[The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death & Immortality.]
Night IX. The Consolation.
Containing, among other things, 1. — A moral survey of the nocturnal heavens. 2. — A night address to the deity.
Humbly inscribed to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, One of His Majestys Principal Secretaries of State.
—Fatis contraria fata rependens ...
1 As when a traveller, a long day pass'd
2 In painful search of what he cannot find,
3 At night's approach, content with the next cot,
4 There ruminates awhile his labour lost;
5 Then cheers his heart with what his fate affords,
6 And chants his sonnet to deceive the time,
7 Till the due season calls him to repose:
8 Thus I, long travell'd in the ways of men,
9 And dancing, with the rest, the giddy maze
10 Where Disappointment smiles at Hope's career;
11 Warn'd by the languor of Life's evening ray,
12 At length have housed me in an humble shed;
13 Where, future wandering banish'd from my thought,
14 And waiting patient the sweet hour of rest,
15 I chase the moments with a serious song.
16 Song soothes our pains; and age has pains to soothe.
17 When age, care, crime, and friends embraced at heart
18 Torn from my bleeding breast, and Death's dark shade,
19 Which hovers o'er me, quench the' ethereal fire,
20 Canst thou, O Night! indulge one labour more?
21 One labour more indulge! then sleep, my strain!
22 Till, haply, waked by Raphael's golden lyre,
23 Where night, death, age, care, crime, and sorrow cease;
24 To bear a part in everlasting lays,
25 Though far, far higher set, — in aim, I trust,
26 Symphonious to this humble prelude here.
27 Has not the Muse asserted pleasures pure,
28 Like those above, exploding other joys?
29 Weigh what was urged, Lorenzo, fairly weigh;
30 And tell me, hast thou cause to triumph still?
31 I think thou wilt forbear a boast so bold.
32 But if, beneath the favour of mistake,
33 Thy smile's sincere, not more sincere can be
34 Lorenzo's smile than my compassion for him.
35 The sick in body call for aid: the sick
36 In mind are covetous of more disease;
37 And when at worst, they dream themselves quite well.
38 To know ourselves diseased, is half our cure.
39 When Nature's blush by custom is wiped off,
40 And Conscience, deaden'd by repeated strokes,
41 Has into manners naturalized our crimes;
42 The curse of curses is, our curse to love;
43 To triumph in the blackness of our guilt,
44 (As Indians glory in the deepest jet,)
45 And throw aside our senses with our peace.
46 But, grant no guilt, no shame, no least alloy;
47 Grant joy and glory, quite unsullied, shone;
48 Yet still it ill deserves Lorenzo's heart.
49 No joy, no glory, glitters in thy sight,
50 But, through the thin partition of an hour,
51 I see its sables wove by Destiny;
52 And that in sorrow buried; this in shame;
53 While howling Furies ring the doleful knell;
54 And Conscience, now so soft thou scarce canst hear
55 Her whisper, echoes her eternal peal.
56 Where the prime actors of the last Year's scene?
57 Their port so proud, their buskin, and their plume!
58 How many sleep who kept the world awake
59 With lustre and with noise! Has Death proclaim'd
60 A truce, and hung his sated lance on high?
61 'T is brandish'd still, nor shall the present Year
62 Be more tenacious of her human leaf,
63 Or spread of feeble life a thinner fall.
64 But needless monuments to wake the thought;
65 Life's gayest scenes speak man's mortality;
66 Though in a style more florid, full as plain
67 As mausoleums, pyramids, and tombs:
68 What are our noblest ornaments, but Deaths
69 Turn'd flatterers of life, in paint, or marble,
70 The well-stain'd canvass, or the featured stone?
71 Our fathers grace, or rather haunt, the scene.
72 Joy peoples her pavilion from the dead.
73 "Profess'd Diversions! cannot these escape?"
74 Far from it: these present us with a shroud;
75 And talk of Death, like garlands o'er a grave.
76 As some bold plunderer for buried wealth,
77 We ransack tombs for pastime; from the dust
78 Call up the sleeping hero; bid him tread
79 The scene for our amusement. How like gods
80 We sit; and, wrapp'd in immortality,
81 Shed generous tears on wretches born to die;
82 Their fate deploring, to forget our own!
83 What, all the pomps and triumphs of our lives,
84 But legacies in blossom? Our lean soil,
85 Luxuriant grown, and rank in vanities,
86 From friends interr'd beneath, a rich manure!
87 Like other worms, we banquet on the dead;
88 Like other worms, shall we crawl on, nor know
89 Our present frailties, or approaching fate?
90 Lorenzo! such the glories of the world!
91 What is the world itself? thy world? — A grave.
92 Where is the dust that has not been alive?
93 The spade, the plough, disturb our ancestors;
94 From human mould we reap our daily bread.
95 The globe around Earth's hollow surface shakes,
96 And is the ceiling of her sleeping sons.
97 O'er devastation we blind revels keep;
98 Whole buried towns support the dancer's heel.
99 The moist of human frame the sun exhales;
100 Winds scatter, through the mighty void, the dry;
101 Earth repossesses part of what she gave,
102 And the freed spirit mounts on wings of fire;
103 Each element partakes our scatter'd spoils;
104 As Nature, wide, our ruins spread: man's death
105 Inhabits all things but the thought of man!
106 Nor man alone; his breathing bust expires,
107 His tomb is mortal; empires die. Where now
108 The Roman? Greek? They stalk, an empty name!
109 Yet few regard them in this useful light;
110 Though half our learning is their epitaph.
111 When down thy vale, unlock'd by midnight thought,
112 That loves to wander in thy sunless realms,
113 O Death! I stretch my view; what visions rise!
114 What triumphs, toils imperial, arts Divine,
115 In wither'd laurels, glide before my sight!
116 What lengths of far-famed ages, billow'd high
117 With human agitation, roll along
118 In unsubstantial images of air!
119 The melancholy ghosts of dead renown,
120 Whispering faint echoes of the world's applause,
121 With penitential aspect, as they pass,
122 All point at earth, and hiss at human pride,
123 The wisdom of the wise, and prancings of the great.
124 But, O Lorenzo, far the rest above,
125 Of ghastly nature and enormous size,
126 One form assaults my sight, and chills my blood,
127 And shakes my frame. Of one departed world
128 I see the mighty shadow: oozy wreath
129 And dismal sea-weed crown her! O'er her urn,
130 Reclined, she weeps her desolated realms,
131 And bloated sons; and, weeping, prophesies
132 Another's dissolution, soon, in flames:
133 But, like Cassandra, prophesies in vain;
134 In vain, to many; not, I trust, to thee.
135 For, know'st thou not, or art thou loath to know,
136 The great decree, the counsel of the Skies?
137 Deluge and Conflagration, dreadful powers!
138 Prime ministers of Vengeance! Chain'd in caves
139 Distinct, apart, the giant Furies roar;
140 Apart, or, such their horrid rage for ruin,
141 In mutual conflict would they rise, and wage
142 Eternal war, till one was quite devour'd.
143 But not for this ordain'd their boundless rage
144 When Heaven's inferior instruments of wrath,
145 War, Famine, Pestilence, are found too weak
146 To scourge a world for her enormous crimes,
147 These are let loose, alternate; down they rush,
148 Swift and tempestuous, from the' eternal throne,
149 With irresistible commission arm'd,
150 The world, in vain corrected, to destroy,
151 And ease Creation of the shocking scene.
152 Seest thou, Lorenzo, what depends on man?
153 The fate of Nature; as for man her birth.
154 Earth's actors change Earth's transitory scenes,
155 And make Creation groan with human guilt.
156 How must it groan, in a new deluge whelm'd,
157 But not of waters! At the destined hour,
158 By the loud trumpet summon'd to the charge,
159 See, all the formidable sons of Fire,
160 Eruptions, Earthquakes, Comets, Lightnings, play
161 Their various engines; all at once disgorge
162 Their blazing magazines; and take by storm
163 This poor terrestrial citadel of man.
164 Amazing period! when each mountain-height
165 Out-burns Vesuvius; rocks eternal pour
166 Their melted mass, as rivers once they pour'd;
167 Stars rush; and final Ruin fiercely drives
168 Her ploughshare o'er Creation! — while aloft
169 More than astonishment, if more can be!
170 Far other firmament than e'er was seen,
171 Than e'er was thought by man! Far other stars!
172 Stars animate, that govern these of fire.
173 Far other Sun! — A Sun, O how unlike
174 The Babe at Bethlehem! How unlike the Man
175 That groan'd on Calvary! Yet He it is;
176 That Man of sorrows! O how changed! What pomp!
177 In grandeur terrible, all heaven descends!
178 And gods, ambitious, triumph in His train.
179 A swift archangel, with his golden wing,
180 As blots and clouds, that darken and disgrace
181 The scene Divine, sweeps stars and suns aside.
182 And now, all dross removed, Heaven's own pure day,
183 Full on the confines of our ether, flames:
184 While (dreadful contrast!) far (how far!) beneath,
185 Hell, bursting, belches forth her blazing seas,
186 And storms sulphureous; her voracious jaws
187 Expanding wide, and roaring for her prey.
188 Lorenzo, welcome to this scene; the last
189 In Nature's course, the first in Wisdom's thought.
190 This strikes, if aught can strike thee; this awakes
191 The most supine; this snatches man from death.
192 Rouse, rouse, Lorenzo, then, and follow me,
193 Where Truth, the most momentous man can hear,
194 Loud calls my soul, and Ardour wings her flight.
195 I find my inspiration in my theme;
196 The grandeur of my subject is my Muse.
197 At midnight, (when mankind is wrapp'd in peace,
198 And worldly Fancy feeds on golden dreams,)
199 To give more dread to man's most dreadful hour,
200 At midnight, 't is presumed, this pomp will burst
201 From tenfold darkness; sudden as the spark
202 From smitten steel; from nitrous grain, the blaze.
203 Man, starting from his couch, shall sleep no more;
204 The day is broke which never more shall close!
205 Above, around, beneath, amazement all!
206 Terror and glory join'd in their extremes!
207 Our GOD in grandeur, and our world on fire!
208 All Nature struggling in the pangs of death!
209 Dost thou not hear her? Dost thou not deplore
210 Her strong convulsions, and her final groan?
211 Where are we now? Ah me! the ground is gone
212 On which we stood! Lorenzo, while thou mayst,
213 Provide more firm support, or sink for ever!
214 "Where? How? From whence?"Vain hope! it is too late!
