Grave, a poem, or, A view of life, death and immortality
A VIEW OF
Life, Death, and Immortality.
BY THAT SUBLIME POET
Mr. ROBERT BLAIR.
The House appointed for all living ---Job.
THE FIFTEENTH EDITION.
Humbly recommended to the perusal of all who wish to live and die well.
PRINTED BY T. JOHNSTON.
And Sold at his Shop, East side of the Post-Office.
Whilst ſome affect the ſun, and ſome the ſhade,
Some flee the city, ſome the hermitage;
Their aims as various as the roads they take
In journeying thro' life:—The taſk be mine
To paint the gloomy horrors of the Tomb!
Th' appointed place of rendezvous, where all
Theſe travellers meet.—Thy fuccours I implore,
Eternal King! whoſe potent arm ſuſtains
The keys of hell and death—The Grave, dread thing!
Men ſhiver, when thou art nam'd! Nature appall'd
Shakes off her wonted firmneſs.—Ah! how dark
Thy long-extended realms, and rueful waſtes;
Where nought but ſilence reigns, and Night, dark
Dark as was Chaos, ere the infant ſun
Was roll'd together, or had try'd his beams
Athwart the gloom profound.—The ſickly taper,
By glimmering thro' the low-brow'd miſty vaults,
(Furr'd round with moulds damps, and ropy ſlime,)
Lets fall a ſupernumerary horror!
And only ſerves to make thy night more irkſome.
Well do I know thee by thy truſty Yew,
Ghearleſs, unſocial plant, that loves to dwell
'Midſt ſculls and coffins, epitaphs and worms;
Where light-heel'd ghoſts and viſionary ſhades,
Beneath the wan cold moon (as fame reports)
Embody'd, thick, perform their myſtic rounds.
No other merriment, dull tree, is thine.
See yonder hallow'd Fane——the pious work
Of names once fam'd, nor dubious or forgot,
And bury'd midſt the wreck of things which were:
There lie interr'd the more illuſtrious dead.
The wind is up——hark how it howls! Methinks
Till now I never heard a ſound ſo dreary :
Doors creak; and windows clap, and Night's foul bird
Rooks in the ſpire, ſcream loud——the gloomy iſles,
Black plaſter'd, and hung round with ſhreds of
And tatter'd coats of arms, ſend back the ſound,
Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults,
The manſions of the dead.—— Rous'd from their
In grim array the griſly ſpectres riſe,
Grin horribly, and obſtinately fallen
Paſs and repaſs, huſh'd as the foot of Night.
Again the ſcreech-owl ſhrieks—— ungracious ſound!
I'll hear no more, it makes one's blood run chill.
Quite round the pile, a row of reverend elms
(Coræval near with that.) all ragged ſhew,
Long laſh'd by the rude winds ——Some riſt half-down
Their brauchleſs trunks ——others ſo thin a-top,
That ſcarce two crows can lodge in the ſame tree.
Strange things the neighbourſ ſay, have happen'd here.
Wild ſhrieks have iſſued from the hollow tombs;
Dead men have come again, and walk'd about
And the great bell has toll'd, unrung, untouch'd!
Such tales, their cheer, at wake or goſſiping,
When it draws near to witching time of night.
Oft, in the lone Church-yard, at night, I've ſeen,
By glimpſe of moon-line, chequering thro' the trees,
The ſchool-boy with his ſatchel in his hand,
Whiſtling aloud, to bear his courage up,
And lightly tripping o'er the long flat ſtones,
(With nettles ſkirted, and with moſs o'ergrown)
That tell in homely phraſe who lie below.
Sudden he ſtarts. and hears, or thinks he hears
The ſound of ſomething purring at his heels!
Full faſt he flies, and dares not look behind him,
Till out of breath, he overtakes his fellows;
Who gather round, and wonder at the tale
of horrid Apparition, all and ghaſtly,
That walk at dead of night, or takes his ſtand
O'er ſome new-open'd grave! and (ſtrange to tell!)
Evaniſhes at crowing of the cock.
The new-made Widow too, I've ſometimes ſpy'd,
Sad ſight! ſlow moving o'er the proſtrate dead;
Liſtleſs ſhe crawls along in doleful black,
Whilſt burſts of ſorrow guſh from either eye,
Faſt falling down her now untaſted cheek.
