Philomel! like thee,
And call the stars to listen: every star
Is deaf to mine, enamour'd of thy lay.
Yet be not vain; there are who thine excel,
And charm through distant ages. Wrapp'd in

shade,
Prisoner of darkuess! to the silent hours
How often I repeat their rage divine,
To lull my griefs, and steal my heart from woe!
I roll their raptures, but not catch their fire.
Dark, though not blind, like thee, Mæonides !
Or, Milton! thee; ah, could I reach your strain!
Or his? who made Mæonides our own.
Man, too, he sung: immortal man I sing :
Oft bursts my song beyond the bounds of life :
What, now, but immortality can please?
O had he press'd his theme, pursued the track
Which opens out of darkness into day!
O had he mounted on his wing of fire,
Soar'd where I sink, and sung immortal man,
How had it bless'd mankind, and rescued me!

i Pope.

THE COMPLAINT,

NIGHT II.

On Time, Death, and Friendship.

то тНЕ RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF WILMINGTON. ,

• When the cock crew, he wept,'-smote by that

eye Which looks on me, on all; that Power who bids This midnight sentinel, with clarion shrill, Emblem of that which shall awake the dead, Rouse souls from slumber, into thoughts of Heaven. Shall I too weep? where then is fortitude? And fortitude abandon’d, where is man? I know the terms on which he sees the light: He that is born is listed : life is war; Eternal war with woe: who bears it best Deserves it least.-On-other themes I'll dwell. Lorenzo ! let me turn my thoughts on thee And thine; on themes may profit; profit there Where most thy need. Themes, too, the genuine

growth Of dear Philander's dust. He thus, though dead, May still befriend. What themes? Time's won

drous price, Death, friendship, and Philander's final scene,

« PreviousContinue »