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2. Should fate command me to the farthest verge
Of the green earth, to distant barb'rous climes,
Rivers unknown to song; where first the sun
Gilds Indian mountains, or his setting beam
Flames on th' Atlantic isles; 'tis nought to me;
Since God is ever present, ever felt,
In the void waste as in the city full;
And where HE vital breathes there must be joy.
9. When e'en at last the solemn hour shall come,
nd wing my mystic flight to future worlds,
I cheerful will obey; there, with new pow'rs,
Will rising wonders sing: I cannot go
Where UNIVERSAL LOVE not smiles around,
Sustaining all yon orbs, and all their suns;
From seeming evil still educing good,
And better thence again, and better still,
In infinite progression. But I lose
Myself in HIM, in light ineffable!
Come then, expressive silence, muse his praise.
1. O SOLITUDE, romantic maid!
Whether by nodding towers you tread,
Or haunt the desert's trackless gloom,
Or hover o'er the yawning tomb,
Or climb the Andes' clifted side,
Or by the Nile's coy source abide,
Or, starting from your half-year's sleep,
From Hecla view the thawing deep,
Or, at the purple dawn of day,
Tadmor's marble wastes survey;
You, recluse, again I woo,
And again your steps pursue.
Plum'd conceit himself surveying,
Folly with her shadow playing,
Purse-proud elbowing insolence,
Bloated empiric, puff'd pretence,
Noise that through a trumpet speaks,
Laughter in loud peals that breaks,
Intrusion with a fopling's face,
(Ignorant of time and place,)
Sparks of fire dissension blowing,
Dictile, court-bread flattery bowing,
Restraint's stiff neck, grimace's leer,
Squint-ey'd censure's artful sneer,
Ambition's buskins, steep'd in blood,
Fly thy presence, Solitude!
Sage reflection, bent with years,
Conscious virtue, void of fears,
Muffled silence, wood-nymph shy,
Meditation's piercing eye,
Halcyon peace on moss reclin'?,
Retrospect that scans the mind,
Papt earth-gazing revery,
Blushing artless modesty,
Health that snuffs the morning air,
Fun-ey'd truth with bosom bare,
Inspiration, nature's child,
Seek the solitary wild.
When all nature's hush'd asleep,
Nor love, nor guilt, their vigils keep,
Soft you leave your cavern'd den,
And wander o'er the works of men:
But when Phosphor brings the dawn,
By her dappled coursers drawn,
Again you to the wild retreat,
And the early huntsman meet,
Where, as you pensive pass along,
You catch the distant shepherd's song,
Or brush from herbs the pearly dew,
Or the rising primrose view,
Devotion lends her heaven-plum'd wings,
You mount, and nature with you sings.
But when mid-day fervours glow,
To upland airy shades you go,
Where never sun-burnt woodman came,
Nor sportsman chas'd the timid game;
And there, beneath an oak reclin'd,
With drowsy waterfalls behind,
You sink to rest.
Till the tuneful bird of night,
From the neighb'ring poplar's height,
Wake you with her solemn strain,
And teach pleas d echo to complain,
With you roses brighter bloom,
Sweeter every sweet perfume;
Purer every fountain flows,
Stronger every wilding grows,
Let those toil for gold who please,
Or, for fame renounce their ease.
What is fame? An empty bubble;
Gold? a shining, constant trouble.
Lethem for their country bleed !
What was Sidney's, Raleigh's meed?
Man's not worth a moment's pain;
Base, ungrateful, fickle, vain.
Then let me, sequester'd fair,
To your sybil grot repair;
On yon hanging cliff it stands,
Scoop'd by nature's plastic bands,
Bosom'd in the gloomy shade
Of cyprus not with age decay'd;
Where the owl still hooting sits,
Where the bat incessant flits;
There in loftier strains I'll sing
Whence the changing seasons spring;
Tell how storms deform the skies,
Whence the waves subside and rise,
Trace the comet's blazing tail,
Weigh the planets in a scale;
Bend, great God, before thy shrine ;
The bournless microcosm's thine.