Prone on the lowly grave of the dear man
She drops, wilſt buſy meddling Memory,
In barbarous ſucceſſiion, muſters up
The paſt endearments of their ſofter hour!
Tenacious of its theme. Still, ſtill ſhe thinks
She ſees him, and indulging the fond thought,
Clings yet more cloſely to the ſenſeleſs turf,
Nor heeds the paſſenger who looks that way.
Invidious Grave ——how doſt thou rend in ſunder
Whom Love has knit, and Sympathy made one?
A tie morc ſtubborn far than Nature's band.
Friendſhip! myſterious cement of the ſoul;
Sweetner of life, and ſolder of society;
I owe thee much.—— Thou hast deserv'd from me
Far, far beyond what I can ever pay.
Oft have l prov'd the labours of thy love.
And the warm efforts of the gentle heart,
Anxious to please.—— Oh! when my friend and I
In some thick wood have wander'd heedleſs on,
Hid from the vulgar eye, and ſat us down
Upon the ſloping coſslip cover'd bank,
Where the pure limpid ſtream has ſlid along
in grateful motion thro' the underwood, (Thruſh
Sweet-murmuring:—— Methought the ſhrill-tongu'd
Mended his ſong of love the ſooty Blackbird
Mellow'd his pipe, and ſoften ev'ry note:
The Eglantine ſmell'd ſweeter, and the Roſe
Aſſum'd a dye more deep; whilſt ev'ry flower
Vy'd with is fellow-plant in luxury
Of dreſs ——Oh! then, the longeſt ſummer's day
Seem'd too, too much in haſte ——ſtill the full heart
Had not imparted half ——'Twas happineſs
Too exquiſite to laſt - Of joys departed
Not to return. ——How painful the remembrance!
Dull Grave-thou ſpoil'ſt the dance of youthful
Strik'ſt out the dimple from the check of Mirth,
And ev'ry ſmirking feature from the face;
Branding our laughter with the name of madneſs.
Where are the jeſters now? ——the men of health,
Complexionally pleaſant? ——Where the droll,
Whoſe ev'ry lock and jeſture was a joke
To clapping theatres and ſhouting crouds,
And made even thick-lip'd muſing melancholy
To gather up her face into a ſmile
Before ſhe was aware? ——Ah! ſullen now,
And dumb, as the green turf that covers them.
Where are the mighty thunder-bolts of war?
The Roman Caesars, and the Greecian Chiefs,
The boaſt of ſtory? ——Where the hot-brain'd youth,
Who the Tiara at his pleaſure tore
From Kings of all the then diſcover'd globe;
And cry'd, forſooth, because his arm was hamper'd,
And had not room enough to do its work?
Alas! how ſlim, dishonourably ſlim.
And cram'd into a space we bluſh to name!
Proud Royalty, how alter'd in thy looks!
How blank thy features, and how wan thy hue!
Son of the morning! whither art thou gone?
Where haſt thou bid thy many-ſpangled head,
And the majestic menace of thine eyes
Felt from afar? ——Plaint and powerlſss now,
Like new-born infant wound up in his ſwathes,
Or victim tumbled flat upon its back,
That throbs beneath the ſacrificer's knife.
Mute truſt thou bear the ſtrife of little tongues,
And coward insults of the base-born croud;
That grudge a privilege, thou never hadſt,
But only hop'd for in the peaceful Grave,
Of being unmoleſted and alone.
Arabia's guns and odoriferous drugs,
And honours by the heralds duly paid
In mode and form, ev'n to a very ſcruple:
Oh cruel Irony! theſe come too late,
And only mock, when they were meant to honour.
Surely there's not a dungeon ſlave, that's bury'd
In the high-way, unſhrouded and uncoffin'd,
But lies as ſoft, and ſleeps as ſound as be.
Sorry pre-eminence of high deſcent
Above the vulgar-born, to rot in ſtate!
