[The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death & Immortality.]

Night III. Narcissa.

Humbly inscribed to her Grace the Duchess of Portland.

Ignoscenda quidem, scirent si ignoscere manes.
1 From dreams, where Thought in Fancy's maze runs mad,
2 To reason, that heaven-lighted lamp in man,
3 Once more I wake; and at the destined hour,
4 Punctual as lovers to the moment sworn,
5 I keep my assignation with my woe.
6 O, lost to virtue, lost to manly thought,
7 Lost to the noble sallies of the soul,
8 Who think it solitude to be alone!
9 Communion sweet! communion large and high!
10 Our reason, guardian angel, and our God!
11 Then nearest these, when others most remote;
12 And all, ere long, shall be remote but these.
13 How dreadful then to meet them all alone,
14 A stranger, unacknowledged, unapproved!
15 Now woo them, wed them, bind them to thy breast:
16 To win thy wish, creation has no more.
17 Or if we wish a fourth, it is a friend
18 But friends how mortal! dangerous the desire.
19 Take Phoebus to yourselves, ye basking bards!
20 Inebriate at fair Fortune's fountain-head,
21 And reeling through the wilderness of joy;
22 Where Sense runs savage, broke from Reason's chain,
23 And sings false peace, till smother'd by the pall.
24 My fortune is unlike, unlike my song,
25 Unlike the deity my song invokes.
26 I to Day's soft-eyed sister pay my court,
27 (Endymion's rival!) and her aid implore;
28 Now first implored in succour to the Muse.
29 Thou who didst lately borrow Cynthia's form,
* At the Duke of Norfolk's masquerade.
30 And modestly forego thine own! O thou
31 Who didst thyself, at midnight hours, inspire!
32 Say, why not Cynthia, patroness of song?
33 As thou her crescent, she thy character,
34 Assumes: still more a goddess by the change.
35 Are there demurring wits, who dare dispute
36 This revolution in the world inspired?
37 Yet train Pierian! to the lunar sphere,
38 In silent hour, address your ardent call
39 For aid immortal; less her brother's right.
40 She, with the spheres harmonious, nightly leads
41 The mazy dance, and hears their matchless strain;
42 A strain for gods, denied to mortal ear.
43 Transmit it heard, thou silver queen of heaven!
44 What title, or what name, endears thee most?
45 "Cynthia,""Cyllene,""Phoebe?" or dost hear,
46 With higher gust, "fair Portland of the skies?"
47 Is that the soft enchantment calls thee down,
48 More powerful than of old Circean charm?
49 Come; but from heavenly banquets with thee bring
50 The soul of song, and whisper in mine ear
51 The theft divine; or in propitious dreams
52 (For dreams are thine) transfuse it through the breast
53 Of thy first votary but not thy last,
54 If, like thy namesake, thou art ever kind.
55 And kind thou wilt be, kind on such a theme;
56 A theme so like thee, a quite lunar theme,
57 Soft, modest, melancholy, female, fair!
58 A theme that rose all pale, and told my soul
59 'T was night; on her fond hopes perpetual night;
60 A night which struck a damp, a deadlier damp
61 Than that which smote me from Philander's tomb.
62 Narcissa follows, ere his tomb is closed.
63 Woes cluster; rare are solitary woes;
64 They love a train; they tread each other's heel:
65 Her death invades his mournful right, and claims
66 The grief that started from my lids for him;
67 Seizes the faithless, alienated tear,
68 Or shares it ere it falls. So frequent Death,
69 Sorrow he more than causes, he confounds;
70 For human sighs his rival strokes contend,
71 And make distress distraction. O Philander!
72 What was thy fate? A double fate to me;
73 Portent and pain! a menace and a blow!
74 Like the black raven hovering o'er my peace,
75 Not less a bird of omen than of prey.
76 It call'd Narcissa long before her hour;
77 It call'd her tender soul by break of bliss,
78 From the first blossom, from the buds of joy;
79 Those few our noxious fate unblasted leaves
80 In this inclement clime of human life.
81 Sweet harmonist! and beautiful as sweet!
82 And young as beautiful! and soft as young!
83 And gay as soft! and innocent as gay!
84 And happy (if aught happy here) as good!
85 For fortune fond had built her nest on high,
86 Like birds quite exquisite of note and plume,
87 Transfix'd by Fate, (who loves a lofty mark,)
88 How from the summit of the grove she fell,
89 And left it unharmonious! all its charm
90 Extinguish'd in the wonders of her song!
91 Her song still vibrates in my ravish'd ear,
92 Still melting there, and with voluptuous pain
