The imagination may be compared to Adam's dream — he awoke and found it truth.
Lust May Be a Game of the Imagination
Lust may be a game of the imagination
But there was no love
Like our bodies' love
When we touched
And held each other
Even the mind died in happiness-
O Ecstasy you and I
Ecstasy our bodies
In each other
Oh love my love for your
And your love for me
Before it all ended
The Imagination Of The Poet
The imagination of the poet
Was used in this poem
Because when he wrote this
Poem he was trying hard
To create the image for this poem
The Poem And The Name May Be Immortal For A Time
THE POEM AND THE NAME MAY BE IMMORTAL FOR A TIME
The poem and the name may be immortal for a time-
The person – not.
At the end of this life
No one knows what God gives
In another world-
Here on earth
Dust dirt worms and darkness.
Praise God for the years I have left
I am going under like the rest of them
Because the Bee may blameless hum
Because the Bee may blameless hum
For Thee a Bee do I become
List even unto Me.
Because the Flowers unafraid
May lift a look on thine, a Maid
Alway a Flower would be.
Nor Robins, Robins need not hide
When Thou upon their Crypts intrude
So Wings bestow on Me
Or Petals, or a Dower of Buzz
That Bee to ride, or Flower of Furze
I that way worship Thee.
Even The Old May Know The Happiness of Doing Kindness
EVEN THE OLD MAY KNOW THE HAPPINESS OF DOING KINDNESS
Even the Old may know the Happiness of doing Kindness-
May give to others
Humor and light-
Even the Old may smile and hint at Beauty
Be for others a blessing and gift-
Even the Old may be a pleasure to be with
And make the time pass as if it were not-
Even the Old may make life seem good
In moments of Peace when Pain is not.
The Strong May Be Weak
When sorrow stabs a mind,
There’s so much it can find.
The strong may be the weak,
Hiding behind a façade they seek
To appear to be powerful
By causing others to be sorrowful.
Their weapons of hate and attack
Will only ricochet back
Further wounding their weakened mind
While forcing others farther behind.
Their weakness will start to fade
The moment in sorrow they’re not afraid
To view tenderness as something strong
And being a bully as always wrong.
Mr. Cogito and the Imagination
Mr. Cogito never trusted
tricks of the imagination
the piano at the top of the Alps
played false concerts for him
he didn't appreciate labyrinths
the Sphinx filled him with loathing
he lived in a house with no basement
without mirrors of dialectics
jungles of tangled images
were not his home
he would rarely soar
on the wings of metaphor
and then he fell like Icarus
into the embrace of the Great Mother
he adored tautologies
idem per idem
that a bird is a bird
slavery means slavery
a knife is a knife
death remains death
the flat horizon
a straight line
the gravity of the earth
As a Beam O'er the Face of the Waters May Glow
As a beam o'er the face of the waters may glow
While the tide runs in darkness and coldness below,
So the cheek may be tinged with a warm sunny smile,
Though the cold heart to ruin runs darkly the while.
One fatal remembrance, one sorrow that throws
Its bleak shade alike o'er our joys and our woes,
To which life nothing darker or brighter can bring,
For which joy has no balm and affliction no sting --
Oh! this thought in the midst of enjoyment will stay,
Like a dead, leafless branch in the summer's bright ray;
The beams of the warm sun play round it in vain;
It may smile in his light, but it blooms not again.
Where First The Eyes May Go
Why do my poems to you sound similar?
With a familiarity?
I have heard that before.
And long ago that has been explored.
All of them are unique and quite different.
You just perceive them not to be that way.
Because my name just happens to appear,
On everything I write.
At the end of my expressions.
My name on them I leave.
And it is not the varying messages.
But it is the prolificness I deliver.
And it is the appetite I delight.
That might offend you and dislike.
Who knows when one reads.
Where first the eyes may go.
Are you reading my additions?
Or are you counting my submissions?
There is a difference.
If this difference is admitted.
The Girls May Lose
The garden of fragrant flowers,
Saw her running towards, orders,
The buds to bloom and disperse,
The scent to her perfumed hair,
On smelling the new fragrance,
The butterflies escape from cocoons,
Assuming her face for a flower,
They swirl around her in trance,
To suck the sweet nectar,
Too afraid to face the intruders,
She runs away to have the shelter,
In the arms of a masked human, a spoiler,
Thinking of him as a rescuer,
Assuming him as a wonderful lover,
The girls may lose their peace for a favor,
the girls who hang out for fun,
may lose their peace to a con.
boys not carry the loads to remember,
but the girls carry to think and despair.
The Young May Moon
The young May moon is beaming, love.
The glow-worm's lamp is gleaming, love.
How sweet to rove,
Through Morna's grove,
When the drowsy world is dreaming, love!
Then awake! -- the heavens look bright, my dear,
'Tis never too late for delight, my dear,
And the best of all ways
To lengthen our days
Is to steal a few hours from the night, my dear!
Now all the world is sleeping, love,
But the Sage, his star-watch keeping, love,
And I, whose star,
More glorious far,
Is the eye from that casement peeping, love.
Then awake! -- till rise of sun, my dear,
The Sage's glass we'll shun, my dear,
Or, in watching the flight
Of bodies of light,
He might happen to take thee for one, my dear.
The Poor Know manythings what the rich may not know..
Plenty of food on the table,
plenty of restaurants that serve,
plenty of appetite that we have,
Eat and wash it with drinks soft and hard,
come back home and sleep on the bed,
middle of the night, start the burbs,
then lie down to have the sleep,
again, burps, burps with rolling gas,
sometimes hiccups accompany and rocks,
look for the antacid in the shelves,
in the drawer and kitchen cabinets,
if find a sachet or a bottle,
that seems to be a God,
mix it with water and gulp it,
slowly the stomach is quietened,
rumbles not heard, the gas is not out,
the sleep arrives and we sleep..
A poor man who has no food,
may sleep silently in trance.
A poor man who has no comfort,
may not feel anything uncomfortable.
Those who know the comfort,
can differentiate the difference,
those who are poor and ill,
are comfortable with these evils.
as they know not meaning for good life,
as they are not aware of,
what they have to strive.
Whomever' The WHO May Be
I never thought I was the cheese.
Whether cheddared or sharp.
OR flavored filled crisp dipped chips...
Thick or thin and delicious.
I don't know 'who' to thank...
But I've never been into it.
Getting an attention done,
For something I love...
Makes to me no sense.
Even if it is,
Something I have experienced.
Nor have I ever thought of myself as a brick,
To be consider as a piece of a cornerstone that fits.
I'm not seeking to be perfect.
I've always been 'me'.
I love to tease and play practical jokes.
When people realize there are serious parts of my life lived...
For some reason they become provoked.
And any attention on me that comes with a focus...
I am more surprised than those I know.
I'm the one with eyes wide open...
Thinking I've become victimized by someone playing a joke.
I never thought I was the cheese.
Whether cheddared or sharp.
OR flavored filled crisp dipped chips...
Thick or thin and delicious.
I don't know 'who' to thank...
I've never been into what I do with ego to display.
And perhaps that's my best asset.
A quality in me others see.
Only 'who' knows!
'Whomever' the WHO may be!
That the Soul May Wax Plump
My dumpy little mother on the undertaker's slab
had a mannequin's grace. From chin to foot
the sheet outlined her, thin and tall. Her face
uptilted, bloodless, smooth, had a long smile.
Her head rested on a block under her nape,
her neck was long, her hair waved, upswept. But later,
at "the viewing," sunk in the casket in pink tulle,
an expensive present that might spoil, dressed
in Eden's green apron, organdy bonnet on,
she shrank, grew short again, and yellow. Who
put the gold-rimmed glasses on her shut face, who
laid her left hand with the wedding ring on
her stomach that really didn't seem to be there
under the fake lace?
Mother's work before she died was self-purification,
a regimen of near starvation, to be worthy to go
to Our Father, Whom she confused (or, more aptly, fused)
with our father, in Heaven long since. She believed
in evacuation, an often and fierce purgation,
meant to teach the body to be hollow, that the soul
may wax plump. At the moment of her death, the wind
rushed out from all her pipes at once. Throat and rectum
sang together, a galvanic spasm, hiss of ecstasy.
Then, a flat collapse. Legs and arms flung wide,
like that female Spanish saint slung by the ankles
to a cross, her mouth stayed open in a dark O. So,
her vigorous soul whizzed free. On the undertaker's slab, she
lay youthful, cool, triumphant, with a long smile.
