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Forsaking, and forsaken of all friends,
He now perceives where earthly pleasure ends;
Hard task! for one who lately knew no care,
And harder still as learnt beneath despair,
His hours no longer pass unmark'd away,
A dark importance saddens every day;
He hears the notice of the clock perplex'd,
And cries, Perhaps eternity strikes next;
Sweet music is no longer music here,
And laughter sounds like madness in his ear ;
His grief the world of all her power disarms,
Wine has no taste, and beauty has no charms.
God's holy Word, once trivial in his view,
Now by the voice of his experience true,
Seems, as it is, the fountain whence alone
Must spring that hope he pants to make his own.
Now let the bright reverse be known abroad ;
Say man's a worm, and power belongs to God.
As when a felon, whom his country's laws Have justly doom'd for some atrocious cause, Expects in darkness and heart-chilling fears, The shameful close of all his mispent years ; If chance, on heavy pinions slowly borne, A tempest usher in the dreadful morn, Upon his dungeon walls the lightning play, The thunder seems to summons him away, The warder at the door his key applies, Shoots back the bolt, and all his courage dies : If then, just then, all thoughts of mercy lost, When Hope, long ling'ring, at last yields the ghost, The sound of pardon pierce his startled ear, He drops at once his fetters and his fear; A transport glows in all he looks and speaks, And the first thankful tears bedew his cheek Joy, far superior joy, that much outweighs The comfort of a few poor added days, Invades, possesses, and o'erwhelms the soul Of him, whom Hope has with a touch made whole. 'Tis Heaven, all Heaven descending on the wings Of the glad legions of the King of kings ; 'Tis more'tis God diffused through every part, 'Tis God himself triumphant in his heart. I welcome now the Sun's once hated light, His noonday beams were never half so bright. Not kindred minds alone are callid temploy Their hours, their days, in list'ning to his joy ;
Unconscious nature, all that he surveys,
Rocks, groves, and streams, must join him in his praise.
These are thy glorious works, eternal Truth,
The scoff of wither'd age and beardless youth:
These move the censure and illiberal grin
Of fools, that hate thee and delight in sin :
But these shall last when night has quench'd the pole
And Heaven is all departed as a scroll,
And when, as Justice has long since decreed,
This Earth shall blaze, and a new world succeed,
Then these thy glorious works, and they who share
That hope, which can alone exclude despair,
Shall live exempt from weakness and decay,
The brightest wonders of an endless day.
Happy the bard, (if that fair name belong
To him, that blends no fable with his song)
Whose lines uniting, by an honest art,
The faithful monitor's and poet's part,
Seek to delight, that they may mend mankind,
And while they captivate, inform the mind :
Still happier, if he till a thankful soil,
And fruit reward his honourable toil :
But happier far, who comfort those that wait
To hear plain truth at Judah’s hallow'd gate :
Their language simple, as their manners meek,
No shining ornaments have they to seek ;
Nor labour they, nor time nor talents waste,
In sorting flowers to suit a fickle taste ;
But while they speak the wisdom of the skies,
Which art can only darken and disguise,
Th' abundant harvest, recompense divine,
Repays their work—the gleaning only mine.
'Tis morning; and the sun, with ruddy orb
Ascending, fires th' horizon ; while the clouds,
That crowd away before the driving wind,
More ardent as the disk emerges more,
Resemble most some city in a blaze,
Seen through the leafless wood. His slanting ray
Slides ineffectual down the snowy vaie,
And, tinging all with his own resy hue,
From every herb and every spiry blade
Stretches a length of shadow o'er the field.
Mine, spindling into longitude immense,
In spite of gravity, and sage remark
That I myself am but a fleeting shade,
Provokes me to a smile. With eye askance
I view the muscular proportion'd limb
Transform'd to a lean shank. The shapeless prir,
As they design'd to mock me, at my side
Take step for step; and, as I near approach
The cottage, walk along the plaster'd wall,
Preposterous sight; the legs without the man.
The verdure of the plain lies buried deep
Beneath the dazzling deluge; and the bents
And coarser grass, unspearing o'er the rest,
Of late unsightly and unseen, now shine
Conspicuous, and in bright apparel clad,
And fledged with icy feathers, nod superb.
The cattle mourn in corners where the fence
Screens them, and seem half-petrified to sleep
In unrecumbent sadness. There they wait
Their wonted fodder ; not like hungering man,
Fretful if unsupplied; but silent, meek,
And patient of the slow-paced swain's delay.