But ſee! the well-plumb'd Herſe comes nodding on
Stately and ſlow, and properly attended
By the whole ſable tribe, that painful watch
The ſick man's door, and live upon the dead,
By letting out their perſons by the hours
To mimid ſorrow, when the heart's not ſad
How rich the trappings! now they're all unfurl'd,
And glittering in the ſun ——triumphant entries
Or Conquerors, and Coronation-pomps,
In glory ſcarce exceed. ——Great gluts of people
Retard th' unwieldy ſhow; whilſt from the caſements
And houses top, ranks behind ranks cloſe wedg'd,
Hang bellying o'er ——But tell us, why this waſte?
Why this ado in earthing up a Carcaſe
That's fall'n into diſgrace, and in the noſtril
Smells horrible? ——Ye undertakers tell us,
'Midſt all the gorgeous figures you exhibit,
Why is the principal conceal'd, for which
You make this mighty ſtir? ——’Tis wiſely done;
What would offend the eye in a good picture,
The painter caſts diſcreetly into ſhades.
Proud Lineage, now how little thou appear'ſt
Below the envy of the private man!
Honour, that middleſome efficious ill,
Purſues thee ev'n to death ——nor there ſtops ſhort.
Strange, perſecution when the grave itſelf
Is no protection from rude ſuſſrance.
Absurd to think to over-reach the Grave,
And from the wreck of names to reſcue ours.
The best concerted ſchemes men lay for fame;
Die fast away ——only themselves die faſter!
The far-fam'd Sculptor, and the laurell'd Bard,
Those bold enſurancers of deathleſs fame,
Supply their little feeble aids in vain.
The tapering Pyramid, the Egyptian's pride,
And wonder of the world, whose ſpiky top
Has wounded the thick cloud, and long outliv'd
The angry ſhaking of the winter's ſtorm;
Yet ſpent at laſt by th' injuries of heaven,
Shatter'd with age, and furrow'd o'er with years,
The myſtic cone with hieroglyphics cruſted,
At once gives way. ——O! lamentable ſight:
The labour of whole ages lumbers down
A hideous and miſhapen length of ruins!
Sepulchral columns wreſtle but in vain
With all-ſubduing time; her cank'ring hand
With calm deliberate malice waſteth them:
Worn on the edge of days, the braſs conſumes
The buſto moulders, and the deep cut marble,
Unſteady to the feel, gives up its charge.
Ambition, half convicted of her folly,
Hangs down the head, and reddens at the tale.
Here all the mighty troublers of the earth,
Who ſwam to ſou'reign rule thro' seas of blood!
Th' oppreſſive ſturdy, man-deſtroying Villains,
Who ravag'd kingdom, and laid empires waſtes
And in a cruel wantonneſs of power,
Thinn'd ſtates of half their people, and gave up
To want, the reſt; now, like a form that's ſpent,
Lie huſh'd, and meanly freak behind the covert.
Vain thought to hide them from the general ſcorn
That haunts and dogs them like an injur'd ghoſt
Implacable, ——Here too the petty Tyrant
Whole ſcant domains Geographer ne'er notic'd,
And, well for neighbouring grounds, of arm as ſhort;
who fix'd his iron talons on the poor,
And grip'd them, like ſome lordly beaſt of prey;
Deaf to the forceful cries of gnawing Hunger,
And piteous plaintive voice of Miſery!
(As if a Slave was not a ſhred of nature
Of the ſame common nature with his Lord):
Now tame and humble, like a child that's whipp'd
Shakes hands with duſt & calls the worth his kinſman
Nor pleads his rank and bit-right. Under-ground
Precedency's a jeſt ——Vaſſal and Lord,
Groſsly familiar, side by ide conſume.
When ſelf-eſteem, or other's adulation,
Would cunningly perſuade us we were ſomething
Above the common level of our kid;
The Grave gainſays the ſmooth complexion'd ſlat'ry,
And with blunt truth acquaints us what we are.
Beauty ——thou pretty play-thing, dear deceit,
That ſteals so ſoftly over 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 haſt thou more to boaſt of? ——Will thy lovers
Flock round thee now, and gaze to do thee homage?
Methinks I ſee thee with the head low-laid;
Whilſt surfeited upon thy damaſk cheek
The high-fed worm, in lazy volumes roll'd,
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 no? ——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! ——the conſcious tears
Stand thick as dew-drops on the bells of flow'rs:
Honeſt effuſion! ——the ſwoln heart in vain
Works hard to put a gloſs on its distreſs.
