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6. But virtue can itself advance
66 To what the fav’rite fools of chance
By fortune seem'd design'd:
“ Virtue can gain the odds of fate,
- And from itself shake off the weight
“ Upon th' unworthy mind.”
Y the blue taper's trembling light,
No more I waste the wakeful night,
Intent with endless view to pore
The schoolmen and the fages o'er :
Their books from wisdom widely stray,
Or point at best the longest way.
I'll seek a readier path, and go
Where wisdom's surely taught below.
How deep yon azure dies the sky!
Where orbs of gold unnumber'd lye,
While thro' their ranks in filver pride
The nether crescent seems to glide.
The slumb’ring breeze forgets to breathe,
The lake is smooth and clear beneath,
Where once again the spangled show
Descends to meet our eyes below.
The grounds which on the right aspire,
In dimness from the view. retire :
The left presents a place of graves,
Whose wall the filent water laves.
That steeple guides thy doubtful sight
Among the livid gleams of night.
There pass with melancholy ftate,
By all the solemn heaps of fate;
And think, as foftly-fad you cread
Above the venerable dead,
Time was, like thee they life pofseft,
And time shall be, that thou shalt rest.
Those graves, with bending ofier bound,
That nameless heave the crumbled ground,
Quick to the glancing thought disclose,
Where toil and poverty repose.
The flat smooth stones that bear a name,
The chiffel's slender help to fame,
(Which ere our set of friends decay
Their frequent steps may wear away ;)
A midile race of mortals own,
Men, half ambitious, all unknown.
The marble tombs that rise on high,
Whose dead in vaulted arches lie,
Whose pillars swell with sculptur'd stones,
Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones;
These, all the poor remains of state,
Adora the rich, or praise the great ;
Who, while on earth, in fame they live,
Are senseless of the fame they give.
Ha! while I gaze, pale Cynthia fades,
The bursting earth unveils the shades !
All slow, and and
They rise in visionary crowds ;
And all with sober accent cry,
Think, mortal, what it is to die.
Now from yon black and fun’ral yew,
That bathes the charnel-house with dew,
Methinks, I hear a voice begin;
(Ye ravens, cease your croaking din,
Ye tolling clocks, no time resound
O'er the long lake and midnight ground.)
It sends a peal of hollow groans,
Thus speaking from among the bones.
When men my scythe and darts supply,
How great a king of fears am I!
They view me like the last of things;
They make, and then they dread my fings ;
Fools ! if you less provok'd your fears,
No more my spectre-form appears.
Death's but a path that must be trod,
If man would ever pass to God :
of calms, a state of eafe
From the rough rage of swelling seas.
Why then thy flowing fable stoles, Deep pendent cypress, mourning poles,
Loose scarfs to fall athwart thy weeds,
Long palls, drawn herses, cover'd steeds,
And plumes of black, that as they tread,
Nod o'er the 'scutcheons of the dead ?
Nor can the parted body know,
Nor wants the soul, these forms of woe :
As men who long in prison dwell,
With lamps that glimmer round the cell,
When-e'er their suff’ring years are run,
Spring forth to greet the glitt'ring fun :
Such joy, tho' far transcending sense,
Have pious souls at parting hence.
On earth, and in the body plac'd,
A few, and evil, years they waite :
But when their chains are cast aside,
See the glad scene unfolding wide,
Clap the glad wing, and tow'r away,
And mingle with the blaze of day.