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Where is the fame
The virtuous man
-when he falls,
When Nero, High over flaming Rome, with savage joy Lower'd like a fiend, drank with enraptured ear The shricks of agonizing death, beheld The frightful desolation spread, and felt A new-created sense within his soul Thrill to the sight, and vibrate to the sound; Thinkest thou his grandeur had not overcome The force of human kindness? and, when Rome, With one stern blow, hurld not the tyrant down, Crush'd not the arm, red with her dearest blood, Had not submissive abjectness destroy'd Nature's suggestions?
Look on yonder earth : The golden harvests spring; the unfailing sun Sheds light and life; the fruits, the flowers, the Arise in due succession; all things speak (trees, Peace, harmony, and love. The universe, In nature's silent eloquence, declares That all fulfil the works of love and joy,
All but the outcast, Man. He fabricates
Spirit of Nature ! no!
Thou, aye, erectest there
Is powerless as the wind
That passeth idly by.
As God surpasses man.
Spirit of Nature! thou, Life of interminable multitudes;
Soul of those mighty spheres
The dwelling of whose life
Man, like these passive things,
Which time is fast maturing,
Will swiftly, surely come;
Will be without a flaw,
IV. How beautiful this night! the balmiest sigh Which vernal zephyrs breathe in evening's ear, Were discord to the speaking quietude That wraps this moveless scene. Heaven's ebon Studded with stars unutterably bright, [vault, Through which the moon's unclouded grandeur Seems like a canopy which love has spread (rolls, To curtain her sleeping world. Yon gentle hills, Robed in a garment of untrodden snow; Yon darksome rocks, whence icicles depend, So stainless that their white and glittering spires Tinge not the moon's pure beam; yon castled steep, Whose banner hangeth o'er the time-worn tower So idly, that rapt fancy deemeth it A metaphor of peace ;-all form a scene Where musing solitude might love to lift Her soul above this sphere of earthliness; Where silence undisturb'd might watch alone, So cold, so bright, so still.
The orb of day,
Which desolates the discord-wasted land. In southern climes, o'er ocean's waveless field From kings, and priests, and statesmen, war arose, Sinks sweetly smiling: not the faintest breath Whose safety is man's deep unbettered wo, Steals o'er the unruffled deep; the clouds of eve Whose grandeur his debasement. Let the axe Reflect unmoved the lingering beam of day; Strike at the root, the poison tree will fall; And vesper's image on the western main
And where its venomed exhalations spread Is beautifully still. To-morrow comes:
Ruin, and death, and wo, where millions lay
A garden shall arise, in loveliness
Hath Nature's soul, With all his winds and lightnings, tracks his prey; That formed this world so beautiful, that spread The torn deep yawns,--the vessel finds a grave Earth's
's lap with plenty, and life's smallest chord, Beneath its jagged gulf.
Strung to unchanging unison, that gave
The happy birds their dwelling in the grove, That fires the arch of heaven!—that dark red smoke That yielded to the wanderers of the deep Blotting the silver moon? The stars are quenched The lovely silence of the unfathomed main, In darkness, and the pure and spangling snow
And filled the meanest worm that crawls in dust Gleams faintly through the gloom that gathers With spirit, thought, and love; on Man alone round.
Partial in causeless malice, wantonly Hark to that roar, whose swift and deafening peals Heap'd ruin, vice, and slavery; his soul In countless echoes through the mountains ring,
Blasted with withering curses; placed afar Startling pale midnight on her starry throne!
The meteor happiness, that shuns his grasp, Now swells the intermingling din; the jar
But serving on the frightful gulf to glare, Frequent and frightful of the bursting bomb;
Rent wide beneath his footsteps? The falling beam, the shriek, the groan, the shout,
Nature!-no! The ceaseless clangour, and the rush of men Kings, priests, and statesmen blast the human Inebriate with rage:-loud, and more loud
flower, The discord grows; till pale death shuts the scene, Even in its tender bud; their influence darts And o'er the conqueror and the conquer'd draws Like subtle poison through the bloodless veins His cold and bloody shroud.—Of all the men Of desolate society. The child, Whom day's departing beam saw blooming there Ere he can lisp his mother's sacred name, In proud and vigorous health; of all the hearts Swells with the unnatural pride of crime, and lifts That beat with anxious life at sun-set there; His baby-sword even in a hero's mood. How few survive, how few are beating now! This infant arm becomes the bloodiest scourge All is deep silence, like the fearful calm
Of devastated earth; whilst specious names That slumbers in the storm's portentous pause; Learnt in soft childhood's unsuspecting hour, Save when the frantic wail of widowed love Serve as the sophisms with which manhood dims Comes shuddering on the blast, or the faint moan Bright reason's ray, and sanctifies the sword With which some soul bursts from the frame of clay Upraised to shed a brother's innocent blood. Wrapt round its struggling powers.