- quotes about Spain
- quotes about victory
- quotes about women
- quotes about wedding
- quotes about saint
- quotes about pink
- quotes about violence
- quotes about yellow
Flight of the Imagination
An array of voices command within
Flight of the imagination-
A tree growing crookedly,
Sprouting from the depths of oblivion-
I believe I have seen a rainbow dancing with
The rays of the sun appearing over the horizon, as it
Rises above the clouds, crimson and vermillion in their hues?
Darkness steals the light away as rain begins to fall
Upon the essence of time,
Alien faces are frighteningly threatening, as
Spirits rise from the dead-
Lost souls in the depth of the forest indulging in profound conversation,
I am grasping at my thoughts, tenuously conflicting-
I can hear chattering voices, coming from outside intruders-
Ominous visions integrating upon a fallen foundation haunt, although
I know I must persevere-
Continuously walking, gathering my identity as
A reflecting pond catches dewdrops falling from leaves and grasses surrounding-
I think of building wooden fences about me to safeguard
My thoughts, precious, though complex and bewildering, as
The rain continues to fall.
Unfamiliar glances, suspiciously terrifying,
Upon footsteps, faltering,
I follow that pathway to nowhere, as I continue my solitary walk,
Escaping bedlam, towards the majestic place of my dreams-
As lightening strikes and thunder claps,
I continue my journey towards that wondrously enticing oblivion-
Content to have finally escaped the ostentatious veracity-
A lost but unique soul, I am-
I cannot discern the inevitable, though
I can laugh at the humor of my plight-
I have fallen in love with nature, and as
Rain spatters, though gently upon the pathway I walk-
I see my reflection wading in a nearby creek,
Crimson clouds have overcome the bleak darkness of reality-
In flight of my imagination, I have made a life for myself while
My spirit continues its journey out of the darkness into eternal light,
The Sea has Many Moods
poetry in progress
the sea has many moods
you need more than one
canvas to paint them all
and an imagination cresting
like waves sweeping onto shores
the sea has many moods
it presents dawn with
streaks of luminous hope
and slowly breaks through
the menacing bleakness of night
to give us a new day -
a fresh new born, his eyes
gleaming like angel and that
first cry which opens to us
a new terrace for love - a chill
that slowly builds into a warmth
between us knowing that it
is a blessing from beyond
- tears or cheers
the sea has many moods
you need to see them all
to portray them on your canvas
there is a hint of melancholy
especially after a tempest when the beach
is strewn with all things from the
bowels of the sea; old coins,
broken porcelains, dead little turtles,
wine bottles that have crossed continents,
one shoe, slipper, sandal like partners
lost in war, and shells of all kinds,
some shining with a strain of hynotism
you wish they have not been torn
by the force of the sea
bits and pieces of everything here and
there to remind us of how life can be
as turbulent when the mighty tide works against us
the sea has many moods
you have to live by one to
experience them all
the cheers that brighten up the day
when every beach feels like a fresh
new summer, another mediterranean
the waves gallop like horses on
an an emerald to take us to their
adventures of mermaids in love,
of palace made of beautiful corals,
of gold and diamonds in sunken ships,
of romances, of aliens, of
finding a new angle to life,
so that the past is just another
wave disappearing on the beach
to recharge the self that has been
left to vegetate and muffled
in the race for survival
the sea has many moods
you need more than one canvas
to paint them all
the tide turns low on some days
enabling walks on seabed, and
to the next shore, before inch
by inch, the tide starts coming in
water swirling like a man sipping
and blowing onto his tea, inch by inch
like a hungry animal, the sea starts to
swallow up old territories as its own,
and in such haste, rage and chagrin,
one hour is all it needs to take it all in
there are those who, lost in their fun,
forget about the tide and are trapped
and swept away forever remaining on the
chiling and heartwrenching lost-at-sea list
walking the seabed is a walk through
the backstage of a theatre
you see all the theatrics of the sea
anemones in a range of red stick
their heads out on the sand like a vulgar thing
and here and there are broken corals
after having served as colourful dancers swaying
gracefully and serenading fishes
now with faded lustre they surrender to their fate
on the sand, a mound here and there
in the rhythm of the waves
as you walk, a pensive mood envelops you, a peace
and a quiet you dont savour on ordinary days by the beach
the wind feels like God caressing and whispering
to you his story of creation, his joy when everything is over
so that you can walk on a seabed to take it all in
the sea may be rough but it too, affords a time
and a space when it bares all to help you meditate on
its enlightened side, something it does not unveil to us
unless the tide takes an all about turn to the sea
it is a blessing for those who happen to chance
upon it and take it to its full advantage
the sea has many moods
you have to live by one to see them all
there are one thousand and one creatures
who are ever ready to share with you their fun
tenants of the white sand, sea, and breeze
and an occasional full moon, oh no two moons
the plovers and starfishes are friends
coral fishes sprint to and fro under a branch
waiting for the tide to ferry them out
mudskippers hop on the tail of the waves
like clowns at a circus, a head so huge and two short fins
one wonders how they anchor themselves so well at sea
little crabs run the lightness of breeze
and here and there little holes that gently
remind me of the tenants with claws
they are all so round these crabs
of orange, brown, green, yellow must have
been well trained by the divinity of their task
a conical shell is a soul in medtiation
an ear listening to its own sacred calling
seaweeds paint some parts a bright green
while an outcast the jellyfish is always
a sorry affair, sprawled and helpless
its see-through mass of shrunken body
transmit a fetid scent no one would love to have
children are told not to play around with them
as the toxins in the soft textured creature
can be just the opposite of its appearance
like the setting sun over the hill
that turn the whole
like the poet swept with
a hope for that
one poem that would land
on the print to meet all
the sea has many moods
you have live by her to
see them all
Voyage around the Square Root of Minus One
I often heard
that while the sciences concern themselves
with objective truths
the arts deal with subjective phenomena.
Many years ago I held the same view,
but later came to the conclusion
that this is just a well-combed popular myth.
It is an untenable credo
because the sharp separation
of the arts and sciences is a rigid
and arbitrary mandate, full of holes.
Although all subjects have their specificities,
at the same time they also share
many common traits with each other.
There is art in science and science in art.
Artists, for example,
apply geometry to represent
a three dimensional scene in a painting,
which is a two dimensional surface.
By using ‘objective' geometrical perspective,
Renaissance artists, among them Alberti,
Brunelleschi, Uccello, Leonardo and Dürer,
developed in Europe the ‘subjective' illusion
of perceptual realism.
Later, in the Dutch Republic of the 17th century,
Johannes Vermeer applied expensive pigments
to the canvas and conducted
pioneering research in optics that enhanced
the supreme quality of his work,
imbuing his paintings with sublime,
In the 19th century
the Romantic painter John Constable
prepared detailed studies
of the landscape and weather conditions
of England, before transcribing them
into images of stunning accuracy and grace.
Following the closing of the Weimar Bauhaus
by the Nazis in 1933, the artist Josef Albers
moved to the USA, where he worked at
Black Mountain College and at Yale University.
Albers is credited with the discovery of
the gravitational laws of color interaction,
which he expressed in his minimalist paintings
of "Homage to the Square".
Yet painters are not the only artists
who use science in their work.
Writers and poets often incorporate
scientific themes into their novels and verse,
making more than once
to the development of science.
A giant of German literature,
the poet, novelist and artist
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was also
a pioneer of scientific phenomenology.
His myriad accomplishments encompassed
explorations in the metamorphosis of plants
and insects. Besides, his research interests
extended to geology and meteorology.
Moreover, in 1810 Goethe published
his "Theory of Colors", an influential opus
that inspired the painter J.M.W. Turner,
the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein,
as well as many others.
In many ways Goethe's color theory
remains valid even in the 21st century.
Shakespeare's work, too, may serve
to illustrate the links between art and science.
His plays are sprinkled with profound insights
regarding the psychodynamic processes
of the human mind and soul.
In the role of an early neuroscientist,
the bard can teach modern day physicians
a great deal about the mind-body connection,
about physical symptoms originating
in emotional disturbances.
Or take William Wordsworth.
This great Romantic English poet wrote
about nature and nurture,
"The child is father of the Man", he said,
a century before Freud formulated
his psychoanalytic theories.
And then, in a long prose poem,
titled "Eureka" and published in New York
in 1848, Edgar Allan Poe's gave expression
to his intuitive vision of the universe.
His work anticipated
of the twentieth century.
Packed with bold conjectures,
the poet describes in "Eureka"
the concept that astronomers today call
Cosmological Black Hole.
Poe envisions here a pulsating universe,
evolving in an endless series
of Big Bangs and Big Crunches.
Now, let's bear in mind that
while science promises to provide us
thoroughly objective research products,
in the end it fails to deliver them.
