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When self-esteem, or others adulation,
Would cunuingly persuade us we were something
Above the common level of our kind,
The grave gainsays the smooth - complexion'd flattr'y,
And with blunt truth acquaints us what we are.
Beauty - thou pretty play- thing, dear deceit,
That steals so softly o'er the stripling's heart,
And gives it a new pulse, unknown before,
The grave discredits thee: thy charms expung'd,
Thy roses faded, and thy lilies soil'd,
What bast thou more to boast of? Will thy lovers
Flock round thee now, to gaze and do thee homage?
Methinks I see thee with thy head low laid,
Whilst surfeited upon thy damask cheek
The high fed worm, in lazy volumes rollid,
Riots unscar'd. For this, was all thy caution ?
For this, thy painful labours at thy glass ?
T'improve those charms, and keep them in repair,
For which the spoiler thanks thee not. Foul feeder,
Coarse fare and carrion please thee full as well,
And leave as keen a relish on the sense.
Look how the fair one weeps ! tbe conscious tears
Stand thick, as dew-drops on the bells of flow'rs:
Honest effusion! the swolln heart in vain
Works hard to put a gloss on its distress.
Strength too thou surly, and less genıle boast
Of those that loud laugh at the village ring;
A fit of common sickness pulls thee down,
With greater ease, than e'er thou didst the strippling
That rashly dar'd thee to th' unequal fight.
What groan was that I heard ? deep groan indeed!
With anguish heavy laden ; let me trace it:
From yonder bed it comes, where the strong man,
By stronger arm belabour'd, gasps for breatht
Like a hard - hunted beast. How his great heart
Beats thick! his roomy chest by far too scant
To give the lungs full play.
What now avail
The strong-built sinewy limbs, and well - spread shoulders?
See how he tugs for life, and lays about him,
Mad with his pain! Eager he catches hold
Of what comes next to hand, and grasps it hard,
Just like a creature drowning; hideous sight!
Oh! how his eyes stand out, and stare full ghastly!
Whilst the distemper's rank and deadly venom
Shoots like a burning arrow cross his bowels,
And drinks his marrow up.
that groan? It was his last.
See how the great Goliab,
Just like a child that brawl'd itself to rest,
Lies still. What mean'st thou then, O mighty boaster,
To vaunt of nerves of thine? what means the bull,
Unconscious of his strength, to play the coward,
And flee before a feeble thing like man;
That, knowing well the slackness of his arm,
Trusts only in the well - invented knife?
With study pale, and midnight vigils spent,
surveying sage close to his
Applies the sight-invigorating tube:
And travelling through the boundless length of
Marks well the courses of the far - seen orbs,
That roll with regular confusion there,
In ecstasy of thought. But ah! proud man!
Great heights are hazardous to the weak head;
Soon, very soon, thy firmest fooring fails;
And down thou dropp'st into that darksome place,
Where nor device nor knowledge ever came.
Here the tongue-warrior lies disabled now,
Disarmid, dishonour'd, like a wretch that's gagg'd,
And cannot tell his ails to passers by..
Great man of language, — whence this mighty change,
This dumb despair, and drooping of the head?
Though strong persuasion hung upon thy lip,
And sly insinuation's softer arts
In ambush lay about thy flowing tongue;
Alas! how chop-fall'n now! Thick 'mists and silence
Rest, like a weary cloud, upon thy breast
Ah ! where is the lifted arm,
The strength of action, and the force of words;
The well - turn’d period, and the well - tun’d voice,
With all the lesser ornaments of phrase?
Ah! fled for ever, as they ne'er had been,
Raz'd from the book of fame: or,, more provoking,
Perchance some hackney hunger - bitten scribbler
Insults thy memory, and blots thy tomb
With long flat narrative, or duller rhymes,
With heavy halting pace that drawl along;
Enough to rouse a dead man into rage,
And warm with red resentment the wan chcek.
Here the great masters of the healing-art,
These mighty mock defrauders of the tomb,
Spite of their juleps and catholicons,
Resign to fate.
Proud Æsculapius' son!
Where are thy, boasted implements of art,
And all thy well - cramm'd magazines of health ?
Nor hill, nor vale, as far as ship could go,
Nor margin of the gravel-bottom'd brook,
Escap'd tby rilling hand; from stubborn shrubs
Thou wrung'st their sky - retiring virtues out,
And vex'd them in the fire: nor fly, nor insect,
Nor writhy snake, escap'd thy deep research.
But why this apparatus ? why this cost ?
Tell us, thou doughty keeper from the grave,
Where are thy recipes and cordials now,
With the long list of vouchers for thy cures ?