Strength too ——thou ſurly, and leſs gentle boaſt
Of thoſe that laugh loud at the village-ring,
A fit of common ſickness pulls thee down
With greater eaſe than o'er thou didſt the stripling,
That raſhly dar'd thee to th' unequal ſight——
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 be labour'd, gaſps for breath,
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
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. ——Heard you that groan!
It was his laſt! ——See how the great Goliah,
Juſt like a child, that's 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,
The ſtar-ſurveying ſage, cloſe to his eye
Applies the ſight-invigorating tube;
And travelling thro' the bountileſs length of ſpace,
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 heads
Soon, very ſoon, thy firmeſt footing fails
And down thou dropp'ſt into the darkſome place,
Where nor device, nor knowledge ever came.
Here the tongue-warrior lies, diſabled now;
Diſarm'd, diſhonour'd, like a wretch that's gagg'd;
And cannot tell his ail to paſſers-by.
Great man of language, whence this mighty change?
This dumb despair, and drooping of the head?
Tho' ſtrong Perſuaſion hang upon thy lip,
And ſly inſinuation's ſofter arts
In ambuſh lay about thy flowing tongue,
Alas! how chop-fallen-in? ——Thick miſts and ſilence
Reſt, like a weary'd cloud, upon thy breaſt
Unceaſing ——Ah! where is the liſted arm.
The ſtrength of action, and the force of words,
The well-turn's period, and the well-tun'd voice,
With all the letter ornaments of Phraſe?
Ah! fed 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 rhimes,
With heavy-haluing pace that drawl along;
Enough to rouſe a dead man into rage
And warm with red reſentment the wan check.
Here the great Maſters of the Healing-art,
These mighty mock-defrauders of the Tomb,
Spite of their Juleps and Catholicans,
Reſign to fate. ——Proud Eſculapius' ſon!
Where are thy boaſted implements of Art.
And all the well cram'd magazines of health?
Nor hill, nor vale, as far as ſhip could go,
Nor margin of the gravel-bottom'd Brook,
Eſcap'd thy rifling, hand ——from ſtubborn ſhrubs.
Thou wrung'ſt their ſhy retiring Virtues out,
And vex'd them in the fire ——nor ſly, nor ⟨inſect⟩,
Nor wreathy ſnake, eſcap'd thy deep reſearch
But why this apparatus? ——why this coſt?
Tell us, thou doughty Keeper from the Grave,
Where are tiny 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 Mſser, worſt of fellons,
Who meanly ſtole (diſcreditable ſhift.)
From back and belly too, their proper cheer;
Eas'd of a tax, it ink'd the wretch to pay
To his own carcaſe ——now lies cheaply lodg'd,
By clam'rous Appetites no longer toaz'd;
Nor tedious Bills of charges and 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 intereſt in both Worlds!
First starv'd in this, then damn'd in that to come!
How ſhocking muſt thy ſummons be, O Death!
To him that is at caſe in his poſſeſſions;
Who counting on long years of pleaſure here;
Is quite unfurniſh'd for that world to come!
In the dread moment, how the frantic Soul
Raves round the walls of her clay tenement!
Runs to each avenue, and ſhrieks for help,
But ſhrieks in vain! ——How wiſhfully ſhe looks
On all ſhe's leaving, now no longer her's!
A little longer, yet a little longer!
Oh! might she ſtay, to waſh away her ſtains,
And ſit her for her paſſage. ——Mournful fight!
Her very eyes weep blood! and every groan
She heaves is big with horror! But the foe,
Life, a ſtaunch murd'rer, ſteady to his purpoſe;
Purſues her cloſe thro' ev'ry lane of life
Nor miſſes once the track, but preſſes on,
Till forc'd at laſt to the tremendous verge,
At once the ſinks to everlaſting ruin!
Sure 'tis a ſerious thing to die! ——My ſoul,
What a ſtrange moment must it be, when near
Thy journey's end, thou hast the gulph in view!
That awful gulph no mortal o'er repaſs'd
To tell what's doing on the other ſide!
Nature runs back, and ſhudders at the ſight!
And ev'ry life-ſtring bleeds at thought of parting!
For part they muſt ——body and ſoul muſt part!
Fond couple! ——link'd more cloſe than wedded pair.
