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On whom lank Hunger lays her skinny hand,
And whets to keenest eagerness his cravings,
As if diseases, massacres, and poison,
Famine, and war, were not thy caterers.
But know, that thou must render up thy dead,
And with high interest too.—They are not thine,
But only in thy keeping for a season,
Till the great promis'd day of restitution ;
When loud diffusive sound from brazen trump
Of strong-lung?d cherub, shall alarm thy captives,
And rouse the long, long sleepers, into life,
Day-light, and liberty
Then must thy doors fly open, and reveal
The mines, that long lay forming under ground,
In their dark cells immur'd; but now full ripe,
And pure as silver from the crucible,
T'hat twice has stood the torture of the fire,
And inquisition of the forge.-We know
Th’illustrious Deliverer of mankind,
The Son of God, thee foil'd.-Him in thy power
Thou could'st not hold :-self vigorous he rose,
And, shaking off thy fetters, soon retook
Those spoils his voluntary yielding lent:
(Sure pledge of our releasement from thy thrall)
Twice twenty days he sojourn'd here on Earth,
And show'd himself alive to chosen witnesses,
By proofs so strong, that the most slow-assenting
Had not a scruple left.—This
He mounted up to Heav'n.-Methinks I see him
Climb the aërial heights, and glide along
Athwart the severing clouds: but the faint eye,
Flung backwards in the chase, soon drops its hold;
Disabled quite, and jaded with pursuing.
Heaven's portals wide expand to let him in !
Nor are his friends shut out: as a great prince
Not for himself alone procures admission,
But for his train.--It was his royal will,
That where he is, there should his followers be;
Death only lies between.-A gloomy path!
Made yet more gloomy by our coward fears:
But not untrod, nor tedious: the fatigue
Will soon go off.-Besides, there's no by-road
To bliss.— Then why, like ill-condition'd children,
Start we at transient hardships in the way
That leads to purer air, and softer skies,
And a ne'er-setting sun ?-Fools that we are !
We wish to be, where sweets unwithering bloom;
But straight our wish revoke, and will not go.
So have I seen, upon a summer's even,
Fast by the rivulet's brink, a youngster play:
How wishfully he looks to stem the tide !
This moment resolute, next unresolv'd :
At last he dips his foot; but, as he dips,
His fears redouble, and he runs away
From th' inoffensive stream, unmindful now
Of all the flowers that paint the further bank,
And smil'd so sweet of late.—Thrice welcome
That after many a painful bleeding step
Conducts us to our home, and lands us safe
On the long wish’d-for shore.- Prodigious change ;
Our bane turn’d to a blessing “Death disarm’d,
Loses its fellness quite.—All thanks to Him
Who scourg'd the venom out.--Sure the last end
Of the good man is peace !-How calm his exit!
Night-dews fall not more gently to the ground,
Nor weary worn-out winds expire so soft.
Behold him in the evening tide of life,
A life well-spent, whose early care it was
His riper years should not upbraid his green:
By unperceiv'd degrees he wears away;
Yet, like the Sun, seems larger at his setting.
High in his faith and hopes, look how he reaches
After the prize in view! and, like a bird
That's hamper'd, struggles hard to get away :
Whilst the glad gates of sight are wide expanded
To let new glories in, the first fair fruits
Of the fast coming harvest.—Then, oh then!
Each earth-born joy grows vile, or disappears,
Shrunk to a thing of nought.-Oh! how he longs
To have his passport sign'd, and be dismiss'd !
'Tis done! and now he's happy--the glad soul
Has not a wish uncrown'd.-Ev’n the lag flesh
Rests too in hope of meeting once again
Its better half, never to sunder more.
Nor shall it hope in vain :--the time draws on
When not a single spot of burial earth,
Whether on land, or in the spacious sea,
But must give back its long-committed dust
Inviolate and faithfully shall these
Make up the full account; not the least atom
Embezzled, or mislaid, of the whole tale.
Each soul shall have a body ready furnish'd;
And each shall have his own.-Hence, ye profane !
Ask not, how this can be ?-Sure the same pow'r
That rear'd the piece at first, and took it down,
Can reassemble the loose scatter'd parts,
And put them as they were.—Almighty God
Has done much more: nor is his arm impaird
Through length of days : and what he can, he will:
His faithfulness stands bound to see it done.
When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumbering
(Not unattentive to the call) shall wake:
And every joint possess its proper place,
With a new elegance of form, unknown
To its first state.-Nor shall the conscious soul
Mistake its partner, but amidst the crowd
Singling its other half, into the arms
Shall rush with all th’ impatience of a man
That's new-come home, and, having long been ab-
With haste runs over every
room, In pain to see the whole. Thrice happy meeting! Nor time, nor death, shall ever part them more. 'Tis but a night, a long and moonless night; We make the grave our bed, and then are gone. Thus at the shut of even, the weary bird Leaves the wide air, and in some lonely brake Cowers down, and dozes till the dawn of day; Then claps his well-fledg’d wings, and bears away.
MESSIAH, A SACRED ECLOGUE.
Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:
To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong.
The mossy fountains, and the silvan shades,
The dreams of Pindus, and th’ Aonian maids,
Delight no more-0 thou my voice inspire
Who touch'd Isaiah's hallowed lips with fire !
Rapt into future times the bard begun:
A virgin shall conceive, a virgin bear a Son!
From Jesse's root behold a Branch arise,
Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies :
Th’ ethereal spirit o'er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descends the mystic dove.
Ye heavens ! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly show'r!
The sick and weak the healing plant shall aid,
From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail!
Returning Justice lift aloft her scale;
Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-rob'd Innocence from Heav'n descend.
Swift fly the years, and rise th' expected morn!
O spring to light, auspicious babe be born!
See, Nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring ;
See lofty Lebanon his head advance,
See nodding forests on the mountains dance:
See spicy clouds from lowly Sharon rise,
And Carmel's flowery top perfumes the skies !
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers ;
• Prepare the way! a God, a God appears!'
'A God, a God! the vocal hills reply ;
The rocks proclaim th' approaching Deity.
Lo, Earth receives him from the bending skies !
Sink down, ye mountains, and ye valleys, rise !
With heads declin'd, ye cedars, homage pay!
Be smooth, ye rocks! ye rapid floods, give way!
The Saviour comes, by ancient bards foretold:
Hear him, ye deaf; and, all ye blind, behold!
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eye-ball pour the day:
Tis he th' obstructed paths of sound shall clear,
And bid new music charm th' unfolding ear:
The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding roe.
No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear,
From every face he wipes off every tear.