215 Where, where, for shelter, shall the guilty fly,
216 When consternation turns the good man pale?
217 Great day! for which all other days were made;
218 For which earth rose from chaos, man from earth;
219 And an eternity, the date of gods,
220 Descended on poor earth-created man!
221 Great day of dread, decision, and despair!
222 At thought of thee each sublunary wish
223 Lets go its eager grasp, and drops the world;
224 And catches at each reed of hope in heaven.
225 At thought of thee! — And art thou absent then?
226 Lorenzo, no; 't is here! — it is begun: —
227 Already is begun the Grand Assize,
228 In thee, in all; deputed Conscience scales
229 The dread tribunal, and forestalls our doom;
230 Forestalls; and, by forestalling, proves it sure.
231 Why on himself should man void judgment pass?
232 Is idle Nature laughing at her sons?
233 Who Conscience sent, her sentence will support,
234 And GOD above assert that God in man.
235 Thrice happy they that enter now the court
236 Heaven opens in their bosoms: but, how rare,
237 Ah me! that magnanimity, how rare!
238 What hero like the man who stands himself;
239 Who dares to meet his naked heart alone;
240 Who hears, intrepid, the full charge it brings,
241 Resolved to silence future murmurs there?
242 The coward flies; and, flying, is undone.
243 (Art thou a coward? No!) The coward flies;
244 Thinks, but thinks slightly; asks, but fears to know;
245 Asks, "What is truth?"with Pilate; and retires;
246 Dissolves the court, and mingles with the throng;
247 Asylum sad from reason, hope, and heaven!
248 Shall all but man look out, with ardent eye,
249 For that great day which was ordain'd for man?
250 O day of consummation! mark supreme
251 (If men are wise) of human thought! nor least,
252 Or in the sight of angels or their KING!
253 Angels, whose radiant circles, height o'er height,
254 Order o'er order, rising, blaze o'er blaze,
255 As in a theatre, surround this scene,
256 Intent on man, and anxious for his fate:
257 Angels look out for thee; for thee, their LORD,
258 To vindicate His glory; and for thee
259 Creation universal calls aloud,
260 To disinvolve the moral world, and give
261 To Nature's renovation brighter charms.
262 Shall man alone, whose fate, whose final fate,
263 Hangs on that hour, exclude it from his thought?
264 I think of nothing else; I see, I feel it!
265 All Nature, like an earthquake, trembling round!
266 All deities, like summer's swarms, on wing!
267 All basking in the full meridian blaze!
268 I see the Judge enthroned, the flaming guard,
269 The volume open'd, open'd every heart!
270 A sunbeam pointing out each secret thought!
271 No patron, intercessor none! now past
272 The sweet, the clement, mediatorial hour!
273 For guilt no plea! to pain, no pause, no bound!
274 Inexorable all, and all extreme!
275 Nor man alone; the foe of God and man,
276 From his dark den, blaspheming, drags his chain,
277 And rears his brasen front, with thunder scarr'd;
278 Receives his sentence, and begins his hell.
279 All vengeance past, now, seems abundant grace:
280 Like meteors in a stormy sky, how roll
281 His baleful eyes! He curses whom he dreads;
282 And deems it the first moment of his fall.
283 'T is present to my thought! — And yet where is it?
284 Angels can't tell me; angels cannot guess
285 The period; from created beings lock'd
286 In darkness. But the process and the place
287 Are less obscure: for these may man inquire.
288 Say, thou Great Close of human hopes and fears,
289 Great Key of hearts, Great Finisher of fates,
290 Great End, and Great Beginning! Say, where art thou?
291 Art thou in time, or in eternity?
292 Nor in eternity, nor time, I find thee.
293 These, as two monarchs, on their borders meet,
294 (Monarchs of all elapsed, or unarrived!)
295 As in debate, how best their powers allied
296 May swell the grandeur, or discharge the wrath,
297 Of HIM whom both their monarchies obey.
298 Time — this vast fabric for him built (and doom'd
299 With him to fall) now bursting o'er his head;
300 His lamp, the sun, extinguish'd — from beneath
301 The frown of hideous darkness calls his sons
302 From their long slumber; from Earth's heaving womb,
303 To second birth. Contemporary throng!
304 Roused at one call, upstarting from one bed,
305 Press'd in one crowd, appall'd with one amaze,
306 He turns them o'er, Eternity, to thee.
307 Then (as a king deposed disdains to live)
308 He falls on his own scythe; nor falls alone;
309 His greatest foe falls with him; Time, and he
310 Who murder'd all Time's offspring, Death, expire.
311 TIME was! ETERNITY now reigns alone!
312 Awful Eternity, offended queen!
313 And her resentment to mankind how just!
314 With kind intent soliciting access,
315 How often has she knock'd at human hearts!
316 Rich to repay their hospitality,
317 How often call'd, and with the voice of God!
318 Yet bore repulse, excluded as a cheat,
319 A dream! while foulest foes found welcome there!
320 A dream, a cheat, now, all things but her smile.
321 For, lo! her twice ten thousand gates, thrown wide
322 As thrice from Indus to the frozen pole —
323 With banners streaming as the comet's blaze,
324 And clarions louder than the deep in storms,
325 Sonorous as immortal breath can blow —
326 Pour forth their myriads, potentates, and powers,
327 Of light, of darkness; in a middle field,
328 Wide as Creation, populous as wide!
329 A neutral region! there to mark the' event
330 Of that great drama, whose preceding scenes
331 Detain'd them close spectators, through a length
332 Of ages, ripening to this grand result;
333 Ages, as yet unnumber'd but by God;
334 Who now, pronouncing sentence, vindicates
335 The rights of Virtue, and His own renown.
336 ETERNITY, the various sentence past,
337 Assigns the sever'd throng distinct abodes,
338 Sulphureous or ambrosial. What ensues?
339 The deed predominant, the deed of deeds!
340 Which makes a hell of hell, a heaven of heaven!
341 The goddess, with determined aspect, turns
342 Her adamantine key's enormous size
343 Through Destiny's inextricable wards,
344 Deep driving every bolt on both their fates.
345 Then, from the crystal battlements of heaven,
346 Down, down she hurls it through the dark profound,
347 Ten thousand thousand fathom; there to rust,
348 And ne'er unlock her resolution more.
349 The deep resounds; and Hell, through all her glooms,
350 Returns, in groans, the melancholy roar.
351 O how unlike the chorus of the Skies!
352 O how unlike those shouts of joy, that shake
353 The whole ethereal! How the concave rings!
354 Nor strange, when deities their voice exalt;
355 And louder far than when Creation rose,
356 To see Creation's godlike aim and end
357 So well accomplish'd, so divinely closed!
358 To see the mighty Dramatist's last act
359 (As meet) in glory rising o'er the rest!
360 No fancied God, a GOD indeed, descends,
361 To solve all knots; to strike the moral home;
362 To throw full day on darkest scenes of time;
363 To clear, commend, exalt, and crown the whole.
364 Hence, in one peal of loud, eternal praise,
365 The charm'd spectators thunder their applause;
366 And the vast void, beyond, applause resounds.
367 What then am I? —
367 Amidst applauding worlds,
368 And worlds celestial, is there found on earth
369 A peevish, dissonant, rebellious string,
370 Which jars in the grand chorus, and complains?
371 Censure on thee, Lorenzo, I suspend,
372 And turn it on myself; how greatly due!
373 All, all is right, by God ordain'd or done;
374 And who but God resumed the friends He gave?
375 And have I been complaining then so long?
376 Complaining of His favours, — Pain and Death?
377 Who, without Pain's advice, would e'er be good?
378 Who, without Death, but would be good in vain?
379 Pain is to save from pain; all punishment,
380 To make for peace; and Death, to save from death;
381 And second death, to guard immortal life;
382 To rouse the careless, the presumptuous awe,
383 And turn the tide of souls another way;
384 By the same tenderness Divine ordain'd,
385 That planted Eden, and high-bloom'd for man
386 A fairer Eden, endless, in the skies.
387 Heaven gives us friends to bless the present scene;
388 Resumes them, to prepare us for the next.
389 All evils natural are moral goods:
390 All discipline, indulgence, on the whole.
391 None are unhappy: all have cause to smile
392 But such as to themselves that cause deny.
393 Our faults are at the bottom of our pains;
394 Error, in act or judgment, is the source
395 Of endless sighs: we sin, or we mistake;
396 And Nature tax, when false Opinion stings.
397 Let impious Grief be banish'd, Joy indulged;
398 But chiefly then, when Grief puts in her claim.
399 Joy from the joyous frequently betrays,
400 Oft lives in vanity, and dies in woe.
401 Joy, amidst ills, corroborates, exalts;
402 'T is joy and conquest; joy and virtue too.
403 A noble fortitude in ills delights
404 Heaven, earth, ourselves; 't is duty, glory, peace.
405 Affliction is the good man's shining scene!
406 Prosperity conceals his brightest ray;
407 As Night to stars, Woe lustre gives to man.
408 Heroes in battle, pilots in the storm,
409 And Virtue in calamities, admire.
410 The crown of manhood is a winter-joy;
411 An evergreen that stands the northern blast,
412 And blossoms in the rigour of our fate.
413 'T is a prime part of happiness to know
414 How much unhappiness must prove our lot;
415 A part which few possess! I'll pay life's tax
416 Without one rebel murmur from this hour,
417 Nor think it misery to be a man;
418 Who thinks it is, shall never be a god:
419 Some ills we wish for, when we wish to live.
420 What spoke proud Passion? "Wish my being lost!"*
* Referring to the First Night.
421 Presumptuous, blasphemous, absurd, and false!
422 The triumph of my soul is — that I am;
423 And therefore that I may be — What? Lorenzo!
424 Look inward, and look deep, and deeper still;
425 Unfathomably deep our treasure runs
426 In golden veins through all eternity!
427 Ages, and ages, and succeeding still
428 New ages, where this phantom of an hour,
429 Which courts, each night, dull slumber, for repair,
430 Shall wake, and wonder, and exult, and praise,
431 And fly through infinite, and all unlock;
432 And, (if deserved,) by Heaven's redundant love
433 Made half adorable itself, adore;
434 And find in adoration endless joy!
435 Where thou, not master of a moment here,
436 Frail as the flower, and fleeting as the gale,
437 Mayst boast a whole eternity, enrich'd
438 With all a kind Omnipotence can pour.
439 Since Adam fell, no mortal, uninspired,
440 Has ever yet conceived, or ever shall,
441 How kind is GOD, how great (if good) is Man.
442 No man too largely from Heaven's love can hope,
443 If what is hoped he labours to secure.
444 Ills? — There are none! All-Gracious! none from Thee;
445 From man full many! Numerous is the race
446 Of blackest ills, and those immortal too,
447 Begot by Madness on fair Liberty;
448 Heaven's daughter, hell-debauch'd! Her hand alone
449 Unlocks destruction to the sons of men,
450 Fast barr'd by Thine; high-wall'd with adamant,
451 Guarded with terrors reaching to this world,
452 And cover'd with the thunders of Thy law;
453 Whose threats are mercies, whose injunctions guides,
454 Assisting, not restraining, Reason's choice;
455 Whose sanctions, unavoidable results
456 From Nature's course, indulgently reveal'd;
457 If unreveal'd, more dangerous, nor less sure.
458 Thus, an indulgent father warns his sons,
459 "Do this; fly that;"— nor always tells the cause;
