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REFLECTIONS ON A FUTURE STATE,
'Tis done! dread Winter spreads his latest glooms, And reigns tremendous o'er the conquer'd year. How dead the vegetable kingdom lies!
How dumb the tuneful! Horror wide extends
His desolate domain. Behold, fond man!
See here thy pictur'd life; pass some few years,
Thy flow'ring Spring, thy Summer's ardent strength,
Thy sober Autumn fading into age,
And pale concluding Winter comes at last,
And shuts the scene.
Ah! whither now are fled
Those dreams of greatness? those unsolid hopes
Of happiness? those longings after fame?
Those restless cares? those busy bustling days? Those gay-spent festive nights? those veering thoughts,
Lost between good and ill, that shar'd thy life?
All now are vanish'd! Virtue sole survives,
Immortal never-failing friend of man,
His guide to happiness on high. And see!
'Tis come, the glorious morn! the second birth
Of heaven and earth! awak'ning nature hears
The new-creating word, and starts to life,
In ev'ry heighten'd form, from pain and death
For ever free. The great eternal scheme,
Involving all, and in a perfect whole
Uniting as the prospect wider spreads,
To reason's eye refin'd, clears up apace.
Ye vainly wise! ye blind presumptuous! now,
Confounded in the dust, adore that Power,
And Wisdom, oft arraign'd; see now the cause,
Why unassuming worth in secret liv'd,
And dy'd, neglected: why the good man's share
In life was gall and bitterness of soul:
Why the lone widow and her orphans pin'd
In starving solitude, while luxury,
In palaces, lay straining her low thought,
To form unreal wants: why heaven-born truth,
And moderation fair, wore the red marks
Of superstition's scourge: why licens'd pain,
That cruel spoiler, that embosom'd foe,
Imbitter'd all our bliss. Ye good distrest!
Ye noble few! who here unbending stand
Beneath life's pressure, yet bear up awhile,
And what your bounded view, which only saw
A little part, deem'd evil, is no more:
The storm of Wint'ry Time will quickly pass,
And one unbounded Spring encircle all.
THESE, as they change, Almighty Father, these,
Are but the varied GOD. The rolling year
Is full of Thee. Forth in the pleasing Spring
Thy beauty walks, thy tenderness and love.
Wide flush the fields; the soft'ning air is balm;
Echo the mountains round; the forest smiles;
And ev'ry sense, and ev'ry heart is joy.
Then comes thy glory in the Summer-months,
With light and heat refulgent. Then thy sun
Shoots full perfection through the swelling year:
And oft thy voice in dreadful thunder speaks;
And oft at dawn, deep noon, or falling eve,
By brooks and groves, in hollow-whisp'ring gales.
Thy bounty shines in Autumn unconfin'd,
And spreads a common feast for all that lives.
In Winter awful thou! with clouds and storms
Around thee thrown, tempest o'er tempest roll'd,
Majestic darkness! on the whirlwind's wing,
Riding sublime, thou bid'st the world adore,
And humblest nature with thy northern blast.
Mysterious round! what skill, what force divine, Deep felt, in these appear! a simple train, Yet so delightful mix'd, with such kind art, Such beauty and beneficence combin'd; Shade, unperceiv'd, so soft'ning into shade: And all so forming an harmonious whole, That, as they still succeed, they ravish still. But wand'ring oft, with brute unconscious gaze, Man marks not Thee, marks not the mighty hand That, ever busy, wheels the silent spheres; Works in the secret deep: shoots, steaming, thence The fair profusion that o'erspreads the Spring; Flings from the sun direct the flaming day; Feeds ev'ry creature; hurls the tempest forth; And as on earth this grateful change revolves, With transport touches all the springs of life.
Nature attend! join ev'ry living soul
Beneath the spacious temple of the sky,
In adoration join; and ardent, raise
One gen'ral song! To Him, ye vocal gales,
Breathe soft, whose Spirit in your freshness breathes:
O talk of Him in solitary glooms!
Where, o'er the rock, the scarcely waving pine
Fills the brown shade with a religious awe.
And ye, whose bolder note is heard afar,
Who shake th' astonish'd world, lift high to heav'n
from whom you rage.
Th'impetuous song, and say
His praise, ye brooks, attune, ye trembling rills;
And let me catch it as I muse along.
Ye headlong torrents, rapid and profound;
Ye softer floods, that lead the human maze
Along the vale; and thou, majestic main,
A secret world of wonders in thyself,
Sound his stupendous praise, whose greater voice
Or bids you roar, or bids your roarings fall.
Soft roll your incense, herbs, and fruits, and flow'rs,
In mingled clouds to him, whose sun exalts,
Whose breath perfumes you, and whose pencil paints.
Ye forests, bend; ye harvests, wave to him;
Breathe your still song into the reaper's heart,
As home he goes beneath the joyous moon.
Ye that keep watch in heaven, as earth asleep
Unconscious lies, effuse your mildest beams,
Ye constellations, while your angels strike,
Amid the spangled sky, the silver lyre.
Great source of day! best image here below
Of thy Creator, ever pouring wide,
From world to world, the vital ocean round:
On nature write with every beam his praise.
The thunder rolls: be hush'd the prostrate world:
While cloud to cloud returns the solemn hymn.
Bleat out afresh, ye hills; ye mossy rocks,
Retain the sound: the broad responsive lowe,