Let priest-led slaves cease to proclaim that man The gray morn
Inherits vice and misery, when force Dawns on the mournful scene; the sulphurous And falsehood hang even o'er the cradled babe, Before the icy wind slow rolls away, [smoke
Stifling with rudest grasp all natural good, And the bright beams of frosty morning dance Ah! to the stranger-soul, when first it peeps Along the spangling snow. There tracks of blood From its new tenement, and looks abroad Even to the forest's depth, and scattered arms, For happiness and sympathy, how stern And lifeless warriors, whose hard lineaments And desolate a tract is this wide world! Death's self could change not, mark the dreadful How withered all the buds of natural good! Of the outsallying victors: far behind, [path No shade, no shelter from the sweeping storms Black ashes note where their proud city stood. Of pitiless power! On its wretched frame, Within yon forest is a gloomy glen
Poisoned, perchance, by the disease and wo
By morals, law, and custom, the pure winds
Of heaven, that renovate the insect tribes, Surpassing spirit!-wert thou human else? May breathe not. The untainting light of day I see a shade of doubt and horror fleet
May visit not its longings. It is bound Across thy stainless features: yet fear not
Ere it has life: yea, all the chains are forged This is no unconnected misery,
Long ere its being : all liberty and love Nor stands uncaused, and irretrievable.
And peace is torn from its defencelessness; Man's evil nature, that apology
Cursed from its birth, even from its cradle doomed Which kings who rule, and cowards who crouch,
To abjectness and bondage !
Soul is the only element, the block
Without a hope, a passion, or a love,
use, Well pay them for the loan, with usury Torn from a bleeding world !-God, Hell and
Heaven. A vengeful, pitiless, and almighty fiend, Whose mercy is a nickname for the rage Of tameless tigers hungering for blood. Hell, a red gulf of everlasting fire, Where poisonous and undying worms prolong Eternal misery to those hapless slaves Whose life has been a penance for its crimes. And heaven, a meed for those who dare belie Their human nature, quake, believe, and cringe Before the mockeries of earthly power. These tools the tyrant tempers to his work, Wields in his wrath, and as he wills, destroys, Omnipotent in wickedness: the while Youth springs, age moulders, manhood tamely does His bidding, bribed by short-lived joys to lend Force to the weakness of his trembling arm. They rise, they fall; one generation comes Yielding its harvest to destruction's scythe. It fades, another blossoms : yet behold! Red glows the tyrant's stamp-mark on its bloom, Withering and cankering deep its passive prime. He has invented lying words and modes, Empty and vain as his own coreless heart; Evasive meanings, nothings of much sound, To lure the heedless victim to the toils Spread round the valley of its paradise. Look to thyself, priest, conqueror, or prince! Whether thy trade is falsehood, and thy lusts Deep wallow in the earnings of the poor, With whom thy master was :or thou delight'st In numbering o'er the myriads of thy slain, All misery weighing nothing in the scale Against thy short-lived fame: or thou dost load With cowardice and crime the groaning land, A pomp-fed king. Look to thy wretched self! Ay, art thou not the veriest slave that e'er Crawled on the loathing earth? Are not thy days Days of unsatisfying listlessness ? Dost thou not cry, ere night's long rack is o’er, When will the morning come? Is not thy youth A vain and feverish dream of sensualism? Thy manhood blighted with unripe disease ? Are not thy views of unregretted death Drear, comfortless, and horrible? Thy mind, Is it not morbid as thy nerveless frame, Incapable of judgment, hope, or love? And dost thou wish the errors to survive That bar thee from all sympathies of good, After the miserable interest Thou hold'st in their protraction? When the grave Has swallowed up thy memory and thyself, Dost thou desire the bane that poisons earth To twine its roots around thy coffined clay, Spring from thy bones, and blossom on thy tomb, That of its fruit thy babes may eat and die ?