This, wings its way to its almighty Source,
The Witneſs of its actions, now its Judge!
That, drops into the dark and noiſome Grave,
Like a diſabled pitcher, of no uſe.
If Death was nothing, and nought after death;
If when men dy'd, at once they ceaſ'd to be,
Returning to the barren womb of Nothing,
Whence firſt they ſprung; then might the Debauchee
Untrembling mouth the Heavens. ——Then might the
Reel over his full bowl ——and when 'tis drain'd,
Fill up another to the brim, and laugh
At the poor bugbear Death ——Then might the wretch
That's weary of the world, and tir'd of life,
At once give each inquietude the flip,
By ſtealing out of being when he pleaſed,
And by what way ——whether by hemp or ſteel.
Death's thouſand doors ſtand open. ——Who could force
The ill-pleaſ'd gueſt to fit out his full time,
Or blame him if he goes? ——Surely he does well
That helps himſelf, as timely as he can,
When able. ——But if there's an Hereafter,
And that there is, Conſcience, uninfluenc'd
And ſuffer'd to ſpeak out, tells ev'ry man;
Then muſt it be an awful thing to die!
More horrid yet, to die by one's own hand!
Self-murder ! ——name it not our iſlands ſhame——
That makes her the reproach of neighbouring ſtates,
Shall Nature, ſwerving from her earlieſt dictate,
Self-preſervation, fall by her own act?
Forbid it, Heaven! ——Let not, upon diſguſt,
The ſhameleſs hand be fouly crimſon'd o'er
With blood of its own lord. ——Dreadful attempt!
Juſt reeking from ſelf-ſlaughter, in a rage
To ruſh into the preſence of our Judge!
As if we challeng'd him to do his worſt,
And matter'd not his wrath! ——Unheard of tortures
Must be reſerv'd for ſuch ——theſe herd together,
The common Damn'd ſhun their ſociety,
And look upon themſelves as fiends less foul.
Our time is fix'd, and all our days, are number'd;
How long, how ſhort, we know not ——this we know,
Duty requires we calmly wait the ſummons,
Nor dare to ſtir till leav'n ſhall give permiſſion;
Like Centries; that muſt keep their deſtin'd ſtand,
And wait th'appointed hour, till they're reliev'd.
Thoſe only are the brave, that keep their ground,
And keep it to the laſt. ——To run away,
Is but a coward's trick:——To run away
From this world's ills, that, at the very worſt,
Will ſoon blow o'er, thinking to mend ourſelves
By boldly vent'ring on a world unknown,
And plunging headlong in the dark ——'tis mad!
ko trenzy half ſo deſperate as this!
Tell us, ye dead ——will none of you, in pity
To thoſe you left behind, diſcloſe the ſecret?
Oh! that some courteous ghoſt would blab it out,
What 'tis you are, and we must ſhortly be.
I've heard, that ſouls departed, have ſometimes
Forwarn'd men of their death. ——'Twas kindly done
To knock, and give the alarm! ——But what means
This tinted charity? ——'Tis but lame kindneſs
That does its work by halves. Why might you not
Tell us what 'tis to die? ——Do the ſtrict law's
of your ſociety forbid your ſpeaking
Upon a point so nice? ——I'll aſk no more:
Sullen, like lamps in ſepulchres, your ſhine
Enlightens but yourſelves. Well, tis no matter;
A very little time will clear up all,
And make us learn'd as you are, and a cloſe.
Death's ſhafts fly thick ——Here falls the village-ſwain;
And there, his pamper'd lord. ——The cup goes round:
And who ſo artful as to put it by?
‘Tis long ſince death had the majority:
Yet, ſtrange! the living lay it not heart.
See yonder maker of the dead-man's bed,
The Sexton, hoary-headed chronicle,
Of hard, unmeaning face, down which ne'er ſtole
A gentle tear, with mattoc in his hand,
Digs thro‘ whole rows of kindred and acquaintance,
By far his juniors. ——Scarce a ſcull's caſt up,
But well he knows its Owner, and can tell
Some paſſage of his life. ——Thus band in hand
The ſot has walked with Death twice twenty years,
And yet, ne'er Yonker or the green laughs louder,
Or clubs a ſmuttier tale ——When Drunkards meet,
None ſings a merrier catch, or lends a hand
More willing to his cup. ——Poor wretch, he minds not
That ſoon ſome trusty Brother of the trade
Shall do for him what he has done for thouſands.