Consider, for instance, the Queen of Sciences,
our most exact subject: Mathematics.
This powerful and noble discipline serves
as an indispensible tool for every branch
of science, as well as for common errands
that we carry out in all walks of life.
However, the astonishing success
of mathematics remains a baffling enigma.
For, how we can accomplish so much with it,
despite its inherent inconsistencies
and its uncertain relation to nature,
defies rational explanation.
Mathematical equations are embedded
with mysterious forces
and their uncanny power transcends
the cognitive faculties of the human mind.
A case in point concerns
a highly effective but bizarre
mathematical concept, the imaginary number
of the square root of minus one,
marked with the humble symbol, "i".
This number is a precise mathematical idea,
and at the same time a poetic celebration
of absurdity, because it hails from
a genderless state of an outlandish kingdom.
"i" is neither positive nor negative.
It exists in spite of itself,
percolating through the faulty filters
of remote stars of another galaxy.
And then there is the bizarre case of zero.
A central pillar of arithmetic, the naught
is a stringent figment of the imagination,
a number used as a symbol
of both nothing and infinity,
by which you can multiply,
however, never allowed to divide.
Now, a careful examination
of the pivotal hard core sciences
of physics and chemistry reveals
that their cardinal notions, such as:
space, time and matter, numbers,
molecules, atoms and particles,
with their quantum probabilities,
are actually elusive figures of speech,
sophisticated abstract metaphors.
Consequently, physicists and chemists
don't really understand their subject matter,
although many of them pretend
that they do.
the sciences are not superior
to music, poetry or painting.
Their epistemological status is equal.
For, the creative genius of Archimedes
does not surpass that of Homer;
nor do the swings of Galileo's pendulum
controvert the rhythm of iambic pentameters
on Dante's keyboard.
Similarly, the shining jewels of
Euler's magnificent mathematical equations
are not more brilliant, or more meaningful
than the triumphant melodies
of Vivaldi's masterpiece, "The Four Seasons".
Nor does the aesthetic splendor
of Cantor's transfinite sets
eclipse the majestic beauty
of Mozart's symphonies.
The earth revolves around the sun
surrounded by inexhaustible mysteries.
Still, Newton's infinite abstract space
is no closer to reality
than the adjacent concrete sky of Rembrandt.
And thus, in the final analysis,
Einstein's glorious Theory of Relativity
does not reveal more ultimate truths
about the transcendental cosmos
than the paintings of Picasso's universe.
- quotes about art
- quotes about science
- quotes about Goethe
- quotes about paintings
- quotes about weather
- quotes about chemistry
- quotes about physics
- quotes about Edgar Allan Poe
The Parrot And The Woodpecker May Return
Kasiananthan's Poem on the Tamil Diaspora and Eelam
[Sung by TEnicayccal Cellappa] Translated by T.Wignesan
mAnkiliyum marankottiyum The parrot and the woodpecker
kUtutirumpa tatayillai their nests to regain nothing waylays
nAnkal mattum ulakattilEyE Only we in all this world
nAtutirumpa mutiyavillai our homeland to seek may not turn
nAtutirumpa mutiyavillai our homeland to seek may not turn
[Above refrain repeated twice]
cinkalavan pataivAnil From skies filled with Sinhalese planes
neruppai alli corikiratu fire tumbles down in seething showers
enkal uyir tamil Elam Our lifeblood our Tamil Eelam
cutukAtAy erikiratu a simmering graveyard on fire
tAykatarap pillaikalin While mothers rave in pain children's
nencukalaik kilikkinrAn breasts the oppressor tears apart
kAyyAkum munnE ilam Long before they might ripen tender
pincukalai alikkirAn the buds crushed from burgeoning
pettavankal UrilE Those who begot us back home
Enku rAnku pAcattilE tossing turning in their longing for us
ettanai nAl kArttiruppOm For how many days might we linger on
atuttavan tEcattilE in the other man's refugee land
unnavum mutiyavillai Without proper food
urankavum mutiyavillai without sufficient sleep
ennavum mutiyavillai Unable rightly even to think
innumtAn vitiyutillai when will the day dawn for us
kitti pullu atittu nankal We who played at kitti pullu*
vilaiyAtum teruvilEyE joyously in the heedless streets
katti vayttuc cutukirAnAm There now tethered others lie felled
yAr manatum urukavillai no no hearts pain for us
Ur katitam patikkayilEyE When our eyes light on letters from home
vimmi nencu vetikkitu sobs prise open our brimming breasts
pOrpulikal pakkattilEyE By the flanks of battling Tigers
pOkamanam tutikkitu there to be our hearts throb and yearn
Note: * A competitive game played by hitting a small stick with a bigger one, the goal being to cover the greatest distance. Also called in Tamil Nadu and Malaysia: kavuntA kavunti.
Analysis of the above poem
It is not an overstatement/hyperbole to say that - from the point of view of diction, rhythm, rhyme, that is, where the sense lies perfectly bound up with the sound - this poem comes as near to capturing the ultimate sense of loss of the Eela diaspora and may not be easily excelled by the poet, himself, in any other of his verse compositions for song.
Before we take a look at the prosody in the piece, let's admit that the transcription/transliteration of the poem was undertaken without heed to the dialectical pronunciation of the singer Chellappa who is a Tamil Nadu Tamilian. The musical version of the poem incorporates a spoken form of the language that constricts many similar but not the same postpositional endings in an uniform end-rhyme which may be designated by the phoneme: « e », such that, although each of the seven quatrains have only different two similar end-rhymes, like the second quatrain: defe, there are no less than fourteen « e » end-rhymes. Excepting the fifth quatrain where all lines end in the same rhyme: bbbb and the same number of syllables affording a uniformity of the rhythm in successive lines and where the Tamil prosodic rules of etukai (initial rhymes) also apply almost uniformly, especially in the first three lines: the first words being: unnavum/urankavum/ennavum, the end-rhyme scheme in the rest of the quatrains is typified by the following order: abab, for example, in the last quatrain where first rhymes, semantic and phonic correspondances exist between lines.
First rhymes include ur and por; patikkayi and pakkattile; vetikkutu and tutikkutu; and semantic correspondance between nencu and manam, meaning breast and spirit or mind. Besides, there are eight syllables (in the sung version) in each line.
The last quatrain resembles prosodically the quatrain-structure of the Malay pantun, another argument of the Indian literary influences bearing down on the form of the latter genre. [Cf. T.Wignesan, « The Poïetics of the Pantun » in Journal of the Institute of Asian Studies, vol. XII, n°2 (Tiruvanmiyur, Madras) , March 1995, pp.1-15.] In fact, the refrain can almost pass for a pantun. There is the sampiran, the first two lines, on which the second two, the maksud is hung as on a clothes-line, though the first two lines serve as a metaphor by contrasting the perilouis situation of the Tamils in diaspora: the parrot(of the mango tree) and the woodpecker may return to their nests without hindrance, but the Tamil refugee may not.
One of the major characteristics of Tamil poetry is its concision, rather an economy of words which is strengthened by the use of ellipsis. Here in this poem, there is ample evidence of this. Kasianantan makes effective use of this device to enhance the amplitude of his narrative which here is the unenviable plight of his people at the mercy of the Sinhala government in Colombo, and through the exposition of this situation as epitomised in the second and third quatrains, he empathises with the Eela diaspora while invoking their sense of responsibility for those they have left behind even against their will: how long may we stay in another man's land when we have neither proper food, sleep or even peace of mind! So, in the final two quatrains, he manages after virtually wringing the hearts of the Tamils overseas to make out a case for them to dropp everything and to go to the aid of the Tigers who are defending their homeland. All this is achieved - as it can be seen from the translation above - through a few deft touches in lines of two or three words, each of two or three syllables, and by juxtaposing two lines at a time which constitute a consummate depiction of the perilous situation in the homeland, for instance, as when he says in the sixth quatrain: there where we played kittu pullu heedlessly in the streets, now turned to killing fields, whose hearts pain for us?
Of course, it might be added as well that the musical version of the poem, sung by a musician who lends appropriate fervour to the words and lines, and the particularly catchy orchestration, does indeed enhance the communicability of the poem, especially since the dialectal pronunciation of the inflexions/endings makes the poem available to the greater masses of the Tamil population. The poem does not certainly make out a case of attempting to appeal to the literate masses or the intelligentsia only. Besides, it is said of Kasianantan that he himself insists on the manner in which his poems ought to be sung. So, at least, we may be certain that the dialectal version of the song which emerges is not what Chellappa might have wanted by himself alone.