93 (O to forget her!) thrilling through my heart!
94 Song, beauty, youth, love, virtue, joy! this group
95 Of bright ideas, flowers of paradise,
96 As yet unforfeit, in one blaze we bind,
97 Kneel, and present it to the skies; as all
98 We guess of heaven: and these were all her own.
99 And she was mine; and I was was most bless'd
100 Gay title of the deepest misery!
101 As bodies grow more ponderous robb'd of life;
102 Good lost weighs more in grief, than gain'd in joy.
103 Like blossom'd trees o'erturn'd by vernal storm,
104 Lovely in death the beauteous ruin lay;
105 And if in death still lovely, lovelier there;
106 Far lovelier! Pity swells the tide of love.
107 And will not the severe excuse a sigh?
108 Scorn the proud man that is ashamed to weep;
109 Our tears indulged indeed deserve our shame.
110 Ye that e'er lost an angel, pity me!
111 Soon as the lustre languish'd in her eye,
112 Dawning a dimmer day on human sight;
113 And on her cheek, the residence of Spring,
114 Pale Omen sat, and scatter'd fears around
115 On all that saw; (and who would cease to gaze,
116 That once had seen?) with haste, parental haste,
117 I flew, I snatch'd her from the rigid north,
118 Her native bed, on which bleak Boreas blew,
119 And bore her nearer to the Sun: the Sun
120 (As if the Sun could envy) check'd his beam,
121 Denied his wonted succour; nor with more
122 Regret beheld her drooping than the bells
123 Of lilies! fairest lilies, not so fair!
124 Queen lilies! and ye painted populace
125 Who dwell in fields, and lead ambrosial lives;
126 In morn and evening dew your beauties bathe,
127 And drink the sun; which gives your cheeks to glow,
128 And outblush (mine excepted) every fair!
129 You gladlier grew, ambitious of her hand
130 Which often cropp'd your odours, incense meet
131 To thought so pure! Ye lovely fugitives!
132 Coeval race with man! for man you smile;
133 Why not smile at him too? You share indeed
134 His sudden pass, but not his constant pain.
135 So man is made, nought ministers delight
136 But what his glowing passions can engage;
137 And glowing passions bent on aught below
138 Must, soon or late, with anguish turn the scale;
139 And anguish, after rapture, how severe!
140 Rapture? Bold man, who tempts the wrath Divine,
141 By plucking fruit denied to mortal taste,
142 While here, presuming on the rights of heaven!
143 For transport dost thou call on every hour,
144 Lorenzo? At thy friend's expense be wise:
145 Lean not on earth; 't will pierce thee to the heart;
146 A broken reed at best; but oft a spear;
147 On its sharp point Peace bleeds, and Hope expires.
148 Turn, hopeless thought! turn from her: Thought, repell'd,
149 Resenting rallies, and wakes every woe.
150 Snatch'd ere thy prime, and in thy bridal hour!
151 And when kind Fortune, with thy lover, smiled!
152 And when high-flavour'd thy fresh opening joys!
153 And when blind man pronounced thy bliss complete!
154 And on a foreign shore, where strangers wept!
155 Strangers to thee, and, more surprising still,
156 Strangers to kindness, wept; their eyes let fall
157 Inhuman tears; strange tears, that trickled down
158 From marble hearts! obdurate tenderness!
159 A tenderness that call'd them more severe,
160 In spite of Nature's soft persuasion steel'd.
161 While Nature melted, Superstition raved:
162 That mourn'd the dead; and this denied a grave.
163 Their sighs incensed; sighs foreign to the will!
164 Their will, the tiger-suck'd, out-raged the storm.
165 For, O the cursed ungodliness of zeal!
166 While sinful flesh relented, spirit nursed
167 In blind Infallibility's embrace,
168 The sainted spirit petrified the breast;
169 Denied the charity of dust to spread
170 O'er dust! a charity their dogs enjoy.
171 What could I do? what succour, what resource?
172 With pious sacrilege a grave I stole;
173 With impious piety that grave I wrong'd;
174 Short in my duty; coward in my grief!
175 More like her murderer than friend, I crept
176 With soft-suspended step, and, muffled deep
177 In midnight darkness, whisper'd my last sigh.
178 I whisper'd what should echo through their realms;
179 Nor writ her name, whose tomb should pierce the skies.
180 Presumptuous fear! how durst I dread her foes,
181 While Nature's loudest dictates I obey'd?
182 (Pardon necessity, blest shade!) Of grief
183 And indignation rival bursts I pour'd;
184 Half execration mingled with my prayer;
185 Kindled at man, while I his God adored;