On this ſide, and on that, men ſee their friends
Drop off, like leaves in autumn; yet launcheth out
Into fantastic ſchemes, which the long Livers
In the world's hale and undegenerate days,
Could ſcarce have leiſure for. ——Fools that we are,
Never to think of Death and of ourſelves
At the ſame time, as if to learn to die
Were no concern of ours. ——Oh! more then ſottiſh,
For creatures of a day, in gameſome mood,
To frolic on Eternity's dread brink
Unapprehenſive; when, for ought we know,
The very first ſwoln ſurge ſhall ſweep us in.
Think we, or think we not, Time hurries on
With a reſiſtleſs unremitting ſtream;
Yet treads more ſoft than o'er did midnight-thief,
That ſlides his hand under the Miſer's pillow,
And carries off his prize. ——What is this World?
What? but a ſpacious burial-field unwall'd,
Strew'd with death's ſpoils, the ſpoils of animals,
Savage and tame, and full of dead men's bones!
The very turf on which we tread, once liv'd;
And we that live must lend our carcaſes
To cover our own off-ſpring ——In their turns,
They too must cover theirs. ——'Tis here all meet:
The thiv'ring Icelander, and ſun-burnt Moor:
Men of all climes, that never met before;
And of all creeds, the Jew, the Turk, and Chriſtian.
Here the proud Prince, and favourite yet prouder,
His ſov'reign's keeper, and the people's ſcourge,
Are huddled out of ſight. ——Here lie abaſh'd
The great negotiators of the earth,
And celebrated maſters of the balance,
Deep-read in ſtratagems and wiles of courts,
Now vain their treaty-ſkill ——Death ſcorns to treat.
Here the o'erloaded ſlave ſlings down his burden
From his gall'd ſhoulders ——and when the cruel tyrant,
With all his guards and tools of pow'r about him,
Is meditating new unheard-of hardships,
Mocks his ſhort arm ——and quick as thought eſcapes
Where tyrants vex not, and the weary reſt:
Here the warm lover, leaving the cool ſhade,
The tell-tale echo, and the bubbling ſtream,
(Time out of mind the fav'rite ſeats of love)
Fast by his gentle mistreſs lays him down
Unblaſted by foul tongue. ——Here friends and foes
Lie close, unmindful of their former ſcuds.
The lawn-rob'd Prelate, and the plain Preſbyter,
E'er while that ſtood aloof, as ſhy to meet,
Familiar mingle here, like ſister ſtreams
That some rude interpoſing rock had ſplit.
Here is the large-limb'd peaſant ——Here the child
Of a ſpan long, that never ſaw the ſun,
Nor preſs'd the nipple, ſtrangled in life's porch.
Here is the Mother with her ſons and daughters;
The barren Wife, and long-demurring Maid,
Whose lonely unappropriated ſweets
Smil'd like yon knot of cowſlips on the cliff,
Not to be come at by the willing hand.
Here are the Prude ſevere, and gay Coquet;
The ſober Widow, and the young green Virgin,
Cropp'd like a roſe, before 'tis fully blown,
Or half its worth discloſ'd ——ſtrange medley here!
Here garrulous Old Age winds up his tale;
And jovial Youth of lightſome vacant heart.
Whose ev'ry day was made of melody, (Shrew,
Hears not the voice of mirth. ——The ſhrill-tongu'd
Meek as the turtle dove, forgets her chiding
Here are the wiſe, the generous and the brave;
The juſt, the good, the worthleſs, the profane,
The down-right clown, and perfectly well-bred;
The fool, the churl, the ſcoundrel and the mean;
The ſubtle Stateſman, and the Patriot ſtern;
The wreck of nations, and the ſpoil of time,
With all the lumber of ſix thouſand years!
Poor Man ——how happy once in thy first ſtate!
When yet but warm from thy great Maker's hand,
He ſtamp'd thee with his image, and, well pleaſ'd,
Smil'd on his laſt fair work. ——Then all was well.