© T. Wignesan - Paris,1995. From the collection: "Words for a Lost Sub-Continent" (2001) . Excerpted from "Kasi Ananthan: Poet Laureae of Tamil Eelam" by T. Wignesan in Hot Spring: A Journal of Commitment, Vol.3, No.9 (London) , December 1998, pp.17-18.
Shakuntala Act 1
King Dushyant in a chariot, pursuing an antelope, with a bow and quiver, attended by his Charioteer.
Suta (Charioteer). [Looking at the antelope, and then at the king]
When I cast my eye on that black antelope, and on thee, O king, with thy braced bow, I see before me, as it were, the God Mahésa chasing a hart (male deer), with his bow, named Pináca, braced in his left hand.
King Dushyant: The fleet animal has given us a long chase. Oh! there he runs, with his neck bent gracefully, looking back, from time to time, at the car (chariot) which follows him. Now, through fear of a descending shaft, he contracts his forehand, and extends his flexible haunches; and now, through fatigue, he pauses to nibble the grass in his path with his mouth half opened. See how he springs and bounds with long steps, lightly skimming the ground, and rising high in the air! And now so rapid is his flight, that he is scarce discernible!
Suta: The ground was uneven, and the horses were checked in their course. He has taken advantage of our delay. It is level now, and we may easily overtake him.
King Dushyant: Loosen the reins.
Suta: As the king commands. – [He drives the car first at full speed, and then gently.] – He could not escape. The horses were not even touched by the clouds of dust which they raised; they tossed their manes, erected their ears, and rather glided than galloped over the smooth plain.
King Dushyant: They soon outran the swift antelope. –Objects which, from their distance, appeared minute, presently became larger: what was really divided, seemed united, as we passed; and what was in truth bent, seemed straight. So swift was the motion of the wheels, that nothing, for many moments, was either distant or near. [He fixes an arrow in his bowstring.]
[Behind the scenes.] He must not be slain. This antelope, O king, has an asylum in our forest: he must not be slain.
Suta: [Listening and Looking.] Just as the animal presents a fair mark for our arrow, two hermits are advancing to interrupt your aim
King Dushyant: Then stop the car.
Suta: The king is obeyed. [He draws in the reins.]
Enter a Hermit and his Pupil.
Hermit: [Raising his hands.] Slay not, O mighty sovereign, slay not a poor fawn, who has found a place of refuge. No, surely, no; he must not be hurt. An arrow in the delicate body of a deer would be like fire in bale of cotton. Compared with thy keen shafts, how weak must be the tender hide of a young antelope! Replace quickly, oh! replace the arrow which thou hast aimed. The weapons of you kings and warriors are destined for the relief of the oppressed, not for the destruction of the guiltless.
King Dushyant: [Saluting them.] It is replaced.
[He places the arrow in his quiver.]
Hermit: [With joy] Worthy is that act of thee, most illustrious; of monarchs; worthy, indeed, of a prince descended from Puru. Mayst thou have a son adorned with virtues, a sovereign of the world!
Pupil: [Elevating both his hands.] Oh! by all means, may thy son be adorned with every virtue, a sovereign of the world!
King Dushyant: [Bowing to them.] My head bears with reverence the order of a Bráhmin
Hermit: Great king, we came hither to collect wood for a solemn sacrifice; and this forest, and the banks of the Malini, affords an asylum to the wild animals protected by Shakuntala, (Shakuntala) whom our holy preceptor Kanva has received as a sacred deposit. If you have no other avocation, enter yon grove, and let the rights of hospitality be duly performed. Having seen with your own eyes the virtuous behaviour of those whose only wealth is their piety, but whose worldly cares are now at an end, you will then exclaim, 'How many good subjects are defended by this arm, which the bowstring has made callous!'
King Dushyant: Is the master of your family at home?
Hermit: Our preceptor is gone to Sómatirt'ha, in hopes of deprecating some calamity, with which destiny threatens the irreproachable Shakuntala, and he has charged her, in his absence, to receive all guests with due honour.
King Dushyant: Holy man, I will attend her; and she, having observed my devotion, will report it favourably to the venerable sage.
Both: Be it so; and we depart on our own business. [The Hermit and his Pupil go out.]
King Dushyant: Drive on Suta. By visiting the abode of holiness, we shall purify our souls.
Suta: As the king (may his life be long!) commands. [He drives on.]
King Dushyant:[Looking on all sides.] That we are near the dwelling–place of pious hermits, would clearly have appeared, even if it had not been told.
Suta: By what marks?
King Dushyant: Do you not observe them? See under yon trees the hallowed grains which have been scattered on the ground, while the tender female parrots were feeding their unfledged young in their pendent nest. Mark in other places the shining pieces of polished stone which have bruised the oil fruit of the sacred Ingudì. Look at the young fawns, which, having acquired confidence in man, and accustomed themselves to the sound of his voice, frisk at pleasure, without varying their course. Even the surface of the river is reddened with lines of consecrated bark, which float down its stream.
Look again; the roots of yon trees are bathed in the waters of holy pools, which quiver as the breeze plays upon them; and the glowing lustre of yon fresh leaves is obscured, for a time, by smoke that rises from oblations of clarified butter. See too, where the young roes (deers) graze, without apprehension from our approach, on the lawn before yonder garden, where the tops of the sacrificial grass, cut for some religious rite, are sprinkled around.
Suta: I now observe holy habitation.
Dushm. [Turning aside.] This awful (awe inspiring)sanctuary, my friend, must not be violated. Here, therefore, stop the car; that I may descend.
Char. I hold in the reins. The king may descend at his pleasure.
King Dushyant:[Having descended, and looking at his own dress.] Groves devoted to religion must be entered in humbler habiliments (garments). Take these regal ornaments;–[the Charioteer receives them] –and, whilst I am observing those who inhabit this retreat, let the horses be watered and dressed.
Suta: Be it as you direct! [He goes out.]
King Dushyant: [Walking around and looking.] Now then I enter the sanctuary. –[He enters the grove.] –Oh! this place must be holy, my right arm throbs. –[Pausing and considering.] –What new acquisition does this omen promise in a sequestered grove? But the gates of predestined events are in all places open.
[Behind the Scenes.] Come hither, my beloved companions; Oh! come hither.
King Dushyant: [Listening.] Hah! I hear female voices to the right of yon arbour (tree). I am resolved to know who are conversing. –[He walks round and looks.] –There are some damsels, I see, belonging to the hermit's family who carry water–pots of different sizes proportioned to their strength, and are going to water the delicate plants. Oh! how charmingly they look! If the beauty of maids who dwell in woodland retreats cannot easily be found in the recesses of a palace, the garden flowers must make room for the blossoms of the forest, which excel them in colour and fragrance. [He stands gazing at them.]
Enter Shakuntala, Anusuya, and Priyamvada.
Anusuya: O my Shakuntala, it is in thy society that the trees of our father Canna seem to me delightful; it well becomes thee, who art soft as the fresh–blown Mallicá, to fill with water the canals which have been dug round these tender shrubs.
Shakuntala: It is not only in obedience to our father that I thus employ myself, though that were a sufficient motive, but I really feel the affection of a sister for these young plants. [Watering them.]
Priyamvada: My beloved friend, the shrubs which you have watered flower in the summer, which is now begun: let us give water to those which have passed their flowering time; for our virtue will be the greater when it is wholly disinterested.
Shakuntala: Excellent advice! [Watering other plants.]
King Dushyant: [Aside in transport.] How! is that Kanva's daughter, Shakuntala? –[With surprise.] –The venerable sage must have an unfeeling heart, since he has allotted a mean employment to so lovely a girl, and has dressed her in a coarse mantle of woven bark. He, who could with that so beautiful a creature, who at first sight ravishes my soul, should endure the hardships of his austere devotion, would attempt, I suppose, to cleave the hard wood Samì with a leaf of the blue lotos (lotus). Let me retire behind this tree, that I may gaze on her charms without diminishing her confidence. [He retires.]
Shakuntala: My friend Priyamvada has tied this mantle of bark so closely over my bosom that it gives me pain: Anusúuya, I request you to untie it.
[Anusuya unties the mantle.]
Priyamvada: [Laughing.] Well, my sweet friend, enjoy, while you may, that youthful prime, which gives your bosom so beautiful a swell.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] Admirably spoken, Priyamvada! No; her charms cannot be hidden, even though a robe of intertwisted fibres be thrown over her shoulders, and conceal a part of her bosom, like a veil of yellow leaves enfolding a radiant flower. The water lily, though dark moss may settle on its head, is nevertheless beautiful; and the moon with dewy beams is rendered yet brighter by its black spots. The bark itself acquires elegance from the features of a girl with antelope's eyes, and rather augments than diminishes my ardour. Many are the rough stalks which support the water lily; but many and exquisite are the blossoms which hang on them.
