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Compar'd to thee are harmless. Sicknesses
Of ev'ry size and symptom, racking pains,
And bluest plagues are thine! See how the fiend
Profusely scatters the contagion round;
Whilst deep-mouth'd slaughter, bellowing at her heels,
Wades deep in blood new-spilt; yet for to-morrow
Shapes out new work of great uncommon daring,
And inly pines till the dread blow is struck.
But hold! I've gone too far; too much discover'd My father's nakedness, and nature's shame. Here let me pause! and drop an honest tear, One burst of filial duty, and condolence, O'er all those ample deserts Death hath spread, This chaos of mankind. O great man-eater! Whose every day is carnival, not sated yet! Unheard-of epicure! without a fellow ! The veriest gluttons do not always cram ; Some intervals of abstinence are sought To edge the appetite: thou seekest none. Methinks the countless swarms thou hast devour'd, And thousands that each hour thou gobblest up, This, less than this, might gorge thee to the full. But, ah! rapacious still, thou gap'st for more: Like one, whole days defrauded of his meals, On whom lank hunger lays his skinny hand, And whets to keenest eagerness his cravings (As if Diseases, Massacre, and Poison, Famine and War were not thy caterers !)
But now that thou must render up thy dead,
And with high interest too! they are not thine;
But only in thy keeping for a season,
Till the great promis'd day of restitution;
When loud diffusive sound from brazen trump
Of strong-lung'd cherub shall alarm thy captives,
And rouse the long, long sleepers into life,
Day-light, and liberty.-
Then must thy gates fly open, and reveal
The mines that lay long forming under ground,
In their dark cells immur'd; but now full ripe,
And pure as silver from the crucible,
That twice has stood the torture of the fire,
And inquisition of the forge. We know,
The illustrious Deliverer of mankind,
The Son of God, thee foil'd. Him in thy power
Thou couldst not hold : self-vigorous he rose,
And, shaking off thy fetters, soon retook
Those spoils his voluntary yielding lent.
(Sure pledge of our releasement from thy thrall!)
Twice twenty days he sojourn'd here on earth,
And shew'd himself alive to chosen witnesses
By proofs so strong, that the most slow-assenting
Had not a scruple left. This having done,
He mounted up to heaven. Methinks I see him
Climb the aërial heights, and glide along
Athwart the severing clouds: but the faint eye,
Flung backward in the chase, soon drops its hold,
Disabled quite, and jaded with pursuing.
Heaven's portals wide expand to let him in;
Nor are his friends shut out: as some great prince
Not for himself alone procures admission,
But for his train; it was his royal will,
That where he is, there should his followers be.
Death only lies between! a gloomy path!
Made yet more gloomy by our coward fear!
But nor untrod, nor tedious: the fatigue
Will soon go off. Besides, there's no by-road
To bliss. Then why, like ill-condition'd children,
Start we at transient hardships in the way
That leads to purer air and softer skies,
And a ne'er-setting sun? Fools that we are!
We wish to be where sweets unwithering bloom;
But straight our wish revoke, and will not go.
So have I seen, upon a summer's even,
Fast by the riv'let's brink a youngster play;
How wishfully he looks to stem the tide!
This moment resolute, next unresolv'd,
At last he dips his foot; but as he dips
His fears redouble, and he runs away
From th' inoffensive stream, unmindful now
Of all the flowers that paint the further bank,
And smil'd so sweet of late. Thrice welcome Death!
That after many a painful bleeding step,
Conducts us to our home, and lands us safe
On the long wish'd-for shore. Prodigious change!
Our bane turn'd to a blessing! Death disarm'd
Loses his fellness quite; all thanks to him
Who scourg'd the venom out! Sure the last end
Of the good man is peace. How calm his exit!
Night-dews fall not more gently to the ground,
Nor weary worn-out winds expire so soft.
Behold him! in the evening-tide of life,
A life well spent, whose early care it was
His riper years should not upbraid his green:
By unperceiv'd degrees he wears away;
Yet like the sun seems larger at his setting!
High in his faith and hopes, look! how he reaches
After the prize in view! and, like a bird
That's hamper'd, struggles hard to get away!
Whilst the glad gates of sight are wide expanded
To let new glories in, the first fair fruits
Of the fast-coming harvest! Then! O then!
Each earth-born joy grows vile, or disappears,
Shrunk to a thing of nought. O how he longs
To have his passport sign'd, and be dismiss'd!
'Tis done, and now he's happy! The glad soul
Has not a wish uncrown'd. Even the lag flesh
Rests too in hope of meeting once again
Its better half, never to sunder more.
Nor shall it hope in vain: the time draws on
When not a single spot of burial-earth,
Whether on land, or in the spacious sea,
But must give back its long-committed dust
Inviolate and faithfully shall these
Make up the full account; not the least atom
Embezzled, or mislaid, of the whole tale.
Each soul shall have a body ready-furnish'd;
And each shall have his own. Hence, ye profane:
Ask not how this can be. Sure the same power
That rear'd the piece at first, and took it down,
Can re-assemble the loose scatter'd parts,
And put them as they were; Almighty God
Has done much more; nor is his arm impair'd
Thro' length of days; and what he can he will:
His faithfulness stands bound to see it done.
When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumbering dust,
Not unattentive to the call shall wake;
And every joint possess its proper place,
With a new elegance of form, unknown
To its first state. Nor shall the conscious soul
Mistake its part'ner; but amidst the crowd,
Singling its other half, into its arms
Shall rush, with all the impatience of a man
That's new come home, who having long been absent,
With haste runs over every different room,
In pain to see the whole. Thrice happy meeting!
Nor time, nor death, shall ever part them more.
Tis but a night, a long and moonless night; We make the grave our bed, and then are gone.
Thus, at the shut of even, the weary bird Leaves the wide air, and in some lonely break Cowers down, and dozes till the dawn of day; Then claps his well-fledg'd wings and bears away.
THE midnight clock has toll'd-and, hark! the bell
Of death beats slow; heard ye the note profound?
It pauses now; and now, with rising knell,
Flings to the hollow gale its sullen sound.
Yes-Coventry is dead. Attend the strain,
Daughters of Albion! ye that, light as air,
So oft have tripp'd in her fantastic train,
With hearts as gay, and faces half as fair:
For she was fair beyond your brightest bloom
(This envy owns, since now her bloom is fled ;)
Fair as the forms that, wove in Fancy's loom,
Float in light vision round the poet's head.
Whene'er with soft serenity she smil'd,
Or caught the orient blush of quick surprise,
How sweetly mutable, how brightly wild,
The liquid lustre darted from her eyes!
Each look, each motion, wak'd a new-born grace,
That o'er her form its transient glory cast:
Some lovelier wonder soon usurp'd the place,
Chas'd by a charm still lovelier than the last.
That bell again! It tells us what she is;
On what she was, no more the strain prolong: Luxuriant fancy, pause! an hour like this Demands the tribute of a serious song.