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0! who can tell what sights he saw, what shapes
Of wretchedness! or who describe what smiles
Of gratitude illumed the face of woe,
While from his hand he gave the bounty forth!
As when the Sun, to Cancer wheeling back,
Return’d from Capricorn, and show'd the north,
That long had lain in cold and cheerless night,
His beamy countenance; all nature then
Rejoiced together glad; the flower look'd up
And smiled; the forest, from his locks, shook off
The hoary frost, and clapp'd his hands; the birds
Awoke, and, singing, rose to meet the day;
And from his hollow den, where many months
He slumber'd sad in darkness, blithe and light
Of heart, the savage sprung, and saw again
His mountains shine, and with new songs of love
Allured the virgin's ear: so did the house,
The prison-house of guilt, and all the abodes
Of unprovided helplessness, revive,
As on them look'd the sunny messenger
Of Charity: by angels tended still,
That mark'd his deeds, and wrote them in the book
Of God's remembrance; careless he to be
Observed of men, or have each mite bestow'd
Recorded punctually, with name and place,
every bill of news: pleased to do good,
He gave and sought no more, nor question’d much,
Nor reason'd, who deserved; for well he knew
The face of need. Ah me! who could mistake?
The shame to ask, the want that urged within,
Composed a look so perfectly distinct
From all else human, and withal so full
Of misery, that none could pass, untouch’d,
And be a Christian; or thereafter claim,
In any form, the name or rights of man;
Or, at the day of judgment, lift his eye;
While he, in name of Christ, who gave the poor
A cup of water, or a bit of bread,
Impatient for his advent, waiting stood,
Glowing in robes of love and holiness,
Heaven's fairest dress! and round him ranged, in white,
A thousand witnesses appear'd, prepared
To tell his gracious deeds before the throne.
REMORSE, AND ETERNAL DEATH.
I paused, and look d; And saw, where'er I look'd upon that mound, Sad figures traced in fire, not motionless, But imitating life. One I remark’d Attentively; but how shall I describe What nought resembles else my eye hath seen? Of worm or serpent kind it something look’d, But monstrous, with a thousand snaky heads, Eyed each with double orbs of glaring wrath; And with as many tails, that twisted out In horrid revolution, tipp'd with stings; And all its mouths, that wide and darkly gaped, And breathed most poisonous breath, had each a sting, Forked, and long, and venomous, and sharp; And in its writhings infinite, it grasp'd Malignantly what seem'd a heart, swollen, black, And quivering with torture most intense; And still the heart, with anguish throbbing high, Made effort to escape, but could not; for Howe'er it turn’d, and oft it vainly turn’d, These complicated foldings held it fast. And still the monstrous beast with sting of head Or tail transpierced it, bleeding evermore. What this could image, much I search'd to know; And while I stood, and gazed, and wonder'd long, A voice, from whence I knew not, for no one I saw, distinctly whisper'd in my ear These words: This is the worm that never dies.
Fast by the side of this unsightly thing,
Another was portray'd, more hideous still ;
Who sees it once shall wish to see 't no more,
For ever undescribed let it remain!
Only this much I may or can unfold.
Far out it thrust a dart that might have made
The knees of terror quake, and on it hung,
Within the triple barbs, a being pierced
Through soul and body both. Of heavenly make
Original the being seem'd, but fallen,
And worn and wasted with enormous woe.
And still around the everlasting lance,
It writhed convulsed, and utter'd mimic groans;
And tried and wish'd, and ever tried and wish'd,
To die; but could not die. Oh, horrid sight!
I trembling gazed, and listen'd, and heard this voice Approach my ear: This is Eternal Death!
So saying, they, link'd hand in hand, spread out Their golden wings, by living breezes fann'd, And over heaven's broad champaign sail'd serene. O’er hill and valley, clothed with verdure green That never fades; and tree, and herb, and flower, That never fade; and many a river, rich With nectar, winding pleasantly, they pass’d; And mansion of celestial mould, and work Divine. And oft delicious music, sung By saint and angel bands that walk'd the vales, Or mountain tops, and harp'd upon their harps, Their ear inclined, and held by sweet constraint Their wing; not long, for strong desire, awaked Of knowledge that to holy use might turn, Still pressid them on to leave what rather seem'd Pleasure, due only when all duty's done.