Sound was the body, and the ſoul ſerene;
Like two ſweet inſtruments, ne'er out of tune.
That play their ſeveral parts. ——Nor head, nor heart,
Offer to ache. ——Nor was there cauſe they ſhould.
For all was pure within ——No sell remorſe,
For anxious caſtings up of what might be,
Alarm'd his peaceful boſom. ——Summer ſeas
Shew not more ſmooth when kiſs'd by ſouthern winds,
Just ready to expire. ——Scarce importun'd
The generous ſoil, with a luxurious hand,
Offer'd the various produce of the year,
And ev'ry thing most perfect in its kind.
Bleſſed, thrice bleſſed days! ——But ah! how ſhort!
Bleſs'd as the pleaſing dreams of holy men;
But fugitive, like thoſe, and quickly gone!
Oh! ſlippery ſtate of things! ——What ſudden turns
What ſtrange viciſſitudes in the firſt leaf
Of man's ſad hiſtory! ——To-day moſt happy,
And o'er to-morrow's ſun was ſet, moſt abject!
How ſcant the ſpace between these vaſt extremes
Thus ſar'd it with our Sire. ——Not long h'enjoy'd
His Paradiſe. ——Scarce had the happy tennant
Of the fair ſpot, due time to prove its ſweets,
Or ſum them up; when ſtrait he muſt be gone,
Ne'er to return again. And muſt he go?
Can nought compound for the firſt dire offence
Of erring man. Like one that is condemn'd,
Fain would he trifle time with idle talk,
And parley with his fate. But 'tis in vain.
Not all the the laviſh odours of the place,
Offer'd in incenſe, can produce his pardon,
Or mitigate his doom. A mighty Angel,
With flaming ſword, forbids his longer stay,
And drives the loiterer forth ——nor muſt he take
One laſt farwel round. At once he loſt
His glory and his God! ——If immortal now,
And ſorely maim'd, no wonder! ——Man has ſinn'd?
Sick of his bliſs, and bent on new adventures,
Evil he would needs try ——nor try in vain.
Dreadful experiment! ——deſtructive meaſure!
(Where the worſt thing could happen, is ſucceſs.)
Alas! too well he ſped. The good he ſcorn'd,
Stalk'd off reluctant, like an ill-uſ'd ghoſt,
Not to return ——or if it did, its viſits,
Like thoſe of Angels, ſhort and far between;
Whilſt the black Dæmon, with his hell-'ſcap'd train,
Admitted once into its better room,
Grew loud and mutinous, nor would be gone;
Lording it o'er the Man, who now too late
Saw the raſh error, which he could not mend;
An error fatal not to him alone,
But to his future ſons, his fortune's heirs.
Inglorious bondage! ——Human nature groans
Beneath a vaſſalege so vile and cruel,
And its vaſt body bleeds thro' ev'ry vein.
What havock left thou made, foul monster ſin?
Greateſt and firſt of ills. ——The fruitful parent
Of woes of all dimenſions! ——But for the
Sorrow had never been. ——Ah! noxious thing,
Of vileſt nature! ——Other forts of evils
Are kindly circumſcrib'd, and have their bounds.
The fierce Volcano, from his burning entrails,
That belches molten ſtone and globes of fire,
Involv'd in pitchy clouds, and ſmoke, and ſtench,
Mars the adjacent fields, for ſome leagues round,
And there it ſtops. ——The big ſwoln inundation,
Of mischief more diſſuſive, raving loud,
Buries whole tracks of country ——threat'ning more
But that too has it ſhore it cannot paſs.
More dreadful far than theſe, Sin has laid waſte,
Not here and there a country, but a world!
Diſpatching at a wide-extended blow,
Entire mankind! ——and, for their ſakes, defacing
A whole creation's beauty with rude hands!
Blaſting the foodful grain, the loaded branches,
And marking all along its way with ruin!
Accurſed thing! Oh! where all fancy, find
A proper name to call thee by, expreſſive
Of all thy horror! ——Pregnant womb of ill!
Of temper so tranſcendently malign,
That toads and ſerpents, of most deadly kind,
Compar'd with thee, ale harmleſs. ——Sicknesses,
Of ev'ry ſize and ſymptom-racking pains,
And blueſt plagues, are thine. ——See how the fiend
Profusely ſcatters the contagion round!