Shakuntala: [Looking before her.] Yon Amra tree, my friends, points with the finger of its leaves, which the gale gently agitates, and seems inclined to whisper some secret. I will go near it. [They all approach the tree.]
Priyamvada: O my Shakuntala, let us remain some time in this shade.
Shakuntala: Why here particularly?
Priyamvada: Because the Amra tree seems wedded to you, who are graceful as the blooming creeper which twines round it.
Shakuntala: Properly are you named Priyamvada, or speaking lovingly (kindly).
King Dushyant: [Aside.] She speaks truly. Yes; her lip glows like the tender leaflet; her arms resemble two flexible stalks; and youthful beauty shines, like a blossom, in all her lineaments.
Anusuya: See, my Shakuntala, how yon fresh Malicá, which you have surnamed Vanàdósini, or Delight of the Grove, has chosen the sweet Amra for her bridegroom.
Shakuntala: [Approaching, and looking at it with pleasure.] How charming is the season, when the nuptials even of plants are thus publicly celebrated! [She stands admiring it.]
Priyamvada: [Smiling.] Do you know, my Anusuya, why Shakuntala gazes on the plants with such rapture?
Anusuya: No, indeed: I was trying to guess. Pray, tell me.
Priyamvada: 'As the Grove's Delight is united to a suitable tree, thus I too hope for a bridegroom to my mind.' –That is her private thought at this moment.
Shakuntala Such are the sights of your own imagination. [Inverting the water–pot.]
Anusuya: Here is a plant, Shakuntala, which you have forgotten, though it has grown up, like yourself, under the fostering care of our father Kanva.
Shakuntala: Then I shall forget myself. –O wonderful! –[approaching the plant.] –O Priyamvada! [looking at it with joy] I have delightful tidings for you.
Priyamvada: What tidings, my beloved, for me?
Shakuntala: This Madhavi–creeper, though it be not the usual time for flowering, is covered with gay blossoms from its root to its top.
Both. [Approaching it hastily.] Is it really so, sweet friend?
Shakuntala: Is it so? Look yourselves.
Priyamvada: [With eagerness] From this omen, Shakuntala, I announce you an excellent husband, who will very soon take you by the hand. [Both girls look at Shakuntala.]
Shakuntala [Displeased.] A strange fancy of yours!
Priyamvada: Indeed, my beloved, I speak not jestingly. I heard something from our father Kanva. Your nurture of these plants has prospered; and thence it is, that I foretell your approaching nuptials.
Anusuya: It is thence, my Priyamvada, that she has watered them with so much alacrity.
Shakuntala: The Madhavi plant is my sister; can I do otherwise than cherish her?
[Pouring water on it.]
King Dushyant: [Aside.] I fear she is of the same religious order with her foster–father. Or has a mistaken apprehension risen in my mind? My warm heart is so attached to her, that she cannot but be a fit match for a man of the military class. The doubts which awhile perplex the good, are soon removed by the prevalence of their strong inclinations. I am enamoured of her, and she cannot, therefore, be the daughter of a Brahmin, whom I could not marry.
Shakuntala: [Moving her head.] Alas! a bee has left the blossom of this Mallicá, and is fluttering round my face. [She expresses uneasiness.]
King Dushyant: [Aside, with affection.] How often have I seen our court damsels affectedly turn their heads aside from some roving insect, merely to display their graces! But this rural charmer knits her brows, and gracefully moves her eyes through fear only, without art or affectation. Oh! happy– bee, who touchest the corner of that eye beautifully trembling; who, approaching the tip of that ear, murmurs as softly as if thou wert whispering a secret of love; and who sippest nectar, while she waves her graceful hand, from that lip, which contains all the treasures of delight! Whilst I am solicitous to know in what family she was born, thou art enjoying bliss, which to me would be supreme felicity.
Shakuntala: Disengage me, I entreat, from this importunate insect, which quite baffles my efforts.
Priyamvada: What power have we to deliver you? The king Dushmanta is the sole defender of our consecrated groves.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] This is a good occasion for me to discover myself –[advancing a little.] –I must not, I will not, fear. Yet –[checking himself and retiring] –my royal character will thus abruptly be known to them. No; I will appear as a simple stranger, and claim the duties of hospitality.
Shakuntala: This impudent bee will not rest. I will remove to another space. –[Stepping aside and looking round] –Away! away! He follows me wherever I go. Deliver me, oh! deliver me from this distress.
King Dushyant: [Advancing hastily.] Ah! While the race of Puru govern the world, and restrain even the most profligate, by good laws well administered, has any man the audacity to molest the lovely daughters of pious hermits? [They look at him with emotion.]
Anusuya: Sir, no man is here audacious; but this damsel, our beloved friend, was teased by a fluttering bee. [Both girls look at Shakuntala.]
King Dushyant: [Approaching her.] Damsel, may thy devotion prosper! [Shakuntala looks on the ground, bashful and silent.]
Anusuya: Our guest must be received with due honours.
Priyamvada: Stranger, you are welcome. Go, my Shakuntala; bring from the cottage a basket of fruit and flowers. This river will, in the mean time, supply water for his feet. [Looking at the water-pots.]
King Dushyant: Holy maid, the gentleness of thy speech does me sufficient honour.
Anusuya: Sit down awhile on this bank of earth, spread with the leaves of Septaperna: the shade is refreshing, and our lord must want repose after his journey.
King Dushyant: You too must all be fatigued by your hospitable attentions; rest yourselves, therefore, with me.
Priyamvada: [Aside to Shakuntala] Come, let us all be seated: our guest is contented with our reception of him. [They all seat themselves.]
Shakuntala: [Aside.] At the sight of this youth I feel an emotion scarce consistent with a grove devoted to piety.
King Dushyant: [Gazing at them alternately.] How well your friendship agrees, holy damsels, with the charming equality of your ages, and of your beauties!
Priyamvada: [Aside to Anusuya.] Who can this be, my Anusuya? The union of delicacy with robustness in his form, and of sweetness with dignity in his discourse, indicate a character fit for ample dominion.
Anusuya: [Aside to Priyamvada.] I too have been admiring him. I must ask him a few questions. –[Aloud.] Your sweet speech, Sir, gives me confidence. What imperial family is embellished by our noble guest? What is his native country? Surely it must be afflicted by his absence from it. What, I pray, could induce you to humiliate that exalted form of yours by visiting a forest peopled only by simple anchorites?
Shakuntala: [Aside.] Perplex not thyself, O my heart! let the faithful Anusuúya direct with her counsel the thoughts which rise in thee.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] How shall I reveal, or how shall I disguise myself? –[Musing.] –Be it so. [Aloud to Anusuúya.] Excellent lady, I am a student of the Véda, dwelling in the city of our king, descended from Puru; and, being occupied in the discharge of religious and moral duties, am come hither to behold the sanctuary of virtue.
Anusuya: Holy men, employed like you, are our lords and masters. [Shakuntala looks modest, yet with affection; while her companions gaze alternately at her and at the king.]
Anusuya: [Aside to Shakuntala] Oh! if our venerable father were present–
Shakuntala: What if he were?
Anusuya: He would entertain our guest with a variety of refreshments.
Shakuntala: [Pretending displeasure.]Go too; you had some other idea in your head; I will not listen to you. [She sits apart.]
King Dushyant: [Aside to Anusúuya and Priyamvada] In my turn, holy damsels, allow me to ask one question concerning your lovely friend.
Both. The request, Sir, does us honour.
King Dushyant: The sage Kanva, I know, is ever intent upon the great Being; and must have declined all earthly connections. How then can this damsel be, as it is said, his daughter?
Anusuya: Let our lord hear. There is, in the family of Cusa, a pious prince of extensive power, eminent in devotion and in arms.
King Dushyant: You speak, no doubt, of Kausika, the sage and monarch.
Anusuya: Know, Sir, that he is in truth her father; while Canna bears that reverend name, because he brought her up, since she was left an infant.
King Dushyant: Left? The word excites my curiosity; and raises in me a desire of knowing her whole story.
Anusuya: You shall hear it, Sir, in few words. –When that sage king had begun to gather the fruits of his austere devotion, the gods of Swarga (heaven) became apprehensive of his increasing power, and sent the nymph Ménacà (Menaka) to frustrate, by her allurements, the full effect of his austerities.
King Dushyant: Is a mortal's austerity (piety) so tremendous to the inferior deities? What was the event?