And now beneath them lay the wish’d-for spot,
The sacred bower of that renowned bard;
That ancient bard, ancient in days and song;
But in immortal vigour young, and young
In rosy health; to pensive solitude
Retiring oft, as was his wont on earth.
Fit was the place, most fit for holy musing.
Upon a little mount, that gently rose,
He sat, clothed in white robes; and o'er his head
A laurel tree, of lustiest, eldest growth,
Stately and tall, and shadowing far and wide-
Not fruitless, as on earth, but bloom’d, and rich
With frequent clusters, ripe to heavenly taste-
Spread its eternal boughs, and in its arms
A myrtle of unfading leaf embraced.
The rose and lily, fresh with fragrant dew,
And every flower of fairest cheek, around
Him, smiling flock’d: beneath his feet, fast by
And round his sacred hill, a streamlet walk'd,
Warbling the holy melodies of heaven.
The hallow'd zephyrs brought him incense sweet;
And out before him open d, in prospect long,
The river of life, in many a winding maze
Descending from the lofty throne of God,
That with excessive glory closed the scene.
Of Adam's race he was, and lonely sat,
By chance that day, in meditation deep,
Reflecting much of time, and earth, and man.
And now to pensive, now to cheerful notes,
He touch'd a harp of wondrous melody;
A golden harp it was, a precious gift,
Which, at the Day of Judgment, with the crown
Of life, he had received from God's own hand,
Reward due to his service done on earth.
He sees their coming, and with greeting kind, And welcome, not of hollow forged smiles, And ceremonious compliment of phrase, But of the heart sincere, into his bower Invites: like greeting they return'd. Not bent In low obeisancy, from creature most Unfit to creature, but with manly form Upright they enter'd in; though high his rank, His wisdom high, and mighty his renown.
THE AUTHOR'S ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF.
Long disappointed, disappointed still,
The hopeless man, hopeless in his main wish,
As if returning back to nothing, felt;
In strange vacuity of being hung,
And rolld, and rollid his eye on emptiness,
That seem`d to grow more empty every hour.
One of this mood I do remember well :
We name him not, what now are earthly names?
In humble dwelling born, retired, remote;
In rural quietude, ’mong hills, and streams,
And melancholy deserts, where the sun
Saw, as he pass’d, a shepherd only, here
And there, watching his little flock, or heard
The ploughman talking to his steers; his hopes,
His morning hopes, awoke before him, smiling,
Among the dews and holy mountain airs;
And fancy colour'd them with every hue
Of heavenly loveliness. But soon his dreams
Of childhood fled away, those rainbow dreams,
So innocent and fair, that wither'd Age,
Even at the grave, clear’d up his dusty eye,
And passing all between, look'd fondly back
To see them once again, ere he departed:
These fled away, and anxious thought, that wish'd
To go, yet whither knew not well to go,
Possess'd his soul, and held it still awhile.
He listen’d, and heard from far the voice of fame,
Heard and was charm'd; and deep and sudden vow
Of resolution made to be renown'd;
And deeper vow'd again to keep his vow.
His parents saw, his parents whom God made
Of kindest heart, saw, and indulged his hope.
The ancient page he turn’d, read much, thought much,
And with old bards of honourable name
Measured his soul severely; and look'd up
To fame, ambitious of no second place.
Hope grew from inward faith, and promised fair.
And out before him, open'd many a path
Ascending, where the laurel highest waved
Her branch of endless green. He stood admiring;
But stood, admired, not long. The harp he seized,
The harp he loved, loved better than his life,
The harp which utter'd deepest notes, and held
The ear of thought a captive to its song.
He search'd and meditated much, and whiles,
With rapturous hand, in secret, touch'd the lyre,
Aiming at glorious strains; and search'd again
For theme deserving of immortal verse;
Chose now, and now refused, unsatisfied;
Pleased, then displeased, and hesitating still.
Thus stood his mind, when round him came a cloud, Slowly and heavily it came, a cloud Of ills we mention not: enough to say, "Twas cold, and dead, impenetrable gloom. He saw its dark approach, and saw his hopes, One after one, put out, as nearer still It drew his soul; but fainted not at first, Fainted not soon. He knew the lot of man Was trouble, and prepared to bear the worst; Endure whate'er should come, without a sigh Endure, and drink, even to the very dregs, The bitterest cup that Time could measure out;
having done, look up, and ask for more.