460 Pleased to reward, as duty to his will,
461 A conduct needful to their own repose.
462 Great GOD of wonders! (if, Thy love survey'd,
463 Aught else the name of wonderful retains,)
464 What rocks are these, on which to build our trust?
465 Thy ways admit no blemish; none I find;
466 Or this alone — that "none is to be found."
467 Not one, to soften Censure's hardy crime;
468 Not one, to palliate peevish Griefs Complaint,
469 Who, like a demon, murmuring, from the dust,
470 Dares into judgment call her Judge. — Supreme!
471 For all I bless Thee; most, for the severe;
472 Her death*
* Lucia.— my own at hand — the fiery gulf,
473 That flaming bound of wrath omnipotent!
474 It thunders; — but it thunders to preserve;
475 It strengthens what it strikes; its wholesome dread
476 Averts the dreaded pain; its hideous groans
477 Join Heaven's sweet Hallelujahs in Thy praise,
478 Great Source of good alone! How kind in all!
479 In vengeance kind! Pain, Death, Gehenna, SAVE.
480 Thus, in thy world material, Mighty Mind!
481 Not that alone which solaces and shines,
482 The rough and gloomy challenges our praise.
483 The winter is as needful as the spring;
484 The thunder, as the sun; a stagnate mass
485 Of vapours breeds a pestilential air:
486 Nor more propitious the Favonian breeze
487 To Nature's health, than purifying storms.
488 The dread volcano ministers to good;
489 Its smother'd flames might undermine the world.
490 Loud. flitnas fulminate in love to man;
491 Comets good omens are, when duly scann'd;
492 And, in their use, eclipses learn to shine.
493 Man is responsible for ills received!
494 Those we call wretched are a chosen band,
495 Compell'd to refuge in the right, for peace.
496 Amid my list of blessings infinite,
497 Stand this the foremost — that "my heart has bled."
498 'T is Heaven's last effort of good-will to man;
499 When pain can't bless, Heaven quits us in despair.
500 Who fails to grieve, when just occasion calls,
501 Or grieves too much, deserves not to be bless'd;
502 Inhuman, or effeminate, his heart:
503 Reason absolves the grief which Reason ends.
504 May Heaven ne'er trust my friend with happiness,
505 Till it has taught him how to bear it well,
506 By previous pain; and made it safe to smile!
507 Such smiles are mine, and such may they remain;
508 Nor hazard their extinction, from excess.
509 My change of heart a change of style demands;
510 The Consolation cancels the Complaint,
511 And makes a convert of my guilty song.
512 As when, o'erlabour'd, and inclined to breathe,
513 A panting traveller some rising ground,
514 Some small ascent, has gain'd; he turns him round,
515 And measures with his eye the various vale,
516 The fields, woods, meads, and rivers he has pass'd;
517 And, satiate of his journey, thinks of home,
518 Endear'd by distance, nor affects more toil:
519 Thus I, though small indeed is that ascent
520 The Muse has gain'd, review the paths she trod,
521 Various, extensive, beaten but by few;
522 And, conscious of her prudence in repose,
523 Pause; and with pleasure meditate an end,
524 Though still remote; so fruitful is my theme.
525 Through many a field of moral and Divine,
526 The Muse has stray'd; and much of sorrow seen
527 In human ways; and much of false and vain;
528 Which none, who travel this bad road, can miss.
529 O'er friends deceased full heartily she wept;
530 Of love Divine the wonders she display'd;
531 Proved man immortal; show'd the source of joy;
532 The grand tribunal raised; assign'd the bounds
533 Of human grief: in few, to close the whole,
534 The moral Muse has shadow'd out a sketch,
535 Though not in form, nor with a Raphael-stroke,
536 Of most our weakness needs believe or do,
537 In this our land of travel, and of hope,
538 For peace on earth, or prospect of the skies.
539 What then remains? — Much! much! a mighty debt
540 To be discharged: these thoughts, O Night! are thine;
541 From thee they came, like lovers' secret sighs,
542 While others slept. So Cynthia, (poets feign,)
543 In shadows veil'd, soft sliding from her sphere,
544 Her shepherd cheer'd; of her enamour'd less
545 Than I of thee. — And art thou still unsung,
546 Beneath whose brow, and by whose aid, I sing?
547 Immortal Silence! — Where shall I begin?
548 Where end? or how steal music from the spheres
549 To soothe their goddess?
549 O majestic Night!
550 Nature's great ancestor! Day's elder-born,
551 And fated to survive the transient sun!
552 By mortals and immortals seen with awe!
553 A starry crown thy raven brow adorns;
554 An azure zone, thy waist; clouds, in Heaven's loom
555 Wrought through varieties of shape and shade,
556 In ample folds of drapery Divine,
557 Thy flowing mantle form, and, heaven throughout,
558 Voluminously pour thy pompous train.
559 Thy gloomy grandeurs (Nature's most august,
560 Inspiring aspect!) claim a grateful verse;
561 And, like a sable curtain starr'd with gold,
562 Drawn o'er my labours pass'd, shall close the scene.
563 And what, O man! so worthy to be sung?
564 What more prepares us for the songs of heaven?
565 Creation of archangels is the theme!
566 What, to be sung, so needful? What so well
567 Celestial joys prepares us to sustain?
568 The soul of man, HIS face design'd to see
569 Who gave these wonders to be seen by man,
570 Has here a previous scene of objects great
571 On which to dwell; to stretch to that expanse
572 Of thought, to rise to that exalted height
573 Of admiration, to contract that awe,
574 And give her whole capacities that strength,
575 Which best may qualify for final joy.
576 The more our spirits are enlarged on earth,
577 The deeper draught shall they receive of heaven.
578 Heaven's KING! whose face unveil'd consummates bliss;
579 Redundant bliss! which fills that mighty void
580 The whole creation leaves in human hearts!
581 THOU, who didst touch the lip of Jesse's son,
582 Rapt in sweet contemplation of these fires,
583 And set his harp in concert with the spheres!
584 While of Thy works material the supreme
585 I dare attempt, assist my daring song.
586 Loose me from earth's enclosure, from the sun's
587 Contracted circle set my heart at large;
588 Eliminate my spirit, give it range
589 Through provinces of thought yet unexplored;
590 Teach me, by this stupendous scaffolding,
591 Creation's golden steps, to climb to THEE.
592 Teach me with Art great Nature to control,
593 And spread a lustre o'er the shades of night.
594 Feel I Thy kind assent? and shall the sun
595 Be seen at midnight, rising in my song?
596 Lorenzo! come, and warm thee: thou whose heart,
597 Whose little heart, is moor'd within a nook
598 Of this obscure terrestrial, anchor weigh.
599 Another ocean calls, a nobler port;
600 I am thy pilot, I thy prosperous gale.
601 Gainful thy voyage through yon azure main;
602 Main without tempest, pirate, rock, or shore;
603 And whence thou mayst import eternal wealth;
604 And leave to beggar'd minds the pearl and gold.
605 Thy travels dost thou boast o'er foreign realms?
606 Thou stranger to the world! thy tour begin;
607 Thy tour through Nature's universal orb.
608 Nature delineates her whole chart at large,
609 On soaring souls, that sail among the spheres;
610 And man how purblind, if unknown the whole!
611 Who circles spacious Earth, then travels here,
612 Shall own he never was from home before!
613 Come, my Prometheus,*
* Night the Eighth.from thy pointed rock
614 Of false ambition if unchain'd, we'll mount;
615 We'll innocently steal celestial fire,
616 And kindle our devotion at the stars;
617 A theft that shall not chain, but set thee free.
618 Above our Atmosphere's intestine wars,
619 Rain's fountain-head, the magazine of Hail;
620 Above the northern nests of feather'd Snows,
621 The brew of Thunders, and the flaming forge
622 That forms the crooked Lightning; 'bove the caves
623 Where infant Tempests wait their growing wings,
624 And tune their tender voices to that roar
625 Which soon, perhaps, shall shake a guilty world;
626 Above misconstrued omens of the sky,
627 Far-travell'd Comets' calculated blaze,
628 Elance thy thought, and think of more than man.
629 Thy soul, till now, contracted, wither'd, shrunk,
630 Blighted by blasts of Earth's unwholesome air,
631 Will blossom here; spread all her faculties
632 To these bright ardours; every power unfold,
633 And rise into sublimities of thought.
634 Stars teach as well as shine. At Nature's birth,
635 Thus their commission ran, — "Be kind to man."
636 Where art thou, poor benighted traveller!
637 The stars will light thee, though the moon should fail.
638 Where art thou, more benighted, more astray
639 In ways immoral? The stars call thee back;
640 And, if obey'd their counsel, set thee right.
641 This prospect vast, what is it? — Weigh'd aright,
642 'T is Nature's system of divinity,
643 And every student of the night inspires.
644 'T is elder Scripture, writ by GOD'S own hand;
645 Scripture authentic, uncorrupt by man.
646 Lorenzo, with my radius (the rich gift
647 Of thought nocturnal!) I'll point out to thee
648 Its various lessons; some that may surprise
649 An un-adept in mysteries of Night;
650 Little, perhaps, expected in her school,
651 Nor thought to grow on planet, or on star.
652 Bulls, lions, scorpions, monsters, here we feign:
653 Ourselves more monstrous, not to see what here
654 Exists indeed — a lecture to mankind!
655 What read we here? — The' existence of a GOD?
656 Yes: and of other beings, man above;
657 Natives of ether, sons of higher climes!
658 And, what may move Lorenzo's wonder more,
659 Eternity is written in the skies.
660 And whose eternity? Lorenzo! thine:
661 Mankind's eternity. Nor Faith alone,
662 Virtue grows here; here springs the sovereign cure
663 Of almost every vice; but chiefly thine, —
664 Wrath, pride, ambition, and impure desire.
665 Lorenzo, thou canst wake at midnight too,
666 Though not on morals bent: Ambition, Pleasure,
667 Those tyrants I for thee so lately fought,
668 Afford their harass'd slaves but slender rest.
669 Thou, to whom midnight is immoral noon;
670 And the sun's noontide blaze, prime dawn of day;
671 Not by thy climate, but capricious crime,
672 Commencing one of our antipodes!
673 In thy nocturnal rove, one moment halt,
674 'Twixt stage and stage of riot and cabal;
