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How swift I mount! diminished earth recedes ;
I pass the moon; and, from her further side,
Pierce heaven's blue curtain ; pause at every planet,
And ask for Him who gives their orbs to ron
From Saturn's ring I take my
Amid those sovereign glories of the skies,
Of independent, native lustre, proud ;
The souls of systems !—What behold I now?
A wilderness of wonders burning round,
Where larger suns inhabit higher spheres.
Nor halt I here ; my toil is but begun;
'Tis but the threshold of the Deity,
Or far beneath it I am grovelling still.
LIFE, DEATH, AND IMMORTALITY.
Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep!
He, like the world, his ready visit pays
Where fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes;
Swift on his downy pinions flies from wo,
And lights on lids unsullied with a tear.
From short (as usual) and disturbed repose
I wake : how happy they who wake no more !
Yet that were vain, if dreams infest the grave.
I wake : emerging from a sea of dreams
Tumultuous; where my wrecked, desponding thoughts
From wave to wave of fancied misery
At random drove, her helm of reason lost.
Though now restored, 'tis only change of pain,
(A bitter change !) severer for severe :
The day too short for my distress; and night,
E’en in the zenith of her dark domain,
Is sunshine to the color of
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. "Tis as the general pulse
Of life stood still, and nature made a pause,
An awful pause! prophetic of her end.
And let her prophecy be soon fulfilled :
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,
Assist me: I will thank
you The grave your kingdom : there this frame shall fall' A victim sacred to your dreary shrine. But what are ye?
Thou who didst put to flight
Primeval silence, when the morning stars
Exulting, shouted o'er the rising vale.
O Thou! whose word from solid darkness struck
That spark, the sun, strike wisdom from
My soul which flies to Thee, her trust, her treasure,
As misers to their gold, while others rest.
Through this opaque of nature and of soul,
This double night, transmit one pitying ray,
To lighten and to cheer. Oh ! lead my mind,
(A mind that fain would wander from its wo,)
Lead it through various scenes of life and death,
And from each scene the noblest truths inspire.
Nor less inspire my conduct than my song ;
Teach my best reason, reason; my best will,
Teach rectitude; and fix
Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear :
Nor let the vial of thy vengeance, poured
On this devoted head, be poured in vain.
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 knell of my departed hours.
Where are they? With the years beyond the flood.
It is the signal that demands dispatch :
How much is to be done! My hopes and fears
Start up alarmed, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down-on what? A fathomless abyss :
A dread eternity! how surely mine!
And can eternity belong to me,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour ?
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful is man!
How passing wonder He who made him such !
Who centred in our make such strange extremes !
From different natures, marvellously mixed,
Connection exquisite of distant worlds !
Distinguished link in being's endless chain !
Midway from nothing to the Deity!
A beam ethereal, sullied and absorbed !
Though sullied and dishonored, 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, surprised, aghast,
And wondering at her own. How reason reels!
Oh! what a miracle to man is man!
Triumphantly distressed! what joy ! what dread!
Alternately transported and alarmed!
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.
PLEASURES are fled, and fewer we enjoy ;
Pleasure, like quicksilver, is bright and coy:
We strive to grasp it with our utmost skill ;
Still it eludes us, and it glitters still ;
If seized at last, compute your mighty gains ; What is it but rank poison in your veins ?
IMMORTAL were we, or else mortal quite,
I less should blame this criminal delight;
But since the gay assembly's gayest room
Is but an upper story to some tomb,
Methinks we need not our short being shun,
And thought to fly, content to be undone.
We need not buy our ruin with our crime,
And give eternity to murder time.
THESE hearts, alas ! cleave to the dust
By strong and endless ties :
Whilst every sorrow cuts a string,
And urges us to rise.
When heaven would kindly set us free,
And earth's enchantment end ;
It takes the most effectual way,
And robs us of a friend.
Resign,-and all the load of life
That moment you remove;
Its heavy load, ten thousand cares,
Devolve on One above
Who bids us lay our burden down,
On his almighty hand;
Softens our duty to relief,
Our blessings to command.
The author of " The Grave," was the eldest son of a minister of Edinburgh, and was born in that city in 1699. He graduated at the university of his native city, travelled on the continent, and on his retur, in 1731, was ordained to a parish East Lothian, where, living in a gentlemanly style, he discharged the duties of his profession in an exemplary manner, and gave his leisure to the cultivation of his garden, to science, and to literature. He died on the 4th of February, 1746, and was succeeded in his office by Home, the author of " Douglass.” The reputation of Blair rests chiefly upon “ The Grave,"originally published in London, through the kindly offices of Doddridge, in 1743. The execution of the poem is uneven ; it has some striking faults ; but the work is altogether justly described by Hazlitt as “a serious and somewhat gloomy poem, pregnant with striking reflections and fine fancy."
A SHOOLBOY, AT NIGHT, IN A CHURCHYARD.
Oft in the lone churchyard at night I've seen,
By glimpse of moonlight check’ring through the trees,
The schoolboy with his satchel in his hand,
Whistling aloud to bear his courage up,
And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones
(With nettles skirted, and with moss o'ergrown)
That tell in homely phrase who lies below.
Sudden he starts, and hears, or thinks he hears,
The sound of something purring at his heels :
Full fast he flies, and dares not look behind,
Till, out of breath, he overtakes his fellows,
Who gather round, and wonder at the tale
Of horrid apparition pale and ghastly,
That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand
O'er some new-opened grave—and (strange to tell)
Evanishes at crowing of the cock.