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They reel'd, they set, they croos'd, they clockk,
Till ilka carlin swat and reekit,“
And coost" her duddies to the wark,
And linket"? at it in her sark.48
Before him Doon pours a' his floods;
The doubling storm roars through the woods;
The lightnings flash frae pole to pole;
Near and more near the thunders roll;
When, glimmering through the groaning trees,
Kirk Alloway seem'd in a bleeze;
Through ilka boret the beams were glancing,
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.
Now Tam! O Tam! had thae been queans,"
A' plump and strappin' in their teens,
Their sarks, instead o'creeshie fannen,
Been snaw-white seventeen-hunder linen!
Thir breeksøl o'mine, my only pair,
That ance were plush, o' guid blue hair,
I wad hae gien them aff my hurdies, 59
For ae blink 68 o' the bonny burdies !54
But wither'd beldams, auld, and droll, Rigwoodie66 hags, wad spean56 a foal, Lowpin' and Aingin' on a cummock," I wonder didna turn thy stomach.
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
Wi' tippenny, 28 we fear nae evil,
Wi’ usquebae,89 we'll face the devil! -
The swat sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle, **
Fair play, he cared na deils a boddle.31
But Maggie stood right sair astonish’d,
Till by the heel and hand admonished
She ventured forward on the light,
And, wow! 'Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance;
Nae cotillon brent-new 89 frae France;
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
But life and mettle i' their heels
At winnock-bunker, 43 i' the east,
There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast;
A towzin tyke, 34 black, grim, and large,
To gie them music was his charge
He screw'd the pipes, and garts them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a' did dir1.37
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses,
And by some devilish cantrip#8 slight
Each in its cauld hand held a light-
By which heroic Tam was able,
To note upon the haly table,
A murder's banes in gibbet airns, ar
Twa span lang, wee,“ unchristen'd bairns;
A thief, new-cutted frae a rape,
Wi' his last gasp his gabai did gape;
Five tomahawks wi' bluid red-rusted;
Five scimitars, wi' murder crusted;
A garter, which a babe had strangled;
A knife, a father's throat had mangled,
Whom his ain son o' life bereft,
The gray hairs yet stack to the heft"
Wi' mair o' horrible and awfu',
Which even to name wad be unlawfu'.
But Tam kenn'd68 what was what fu' brawlic,
“There was ae winsome wench and walie, "40
That night enlisted in the core,
(Lang after kenn'd on Carrick shore;
For mony a beast to dead she shot,
And perished mony a bonny boat,
And shook baith meikle corn and bear,
And kept the country side in fear.)
Her cutty sark,“ O'Paisley harn,
That, while a lassie, 69 she had worn,
In longitude though sorely scanty,
It was her best, and she was vauntie.“
Ah! little kenn'd thy reverned grannie, That sark she coft“ for her wee Nannie, Wi' twa pund Scots. ('twas a' her riches,) Wad ever graced a dance o' witches!
But here my muse her wing maun cour,“
Sic flights are far beyond her power;
To sing how nannie lap and flang,"
(A souple jade67 she was and strang,“)
And how Tam stood like one bewitch'd,
And thought his very een enrich'd;
Even Satan glower'd, and fidged fu' fain,
And hotched'de and blew wi' might and maiz
Till first ae caper, synero anither,
Tam tint” his reason a' thegither,
As Tammie glower'd, amazed and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious:
The piper loud and louder blew,
The dancers quick and quicker flew;
And roars out, “ Weel done, Cutty sark!”
And in an instant a' was dark:
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
When out the hellish legion sallied.
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke, #2
When blundering herds assail their byke,78
As open pussie's mortal foes,
When, pop! she starts before their nose;
As eager runs the market.crowd,
When “Catch the thief !” resounds aloud;
So Maggie runs, the witches follow,
Wi' nony an eldritch?4 screech and hollow.
Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou'lt get thy fairin'!75
In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin'!
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin'!
Kate so soon will be a wofu' woman!
Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg,
And win the keystane of the brig;
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they darena cross;
But ere the keystane she could make
The fient6 a tail she had to shake!
Nor Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam wi' surious ettle:17
But little wist?8 she maggie's mettle-
Ae spring brought off her master hale,
But left behind her ain gray tail;
The carlin claught her by the rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.
Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read,
Ilk7' man and mother's son, take heed:
Whane'er to drink you are inclined,
Or Cutty-sarks run in your mind,
Think! ye may buy the joys owre dear--
Remember Tain o' Shanter's mare.