675 And lift thine eye (if bold an eye to lift,
676 If bold to meet the face of injured Heaven)
677 To yonder stars: for other ends they shine,
678 Than to light revellers from shame to shame,
679 And thus be made accomplices in guilt.
680 Why from yon arch, that Infinite of space,
681 With Infinite of lucid orbs replete,
682 Which set the living firmament on fire,
683 At the first glance, in such an overwhelm
684 Of Wonderful, on man's astonish'd sight
685 Rushes Omnipotence? — To curb our pride;
686 Our reason rouse, and lead it to that Power
687 Whose love lets down these silver chains of light,
688 To draw up man's ambition to Himself,
689 And bind our chaste affections to His throne.
690 Thus the three virtues, least alive on earth,
691 And welcomed on heaven's coast with most applause, —
692 An humble, pure, and heavenly-minded heart, —
693 Are here inspired. And canst thou gaze too long?
694 Nor stands thy wrath deprived of its reproof,
695 Or un-upbraided by this radiant choir.
696 The planets of each system represent
697 Kind neighbours; mutual amity prevails;
698 Sweet interchange of rays, received, return'd;
699 Enlightening, and enlighten'd! All, at once,
700 Attracting, and attracted! Patriot-like,
701 None sins against the welfare of the whole;
702 But their reciprocal, unselfish aid
703 Affords an emblem of millennial love.
704 Nothing in Nature, much less conscious being,
705 Was e'er created solely for itself:
706 Thus man his sovereign duty learns in this
707 Material picture of benevolence.
708 And know, of all our supercilious race,
709 Thou most inflammable, thou wasp of men!
710 Man's angry heart, inspected, would be found
711 As rightly set as are the starry spheres;
712 'T is Nature's structure, broke by stubborn Will,
713 Breeds all that uncelestial discord there.
714 Wilt thou not feel the bias Nature gave?
715 Canst thou descend from converse with the Skies,
716 And seize thy brother's throat? For what? a clod?
717 An inch of earth? The Planets cry, "Forbear."
718 They chase our double darkness; Nature's gloom,
719 And (kinder still!) our intellectual night.
720 And see, Day's amiable sister sends
721 Her invitation, in the softest rays
722 Of mitigated lustre; courts thy sight,
723 Which suffers from her tyrant brother's blaze.
724 Night grants thee the full freedom of the skies,
725 Nor rudely reprimands thy lifted eye;
726 With gain and joy she bribes thee to be wise.
727 Night opes the noblest scenes, and sheds an awe
728 Which gives those venerable scenes full weight,
729 And deep reception in the' entender'd heart;
730 While light peeps through the darkness like a spy,
731 And Darkness shows its grandeur by the light.
732 Nor is the profit greater than the joy,
733 If human hearts at glorious objects glow,
734 And admiration can inspire delight.
735 What speak I more than I, this moment, feel?
736 With pleasing stupor first the soul is struck;
737 (Stupor ordain'd to make her truly wise!)
738 Then into transport starting from her trance,
739 With love and admiration how she glows!
740 This gorgeous apparatus, this display,
741 This ostentation of creative power,
742 This theatre, — what eye can take it in?
743 By what Divine enchantment was it raised,
744 For minds of the first magnitude to launch
745 In endless speculation, and adore?
746 One sun by day, by night ten thousand shine;
747 And light us deep into the DEITY;
748 How boundless in magnificence and might!
749 O what a confluence of ethereal fires,
750 From urns unnumber'd, down the steep of heaven,
751 Streams to a point, and centres in my sight!
752 Nor tarries there; I feel it at my heart.
753 My heart, at once, it humbles and exalts;
754 Lays it in dust, and calls it to the skies.
755 Who sees it unexalted, or unawed?
756 Who sees it, and can stop at what is seen?
757 Material offspring of Omnipotence!
758 Inanimate, all-animating birth!
759 Work worthy Him who made it! worthy praise,
760 All praise, praise more than human! nor denied
761 Thy praise Divine! — But though man, drown'd in sleep,
762 Withholds his homage, not alone I wake;
763 Bright legions swarm unseen, and sing, unheard
764 By mortal ear, the glorious Architect,
765 In this His universal temple hung
766 With lustres, with innumerable lights,
767 That shed religion on the soul; at once,
768 The temple and the preacher! O how loud
769 It calls Devotion, genuine growth of Night!
770 Devotion! daughter of Astronomy!
771 An undevout astronomer is mad.
772 True, all things speak a GOD; but, in the small,
773 Men trace out Him; in great, He seizes man;
774 Seizes, and elevates, and raps, and fills
775 With new inquiries, 'mid associates new.
776 Tell me, ye stars, ye planets, tell me, all
777 Ye starr'd and planeted inhabitants! what is it?
778 What are these sons of wonder? Say, proud arch,
779 (Within whose azure palaces they dwell,)