Anusuya: In the bloom of the vernal season, Causica, beholding the beauty of the celestial nymph, and wasted (overpowered) by the gale of desire. –[She stops and looks modest.]
King Dushyant: I now see the whole. Shakuntala then is the daughter of a king, by a nymph of the lower heaven.
Anusuya: Even so.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] The desire of my heart is gratified. –[Aloud.] How, indeed, could her transcendent beauty be the portion of mortal birth? Yon light, that sparkles with tremulous beams, proceeds not from a terrestrial cavern. [Sacontalá fits modestly, with her eyes on the ground.]
King Dushyant: [Again aside.] Happy man that I am! Now has my fancy an ample range. Yet, having heard the pleasantry of her companions on the subject of her nuptials, I am divided with anxious doubt, whether she be not wholly destined for a religious life.
Priyamvada: [Smiling, and looking first at Shakuntala, then at the king.] Our lord seems desirous of asking other questions.
[Shakuntala rebukes Priyamvada with her hand.]
King Dushyant: You know my very heart. I am, indeed, eager to learn the whole of this charmer's life; and must put one question more.
Priyamvada: Why should you muse on it so long? –[Aside.] One would think this religious man was forbidden by his vows to court a pretty woman.
King Dushyant: This I ask. Is the strict rule of a hermit so far to be observed by Kanva, that he cannot dispose of his daughter in marriage, but must check the natural impulse of juvenile love? Can she (oh preposterous fate!) be destined to reside for life among her favourite antelopes, the black lustre of whose eyes is far surpassed by hers?
Priyamvada. Hitherto, Sir, our friend has lived happily in this consecrated forest, the abode of her spiritual father; but it is now his intention to unite her with a bridegroom equal to herself.
King Dushyant: [Aside, with ecstasy.] Exult, oh my heart, exult. All doubt is removed; and what before thou could have dreaded as a flame, may now be approached as a gem inestimable.
Shakuntala. [Seemingly angry.] Anusúuya I will stay here no longer.
Anusuya. Why so, I pray?
Shakuntala. I will go to the holy matron Gautami, and let her know how impertinently our Priyamvada has been prattling. [She rises.]
Anusuya. It will not be decent, my love, for an inhabitant of this hallowed wood to retire before a guest has received complete honour. [Shakuntala, giving no answer to go.]
King Dushyant: [Aside.] Is she then departing? –[He rises, as if going to stop her, but check himself.] –The actions of a passionate lover are as precipitate as his mind is agitated. Thus I, whose passion impelled me to follow the hermit's daughter, am restrained by a sense of duty.
Priyamvada. [Going upto Shakuntala} My angry friend, you must not retire.
Shakuntala: [Stepping back and frowning.] What should detain me?
Priyamvada. You owe me the labour, according to our agreement, of watering two more shrubs. Pay me first, to acquit your conscience, and then depart, if you please. [Holding her.]
King Dushyant: The damsel is fatigued, I imagine, by pouring so much water on the cherished plants. Her arms, graced with palms like fresh blossoms, hang carelessly down; her bosom heaves with strong breathing; and now her dishevelled locks, from which the string has dropped, are held by one of her lovely hands. Suffer me, therefore, thus to discharge the debt. –[Giving his ring to Priyamvada Both damsels, reading the name Dushyant, inscribed on the ring, look surprised at each other.] –It is a toy unworthy of your fixed attention; but I value it as a gift from the king.
Priyamvada. Then you ought not, Sir, to part with it. Her debt is from this moment discharged on your word only. [She returns the ring.]
Anusuya. You are now released, Shakuntala, by this benevolent lord –or favoured, perhaps, by a monarch himself. To what place will you now retire?
Shakuntala: [Aside.] Must I not wonder at all this if I preserve my senses?
Priyamvada: Are not you going, Shakuntala?
Shakuntala: Am I your subject? I shall go when it pleases me.
King Dushyant: [Aside, looking at Shakuntala] Either she is affected towards me, as I am towards her, or I am distracted with joy. She mingles not her discourse with mine; yet, when I speak, she listens attentively. She commands not her actions in my presence; and her eyes are engaged on me alone.
[Behind the scenes.] Oh pious hermits, preserve the animals of this hallowed forest! The king Dushyanta is hunting in it. The dust raised by the hoofs of his horses, which pound tile pebbles ruddy as early dawn, falls like a swarm of blighting insects on the consecrated boughs which sustain your mantles of woven bark, moist with the water of the stream in which you have bathed.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] Alas! my officers, who are searching for me, have indiscreetly disturbed this holy retreat.
[Again behind the scenes.] Beware, ye hermits, of yon elephant, who comes overturning all that oppose him; now he fixes his trunk with violence on a lofty branch that obstructs his way; and now he is entangled in the twining stalks of the Vratati. How are our sacred rites interrupted! How are the protected herds dispersed! The wild elephant, alarmed at the new appearance of a car, lays our forest waste.
King Dushyant: [Aside.] How unwillingly am I offending the devout forests! Yes; I must go to them instantly.
Priyamvada: Noble stranger, we are confounded with dread of the enraged elephant. With your permission, therefore, we retire to the hermit's cottage.
Anusuya. O Shakuntala, the venerable matron will be much distressed on your account. Come quickly, that we may be all safe together.
Shakuntala: [Walking slowly.] I am stopped, alas! by a sudden pain in my side.
King Dushyant: Be not alarmed, amiable damsels. It shall be my care that no disturbance happen in your sacred groves.
Priyamvada: Excellent stranger, we were wholly unacquainted with your station, and you will forgive us, we hope, for the offence of intermitting awhile the honours due to you: but we humbly request that you will give us once more the pleasure of seeing you, though you have not now been received with perfect hospitality.
King Dushyant: You depreciate your own merits. The sight of you, sweet damsels, has sufficiently honoured me.
Shakuntala: My foot, O Anusúya is hurt by this painted blade of Kusha grass; and now my loose vest of bark is caught by a branch of the Curuvaca. Help me to disentangle myself, and support me. [She goes out, looking from time to time at Dushmanta, and supported by the damsels.]
King Dushyant: [Sighing.] They are all departed; and I too, alas! must depart. For how short a moment have I been blessed with a sight of the incomparable Shakuntala I will send my attendants to the city, and take my station at no great distance from this forest. I cannot, in truth, divert my mind from the sweet occupation of gazing on her. How, indeed, should I otherwise occupy it? My body moves onward; but my restless heart runs back to her; like a light flag borne on a staff against the wind, and fluttering in an opposite direction.[He goes out.]
Solomon on the Vanity of the World, A Poem. In Three Books. - Power. Book III.
Solomon considers man through the several stages and conditions of life, and concludes, in general, that we are all miserable. He reflects more particularly upon the trouble and uncertainty of greatness and power; gives some instances thereof from Adam down to himself; and still concludes that All Is Vanity. He reasons again upon life, death, and a future being; finds human wisdom too imperfect to resolve his doubts; has recourse to religion; is informed by an angel what shall happen to himself, his family, and his kingdom, till the redemption of Israel; and, upon the whole, resolves to submit his inquiries and anxieties to the will of his Creator.
Come then, my soul: I call thee by that name,
Thou busy thing, from whence I know I am;
For, knowing that I am, I know thou art,
Since that must needs exist which can impart:
But how thou camest to be, or whence thy spring,
For various of thee priests and poets sing.
Hearest thou submissive, but a lowly birth,
Some secret particles of finer earth,
A plain effect which Nature must beget,
As motion orders, and as atoms meet,
Companion of the body's good or ill,
From force of instinct more than choice of will,
Conscious of fear or valour, joy or pain,
As the wild courses of the blood ordain;
Who, as degrees of heat and cold prevail,
In youth dost flourish, and with age shalt fail,
Till, mingled with thy partner's latest breath,
Thou fliest, dissolved in air and lost in death.
Or, if thy great existence would aspire
To causes more sublime, of heavenly fire
Wert thou a spark struck off, a separate ray,
Ordain'd to mingle with terrestrial clay,
With it condemn'd for certain years to dwell,
To grieve its frailties, and its pains to feel,
To teach it good and ill, disgrace or fame,
Pale it with rage, or redden it with shame,
To guide its actions with informing care,
In peace to judge, to conquer in the war;
Render it agile, witty, valiant, sage,
As fits the various course of human age,
Till, as the earthly part decays and falls,
The captive breaks her prison's mouldering walls,
Hovers awhile upon the sad remains,
Which now the pile or sepulchre contains,
And thence, with liberty unbounded, flies,
Impatient to regain her native skies?
