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Or the debating merchants share the prey,
“ Am I a debtor ? Hast thou ever heard
" At full my large leviathan shall rise, Boast all his strength, and spread his wondrous size. Who, great in arms, e'er stripp'd his shining mail, Or crown'd his triumph with a single scale ? Whose heart sustains him to draw near ? Behold, Destruction yawns; his spacious jaws unfold, And marshall'd round the wide expanse, disclose Teeth edg'd with death, and crowding rows on rows: What hideous fangs on either side arise ! And what a deep abyss between them lies! Mete with thy lance, and with thy plummet sound, The one how long, the other how profound. His bulk is charg'd with such a furious soul, That clouds of smoke from his spread nostrils roll, As from a furnace; and, when rous'd his ire, Fate issues from his jaws in streams of fire..
The rage of tempests, and the roar of seas,
• When, late awak’d, he rears him from the floods, And, stretching forth his stature to the clouds, Writhes in the Sun aloft his scaly height, And strikes the distant hills with transient light, Far round are fatal damps of terrour spread, The mighty fear, nor blush to own their dread. “ Large is his front; and, when his burnish'd
eyes . Lift their broad lids, the morning seems to rise.
“ In vain may death in various shapes invade, The swift-wing'd arrow, the descending blade; His naked breast their impotence defies; The dart rebounds, the brittle falchion flies. Shut in himself, the war without he hears, Safe in the tempest of their rattling spears ; The cumber'd strand their wasted volleys strow ; His sport, the rage and labour of the foe.
“ His pastimes like a cauldron boil the flood, And blacken ocean with the rising mud; 'The billows feel him, as he works his way; His hoary footsteps shine along the sea; The foam high-wrought with white divides the green, And distant sailors point where Death has been.
“ His like Earth bears not on her spacious face ; Alone in Nature stands his dauntless race,
For utter ignorance of fear renown'd,
Preface. As the occasion of this poem was real, not fictitious ;
so the method pursued in it was rather imposed, by what spontaneously arose in the author's mind on that occasion, than meditated or designed ; which will appear very probable from the nature of it. For it differs from the common mode of poetry, which is, from long narrations to draw short morals. Here, on the contrary, the narrative is short, and the morality arising from it makes the bulk of the poem. The reason of it is, that the facts mentioned did naturally pour these moral reflections on the thought of the writer..
Night THE FIRST.
LIFE, DEATH, AND IMMORTALITY.
TO THE RIGHT HON. ARTHUR Onslow, SPEAKER OF
THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.
From short (as usual) and disturb'd repose,
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams
Night, sable goddess ! from her ebon throne,
Silence and Darkness ! solemn sisters ! twins From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought To reason, and on reason build resolve, (That column of true majesty in man,) Assist me: I will thank you in the grave; The grave, your kingdom: there this frame shall fall A victim sacred to your dreary shrine. But what are ye?
Thou, who didst put to flight Primeval Silence, when the morning stars. Exulting, shouted o'er the rising ball ! O thou, whose word from solid darkness struck That spark, the Sun ; strike wisdom from my soul;