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ODE TO SUPERSTITION.*
HENCE, to the realms of Night, dire Demon, hence !
Thy chain of adamant can bind
That little world, the human mind,
Wake the lion's loudest roar,
At thy command he plants the dagger deep,
* Written in 1785. + The sacrifice of Iphigenia.
When, with a frown that froze the peopled earth,
Thou dartedst thy huge head from high,
Night waved her banners o'er the sky,
Rocking on the billowy air,
Ha! what withering phantoms glare !
The spirit of the water rides the storm,
O’er solid seas, where Winter reigns,
And holds each mountain-wave in chains, The fur-clad savage, ere he guides his deer
By glistering star-light thro’ the snow,
Breathes softly in her wondering ear
* Lucretius, I. 63.
And, while the panting tigress hies
His spirit laughs in agonies,
Mark who mounts the sacred pyre,
Blooming in her bridal vest:
To die is to be blest:
Weave the airy web of Fate ;
Thou spak’st, and lo! a new creation glowed.
Each unhewn mass of living stone
as clad in horrors not its own, And at its base the trembling nations bowed.
Giant Error, darkly grand,
* The funeral rite of the Hindoos.
The Fates of the Northern Mythology. See Mallet's Antiquities. # An allusion to the Second Sight.
Circled with seats of bliss, the Lord of Light
Sweet Music breathes her soul into the wind;
A timbrelled anthem swells the gale,
And bids the God of Thunders hail;t
Clouds of incense woo thy smile,
Scaly monarch of the Nile!
Again to visit her cold cell of clay,
* Æn. II. 172, &c. † The bull, Apis. I The Crocodile.
♡ According to an ancient proverb, it was less difficult in Egypt to find a god than a man. || The Hieroglyphics.
On yon hoar summit, mildly bright
With purple ether’s liquid light,
On dazzling bursts of heavenly fire ;
Her figure swells! she foams, she raves !
Streams of rapture roll along,
Silver notes ascend the skies :
Oh catch it, ere it dies !
Breathing a prophetic flame.
* “The Persians,” says Herodotus, “ have no temples, altars, or statues. They sacrifice on the tops of the highest mountains.” I. 131.
+ Æn. VI. 46, &c.