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A MAN PERISHING IN THE SNOW;
From whence Reflections are raised on the Miseries of Life.
As thus the snows arise: and foul, and fierce,
He meets the roughness of the middle waste, Far from the track and blest abode of man; While round him night resistless closes fast, And ev'ry tempest howling o'er his head, Renders the savage wilderness more wild. Then throng the busy shapes into his mind, Of cover'd pits, unfathomably deep, A dire descent; beyond the pow'r of frost, Of faithless bogs; of precipices huge, Smooth'd up with snow; and what is land, unknown, What water, of the still unfrozen spring, In the loose marsh or solitary lake, Where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils. These check his fearful steps, and down he sinks Beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift, Thinking o'er all the bitterness of death, Mix'd with the tender anguish nature shoots Through the wrung bosom of the dying man, His wife, his children, and his friends unseen, In vain for him th' officious wife prepares The fire fair-blazing, and the vestment warm; In vain his little children peeping out Into the mingled storm, demand their sire With tears of artless innocence. Alas! · Nor wife, nor children more shall be behold, Nor friends, nor sacred home. On ev'ry nerve
The deadly winter seizes; shuts up sense;
Ah, little think the gay licentious proud, Whom pleasure, pow'r, and affluence surround, They who their thoughtless hours in giddy mirth, And wanton, often cruel, riot waste; Ah, little think they, as they dance along, How many feel, this very moment, death, And all the sad variety of pain. How many sink in the devouring flood, Or more devouring flame! How many bleed, By shameful variance betwixt man and man! How many pine in want, and dungeon glooms, Shut from the common air, and common use Of their own limbs! How many drink the cup Of baleful grief, or eat the bitter bread Of misery! Sore pierc'd by wintry winds, How many sink into the sordid hut Of cheerless poverty! How many shake With all the fiercer tortures of the mind, Unbounded passion, madness, guilt, remorse! How many, rack'd with honest passions, droop In deep retir'd distress! How many stand Around the death-bed of their dearest friends,
And point the parting anguish! Thought, fond man,
Mutt'RING, the winds at eve, with blunted point, - Blow hollow-blust'ring from the south. Subdu'd,
The frost resolves into a trickling thaw.
That wash'd th' ungenial pole, will rest no more
Th' assembled mischiefs that besiege them round?