186 Sore grudged the savage land her sacred dust;
187 Stamp'd the cursed soil; and with humanity
188 (Denied Narcissa) wish'd them all a grave.
189 Glows my resentment into guilt? What guilt
190 Can equal violations of the dead?
191 The dead how sacred! sacred is the dust
192 Of this heaven-labour'd form, erect, divine!
193 This heaven-assumed majestic robe of earth
194 He deign'd to wear, who hung the vast expanse
195 With azure bright, and clothed the sun in gold.
196 When every passion sleeps that can offend;
197 When strikes us every motive that can melt;
198 When man can wreak his rancour uncontroll'd,
199 That strongest curb on insult and ill-will;
200 Then, spleen to dust? the dust of innocence?
201 An angel's dust? This Lucifer transcends:
202 When he contended for the patriarch's bones,
203 'T was not the strife of malice, but of pride;
204 The strife of pontiff pride, not pontiff gall.
205 Far less than this is shocking in a race
206 Most wretched but from streams of mutual love;
207 And uncreated but for love divine;
208 And, but for love divine, this moment lost,
209 By fate resorb'd, and sunk in endless night.
210 Man hard of heart to man! of horrid things
211 Most horrid! 'mid stupendous, highly strange!
212 Yet oft his courtesies are smoother wrongs;
213 Pride brandishes the favours he confers,
214 And contumelious his humanity:
215 What then his vengeance? Hear it not, ye stars!
216 And thou, pale moon, turn paler at the sound;
217 Man is to man the sorest, surest ill.
218 A previous blast foretells the rising storm;
219 O'erwhelming turrets threaten ere they fall;
220 Volcanoes bellow ere they disembogue;
221 Earth trembles ere her yawning jaws devour;
222 And smoke betrays the wide-consuming fire:
223 Ruin from man is most conceal'd when near,
224 And sends the dreadful tidings in the blow.
225 Is this the flight of fancy? Would it were!
226 Heaven's Sovereign saves all beings, but himself,
227 That hideous sight, a naked human heart.
228 Fired is the muse? and let the muse be fired:
229 Who not inflamed, when what he speaks he feels,
230 And in the nerve most tender, in his friends?
231 Shame to mankind! Philander had his foes:
232 He felt the truths I sing, and I in him:
233 But he, nor I, feel more. Past ills, Narcissa,
234 Are sunk in thee, thou recent wound of heart!
235 Which bleeds with other cares, with other pangs;
236 Pangs numerous, as the numerous ills that swarm'd
237 O'er thy distinguish'd fate, and, clustering there
238 Thick as the locust on the land of Nile,
239 Made death more deadly, and more dark the grave.
240 Reflect, (if not forgot my touching tale,)
241 How was each circumstance with aspics arm'd!
242 An aspic each; and all a hydra-woe.
243 What strong Herculean virtue could suffice?
244 Or is it virtue to be conquer'd here?
245 This hoary cheek a train of tears bedews;
246 And each tear mourns its own distinct distress;
247 And each distress, distinctly mourn'd, demands
248 Of grief still more, as heighten'd by the whole.
249 A grief like this proprietors excludes:
250 Not friends alone such obsequies deplore;
251 They make mankind the mourner; carry sighs
252 Far as the fatal Fame can wing her way;
253 And turn the gayest thought of gayest age
254 Down their right channel, through the vale of death.
255 The vale of death! that hush'd Cimmerian vale,
256 Where darkness, brooding o'er unfinish'd fates,
257 With raven wing incumbent, waits the day
258 (Dread day!) that interdicts all future change!
259 That subterranean world, that land of ruin!
260 Fit walk, Lorenzo, for proud human thought!
261 There let my thought expatiate; and explore
262 Balsamic truths, and healing sentiments,
263 Of all most wanted and most welcome here.
264 For gay Lorenzo's sake, and for thy own,
265 My soul, "the fruits of dying friends survey;
266 Expose the vain of life; weigh life and death;
267 Give death his eulogy; thy fear subdue;
268 And labour that first palm of noble minds,
269 A manly scorn of terror from the tomb."
270 This harvest reap from thy Narcissa's grave.
271 As poets feign'd from Ajax' streaming blood
272 Arose, with grief inscribed, a mournful flower;
273 Let wisdom blossom from my mortal wound.
274 And first, of dying friends; what fruit from these?
275 It brings us more than triple aid; an aid
276 To chase our thoughtlessness, fear, pride, and guilt.
277 Our dying friends come o'er us like a cloud,
278 To damp our brainless ardours, and abate