Whate'er thou art, where'er ordain'd to go,
(Points which we rather may dispute than know)
Come on, thou little inmate of this breast,
Which for thy sake from passions'l divest
For these, thou say'st, raise all the stormy strife,
Which hinder thy repose, and trouble life;
Be the fair level of thy actions laid
As temperance wills and prudence may persuade
By thy affections undisturb'd and clear,
Guided to what may great or good appear,
And try if life be worth the liver's care.
Amass'd in man, there justly is beheld
What through th whole creation has excell'd,
The angel's forecast and intelligence:
Say, from these glorious seeds what harvest flows?
Recount our blessings, and compare our woes:
In its true light let clearest reason see
The man dragg'd out to act, and forced to be;
Helpless and naked, on a woman's knees,
To be exposed or rear'd as she may please,
Feel her neglect, and pine from her disease:
His tender eye by too direct a ray
Wounded, and flying from unpractised day;
His heart assaulted by invading air,
And beating fervent to the vital war;
To his young sense how various forms appear,
That strike this wonder, and excite his fear;
By his distortions he reveals his pains;
He by his tears and by his sighs complains,
Till time and use assist the infant wretch,
By broken words, and rudiments of speech,
His wants in plainer characters to show,
And paint more perfect figures of his wo,
Condemn'd to sacrifice his childish years
To babbling ignorance, and to empty fears;
To pass the riper period of his age,
Acting his part upon a crowded stage;
To lasting toils exposed, and endless cares,
To open dangers, and to secret snares;
To malice which the vengeful foe intends,
And the more dangerous love of seeming friends:
His deeds examined by the people's will.
Prone to forget the good, and blame the ill;
Or, sadly censured in their cursed debate,
Who, in the scorner's or the judge's seat
Dare to condemn the virtue which they hate:
Or would he rather leave this frantic scene,
And trees and beasts prefer to courts and men,
In the remotest wood and lonely grot
Certain to meet that worst of evils, thought,
Different ideas to his memory brought,
Some intricate, as are the pathless woods,
Impetuous some, as the descending floods;
With anxious doubts, with raging passions torn,
No sweet companion near with whom to mourn,
He hears the echoing rock return his sighs,
And from himself the frighted hermit flies.
Thus, through what path soe'er of life we rove,
Rage companies our hate, and grief our love;
Vex'd with the present moment's heavy gloom,
Why seek we brightness from the years to come?
Disturb'd and broken, like a sick man's sleep,
Our troubled thoughts to distant prospects leap,
Desirous still what flies us to o'ertake;
For hope is but the dream of those that wake:
But looking back we see the dreadful train
Of woes, anew, which, were we to sustain,
We should refuse to tread the path again:
Still adding grief, still counting from the first,
Judging the latest evil still the worst,
And sadly finding each progressive hour
Heighten their number and augment their power,
Till by one countless sum of woes oppress'd,
Hoary with cares, and ignorant of rest,
We find the vital springs relax'd and worn,
Compell'd our common impotence to mourn:
Thus, through the round of age, to childhood we return;
Reflecting find, that naked, from the womb
We yesterday came forth; that in the tomb
Naked again we must to-morrow lie,
Born to lament, to labour, and to die.
Pass we the ills which each man feels or dreads,
The weight or fall'n or hanging o'er our heads;
The bear, the lion, terrors of the plain,
The sheepfold scatter'd, and the shepherd slain;
The frequent errors of the pathless wood,
The giddy precipice, and the dangerous flood;
The noisome pestilence, that in open war
Terrible, marches through the mid-way air,
And scatters death; the arrow that by night
Cuts the dank mist, and fatal wings its flight;
The billowing snow, and violence of the shower,
That from the hills disperse their dreadful store,
And o'er the vales collected ruin pour;
The worm that gnaws the ripening fruit, sad guest,
Canker or locust, hurtful to infest
The blade; while husks elude the tiller's care,
And eminence of want distinguishes the year.
Pass we the slow disease, and subtile pain
Which our weak frame is destined to sustain;
The cruel stone with congregated war,
Tearing his bloody way; the cold catarrh,
With frequent impulse, and continued strife
Weakening the wasted seeds of irksome life;
The gout's fierce rack, the burning fever's rage,
The sad experience of decay and age,
Herself the sorest ill, while death and ease,
Oft and in vain invoked, or to appease
Or end the grief, with hasty wings recede
From the vex'd patient and the sickly bed.
Nought shall it profit that the charming fair,
Angelic, softest work of Heaven, draws near
To the cold shaking paralytic hand,
Senseless of Beauty's touch, or Love's command,
No longer apt or able to fulfil
The dictates of its feeble master's will.
Nought shall the psaltery and the harp avail,
The pleasing song, or well-repeated tale,
When the quick spirits their warm march forbear,
And numbing coldness has unbraced the ear.
The verdant rising of the flowery hill,
The vale enamell'd, and the crystal rill,
The ocean rolling, and the shelly shore,
Beautiful objects, shall delight no more,
When the lax'd sinews of the weaken'd eye
Day follows night; the clouds return again
After the falling of the latter rain;
But to the aged blind shall ne'er return
Grateful vicissitude; he still must mourn,
The sun, and moon, and every starry light,
Eclipsed to him, and lost in everlasting night.
Behold where Age's wretched victim lies;
See his head trembling, and his half-closed eyes;
Frequent for breath his panting bosom heaves;
To broken sleeps his remnant sense he gives,
And only by his pains awaking finds he lives.
Loosed by devouring Time, the silver cord
Dissever'd lies; unhonour'd from the board
The crystal urn, when broken, is thrown by,
And apter utensils their place supply.
These things and thou must share one equal lot;
Die and be lost, corrupt and be forgot;
While still another and another race
Shall now supply and now give up the place.
From earth all came, to earth must all return,
Frail as the cord, and brittle as the urn.
But the terror of these ills suppress'd,
And view we man with health and vigour bless'd.
Home he returns with the declining sun,
His destined task of labour hardly done;
Goes forth again with the ascending ray,
Again his travail for his bread to pay,
And find the ill sufficient to the day.
Haply at night he does with honour shun
A widow'd daughter, or a dying son;
His neighbour's offspring he to-morrow sees,
And doubly feels his want in their increase:
The next day, and the next, he must attend
His foe triumphant, or his buried friend.
In every act and turn of life he feels
Public calamities, or household ills;
The due reward to just desert refused,
The trust betray'd, the nuptial bed abused:
The judge corrupt, the long-depending cause,
And doubtful issue of misconstrued laws:
The crafty turns of a dishonest state,
And violent will of the wrong-doing great;
The venom'd tongue, injurious to his fame,
Which nor can wisdom shun nor fair advice reclaim.
Esteem we these, my friend, event and chance,
Produced as atoms form their fluttering dance?
Or higher yet their essence may we draw
From destined order and eternal law?
Again, my Muse, the cruel doubt repeat?
Spring they, I say, from accident or fate?
Yet such we find they are, as can control
The servile actions of our wavering soul;
Can fright, can alter, or can chain the will;
Their ills all built on life, that fundamental ill.
O fatal search! in which the labouring mind,
Still press'd with weight of wo, still hopes to find
A shadow of delight, a dream of peace,
From years of pain one moment of release;
Hoping, at least, she may herself deceive,
Against experience willing to believe,
Desirous to rejoice, condemn'd to grieve,
Happy the mortal man who now at last
Has through this doleful vale of misery pass'd,
Who to his destined stage has carried on
The tedious load, and laid his burden down;
Whom the cut brass or wounded marble shows
Victor o'er Life, and all her train of woes:
He happier yet, who privileged by Fate
To shorter labour and a lighter weight,
Received but yesterday the gift of breath,
Order'd to-morrow to return to death:
But, O! beyond description happiest he
Who ne'er must roll on life's tumultuous sea;
Exempt, must never force the teeming womb,
Nor see the sun, nor sink into the tomb.
Who breathes must suffer, and who thinks must mourn!
And he alone is bless'd who ne'er was born.
'Yet in thy turn, thou frowning Preacher, hear;
Are not these general maxims too severe?
Say, cannot power secure its owner's bliss?
Are victors bless'd with fame, or kings with ease?'
I tell thee, life is but one common care,
And man was born to suffer and to fear.
'But is no rank, no station, no degree,
From this contagious taint of sorrow free?'
None, mortal, none: yet in a bolder strain
Let me this melancholy truth maintain:
But hence, ye worldly and profane, retire,
For I adapt my voice and raise my lyre
To notions not by vulgar ear received;
Yet still must covet life, and be deceived;
Your very fear of death shall make you try
To catch the shade of immortality,
Wishing on earth to linger, and to save
Part of its prey from the devouring grave;
To those who may survive ye to bequeath
Something entire, in spite of time and death;
A fancied kind of being to retrieve,
And in a book, or from a building live.
