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TO A FRIEND IN ANSWER TO A MELANCHOLY LETTER.
Away, those cloudy looks, that labouring sigh,
The peevish offspring of a sickly hour!
Nor meanly thus complain of Fortune's power,
When the blind gamester throws a luckless die.
Yon setting sun flashes a mournful gleam
Behind those broken clouds, his stormy train :
To-morrow shall the many-coloured main
In brightness roll beneath his orient beam!
Wild, as the autumnal gust, the hand of Time
Flies o'er his mystic lyre: in shadowy dance
The alternate groups of Joy and Grief advance
Responsive to his varying strains sublime !
Bears on its wing each hour a load of Fate ;
The swain, who, lulled by Seine’s mild murmurs, led
weary oxen to their nightly shed,
To-day may rule a tempest-troubled State.
Nor shall not Fortune with a vengeful smile
Survey the sanguinary despot’s might,
And haply hurl the pageant from his height
Unwept to wander in some savage isle.
There shiv'ring sad beneath the tempest's frown
Round his tired limbs to wrap the purple vest;
And mixed with nails and beads, an equal jest:
Barter for food the jewels of his crown.
A DESULTORY POEM, WRITTEN ON THE CHRISTMAS EVE OF 1794.
This is the time, when most divine to hear,
The voice of adoration rouses me,
As with a Cherub's trump: and high upborne,
Yea, mingling with the choir, I seem to view
The vision of the heavenly multitude,
Who hymned the song
o'er Bethlehem's fields !
Yet thou more bright than all the angel blaze,
That harbingered thy birth, Thou, Man of Woes!
Despised Galilean! For the great
Invisible (by symbols only seen)
With a peculiar and surpassing light
Shines from the visage of the oppressed good man,
When heedless of himself the scourged Saint
Mourns for the oppressor. Fair the vernal mead,
Fair the high grove,
True impress each of their creating Sire !
Yet nor high grove, nor many-coloured mead,
Nor the green Ocean with his thousand isles,
Nor the starred azure, nor the sovran Sun,
E’er with such majesty of portraiture
Imaged the supreme beauty uncreate,
As thou, meek Saviour! at the fearful hour
When thy insulted anguish winged the prayer
Harped by Archangels, when they sing of mercy!
Which when the Almighty heard from forth his throne
Diviner light filled Heaven with ecstasy!
Heaven's hymnings paused: and Hell her yawning mouth
Closed a brief moment.
Lovely was the death Of Him whose life was Love! Holy with power He on the thought-benighted Sceptic beamed Manifest Godhead, melting into day What floating mists of dark idolatry Broke and misshaped the omnipresent Sire: And first by Fear uncharmed the drowsed Soul. Till of its nobler nature it’gan feel Dim recollections; and thence soared to Hope, Strong to believe whate'er of mystic good The Eternal dooms for his immortal sons. From Hope and firmer Faith to perfect Love Attracted and absorbed : and centred there God only to behold, and know, and feel, Till by exclusive consciousness of God All self-annihilated it shall make God its identity: God all in all ! We and our Father one!
And blest are they, Who in this fleshly World, the elect of Heaven, Their strong eye darting through the deeds of men, Adore with steadfast unpresuming gaze Him Nature's essence, mind, and energy! And gazing, trembling, patiently ascend Treading beneath their feet all visible things As steps, that upward to their Father's throne Lead gradual—else nor glorified nor loved. They nor contempt embosom nor revenge : For they dare know of what may seem deform The Supreme Fair sole operant: in whose sight All things are pure, his strong controlling Love Alike from all educing perfect good.
Theirs too celestial courage, inly armed-
Dwarfing Earth's giant brood, what time they muse
On their great Father, great beyond compare !
And marching onwards view high o'er their heads
His waving banners of Omnipotence.
Who the Creator love, created might Dread not: within their tents no terrors walk. For they are holy things before the Lord Aye unprofaned, though Earth should league with Hell; God’s altar grasping with an eager hand Fear, the wild-visaged, pale, eye-starting wretch, Sure-refuged hears his hot pursuing fiends Yell at vain distance. Soon refreshed from Heaven He calms the throb and tempest of his heart. His countenance settles; a soft solemn bliss Swims in his eye-his swimming eye upraised : And Faith's whole armour glitters on his limbs ! And thus transfigured with a dreadless awe, A solemn hush of soul, meek he beholds All things of terrible seeming: yea, unmoved Views e'en the inmitigable ministers That shower down vengeance on these latter days. For kindling with intenser Deity From the celestial Mercy-seat they come, And at the renovating wells of Love Have filled their vials with salutary wrath, To sickly Nature more medicinal Than what soft balm the weeping good man pours Into the lone despoiled traveller's wounds !
Thus from the Elect, regenerate through faith, Pass the dark Passions and what thirsty Cares
Drink up the Spirit, and the dim regards
Self-centre. Lo they vanish! or acquire
New names, new features-by supernal grace
Enrobed with Light, and naturalised in Heaven.
As when a shepherd on a vernal morn
Through some thick fog creeps timorous with slow foot,
Darkling he fixes on the immediate road
His downward eye: all else of fairest kind
Hid or deformed. But lo! the bursting Sun!
Touched by the enchantment of that sudden beam
Straight the black vapour melteth, and in globes
Of dewy glitter gems each plant and tree;
On every leaf, on every blade it hangs!
Dance glad the new-born intermingling rays,
And wide around the landscape streams with glory!
There is one Mind, one omnipresent Mind,
Omnific. His most holy name is Love.
Truth of subliming import! with the which
Who feeds and saturates his constant soul,
He from his small particular orbit flies,
With blest outstarting! From Himself he flies,
Stands in the sun, and with no partial gaze
Views all creation; and he loves it all,
And blesses it, and calls it very good!
This is indeed to dwell with the most High!
Cherubs and rapture-trembling Seraphim
Can press no nearer to the Almighty's Throne.
But that we roam unconscious, or with hearts
Unfeeling of our universal Sire,
And that in his vast family no Cain
Injures uninjured in her best-aimed blow
Victorious murder a blind suicide)