Alas! thou speakest not. - The bold impostor
Looks not more silly, when the cheat's found out.
Here the lank-sided miser, worst of felons Who ‘meanly stole ( discreditable shift), From back and belly too, their proper. cheer, Eas'd of a tax it irk'd ibe wretch to pay To his own carcase, now lies cheaply lodg’d, By clam'rous appetites no longer teas'd, Nor tedious bills of charges aud repairs. But, ah! where are his rents, his comings - in? Ay! now you've made the rich man poor indeed: Robb’d of his gods, what has he left behind ? Oh cursed lust of gold; when for thy sake The fool throws up his int'rest in both worlds: First starv'd in this, then damn'd in that to come.
V. 655 – 768 But know, that thou must render up thy dead, And with high intrest too! They are not thine; But only in thy keeping for a season, Till the great promis'd day of restitution: When loud diffusiye sound from brazen trump Of strong-lung'd cherub shall alarm thy captives,
And rouse the long, long sleepers into life,
Day - light, and liberty. -
Then must thy doors fly open, and reveal
The mines that lay long forming under ground,
In their dark cells immurd; but now full ripe,
And pure ag silver from the crucible,
That twice has stood the torture of the fire,
And inquisition of the forge. We know,
Th' illustrious deliverer of mankind,
The Son of God, thee foil'd.
Him in thy power
Thou couldst not hold : self- vigorous he rose;
And, shaking off thy fetters, soon retook
Those spoils his voluntary yielding lent:
(Sure pledge of our releasment from thy thrall!)
Twice twenty days he sojourn'd here on earth,
And show'd himself alive to chosen witnesses,
By proofs so strong, that the most slow assenting
Had not a scruple left. This having done,
He mounted up to heav'n. Methinks I see him
Climb the aërial heights, and glide along
Athwart the severing clouds: but the faint eye,
Flung backwards in the chase, soon drops its hold;
Disabled quite, and jaded with pursuing.
Heaven's portals wide expand to let him in;
Nor are his friends shut out: As a great prince
Not for himself alone procurés admission,
But for his train. It was his royal will,
That where he is, there should his followers be.
Death only lies between! – A gloomy path!
Made yet more gloomy by our coward fears:
But nor untrod, nor tedious: the fatigue
Will soon go off. Besides, there's no bye-road
To bliss. Then, why, like ill-condition'd children,
Start we at transient hardships in' the way
That leads to purer air, and softer skies,
And a ne'er - setting sun ? - Fools that we are !
We wish to be,' where sweets unwith'ring bloom;
But strait our wish revoke, and will not go.
So have I seen, upon a summer's ev'n,
Fast by the riv'let's brink, a youngster play:
How wishfully he looks to stem the tide!
This moment resolute, next unresolv'd:
At last, he dips his foot; but as he dips,
His fears redouble, and he runs away
From th' inoffensive stream, unmindful now
Of all the flow'rs that paint the further bank
And smil'd so sweet of late. Thrice welcome death! .
That after many a painful bleeding step
Conducts us to our home, and lands us safe
On the long-wish’d- for shore. -- Prodigious change!
Our bane turn'd to a blessing! Death, disarm'd
Loges his fellness quite. All thanks to him
Who scourg’d the venom out! Sure the last end
Of the good man is peace! How calm his exit!
Night - dews fall not more gently to the ground,
Nor weary worn-out winds expire so soft.
Behold 'him in the evening - tide of life,
All life well - spent, whose early care it was,
His riper years should not upbraid his green:
By unperceiv'd degrees he wears away;
Yet, like the sun seems larger at his setting.
(High in his faith and hopes,) look, how he reaches
After the prize in view! and, like a bird
That's hamper’d, struggles hard to get away:
Whilst the glad gates of sight are wide expanded
To let new glories in, the first fair fruits
Of the fast- coming harvest ! Then, oh then!
Each earth - born joy grows vile, or disappears,
Shrunk to a thing of nought.
Oh! how he longs
To have his passport sign’d, and be dismiss'd !
'Tis done! and now he's happy! The glad soul
Has not a wish uncrown'd. Ev’n the lag flesh
Rests too in hope of meeting once again
Its better half, never to sunder more.
Nor shall it hope in vain: The timc draws on
When not a single spot of burial earth,
Whether on land, or in the spacious sea,
But must give back its long-committed dust
Inviolate: and faithfully shall these
the full account: not the least atom
Embezzl'd, or mislaid, of the whole tale.
Each soul shall have a body ready furnish'd;
And each shall have his own. Hence, ye profane!
Ask not, how this can be? Sure the same pow's