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Hangs the fond mother o'er her orphan's head?
Cheers the loved spouse the widow's sorrowing bed?
In airy watch do guardian spirits stand,
And guide our faltering steps, an angel band?
Or, senseless, hush'd in lone sepulchral gloom,
Sleeps the regardless tenant of the tomb,
Till the dread blast shall rouse the silent earth,
And joyful Nature start to second birth,
All nations waken from the awful trance,
And realms and times in wondering gaze advance,
While Memory's voice renews its tuneful sound,
And marshals all the tribes of earth around,
Bids fresh reviving scenes salute their eyes,
And friends with friends to virtuous bliss arise ?
Cease, curious thoughts ! too thick the shades of
Veil the dread future from our anxious sight;
The boldest thoughts here urge their course in vain,
Nor pass one bulwark of the drear domain.
Then, when the last faint panting heaves my heart,
And weary life stands fluttering to depart,
One beam of joy shall warm my trembling soul
And Doubt's dun clouds to awful distance roll,
Truth's angel form my fleeting spirit own,
And spring to clasp her in the world unknown.
Ye sparkling isles of light that stud the sea
Of empyrean ether! Ye abodes
Of unknown myriads, spirits, or in bands
Held of corporeal frame! Fain would my soul,
Athirst for knowledge unreveal’d to man,
Question your habitants, and fain would hear
A voice responsive from your distant bourn.
Tell, tell me who possess your radiant climes;
What are their forms, their faculties, their hopes,
Their fears, if subject or to hope or fear?
What fond pursuits, what animating toils,
Diversify existence with delight?
Rove they in course aerial unconfined
From sphere to sphere, with interchange of joy,
Heightening their mutual bliss; or dwell they fixed,
Each in his native solitary orb,
Unconscious of the lot of neighbouring worlds ?
What homage, what return of grateful love
Yield they to Him who made them? Stand they fast
In undecaying blessedness, secure
From risk of loss: or tread they yet the stage
Of perilous probation? Hath Sin won
Conquests through disobedience o'er those Hosts ?
In your bright regions yawns the gates of Death!
Falls he, who falls, for ever?
Pardon the aspiring thoughts that would presume
To pierce the veil which shrouds from mortal eye
The wonders of thy realms! Enough to know
That thou art Lord! Thy universal love
Pervades Creation; on each living form [guilt
Showers down its proper happiness; and, when
Wakes thy reluctant vengeance, stays the bolt
Of wrath, and pales its mitigated fire!
Die, blooming flowers! as if ye ne'er had been ;
Die, and relinquish this empurpled scene;
Die, and in due succession, in your stead,
Others shall bloom, and equal fragrance shed:
Like you, bereàved of every living grace ;
Like you in every clime the human race
Shall perish in succession.—No!' I hear
Reason announce, in accents soft and clear,
Tuned to the warblings of those heavenly strings,
With whose sweet strain the sapphire region rings,
When holy Faith, in pity to mankind,
Reveals the triumphs of the immortal mind;
I hear, with mingled music from on high,
Reason announce, “ Although they seem to die,
Not like the blossoms of the woody glade
Shall the bright flowers of human nature fade;
Adorn’d with mercy, piety, and truth,
They still shall flourish in immortal youth.'-
Ye flowers of human nature! at the time
We grieve for your decay, in orient prime,
Beneath the brilliancy of heavenly skies
Ye bloom; while here ye seem to fade, ye rise
Gay in the embellishment of recent hues;
Gales of more exquisite perfume diffuse
Than ye could breathe amid the mists below,
And gilt with beams of conscious splendour glow.
STATE OF MAN AFTER DEATH. 'Tis pleasant in this peaceful serious hour To tread the silent sward that wraps the dead, Once our companions in the cheerful walks Of acceptable life, the same ere long In the dark chambers of profound repose. All have their kindred here, and I have mine ; Yes, my sweet Isabel, and I have mine. To die—what is it but to sleep and sleep, Nor feel the weariness of dark delay Through the long night of time, and nothing know Of intervening centuries elapsed, When thy sweet morn, Eternity, begins? Or else—what is it but a welcome change From worse to better, from a world of pain To one where flesh at least can nothing feel, And pain and pleasure have no equal sway? What is it but to meet ten thousand friends Whose earthly race was finish'd ere our own, And be well welcomed, where the timorous foot Fear'd to intrude, and whence no foot returns ? To me what were it but the happier lot To find my long lost Isabel, and shed (If tears of joy are shed where tears of grief Fall never, and immortal angels weep At bliss excessive) joy's profoundest shower: To tell her what was felt, and what was sung, When cruel death, unsparing, from my sight Pluck' her away, and wafted her pure spirit Whither no soul could tell ?-But hush! my heart, Lest sorrow burst her cicatrice anew, And painful thought, which saddens my slow step, Disperse the pleasures of this tranquil hour.
IMMORTALITY REVEALED BY THE
« The meanest herb we trample in the field,
Or in the garden nurture, when its leaf
In autumn dies, forebodes another spring,
And from short slumber wakes to life again.
Man wakes no more! Man, peerless, valiant, wise,
Once chill'd by death, sleeps hopeless in the dust,
A long, unbroken, never-ending sleep!'
Such was thy plaint, untutor'd bard, when May,
As now, the lawns revived ! 'Twas thine to rove
Darkling, ere yet * from Death's reluctant shade,
In cloudless majesty, the Son of God
Sprang glorious; while hell's ruler, he who late,
With frantic scoffs of triumph, to his powers
Pointed the sad procession as it moved
From Calvary to the yet unclosed tomb,
Saw the grave yield its conqueror; and aghast,
Shunned, in the deepest midnight of his realms,
The wrath of earth's and heaven's Almighty Lord.
Said the desponding lay, “Man wakes no more!' O blind! who read'st not in the teeming soil, The freshening meadow, and the bursting wood, A nobler lesson!—He who spake the word, And the sun rose from Chaos, while the abyss From the new fires with shuddering surge recoild; He, at whose voice the moon's nocturnal beam, And starry legions, on the admiring earth Rained lustre; He, whose providence the change Of day and night and seasons crown'd with food,