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Why does each animated star
Love the just limits of its proper sphere 2
Why does each consenting sign
With prudent harmony combine
In turns to move, and subsequent appear,
To gird the globe, and regulate the year?
Man does with dangerous curiosity
These unfathom'd wonders try:
With fancied rules and arbitrary laws
Matter and motion he restrains;
And studied lines and fictious circles draws:
Then with imagin'd sovereignty
Lord of his new hypothesis he reigns.
He reigns: how long? till some usurper rise,
And he too, mighty thoughtful, mighty wise,
Studies new lines, and other circles feigns.
From this last toil again what knowledge flows :
Just as much, perhaps, as shows,
That all his predecessor's rules
Were empty cant, all jargon of the schools;
That he on t'other's ruin rears his throne;
And shows his friend's mistake, and thence con-
firms his own.
On earth, in air, amidst the seas and skies, Mountainous heaps of wonders rise ; Whose towering strength will ne'er submit
To Reason's batteries, or the mines of wit:
Yet still inquiring, still mistaking man,
Each hour repuls'd, each hourdare onward press: And levelling at God his wandering guess, (That feeble engine of his reasoning war, Which guides his doubts, and combats his despair) Laws to his Maker the learn'd wretch can give: Can bound that nature, and prescribe that will, Whose pregnant word did either ocean fill: Can tell us whence all beings are, and how they move and live. Through either ocean, foolish man That pregnant word sent forth again, Might to a world extend each atom there; For every drop call forth a sea, a heaven for every Star.
Let cunning Earth her fruitful wonders hide; And only lift thy staggering reason up To trembling Calvary’s astonish'd top; Then mock thy knowledge, and confound thy pride, Explaining how Perfection suffer'd pain, Almighty languish'd, and Eternal died: How by her patient victor Death was slain; And earth profan'd, yet bless'd with Deicide. Then down with all thy boasted volumes, down: Only reserve the sacred one: Low, reverently low, Make thy stubborn knowledge bow; Weep out thy reason's, and thy body's eyes; Deject thyself, that thou may’st rise; " To look to Heaven, be blind to all below.
Then Faith, for Reason's glimmering light, shall give
Her immortal perspective;
And Grace's presence Nature's loss retrieve.
Then thy enliven’d soul shall see,
That all the volumes of philosophy,
With all their comments, never could invent
So politic an instrument,
To reach the Heaven of Heavens, the high abode,
Where Moses places his mysterious God,
As was that ladder which old Jacob rear'd,
When light divine had human darkness clear'd;
And his enlarg’d ideas found the road,
Which faith had dictated, and Angels trod.
TO THE COUNTESS OF EXETER.1
WHAT charms you have, from what high race you sprung, Have been the pleasing subjects of my song:
1 Anne, daughter of William Earl of Devonshire, and sister to the first Duke of Devonshire, widow also to Charles Lord Rich, was married to John Cecil Lord Burleigh, afterwards Earl of Exeter; she attended her lord upon all his travels, and was present when he died, August 29, 1700, at a village called Issy, near Paris, and surviving him till the 18th June, 1703, the remains of both were deposited at St. Martin, Stamford, where a magnificent monument, brought among other curious works from Rome, is erected to their memory.
Unskill'd and young, yet something still I writ,
Of Candish' beauty join'd to Cecil's wit.
But when you please to show the lab’ring Muse,
What greater theme your music can produce;
My babbling praises I repeat no more,
But hear, rejoice, stand silent, and adore.
The Persians thus, first gazing on the sun,
Admir’d how high 'twas plac'd, how bright it shone;
But, as his power was known, their thoughts were
And soon they worshipp'd, what at first they prais'd.
Eliza's glory lives in Spenser's song;
And Cowley's verse keeps fair Orinda young.
That as in birth, in beauty you excel,
The Muse might dictate, and the Poet tell:
Your art no other art can speak; and you,
To show how well you play, must play anew :
* Your music's power your music must disclose;
For what light is, ’tis only light that shows.
Strange force of harmony, that thus controls
Our thoughts, and turns and sanctifies our souls:
While with its utmost art your sex could move
Our wonder only, or at best our love :
You far above both these your God did place,
That your high power might worldly thoughts de-
1 Imitated from Alleyne's Poetical History of Henry VII.
“For nought but light itself, itself can show,
And only kings can write what kings can do.”
That with your numbers you our zeal might raise,
And, like himself, communicate your joy.
When to your native Heaven you shall repair,
And with your presence crown the blessings there,
Your lute may wind its strings but little higher,
To tune their notes to that immortal quire.
Your art is perfect here; your numbers do,
More than our books, make the rude atheist know,
That there's a Heaven, by what he hears below.
As in some piece, while Luke his skill exprest,
A cunning angel came, and drew the rest:
So, when you play, some godhead does impart
Harmonious aid, divinity helps art;
Some cherub finishes what you begun,
And to a miracle improves a tune.
To burning Rome when frantic Nero play'd,
Viewing that face, no more he had survey’d
Theraging flames; but, struck with strange surprise,
Confest them less than those of Anna's eyes:
But, had he heard thy lute, he soon had found
His rage eluded, and his crime aton'd :
Thine, like Amphion's hand, had wak'd the stone,
And from destruction call'd the rising town:
Malice to Music had been forc'd to yield;
Nor could he burn so fast, as thou couldst build.