Look nature through, 'tis revolution all;
All change, no death; day follows night, and night
The dying day; stars rise and set, and set and rise:
Earth takes the example. See, the Summer gay,
With her green chaplet and ambrosial flowers,
Droops into pallid Autumn: Winter gray,
Ilorrid with frost, and turbulent with storm,
Blows Autumn and his golden fruits away,
Then melts into the Spring: soft Spring, with breath
Favonian, from warm chambers of the south,
Recalls the first. All, to reflourish, fades:
As in a wheel, all sinks to reascend:
Emblems of man, who passes, not expires.
Life speeds away From point to point, though seeming to stand still. The cunning fugitive is swift by stealth, Too subtle is the movement to be seen; Yet soon man's hour is up, and we are gone. Warnings point out our danger; gnomons, time; As these are useless when the sun is set, So those, but when more glorious reason shines. Reason should judge in all; in reason's eye That sedentary shadow travels hard. But such our gravitation to the wrong, So prone our hearts to whisper that we wish, 'Tis later with the wise than he's aware: A Wilmington goes siower than the sun: And all mankind mistake their time of day; Even age itself. Fresh hopes are hourly sown In furrowed brows. To gentle life's descent We shut our eyes, and think it is a plain. We take fair days in winter for the spring, And turn our blessings into bane. Since oft Man must compute that age he cannot feel, He scarce believes he's older for his years. Thus, at life's latest eve, we keep in store One disappointment sure, to crown the rest The disappointment of a promised hour.
Life COMPARED TO THE SEA,
Self-flattered, unexperienced, high in hope,
When young, with sanguine cheer and streamers
We cut our cable, launch into the world,
And fondly dream each wind and star our friend;
All in some darling enterprise embarked:
But where is he can fathom its event?
THE CITY VIEWED AFAR OFF. Blest be that hand divine, which gently laid My heart at rest beneath this humble shed! The world's a stately bark, on dangerous seas, With pleasure seen, but boarded at our peril: Here, on a single plank, thrown safe ashore, I hear the tumult of the di tant throng, As that of seas remote, or dying storms; And meditate on scenes more silent stiil; Pursue my theme, and fight the fear of death. Here, like a shepherd gazing from his hut, Touching his reed, or leaning on his staff, Eager ambition's fiery chase I see; 72 Fuss.
Amid a multitude of artless hands,
Ruin's sure perquisite, her lawful prize!
Some steer aright, but the black blast blows hard,
And puffs them wide of hope: with hearts of proof
Full against wind and tide, some win their way,
And when strong effort has deserved the port,
And tusged it into view, 'tis won! 'tis lost!
Though strong their oar, still stronger is their fate:
They strike! and while they triumph they expire.
In stress of weather most, some sink outright:
D'er them, and o'er their names the billows close;
To-morrow knows not they were ever born.
Others a short memorial leave behind,
Like a flag floating when the bark's ingulfed;
It floats a moment, and is seen no more.
One Citsar lives; a thousand are forgot.
How few beneath auspicious planets born-
Darlings of Providence! fond fates elect:-
With swelling sails make good the promised port,
With all their wishes freighted! yet even these,
Freighted with all their wishes, soon complain;
Free from misfortune, not from nature free,
They still are men, and when is man secure?
As fatal time, as storm! the rush of years
Beats down their streng:h, their numberless escapes
In ruin end. And now their proud success
But plants new terrors on the victor's brow:
What pain to quit the world, just made their own,
Their nest so deeply downed, and built so high!
Too low they build, who build beneath the stars.
Av A POSTROPHE to Night.
These thoughts, O Night! are thine;
From thee they came like lovers' secret sighs,
While others slept. So Cynthia, poets feign,
In shadows veiled, soft, sliding from her sphere,
Her shepherd cheered; of her enamoured less
Than I of thee. And art thou still unsung,
Beneath whose brow, and by whose aid, I sing?
Immortal silence! where shall I begin?
Where end? or where steal music from the spheres
To soothe their goddess?
O majestic Sight! Nature's great ancestor! Day's elder born! And fated to survive the transient sun! By mortals and iminortals seen with awe! A starry crown thy raven brow adorns, An azure zone thy waist; clouds, in heaven's loom, Wrought through varieties of shape and shade, In ample folds of drapery divine, Thy flowing mantie form, and, heaven throughout, Voluminously pour thy pompous train; Thy gloomy grandeurs-Nature's most august, Inspiring aspect!- claim a grateful verse; And like a sable curtain starred with gold, Drawn o'er my labors past, shall clothe the scene.
LIFE, DEATH, AND IMMORTALITY, Tired Nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep! He, like the world, his ready visit pays
Where Fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes;
Swift on his downy pinion Alies from wge,
And lights on lids unsullied with a tear.
