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Description of a parish poor-house. BEHOLD yon house that holds the parish poor, Whose walls of mud scarce bear the broken door! There, where the putrid vapours flagging play, And the dull wheel hums doleful thro' the day ; There children dwell who know no parents' care ; Parents, who know no children's love, dwell there; Heart-broken matrons on their joyless bed, Forsaken wives, and mothers never wed; Dejected widows with unheeded tears, 1 And crippled age with more than childhood fears ; The lame, the blind, and, far the happiest they! The moping idiot, and the madman gay.
Here too the sick their final doom receive, Here brought, amid the scenes of grief, to grieve : Where the loud groans from some sad chamber flow, Mix'd with the clamours of the crowd below; Here sorrowing they each kindred sorrow scan, And the cold cbarities of man to man : Whose laws indeed for ruin'd age provide, And strong compulsion plucks the scrap from pride ; But still that scrap is bought with many a sigh, And pride embitters what it can't deny.
Say, ye oppress'd by some fantastic woes, Some jarring nerve that baffles your repose ; Who press the downy couch, while slaves advance With timid eye, to read the distant glance ; Who with sad pray’rs the weary doctor tease To name the nameless ever-new disease ; Who with mock-patience dire complaints endure, Which real pain, and that alone, can cure ; How would you bear in real pain to lie, Despis'd, neglected, left alone to die? How would you bear to draw your latest breath, Where all that's wretched paves the way for death?
Such is that room which one rude beam divides, And naked rafters form the sloping sides ; Where the vile bands that bind the thatch are seen ; And lath and mud are all that lie between ; Save one dull pane, that, coarsely patch'd, gives way To the rude tempest, vet excludes the day:
Here, on a matted flock, with dust o'erspread,
The drooping wretch reclines his languid head.
For him no hand the cordial cup applies,
Nor wipes the tear that stagnates in his eyes ;
No friends with soft discourse his pain beguile,
Nor promise hope till sickness wears a smile.
A Summer Evening's Meditation.
« One sun by day, by night ten thousand shine."......Young.
'Tis past! the sultry tyrant of the south
Has spent his short-liv'd rage. More grateful hours
Move silent on. The skies no more repel
The dazzled sight; but, with mild maiden beams
Of temper'd light, invite the cherish'd eye
To wander o'er their sphere; where, hung aloft,
Dian's bright crescent, like a silver bow
New strung in heav'n, lifts high its beamy horns,
Impatient for the night, and seems to push
Her brother down the sky. Fair Venus shines
E’en in the eye of day; with sweetest beam
Propitious shines, and shakes a trembling flood
Of soften'd radiance from her dewy locks.
The shadows spread apace ; while meeken'd eve,
Her cheek yet warm with blushes, slow retires
Thro’ the Hesperian gardens of the west,
And shuts the gates of day. 'Tis now the hour
When contemplation, from her sunless haunts,
The cool damp grotto, or the lonely depth
Of unpierc'd woods, where, wrapt in silent shade,
She mus'd away the gaudy hours of noon,
And fed on thoughts unripen'd by the sun,
Moves forward, and with radiant finger points
To yon blue concave, swell'd by breath divine,
Where, one by one, the living eyes
Awake, quick kindling o'er the face of ether
One boundless blaze ; ten thousand trembling fires,
And dancing lustres, where th’ unsteady eye,
Restless and dazzled, wanders unconfin'd
O’er all this field of glories : spacious field,
And worthy of the Master! he whose hand,
With hieroglyphics elder than the Nile,
Lascrib'd the mystic tablet, hung on high
To public gaze; and said, Adore, O man,
The finger of thy God! From what pure wells
Of milky light, what soft o'erflowing urn,
Are all these lamps so fill’d ? these friendly lamps,
For ever streaming o'er the azure deep,
To point our path, and light us to our home.
How soft they slide along their lucid spheres !
And, silent as the foot of time, fulfil
Their destin'd courses. Nature's self is hush'd,
And, but a scatter'd leaf, which rustles thro'
The thick-wove foliage, not a sound is heard
To break the midnight air; tho' the rais'd ear,
Intensely listning, drinks in ev'ry breath.
How deep the silence, yet how loud the praise !
But are they silent all ? or is there not
A tongue in ev'ry star that talks with man,
And woos him to be wise ? nor woos in vain :
This dead of midnight is the noon of thought,
And wisdom mounts her zenith with the stars.
