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ODE TO SUPERSTITION.
WRITTEN IN 1785.
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, At thy command exults, tho’ Nature bids him weep!
* 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, And, brooding, gave her shapeless shadows birth.
Rocking on the billowy air,
Ha! what withering phantoms glare ! As blows the blast with many a sudden swell, At each dead pause, what shrill-toned voices yell! The sheeted spectre, rising from the tomb, Points to the murderer’s stab, and shudders by; In every grove is felt a heavier gloom, That veils its genius from the vulgar eye:
The spirit of the water rides the storm, And, thro' the mist, reveals the terrors of his form.
O'er solid seas, where Winter reigns,
And holds each mountain-wave in chains,
By glistering starlight thro' the snow,
Breathes softly in her wondering ear
* Lucretius, I. 63.
By thee inspired, on India's sands,
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;
* The funeral rite of the Hindoos. + The Fates of the Northern Mythology. See MALLETT's Antiquities. | An allusion to the Second Sight.
Thou spak’st, and lo! a new creation glowed.
Each unhewn mass of living stone
Was clad in horrors not its own,
Giant Error, darkly grand,
Grasped the globe with iron hand. Circled with seats of bliss, the Lord of Light Saw prostrate worlds adore his golden height. The statue, waking with immortal powers,* Springs from its parent earth, and shakes the spheres; The indignant pyramid sublimely towers, And braves the efforts of a host of years.
Sweet Music breathes her soul into the wind; And bright-eyed Painting stamps the image of the mind.
Round the rude ark old Egypt's sorcerers rise!
A timbrelled anthem swells the gale,
And bids the God of Thunders hail ;t
Clouds of incense woo thy smile,
* Æn. II. 172, &c.
+ The bull, Apis.
But ah! what myriads claim the bended knee ?*
Again to visit her cold cell of clay,
hoar summit, mildly bright
On dazzling bursts of heavenly fire ;
According to an ancient proverb, it was less difficult in Egypt to find a god than a man. + The Hieroglyphics.
| The Catacombs. g “ 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.