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‘Adieu, ye vain low-thoughted cares,
Ye human hopes, and human fears,
Ye pleasures and ye pains!'
While thus I spake, o'er all my soul
A philosophic calmness stole,
A stoic stillness reigns.
The tyrant passions all subside,
Fear, anger, pity, shame, and pride,
No more my bosom move;
Yet still I felt, or seemed to feel
A kind of visionary zeal
Of universal love.
When lo! a voice, a voice I hear!
'Twas Reason whispered in my ear
These monitory strains: 'What mean'st thou, man? wouldst thou unbind The ties which constitute thy kind,
The pleasures and the pains?
"The same Almighty Power unseen,
Who spreads the gay or solemn scene
To contemplation's eye,
Fixed every movement of the soul,
Taught every wish its destined goal,
And quickened every joy.
'He bids the tyrant passions rage,
He bids them war eternal wage,
And combat each his foe:
Till from dissensions concords rise,
And beauties from deformities,
And happiness from woe.
‘Art thou not man, and dar'st thou find A bliss which leans not to mankind ?
Presumptuous thought and vain Each bliss unshared is unenjoyed, Each power is weak unless employed
Some social good to gain.
'Shall light and shade, and warmth and air,
With those exalted joys compare
Which active virtue feels,
When on she drags, as lawful prize,
Contempt, and Indolence, and Vice,
At her triumphant wheels?
'As rest to labour still succeeds,
To man, whilst virtue's glorious deeds
Employ his toilsome day,
This fair variety of things
Are merely life’s refreshing springs,
To sooth him on his way.
'Enthusiast go, unstring thy lyre,
In vain thou sing'st if none admire,
How sweet soe'er the strain.
And is not thy o'erflowing mind,
Unless thou mixest with thy kind,
Benevolent in vain?
'Enthusiast go, try every sense,
If not thy bliss, thy excellence,
Thou yet hast learned to scan;
At least thy wants, thy weakness know,
And see them all uniting show
That man was made for man.'
FROM THE PLEASURES OF IMAGINATION [THE ÆSTHETIC AND MORAL INFLUENCE OF NATURE]
Fruitless is the attempt,
By dull obedience and by creeping toil
Obscure, to conquer the severe ascent
Of high Parnassus. Nature's kindling ath
Must fire the chosen genius; Nature's hand
Must string his nerves, and imp his eagle-wings,
Impatient of the painful steep, to soar
High as the summit, there to breathe at large
Ethereal air, with bards and sages old,
Immortal sons of praise.
Even so did Nature's hand To certain species of external things Attune the finer organs of the mind : So the glad impulse of congenial powers, Or of sweet sounds, or fair-proportioned form, The grace of motion, or the bloom of light, Thrills through imagination's tender frame, From nerve to nerve; all naked and alive They catch the spreading rays, till now the soul At length discloses every tuneful spring, To that harmonious movement from without Responsive.
What then is taste, but these internal powers
Active, and strong, and feelingly alive
To each fine impulse ? a discerning sense
Of decent and sublime, with quick disgust
From things deformed, or disarranged, or gross
In species? This, nor gems, nor stores of gold,
Nor purple state, nor culture can bestow;
But God alone, when first his active hand
Imprints the secret bias of the soul.
He, mighty parent wise and just in all,
Free as the vital breeze or light of heaven,
Reveals the charms of nature. Ask the swain
Who journey's homeward from a summer day's
Long labour, why, forgetful of his toils
And due repose, he loiters to behold
The sunshine gleaming as through amber clouds
O’er all the western sky; full soon, I ween,
His rude expression and untutored airs,
Beyond the power of language, will unfold
The form of beauty smiling at his heart-
How lovely! how commanding!
Oh! blest of Heaven, whom not the languid songs
Of Luxury, the siren! nor the bribes
Of sordid Wealth, nor all the gaudy spoils
Of pageant Honour, can seduce to leave
Those ever-blooming sweets which, from the store
Of Nature, fair Imagination culls
To charm th' enlivened soul! What though not all
Of mortal offspring can attain the heights
Of envied life, though only few possess
Patrician treasures or imperial state;
Yet Nature's care, to all her children just,
With richer treasure and an ampler state,
Endows at large whatever happy man
Will deign to use them. His the city's pomp;
The rural honours his. Whate'er adorns
The princely dome, the column and the arch,
The breathing marbles and the sculptured gold,
Beyond the proud possessor's narrow claim,
His tuneful breast enjoys. For him the Spring
Distils her dews, and from the silken gem
Its lucid leaves unfolds; for him the hand
Of Autumn tinges every fertile branch
With blooming gold, and blushes like the morn.
Each passing hour sheds tribute from her wings;
And still new beauties meet his lonely walk,
And loves unfelt attract him. Not a breeze
Flies o'er the meadow, not a cloud imbibes
The setting sun's effulgence, not a strain
From all the tenants of the warbling shade
Ascends, but whence his bosom can partake
Fresh pleasure unreproved. Nor thence partakes
Fresh pleasure only; for th' attentive mind,
By this harmonious action on her powers,
Becomes herself harmonious: wont so oft
In outward things to meditate the charm
Of sacred order, soon she seeks at home
To find a kindred order, to exert
Within herself this elegance of love,
This fair-inspired delight; her tempered powers
Refine at length, and every passion wears
A chaster, milder, more attractive mien.
But if to ampler prospects, if to gaze
On Nature's form where, negligent of all
These lesser graces, she assumes the part
Of that Eternal Majesty that weighed
The world's foundations, if to these the mind
Exalts her daring eye; then mightier far
Will be the change, and nobler. Would the forms
Of servile custom cramp her generous powers ?
Would sordid policies, the barbarous growth
Of ignorance and rapine, bow her down
To tame pursuits, to indolence and fear?
Lo! she appeals to Nature, to the winds
And rolling waves, the sun's unwearied course,
The elements and seasons: all declare
For what th' Eternal Maker has ordained
The powers of man: we feel within ourselves
His energy divine: he tells the heart
He meant, he made us, to behold and love
What he beholds and loves, the general orb
Of life and being; to be great like him,
Beneficent and active. Thus the men
Whom nature's works can charm, with God himself
Hold converse; grow familiar, day by day,
With his conceptions; act upon his plan;
And form to his, the relish of their souls.
FROM THE ENTHUSIAST; OR, THE LOVER OF
Ye green-robed Dryads, oft at dusky eve
By wondering shepherds seen, to forests brown
To unfrequented meads, and pathless wilds,
Lead me from gardens decked with art's vain pomps.
Can gilt alcoves, can marble-mimic gods,
Parterres embroidered, obelisks, and urns
Of high relief; can the long, spreading lake,
Or vista lessening to the sight; can Stow,