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[From The (course of time.]
He touched his harp, and nations heard, entranced. As some vast river of unfailing source,
Rapid, exhaustless, deep, his numbers flowed,
And oped new fountains in the human heart.
Where Fancy halted, weary in her flight.
In other men, his, fresh as morning, rose
And soared untrodden heights, and seemed at home.
Where angels bashful looked. Others, though great
Beneath their argument seemed struggling whiles;
He from above descending stooped to touch
The loftiest thought; and proudly
stooped, as though It scarce deserved his verse. With
Nature's self He seemed an old acquaintance, free
At will with all her glorious majesty. He laid his hand upon " the Ocean's mane,"
And played familiar with his hoary locks; [ennines.
Stood on the Alps, stood on the Ap
And with the thunder talked, as friend to friend;
And wove his garland of the lightning's wing.
In sportive twist, the lightning's fiery wing,
Which, as the footsteps of the dreadful God,
Marching upon the storm in vengeance, seemed;
Then turned, and with the grasshopper, who sung
His evening song beneath his feet, conversed.
Suns, moons, and stars, and clouds, his sisters were;
Rocks, mountains, meteors, seas, and winds, and storms.
His brothers, younger brothers.whom he scarce
As equals deemed. All passions of all men,
The wild and tame, the gentle and severe;
All thoughts, all maxims, sacred and profane;
All creeds, all seasons, Time, Eternity;
All that was hated, all too, that was dear;
All that was hoped, all that was feared, by man;
He tossed about, as tempest-withered leaves,
Then, smiling, looked upon the wreck he made.
With terror now he froze the cowering blood.
And now dissolved the heart in tenderness;
Yet would not tremble, would not
weep himself; But back into his soul retired,
Dark, sullen, proud, gazing contemptuously
On hearts and passions prostrate at his feet.
So Ocean from the plains his waves had late
To desolation swept, retired in pride,
Exulting in the glory of his might. And seemed to mock the ruin he had wrought.
FROM "ELOISA TO ABELARD." In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heavenly-pensive Contemplation dwells,
And ever-musing melancholy reigns;
What means this tumult in a vestal's veins?
Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat?
Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat?
Yet, yet I love! — From Abelard it came,
And Eloisa yet must kiss the name. Dear fatal name! rest ever unrevealed,
Nor pass these lips, in holy silence sealed: [disguise, Hide it, my heart, within that close Where, mixed with God's, his loved idea lies:
O write it not, my hand — the name
appears [ tears!
Already written — wash it out, my In vain lost Eloisa weeps and prays, Her heart still dictates, and her hand
Relentless walls! whose darksome
round contains Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains: Ye rugged rocks, which holy knees
have worn: Ye grots and caverns shagged with
horrid thorn! Shrines! where their vigils pale-eyed
virgins keep, And pitying saints, whose statues
learn to weep! Though cold like you, unmoved and
I have not yet forgot myself to stone. All is not Heaven's while Abelard
Still rebel nature holds out half my heart;
Nor prayers nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain, [vain. Nor tears for ages taught to flow in
Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
That well-known name awakens all my woes.
Oh, name, for ever sad! for ever dear!
Still breathed in sighs, still ushered
with a tear. I tremble, too, whene'er my own I
Some dire misfortune follows close behind.
Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow,
Led through a sad variety of woe: Now warm in love, now withering in
my bloom, Lost in a convent's solitary gloom! There stern religion quenched the
unwilling flame, There died the best of passions, love
and fame. Yet write, oh! write me all, that I
Griefs to thy griefs, and echo sighs to thine.
Nor foes nor fortune take this power away;
And is my Abelard less kind than they?
Tears still are mine, and those I need
not spare, Love but demands what else were
shed in prayer; No happier task these faded eyes
To read and weep is all they now can do.
Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief;
Ah, more than share it! give me all thy grief.
Heaven first taught letters for some wretch's aid,
Some banished lover, or some captive maid;
They live, they speak, they breathe what love inspires,
Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires,
The virgin's wish without her fears impart,
Excuse the blush, and pour out all
the heart, Speed the soft intercourse from soul
And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.
[From An Essay on Man ]
Know then thyself, presume not
God to scan, The proper study of mankind is Man. Placed on this isthmus of a middle
A being darkly wise, and rudely great;
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer; Born but to die, and reasoning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
Chaos of thought and passion, all confused
Still by himself abused, or disabused; Created half to rise, and half to fall; Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
(From An Essay on Man.]
