Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

CHAP. XXX.

GENIUS.

From Heav'n my strains begin; from Heav'n descends
The flame of genius to the human breast,
And love, and beauty, and poetic joy,
And inspiration. Ere the radiant Sun,
Sprang from the east, or 'midst the vault of night
The Moon suspended her serener lamp;
Ere mountains, woods, or streams adorn’d the globe,
Or Wisdom taught the sons of men her lore;
Then liv'd th' almighty One; then, deep retir'd
In his unfathom'd essence, view'd the forms,
The forms eternal of created things.;
The radiant sun, the moon's nocturnal lamp,
The mountains, woods, and streams, the rolling globe,
And Wisdom's mien celestial. From the first
Of days on them his love divine he fix’d,
His adiniration : till in time complete,
What he admir’d, and lov’d, his vital smile
Unfolded into being. Hence the breath
Of life informing each organic frame;
Hence the green earth, and wild resounding waves;
Hence light and shade alternate; warmth and cold;
And clear autumnal skies, and vernal show'rs;
And all the fair variety of things.

But not alike to ev'ry mortal eye
Is this great scene unveild. For since the claims
Of social life to diff'rent labours urge
The active pow'rs of man ; with wise intent
The hand of Nature on peculiar minds
Imprints a diff'rent bias, and to each
Decrees it's province in the common toil.
To some she taught the fabric of the sphere,
The changeful moon, the circuit of the stars,
The golden zones of Heav'n : to some she gave
To weigh the moment of eternal things,
Of time, and space, and fạte's unbroken chain;
And will's quick impulse : others by the hand

She led o'er vales and niountains, to explore
What healing virtue swells the tender veins
Of herbs and flow'rs; or what the beams of morn
Draw forth, distilling from the clifted rind
In balmy tears. But some to higher hopes
Were destin'd: some within a fier mould
She wrought and temper’d with a purer flame.
To these the Sire Omnipotent unfolds
The world's harmonious volume, there to read
The transcript of himself. On ev'ry part
They trace the bright impressions of his hand ;
In earth, or air, the meadow's purple stores,
The moon's mild radiance, or the virgin's form
Blooming with rosy smiles, they see portray'd
That uncreated Beauty which delights
The Mind supreme. They also feel her charms,
Enamour'd : they partake th' eternal joy.

AKENSIDE.

CHAP. XXXI.

GREATNESS.

Say, why was man so eminently rais'd
Amid the vast creation? why ordain'd
Through life and death to dart his piercing eye,
With thoughts beyond the limits of his frame?
But that tħ' Onnipotent might send him forth,
In sight of mortal and immortal pow'rs,
As on a boundless theatre, to run
The great career of justice; to exalt
His gen'rous aim to all diviner deeds;
To chase each partial purpose from his breast;
And through the mists of passion and of sense,
And through the tossing tide of chance and pain,
To hold his course unfalt'ring, while the voice
Of Truth and Virtue, up the steep ascent
Of Nature, calls him to his high reward,
Th' applauding smile of Heav'n. Else wherefore burns
In mortal bosoms this unquenched hope,
That breathes from day to day sublimer things,

And mocks possession ? Wherefore darts the mind,
With such resistless ardour to embrace
Majestic forms ; impatient to be free;
Spurning the gross control of wilful might;
Proud of the strong contention of her toils;
Proud to be daring? Who but rather turns
To Heav'n's broad fire his unconstrained view,
Than to the glimm’ring of a waxen flame!
Who that, from Alpine heights, his lab'ring eye
Shoots round the wide horizon, to survey
Nilus, or Ganges, rolling his bright wave
Through mountains, plains, through empires black with

