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Or the debating merchants share the prey,
Fly far, and live; tempt not his matchless might:
"Am I a debtor? Hast thou ever heard Whence come the gifts that are on me conferr'd? My lavish fruit a thousand valleys fills,
And mine the herds that graze a thousand hills:
"At full my large leviathan shall rise,
Boast all his strength, and spread his wondrous size.
And what a deep abyss between them lies!
Mete with thy lance, and with thy plummet sound,
The rage of tempests, and the roar of seas,
"When, late awak'd, he rears him from the floods, And, stretching forth his stature to the clouds, Writhes in the Sun aloft his scaly height, And strikes the distant hills with transient light, Far round are fatal damps of terrour spread, The mighty fear, nor blush to own their dread. "Large is his front; and, when his burnish'd eyes
Lift their broad lids, the morning seems to rise.
"His pastimes like a cauldron boil the flood, And blacken ocean with the rising mud; The billows feel him, as he works his way; His hoary footsteps shine along the sea; The foam high-wrought with white divides the green, And distant sailors point where Death has been. "His like Earth bears not on her spacious face; Alone in Nature stands his dauntless race,
For utter ignorance of fear renown'd,
"Thou canst accomplish all things, Lord of Might!
And every thought is naked to thy sight.
As the occasion of this poem was real, not fictitious; so the method pursued in it was rather imposed," by what spontaneously arose in the author's mind on that occasion, than meditated or designed; which will appear very probable from the nature of it. For it differs from the common mode of poetry, which is, from long narrations to draw short morals. Here, on the contrary, the narrative is short, and the morality arising from it makes the bulk of the poem. The reason of it is, that the facts mentioned did naturally pour these moral reflections on the thought of the writer.
NIGHT THE FIRST.
LIFE, DEATH, AND IMMORTALITY.
TO THE RIGHT HON. ARTHUR ONSLOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.
TIR'D Nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep!
From short (as usual) and disturb'd repose,
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams
Though now restor'd, 't is only change of pain,
Is sunshine to the colour of my fate.
Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne, In rayless majesty, now stretches forth Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumbering world. Silence, how dead! and darkness, how profound! Nor eye, nor listening ear, an object finds; Creation sleeps. 'T is, as the general pulse Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause; An aweful pause! prophetic of her end. And let her prophecy be soon fulfill'd; Fate! drop the curtain; I can lose no more.
Silence and Darkness! solemn sisters! twins From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought To reason, and on reason build resolve,
(That column of true majesty in man,)
Thou, who didst put to flight
Primeval Silence, when the morning stars.
O thou, whose word from solid darkness struck