He from the stack carves out the accustom'd load,
Deep-plunging and again deep-plunging oft,
His broad keen knife into the solid mass :
Smooth as a wall, the upright remnant stands,
With such undeviating and even force
He severs it away : no needless care,
Lest storms should overset the leaning pile
Deciduous, or its own unbalanced weight.
Forth goes the woodman, leaving unconcern'd
The cheerful haunts of man; to wield the axe,
And drive the wedge in yonder forest drear,
From morn to eve his solitary task.
Shaggy, and lean, and shrewd, with pointed ears,
And tail cropp'd short, half lurcher and half cur,
His dog attends him. Close behind his heel
Now creeps he slow; and now with many a frisk
Wide-scampering, snatches up the drifted snow
With ivory teeth, or ploughs it with his snout ;
Then shakes his powder'd coat, and barks for joy
Heedless of all his pranks, the sturdy churl
Moves right toward the mark; nor stops for anght,
But now and then with pressure of his thumb
T'adjust the fragrant charge of a short tube,
That fumes beneath his nose : the trailing cioud
Streams far behind him, scenting all the air.
Now from the roost, or from the neighb'ring pale,
Where diligent to catch the first faint gleam
Of smiling day, they gossip'd side by side,
Come trooping at the housewife's well-known call
The feather'd tribes domestic. Half on wing,
And half on foot, they brush the fleecy flood,
Conscious and fearful of too deep a plunge.
The sparrows peep and quit the sheltering eaves,
To seize the fair occasion ; well they eye
The scatter'd grain, and thievishly resolved
T'escape th' impending famine, often scared
As oft return, a pert voracious kind.
Clean riddance quickly made, one only care
Remains to each, the search of sunny nook,
Or shed impervious to the blast. Resign'd
To sad necessity, the cock forgoes
His wonted strut; and wading at their head
With well-consider'd steps, seems to resent
His alter'd gait and stateliness retrench’d.
How find the myriads, that in summer cheer
The hills and valleys with their ceaseless songs,
Due sustenance, or where subsist they now?
Earth yields them nought; th' imprison'd worm is safe
Beneath the frozen clod; all seeds of herbs
Lie covered close; and berry-bearing thorns,
That feed the thrush (whatever some suppose),
Afford the smaller minstrels no supply.
The long protracted rigour of the year
Thins all their numerous flocks. In chinks and holes
Ten thousand seek an unmolested end,
As instinct prompts; self buried ere they die.
The very rooks and daws forsake the fields,
Where neither grub, nor root, nor earth-nut, now
Repays their labour more; and perch'd aloft
By the wayside, or stalking in the path,
Lean pensioners upon the traveller's track,
Pick up their nauseous dole, though sweet to thein,
Of voided pulse or half-digested grain.
The streams are lost amid the splendid blank,
O’erwhelming all distinction. On the flood,
Indurated and fix'd, the snowy weight
Lies undissolved ; wbile silently beneath,
And unperceived, the current steals away.
Not so where, scornful of a check, it leaps The milldam, dashes on the restless wheel, And wantons in the pebbly gulf below; No frost can bind it there ; its utmost force Can but arrest the light and smoky mist, That in its fall the liquid sheet throws wide, And see where it has hung th' embroidered banks With forms so various, that no powers of art, The pencil or the pen, may trace the scene ! Here glittering turrets rise, upbearing high (Fantastic misarrangement !) on the roof Large growth of what may seem the sparkling trees And shrubs of fairy land. The crystal drops, That trickle down the branches, fast congeald, Shoot into pillars of pellucid length, And prop the pile, they but adorn'd before. Here grotto within grotto safe defies The sunbeam ; there, emboss'd and fretted wild, The growing wonder takes a thousand shapes Capricious, in which fancy seeks in vain The likeness of some object seen before. Thus Nature works as if to mock at Art, And in defiance of her rival powers ; By these fortuitous and random strokes Performing such inimitable feats, As she with all her rules can never reach. Less worthy of applause, though more admired, Because a novelty, the work of man, Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ, Thy most magnificent and mighty freak, The wonder of the North. No forest fell, When thou wouldst build ; no quarry sent its stores T'enrich thy walls : but thou didst hew the floods, And make thy marble of the glassy wave. In such a palace Aristæus found Cyrene, when he bore the plaintive tale Of his lost bees to her maternal ear; In such a palace Poetry might place The armoury of Winter ; where his troops The gloomy clouds, find weapons, arrowy sleet, Skin-piercing volley, blossom-bruising hail, And snow that often blinds the traveller's course, And wraps him in an unexpected tomb. Silently as a dream the fabric rose ; No sound of hammer or of saw was there: Ice upon ice, the well adjusted parts