shade,'.
And continents of sand, will turn his gaze, .
To mark the windings of a scanty rill,
That murmurs at his feet? The high-born soul
Disdains to rest ber Heav'n-aspiring wing
Beneath it's native quarry. Tir'd of earth
And this diurual scene, she springs aloft
Through fields of air ; pursues the flying storm;
Rides on the volley'd lightning through the heav'ns ;
Or yok'd with whirlwinds and the northern blast
Sweeps the long tract of day. Then high she soars
The blue profound, and hov'ring round the Sun,
Beholds bim pouring the redundant stream
Of light; beholds his unrelenting sway
Bend the reluctant planets to absolve
The fated rounds of time. Thence far effus'd
She darts her swiftness up the long career
Of devious comets; through it's burning signs,
Exulting, measures the perennial wheel
Of Nature, and looks back on all the stars,
Whose blended light as with a milky zone
Invests the orient. Now amaz'd she views
Th’empyreal waste, where happy spirits hold,
Beyond this concave Heav'n, their calm abode;
And fields of radiance, whose unfading light
Has travelld the profound six thousand years,
Nor yet arrives in sight of mortal things.
Ev'n on the barriers of the world untir'd
She meditates th’ eternal depth below;

Till, half recoiling, down the headlong steep-
She plunges; soon o'erwhelm'd and swallow'd up
In that immense of being. There her hopes .
Rest at the fated goal. For from the birth
Of mortal man, the sov'reign Maker said,
That not in humble nor in brief delight,
Not in the fading echoes of renown,
Pow'r's purple robes, nor Pleasure's flow’ry lap,
The soul should find enjoyment : but from these
Turning disdainful to an equal good,
Through all th' ascent of things enlarge her view,
Till ev'ry bound at length should disappear,
And infinite perfection close the scene. AKENSIDE.

CHAP. XXXH.

NOVELTY.

CALL how to mind what high capacious pow'rs
Lie folded up in man: how far beyond
The praise of mortals may th' eternal growth
Of nature to perfection half divine
Expand the blooming soul! What pity then
Should sloth's unkindly fogs depress to earth
Her tender blossom, choke the streams of life,
And blast her spring! Far otherwise design'd
Almighty Wisdom; Nature's happy cares
Th' obedient heart far otherwise incline.
Witness the sprightly joy, when aught unknown
Strikes the quick sense, and wakes each active pow'r
To brisker measures : witness the neglect
Of all familiar prospects, though beheld
With transport once; the fond attentive gaze
Of young astonishment; the sober zeal

Of age, commenting on prodigious things.
· For such the bounteous providence of Heav'n,

In ev'ry breast implanting this desire
Of objects new and strange, to urge us on,
With unremitted labour to pursue

Those sacred stores, that wait the rip’ning soul

To paint it's pow'r? . For this, the daring youth
Breaks from his weeping mother's anxious arms,
In foreign climes to rove; the pensive sage,
Heedless of sleep, or midnight's harmful damp,
Hangs o'er the sickly taper; and untir'd
The virgin follows, with enchanted step,
The mazes of some wise and wondrous tale,
Froin morn to eve, unmindful of her form,
Unmindful of the happy dress that stole
The wishes of the youth, when ev'ry maid
With envy pin'd. Hence finally by night
The village matron, round the blazing 'hearth,
Suspends the infant audience with her tales,
Breathing astonishment ! of witching rhymes
And evil spirits ; of the death-bed call
Of him who robb'd the widow, and devour'd
The orphan's portion; of unquiet souls
Ris'n from the grave to ease the heavy guilt
Of deeds in life conceald ; of shapes that walk
At dead of night, and clank their chains, and wave
The torch of Hell around the murd'rer's bed.
At ev'ry solemn pause the crowd recoil,
Gazing each other speechless, and congeald
With shiv'ring sighs : till eager for th' event,
Around the beldam all erect they hang, .
Each trembling heart with grateful terrours quell'd.

AKENSIDE.

CHAP. XXXII.

PHILANTHROPY.

When erst Contagion, with mephitic breath,
And wither'd Famine, urg'd the work of death :
Marseilles' good bishop, London's gen'rous mayor,
With food and faith, with med’cine and with pray'r,
Rais'd the weak head, and stay'd the parting sigh,
Or with new life relum'd the swimming eye.-

« AnteriorContinuar »