Ah, Fear! ah, frantic Fear!

I see I see thee near.

I know thy hurried step, thy haggard eye!
Like thee I start, like thee disordered fly,
For, lo, what monsters in thy train appear!
Danger, whose limbs of giant mould
What mortal eye can fixed behold?
Who stalks his round, a hideous form,
Howling amidst the midnight storm,
Or throws him on the ridgy steep
Of some loose hanging rock to sleep:
And with him thousand phantoms joined,
Who prompt to deeds accursed the mind:
And those, the fiends, who near allied,
O'er nature's wounds and wrecks preside;
While Vengeance, in the lurid air,
Lifts her red arm, exposed and bare:
On whom that ravening brood of fate,
Who lap the blood of Sorrow, wait;
Who, Fear, this ghastly train can see,
And look not madly wild, like thee?

[ocr errors]

MARK AKENSIDE. 1721-1770. (Manual, p. 354.)

232. GENIUS.

From Heaven my strains begin; from Heaven 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 adorned the globe,
Or Wisdom taught the sons of men her lore;
Then lived th' almighty One; then, deep retired
In his unfathomed essence, viewed 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 fixed,
His admiration: till in time complete,
What he admired, and loved, his vital smile
Unfolded into being. Hence the breath
Of life informing each organic frame;

Hence the green earth, and wild resounding waves;

[ocr errors]

Hence light and shade alternate; warmth and cold;
And clear autumnal skies, and vernal showers;
And all the fair variety of things.

But not alike to every mortal eye

Is this great scene unveiled. For since the claims
Of social life to different labors urge

The active powers of man; with wise intent
The hand of Nature on peculiar minds
Imprints a different bias, and to each
Decrees its 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 Heaven: to some she gave
To weigh the moment of eternal things,

Of time, and space, and fate's unbroken chain;
And will's quick impulse: others by the hand
She led o'er vales and mountains, to explore
What healing virtue swells the tender veins
Of herbs and flowers; or what the beams of morn
Draw forth, distilling from the clifted rind

In balmy tears. But some to higher hopes
Were destined: some within a finer mould
She wrought and tempered with a purer flame.
To these the Sire Omnipotent unfolds

The world's harmonious volume, there to read
The transcript of himself. On every 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 portrayed
That uncreated Beauty which delights
The Mind supreme. They also feel her charms,
Enamoured: they partake th' eternal joy.


The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,

The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homewards plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds :

Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell forever laid,

The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,

The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,

No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
No children run to lisp their sire's return,

Or climb his knees, the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,

Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team afield!

How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,

Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile

The short and simple annals of the poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,

And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await alike the inevitable hour:

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye Proud! impute to these the fault,
If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where, through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust

Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can Honor's voice provoke the silent dust,

Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of Time, did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,

And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,

Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.

The applause of listening senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,

And read their history in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbade; nor circumscribed alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of Mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious Truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous Shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride

With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,

With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unlettered Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply,

And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who, to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,

This pleasing, anxious being e'er resigned, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day, Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind?

[ocr errors]

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
E'en from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.

For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonored dead,
Dost in those lines their artless tale relate,
If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,

Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,

"Oft have we seen him, at the peep of dawn, Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,

To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

"There, at the foot of yonder nodding beech,

That wreathes its old fantastic root so high, His listless length at noontide would he stretch, And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,

Muttering his wayward fancies, he would rove; Now drooping, woful, wan, like one forlorn,

Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.

"One morn I missed him on the accustomed hill, Along the heath, and near his favorite tree; Another came, nor yet beside the rill,

Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood, was he:

"The next, with dirges due, in sad array,

Slow through the churchway-path we saw him borne. 'Approach, and read (for thou canst read) the lay

Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn: "


Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth

A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown: Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth, And Melancholy marked him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere;

Heaven did a recompense as largely send: He gave to misery all he had - a tear;

He gained from Heaven - 'twas all he wished

No further seek his merits to disclose,

Or draw his frailties from their dread abode (There they alike in trembling hope repose), The bosom of his Father and his God.

-a friend.

« VorigeDoorgaan »