SUBMISSION TO SUPREME WISDOM.
What if the foot, ordained the dust to tread, Or hand, to toil, aspired to be the head?
What if the head, the eye, or ear repined
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind?
Just as absurd for any part to claim To be another, in this general frame: Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains.
The great directing Mind of All ordains.
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body nature is, and God the soul;
That, changed through all, and yet
in all the same, Great in the earth, as in the ethereal
frame, [ breeze,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the Glows in the stars, and blossoms in
the trees; Lives through all life, extends
through all extent, Spreads undivided, operates unspent; Breathes in our soul, informs our
mortal part, As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart; As full, as perfect, in vile man that
As the rapt seraph, that adores and burns;
To Him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, He bounds, connects, and equals all. Cease then, nor order imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heaven bestows on thee.
Submit. — In this, or any other sphere.
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing power,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour. All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.
From An Essay on Man.]
CHARITY, GRADUALLY PERVASIVE.
God loves from whole to parts; but human soul Must rise from individual to the whole.
Self-love but serves the virtuous
mind to wake, As the small pebble stirs the peaceful
The centre moved, a circle straight succeeds,
Another still, and still another spreads;
Friend, parent, neighbor, first it will embrace;
His country next, and next all human race;
Wide, and more wide, the overflow-
ings of the mind Take every creature in, of every
Earth smiles around, with boundless
bounty blest, And heaven beholds its image in his
[From An Essay on Man.]
Honor and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part, there all the honor lies.
Fortune in men has some small difference made,
One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade;
The cobbler aproned, and the parson gowned,
The friar hooded, and the monarch crowned.
"What differ more (you cry) than
crown and cowl!" I'll tell you, friend! a wise man and
You'll find, if once the monarch acts
the monk, Or, cobbler-like, the parson will be
Worth makes the man, and want of
it the fellow; The rest is all but leather or prunello.
[From An Essay on Man.] VIRTUE, THE SOLE UNFAtLING HAl'I'INESS.
Know then this truth (enough for
man to know), "Virtue alone is happiness below." The only point where human bliss
stands still, And tastes the good without the fall
to ill; [ceives, Where only merit constant pay reIs blest in what it takes, and what it
The joy unequalled, if its end it gain, And if it lose, attended with no liain: Without satiety, though e'er so blest, And but more relished as the more
distressed: The broadest mirth, unfeeling Folly wears, [tears: Less pleasing far than Virtue's very Good, from each object, from each
place acquired, For ever exercised, yet never tired; Never elated, while one man's oppressed;
Never dejected, while another's blessed;
And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.
See the sole bliss, Heaven could on all bestow!
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know:
Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind,
The bad must miss; the good, untaught, will find;
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through nature up to nature's God;
Pursues that chain which links the immense design,
Joins heaven and earth, and mortal and divine;
Sees that no being any bliss can know,
But touches some above, and some below;
Learns from this union of the rising whole,
The first, last purpose of the human soul:
And knows where faith, law, morals,
all began, All end, in (love of God and love of
[ From An Essay on Criticism.]
First follow Nature, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which is still the same;
Unerring Nature, still divinely bright,
One clear, unchanged, and universal light,
Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart,
At once the source, and end, and test of art.
[From An Essay on Criticism.]
Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see,
Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor
e'er shall be. In every work regard the writer's
Since none can compass more than
they intend; And if the means be just, the conduct true, Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due.
As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit,
To avoid great errors, must the less commit;
Neglect the rules each verbal critic lays,
For not to know some trifles is a praise.
[From An Essay on Criticism.]
True wit is nature to advantage dressed;
What oft was thought, but ne'er so
well expressed: Something, whose truth, convinced
at sight we find, That gives us back the image of our
As shades more sweetly recommend the light,
So modest plainness sets off sprightly wit.
For works may have more wit than
does them good, As bodies perish through excess of
[From An Essay on Criticism.] EXCESSIVE PRAISE OR BLAME.
Avoid extremes; and shun the fault of such Who still are pleased too little or too much.
At every trifle scorn to take offence, That always shows great pride or
little sense: Those heads, as stomachs, are not
sure the best Which nauseate all, and nothing can
Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move:
For fools admire, but men of sense approve:
As things seem large which we
through mist descry, Dulness is ever apt to magnify.