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CHAP. IV. ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF AN UNFORTUNATE LADY.
WHAT beck'ning ghost, along the moonlight shade
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade?
"Tis she —but why that bleeding bosom gor'd,
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword?
O, ever beauteous! ever friendly tell,
Is it in Heav'n a crime to love too well ?
To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a Lover's or a Roman's part?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky,
For those who greatly think or bravely die?
Why bade ye else, ye pow'rs her soul aspire
..oove the vulgar flight of low desire
Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes;
The glorious fault of Angels and of Gods:
Thence to their images on earth it flows, -
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows.
Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen pris'ners in the body's cage: * -
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years . . . . . . .
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres; ** * * *.*.* ~ *
Like Eastern kings a lazy state they keep, ... *
And, close confin'd to their own palace, sleep.
From these perhaps (ere Nature bade her die)
Fate snatch'd her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And sep'rate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to it's congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good,
Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood |
See on those ruby lips the trembling breath,
Those cheeks now fading at the blast of death:
Cold is that breast which warm'd the world before,
And those love-darting eyes must roll no more.
Thus, if Eternal Justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall:
On all the line a sudden vengeance waits,
And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates.
There passengers shall stand, and pointing say,
(While the long fun'rals blacken all the way,)
Lo! these were they, whose souls the Furies steel'd,
And curs'd with hearts unknowing.how to yield. ,
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn'd to glow
For others' good, or melt at others' wo.
What can atone (O, ever-injur'd shade')
Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid?
No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear
Pleas'd thy pale ghost, or grac'd thy mournful bier;
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos'd,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos'd,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd,
By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'dl
What though no friends in sable weeds appear,
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year, .
And bear about the mockery of wo
To midnight dances, and the public show :
What though no weeping Loves thy ashes grace,
Nor polish'd marble emulate thy face;
What though no sacred earth allow thee room,
Nor hallow'd dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb; , , ,
Yet shall thy grave with rising flow'rs be dress'd,
And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast:
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow,
There the first roses of the year shall blow;
While Angels with their silver wings o'ershade.
The ground, now sacred by thy reliques made,
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name, ,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame.
How lov’d, how honour’d once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot; - • .
A heap of dust alone remains of thee, is:
"Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be 1. :, .
Poets themselves must fall like those they sung, ..
Deaf the prais'd ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. . . . "
Ev’n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, e.g.,
Shall shortly want the gen'rous tear he pays;
Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part,
And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart;
Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er,
The Muse forgot, and thou belov'd no more . . Pope.
O Thou that, with surpassing glory crown'd,
Look'st from thy sole dominion like the God
Of this new world; at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminish'd heads; to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere!
Till pride, and worse ambition threw me down,
Warring in Heav'n against Heav'n's matchless King.
Ah, wherefore ?, he deserv'd no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none: nor was his service hard.
What could be less than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompense, and pay him thanks :
How due! yet all his good prov’d ill in me,
And wrought but malice; lifted up so high,
I’sdain'd subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit .
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burdensome, still paying, still to owe;
Forgetful what from him I still receiv'd ;
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharg’d: what burden them?
O had his pow'rful destiny ordain'd
Me some inferior angel, I had stood
Then happy; no unbounded hope had rais'd
Ambition. Yet why not? some other pow'r
As great might have aspir'd; and me, though mean,
Drawn to his part; but other pow'rs as great
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within,
Or from without, to all temptations arm'd.
Had'st thou the same free will and pow'r to stand
Thou had'st. ' Whom hast thou then, or what t'accuse,
But Heav'n's free love, dealt equally to all
Be then his love accurs'd, since love or hate,
To me alike it deals eternal wo.
Nay, curs'd be thou; since against his thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable ! which way shall I flee
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair
Which way I flee is Hell; myself am Hell;
And in the lowest deep a lower deep,
Still threat'ning to devour me, opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav'n.
O then at last relent; is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left?
None left but by submission; and that word so
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the spirits beneath, whom I seduc’d, . . . .
With other promises, and other vaunts, * . .
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue . . . . . . . .
Th' Omnipotent. Ah me, they little know . . . . .
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan, -
While they adore me on the throne of Hell:
With diadem and sceptre high advanc'd,
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery; such joy ambition finds.
But say I could repent, and could obtain,
By act of grace, my former state; how soon
Would height recall high thoughts, how soon unsay
What feign'd submission swore l ease would recant
Vows made in pain, as violent and void:
For never can true reconcilement grow
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierc'd so deep
Which would but lead us to a worse relapse,
And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear
Short intermission, bought with double smart.
This knows my punisher: therefore as far
From granting he, as I from begging peace: * * * *
All hope excluded thus, behold instead
Of us outcast, exil'd, his new delight,
Mankind created, and for him this world. *
So farewell hope; and, with hope, farewell fear;
Farewell remorse; all good to me is lost;
Evil be thou my good : by thee at least
Divided empire with Heav'n's King I hold,
And by thee more than half perhaps will reign;
As man ere long, and this new world, shall know,
It must be so—Plato, thou reason'st well—
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horrour
Of falling into nought? Why shrinks the Soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction :
"Tis the Divinity, that stirs within us;
"Tis Heav'n itself, that points out a hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man."
Eternity' thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass!
The wide, th' unbounded prospect lies before me;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a power above us,
(And that there is, all Nature cries aloud
Through all her works,) he must delight in virtue;
And that which he delights in must be happy.
But when, or where —This world was made for Caesar.
I'm weary of conjectures—this must end 'em.
Thus am I doubly arm’d—My death and life,
My bane and antidote are both before me,
This in a moment brings me to an end;