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Heart-merit wanting, mount we ne'er so high,
Our height is but the gibbet of our name.
A celebrated wretch when I behold,
When I behold a genius bright and base,
Of towering talents and terrestrial aims,
Methinks I see, as thrown from her high sphere,
The glorious fragments of a soul immortal
With rubbish mix'd, and glittering in the dust:
Struck at the splendid melancholy sight,
At once compassion soft and envy rise.
But wherefore envy? Talents angel-bright,
If wanting worth, are shining instruments
In false ambition's hand, to finish faults
Illustrious, and give infamy renown.
Let genius, then, despair to make thee great;
Nor flatter station. What is station high?
'Tis a proud mendicant: it boasts and begs;
It begs an alms of homage from the throng,
And oft the throng denies its charity.
Monarchs and ministers are awful names;
Whoever wear them, challenge our devoir.
Religion, public order, both exact
External homage and a supple knee
To beings pompously set up, to serve
The meanest slave: all more is merit's due,
Her sacred and inviolable right;
Nor ever paid the monarch, but the man.
Our hearts ne'er bow but to superior worth,
Nor ever fail of their allegiance there.
Fools, indeed, drop the man in their account,
And vote the mantle into majesty.
Let the small savage boast his silver fur,
His royal robe unborrowed and unbought,
His own, descending fairly from his sires ;
Shall man be proud to wear his livery,
And souls in ermine scorn a soul without?
Can place or lessen us or aggrandise?
Pigmies are pigmies still though perch'd on Alps,
And pyramids are pyramids in vales.
Each man makes his own stature, builds himself.
HUMAN LIFE COMPARED TO THE SEA.
Virtue alone outbuilds the pyramids;
Her monuments shall last when Egypt's fall.
Human Life compared to the Sea.
SELF-FLATTER'D, unexperienced, high in hope,
When young, with sanguine cheer and streamers gay
We cut our cable, launch into the world,
And fondly dream each wind and star our friend;
All in some darling enterprise embark'd:
But where is he can fathom its event?
Amid a multitude of artless hands,
Ruin's sure perquisite, her lawful prize!
Some steer aright, but the black blast blows hard,
And puffs them wide of hope: with hearts of proof,
Full against wind and tide, some win their way;
And when strong effort has deserved the port
And tugg'd it into view, 'tis won! 'tis lost!
Though strong their oar, still stronger is their fate:
They strike; and while they triumph, they expire.
In stress of weather most, some sink outright;
O'er them and o'er their names the billows close;
To-morrow knows not they were ever born.
Others a short memorial leave behind;
Like a flag floating when the bark's ingulf'd,
It floats a moment, and is seen no more.
One Cæsar lives, a thousand are forgot.
How few beneath auspicious planets born
(Darlings of Providence, fond Fate's elect!)
With swelling sails make good the promised port,
With all their wishes freighted! yet e'en these,
Freighted with all their wishes, soon complain.
Free from misfortune, not from nature free,
They still are men; and when is man secure?
As fatal time, as storm: the rush of years
Beats down their strength; their numberless escapes
In ruin end. And now their proud success
But plants new terrors on the victor's brow:
What pain to quit the world just made their own,
Their nest so deeply down'd and built so high!
Too low they build who build beneath the stars.
Born A.D. 1688, died A.D. 1744.
YE nymphs of Solyma, begin the song;
To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong.
The mossy fountains and the sylvan shades,
The dreams of Pindus2 and the Aonian maids,
Delight no more-O Thou my voice inspire,
Who touch'd Isaiah's hallow'd lips with fire!
Rapt into future times, the bard begun :
A Virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a Son!
From Jesse's root behold a branch arise,
Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies.
The ethereal spirit o'er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descends the mystic dove.
Ye heavens! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly shower!
The sick and weak the healing plant shall aid,
From storm a shelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail ;
Returning Justice lift aloft her scale;
Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-robed innocence from heaven descend,
Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn!
Oh spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born!
See, Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring:
See lofty Lebanon his head advance,
See nodding forests on the mountains dance:
See spicy clouds from lowly Saron rise,
And Carmel's flowery top perfume the skies!
1 There are in this poem continual imitations of the prophet Isaiah.
2 A mountain in Thessaly, supposed in heathen mythology to be the seat of the Muses, who are here called the Aonian maids.
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers:
Prepare the way! a God, a God appears!
A God! a God! the vocal hills reply;
The rocks proclaim the approaching Deity.
Lo, earth receives him from the bending skies!
Sink down, ye mountains; and ye valleys, rise!
With heads declined, ye cedars, homage pay;
Be smooth, ye rocks; ye rapid floods, give way.
The Saviour comes! by ancient bards foretold:
Hear him, ye deaf; and all ye blind, behold!
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eyeball pour the day:
'Tis he the obstructed paths of sound shall clear,
And bid new music charm the unfolding ear:
The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting, like the bounding roe.
No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear;
From every face he wipes off every tear.
In adamantine chains shall death be bound,
And hell's grim tyrant feel the eternal wound.
As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pasture and the purest air;
Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs,
By day o'ersees them, and by night protects;
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hand, and in his bosom warms:
Thus shall mankind his guardian care engage,
The promised father of the future age.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes,
Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover'd o'er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end.
Then palaces shall rise; the joyful son
Shall finish what his short-lived sire begun :
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield,
And the same hand that sow'd shall reap the field.
The swain in barren deserts with surprise
Sees lilies spring, and sudden verdure rise;
And starts, amidst the thirsty wilds to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear.
On rifted rocks, the dragon's late abodes,
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods.
Waste sandy valleys once perplex'd with thorn,
The spiry fir and shapely box adorn :
To leafless shrubs the flowery palms succeed,
And odorous myrtle to the noisome weed.
The lambs with wolves shall graze the verdant mead,
And boys in flowery bands the tiger lead.
The steer and lion at one crib shall meet,
And harmless serpents lick the pilgrim's feet.
The smiling infant in his hand shall take
The crested basilisk and speckled snake,
Pleased the green lustre of the scales survey,
And with their forky tongues shall innocently play.
Rise, crown'd with light, imperial Salem rise!
Exalt thy towery head, and lift thy eyes!
See a long race thy spacious courts adorn ;
See future sons and daughters yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on every side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies!
See barbarous nations at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend ;.
See thy bright altars throng'd with prostrate kings,
And heap'd with products of Sabean springs!
For thee Idume's spicy forests blow,
And seeds of gold in Ophir's mountains glow.
See heaven its sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon them in a flood of day!
No more the rising sun shall gild the morn,
Nor evening Cynthia fill her silver horn;
But lost, dissolved in thy superior rays,
One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze
O'erflow thy courts: the Light himself shall shine
Reveal'd, and God's eternal day be thine!
The seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away!
But fix'd his word, his saving power remains;
Thy realm for ever lasts, thy own Messiah reigns!