279 That glare of life which often blinds the wise.
280 Our dying friends are pioneers, to smooth
281 Our rugged pass to death; to break those bars
282 Of terror and abhorrence Nature throws
283 Cross our obstructed way; and thus to make
284 Welcome, as safe, our port from every storm.
285 Each friend by Fate snatch'd from us is a plume
286 Pluck'd from the wing of human vanity,
287 Which makes us stoop from our aerial heights,
288 And, damp'd with omen of our own decease,
289 On drooping pinions of ambition lower'd,
290 Just skim earth's surface, ere we break it up,
291 O'er putrid pride to scratch a little dust,
292 And save the world a nuisance. Smitten friends
293 Are angels sent on errands full of love;
294 For us they languish, and for us they die:
295 And shall they languish, shall they die, in vain?
296 Ungrateful, shall we grieve their hovering shades,
297 Which wait the revolution in our hearts?
298 Shall we disdain their silent, soft address;
299 Their posthumous advice, and pious prayer?
300 Senseless, as herds that graze their hallow'd graves,
301 Tread under foot their agonies and groans,
302 Frustrate their anguish, and destroy their deaths?
303 Lorenzo! no; the thought of death indulge;
304 Give it its wholesome empire! let it reign,
305 That kind chastiser of thy soul in joy!
306 Its reign will spread thy glorious conquests far,
307 And still the tumults of thy ruffled breast:
308 Auspicious era! golden days, begin!
309 The thought of death shall, like a god, inspire.
310 And why not think on death? Is life the theme
311 Of every thought, and wish of every hour,
312 And song of every joy? Surprising truth!
313 The beaten spaniel's fondness not so strange.
314 To wave the numerous ills that seize on life
315 As their own property, their lawful prey;
316 Ere man has measured half his weary stage,
317 His luxuries have left him no reserve,
318 No maiden relishes, unbroach'd delights;
319 On cold-served repetitions he subsists,
320 And in the tasteless present chews the past;
321 Disgusted chews, and scarce can swallow down.
322 Like lavish ancestors, his earlier years
323 Have disinherited his future hours,
324 Which starve on orts, and glean their former field.
325 Live ever here, Lorenzo? Shocking thought!
326 So shocking, they who wish disown it too;
327 Disown from shame what they from folly crave,
328 Live ever in the womb, nor see the light?
329 For what live ever here? With labouring step
330 To tread our former footsteps? pace the round
331 Eternal? to climb life's worn, heavy wheel,
332 Which draws up nothing new? to beat, and beat
333 The beaten track? to bid each wretched day
334 The former mock? to surfeit on the same,
335 And yawn our joys? or thank a misery
336 For change, though sad? to see what we have seen?
337 Hear, till unheard, the same old slabber'd tale?
338 To taste the tasted, and at each return
339 Less tasteful? o'er our palates to decant
340 Another vintage? strain a flatter year,
341 Through loaded vessels, and a laser tone?
342 Crazy machines, to grind earth's wasted fruits!
343 Ill-ground, and worse-concocted! load, not life!
344 The rational foul kennels of excess!
345 Still streaming thoroughfares of dull debauch!
346 Trembling each gulp, lest Death should snatch the bowl.
347 Such of our fine ones is the wish refined!
348 So would they have it. Elegant desire!
349 Why not invite the bellowing stalls and wilds?
350 But such examples might their riot awe.
351 Through want of virtue, that is, want of thought,
352 (Though on bright thought they father all their flights,)
353 To what are they reduced? To love and hate
354 The same vain world; to censure and espouse
355 This painted shrew of life, who calls them fool
356 Each moment of each day; to flatter bad
357 Through dread of worse; to cling to this rude rock,
358 Barren, to them, of good, and sharp with ills,
359 And hourly blacken'd with impending storms,
360 And infamous for wrecks of human hope,
361 Scared at the gloomy gulf, that yawns beneath.
362 Such are their triumphs, such their pangs of joy!
363 'T is time, high time, to shift this dismal scene.
364 This hugg'd, this hideous state, what art can cure?
365 One only; but that one, what all may reach,
366 Virtue. She (wonder-working goddess!) charms
367 That rock to bloom; and tames the painted shrew;
368 And, what will more surprise, Lorenzo! gives
369 To life's sick, nauseous iteration, change;
370 And straightens Nature's circle to a line.
