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Breathing high hope! chain'd down to pangs and
death? Knowing is suffering: and shall Virtue share The sigh of Knowledge?-Virtue shares the sigh. By straining up the steep of excellent, By battles fought, and from temptation won, What gains she but the pang of seeing worth, Angelic worth, soon shuffled in the dark With every vice, and swept to brutal dust? Merit is madness, virtue is a crime, A crime to reason, if it costs us pain Unpaid: what pain, amidst a thousand more, To think the most abandon'd, after days Of triumph o'er their betters, find in death As soft a pillow, nor make fouler elay!
Puty! religion !-these, our duty done, Imply reward, Religion is mistake. Duty!-there's none, but to repel the cheat. Ye Cheats! away: ye daughters of my pride, Who feign yourselves the favourites of the skies, Ye towering hopes! abortive energies! That toss and struggle in my lying breast, To scale the skies and build presumptions there, As I were heir of an eternity: Vain, vain ambitions! trouble me no more. Why travel far in quest of sure defeat? As bounded as my being be my wish. All is inverted, wisdom is a fool. Sense! take the rein; blind Passion! drive us on; And, Ignorance! befriend us on his way; Ye new, but truest patrons of our peace! Yes, give the pulse full empire; live the brute, Since as the brute we die; the sum of man, Of godlike man! to revel and to rot.
"But not on equal terms with other brutes; Their revels a more poignant relish yield, And safer too; they never poisons choose, Instinct than Reason makes more wholesome meals, And sends all-marring Murmur far away. For sensual life they best philosophize, Theirs that serene the sages sought in vain : 'Tis man alone expostulates with Heav'n: His all the pow'r, and all the cause to mourn. Shall human eyes alone dissolve in tears? And bleed in anguish none but human hearts? The wide-stretch'd realm of intellectual wo, Surpassing sensual far, is all our own, In life so fatally distinguish’d, why Cast in one lot, confounded, lump'd in death?
"Ere yet in being was mankind in guilt? Why thunder'd this peculiar clause against us, All-mortal, and all-wretched !-Have the skies Reasons of state their subjects may not scan, Nor humbly reason when they sorely sigh? All-mortal and all-wretched ! 'Tis too much, Unparallel'd in Nature: 'tis too much, On being unrequested at thy hands, Omnipotent! for I see nought but power. [eat,
"And why see that? why thought! To toil and Then make our bed in darkness, needs no thought. What superfluities are reasoning souls ! Oh give eternity, or thought destroy. But without thought our curse were half unfelt; Its blunted edge would spare the throbbing heart, And therefore 'tis bestow'd. I thank thee, Reason! For aiding life's too small calamities, And giving being to the dread of death. Such are thy bounties !—Was it then too much
For me to trespass on the brutal rights ?
Our doom decreed demands a mournful scene: Why not a dungeon dark for the condemn'd?
Why not the dragon's subterranean den
Undrawn no more !--Behind the cloud of death, Once, I beheld a sun, a sun which gilt That sable cloud, and turn'd it all to gold. How the grave's alter'd! fathomless as hell ! A real hell to those who dreamt of Heav'n. Annihilation ! how it yawns before me; Next moment I may drop from thought from sense, The privilege of angels, and of worms, An outcast from existence; and this spirit, This all-pervading, this all-conscious soul, This particle of energy divine, Which travels Nature, flies from star to star, And visits gods, and emulates their powers, For ever is extinguish'd. Horror! death! Death of that death I fearless, once, survey'd When horror universal shall descend, And heaven's dark concave urn all human race, On that enormous, unrefunding tomb, How just this verse; this monumental sigh! “Beneath the lumber of demolish'd worlds, Deep in the rubbish of the general wreck, Swept ignominious to the common mass
Of matter, never dignified with life,
Lorenzo! hear, pause, ponder, and pronounce.
REFLECTIONS ON A FUTURE STATE FROM A
REVIEW OF WINTER.