« AnkstesnisTęsti »
"Ye sylphs and sylphids, to your chief give ear,
Fays, fairies, genii, elves, and demons, hear!
Ye know the spheres, and various tasks assign'd
By laws eternal to th' aerial kind.
Some in the fields of purest ether play,
And bask and whiten in the blaze of day:
Some guide the course of wandering orbs on high,
Or roll the planets through the boundless sky:
Some less refin'd, beneath the moon's pale light
Pursue the stars that shoot athwart the night,
Or suck the mists in grosser air below,
Or dip their pinions in the painted bow,
Or brew fierce tempests on the wintry main,
Or o'er the glebe distil the kindly rain.
Others, on earth, o'er human race preside,
Watch all their ways, and all their actions guide;
Of these the chief the care of nations own,
And guard with arms divine the British throne.
"Our humbler province is to tend the fair,
Not a less pleasing, though less glorious care,
To save the powder from too rude a gale,
Nor let the' imprison'd essences exhale;
To draw fresh colours from the vernal flow'rs;
To steal from rainbows, ere they drop in show'rs,
A brighter wash; to curl their waving hairs,
Assist their blushes, and inspire their airs;
Nay oft, in dreams, invention we bestow,
To change a flounce, or add a furbelow."
FROM THE ESSAY ON
Be thou the first true merit to befriend;
His praise is lost who stays till all commend.
Short is the date, alas! of modern rhymes,
And 'tis but just to let them live betimes.
No longer now that golden age appears,
When patriarch-wits surviv'd a thousand years:
Now length of fame (our second life) is lost,
And bare threescore is all ev'n that can boast:
Our sons their father's failing language see,
And such as Chaucer is shall Dryden be.
So when the faithful pencil has design'd
Some bright idea of the master's mind,
Where a new world leaps out at his command,
And ready nature waits upon his hand;
When the ripe colours soften and unite,
And sweetly melt into just shade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give,
And each bold figure just begins to live,
The treach'rous colours the fair art betray,
And all the bright creation fades away!
FROM THE ESSAY ON MAN.
HEAVEN forming each on other to depend,
A master, or a servant, or a friend,
Bids each on other for assistance call,
Till one man's weakness grows the strength of all.
Wants, frailties, passions, closer still ally
The common interest, or endear the tie.
To these we owe true friendship, love sincere,
Each home-felt joy that life inherits here;
Yet from the same we learn, in its decline,
Those joys, those loves, those interests, to resign;
Taught, half by reason, haif by mere decay,
To welcome death, and calmly pass away.
Whate'er the passion, knowledge, fame, or pelf,
Not one will change his neighbour with himself.
The learn'd is happy, nature to explore,
The fool is happy, that he knows no more;
The rich is happy, in the plenty giv'n,
The poor contents him with the care of heav'n.
See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing,
The sot a hero, lunatic a king;
The starving chemist in his golden views
Supremely bless'd, the poet in his muse.
See some strange comfort every state attend, And pride bestow'd on all, a common friend: See some fit passion every age supply; Hope travels through, nor quits us when we die.
Behold the child, by nature's kindly law, Pleas'd with a rattle, tickled with a straw; Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight, A little louder, but as empty quite: Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage, And beads and prayer-books are the toys of age: Pleas'd with this bauble still, as that before, Till tir'd he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er.
Meanwhile, opinion gilds with varying rays
Those painted clouds that beautify our days;
Each want of happiness by hope supplied,
And each vacuity of sense by pride:
These build as fast as knowledge can destroy;
In folly's cup still laughs the bubble joy;
One prospect lost, another still we gain,
And not a vanity is given in vain:
Ev'n mean self-love becomes, by force divine,
The scale to measure others' wants by thine.
See! and confess one comfort still must rise;
"Tis this,--Though man's a fool, yet God is wise.
Born 1699-Died 1747.