Whiſt deep-mouth'd Slaughter, bellowing at her heels,
Wades deep in blood new ſpilt ——yet, for to-morrow
Shares out new work of great uncommon daring,
And july pines till the dread blow is struck.
But hold! ——I've gone too far, too much discover'd
My father's nakedneſs, and nature's ſhame!
Here let me pauſe, and drop an honeſt tear,
One burſt of filial duty and condolence,
O'er all those ample deſarts death hath ſpread,
This chaos of mankind ——O great man-eater!
Whose every day is carnival, not fated yet!
Unheard-of epicure, without a fellow!
The verieſt gluttons do not always cram,
Some intervals of abstinence are fought
To edge the appetite ——Thou ſeekeſt none.
Methinks the countleſs ſwarms thou left devour'd,
And thousands that each hour thou gobbleſt up;
This, leſs than this, might gorge thee the full
But ah! rapacious ſtill, thou gap'n for more:
Like one, whole days defrauded of his meals,
On whom lank hunger lays her ſkinny hand,
And whets to keeneſt eagerneſs his cravings,
(As if diſeases, maſſacres, and poiſon,
Famine and war, were not thy caterers.)
But know, that thou must render up thy dead,
And with high intereſt too. They are not thine,
But only in thy keeping for a season,
Till the great promis'd day of reſtitution,
When loud diffuſive found 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 gates fly open, and reveal
The mines that lay long forming under ground,
In their dark cells immur'd; but now full ripe,
And pure as 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 ——Him in thy pow'r
Thou couldſt not hold:——self-vigorous he roſe,
And, ſhaking off thy ſetters, ſoon retook
Those ſpoils his voluntary yielding lent;
(Sure pledge of our releaſement from thy thrall:
Twice twenty days he ſojourne'd here on earth,
And ſhew'd himſelf alive to choſen witneſſes,
By proof 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 ſerial heights, and glide along
Athwart ſevering clouds ——but the faint eye
Flung backwards in the chace, ſoon drops its hold;
Diſabled quite, and jaded with purſuing.
Heav'n's portals wide expand to let him in;
Nor are his friends ſhut out. ——As ſome great Prince
Not for himſelf alone procures 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 not untrod. nor tedious---the fatigue
Will ſoon go off. ---Besides, there's no by-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 with to be where ſweets unwithering bloom,
But ſtraight our with revoke, and will not go.
So have I ſeen, upon a ſummer's e'en,
Faſt by the riv'let's brink, a youngſter plays
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 as ſafe
On the long wiſh'd-for ſhore. ---Prodigious change
Our bane turn'd to a bleſſing! ---Death diſarm'd,
Loſes her ſelneſs 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, die
A 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 fun, 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 light 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 diſmiſsed?
'Tis done? ---and now he's happy? ---the glad Soul
Has not a with uncrown'd.---Loin 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 time 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
Inviolete. ---And faithfully ſhall these
Make up the full account ---not the leaſt atom
Imbezzl'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'r
That rear'd the piece at firſt, and took it down,
Can re-aſſemble the loose ſcatter'd parts;
And put them as they were. ---Almighty GOD
Has done much more ---nor is his arm impair'd
Thro' length of days ---And what he can, he will:
His faithfulneſs ſtands bound to ſee it done.
When the dread trumpet ſounds, the ſlumb'ring dust,
(Not inattentive to the call.) ſhall wake,
And ev'ry joint poſſeſs its proper place,
With a new elegance of form, unknown
To its firſt ſtate. Nor ſhall the conſcious ſoul
Miſtake its partner, but amidſt the crowd,
Singling its other half, into its arms
Shall ruſh, with all th'impatience of a man
That's new come home, who having long been abſent,
With haſte runs over ev'ry different room,
In pain to ſee the whole.---Thrice happy meeting
Nor time, nor death, hall ever part them more.
'Tis but a night, a long and moonleſs night,
We make the grave our bed, and then are gone.
Thus, at the ſhut of ev'n, the weary bird
Leaves the wide air, and in ſome lonely brake
Cow'rs down, and dozes till the dawn of day,
Then claps his well fledg'd wings, and bears away,
Falkirk-T. Johnston, Printer.
This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.