780 Built with Divine ambition! in disdain
781 Of limit built! built in the taste of Heaven!
782 Vast concave, ample dome! wast thou design'd
783 A meet apartment for the DEITY? —
784 Not so; that thought alone thy State impairs,
785 Thy Lofty sinks, and shallows thy Profound,
786 And straitens thy Diffusive; dwarfs the whole,
787 And makes an universe an orrery.
788 But when I drop mine eye, and look on man,
789 Thy right regain'd, thy grandeur is restored,
790 O Nature! wide flies off the' expanding round.
791 As when whole magazines at once are fired,
792 The smitten air is hollow'd by the blow;
793 The vast displosion dissipates the clouds;
794 Shock'd ether's billows dash the distant skies:
795 Thus (but far more) the' expanding round flies off,
796 And leaves a mighty void, a spacious womb,
797 Might teem with new creation; re-inflamed
798 Thy luminaries triumph, and assume
799 Divinity themselves. Nor was it strange,
800 Matter high-wrought to such surprising pomp,
801 Such godlike glory, stole the style of gods
802 From ages dark, obtuse, and steep'd in sense;
803 For, sure, to sense they truly are Divine,
804 And half-absolved idolatry from guilt;
805 Nay, turn'd it into virtue. Such it was
806 In those who put forth all they had of man
807 Unlost, to lift their thought, nor mounted higher;
808 But, weak of wing, on planets perch'd; and thought
809 What was their Highest, must be their Adored.
810 But they how weak, who could no higher mount!
811 And are there then, Lorenzo, those to whom
812 Unseen and unexistent are the same;
813 And, if incomprehensible is join'd,
814 Who dare pronounce it madness to believe?
815 Why has the mighty Builder thrown aside
816 All measure in His work; stretch'd out His line
817 So far, and spread amazement o'er the whole?
818 Then, (as He took delight in wide extremes,)
819 Deep in the bosom of His universe,
820 Dropp'd down that reasoning mite, that insect, man,
821 To crawl, and gaze, and wonder, at the scene? —
822 That man might ne'er presume to plead amazement
823 For disbelief of wonders in Himself.
824 Shall God be less miraculous than what
825 His hand has form'd? Shall mysteries descend
826 From Unmysterious? things more elevate
827 Be more familiar? uncreated lie
828 More obvious than created, to the grasp
829 Of human thought? The more of wonderful
830 Is heard in Him, the more we should assent.
831 Could we conceive Him, GOD He could not be;
832 Or He not GOD, or we could not be men.
833 A GOD alone can comprehend a GOD:
834 Man's distance, how immense! On such a theme,
835 Know this, Lorenzo, (seem it ne'er so strange,)
836 Nothing can satisfy but what confounds;
837 Nothing but what astonishes is true.
838 The scene thou seest attests the truth I sing,
839 And every star sheds light upon thy Creed.
840 These stars, this furniture, this cost of Heaven,
841 If but reported, thou hadst ne'er believed;
842 But thine eye tells thee the romance is true.
843 The Grand of Nature is the' Almighty's oath,
844 In Reason's court, to silence Unbelief.
845 How my mind, opening at this scene, imbibes
846 The moral emanations of the skies,
847 While nought, perhaps, Lorenzo less admires!
848 Has the Great Sovereign sent ten thousand worlds
849 To tell us He resides above them all,
850 In glory's unapproachable recess?
851 And dare Earth's bold inhabitants deny
852 The sumptuous, the magnific embassy
853 A moment's audience? Turn we? nor will hear
854 From whom they come, or what they would impart
855 For man's emolument, — sole cause that stoops
856 Their grandeur to man's eye? Lorenzo, rouse!
857 Let thought, awaken'd, take the lightning's wing,
858 And glance from east to west, from pole to pole.
859 Who sees, but is confounded or convinced,
860 Renounces Reason, or a GOD adores?
861 Mankind was sent into the world to see:
862 Sight gives the science needful to their peace;
863 That obvious science asks small learning's aid.
864 Wouldst thou on metaphysic pinions soar?
865 Or wound thy patience amid logic thorns?
866 Or travel history's enormous round?
867 Nature no such hard task enjoins: she gave
868 A make to man directive of his thought;
869 A make set upright, pointing to the stars,
870 As who should say, "Read thy chief lesson there."
871 Too late to read this manuscript of heaven,
872 When, like a parchment scroll, shrunk up by flames,
873 It folds Lorenzo's lesson from his sight!
874 Lesson how various! Not the God alone,
875 I see His ministers; I see, diffused
876 In radiant orders, essences sublime,
877 Of various offices, of various plume,
878 In heavenly liveries distinctly clad,
879 Azure, green, purple, pearl, or downy gold,
880 Or all commix'd; they stand, with wings outspread,
881 Listening to catch the Master's least command,
882 And fly through Nature ere the moment ends;
883 Numbers innumerable! — Well-conceived
884 By Pagan and by Christian! O'er each sphere
885 Presides an angel, to direct its course,
886 And feed, or fan, its flames; or to discharge
887 Other high trusts unknown. For who can see
888 Such pomp of matter, and imagine Mind,
889 For which alone Inanimate was made,
890 More sparingly dispensed? that nobler son,
891 Far liker the great SIRE! — Tis thus the skies
892 Inform us of superiors numberless,
893 As much in excellence above mankind,
894 As above earth in magnitude the spheres.
895 These, as a cloud of witnesses, hang o'er us;
896 In a throng'd theatre are all our deeds;
897 Perhaps a thousand demi-gods descend
898 On every beam we see, to walk with men.
899 Awful reflection! strong restraint from ill!
900 Yet, here, our virtue finds still stronger aid
901 From these ethereal glories Sense surveys.
902 Something, like magic, strikes from this blue vault:
903 With just attention is it view'd? We feel
904 A sudden succour, unimplored, unthought:
905 Nature herself does half the work of man.
906 Seas, rivers, mountains, forests, deserts, rocks,
907 The promontory's height, the depth profound
908 Of subterranean, excavated grots,
909 Black-brow'd, and vaulted high, and yawning wide
910 From Nature's structure, or the scoop of Time;
911 If ample of dimension, vast of size,
912 E'en these an aggrandizing impulse give;
913 Of solemn thought enthusiastic heights
914 E'en these infuse. — But what of Vast in these?
915 Nothing: or we must own the skies forgot.
916 Much less in Art. — Vain Art! thou pigmy power!
917 How dost thou swell, and strut, with human pride,
918 To show thy littleness! What childish toys,
919 Thy watery columns squirted to the clouds!
920 Thy basin'd rivers, and imprison'd seas!
921 Thy mountains moulded into forms of men!
922 Thy hundred-gated capitals! or those
923 Where three days' travel left us much to ride;
924 Gazing on miracles by mortals wrought,
925 Arches triumphal, theatres immense,
926 Or nodding gardens pendent in mid-air,
927 Or temples proud to meet their gods half-way!
928 Yet these affect us in no common kind.
929 What then the force of such superior scenes?
930 Enter a temple, it will strike an awe:
931 What awe from this the DEITY has built?
932 A good man seen, though silent, counsel gives:
933 The touch'd spectator wishes to be wise:
934 In a bright mirror His own hands have made,
935 Here we see something like the face of GOD.
936 Seems it not then enough to say, Lorenzo,
937 To man abandon'd, "Hast thou seen the skies?"
938 And yet, so thwarted Nature's kind design
939 By daring man, he makes her sacred awe
940 (That guard from ill) his shelter, his temptation
941 To more than common guilt, and quite inverts
942 Celestial Art's intent. The trembling Stars
943 See Crimes gigantic stalking through the gloom
944 With front erect, that hide their head by day,
945 And making night still darker by their deeds.
946 Slumbering in covert till the shades descend,
947 Rapine and Murder, link'd, now prowl for prey.
948 The miser earths his treasure; and the thief,
949 Watching the mole, half-beggars him ere morn.
950 Now Plots and foul Conspiracies awake;
951 And, muffling up their horrors from the moon,
952 Havoc and devastation they prepare,
953 And kingdoms tottering in the field of blood.
954 Now sons of riot in mid-revel rage.
955 What shall I do? suppress it? or proclaim? —
956 Why sleeps the thunder? Now, Lorenzo, now,
957 His best friend's couch the rank adulterer
958 Ascends secure, and laughs at gods and men.
959 Preposterous madmen, void of fear or shame,
960 Lay their crimes bare to these chaste eyes of Heaven;
961 Yet shrink and shudder at a mortal's sight.
962 Were moon and stars for villains only made?
963 To guide, yet screen, them with tenebrious light?
964 No; they were made to fashion the Sublime
965 Of human hearts, and wiser make the wise.
966 Those ends were answer'd once, when mortals lived
967 Of stronger wing, of aquiline ascent
968 In theory sublime. O how unlike
969 Those vermin of the night, — this moment sung,
970 Who crawl on earth, and on her venom feed! —
971 Those ancient sages, human stars! they met
972 Their brothers of the skies at midnight hour;
973 Their counsel ask'd; and, what they ask'd, obey'd.
974 The Stagyrite, and Plato, he who drank
975 The poison'd bowl, and he of Tusculum,
976 With him of Corduba, (immortal names!)
977 In these unbounded and elysian walks,
978 An area fit for Gods and godlike men,
979 They took their nightly round through radiant paths
980 By seraphs trod; instructed, chiefly, thus
981 To tread in their bright footsteps here below;
982 To walk in worth still brighter than the skies.
983 There they contracted their contempt of Earth;
984 Of hopes eternal kindled there the fire;
985 There, as in near approach, they glow'd, and grew
986 (Great visitants!) more intimate with GOD,
987 More worth to men, more joyous to themselves.
988 Through various virtues, they with ardour ran
989 The zodiac of their learn'd, illustrious lives.
990 In Christian hearts, O for a Pagan zeal!
991 A needful but opprobrious prayer! As much
992 Our ardour less, as greater is our light.
993 How monstrous this in morals! Scarce more strange
994 Would this phenomenon in Nature strike, —
995 A sun that froze her, or a star that warm'd!
996 What taught these heroes of the moral world?
997 To these thou givest thy praise, give credit too.
998 These doctors ne'er were pension'd to deceive thee;
999 And Pagan tutors are thy taste. — They taught,
1000 That narrow views betray to misery:
1001 That wise it is to comprehend the whole:
1002 That Virtue rose from Nature, ponder'd well,
1003 The single base of Virtue built to heaven:
1004 That GOD and Nature our attention claim:
1005 That Nature is the glass reflecting GOD,
1006 As by the sea reflected is the Sun,
1007 Too glorious to be gazed on in his sphere:
1008 That Mind immortal loves immortal aims:
1009 That boundless Mind affects a boundless space:
1010 That vast surveys, and the Sublime of things,
1011 The soul assimilate, and make her great:
1012 That, therefore, Heaven her glories, as a fund
1013 Of inspiration, thus spreads out to man.
1014 Such are their doctrines; such the Night inspired.
1015 And what more true? What truth of greater weight?
1016 The Soul of man was made to walk the skies;
1017 Delightful outlet of her prison here!
1018 There, disencumber'd from her chains, the ties
1019 Of toys terrestrial, she can rove at large;
1020 There freely can respire, dilate, extend,
1021 In full proportion let loose all her powers,
1022 And, undeluded, grasp at something great.
1023 Nor as a stranger does she wander there;
1024 But, wonderful herself, through wonder strays;
1025 Contemplating their grandeur, finds her own;
1026 Dives deep in their economy Divine,
1027 Sits high in judgment on their various laws,
1028 And, like a master, judges not amiss.
1029 Hence greatly pleased, and justly proud, the Soul
1030 Grows conscious of her birth celestial; breathes
1031 More life, more vigour, in her native air;
1032 And feels herself at home among the stars;
1033 And, feeling, emulates her country's praise.
1034 What call we then the Firmament, Lorenzo? —
1035 As Earth the body, since the Skies sustain
1036 The soul with food, that gives immortal life,
1037 Call it "the noble pasture of the Mind,"
1038 Which there expatiates, strengthens, and exults,
1039 And riots through the luxuries of thought.
1040 Call it "the garden of the DEITY,"
1041 Blossom'd with stars, redundant in the growth
1042 Of fruit ambrosial, moral fruit to man.
1043 Call it "the breast-plate of the true High Priest,"
1044 Ardent with gems oracular, that give,
1045 In points of highest moment, right response;
1046 And ill neglected, if we prize our peace.
1047 Thus have we found a true astrology:
1048 Thus have we found a new and noble sense
1049 In which alone stars govern human fates.
1050 O that the stars (as some have feign'd) let fall
1051 Bloodshed and havoc on embattled realms,
1052 And rescued monarchs from so black a guilt!
1053 Bourbon! this wish how generous in a foe!
1054 Wouldst thou be great, wouldst thou become a god,
1055 And stick thy deathless name among the stars,
1056 For mighty conquests on a needle's point?
1057 Instead of forging chains for foreigners,
1058 Bastile thy tutor. Grandeur all thy aim?
1059 As yet thou know'st not what it is: how great,
1060 How glorious then appears the mind of man,
1061 When in it all the stars and planets roll!
1062 And what it seems it is; great objects make
1063 Great minds, enlarging as their views enlarge;
1064 Those still more godlike, as these more Divine.
1065 And more Divine than these thou canst not see.
1066 Dazzled, o'erpower'd, with the delicious draught
1067 Of miscellaneous splendours, how I reel
1068 From thought to thought, inebriate, without end!
1069 An Eden this, a Paradise unlost!
1070 I meet the DEITY in every view,
1071 And tremble at my nakedness before Him!
1072 O that I could but reach the tree of life!
1073 For here it grows, unguarded from our taste;
1074 No flaming sword denies our entrance here;
1075 Would man but gather, he might live for ever.
1076 Lorenzo, much of moral hast thou seen.
1077 Of curious arts art thou more fond? Then mark
1078 The mathematic glories of the skies,
1079 In number, weight, and measure, all ordain'd.
1080 Lorenzo's boasted builders, Chance and Fate,
1081 Are left to finish his aerial towers:
1082 Wisdom and Choice their well-known characters
1083 Here deep impress; and claim it for their own.
1084 Though splendid all, no splendour void of use;
1085 Use rivals Beauty; Art contends with Power;
1086 No wanton waste amid effuse expense;
1087 The great Economist adjusting all
1088 To prudent pomp, magnificently wise.
1089 How rich the prospect, and for ever new!
1090 And newest to the man that views it most;
1091 For newer still in infinite succeeds.
1092 Then, these aerial racers, O how swift!
1093 How the shaft loiters from the strongest string!
1094 Spirit alone can distance the career.
1095 Orb above orb ascending without end!
1096 Circle in circle, without end, enclosed!
1097 Wheel within wheel; Ezekiel! like to thine!
1098 Like thine, it seems a vision or a dream;
1099 Though seen, we labour to believe it true!
1100 What involution! What extent What swarms
1101 Of worlds, that laugh at Earth! immensely great!
1102 Immensely distant from each other's spheres!
1103 What then the wondrous space through which they roll?
1104 At once it quite ingulfs all human thought;
1105 'T is Comprehension's absolute defeat.