From short (as usual) and disturbed repose
I wake; how happy they who wake no more!
Yet that were vain, if dreams infest the grave.
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams
Tumultuous; where my wrecked desponding thought
From wave to wave of fancied misery
At random drove, her helm of reason lost
Though now restored, 'tis only change of pain-
A bitter change!-severer for severe:
The day too short for my distress; and night,
E'en in the zenith of her dark domain,
Is sunshine to the color of my fate.
Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne,
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumbering world.
Silence how dead! and darkness how profound!
Nor eye nor listening ear an object finds;
Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the general pulse
Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause;
An awful pause! prophetic of her end.
And let her prophecy be soon fulfilled :
Fate! drop the curtain; I can lose no more.
Silence and Darkness! solemn sisters! twins
From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought
To reason, and on reason build resolve-
That column of true majesty in man-
Assist me: I will thank you in the grave;
The grave your kingdom: there this frame shal: fals
A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.
But what are ye?
Thou, who didst put to flight
Primeval Silence, when the morning stars
Exulting, shouted o'er the rising ball;
O Thou! whose word from solid darkness struck
That spark, the sun, strike wisdom from my soul;
My soul, which flies to thee, her trust, her treasure,
As misers to their gold, while others rest.
Through this opaque of nature and of soul,
This double night, transmit one pitying ray,
To lighten and to cheer. On lead my mind-
A mind that fain would wander from its woe-
Lead it through various scenes of life and death,
And from each scene the noblest truths inspire.
Nor less inspire my conduct than my song;
Teach my best reason, reason; my best will
Teach rectitude; and fix my firm resolve
Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear:
Nor let the phial of thy vengeance, poured
On this devoted head, be poured in vain.
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful is man!
How passing wonder He who made him such!
Who centered in our make such strange extremes,
From different natures marvellously mixed,
Connection exquisite of distant worlds!
Distinguished link in being's endless chain!
Midway from nothing to the Deity!
To push eternity from human thought,
And smother souls immortal in the dust?
A soul inmortal, spending all her fires,
Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness,
Thrown into tumult, raptured or alarmed,
At aught this scene can threaten or indulge,
Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
To waft a feather, or to drown a fly.
The bell strikes one. We take no note of time
But from its loss: to it then a tongue
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,
I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright,
It is the knell of my departed hours.
Where are they? With the years beyond the flood
It is the signal that demands dispatch:
How much is to be done! My hopes and fears
Start up alarmed, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down-on what? A fathomless abyss.
A dread eternity! how surely mine!
And can eternity belong to me,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?
A boam ethereal, sullied and absorpt!
Though sullied and dishonored, still divine!
Dim miniature of greatness absolute!
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust:
Helpless immortal! insect infinite!
A worm! a god! I tremble at myself,
And in myself am lost. At home, a stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surprised, aghast,
And wondering at her own. How reason reels!
Oh what a miracle to man is man!
Triumphantly distressed! what joy! what dread!
Alternately transported and alarmed!
What can preserve my life, or what destroy!
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
Legions of angels can't confine me there.
'Tis past conjecture; all things rise in proof:
While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread,
What though my soul fantastic measures trod
O'er fairy fields; or mourned along the gloom
Of silent woods; or, down the craggy steep
Hurled headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool;
Or scaled the cliff; or danced on hollow winds,
With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain?
Her ceaseless flight, though devious, speaks her
Of subtler essence than the common clod.
Even silent night proclaims my soul immortal!
Why, then, their loss deplore that are not lost?
This is the desert, this the solitude:
Now populous, how vital is the grave!
This is creation's melancholy vault,
The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom
The land of apparitions, empty shades !
All, all on earth is shadow, all beyond
Is substance; the reverse is folly's creed;
How solid all, where change shall be no more!
This is the bud of being, the dim dawn,
The twilight of our day, the vestibule;
Life's theatre as yet is shut, and death,
Strong death alone can heave the massy bar,
This gross impediment of clay remove,
And make us embryos of existence free
From real life; but little more remote
Is he, not yet a candidate for light,
The future embryo, slumbering in his sire.
Embryos we must be till we burst the shell,
Yon ambient azure shell, and spring to life,
The life of gods, O transport! and of man.
Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts;
Inters celestial hopes without one sigh.
Prisoner of earth, and pent beneath the moon,
Here pinions all his wishes; winged by heaven
To fly at infinite: and reach it there
Where seraphs gather immortality,
On life's fair tree, fast by the throne of God.
