Page images
PDF
EPUB

High as we may we lift our reason up,
By Faith directed, and confirm’d by Hope ;
Yet are we able only to survey
Dawnings of beams and promises of day :
Heav'n's fuller effluence mocks our dazzled sight,
Too great its swiftness, and too strong its light.

But soon the mediate clouds shall be dispell’d;
The Sun shall soon be face to face beheld,
In all his robes, with all his glory on,
Seated, sublime, on his meridian throne.

Then constant Faith and holy Hope shall die,
One lost in certainty, and one in joy ;
Whilst thou, more happy pow'r, fair Charity,
Triumphant sister, greatest of the three,
Thy office and thy nature still the same,
Lasting thy lamp, and unconsum'd thy flame,
Shalt still survive -
Shalt stand before the host of heaven confess'd,
For ever blessing, and for ever bless'd.

PRIOR.

Ode to adversity.

Daughter of Jove, relentless pow'r,

Thou tamer of the human breast,
Whose iron scourge and tort’ring hour

The bad affright, afflict the best!
Bound in thy adamantine chain,
The proud are taught to taste of pain,

And purple tyrants vainly groan,
With pangs unfelt before, unpitied and alone.

When first thy sire to send on earth

Virtue, his darling child, design’d,
To thee he gave the heav'nly birth,

And bade to form the infant mind.
Stern, rugged nurse! thy rigid lore
With patience many a year she bore :

What sorrow was, thou bad’st her know,
And from her own she learnt to melt at others' woe.

Scar'd at thy form terrific, fly

Self-pleasing Folly's idle brood,
Wild laughter, noise, and thoughtless joy,

And leave us leisure to be good :
Light they disperse, and with them go
The summer friend, the fatt'ring foe;

By vain Prosperity receiv'd,
To her they vow their truth, and are again believ'd.

Wisdom, in sable garb array'd,

Immers'd in rapturous thought profound,
And Melancholy, silent maid,

With leaden eye that loves the ground,
Still on thy solemn steps attend;
Warm Charity, the gen’ral friend,

With Justice, to herself severe,
And Pity, dropping soft the sadly-pleasing tear.

Oh! gently on thy suppliant's head,

Dread goddess, lay thy chast’ning hand !
Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad,

Not circled with the vengeful band
(As by the impious thou art seen),
With thund'ring voice and threat'ning mien,

With screaming horror's fun’ral cry,
Despair, and fell Disease, and ghastly Poverty :

Thy form benign, O goddess, wear,

Thy milder influence impart;
Thy philosophic train be there,

To soften, not to wound my heart;
The gen'rous spark extinct revive,
Teach me to love and to forgive;

Exact my own defects to scan,
What others are to feel, and know myself a man.

GRAY.

The Messiah.

Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the song :
To heav'nly themes sublimer strains belong.
The
mossy

fountains and the sylvan shades,
The dreams of Pindus and th’ Aonian maids,
Delight no more. 0, Thou my voice inspire
Who touch'd Isaiah's hallow'd lips with fire!

Rapt into future times, the bard begun : A virgin shall conceive, a virgin bear a Son! From Jesse's root behold a Branch arise, Whose sacred flow'r with fragrance fills the skies ; Th'ethereal Spirit o'er its leaves shall move, And on its top descends the mystic Dove. Ye heavens ! from high the dewy nectar pour, And in soft silence shed the kindly shower ; The sick and weak the healing Plant shall aid, From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade. All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail ; Returning justice lift aloft her scale ; Peace o’er the world her olive-wand extend, And white-rob'd Innocence from heav'n descend. Swift fly the years, and rise th' expected morn; 0, spring to light! auspicious Babe, be born! See, Nature hastes her earliest wreathes to bring, With all th' incense of the breathing spring; See lofty Lebanon his head advance; See nodding forests on the mountains dance; See spicy clouds from lowly Sharon rise, And Carmel's flow'ry top perfume the skies ! Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers : Prepare the way! a God, a God appears ! A God! a God! the vocal hills reply; The rocks proclaim th' approaching Deity. Lo, earth receives Him from the bending skies ; Sink down, ye mountains; and, ye valleys, rise ; With heads declin’d, ye cedars, homage pay; Be smooth, ye rocks; ye rapid floods, give way!

The Saviour comes, by ancient bards foretold;
Hear him, ye deaf; and all ye blind, behold!
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eyeball pour the day;
'Tis He th' obstructed paths of sound shall clear,
And bid new music charm th’unfolding ear;
The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding roe :
No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear;
From ev'ry face He wipes off ev'ry tear.
In adamantine chains shall Death be bound,
And hell's grim tyrant feel th' eternal wound.
As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pasture, and the purest air ;
Explores the lost, the wand'ring sheep directs,
By day o'ersees them, and by night protects;
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hand, and in his bosom warms,-
Thus shall mankind His guardian care engage,
The promis’d Father of the future age.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes,
Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover'd o'er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more ;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end :
Then palaces shall rise; the joyful son
Shall finish what his short-liv'd sire begun;
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield,
And the same hand that sow'd shall reap the field.

« PreviousContinue »