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The wretched privilege daily to deplore
The fun’rals of our friends, who go before ;
Diseases, pains, anxieties, and cares,
And age surrounded by a thousand snares.
Could I a firm persuasion once attain
That after death no being would remain ;
To those dark shades I'd willingly descend,
Where all must sleep, this drama at an end :
Nor life accept, although renew'd by fate
Ev'n from its earliest, and its happiest state.
Might I from Fortune's bounteous hand receive Each boon, each blessing in her power to give, Genius and science, morals and good sense, Unenvied honours, wit, and eloquence, A numerous offspring to the world well known, Both for paternal virtues and their own; Ev'n at this mighty price I'd not be bound To tread the same dull circle round and round; The soul requires enjoyments more sublime, By space unbounded, undestroy'd by time.
TO MY SOUL.*
Be patient yet, my Soul, thou hast not long
To groan beneath accumulated wrong :
Soon, very soon, I trust, the galling yoke
That clogs thee now, for ever shall be broke.
It comes, thy freedom comes ; from grief arise ;
Prepare, exulting, for thy native skies :
Soon, very soon, this world's unholy dreams,
Its poor possessors, and their trifling schemes
Shall worthless seem to thee, as leaves embrown'd
That blasts autumnal scatter o'er the ground.
O then, from all of earthly taint made free,
What scenes unthought thy blessed eyes may see!
Perhaps commission'd thou shalt bend thy flight,
Where worlds and suns roll far from mortal sight,
And, hail'd by beings pure, who know no care,
Thy gracious master's high behests declare :
Or raptur'd bend, amid the seraph band,
That round the throne of light attending stand,
To golden harps their dulcet voices raise,
And ceaseless hymn the great Creator's praise.
O while such hopes await, can aught on Earth,
My conscious soul, to one sad sigh give birth ?
Be far each anxious thought, no more repine,
Soon shall the crown of amaranth be thine.
The soul, which doth with God unite,
Those gaieties how doth she slight
Which o'er opinion sway!
Like sacred virgin wax, which shines
On altars, or on martyrs’ shrines,
How doth she burn away!
How violent are her throes, till she
From envious earth deliver'd be,
Which doth her flight restrain !
How doth doat on whips and racks,
On fires, and the so dreaded axe,
And ev'ry murd'ring pain!
How soon she leaves the pride of wealth,
The flatteries of youth and health,
And fame's more precious breath ;
And ev'ry gaudy circumstance,
That doth the pomp of life advance,
At the approach of death?
The cunning of astrologers
Observes each motion of the stars,
Placing all knowledge there :
And lovers in their mistress' eyes
Contract those wonders of the skies,
And seek no higher sphere.
The wand'ring pilot sweats to find
The causes that produce the wind
Still gazing on the pole :
The politician scorns all art,
But what doth pride and pow'r impart,
And swells th' ambitious soul.
But he whom heav'nly fire doth warm,
And 'gainst these potent follies arm,
Doth soberly disdain
All these fond human mysteries,
As the deceitful and unwise
Distempers of our brain.
He, as a burden, bears his clay,
Yet vainly throws it not away
On ev'ry idle cause :
But with the same untroubled eye
Can or resolve to live or die,
Regardless of th' applause.
My God ! if 'tis thy great decree
That this must the last moment be
Wherein I breathe this air ;
My heart obeys, joy'd to retreat
From the false favours of the great,
And treach'ry of the fair.
When thou shalt please this soul t enthrone
Above impure corruption;
What should I grieve or fear,
To think this breathless body must
Become a loathsome heap of dust,
And ne'er again appear?
For in the fire when ore is tried,
And by that torment purified,
Do we deplore the loss ?
And when thou shalt my soul refine,
That it thereby may purer shine,
Shall I grieve for the dross? Habington.
REASONINGS WITH AN INFIDEL ON A FUTURE
SINCE virtue's recompense is doubtful here,
If man dies wholly, well may we demand
Why is man suffer'd to be good in vain ?
Why to be good in vain is man enjoin'd ?
Why to be good in vain is man betray'd ?
Betray'd by traitors lodg'd in his own breast,
By sweet complacencies from virtue felt ?
Why whispers Nature lies on Virtue's part ?
Or if blind Instinct (which assumes the name
Of sacred Conscience) plays the fool in man,
Why Reason made accomplice in the cheat?
Why are the wisest loudest in her praise ?
Can man by reason's beam be led astray ?
Or, at his peril, imitate his God?
Since virtue sometimes ruins us on earth,
Or both are true, or man survives the grave.
Or man survives the grave; or own, Lorenzo,
Thy boast supreme a wild absurdity.
Dauntless thy spirit, cowards are thy scorn :
Grant man immortal, and thy scorn is just.
The man immortal, rationally brave,
Dares rush on death-because he cannot die :
But if man loses all when life is lost,
He lives a coward, or a fool expires.
A daring infidel (and such there are,
From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge,
heroical defect of thought) Of all Earth's madmen most deserves a chain.
When to the grave we follow the renown'd For valour, virtue, science, all we love, And all we praise ; for worth whose noon-tide beam, Enabling us to think in higher style, Mends our ideas of ethereal powers, Dream we that lustre of the moral world Goes out in stench, and rottenness the close ? Why was he wise to know, and warm to praise, And strenuous to transcribe, in human life, The Mind Almighty ? Could it be that Fate, Just when the lineaments began to shine, And dawn the Deity, should snatch the draught, With night eternal blot it out, and give The skies alarm, lest angels too might die ?
If human souls, why not angelic, too,