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Th' astonish'd Earth, and from his looks throws round
Unutterable horror and dismay.
All nature lends her aid. Each element
Arms in his cause. Ope fly the doors of Heav'n;
The fountains of the deep their barriers break;
Above, below, the rival torrents pour,
And drown Creation ; or in floods of fire
Descends a livid cataract, and consumes
An impious race. Sometimes, when all seems peace,
Wakes the grim whirlwind, and with rude embrace
Sweeps nations to their grave, or in the deep
Whelms the proud wooden world; full many a youth
Floats on his wat'ry bier, or lies unwept
On some sad desert shote! At dead of night,
In sullen silence stalks forth Pestilence: '
Contagion close behind taints all her steps
With poisonous dew; no smiting hand is seen,
No sound is heard, but soon her secret path
Is mark’d' with desolation; heaps on heaps
Promiscuous.drop. No friend, no refuge near;
All, all is false and treacherous around;
All that they touch, or taste, or breathe, is Death.
But ah! what means that ruinous roar? why fail
These tott'ring feet? Earth to its centre feels
The Godhead's power, and trembling at his touch
Through all its pillars, and in every pore,
Hurls to the ground, with one convulsive heave,
Precipitating domes, and towns, and tow'rs, .
The work of ages. Crush'd beneath the weight
of gen’ral devastation, millions find
One common grave; not ev'n a widow left
To wail her sons: the house, that should protect,
Entombs.its master; and the faithless plain,
If there he flies for help, with sudden yawn
Starts from beneath him. Shield me, gracious Heav'n,
O snatch me from destruction! If this globe,
This solid globe, which thine own hand hath made
So film and sure, if this my steps betray;.
If my own mother Earth, from whence I sprung
Rise up with rage unnatural to devour :
Her wretched offspring, whither shall I Ay? .
Where look for succour? Where, but up to thee,
Almighty Father? Save, O save, thy suppliant
From horrors such as these! At thy good time
Let Death approach; I reck not- let him but come
In genuine form, not with thy vengeance arm’d,
Too much for man to bear. O rather lend
Thy kindly aid to mitigate his stroke;
And at that hour when all aghast I stand
(A trembling candidate for thy compassion)
On this world's brink, and look into the next;
"When my soul, starting from the dark unknown,
Casts back a wishful look, and fondly clings
To her frail prop, unwilling to be wrench'd
From this fair scene, from all her custoin'd joys,
And all the lovely relatives of life;: .
Then shed thy comforts o'er me, then put on
The gentlest of thy looks. Let no dark crimes,
In all their hideous forms then starting up, :'
Plant themselves round iny couch in grim array,
And stab my bleeding heart with two-edg'd torture,
Sense of past guilt, and dread of future woe,
Far be the ghastly crew! And in their stead
Let cheerful Memory from her purest cells
Lead forth a goodly train of Virtues fair,
Cherish'd in earliest youth, now paying back
With tenfold usury the pious care,
And pouring o'er my wounds 'trie heav'nly balng .
of conscious innocence. But chiefly, Thou,
Whom soft-eyed l'ity once led down from Heav'n.
To bleed for" man, to teach him how to live,
And, Oh! still harder lesson; how to die;
Disdain not thou to smooth the restless bed
Of Sickness and of Pain. Forgive the tear
That feeble Nature drops, calm all her fears,
Wake all her hopes, and animate' her faith,
Till my' rapt Soul, anticipating Heav'n,
Bursts from the thraldrom of incumbering clay,
And on the wing of Ecstacy upborne,
Springs into Life, and Light, and Liberty.
... A SOLILOQUY..
WRITTEN . IN A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD.
STRUCK with religious awe and solemn dread,
I view these gloomy mansions of the dead; ' .
Around me tombs in mix'd disorder rise, ..
And in mute language teach me to be wise,
Time was these ashes liv'd'; a time must be,
When others thus may stand and look at me.
Here, blepded, lie the aged and the young,
The sich and poor, an: indistinguish'd throng;
Death conquers all, and Time's subduing hand,
Nor tombs, nor marble statues can withstand,
Mark yonder ashes, in confusion spread!
Compare earth's living tenants with her dead!
How striking the resemblance, yet how just!
Once life and soul inform'd this mass of dust:
Around these bones, now broken and decay'd
The streams of life in various channels play'd:
Perhaps that scull, so horrible to view,
Was some fair maid's, ye belles! as fair as you."
These hollow sockets two bright orbs contain'd.
Where the loves sported, and in triumph reign'd;
Here glow'd the lips; there white as Parian stone,
The teeth dispos'd in beautuous order shone..
This is life's goal--no farther can we view;
Beyond it, all is wonderful and new,
O say, ye spirits, in a future state
Why do you hide the secrets of your fate?
Nor tell your endless pains or joys to none,
Is it that men may live by faith alone?
The grave has eloquence, its lectures teach,
In silence louder than divines can preach;
Hear what it says-ye sons of folly! hear;
It speaks to you- lend an attentive ear:
It bids you lay all. vanity aside;
A humbling lecture this for human pride.
The clock strikes twelve-i-how solemn is the sound!
Hark how the strokes from hollow vaults rebound!
They bid us hasten to be wise, and show
How rapid in their course our minutes flow.
Now fairy shapes, and hideous spectres dance · Athwart imagination's vivid glance;
The felon now attacks the miser's door,
And ruthless murder prints her steps with gore;
Dull fancy now her dreary path pursues,
'Midst groves of cypress, -and unhallow'd yews:
Poetic visions vanish from my brain,
And my pulse throbs as feebly as my.strain.
| What means this sudden, strange, unusual start,
This solemn something creeping to my heart? .
Why fear to read a gracious God's decree?
Why fear to look on that I soon must be?
Can man be thoughtless of his end? or proud
Of charms that claim the coffin and the shroud?
Come let him read these sculptur'd tombstones o'er,
Here fix his thoughts, and then be vain no more.
Let proud ambition learn this lesson hence,
Howe'er distinguish’d, dignify'd for sense;
Whate'er the honour'd ensigns of renown,
The cap, the hood, the mitre or the crown,
Death levels all; nor parts our pow'rs can save,
Milton himself must moulder in the grave,
Who sung and prov'd with inspiration strong,
The soul immortal, in immortal song.
Hark! thus death speaks; ingenious sons of men,
Why boast the chissel, pencil, or the pen?
Will fame, who oft denies her children bread,
Deceive the living, discompose the dead i
No; fame's a breath, it cannot worth supply,
Nor yield you comfort when you come to die;
In my dark realms all opposites agree,
The heirs of wealth and sons of poverty.
Whose tub is this? It says, 'tis Mira's, tomb, Pluck'd from the world in beauty's fairest bloom;