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And his guard falling crushes him to death.
Not happiness itself makes good her name ;
Our very wishes give us not our wish.
How distant oft the thing we doat on most
From that for which we doat, felicity!
The smoothest course of nature has its pains,
And truest friends, through error, wound our rest.
Without misfortune, what calamities!
And what hostilities, without a foe!
Nor are foes wanting to the best on earth.
But endless is the list of human ills,
And sighs might sooner fail, than cause to sigh.
APOLOGY FOR THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE SUBJECT.
Thou say'st I preach, Lorenzo; 'tis confest,
What if, for once, I preach thee quite awake?
Who wants amusement in the flame of battle?
Is it not treason in the soul immortal,
Her foes in arms, eternity the prize?
Will toys amuse, when medicines cannot cure ?
When spirits ebb, when life's enchanting scenes
Their lustre lose, and lessen in our sight,
As lands and cities with their glittering spires,
To the poor shatter'd bark, by sudden storm
Thrown off to sea, and soon to perish there?
Will toys amuse ? No: Thrones will then be toys,
And earth and skies seem dust upon the scale.
MADNESS OF MEN IN PURSUIT OF AMUSEMENTS.
Ah! how unjust to Nature and himself,
Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!
Like children, babbling nonsense in their sports,
We censure nature for a span too short;
That span too short, we tax as tedious too;
Torture invention, all expedients tire,
To lash the lingering moments into speed,
And whirl us (happy riddance !) from ourselves.
Art, brainless art! our furious charioteer
(For nature's voice unstified would recal),
Drives headlong towards the precipice of death;
Death, most our dread; death thus more dreadful
O what a riddle of absurdity!
Leisure is pain; takes off our chariot wheels;
How heavily we drag the load of life!
Blest leisure is our curse; like that of Cain,
It makes us wander; wander earth around,
To fly that tyrant, thought. As Atlas groan'd
The world beneath, we groan beneath an hour.
for mercy to the next amusement;
The next amusement mortgages our fields ;
Slight inconvenience! prisons hardly frown,
From hateful time if prisons set us free.
Yet when death kindly tenders us relief,
We call him cruel; years to moments shrink,
Ages to years. The telescope is turn'd.
To man's false optics (from his folly false)
Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings,
And seems to creep, decrepit with his age;
Behold him, when past by; what then is seen,
But his broad pinions swifter than the winds ?
And all mankind, in contradiction strong,
Rueful, aghast, cry out on his career.
BLESSEDNESS OF THE SON OF FORESIGHT.
WHERE shall I find him? Angels! tell me where.
You know him: He is near you: Point him out:
Shall I see glories beaming from his brow?
Or trace his footsteps by the rising flowers ?
Your golden wings, now hovering o'er him, shed
Protection : now, are waving in applause
To that blest son of foresight ! lord of fate!
That awful independent on to-morrow !
Whose work is done ; who triumphs in the past ;
Whose yesterdays look backwards with a smile;
Nor, like the Parthian, wound him as they fly;
That common, but opprobrious lot! past hours,
If not by guilt, yet wound us by their flight,
If folly bounds our prospect by the grave,
All feeling of futurity benumb'd;
All god-like passion for eternals quencht;
All relish of realities expir'd;
Renounc'd all correspondence with the skies:
Our freedom chain'd; quite wingless our desire;
In sense dark-prison'd all that ought to soar;
Prone to the centre; crawling in the dust;
Dismounted every great and glorious aim;.
Embruted every faculty divine;
Heart-bury'd in the rubbish of the world.
The world, that gulf of souls, immortal souls,
Souls elevate, angelic, wing'd with fire
To reach the distant skies, and triumph there
On thrones, which shall not mourn their masters
Though we from earth; ethereal, they that fell.
SOCIETY NECESSARY TO HAPPINESS.
WISDOM, though richer than Peruvian mines,
And sweeter than the sweet ambrosial hive,
What is she, but the means of happiness?
That unobtain'd, than folly more a fool;
A melancholy fool, without her bells.
Friendship, the means of wisdom, richly gives
The precious end, which makes our wisdom wise.
Nature, in zeal for human amity,
Denies, or damps, an undivided joy.
Joy is an import; joy is an exchange;
Joy flies monopolists: it calls for two;
Rich fruit! heaven-planted! never pluckt by one.
Needful auxiliars are our friends, to give
To social man true relish of himself.
Full on ourselves, descending in a line,
Pleasure's bright beam is feeble in delight:
Delight intense is taken by rebound;
Reverberated pleasures fire the breast.
What was thy fate? A double fate to me;
Portent and pain, a menace and a blow,
Like the black raven hovering o’er my peace,
Not less a bird of omen than of prey.
It callid Narcissa long before her hour;
It call'd her tender soul, by break of bliss,
From the first blossom, from the buds of joy;
Those few our noxious fate unblasted leaves
In this inclement clime of human life.
Sweet harmonist! and beautiful as sweet !
And young as beautiful ! and soft as young!
And gay as soft! and innocent as gay!
And happy (if aught happy here) as good!
For fortune fond had built her nest on high.
Like birds quite exquisite of note and plume,
Transfix'd by fate (who loves a lofty mark,)
How from the summit of the grove she fell,
And left it unharmonious. All its charms
Extinguish'd in the wonders of her song!
Her song still vibrates in my ravish'd ear,
Still melting there, and with voluptuous pain
(O to forget her!) thrilling through my heart !
Song, beauty, youth, love, virtue, joy; this group
Of bright ideas, flowers of paradise,
As yet unforfeit! in one blaze we bind,
Kneel and present it to the skies, as all