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Who wrought, save man himself, the infamy? Who, sacred Nature so debased with crime That God avenged her injured majesty! Leaving the moral as the deed sublime: Then Solitude sate there, and from the slime Of pools, Plague spread her deadliest control: Yet Earth blooms here unchanged as in her prime; Man only pines amidst the glorious whole: Nature gives life, form, strength, but freedom wakes the soul.
Yet one fair wreck, one relic left behind, Breathes of the Past—the shrine of Venus seek; How gracefully from its fair roof declined, The vine-wreaths shed, as eloquently speak, As the rich locks that wave o'er beauty's cheek, Veiling, but hiding not its loveliness; How Time hath touched it with his tenderest streak! How, on that faded shore companionless, Her Altar woos ye there, ere parting, to confess!
Turn to where patriarchal Cuma rears
Well art thou named " the happy," for thou guidcst Where sits the Beautiful embodied here: Filling the eye and bosom, while thou hidest All that would point the moral too severe: Nay—burying death too sweetly for a tear! Who would not sleep in such a grave where flowers Bloom wildly fresh, unchanging as the year? Where the Sun ever leads the purple hours; Where the soft Spirit of Peace her gentlest influence showers.
A wilderness of flowers around thee lying Entangling, thy sweet hiding pathway throng; Myrtles and vines bloom there above ye, sighing As the Wind wakes their fibres into song! Heaven's cloudless azure doth the day prolong, As it would last for ever; and the Sea, Heard far below, swells up its mighty tongue! The triad-Spirits, love, joy, harmony, Join, as if Time slept here, as if death could not be.
Yet dash aside the myrtle-boughs, revealing
The ruins that beneath them buried lie,
How to thine eye their pale grey brows appealing,
Ask for thy tribute to humanity!
For those who were—like thee: who did ally
Themselves with the departed gone before,
Even as thou shalt join a world gone by;
Thy joys, thy hopes, thy aspirations o'er;—
God—God alone is great—the same for evermore!
Upon a mossy stone I sate me down, And thought of mighty Cdma in her pride! She of the Oracles of old renown; I thought of all the infinite life that plied Through buried streets where now the worms abide! I thought of all the good, the great, the just: Of chiefs for god-like actions deified, Whose names are vanished—record—fame—and bust; Of Beauty's heavenly form—all turned alike to dust!
I would have mourned—my bosom sought relief:
Pause for awhile on yonder grassy hill, When, offering up the steerage of his wings, The tale of Daedalus instructs us still: How beauteous those divine imaginings Of the old time, round which fond Fancy flings Her brightest hues to' arrest the heedless mind! How flower-like truth from buried fable springs! Here the sad Father in his grief designed The story of his son, in rash presumption blind:
Thrice he essayed—and thrice the sire confessed The o'ermastering power of Nature as he failed! What need the truth implanted in each breast? On human wisdom the restraint entailed, Whose glorious ambition heaven assailed ?— To leave the baser herd behind, to prove, Even though the wrath of man or heaven prevailed, Its immortality, that vainly strove To' o'erleap its mortal state, and sphere itself above.