Since tyrants, by the sale of human life, Turs do the generations of the earth
Heap luxuries to their sensualism, and fame Go to the grave, and issue from the womb,
To their wide-wasting and insatiate pride,
Success has sanctioned to a credulous world Surviving still the imperishable change That renovates the world; even as the leaves
The ruin, the disgrace, the wo of war. Which the keen frost-wind of the waning year
His hosts of blind and unresisting dupes Has scattered on the forest soil, and heaped
The despot numbers; from his cabinet For many seasons there, though long they choke
These puppets of his schemes he moves at will, Loading with loathsome rottenness the land,
Even as the slaves by force or famine driven
Beneath a vulgar master, to perform
A task of cold and brutal drudgery ;-
Hardened to hope, insensible to fear,
Scarce living pulleys of a dead machine,
Mere wheels of work and articles of trade,
That grace the proud and noisy pomp of wealth! Like that which gave it life, to spring and die.
The harmony and happiness of man Thus suicidal selfishness, that blights
Yield to the wealth of nations; that which lifts The fairest feelings of the opening heart,
His nature to the heaven of its pride, Is destined to decay, whilst from the soil
Is bartered for the poison of his soul; Shall spring all virtue, all delight, all love,
The weight that drags to earth his towering hopes, And judgment cease to wage unnatural war With passion's unsubduable array.
Blighting all prospect but of selfish gain,
Withering all passion but of slavish fear,
Extinguishing all free and generous love
Of enterprise and daring, even the pule
That fancy kindles in the beating heart
To mingle with sensation, it destroys, Shunning the light, and owning not its name :
Leaves nothing but the sordid lust of self, Compelled, by its deformity, to screen
The grovelling hope of interest and gold, With flimsy veil of justice and of right,
Unqualified, unmingled, unredeemed
Even by hypocrisy.
And statesmen boast
Of wealth! The wordy eloquence that lives Dead to all love but of its abjectness,
After the ruin of their hearts, can gild
To their corrupt and glaring ido!, Fame,
Although its dazzling pedestal be raised Of all that human art or nature yield;
Amid the horrors of a limb-strewn field, Which wealth should purchase not, but want
With desolated dwellings smoking round. And natural kindness hasten to supply [demand, To deeds of charitable intercourse
The man of ease, who, by his warm fireside, From the full fountain of its boundless love,
And bare fulfilment of the common laws
Of decency and prejudice, confines
The struggling nature of his human heart,
Is duped by their cold sophistry; he sheds
A passing tear perchance upon the wreck The doors of premature and violent death,
Of earthly peace, when near his dwelling's door
The frightful waves are driven,—when his son To pining famine and full-fed disease,
Is murdered by the tyrani, or religion To all that shares the lot of human life, [chain
Drives his wife raving mad. But the poor man, Which poisoned body and soul, scarce drags the
Whose life is misery, and fear, and care ; That lengthens as it goes and clanks behind.
Whom the morn wakens but to fruitless toil; Commerce has set the mark of selfishness, Who ever hears his famished offspring's scream, The signet of its all-enslaving power,
Whom their pale mother's uncomplaining gaze Upon a shining ore, and called it gold:
For ever meets, and the proud rich man's eye Before whose image bow the vulgar great, Flashing command, and the heart breaking scene The vainly rich, the miserable proud,
Of thousands like himself; he little heeds The mob of peasants, nobles, priests, and kings, The rhetoric of tyranny, his hate And with blind feelings reverence the power Is quenchless as his wrongs, he laughs to scorn That grinds them to the dust of misery.
The vain and bitter mockery of words, But in the temple of their hireling hearts
Feeling the horror of the tyrant's deeds, Gold is a living god, and rules in scorn
And unrestrained but by the arm of power, All earthly things but virtue.
That knows and dreads his enmity.
The iron rod of penury still compels
But mean lust
Is turned to deadliest agony, old age,
- The consciousness of good, which neither gold, Nor sordid fame, nor hope of heavenly bliss, Can purchase ; but a life of resolute good, Unalterable will, quenchless desire Of universal happiness, the heart That beats with it in unison, the brain, Whose ever-wakeful wisdom toils to change Reason's rich stores for its eternal weal. This commerce of sincerest virtue needs No mediative signs of selfishness, No jealous intercourse of wretched gain, No balancings of prudence, cold and long; In just and equal measure all is weighed, One scale contains the sum of human weal, And one, the good man's heart.
How vainly seek The selfish for that happiness denied To aught but virtue! Blind and hardened, they Who hope for peace amid the storms of care, Who covet power they know not how to use, And sigh for pleasure they refuse to give :Madly they frustrate still their own designs; And, where they hoped that quiet to enjoy Which virtue pictures, bitterness of soul, Pining regrets, and vain repentances, Disease, disgust, and lassitude, pervade Their valueless and miserable lives. But hoary-headed selfishness has felt Its death-blow, and is tottering to the grave: A brighter morn awaits the human day,