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IMMORTAL! ages past, yet nothing gone!
Morn without eve! a race without a goal !
Unshortened by progression infinite !
Futurity for ever future ! life
Beginning still where computation ends!
'Tis the description of a Deity!
'Tis the description of the meanest slave.
Immortal! What can strike the sense so strong,
As this the soul ? it thunders to the thought;
Reason amazes, gratitude o'erwhelms.
No more we slumber on the brink of fate ;
Roused at the sound, the exulting soul ascends,
And breathes her native air: an air that feeds
Ambition high, and fans ethereal fires !
Quick kindles all that is divine within us,
Nor leaves one loitering thought beneath the stars.
Immortal! was but one immortal, how
Would others envy! how would thrones adore !
Because 'tis common, is the blessing less ?
How this ties up the bounteous hands of heaven!
O vain, vain, vain ! all else; eternity !
A glorious and a needful refuge that,
From vile imprisonment in abject views.
'Tis immortality, 'tis that alone,
Amid life's pains, abasements, emptiness,
The soul can comfort, elevate, and fill.
Eternity depending covers all;
Sets earth at distance, casts her into shades ;
Blends her distinctions; abrogates her powers :
The low, the lofty, joyous, and severe,
Fortune's dread frowns, and fascinating smiles,
Make one promiscuous and neglected heap,
The man beneath, if I may call him man,
Whom immortality's full force inspires.
Nothing terrestrial touching his high thought;
Suns shine unseen, and thunders roll unheard,
By minds quite conscious of their high descent,
Their present province and their future prize ;
Divinely darting upward every wish,
Warm on the wing, in glorious absence lost.
you this truth? Why labors your
If earth's whole orb by some due distanced eye
Was seen at once, her towering Alps would sink,
And levelled Atlas leave an even sphere.
Thus earth, and all that earthly minds admire,
Is swallowed in eternity's vast round.
To that stupendous view when souls awake,
So large of late, so mountainous to man,
Time's joys subside, and equal all below.
Such the glories of the world!
What is the world itself? Thy world,- ,—a grave.
Where is the dust that hath not been alive?
The spade, the plough, disturb our ancestors ;
From human mould we reap our daily bread.
The globe around earth's hollow surface shakes,
And is the ceiling of her sleeping sons,
O’er devastation we blind revels keep;
Whole buried towns support the dancer's heel.
Each element partakes our scattered spoils;
As nature wide, our ruins spread ; man's death
Inhabits all things, but the thought of man,
Nor man alone ; his breathing bust expires,
His tomb is mortal; empires die; where, now,
The Roman? Greek? They stalk, an empty name!
Yet few regard them in this useful light,
Though half our learning is their epitaph.
When down thy vale, unlocked by midnight thought,
That loves to wander in thy sunless realms,
O Death! I stretch my view ; what visions rise !
What triumphs! toils imperial! arts divine!
In withered laurels glide before my sight!
What lengths of far-famed ages, billowed high
With human agitation, roll along
In unsubstantial images of air. ...
But, O Lorenzo! far the rest above,
Of ghastly nature, and enormous size,
One form assaults my sight, and chills my blood,
And shakes my frame. Of one departed world
I see the mighty shadow.
Ah! how unjust to nature and himself,
Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!
Like children babbling nonsense in their sports,
We censure nature for a span too short;
That span, too short, we tax as tedious too,–
Torture invention, all expedients tire
To lash the lingering moments into speed ;
And whirl us (happy riddance) from ourselves.
Art! brainless art! Our furious charioteer
Drives headlong towards the precipice of Death ;
Death, most our dread; Death, thus more dreadful made:
Oh! what a riddle of absurdity!
Leisure is pain; takes off our chariot wheels;
How heavily we drag the load of life!
Blessed Leisure is our curse; like that of Cain,
It makes us wander; wander earth around,
To fly the tyrant Thought. As Atlas groaned
The world beneath, we groan beneath an hour;
to the next amusement,-
The next amusement mortgages our fields:
Yet when Death kindly tenders us relief
We call him cruel; years to moments shrink,
Ages to years. The telescope is turned ;
To man's false optics (from his folly false)
Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings,
And seems to creep decrepit with his age.
Behold him when passed by; what then is seen,
But his broad pinions swifter than the winds !
All mankind in contradiction strong,
Rueful, aghast cry out on his career.
MAN'S IMMORTALITY PROVED BY REFERENCE TO NATURE.
Nature, thy daughter, ever changing birth,
Of Thee, the great immutable, to man
Speaks wisdom; is his oracle supreme;
And he who most consults her is most wise.
Look nature through, 'tis revolution all;
All change, no death. Day follows night, and night
The dying day; stars rise, and set, and rise :
Earth takes th' example. See the summer gay,
With her green chaplet, and ambrosial flowers,
Droops into pallid autumn; winter gray,
Horrid with frost, and turbulent with storm,
Blows autumn and his golden fruits av
Then melts into the spring ; soft spring, with breath
Favonian from warm chambers of the south,
Recalls the first. All to reflourish fades;
As in a wheel, all sinks to reascend :
Emblems of man, who passes, not expires.
With this minute description, emblem just,
Nature revolves, but man advances ! both
Eternal; that a circle, this a line;
That gravitates, this soars. Th' aspiring soul,
Ardent and tremulous, like flame ascends :
Zeal and humility, her wings to heaven.
The world of matter, with its various forms,
All dies into new life. Life born from death,
Rolls the vast mass, and shall forever roll:
No single atom, once in being, lost,
With change of counsel charges the most High.
Matter immortal! And shall spirit die ?
Above the noblest shall less noble rise ?
Shall man alone, for whom all else revives,
No resurrection know ? Shall man alone,
Imperial man! be sown in barren ground,
Less privileged than grain on which he feeds ?
Is man, in whom alone is power to prize
The bliss of being, or with previous pain
Deplore its period, by the spleen of fate
Severely doomed death's single unredeemed ?
Couldst thou persuade me the next life would fail
Our ardent wishes, how should I pour out
My bleeding heart in anguish, new, as deep!
Oh! with what thoughts, thy hope and my despair,
Abhorred Annihilation blasts the soul,
And wide extends the bounds of human wo!
In this black channel would my ravings run:
Grief from the future borrowed
The future vanished, and the present pained:
Fall how profound! Hurled headlong, hurled at once
To night! to nothing ! darker still than night.
If 'twas a dream, why wake me, my worst foe?
Oh! for delusion! Oh! for error still !
Could vengeance strike much stronger than to plant
A thinking being in a world like this,
Not over rich before, now beggared quite,
More cursed than at the fall? The sun goes out!
The thorns shoot up! what thorns in every thought!
Why sense of better? it embitters worse :
Why sense? why life? if but to sigh, then sink
To what I was ? twice nothing ! and much wo!
Wo from heaven's bounties ! wo from what was wont
To flatter most, high intellectual powers.
Thought, virtue, knowledge! blessings by thy scheme
All poisoned into pains. First, knowledge, once
My soul's ambition, now her greatest dread.
To know myself true wisdom ?-no, to shun