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No eye observes the growth or the decay. To-day we look as we did yesterday; And we shall look to-morrow as to-day. Yet while the loveliest smiles, her locks grow grey! And in her glass could she but see the face She 'll see so soon amidst another race, How would she shrink !—Returning from afar, After some years of travel, some of war, Within his gate Ulysses stood unknown Before a wife, a father, and a son!
And such is Human Life, the general theme.
Ah, what at best, what but a longer dream?
Though with such wild romantic wanderings fraught,
Such forms in Fancy's richest colouring wrought,
That, like the visions of a love-sick brain,
Who would not sleep and dream them o'er again?
Our pathway leads but to a precipice;
And all must follow, fearful as it is!
From the first step 'tis known; but—No delay!
On, 'tis decreed. We tremble and obey.
A thousand ills beset us as we go.
“ Still, could I shun the fatal gulf"—Ah, no, 'Tis all in vain the inexorable Law ! Nearer and nearer to the brink we draw. Verdure springs up; and fruits and flowers invite, And groves and fountains--all things that delight. “Oh I would stop, and linger if I might!"We fly; no resting for the foot we find; All dark before, all desolate behind !
At length the brink appears—but one step more!
We faint-On, on!-we falter-and 'tis o'er!
Yet here high passions, high desires unfold,
Prompting to noblest deeds; here links of gold
Bind soul to soul; and thoughts divine inspire
A thirst unquenchable, a holy fire
That will not, cannot but with life expire !
Now, seraph-winged, among the stars we soar;
Now distant ages, like a day, explore,
And judge the act, the actor now no more;
Or, in a thankless hour condemned to live,
From others claim what these refuse to give,
And dart, like Milton, an unerring eye
Through the dim curtains of Futurity.
Wealth, Pleasure, Ease, all thought of self resigned,
What will not Man encounter for Mankind ?
Behold him now unbar the prison-door,
And, lifting Guilt, Contagion from the floor,
To Peace and Health, and Light and Life restore;
Now in Thermopylæ remain to share
Death—nor look back, nor turn a footstep there,
Leaving his story to the birds of air ;
And now like Pylades (in Heaven they write
Names such as his in characters of light)
Long with his friend in generous enmity,
Pleading, insisting in his place to die !
Do what he will, he cannot realize
Half he conceives the glorious vision flies.
Go where he may, he cannot hope to find
The truth, the beauty pictured in his mind.
But if by chance an object strike the sense,
The faintest shadow of that Excellence,
Passions, that slept, are stirring in his frame;
Thoughts undefined, feelings without a name !
And some, not here called forth, may slumber on
Till this vain pageant of a world is gone;
Lying too deep for things that perish here,
Waiting for life—but in a nobler sphere!
Look where he comes! Rejoicing in his birth,
Awhile he moves as in a heaven on earth!
Sun, moon, and stars—the land, the sea, the sky
To him shine out as in a galaxy!
But soon 'tis past—the light has died away!
With him it came (it was not of the day)
And he himself diffused it, like the stone
That sheds awhile a lustre all its own,
Making night beautiful. 'Tis past, 'tis gone,
And in his darkness as he journies on,
Nothing revives him but the blessed ray
That now breaks in, nor ever knows decay,
Sent from a better world to light him on his way.
How great the Mystery! Let others sing The circling Year, the promise of the Spring, The Summer's glory, and the rich repose Of Autumn, and the Winter's silvery snows. Man through the changing scene let me pursue, Himself how wondrous in his changes too!
Not Man, the sullen savage in his den;
But Man called forth in fellowship with men;
Schooled and trained up to Wisdom from his birth;
God's noblest work-His image upon earth!
The hour arrives, the moment wished and feared; The child is born, by many a pang endeared. And now the mother's ear has caught his cry; Oh grant the cherub to her asking eye! He comes...she clasps him. To her bosom pressed, He drinks the balm of life, and drops to rest.
Her by her smile how soon the Stranger knows; How soon by his the glad discovery shows ! As to her lips she lifts the lovely boy, What answering looks of sympathy and joy! He walks, he speaks. 'In many a broken word His wants, his wishes, and his griefs are heard.
And ever, ever to her lap he flies,
When rosy Sleep comes on with sweet surprise.
Locked in her arms, his arms across her flung,
(That name most dear for ever on his tongue)
As with soft accents round her neck he clings,
And cheek to cheek, her lulling song she sings,
How blest to feel the beatings of his heart,
Breathe his sweet breath, and kiss for kiss impart;
Watch o'er his slumbers like the brooding dove,
And, if she can, exhaust a mother's love!
But soon a nobler task demands her care.
Apart she joins his little hands in prayer,
Telling of Him who sees in secret there!—
And now the volume on her knee has caught
His wandering eye—now many a written thought
Never to die, with many a lisping sweet
His moving, murmuring lips endeavour to repeat.
Released, he chases the bright butterfly; Oh he would follow4follow through the sky! Climbs the gaunt mastiff slumbering in his chain, And chides and buffets, clinging by the mane; Then runs, and, kneeling by the fountain-side, Sends his brave ship in triumph down the tide, A dangerous voyage; or, if now he can, If now he wears the habit of a man, Flings off the coat so long his pride and pleasure, And, like a miser digging for his treasure,