« הקודםהמשך »
Herself the sorest ill, while death and ease,
Oft and in vain invok'd, or to appease
Or end the grief, with hasty wings recede
From the vext patient and the sickly bed.
Nought shall it profit that the charming fair,
Angelic, softest work of Heaven, draws near
To the cold shaking paralytic hand,
Senseless of beauty's touch or love's command,
Nor longer apt or able to fulfil
The dictates of its feeble master's will.
Nought shall the psaltry and the harp avail,
The pleasing song or well-repeated tale,
When the quick spirits their warm march forbear,
And numbing coldness has unbrac'd the ear.
· The verdant rising of the flowery hill,
The vale enamell’d, and the crystal rill,
The ocean rolling, and the shelly shore,
Beautiful objects, shall delight no more,
When the lax'd sinews of the weaken'd eye
In watery damps or dim suffusion lie.
Day follows night; the clouds return again
After the falling of the latter rain,
But to the aged blind shall ne'er return
Grateful vicissitude; he still must mourn
The sun, and moon, and every starry light
Eclips'd to him, and lost in everlasting night.
Behold where Age's wretched victim lies; See his head trembling, and his half-clos'd eyes; Frequent for breath his panting bosom heaves; ) To broken sleeps his remnant sense he gives, And only by his pains, awaking, finds he lives. )
Loos'd by devouring Time, the silver cord Dissever'd lies; unhonour'd from the board
The crystal urn, when broken, is thrown by;
And apter utensils their place supply.
These things and thou must share one equal lot;
Die, and be lost; corrupt, and be forgot;
While still another and another race
Shall now supply, and now give up the place.
From earth all came, to earth must all return,
Frail as the cord, and brittle as the urn.
But be the terror of these ills suppress'd,
And view we man with health and vigour bless'd;
Home he returns with the declining sun,
His destin'd task of labour hardly done;
Goes forth again with the ascending ray,
Again his travail for his bread to pay,
And find the ill sufficient to the day.
Haply at night he does with horror shun
A widow'd daughter or a dying son;
His neighbour's offspring he to-morrow sees,
And doubly feels his want in their increase :
The next day, and the next, he must attend
His foe triumphant or his buried friend.
In every act and turn of life he feels
Public calamities or household ills :
The due reward to just desert refus'd,
The trust betray'd, the nuptial bed abus'd;
The judge corrupt, the long-depending cause,
And doubtful issue of misconstrued laws:
The crafty turns of a dishonest state,
And violent will of the wrong-doing great ;
The venom'd tongue injurious to his fame,
Which nor can wisdom shun, nor fair advice reclaim.
Esteem we these, my friends, event and chance, Produc'd as atoms from their futtering dance?
Or higher yet their essence may we draw
From destin'd order and eternal law ?
Again, my Muse, the cruel doubt repeat;
Spring they, I say, from accident or fate?
Yet such, we find, they are as can control
The servile actions of our wavering soul;
Can fright, can alter, or can chain the will;
Their ills all built on life, that fundamental ill,
O fatal search! in which the labouring mind,
Still press'd with weight of woe, still hopes to find
A shadow of delight, a dream of peace,
From years of pain, one moment of release;
Hoping, at least, she may herself deceive,
Against experience willing to believe:
Desirous to rejoice, condemn'd to grieve,
Happy the mortal man who now, at last, Has through this doleful vale of misery past, Who to his destin'd stage has carried on The tedious load, and laid his burden down; Whom the cut brass or wounded marble shows Victor o'er life, and all her train of woes: He happier yet who, privileg'd by fate To shorter labour and a lighter weight, Receiv'd but yesterday the gift of breath, Ordered to-morrow to return to death : But 0! beyond description happiest he, Who ne'er must roll on life's tumultuous sea; Who with bless'd freedom from the general doom Exempt, must never force the teeming womb, Nor see the sun, nor sink into the tomb. Who breathes must suffer, and who thinks must
mourn; And he alone is bless'd who ne'er was born.
Yet in thy turn, thou frowning Preacher, hear; Are not these general maxims too severe? Say, cannot power secure its owner's bliss ? And is not wealth the potent sire of peace? Are victors bless'd with fame, or kings with ease?')
I tell thee, life is but one common care, And man was born to suffer and to fear.
*But is no rank, no station, no degree, From this contagious taint of sorrow free?"
None, mortal, none: yet in a bolder strain
Let me this melancholy truth maintain:
But hence, ye worldly and profane, retire,
For I adapt my voice and raise my lyre
To notions not by vulgar ear receiv'd:
Ye still must covet life and be deceiv'd;
Your very fear of death shall make ye try
To catch the shade of immortality :
Wishing on earth to linger, and to save
Part of its prey from the devouring grave;
To those who may survive ye, to bequeath
Something entire, in spite of time and death;
A fancied kind of being to retrieve,
And in a book or from a building live.
False hope! vain labour! let some ages fly,
The dome shall moulder, and the volume die.
Wretches, still taught, still will ye think it strange
That all the parts of this great fabric change,
Quit their old station and primeval frame,
And lose their shape, their essence, and their name?
Reduce the song; our hopes, our joys are vain;
Our lot is sorrow, and our portion pain.
What pause from woe, what hopes of comfort.
bring The name of wise or great, of judge or king?
What is a king? a man condemn'd to bear
The public burden of the nation's care;
Now crown'd, some angry faction to appease,
Now falls a victim to the people's ease;
From the first blooming of his ill-taught youth
Nourish'd in flattery, and estrang'd from truth:
At home, surrounded by a servile crowd
Prompt to abuse, and in detraction loud;
Abroad, begirt with men, and swords, and spears,
His very state acknowledging his fears;
Marching amidst a thousand guards, he shows
His secret terror of a thousand foes:
In war, however prudent, great, or brave,
To blind events and fickle chance a slave ;
Seeking to settle what for ever flies,
Sure of the toil, uncertain of the prize.
But he returns with conquest on his brow,
Brings up the triumph, and absolves the vow :
The captive generals to his car are tied,
The joyful citizens' tumultuous tide
Echoing his glory, gratify his pride.
What is this triumph? madness, shouts, and noise,
One great collection of the people's voice.
The wretches he brings back, in chains relate
What may to-morrow be the victor's fate :
The spoils and trophies borne before him show
National loss, and epidemic woe;
Various distress, which he and his may know.
Does he not mourn the valiant thousands slain,
The heroes, once the glory of the plain,
Left in the conflict of the fatal day,
Or the wolf's portion, or the vulture's prey?
Does he not weep the laurel which he wears,
Wet with the soldiers' blood and widows' tears?