1106 Nor think thou seest a wild disorder here:
1107 Through this illustrious chaos to the sight,
1108 Arrangement neat, and chastest order, reign.
1109 The path prescribed, inviolably kept,
1110 Upbraids the lawless sallies of mankind.
1111 Worlds, ever thwarting, never interfere.
1112 What knots are tied! How soon are they dissolved,
1113 And set the seeming married planets free!
1114 They rove for ever, without error rove;
1115 Confusion unconfused! Nor less admire
1116 This tumult untumultuous! all on wing,
1117 In motion all! yet what profound repose!
1118 What fervid action, yet no noise! as awed
1119 To silence by the presence of their LORD:
1120 Or hush'd, by His command, in love to man,
1121 And bid let fall soft beams on human rest,
1122 Restless themselves. On yon cerulean plain,
1123 In exultation to their GOD, and thine,
1124 They dance, they sing eternal jubilee,
1125 Eternal celebration of His praise.
1126 But, since their song arrives not at our ear,
1127 Their dance perplex'd exhibits to the sight
1128 Fair hieroglyphic of His peerless power.
1129 Mark, how the labyrinthian turns they take,
1130 The circles intricate, and mystic maze,
1131 Weave the grand cipher of Omnipotence;
1132 To gods, how great! how legible to man!
1133 Leaves so much wonder greater wonder still?
1134 Where are the pillars that support the skies?
1135 What more than Atlantean shoulder props
1136 The' incumbent load? What magic, what strange art,
1137 In fluid air these ponderous orbs sustains?
1138 Who would not think them hung in golden chains?
1139 And so they are, — in the high will of Heaven,
1140 Which fixes all; makes adamant of air,
1141 Or air of adamant; makes all of nought,
1142 Or nought of all; if such the dread decree.
1143 Imagine from their deep foundations torn
1144 The most gigantic sons of Earth, the broad
1145 And towering Alps, all toss'd into the sea;
1146 And, light as down, or volatile as air,
1147 Their bulks enormous dancing on the waves,
1148 In time and measure exquisite; while all
1149 The winds, in emulation of the spheres,
1150 Tune their sonorous instruments aloft,
1151 The concert swell, and animate the ball:
1152 Would this appear amazing? What then worlds,
1153 In a far thinner element sustain'd,
1154 And acting the same part, with greater skill,
1155 More rapid movement, and for noblest ends?
1156 More obvious ends to pass, are not these stars
1157 The seats majestic, proud imperial thrones,
1158 On which angelic delegates of Heaven,
1159 At certain periods, as the Sovereign nods,
1160 Discharge high trusts of vengeance or of love;
1161 To clothe, in outward grandeur, grand design,
1162 And acts most solemn still more solemnize?
1163 Ye Citizens of air! what ardent thanks,
1164 What full effusion of the grateful heart,
1165 Is due from man indulged in such a sight!
1166 A sight so noble, and a sight so kind!
1167 It drops new truths at every new survey!
1168 Feels not Lorenzo something stir within,
1169 That sweeps away all period? As these spheres
1170 Measure duration, they no less inspire
1171 The godlike hope of ages without end.
1172 The boundless space, through which these rovers take
1173 Their restless roam, suggests the sister-thought
1174 Of boundless time. Thus by kind Nature's skill,
1175 To man unlabour'd, that important guest,
1176 Eternity, finds entrance at the sight:
1177 And an eternity for man ordain'd,
1178 Or these his destined midnight counsellors,
1179 The stars, had never whisper'd it to man.
1180 Nature informs, but ne'er insults, her sons.
1181 Could she then kindle the most ardent wish
1182 To disappoint it? — That is blasphemy.
1183 Thus of thy Creed a second article,
1184 Momentous as the' existence of a GOD,
1185 Is found (as I conceive) where rarely sought:
1186 And thou mayst read thy soul immortal here.
1187 Here, then, Lorenzo! on these glories dwell;
1188 Nor want the gilt, illuminated roof,
1189 That calls the wretched gay to dark delights.
1190 Assemblies? — This is one divinely bright;
1191 Here, unendanger'd in health, wealth, or fame,
1192 Range through the fairest, and the Sultan scorn.
1193 He, wise as thou, no crescent holds so fair
1194 As that which on his turban awes a world;
1195 And thinks the Moon is proud to copy him.
1196 Look on her, and gain more than worlds can give, —
1197 A mind superior to the charms of power.
1198 Thou muffled in delusions of this life!
1199 Can yonder Moon turn Ocean in his bed,
1200 From side to side, in constant ebb and flow,
1201 And purify from stench his watery realms?
1202 And fails her moral influence? Wants she power
1203 To turn Lorenzo's stubborn tide of thought
1204 From stagnating on earth's infected shore,
1205 And purge from nuisance his corrupted heart?
1206 Fails her attraction when it draws to heaven?
1207 Nay, and to what thou valuest more, earth's joy?
1208 Minds elevate, and panting for Unseen,
1209 And defecate from sense, alone obtain
1210 Full relish of existence undeflower'd,
1211 The life of life, the zest of worldly bliss.
1212 All else on earth amounts — to what? To this:
1213 "Bad to be suffer'd; blessings to be left:"
1214 Earth's richest inventory boasts no more.
1215 Of higher scenes be then the call obey'd.
1216 O let me gaze! — Of gazing there's no end.
1217 O let me think! — Thought too is wilder'd here;
1218 In midway flight Imagination tires;
1219 Yet soon reprunes her wing to soar anew,
1220 Her point unable to forbear or gain;
1221 So great the pleasure, so profound the plan!
1222 A banquet this, where men and angels meet,
1223 Eat the same manna, mingle earth and heaven.
1224 How distant some of these nocturnal suns!
1225 So distant, (says the sage,) 'twere not absurd
1226 To doubt, if beams, set out at Nature's birth,
1227 Are yet arrived at this so foreign world;
1228 Though nothing half so rapid as their flight.
1229 An eye of awe and wonder let me roll,
1230 And roll for ever: who can satiate sight
1231 In such a scene? in such an ocean wide
1232 Of deep astonishment? where depth, height, breadth,
1233 Are lost in their extremes; and where to count
1234 The thick-sown glories in this field of fire,
1235 Perhaps a seraph's computation fails.
1236 Now go, Ambition! boast thy boundless might
1237 In conquest o'er the tenth part of a grain.
1238 And yet Lorenzo calls for miracles,
1239 To give his tottering faith a solid base.
1240 Why call for less than is already thine?
1241 Thou art no novice in theology:
1242 What is a miracle? — 'T is a reproach,
1243 'T is an implicit satire, on mankind;
1244 And while it satisfies, it censures too.
1245 To common sense, great Nature's course proclaims
1246 A DEITY: when mankind falls asleep,
1247 A miracle is sent, as an alarm,
1248 To wake the world, and prove Him o'er again,
1249 By recent argument, but not more strong.
1250 Say, which imports more plenitude of power, —
1251 Or Nature's laws to fix, or to repeal?
1252 To make a Sun, or stop his mid career?
1253 To countermand his orders, and send back
1254 The flaming courier to the frighted east,
1255 Warm'd, and astonish'd, at his evening ray?
1256 Or bid the Moon, as with her journey tired,
1257 In Ajalon's soft flowery vale repose?
1258 Great things are these; still greater, to create.
1259 From Adam's bower look down through the whole train
1260 Of miracles; — resistless is their power?
1261 They do not, cannot, more amaze the mind
1262 Than this, call'd unmiraculous, survey,
1263 If duly weigh'd, if rationally seen,
1264 If seen with human eyes. The brute, indeed,
1265 Sees nought but spangles here; the fool, no more.
1266 Sayst thou, "The course of Nature governs all?"
1267 The course of Nature is the art of GOD.
1268 The miracles thou call'st for, this attest;
1269 For say, could Nature Nature's course control?
1270 But, miracles apart, who sees HIM not,
1271 Nature's Controller, Author, Guide, and End?
1272 Who turns his eye on Nature's midnight face
1273 But must inquire — "What hand behind the scene,
1274 What arm almighty, put these wheeling globes
1275 In motion, and wound-up the vast machine?
1276 Who rounded in his palm these spacious orbs?
1277 Who bowl'd them flaming through the dark profound,
1278 Numerous as glittering gems of morning dew,
1279 Or sparks from populous cities in a blaze,
1280 And set the bosom of old Night on fire,
1281 Peopled her desert, and made Horror smile?"
1282 Or, if the military style delights thee,
1283 (For stars have fought their battles, leagued with man,)
1284 "Who marshals this bright host? enrols their names?
1285 Appoints their posts, their marches, and returns,
1286 Punctual, at stated periods? Who disbands
1287 These veteran troops, their final duty done,
1288 If e'er disbanded?"HE, whose potent word,
1289 Like the loud trumpet, levied first their powers
1290 In Night's inglorious empire, where they slept
1291 In beds of darkness, arm'd them with fierce flames,
1292 Arranged and disciplined, and clothed in gold;
1293 And call'd them out of Chaos to the field,
1294 Where now they war with Vice and Unbelief.
1295 O let us join this army! Joining these
1296 Will give us hearts intrepid at that hour
1297 When brighter flames shall cut a darker night;
1298 When these strong demonstrations of a GOD
1299 Shall hide their heads, or tumble from their spheres,
1300 And one eternal curtain cover all!
1301 Struck at that thought, as new-awaked, I lift
1302 A more enlighten'd eye, and read the stars,
1303 To man still more propitious; and their aid
1304 (Though guiltless of idolatry) implore;
1305 Nor longer rob them of their noblest name.
1306 O ye dividers of my time! ye bright
1307 Accomptants of my days, and months, and years,
1308 In your fair calendar distinctly mark'd!
1309 Since that authentic, radiant register,
1310 Though man inspects it not, stands good against him;
1311 Since you, and years, roll on, though man stands still;
1312 Teach me my days to number, and apply
1313 My trembling heart to wisdom; now beyond
1314 All shadow of excuse for fooling on.
1315 Age smooths our path to Prudence; sweeps aside
1316 The snares keen Appetite and Passion spread
1317 To catch stray souls; and woe to that grey head
1318 Whose folly would undo what Age has done!
1319 Aid, then, aid, all ye stars! — Much rather, THOU,
1320 Great ARTIST! Thou, whose finger set aright
1321 This exquisite machine, with all its wheels,
1322 Though intervolved, exact; and pointing out
1323 Life's rapid and irrevocable flight,
1324 With such an index fair as none can miss
1325 Who lifts an eye, nor sleeps till it is closed.
1326 Open mine eye, dread DEITY! to read
1327 The tacit doctrine of Thy works; to see
1328 Things as they are, unalter'd through the glass
1329 Of worldly wishes. Time, Eternity!
1330 ('T is these, mis-measured, ruin all mankind:)
