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VAIN restless man! who, with presumptuous eye,
Wouldst into Heaven's eternal counsels pry;
Wouldst measure Wisdom with the line of sense,
And reason arm against Omnipotence!
Inquiring worm! pursue the pathless road,
And try by searching to arrive at God:
For ages on bewilder'd mayst thou run,
Nor leave the point where first thy quest begun:
As well the clay might, in the potter's hand,
The reason of its various form demand
As thou presume to cavil his decree
Who gave thee first to move and think and see!
He still the same, exalted and sublime,
Nor bound by space, nor limited by time,
O'er all commands: -with life informs the whole:
Gives different suns to shine, and worlds to roll!
Obedient still, and mindful of their place,
Through the immense their shining rings they trace,
And with united voice proclaim the force
That spoke their birth and mark'd their steady
course! Thee, great omniscient omnispective Power! Thee first and last, thee only I adore! Let others, vainly curious in the schools, Judge of their maker ;-by their narrow rules Thy essence and thy attributes define; To love, to serve, to worship thee be mine!
Thy laws to follow, and thy voice to hear,
And with submissive awe thy ways revere !
Dispose then, Lórd, of this devoted frame,
The creature from thy forming fiat came!
Pleased I obey !-since best thou only knowst
How to proportion what thy hand bestows;
And let my wishes all conspire in one,
In earth, as heaven, thy will supreme be done!'
THE FOUR AGES OF HUMAN LIFE,
LIFE—the dear precarious boon!
Soon we lose-alas—how soon!
Fleeting vision--falsely gay,
Grasp'd in vain, it fades away,
Mixing with surrounding shades,
Lovely vision ! how it fades!
Let the Muse in Fancy's glass
Catch the phantoms as they pass ;
See they rise! a nymph behold,
Careless, wanton, young, and bold,
Mark her devious hasty pace,
Antic dress and thoughtless face,
Smiling cheeks and roving eyes,
Causeless mirth and vain surprise,
Tripping at her side, a boy
Shares her wonder and her joy;
This is Folly, Childhood's guide,
This is Childhood at her side!
What is he succeeding now,
Myrtles blooming on his brow,
Bright and blushing as the morn,
Not on earth a mortal born?
Shafts to pierce the strong I view,
Wings the flying to pursue;
Victim of his power, behind
Stalks a slave of humankind,
Whose disdain of all the free
Speak his mind's captivity;
Love the tyrant-Youth the slave,
Youth in vain is wise or brave,
Love with conscious pride defies
All the brave and all the wise!
Who art thou with anxious mien,
Stealing o'er the shifting scene?
Eyes with tedious vigils red,
Sighs by doubts and wishes bred,
Cautious step and glancing tear,
Speak thy woes and speak thy fear;
Arm in arm, what wretch is he
Like thyself who walks with thee?
Like thy own, his fears and woes,
All thy pangs his bosom knows.
Well, too well, my boding breast
Knows the names your looks suggest.
Anxious, busy, restless pair !
Manhood link'd by Fate to Care.
Wretched state! and yet ’tis dear,
Fancy, close the prospect here!
Close it, or recall the past,
Spare my eyes—my heart the last !
Vain the wish! the last appears, While I gaze it swims in tears ! Age—my future self—I trace, Moying slow, with feeble pace, Bending with disease and cares, All the load of life he bears,
White his locks—his visage wan,
Strength and Ease and Hope are gone
Death—the shadowy form I know,
Death o'ertakes him-dreadful foe!
Swift they vanish—mournful sight!
Night succeeds—impervious night;
What these dreadful glooms conceal
Fancy's glass can ne'er reveal !
When shall Time the veil remove?
When shall Light the scene improve?
When shall Truth my doubts dispel ?
Awful period! who can tell?
O GOD! whose thunder shakes the sky,
Whose eye this atom globe surveys,
To thee, my only rock, I fly,
Thy mercy in thy justice praise.
The mystic mazes of thy will,
The shadows of celestial light,
Are past the power of human skill,-
But what the’ Eternal acts is right. 0, teach me in the trying hour,
When anguish swells the dewy tear, To still my sorrows, own thy power,
Thy goodness love, thy justice fear. If in this bosom aught but thee
Encroaching sought a boundless sway, Omniscience could the danger see,
And mercy look the cause away.
Then why, my soul, dost thou complain!
Why drooping seek the dark recess ?
Shake off the melancholy chain,
For God created all to bless.
But ah! my breast is human still;
The rising sigh, the falling tear,
My languid vitals' feeble rill
The sickness of my soul declare.
But yet, with fortitude resign'd,
I'll thank the inflicter of the blow;
Forbid my sigh, compose my mind,
Nor let the gush of misèry flow.
The gloomy mantle of the night,
Which on my sinking spirit steals,
Will vanish at the morning light,
Which God, my East, my Sun reveals.
ODE ON THE SHORTNESS OF LIFE.
MARK that swift arrow! how it cuts the air,
How it outruns thy following eye!
Use all persuasions now, and try
If thou canst call it back, or stay it there.
That way it went; but thou shalt find
No tract is left behind. Fool! 'tis thy life, and the fond archer thou.
Of all the time thou'st shot away,
I'll bid thee fetch but yesterday,
And it shall be too hard a task to do.
Besides repentance, what canst find
That it hath left behind ?