What golden joys ambrosial clustering glow
In his full beam, and ripen for the just,
Where momentary ages are no more!
Where time, and pain, and chance, and death expire!
And is it in the flight of threescore years
O time! than gold more sacred; more a load
Than lead to fools, and fools reputed wise.
What moment granted man without account?
What years are squandered, wisdom's debt unpaidi
Our wealth in days all due to that discharge.
Haste, haste, he lies in wait, he's at the door ;
Insidious Death; should his strong hand arrest,
No composition sets the prisoner free.
Eternity's inexorable chain
Fast binds, and vengeance claims the full arrear.
Youth is not rich in time; it may be poor;
Part with it as with money, sparing; pay
No moment, but in purchase of its worth;
And what it's worth, ask death-beds; they can tell.
Part with it as with life, reluctant; big
With holy hope of nobler time to come;
Time higher aimed, still nearer the great mark
Of men and angels, virtue more divine.
Ah! how unjust to nature and himself Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man! Like children babbling nonsense in their sports, We censure Nature for a span too short; That span too short we tax as tedious too; Torture invention, all expedients tire, To lash the lingering moments into speed, And whirl us (happy riddance) from ourselves.
Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings, And seems to creep, decrepit with his age. Behold him when passed by; what then is seen But his broad pinions swifter than the winds? And all mankind, in contradiction strung Rueful, aghast, cry out on his career.
With hideous gaps between, patch up for them A madman's robe; each puff of Fortune blows The tatters by, and shews their nakedness,
We waste, not use our time; we breathe, not live;
Time wasted is existence; used, is life;
And bare existence man, to live ordained,
Wrings and oppresses with enormous weight.
And why? since time was given for use, not waste,
Enjoined to fly, with tempest, tide, and stars,
To keep his speed, nor even wait for man.
Time's use was doomed a pleasure, waste a pain,
That man might feel his error if unseen,
And, feeling, fly to labour for his cure;
Not blundering, split on idleness for ease.
We push time from us, and we wish him back;
Life we think long and short; death seek and shun.
O the dark days of vanity! while
Here, how tasteless! and how terrible when gone!
Gone? they ne'er go; when past, they haunt us still:
The spirit walks of every day deceased,
And smiles an angel, or a fury frowns.
Nor death nor life delight us. If time past,
And time possessed, both pain us, what can please?
That which the Deity to please ordained,
Time used. The man who consecrates his hours
By vigorous effort, and an honest aim,
At once he draws the sting of life and death:
He walks with nature, and her paths are peace.
'Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours,
And ask them what report they bore to heaven,
And how they might have borne more welcome news.
Their answers form what men experience call;
If wisdom's friend her best, if not, worst foe.
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer:
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is pushed out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.
Of man's miraculous mistakes, this bears
The palm, “That all men are about to live,'
For ever on the brink of being born:
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They one day shall not drivel, and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise;
At least their own their future selves applaud;
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead!
Time lodged in their own hands is Folly's vails;
That lodged in Fate's to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone.
'Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage. When young, indeed
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves, and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty, man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty, chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.
And why? because he thinks himself immortal. All men think all men mortal but themselves; Themselves, when some alarming shock of fate Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden
dread: But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air, Soon close; where passed the shaft no trace is found, As from the wing no scar the sky retains, The parted wave no furrow from the keel, So dies in human hearts the thought of death: E'en with the tender tear which nature sheds O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
THE MAN WHOSE THOUGHTS ARE NOT OF THIS
Some angel guide my pencil, while I draw,
What nothing less than angel can exceed-
A man on earth devoted to the skies;
Like ships in seas, while in, above the world.
With aspect mild, and elevated eye,
Behold him seated on a mount serene,
Above the fogs of sense, and passion's storm;
All the black cares and tumults of this life,
Like harmless thunders, breaking at his feet,
Excite his pity, not impair his peace.
Earth's genuine sons, the sceptred and the slave,
A mingled mob! a wandering herd! he sees,
Bewildered in the vale; in all unlike!
His full reverse in all! what higher praise?
What stronger demonstration of the right?
The present all their care; the future his. When public welfare calls, or private want, They give to Fame; his bounty he conceals. Their virtues varnish Nature; his exalt. Mankind's esteem ihey court; and he his own. Theirs the wild chase of false felicities; His the composed possession of the true. Alike throughout is his consistent peace, All of one colour, and an even thread; While party-coloured shreds of happiness,
COMPOSED A FEW MILES ABOVE TINTERN ABBEY.
Five years have passed; five summers, with the
length Of five long winters; and again I hear These waters, rolling from their mountain springs