1331 Set them before me; let me lay them both
1332 In equal scale, and learn their various weight.
1333 Let Time appear a moment as it is:
1334 And let Eternity's full orb, at once,
1335 Turn on my soul, and strike it into heaven.
1336 When shall I see far more than charms me now?
1337 Gaze on creation's model in Thy breast
1338 Unveil'd, nor wonder at the transcript more?
1339 When this vile foreign dust, which smothers all
1340 That travel Earth's deep vale, shall I shake off?
1341 When shall my Soul her incarnation quit,
1342 And, re-adopted to Thy bless'd embrace,
1343 Obtain her apotheosis in THEE?
1344 Dost think, Lorenzo, this is wandering wide?
1345 No: 't is directly striking at the mark:
1346 To wake thy dead devotion was my point;
1347 And how I bless Night's consecrating shades,
1348 Which to a temple turn an universe,
1349 Fill us with great ideas full of heaven,
1350 And antidote the pestilential earth!
1351 In every storm that either frowns or falls,
1352 What an asylum has the soul in prayer!
1353 And what a fane is this, in which to pray!
1354 And what a GOD must dwell in such a fane!
1355 O what a Genius must inform the skies!
1356 And is Lorenzo's salamander-heart
1357 Cold and untouch'd amid these sacred fires?
1358 O ye nocturnal sparks, ye glowing embers,
1359 On heaven's broad hearth! who burn, or burn no more,
1360 Who blaze, or die, as great JEHOVAH'S breath
1361 Or blows you, or forbears; assist my song;
1362 Pour your whole influence; exorcise his heart,
1363 So long possess'd; and bring him back to man.
1364 And is Lorenzo a demurrer still?
1365 Pride in thy parts provokes thee to contest
1366 Truths which, contested, put thy parts to shame.
1367 Nor shame they more Lorenzo's head than heart;
1368 A faithless heart, how despicably small!
1369 Too strait aught great or generous to receive!
1370 Fill'd with an atom! fill'd and foul'd with self!
1371 And self-mistaken! self, that lasts an hour!
1372 Instincts and passions, of the nobler kind,
1373 Lie suffocated there! or they alone,
1374 Reason apart, would wake high hope; and open,
1375 To ravish'd thought, that intellectual sphere
1376 Where Order, Wisdom, Goodness, Providence,
1377 Their endless miracles of love display,
1378 And promise all the truly great desire.
1379 The mind that would be happy, must be great;
1380 Great in its wishes; great in its surveys.
1381 Extended views a narrow mind extend;
1382 Push out its corrugate, expansive make,
1383 Which, ere long, more than planets shall embrace.
1384 A man of compass makes a man of worth:
1385 Divine contemplate, and become Divine.
1386 As man was made for glory and for bliss,
1387 All littleness is in approach to woe.
1388 Open thy bosom, set thy wishes wide,
1389 And let-in manhood; let-in happiness.
1390 Admit the boundless theatre of thought
1391 From nothing up to GOD; which makes a man.
1392 Take GOD from Nature, nothing great is left;
1393 Man's mind is in a pit, and nothing sees;
1394 Man's heart is in a jakes, and loves the mire.
1395 Emerge from thy profound; erect thine eye;
1396 See thy distress; how close art thou besieged!
1397 Besieged by Nature, the proud sceptic's foe!
1398 Enclosed by these innumerable worlds,
1399 Sparkling conviction on the darkest mind,
1400 As in a golden net of Providence
1401 How art thou caught, sure captive of Belief!
1402 From this thy bless'd captivity what art,
1403 What blasphemy to reason, sets thee free?
1404 This scene is Heaven's indulgent violence:
1405 Canst thou bear up against this tide of glory?
1406 What is earth, bosom'd in these ambient orbs,
1407 But faith in GOD imposed and press'd on man?
1408 Darest thou still litigate thy desperate cause,
1409 Spite of these numerous awful witnesses,
1410 And doubt the deposition of the Skies?
1411 O how laborious is thy way to ruin!
1412 Laborious? 'T is impracticable quite;
1413 To sink beyond a doubt, in this debate,
1414 With all his weight of wisdom, and of will,
1415 And crime flagitious, I defy a fool.
1416 Some wish they did; but no man disbelieves.
1417 GOD is a Spirit; spirit cannot strike
1418 These gross material organs; GOD by man
1419 As much is seen as man a GOD can see,
1420 In these astonishing exploits of power.
1421 What order, beauty, motion, distance, size!
1422 Concertion of design, how exquisite!
1423 How complicate in their Divine police!
1424 Apt means, great ends, consent to general good! —
1425 Each attribute of these material gods,
1426 So long (and that with specious pleas) adored,
1427 A separate conquest gains o'er rebel thought,
1428 And leads in triumph the whole mind of man.
1429 Lorenzo, this may seem harangue to thee;
1430 Such all is apt to seem that thwarts our will.
1431 And dost thou then demand a simple proof
1432 Of this great master-moral of the skies,
1433 Unskill'd, or disinclined, to read it there?
1434 Since 't is the basis, and all drops without it,
1435 Take it, in one compact, unbroken chain.
1436 Such proof insists on an attentive ear;
1437 'T will not make one amid a mob of thoughts,
1438 And, for thy notice, struggle with the world.
1439 Retire; the world shut out; thy thoughts call home;
1440 Imagination's airy wing repress;
1441 Lock up thy senses; let no passion stir;
1442 Wake all to Reason; let her reign alone:
1443 Then, in thy soul's deep silence, and the depth
1444 Of Nature's silence, midnight, thus inquire,
1445 As I have done, — and shall inquire no more.
1446 In Nature's channel thus the questions run: —
1447 "What am I? and from whence? — I nothing know
1448 But that I am; and, since I am, conclude
1449 Something eternal: had there e'er been nought,
1450 Nought still had been: eternal there must be.
1451 But what eternal? — Why not human race?
1452 And Adam's ancestors without an end? —
1453 That's hard to be conceived, since every link
1454 Of that long-chain'd succession is so frail;
1455 Can every part depend, and not the whole?
1456 Yet grant it true: new difficulties rise:
1457 I'm still quite out at sea; nor see the shore.
1458 Whence Earth, and these bright orbs? eternal too?
1459 Grant matter was eternal; still these orbs
1460 Would want some other father; — much design
1461 Is seen in all their motions, all their makes;
1462 Design implies intelligence and art:
1463 That can't be from themselves — or man; that art
1464 Man scarce can comprehend, could man bestow?
1465 And nothing greater, yet allow'd, than man. —
1466 Who motion, foreign to the smallest grain,
1467 Shot through vast masses of enormous weight?
1468 Who bid brute matter's restive lump assume
1469 Such various forms, and gave it wings to fly?
1470 Has matter innate motion? Then each atom,
1471 Asserting its indisputable right
1472 To dance, would form a universe of dust.
1473 Has matter none? Then whence these glorious forms
1474 And boundless flights, from shapeless and reposed?
1475 Has matter more than motion? Has it thought,
1476 Judgment, and genius? Is it deeply learn'd
1477 In mathematics? Has it framed such laws,
1478 Which but to guess, a Newton made immortal? —
1479 If so, how each sage atom laughs at me,
1480 Who think a clod inferior to a man!
1481 If art to form, and counsel to conduct,
1482 (And that with greater far than human skill,)
1483 Resides not in each block — a GODHEAD reigns!
1484 Grant, then, invisible, eternal MIND;
1485 That granted, all is solved. But, granting that,
1486 Draw I not o'er me a still darker cloud?
1487 Grant I not that which I can ne'er conceive?
1488 A Being without origin or end! —
1489 Hail, human liberty! There is no GOD. —
1490 Yet why? On either scheme that knot subsists;
1491 Subsist it must, in GOD, or human race:
1492 If in the last, how many knots beside,
1493 Indissoluble all! — Why choose it there,
1494 Where, chosen, still subsist ten thousand more?
1495 Reject it where, that chosen, all the rest,
1496 Dispersed, leave Reason's whole horizon clear?
1497 This is not Reason's dictate; Reason says,
1498 "Close with the side where one grain turns the scale."
1499 What vast preponderance is here! Can Reason
1500 With louder voice exclaim — "Believe a GOD?"
1501 And Reason heard is the sole mark of man.
1502 What things impossible must man think true
1503 On any other system! And how strange
1504 To disbelieve through mere credulity!"
1505 If in this chain Lorenzo finds no flaw,
1506 Let it for ever bind him to belief.
1507 And where the link in which a flaw he finds?
1508 And if a GOD there is, that GOD how great!
1509 How great that Power, whose providential care
1510 Through these bright orbs' dark centres darts a ray,
1511 Of Nature universal threads the whole,
1512 And hangs Creation, like a precious gem,
1513 Though little, on the footstool of His throne!
1514 That little gem, how large! A weight let fall
1515 From a fix'd star, in ages can it reach
1516 This distant earth? Say, then, Lorenzo, where,
1517 Where ends this mighty building? Where begin
1518 The suburbs of creation? Where the wall
1519 Whose battlements look o'er into the vale
1520 Of non-existence, Nothing's strange abode?
1521 Say, at what point of space JEHOVAH dropp'd
1522 His slacken'd line, and laid His balance by;
1523 Weigh'd worlds, and measured Infinite, no more?
1524 Where rears His terminating pillar high
1525 Its extra-mundane head; and says to gods,
1526 In characters illustrious as the sun? —
1527 I stand, the plan's proud period; I pronounce
1528 The work accomplish'd; the Creation closed:
1529 Shout, all ye gods! nor shout, ye gods, alone;
1530 Of all that lives, or, if devoid of life,
1531 That rests, or rolls, ye heights and depths, resound!
1532 Resound! resound! ye depths and heights, resound!
1533 Hard are those questions? — Answer harder still.
1534 Is this the sole exploit, the single birth,
1535 The solitary son, of Power Divine?
1536 Or has the' Almighty FATHER, with a breath,
1537 Impregnated the womb of distant space?
1538 Has He not bid, in various provinces,
1539 Brother-creations the dark bowels burst
1540 Of Night primeval; barren now no more?
1541 And He the central Sun, transpiercing all
1542 Those giant-generations, which disport
1543 And dance, as motes, in His meridian ray;
1544 That ray withdrawn, benighted, or absorb'd
1545 In that abyss of horror whence they sprung;
1546 While Chaos triumphs, repossess'd of all
1547 Rival Creation ravish'd from his throne?
1548 Chaos! of Nature both the womb and grave!
1549 Think'st thou my scheme, Lorenzo, spreads too wide?
1550 Is this extravagant? — No; this is just;
1551 Just in conjecture, though 'twere false in fact.
1552 If 't is an error, 't is an error sprung
1553 From noble root, high thought of the MOST HIGH.
1554 But wherefore error? Who can prove it such? —
1555 He that can set Omnipotence a bound.
1556 Can man conceive beyond what God can do?
1557 Nothing but quite impossible is hard.
1558 He summons into being, with like ease,
1559 A whole creation, and a single grain.
1560 Speaks He the word? a thousand worlds are born!
1561 A thousand worlds? There's space for millions more!
1562 And in what space can His great fiat fail?
1563 Condemn me not, cold critic! but indulge
1564 The warm imagination. Why condemn?
1565 Why not indulge such thoughts as swell our hearts
1566 With fuller admiration of that Power
1567 Who gives our hearts with such high thoughts to swell?
1568 Why not indulge in His augmented praise?
1569 Darts not His glory a still brighter ray,
1570 The less is left to Chaos, and the realms
1571 Of hideous Night, where Fancy strays aghast,
1572 And, though most talkative, makes no report?
1573 Still seems my thought enormous? Think again: —
1574 Experience 'self shall aid thy lame belief.
1575 Glasses — that revelation to the sight! —
1576 Have they not led us deep in the disclose
1577 Of fine-spun Nature, exquisitely small,
1578 And, though demonstrated, still ill-conceived?
1579 If then, on the reverse, the mind would mount
1580 In magnitude, what mind can mount too far,
1581 To keep the balance, and Creation poise?
1582 Defect alone can err on such a theme.
1583 What is too great, if we the Cause survey?
1584 Stupendous ARCHITECT! Thou, Thou art all!
1585 My soul flies up and down in thoughts of Thee,
1586 And finds herself but at the centre still!
1587 I AM, Thy name! existence, all Thine own!
1588 Creation's nothing; flatter'd much, if styled
1589 "The thin, the fleeting atmosphere of GOD."
