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The bell strikes one. We take no note of time, But from its loss. To give it then a tongue, Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke, I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright, It is the linell of my departed hours: Where are they? with the years beyond the flood. It is the fignal that demands dispatch: How much is to be done? my hopes and fears Start up alarm’d, and o'er life's narrow verge Look down-On what? a fathomless abyss; A dread eternity! how surely mine! And çan eternity belong to me, Poor pensioner on the bounties of ap hour?
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august, How complicate, how wonderful, is man? How passing wonder He, who made him such? Who center'd in our make such strange extremes? From different natures marvellously mixt, Connexion exquisite of distant worlds! Distinguish'd link in being's endless chain! Midway from nothing to the Deity! A beam etherjal, fully'd, and absorpt! Tho' fully'd, and dishonour'd, still divine! Dim miniature of greatness absolute! An heir of glory! a frail child of dust! Helpless immortal! insect infinite! A worm! a god! -I tremble at myself, And in myself am lost! at home a stranger, Thought wanders up and down, surprizd, aghaft, And wond'ring at her own: how reason reels!
O what a miracle to man is man,
Triumphantly distress'd! what joy, what dread!
Alternately transported, and alarm’d!
What can preserve my life? or what destroy?
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
Legions of angels can't confine me there.
'Tis past conjecture; all things rise in proof:
While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread,
What tho' my soul phantastic measures trod
O'er fairy fields; or mourn’d along the gloom
Of pathless woods; or, down the craggy steep
Hurl'd headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool:
Or scald the cliff; or danc'd on hollow winds,
With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain?
Her ceaseless flight, tho’devious, speaks her nature
Of subtler effence than the trodden clod;
Active, aerial, tow'ring, unconfin’d,
Unferterid with her gross companion's fall.
Ev'n filent night proclaims my soul immortal:
Ev'n filent night proclaims eternal day.
For human weal, heav'n husbands all events;
Dull sleep instructs, nor sport vain dreams in vain.
Why then their lofs deplore, that are not lost?
Why wanders wretched thought their tombs around,
In infidel distress? Are angels there?
Slumbers, rak'd up in dust, etherial fire?
They live! they greatly live a life on earth
Unkindled, unconceiv'd; and from an eye
Of tenderness, let heavenly pity fall
On me, more justly number'd with the dead,
This is the defart, this the solitude:
How populous, how vital, is the grave!
This is creation's melancholy vault,
The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom;
The land of apparitions, empty shades!
All, all on earth is shadow, all beyond
Is substance; the reverse is folly's creed;
How solid all, where change shall be no more!
This is the bud of being, the dim dawn,
The twilight of our day, the vestibule.
Life's theatre as yet is shut, and death,
Strong death, alone can heave the massy bar,
This gross impediment of clay remove,
And make us embryos of existence free.
From real life, but little more remote
Is he, not yet a candidate for light,
The future embryo, flumbering in his fire.
Embryos we must be, till we burst the shell,
Yon anıbient azure shell, and spring to life,
The life of gods, O transport! and of man.
Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts ;
Inters celestial hopes without one figh.
Prisoner of earth, and pent beneath the moon,
Here pinions all his wishes; wing'd by heaven
To fly at infinite; and reach it there,
Where seraphs gather immortality,
On life's fair tree, fast by the throne of God.
What golden joys ambrosial clust'ring glow
in His full beam, and ripen for the just,
Where momentary ages are no more!
Where time, and pain, and chance, and death, expire?
And is it in the flight of threescore years,
To push eternity from human thought,
And smother souls immortal in the dust?
A soul immortal, spending all her fires,
Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness,
Thrown into tumult, raptur'd, or alarm’d,
At aught this scene can threaten, or indulge,
Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
To waft a feather, or to drown a fly.
Where falls this censure? It o'erwhelms myself.
How was my heart encrusted by the world!
O how self-fetter'd was my groveling soul!
How, like a worm, was I wrapt round and round
In filken thought, which reptile fancy spun,
Till darken'd reason lay quite clouded o'er
With soft conceit of endless comfort here,
Nor yet put forth her wings to reach the skies!
Night-visions may befriend, (as sung above:)
Our waking dreams are fatal: how I dreamt
Of things impossible? (could sleep do more?)
Of joys perpetual in perpetual change?
Of stable pleasures on the tossing wave?
Eternal sunshine in the storms of life?
How richly were my noon tide-trances hung
With gorgeous tapestries of pictured joys?
Joy behind joy, in endless perspective!
Till at death's toll, whose restless iron tongue
Calls daily for his millions at a meal,
Starting I woke, and found myself undone.
Where now my frenzy's pompous furniture?
The cobweb'd cottage, with its ragged wall
Of mouldering mud, is royalty to me!
The spider's most attenuated thread
Is cord, is cable, to man's tender tie
On earthly bliss; it breaks at every breeze.
Oye blest scenes of permanent delight!
Full, above measure! lasting, beyond bound!
A perpetuity of bliss is bliss.
so rich in rapture, fear an end,
That ghastly thought would drink up all your joy,
And quite unparadise the realms of light.
Safe are you lodg'd above these rolling spheres;
The baleful influence of whose giddy dance
Sheds fad viciffitude on all beneath.
Here teems with revolutions every hour;
And rarely for the better; or the best,
More mortal than the common births of fate.
Each moment has its fickle, emulous
Of Time's enormous fcythe, whose ample sweep
Strikes empires from the root; each moment plays
His little weapon in the narrower sphere
Of sweet domestic comfort, and cuts down
The faireft bloom of sublunary bliss.
Bliss! sublunary bliss!-proud words, and vain! Implicit treason to divine decree! A bold invasion of the rights of heaven! I clafp'd the phantoms, and I found them air. O had I weigh'd it ere my fond embrace ! ! What darts of agony had miss’d my heart!