371 Believest thou this, Lorenzo? Lend an ear,
372 A patient ear, thou'lt blush to disbelieve.
373 A languid, leaden iteration reigns,
374 And ever must, o'er those whose joys are joys
375 Of sight, smell, taste; the cuckoo-seasons sing
376 The same dull note to such as nothing prize
377 But what those seasons, from the teeming earth,
378 To doting sense indulge. But nobler minds,
379 Which relish fruits unripen'd by the sun,
380 Make their days various; various as the dyes
381 On the dove's neck, which wanton in his rays.
382 On minds of dove-like innocence possess'd,
383 On lighten'd minds, that bask in Virtue's beams,
384 Nothing hangs tedious; nothing old revolves
385 In that for which they long, for which they live.
386 Their glorious efforts, wing'd with heavenly hope,
387 Each rising morning sees still higher rise;
388 Each bounteous dawn its novelty presents,
389 To worth maturing, new strength, lustre, fame;
390 While Nature's circle, like a chariot-wheel
391 Rolling beneath their elevated aims,
392 Makes their fair prospect fairer every hour;
393 Advancing virtue in a line to bliss;
394 Virtue, which Christian motives best inspire!
395 And bliss, which Christian schemes alone insure!
396 And shall we then, for Virtue's sake, commence
397 Apostates, and turn infidels for joy?
398 A truth it is few doubt, but fewer trust,
399 "He sins against this life who slights the next."
400 What is this life? How few their favourite know!
401 Fond in the dark, and blind in our embrace,
402 By passionately loving life we make
403 Loved life unlovely, hugging her to death.
404 We give to Time Eternity's regard;
405 And, dreaming, take our passage for our port.
406 Life has no value as an end, but means;
407 An end deplorable, a means divine!
408 When 't is our all, 't is nothing; worse than nought;
409 A nest of pains: when held as nothing, much.
410 Like some fair humourists, life is most enjoy'd
411 When courted least; most worth, when disesteem'd:
412 Then 't is the seat of comfort, rich in peace;
413 In prospect richer far; important, awful!
414 Not to be mention'd but with shouts of praise!
415 Not to be thought on but with tides of joy!
416 The mighty basis of eternal bliss!
417 Where now the barren rock, the painted shrew?
418 Where now, Lorenzo, life's eternal round?
419 Have I not made my triple promise good?
420 Vain is the world; but only to the vain.
421 To what compare we then this varying scene,
422 Whose worth ambiguous rises, and declines,
423 Waxes, and wanes? (In all propitious, Night
424 Assists me here.) Compare it to the Moon;
425 Dark in herself, and indigent; but rich
426 In borrow'd lustre from a higher sphere.
427 When gross guilt interposes, labouring Earth,
428 O'ershadow'd, mourns a deep eclipse of joy;
429 Her joys, at brightest, pallid to that font
430 Of full effulgent glory, whence they flow.
431 Nor is that glory distant. O, Lorenzo!
432 A good man and an angel! these between
433 How thin the barrier! What divides their fate?
434 Perhaps a moment, or perhaps a year:
435 Or if an age, it is a moment still;
436 A moment, or eternity's forgot.
437 Then be what once they were who now are gods;
438 Be what Philander was, and claim the skies.
439 Starts timid Nature at the gloomy pass?
440 "The soft transition"call it; and be cheer'd:
441 Such it is often, and why not to thee?
442 To hope the best is pious, brave, and wise;
443 And may itself procure what it presumes,
444 Life is much flatter'd, Death is much traduced;
445 Compare the rivals, and the kinder crown.
446 "Strange competition!" True, Lorenzo! strange!
447 So little life can cast into the scale.
448 Life makes the soul dependent on the dust;
449 Death gives her wings to mount above the spheres.
450 Through chinks, styled organs, dim life peeps at light;
451 Death bursts the' involving cloud, and all is day;
452 All eye, all ear, the disembodied power.
453 Death has feign'd evils Nature shall not feel
454 Life, ills substantial, Wisdom cannot shun.
455 Is not the mighty mind, that son of heaven,
456 By tyrant life dethroned, imprison'd, pain'd?
457 By Death enlarged, ennobled, deified?
458 Death but entombs the body; life, the soul.
459 "Is Death then guiltless? How he marks his way
460 With dreadful waste of what deserves to shine,
461 Art, genius, fortune, elevated power!
462 With various lustres these light up the world,
463 Which Death puts out, and darkens human race."