BLAIR's father was one of the ministers of Edinburgh, and chaplain to King Charles I. The poet, after the usual preparatory studies, was ordained the minister of Athelstaneford, in the county of East Lothian, and resided there till his death. He is said to have been assiduous and zealous in the performance of his pastoral duties, and distinguished for his fervid eloquence. Among his friends, by whom he was warmly beloved, he numbered Colonel Gardiner, Dr. Watts, and Dr. Doddridge.
"The eighteenth century," says Campbell, "has produced few specimens of blank verse of so powerful and simple a character as that of the Grave. It is a popular poem, not merely because it is religous, but because its language and imagery are free, natural, and picturesque. Blair may be a homely and even a gloomy poet in the eye of fastidious criticism; but there is a masculine and pronounced character even in his gloom and homeliness, that keeps it most distinctly apart from either dulness or vulgarity. His style pleases us like the powerful expression of a countenance without regular beauty."
SEE yonder hallow'd fane;-the pious work Of names once fam'd, now dubious or forgot, And buried midst the wreck of things which were; There lie interr'd the more illustrious dead. The wind is up: hark! how it howls! Methinks Till now I never heard a sound so dreary: Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird, Rook'd in the spire, screams loud: the gloomy aisles, Black-plaster'd, and hung round with shreds of 'scutcheons And tatter'd coats of arms, send back the sound,
Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults,
The mansions of the dead.-Rous'd from their slumb ers,
In grim array the grisly spectres rise,
Grin horribly, and obstinately sullen,
Pass and repass, hush'd as the foot of night.
Again the screech-owl shrieks: ungracious sound!
I'll hear no more; it makes one's blood run chill.
Quite round the pile, a row of reverend elms,
(Coeval near with that) all ragged show,
Long lash'd by the rude winds. Some rift half down
Their branchless trunks; others so thin a-top,
That scarce two crows could lodge in the same tree.
Strange things, the neighbours say, have happen'd here:
Wild shrieks have issued from the hollow tombs:
Dead men have come again, and walk'd about;
And the great bell has toll'd, unrung, untouch'd.
(Such tales their cheer, at wake or gossiping,
When it draws near the witching time of night.)
Oft in the lone church-yard at night I've seen, By glimpse of moonshine checquering through the trees, The school-boy, with his satchel in his hand, Whistling aloud to bear his courage up, And lightly tripping o'er the flat stones, (With nettles skirted, and with moss o'ergrown.) That tell in homely phrase who lie below. Sudden he starts, and hears, or thinks he hears, The sound of something purring at his heels; Full fast he flies, and dares not look behind him, 'Till out of breath he overtakes his fellows; Who gather round, and wonder at the tale Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly,
That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand.
O'er some new-open'd grave; and (strange to tell!)
Evanishes at crowing of the cock.
INVIDIOUS grave !-how dost thou rend in sunder
Whom love has knit, and sympathy made one!
A tie more stubborn far than nature's band.
Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul;
Sweetener of life, and solder of society,
I owe thee much. Thou hast deserv'd from me
Far, far beyond what I can ever pay.
Oft have I prov'd the labours of thy love,
And the warm efforts of the gentle heart,
Anxious to please.-Oh! when my friend and I
In some thick wood have wander'd heedless on,
Hid from the vulgar eye, and sat us down
Upon the sloping cowslip-cover'd bank,
Where the pure limpid stream has slid along
In grateful errors through the underwood,
Sweet murmuring; methought the shrill-tongued thrush
Mended his song of love, the sooty blackbird
Mellow'd his pipe, and soften'd every note:
The eglantine smell'd sweeter, and the rose
Assum'd a dye more deep; whilst every flower
Vied with its fellow-plant in luxury
Of dress.-Oh! then the longest summer's day
Seem'd too, too much in haste: still the full heart
Had not imparted half: 'twas happiness
Too exquisite to last. Of joys departed,
Not to return, how painful the remembrance!
DEATH, THE CHRISTIAN'S PATH TO ETERNAL BLESSEDNESS.
It was Christ's 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 the' inoffensive stream, unmindful now
Of all the flowers that paint the further bank,
And smil'd so sweet of late.-Thrice welcome death!
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.