Since in each scheme of life I've fail'd, And disappointment seems entail'd ; Since all on earth I valued most, My guide, my stay, my friend is lost; O Solitude, now give me rest, And hush the tempest in my breast. O gently deign to guide my feet To your hermit-trodden seat; Where I may live at last my own, Where I at last may die unknown. 9. I spoke she turn'd her magic ray;
And thus she said, or seem'd to say; Youth, you're mistaken, if you think to find In shades, a med'cine for a troubled mind; Wan grief will haunt you wheresoe'er you go, Sigh in the breeze, and in the streamlet flow. There, pale inaction pines his life away; And satiate mourns the quick return of day: There, naked frenzy laughing wild with pain, Or bares the blade, or plunges in the main ; There, superstition broods o'er all her fears, And yells of demons in the zephyr hears.
10. But if a hermit you're resolv'd to dwell,
And bid to social life a last farewell;
God never made an independent man;
'Twould jar the concord of his genʼral plan.
See every part of that stupendous whole,
"Whose body nature is, and God the soul;"
To one great end the general good conspire,
From matter, brute, to man, to seraph, fire.
11. Should man through nature solitary roam,
His will his sovereign, every where his home,
What force would guard him from the lion's jaw?
What swiftness wing him from the panther's paw?
Or should fate lead him to some safer shore,
Where panthers never prowl, nor lions roar,
Where liberal nature all her charms bestows,
Suns shine, birds sing, flowers bloom, and water flows,
Fool, dost thou think he'd revel on the store,
Absolve the care of Heaven, nor ask for more?
Though waters flow'd, flow'rs bloom'd, and Phœbus
He'd sigh, he'd murmur, that he was alone.
For know, the Maker on the human breast
A sense of kindred, country, man, impress'd.
12. Though nature's works the ruling mind declare,
And well deserve inquiry's serious care,
The God (whate'er misanthropy may say,)
Shines, beams in man with most unclouded ray.
What boots it thee to fly from pole to pole?
Hang o'er the sun, and with the planets roll?
What boots through space's furthest bourns to roam?
If thou, O man, a stranger art at home.
Then know thyself, the human mind survey;
The use, the pleasure, will the toil repay.
13. Nor study only, practise what you know;
Your life, your knowledge, to mankind you owe.
With Plato's olive wreath the bays entwine;
Those who in study, should in practice shine.
Say, does the learned lord of Hagley's shade,
Charm man so much by mossy fountains laid,
As when arous'd he stems corruptions course,
And shakes the senate with a Tully's force?
When freedom gasp'd beneath a Cesar's feet,
Then public virtue might to shades retreat:
But where she breathes, the least may useful be,
And freedom, Britain, still belongs to thee.
14. Though man's ungrateful, or though fortune frown;
Is the reward of worth, a song, or crown?
Nor yet unrecompens'd are virtue's pains;
Good Allen lives, and bounteous Brunswick reigns.
On each condition disappointments wait,
Enter the hut, and force the guarded gate.
Nor dare repine though early friendship bleed :
From love, the world, and all its cares, he's freed.
But know, adversity's the child of God;
Whom Heaven approves of most, must feel her rod. 15. When smooth old Ocean, and each storm's asleep, Then ignorance may plough the wat'ry deep : But when the demons of the tempest rave, Skill must conduct the vessel through the wave. Sidney, what good man envies not thy blow? Who would not wish Anytus* for a foe? Intrepid virtue triumphs over fate: The good can never be unfortunate; And be this maxim graven in thy mind; The height of virtue is, to serve mankind. 16. But when old age has silver'd o'er thy head, When memory fails, and all thy vigour's fled, Then mayst thou seek the stillness of retreat, Then hear aloof the human tempest beat; Then will I greet thee to my woodland cave, Allay the pangs of age, and smooth thy grave.
One of the accusers of Socrates.