464 I grant, Lorenzo, this indictment just:
465 The sage, peer, potentate, king, conqueror,
466 Death humbles these; more barbarous life, the man.
467 Life is the triumph of our mouldering clay;
468 Death, of the spirit infinite, divine.
469 Death has no dread but what frail life imparts;
470 Nor life true joy but what kind Death improves.
471 No bliss has life to boast, till Death can give
472 Far greater; life's a debtor to the grave,
473 Dark lattice, letting in eternal day.
474 Lorenzo! blush at fondness for a life
475 Which sends celestial souls on errands vile,
476 To cater for the sense; and serve at boards,
477 Where every ranger of the wilds, perhaps
478 Each reptile, justly claims our upper hand.
479 Luxurious feast! a soul, a soul immortal,
480 In all the dainties of a brute bemired!
481 Lorenzo! blush at terror for a death
482 Which gives thee to repose in festive bowers,
483 Where nectars sparkle, angels minister,
484 And more than angels share, and raise, and crown,
485 And eternize the birth, bloom, bursts of bliss.
486 What need I more? O Death, the palm is thine.
487 Then welcome, Death, thy dreaded harbingers,
488 Age and Disease: Disease, though long my guest,
489 That plucks my nerves, those tender strings of life;
490 Which, pluck'd a little more, will toll the bell
491 That calls my few friends to my funeral;
492 Where feeble Nature drops, perhaps, a tear,
493 While Reason and Religion, better taught,
494 Congratulate the dead, and crown his tomb
495 With wreath triumphant. Death is victory;
496 It binds in chains the raging ills of life:
497 Lust and Ambition, Wrath and Avarice,
498 Dragg'd at his chariot-wheel, applaud his power.
499 That ills corrosive, cares importunate,
500 Are not immortal too, O Death! is thine.
501 Our day of dissolution! name it right;
502 'T is our great pay-day; 't is our harvest, rich
503 And ripe. What, though the sickle, sometimes keen,
504 Just scars us as we reap the golden grain?
505 More than thy balm, O Gilead, heals the wound.
506 Birth's feeble cry, and Death's deep dismal groan,
507 Are slender tributes low-tax'd Nature pays
508 For mighty gain: the gain of each, a life!
509 But O, the last the former so transcends,
510 Life dies, compared; Life lives beyond the grave.
511 And feel I, Death, no joy from thought of thee?
512 Death, the great counsellor, who man inspires
513 With every nobler thought, and fairer deed!
514 Death, the deliverer, who rescues man!
515 Death, the rewarder, who the rescued crowns!
516 Death, that absolves my birth; a curse without it!
517 Rich Death, that realizes all my cares,
518 Toils, virtues, hopes; without it, a chimera!
519 Death, of all pain the period, not of joy!
520 Joy's source and subject still subsist unhurt,
521 One in my soul, and one in her great Sire;
522 Though the four winds were warring for my dust.
523 Yes, and from winds, and waves, and central night,
524 Though prison'd there, my dust too I reclaim,
525 (To dust when drop proud Nature's proudest spheres,)
526 And live entire. Death is the crown of life:
527 Were death denied, poor man would live in vain;
528 Were death denied, to live would not be life;
529 Were death denied, e'en fools would wish to die.
530 Death wounds to cure: we fall; we rise; we reign!
531 Spring from our fetters; fasten in the skies,
532 Where blooming Eden withers in our sight:
533 Death gives us more than was in Eden lost.
534 This King of Terrors is the Prince of Peace.
535 When shall I die to vanity, pain, death?
536 When shall I die? when shall I live for ever?


  • TEI/XML [chunk] (XML - 1.2M / ZIP - 119K) / ECPA schema (RNC - 357K / ZIP - 73K)
  • Plain text [excluding paratexts] (TXT - 24K / ZIP - 11K)

About this text

Title (in Source Edition): [The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death & Immortality.] Night III. Narcissa.
Author: Edward Young
Themes: night; God; death
Genres: blank verse; meditation; graveyard school

Text view / Document view

Source edition

Young, Edward, 1683-1765. Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality; and a paraphrase on part of the Book of Job. By the Rev. Edward Young, LL.D., sometime rector of Welwyn, Herts. Revised and collated with the early Quarto editions. With a life of the author by Dr. [John] Doran [poem only]. Illustrated. Third edition. London: William Tegg and Co., 85, Queen-Street, Cheapside, 1859. 

Editorial principles

Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.