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And out-blush (mine excepted) every fair;
You gladlier grew, ambitious of her hand,
Which often cropt your odours, incense meet
To thought so pure! Ye lovely fugitives!
Coeval race with man! for man you smile!
Why not smile at him too? You share indeed
His sudden pass; but not his constant pain.
So man is made; nought ministers delight,
But what his glowing passions can engage;
And glowing passions, bent on aught below,
Must, soon or late, with anguish turn the scale;
And anguish, after rapture, how severe !
Rapture? Bold man! who tempt'st the wrath
By plucking fruit denied to mortal taste,
While here, presuming on the rights of Heaven.
For transport dost thou call on every hour,
Lorenzo? At thy friend's expense, be wise;
Lean not on Earth; 't will pierce thee to the heart;
A broken reed, at best; but oft, a spear;
On its sharp point peace bleeds, and hope expires.
Turn, hopeless thought! turn from her:
Resenting rallies, and wakes every woe.
Snatch'd ere thy prime! and in thy bridal hour!
And when kind fortune, with thy lover, smil'd!
And when high-flavour'd thy fresh opening joys!
And when blind man pronounc'd thy bliss complete!
And on a foreign shore; where strangers wept!
Strangers to thee; and more surprising still,
Strangers to kindness, wept: their eyes let fall
Inhuman tears! strange tears! that trickled down
From marble hearts! obdurate tenderness!
A tenderness that call'd them more severe;
In spite of Nature's soft persuasion, steel'd!
While Nature melted, Superstition rav'd;
That mourn'd the dead; and this denied a grave.
Their sighs incens'd; sighs foreign to the will!
Their will the tiger suck'd, outrag'd the storm.
For, oh! the curst ungodliness of zeal!
While sinful flesh relented, spirit nurst
In blind Infallibility's embrace,
The sainted spirit petrify'd the breast;
Denied the charity of dust, to spread
O'er dust! a charity their dogs enjoy.
What could I do? What succour? What resource?
With pious sacrilege, a grave I stole ;
With impious piety, that grave I wrong'd
Short in my duty! coward in my grief!
More like her murderer, than friend, I crept,
With soft-suspended step, and muffled deep
In midnight darkness, whisper'd my last sigh.
I whisper'd what should echo through their realms;
Nor writ her name, whose tomb should pierce the
Presumptuous fear! How durst I dread her foes,
While Nature's loudest dictates I obey'd?
Pardon necessity, blest shade! Of grief
And indignation rival bursts I pour'd;
Half execration mingled with my prayer;
Kindled at man, while I his God ador'd;
Sore grudg'd the savage land her sacred dust;
Stampt the curst soil; and with humanity
(Denied Narcissa) wish'd them all a grave.
Glows my resentment into guilt? What guilt Can equal violations of the dead?
The dead how sacred! Sacred is the dust
Of this Heaven-labour'd form, erect, divine!
This Heaven-assum'd majestic robe of Earth,
He deign'd to wear, who hung the vast expanse
With azure bright, and cloth'd the Sun in gold.
When every passion sleeps that can offend;
When strikes us every motive that can melt;
When man can wreak his rancour uncontrol'd,
That strongest curb on insult and ill-will;
Then, spleen to dust! the dust of innocence!
An angel's dust! - This Lucifer transcends;
When he contended for the patriarch's bones,
'T was not the strife of malice, but of pride;
The strife of pontiff pride, not pontiff gall.
For less than this is shocking in a race
Most wretched, but from streams of mutual love;
And uncreated, but for love divine,
And, but for love divine, this moment lost,
By fate resorb'd, and sunk in endless night.
Man hard of heart to man! of horrid things
Most horrid! 'Mid stupendous, highly strange!
Yet oft his courtesies are smoother wrongs;
Pride brandishes the favours he confers,
And contumelious his humanity;
What then his vengeance? Hear it not, ye stars!
And thou, pale Moon! turn paler at the sound;
Man is to man the sorest, surest ill.
A previous blast foretels the rising storm;
O'erwhelming turrets threaten ere they fali;
Volcanoes bellow ere they disembogue;
Earth trembles ere her yawning jaws devour;
And smoke betrays the wide-consuming fire:
Ruin from man is most conceal'd when near,
And sends the dreadful tidings in the blow.
Is this the flight of fancy? Would it were!
Heaven's Sovereign saves all beings, but himself,
That hideous sight, a naked human heart.
Fir'd is the Muse? And let the Muse be fir'd:
Who not inflam'd, when what he speaks, he feels,
And in the nerve most tender, in his friends?
Shame to mankind! Philander had his foes:
He felt the truths I sing, and I in him.
But he, nor I, feel more; past ills, Narcissa!
Are 'sunk in thee, thou recent wound of heart!
Which bleeds with other cares, with other pangs;
Pangs numerous, as the numerous ills that swarm'd
O'er thy distinguish'd fate, and, clustering there
Thick as the locusts on the land of Nile,
Made death more deadly, and more dark the grave.
Reflect (if not forgot my touching tale)
How was each circumstance with aspics arm'di
An aspic, each! and all, an hydra woe:
What strong Herculean virtue could suffice?
Or is it virtue to be conquer'd here?
This hoary cheek a train of tears bedews;
And each tear mourns its own distinct distress;
And each distress, distinctly mourn'd, demands
Of grief still more, as heighten'd by the whole.
A grief like this proprietors excludes:
Not friends alone such obsequies deplore;
They make mankind the mourner; carry sighs
Far as the fatal Fame can wing her way;
And turn the gayest thought of gayest age,
Down their right channel, through the vale of death.
The vale of death! that hush'd Cimmerian vale,
Where darkness, brooding o'er unfinish'd fates,
With raven wing incumbent, waits the day
(Dread day!) that interdicts all future change!
That subterranean world! that land of ruin!
Fit walk, Lorenzo, for proud human thought!
There let my thought expatiate, and explore
Balsamic truths and healing sentiments,
Of all most wanted, and most welcome, here.
For gay Lorenzo's sake, and for thy own,
My soul! "The fruits of dying friends survey;
Expose the vain of life; weigh life and death;
Give death his eulogy; thy fear subdue;
And labour that first palm of noble minds,
A manly scorn of terrour from the tomb."
This harvest reap from thy Narcissa's grave.
As poets feign'd from Ajax' streaming blood
Arose, with grief inscrib'd, a mournful flower;
Let wisdom blossom from my mortal wound.
And first, of dying friends; what fruit from these
It brings us more than triple aid; an aid
To chase our thoughtlessness, fear, pride, and guilt.
Our dying friends come o'er us like a cloud,
To damp our brainless ardours; and abate
That glare of life which often blinds the wise.
Our dying friends are pioneers, to smooth
Our rugged pass to death; to break those bars
Of terrour and abhorrence Nature throws
Cross our obstructed way; and, thus to make
Welcome, as safe, our port from every storm.