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Then, Death! I'd hail thee monarch! and thy shrine Should hear my vows, and bear my proffer'd bribes, To win the light of heaven
One moment to my gaze!
I'd clasp the breast that loves me, and would swear,
In madness, that thine unrelenting hand
Never, with ruthless might,
Should rend affection's bands!
But since Religion's clear prevailing voice,
With words of mercy, tells the trembling soul
That Heaven has Death ordain'd
Bring flowers, bring essence from the living rose, And strew around the sickly couch of Death, From whence the spirit bounds
On her immortal wings.
Be this thy triumph and thy glorious boast,
Angel of Death! that at thine awful call
The shadowing veil is rent,
Time's fleeting structure falls.
The seraph vision of the glowing mind,
The hope of Genius, and the soul's desire
Start into light and form,
Freed by thy transient power!
Τις οιιδεν ει το ζην μεν εςι κατθανειν,
Το κατθανειι δε ζην;
OH! for Elijah's car, to wing my way
O'er the dark gulf of Death to endless day!
A thousand ways, alas! frail mortals lead
To her dire den, and dreadful all to tread.
See! in the horrors of yon house of woes
Troops of all maladies the fiend enclose!
High on a trophy, raised of human bones,
Swords, spears, and arrows, and sepulchral stones,
In horrid state she reigns! attendant ills
Besiege her throne, and when she frowns she kills: Through the thick gloom the torch red-gleaming burns,
O'er shrouds, and sable palls, and mouldering urns; While flowing stoles, black plumes, and scutcheons spread
An idle pomp around the silent dead:
Unawed by power, in common heap she flings
The scrips of beggars, and the crowns of kings:
Here gales of sighs, instead of breezes, blow,
And streams of tears for ever murmuring flow:
The mournful yew with solemn horror waves
His baleful branches, saddening e'en the graves:
Around all birds obscene loud-screaming fly,
Clang their black wings, and shriek along the sky:
The ground perverse, though bare and barren,
All poisons, foes to life, and noxious weeds;
But, blasted frequent by the' unwholesome sky,
Dead fall the birds, the very poisons die.
Full in the entrance of the dreadful doors,
Old age, half vanish'd to a ghost, deplores:
Propp'd on his crutch, he drags with many a groan
The load of life, yet dreads to lay it down.
There, downward driving an unnumber'd band, Intemperance and Disease walk hand in hand: These Torment, whirling with remorseless sway A scourge of iron, lashes on the way.
There frantic Anger, prone to wild extremes, Grasps an ensanguined sword, and Heaven blasphemes.
There heart-sick Agony distorted stands,
Writhes his convulsive limbs, and wrings his hands.
There Sorrow droops his ever pensive head,
And Care still tosses on his iron bed:
Or, musing, fastens on the ground his eye
With folded arms: with every breath a sigh.
Hydrops unwieldy wallows in a flood;
And Murder rages, red with human blood,
With Fever, Famine, and afflictive Pain,
Plague, Pestilence, and War, a dismal train!
These and a thousand more the fiend surround,
Shrieks pierce the air,and groans to groans resound.
O heavens! is this the passage to the skies
That man must tread, when man your favourite dies?
Oh! for Elijah's car, to wing my way
O'er the dark gulf of Death to endless day!
Confounded at the sight, my spirits fled,
My eyes rain'd tears, my very heart was dead!
I wail'd the lot of man, that all would shun,
And all must bear that breathe beneath the sun.
When lo! a heavenly form, divinely fair,
Shoots from the starry vault through fields of air;
And swifter than on wings of lightning driven,
At once seems here and there, in earth and heaven!
A dazzling brightness in refulgent streams
Flows from his locks inwreath'd with sunny beams:
His roseate cheeks the bloom of heaven display,
And from his eyes dart glories more than day:
A robe of light condensed around him shone,
And his loins glitter'd with a starry zone;
And while the listening winds lay hush'd to hear,
Thus spoke the vision, amiably severe : [lot,
Vain man! wouldst thou escape the common
To live, to suffer, die, and be forgot?
Look back on ancient times, primeval years,
All, all are pass'd! a mighty void appears!
Heroes and kings, those gods of earth, whose fame
Awed half the nations, now are but a name!
The great in arts or arms, the wise, the just
Mix with the meanest in congenial dust!
Even saints and prophets the same paths have trod,
Ambassadors of heaven, and friends of God!
And thou, wouldst thou the general sentence fly?
Moses is dead! thy Saviour deign'd to die!
Mortal, in all thy acts regard thy end; [friend:
Live well the time thou livest, and Death's thy
Then curb each rebel thought against the sky,
And die resign'd, O man, ordain'd to die!'
He added not, but spread his wings in flight, And vanish'd instant in a blaze of light.
Abash'd, ashamed, I cry, Eternal Power!
I yield! I wait, resign'd, the' appointed hour!
Man, foolish man, no more thy soul deceive;
To die is but the surest way to live!
When age we ask, we ask it in our wrong,
And pray our time of suffering may be long;
The nauseous draught, and dregs of life to drain
And feel infirmity and length of pain.
What art thou, Life, that we should court thy stay?
A breath, one single gasp must puff away!
A short-lived flower, that with the day must fade!
A fleeting vapour, and an empty shade!
A stream that silently, but swiftly, glides
To meet eternity's immeasured tides!
A being, lost alike by pain or joy;
A fly can kill it, or a worm destroy!
Impair'd by labour, and by ease undone,
Commenced in tears, and ended in a groan!
Even while I write, the transient Now is pass'd,
And Death more near this sentence than the last!.
As some weak isthmus seas from seas divides,
Beat by rude waves, and sapp'd by rushing tides,
Torn from its base, no more their fury bears,
At once they close, at once it disappears:
Such, such is life! the mark of misery placed
Between two worlds, the future and the past;
To time, to sickness, and to death a prey,
It sinks, the frail possession of a day!
As some fond boy, in sport, along the shore
Builds from the sands a fabric of an hour;
Proud of his spacious walls and stately rooms,
He styles the mimic cells imperial domes;
The little monarch swells with fancied sway,
Till some wind, rising, puffs the dome away:
So the poor reptile, man! an heir of woe,
The lord of earth and ocean, swells in show;
He plants, he builds, aloft the walls arise!
The noble plan he finishes, and dies.
Swept from the earth, he shares the common fate;
His sole distinction now, to rot in state!