At this still hour the self-collected soul
Turns inward, and beholds a stranger there
Of high descent, and more than mortal rank ;
An embryo God; a spark of fire divine,
Which must burn on for ages, when the sun
(Fair transitory creature of a day!)
Has clos’d his golden eye, and, wrapt in shades ;
Forgets his wonted journey thro’ the east.
Ye citadels of light, and seats of bliss !
Perhaps my future home, from whence the soul,
Revolving periods past, may oft look back,
With recollected tenderness, on all
The various busy scenes she left below,
Its deep-laid projects, and its strange events,
As on some fond and doting tale that sooth'd
Her infant hours.-0 be it lawful now
To tread the hallow'd circle of your courts,
And, with mute wonder and delighted awe,
Approach your burning confines !-Seiz'd in thought,
On fancy's wild and roving wing I sail
From the green borders of the peopled earth,
And the pale moon, her duteous fair attendant ::
From solitary Mars ; from the vast orb
Of Jupiter, whose huge gigantic bulk
Dances in ether like the lightest leaf;
To the dim verge, the suburbs of the system,
Where cheerless Saturn, ʼmidst his wat’ry moons,
Girt with a lucid zone, in gloomy pomp,
Sits like an exild monarch. Fearless thence
I launch into the trackless deeps of space,
Where, burning round, ten thousand suns appear,
Of elder beam, which ask no leave to shine
Of our terrestrial star, nor borrow light
From the proud regent of our scanty day:
Sons of the morning, first-born of creation,
And only less than He who marks their track,
And guides their fierý wheels.. Here must I stop
Or is there aúght beyond? What hand unseen
Impels me onward, thro' the glowing orbs
Of habitable nature, far remote,
To the dread confines of eternal night,
To solitudes of vast unpeopled space,
The deserts of creation, wide and wild,
Where embryo systems and unkindled suns
Sleep in the womb of chaos ? Fancy droops,
And Thought astonish'd stops her bold career.
But, oh, thou mighty MIND! whose pow'rful word
Said, Thus let all things be, and thus they were,
Where shall I seek thy presence ? how, unblam’d,
Invoke thy dread perfection ;
Have the broad eye-lids of the morn beheld thee:
Or does the beamy shoulder of Orion
Support thy throne ? O look with pity down
On erring, guilty man! not in thy names
Of terror clad ; not with those thunders arm'd
That conscious Sinai felt, when fear appallid
The scatter'd tribes : thou hast a gentler voice,
That whispers comfort to the swelling heart,
Abash’d, yet longing to behold her Maker.
But now, my soul, unus'd to stretch her pow'rs
In flight so daring, drops her weary wing,
And seeks again the known accustom'd spot,
with sun, and shade, and lawns, and streams;
A mansion fair and spacious for its guest,
And full replete with wonders. Let me here,
Content and grateful, wait th' appointed time,
And ripen for the skies : 'the hour will come,
When all these splendouts, bursting on my sight,
Sball stand unveil'd, and to my ravish'd sense
Unlock the glories of the world unknown.
Fair as the dawning light! auspicious guest!
Source of all comfort to the human breast !
Depriv'd of thee, in sad despair we moan,
And tedious roll the heavy moments on.
Though beauteous objects all around us risę,
To charm the fancy, and delight the eyes ;
Tho' art's fair works and nature's gifts conspire
To please each sense, and satiate each desire,
'Tis joyless all—till thy enliv'ning ray
Scatters the melancholy gloom away.
Then opens to the soul a heavenly scene,
Gladness and peace, all sprightly, all serene.
Where dost thou deign, say, in what blest retreat,
To choose thy mansion, and to fix thy seat ?
Thy sacred presence how shall we explore ?
Can av’rice gain thee with her golden store ?
Can vain ambition, with her boasted charms,
Tempt thee within her wide extended arms?
No, with Content alone canst thou abide,
Thy sister, ever smiling by thy side.
When boon companions, void of ev'ry care,
Crown the full bowl, and the rich banquet share,
And give a loose to pleasure-art thou there?
Or when th' assembled great and fair advance
To celebrate the mask, the play, the dance,
Whilst beauty spreads its sweetest charms around,
And airs ecstatic swell their tuneful sound,
Art thou within the pompous circle found ?
Does not thy influence more sedately shine ?
Can such tumultuous joys as these be thine ?
Surely more mild, more constant in their course,
Thy pleasures issue from a nobler source ;
From sweet discretion ruling in the breast,
From passions temper'd, and from lusts represt;
From thoughts unconscious of a guilty smart,
And the calm transports of an honest heart.