1590 O for the voice — of what? of whom? What voice
1591 Can answer to my wants, in such ascent
1592 As dares to deem one universe too small?
1593 Tell me, Lorenzo! (for now Fancy glows,
1594 Fired in the vortex of Almighty power,)
1595 Is not this home-creation, in the map
1596 Of universal Nature, as a speck,
1597 Like fair Britannia in our little ball;
1598 Exceeding fair, and glorious, for its size,
1599 But, elsewhere, far out-measured, far outshone?
1600 In Fancy (for the fact beyond us lies)
1601 Canst thou not figure it, an isle, almost
1602 Too small for notice, in the vast of being;
1603 Sever'd by mighty seas of unbuilt space
1604 From other realms; from ample continents
1605 Of higher life, where nobler natives dwell;
1606 Less northern, less remote from DEITY,
1607 Glowing beneath the line of the Supreme;
1608 Where souls in excellence make haste, put forth
1609 Luxuriant growths; nor the late autumn wait
1610 Of human worth, but ripen soon to gods?
1611 Yet why drown Fancy in such depths as these?
1612 Return, presumptuous rover, and confess
1613 The bounds of man, nor blame them as too small.
1614 Enjoy we not full scope in what is seen?
1615 Full ample the dominions of the Sun!
1616 Full glorious to behold! How far, how wide,
1617 The matchless monarch, from his flaming throne,
1618 Lavish of lustre, throws his beams about him,
1619 Farther and faster than a thought can fly,
1620 And feeds his planets with eternal fires!
1621 This Heliopolis, by Greater far
1622 Than the proud tyrant of the Nile, was built;
1623 And He alone, who built it, can destroy.
1624 Beyond this city, why strays human thought?
1625 One Wonderful, enough for man to know!
1626 One Infinite, enough for man to range!
1627 One firmament, enough for man to read!
1628 O what voluminous instruction here!
1629 What page of wisdom is denied him? None;
1630 If learning his chief lesson makes him wise.
1631 Nor is instruction here our only gain:
1632 There dwells a noble pathos in the skies,
1633 Which warms our passions, proselytes our hearts.
1634 How eloquently shines the glowing pole!
1635 With what authority it gives its charge,
1636 Remonstrating great truths in style sublime,
1637 Though silent, loud! heard earth around; above
1638 The planets heard; and not unheard in hell:
1639 Hell has her wonder, though too proud to praise.
1640 Is Earth, then, more infernal? Has she those
1641 Who neither praise, Lorenzo, nor admire?
1642 Lorenzo's admiration, pre-engaged,
1643 Ne'er ask'd the moon one question; never held
1644 Least correspondence with a single star;
1645 Ne'er rear'd an altar to the queen of heaven
1646 Walking in brightness; or her train adored.
1647 Their sublunary rivals have long since
1648 Engross'd his whole devotion; stars malign,
1649 Which make their fond astronomer run mad,
1650 Darken his intellect, corrupt his heart;
1651 Cause him to sacrifice his fame and peace
1652 To momentary madness, call'd delight.
1653 Idolater more gross than ever kiss'd
1654 The lifted hand to Luna, or pour'd out
1655 The blood to Jove! — O THOU, to whom belongs
1656 All sacrifice! O Thou great Jove unfeign'd!
1657 Divine Instructor! Thy first volume this
1658 For man's perusal! all in CAPITALS!
1659 In moon and stars (Heaven's golden alphabet!)
1660 Emblazed to seize the sight; who runs may read;
1661 Who reads can understand. 'T is unconfined
1662 To Christian land or Jewry; fairly writ
1663 In language universal to MANKIND:
1664 A language lofty to the learn'd, yet plain
1665 To those that feed the flock, or guide the plough,
1666 Or from its husk strike out the bounding grain:
1667 A language worthy the Great MIND that speaks!
1668 Preface and comment to the sacred page!
1669 Which oft refers its reader to the skies,
1670 As pre-supposing his first lesson there,
1671 And Scripture's self a fragment, that unread.
1672 Stupendous book of wisdom to the wise!
1673 Stupendous book! and open'd, Night, by thee.
1674 By thee much open'd, I confess, O Night!
1675 Yet more I wish; but how shall I prevail?
1676 Say, gentle Night, whose modest, maiden beams
1677 Give us a new creation, and present
1678 The world's great picture soften'd to the sight;
1679 Nay, kinder far, far more indulgent still,
1680 Say, thou, whose mild dominion's silver key
1681 Unlocks our hemisphere, and sets to view
1682 Worlds beyond number, worlds conceal'd by day
1683 Behind the proud and envious star of noon!
1684 Canst thou not draw a deeper scene? and show
1685 The mighty Potentate, to whom belong
1686 These rich regalia pompously display'd
1687 To kindle that high hope? like him of Uz,
1688 I gaze around; I search on every side: —
1689 O for a glimpse of HIM my soul adores!
1690 As the chased hart, amid the desert waste,
1691 Pants for the living stream; for HIM who made her
1692 So pants the thirsty soul, amid the blank
1693 Of sublunary joys. Say, goddess, where?
1694 Where blazes His bright court? Where burns His throne?
1695 Thou know'st, for thou art near Him; by thee, round
1696 His grand pavilion, sacred Fame reports
1697 The sable curtains drawn. If not, can none
1698 Of thy fair daughter-train, so swift of wing,
1699 Who travel far, discover where He dwells?
1700 A star His dwelling pointed out below.
1701 Ye Pleiades, Arcturus, Mazzaroth,
1702 And thou, Orion, of still keener eye!
1703 Say, ye who guide the wilder'd in the waves,
1704 And bring them out of tempest into port!
1705 On which hand must I bend my course to find Him?
1706 These courtiers keep the secret of their KING;
1707 I wake whole nights, in vain, to steal it from them.
1708 I wake; and, waking, climb Night's radiant scale,
1709 From sphere to sphere; the steps by Nature set
1710 For man's ascent, at once to tempt and aid;
1711 To tempt his eye, and aid his towering thought,
1712 Till it arrives at the Great Goal of all.
1713 In ardent Contemplation's rapid car,
1714 From earth, as from my barrier, I set out.
1715 How swift I mount! Diminish'd earth recedes;
1716 I pass the moon; and from her further side
1717 Pierce heaven's blue curtain; strike into Remote;
1718 Where, with his lifted tube, the subtle sage
1719 His artificial airy journey takes,
1720 And to celestial lengthens human sight.
1721 I pause at every planet on my road,
1722 And ask for HIM who gives their orbs to roll,
1723 Their foreheads fair to shine. From Saturn's ring,
1724 In which of earths an army might be lost,
1725 With the bold comet take my bolder flight
1726 Amid those sovereign glories of the skies,
1727 Of independent, native lustre proud!
1728 The souls of systems, and the lords of life,
1729 Through their wide empires! — What behold I now?
1730 A wilderness of wonders burning round,
1731 Where larger suns inhabit higher spheres?
1732 Perhaps the viUas of descending gods!
1733 Nor halt I here; my toil is but begun,
1734 Tis but the threshold of the DEITY,
1735 Or far beneath it I am grovelling still.
1736 Nor is it strange; I built on a mistake:
1737 The grandeur of His works, whence Folly sought
1738 For aid, to Reason sets His glory higher;
1739 Who built thus high for worms, (mere worms to Him,)
1740 O where, Lorenzo, must the Builder dwell?
1741 Pause, then; and, for a moment, here respire —
1742 If human thought can keep its station here.
1743 Where am I? Where is Earth? Nay, where art thou,
1744 O Sun? — Is the Sun turn'd recluse? — And are
1745 His boasted expeditions short to mine?
1746 To mine, how short! On Nature's Alps I stand,
1747 And see a thousand firmaments beneath,
1748 A thousand systems, as a thousand grains!
1749 So much a stranger, and so late arrived,
1750 How can man's curious spirit not inquire,
1751 What are the natives of this world sublime,
1752 Of this so foreign, unterrestrial sphere,
1753 Where mortal, untranslated, never stray'd?
1754 "O ye, as distant from my little home
1755 As swiftest sunbeams in an age can fly!
1756 Far from my native element I roam,
1757 In quest of New and Wonderful to man.
1758 What province this of His immense domain,
1759 Whom all obeys? Or mortals here, or gods?
1760 Ye borderers on the coasts of bliss, what are you?
1761 A colony from heaven? or only raised,
1762 By frequent visit from heaven's neighbouring realms,
1763 To secondary gods, and half Divine?
1764 Whate'er your nature, this is past dispute, —
1765 Far other life you live, far other tongue
1766 You talk, far other thought, perhaps, you think,
1767 Than man. How various are the works of God!
1768 But say, what thought? Is Reason here enthroned,
1769 And absolute? or Sense in arms against her?
1770 Have you two lights? or need you no reveal'd?
1771 Enjoy your happy realms their golden age?
1772 And had your Eden an abstemious Eve?
1773 Our Eve's fair daughters prove their pedigree.
1774 And ask their Adams, "Who would not be wise? "
1775 Or, if your mother fell, are you redeem'd?
1776 And if redeem'd, is your Redeemer scorn'd?
1777 Is this your final residence? If not,
1778 Change you your scene, translated? or by death?
1779 And if by death, what death? — Know you disease?
1780 Or horrid war? — With war, this fatal hour,
1781 Europa groans (so call we a small field,
1782 Where kings run mad). In our world Death deputes
1783 Intemperance to do the work of Age,
1784 And, hanging up the quiver Nature gave him,
1785 As slow of execution, for despatch
1786 Sends forth imperial butchers; bids them slay
1787 Their sheep, (the silly sheep they fleeced before,)
1788 And toss him twice ten thousand at a meal.
1789 Sit all your executioners on thrones?
1790 With you, can rage for plunder make a GOD,
1791 And bloodshed wash out every other stain? —
1792 But you, perhaps, can't bleed: from matter gross
1793 Your spirits clean are delicately clad
1794 In fine-spun ether, privileged to soar,
1795 Unloaded, uninfected: how unlike
1796 The lot of man! How few of human race
1797 By their own mud unmurder'd! How we wage
1798 Self-war eternal! — Is your painful day
1799 Of hardy conflict o'er? or are you still
1800 Raw candidates at school? And have you those
1801 Who disaffect reversions, as with us? —
1802 But what are we? You never heard of man,
1803 Or earth; the Bedlam of the universe!
1804 Where Reason (undiseased with you) runs mad,
1805 And nurses Folly's children as her own;
1806 Fond of the foulest. In the sacred mount
1807 Of holiness, where Reason is pronounced
1808 Infallible; and thunders, like a god;
1809 E'en there, by saints the demons are outdone:
1810 What these think wrong, our saints refine to right;
1811 And kindly teach dull Hell her own black arts:
1812 Satan, instructed, o'er their morals smiles. —
1813 But this how strange to you, who know not man!
1814 Has the least rumour of our race arrived?
1815 Call'd here Elijah, in his flaming car?
1816 Pass'd by you the good Enoch, on his road
1817 To those fair fields, whence Lucifer was hurl'd;
1818 Who brush'd, perhaps, your sphere, in his descent,
1819 Stain'd your pure crystal ether, or let fall
1820 A short eclipse from his portentous shade?
1821 O that the fiend had lodged on some broad orb
1822 Athwart his way, nor reach'd his present home!
1823 Then blacken'd earth with footsteps foul'd in hell,
1824 Nor wash'd in ocean, as from Rome he pass'd
1825 To Britain's isle; too, too conspicuous there! "
1826 But this is all digression. Where is He
1827 That o'er heaven's battlements the felon hurl'd
1828 To groans, and chains, and darkness? Where is He
1829 Who sees Creation's summit in a vale?
1830 He whom, while man is MAN, he can't but seek;
1831 And, if he finds, commences more than man?
1832 O for a telescope His throne to reach!
1833 Tell me, ye learn'd on earth, or bless'd above!
1834 Ye searching, ye Newtonian angels! tell,
1835 Where your great Master's orb? His planets, where?
1836 Those conscious satellites, those morning stars,
1837 First-born of DEITY! from Central Love,
1838 By veneration most profound, thrown off;
1839 By sweet attraction no less strongly drawn;
1840 Awed, and yet raptured; raptured, yet serene;
1841 Past thought illustrious, but with borrow'd beams;
1842 In still approaching circles, still remote,
1843 Revolving round the sun's eternal Sire?
1844 Or sent, in lines direct, on embassies
1845 To nations — in what latitude? — Beyond
1846 Terrestrial thought's horizon. — And on what
1847 High errands sent? — Here human effort ends;
1848 And leaves me still a stranger to His throne.
1849 Full well it might! I quite mistook my road;
1850 Born in an age more curious than devout;
1851 More fond to fix the place of heaven or hell,
1852 Than studious this to shun, or that secure.
1853 'T is not the curious, but the pious, path
1854 That leads me to my point: Lorenzo, know,
1855 Without or star or angel for their guide,
1856 Who worship GOD shall find Him. Humble Love,
1857 And not proud Reason, keeps the door of heaven;
1858 Love finds admission, where proud Science fails.
1859 Man's science is the culture of his heart;
1860 And not to lose his plummet in the depths
1861 Of Nature, or the more profound of GOD:
1862 Either to know, is an attempt that sets
1863 The wisest on a level with the fool.
1864 To fathom Nature (ill-attempted here!)