False hope! vain labour! let some ages fly,
The dome shall moulder, and the volume die.
Wretches, still taught! still will ye think it strange
That all the parts of this great fabric change.
Quit their high station and primeval frame,
And lose their shape, their essence and their name?
Reduce the song; our hopes, our joys, are vain;
Our lot is sorrow, and our portion pain.
What pause from wo, what hopes of comfort bring
The name of wise or great, of judge or king?
What is a king? a man condemn'd to bear
The public burden of the nation's care;
Now crown'd, some angry faction to appease,
Now falls a victim to the people's ease;
From the first blooming of his ill-taught youth
Nourish'd flattery, and estranged from truth:
At home surrounded by a servile crowd,
Prompt to abuse, and in detraction loud;
Abroad begirt with men, and swords and spears,
His very state acknowledging his fears;
Marching amidst a thousand guards, he shows
His secret terror of a thousand foes;
In war, however prudent, great, or brave,
To blind events and fickle chance a slave;
Seeking to settle what for ever flies,
Sure of the toil, uncertain of the prize.
But he returns with conquest on his brow,
Brings up the triumph, and absolves the vow:
The captive generals to his car are tied;
The joyful citizens, tumultuous tide,
Echoing his glory, gratify his pride.
What is this triumph? madness, shouts, and noise,
One great collection of the people's voice.
The wretches he brings back, in chains relate
What may to-morrow be the victor's fate.
The spoils and trophies borne before him show
National loss and epidemic wo,
Various distress which he and his may know.
Does he not mourn the valiant thousands slain,
The heroes, once the glory of the plain,
Left in the conflict of the fatal day,
Or the wolf's portion, or the vulture's prey?
Does he not weep the laurel which he wears,
Wet with the soldiers' blood and widows tears?
See where he comes, the darting of the war!
See millions crowding round the gilded car!
In the vast joys of this ecstatic hour,
And full fruition of successful power,
One moment and one thought might let him scan
The various turns of life, and fickle state of man.
Are the dire images of sad distrust,
And popular change, obscured amid the dust
That rises from the victor's rapid wheel?
Can the loud clarion or shrill life repel
The inward cries of Care? can Nature's voice,
Plaintive, be drown'd, or lessen'd in the noise,
Though shouts, as thunder loud, afflict the air,
Stun the birds, now released, and shake the ivory chair?
Yon crowd, (he might reflect) yon joyful crowd,
Pleased with my honours, in my praise loud,
(Should fleeting victory to the vanquish'd go,
Should she depress my arms and raise the foe)
Would for that foe with equal ardour wait,
At the high palace or the crowded gate,
With restless rage would pull my statues down,
And cast the brass anew to his renown.
O impotent desire of worldly sway!
That I who make the triumph of to-day,
May of to-morrow's pomp one part appear,
Ghastly with wounds, and lifeless on the bier!
Then, (vileness of mankind!) then of all these
Whom my dilated eye with labour sees,
Would one, alas! repeat me good or great,
Wash my pale body, or bewail my fate?
Or, march'd I chain'd behind the hostile car,
The victor's pastime, and the sport of war,
Would one, would one his pitying sorrow lend,
Or be so poor to own he was my friend?
Avails it then, O Reason, to be wise?
To see this cruel scene with quicker eyes?
To know with more distinction to complain,
And have superior sense in feeling pain?
Let us resolve, that roll with strictest eye,
Where safe from time distinguish'd actions lie,
And judge if greatness be exempt from pain,
Or pleasure ever may with power remain.
Adam, great type, for whom the world was made,
The fairest blessing to his arms convey'd,
A charming wife; and air, and sea, and land,
And all that move therein, to his command
Render'd obedient: say, my pensive Muse,
What did these golden promises produce?
Scarce tasting life he was of joy bereaved;
One day I think in Paradise he lived,
Destined the next his journey to pursue
Where wounding thorns and cursed thistles grew.
Ere yet he earns his bread, adown his brow,
Inclined to earth, his labouring sweat must flow;
His limbs must ache, with daily toils oppress'd,
Ere long-wish'd night brings necessary rest:
Still viewing with regret his darling Eve,
He for her follies and his own must grieve.
Bewailing still afresh their hapless choice,
His ear oft frighted with the imaged voice,
Of Heaven when first it thundere'd, oft his view,
Aghast, as when the infant lightning flew,
And the stern cherub stopp'd the fatal road,
Arm'd with the flames of an avenging God,
His younger son on the polluted ground,
First fruit of death, lies plaintive of a wound
Given by a brother's hand; his eldest birth
Flies, mark'd by Heaven, a fugitive o'er earth:
Yet why these sorrows heap'd upon the sire,
Becomes nor man nor angel to inquire.
Each age sinn'd on, and guild advanced with time;
The son still added to the father's crime;
Till God arose, and, great in anger, said,
Lo! it repenteth me that man was made.
And from your deep abyss, ye waters, rise!
The frighted angels heard th' Almighty Lord,
And o'er the earth from wrathful vials pour'd
Tempests and storm, obedient to his word.
Meantime his providence to Noah gave
The guard of all that he design'd to save:
Exempt from general doom the patriarch stood,
Contemn'd the waves, and triumph'd o'er the flood.
The winds fall silent and the waves decrease;
The dove brings quiet, and the clive peace;
Yet still his heart does inward sorrow feel,
Which faith alone forbids him to reveal.
If on the backward world his views are cast,
'Tis death diffused, and universal waste.
Present, (sad prospect!) can he ought descry
But (what affects his melancholy eye)
The beauties of the ancient fabric lost,
In chains of craggy hill, or lengths of dreary coast?
While to high heaven his pious breathings turn'd,
Weeping he hoped, and sacrificing mourn'd;
When of God's image only eight he found
Snatch'd from the watery grave, and saved from nations drown'd;
And of three sons, the future hopes of earth,
The seed whence empires must receive their birth,
One he foresees excluded heavenly grace,
And mark'd with curses fatal to his race.
Abraham, potent prince, the friend of God,
Of human ills must bear the destined load,
By blood and battles must his power maintain,
And slay the monarchs ere he rules the plain;
Must deal just portions of a servile life
To a proud handmaid and a peevish wife;
Must with the mother leave the weeping son,
In want to wander and in wilds to groan;
Must take his other child, his age's hope,
To trembling Moriah's melancholy top,
Order'd to drench his knife in filial blood,
Destroy his heir, or disobey his God.
Moses beheld that God; but how beheld
The Deity, in radiant beams conceal'd,
And clouded in a deep abyss of light!
While present too severe for human sight,
Nor staying longer than one swift-wing'd night
The following days, and months, and years, decreed
To fierce encounter, and to toilsome deed:
His youth with wants and hardships must engage,
Plots and rebellions must disturb his age:
Some Corah still arose, some rebel slave,
Prompter to sink the state than he to save,
And Israel did his rage so far provoke,
That what the Godhead wrote the prophet broke.
His voice scarce heard, his dictates scarce believed,
In camps, in arms, in pilgrimage, he lived,
And died obedient to severest law,
Forbid to tread the Promised land he saw.
My father's life was one long line of care,
A scene of danger and a state of war.
The bear's rough gripe and foaming lion's rage,
By various turns his threaten'd youth must fear
Goliath's lifted sword and Saul's emitted spear.
Forlorn he must, and persecuted, fly,
Climb the steep mountain, in the cavern lie,
And often ask, and be refused to die.
For ever from his manly toils are known
The weight of power and anguish of a crown.
What tongue can speak the restless monarch's woes,
When God and Nathan were declared his foes?
When every object his offence reviled,
The husband murder'd and the wife defiled,
The parent's sins impress'd upon the dying child!
What heart can think the grief which he sustain',d
When the King's crime brought vengeance on the land,
And the inexorable prophet's voice
Give famine, plague, or war, and bid him fix his choice?
He died; and, oh! may no reflection shed
Its poisonous venom on the royal dead:
Yet the unwilling truth must be express'd
Which long has labour'd in this pensive breast;
Dying he added to my weight of care;
He made me to his crimes undoubted heir;
Left his unfinish'd murder to his son,
And Joab's blood entail'd on Judah's crown.
Young as I was, I hasted to fulfil
The cruel dictates of my parent's will:
Of his fair deeds a distant view I took,
But turn'd the tube upon his faults to look;
Forgot his youth spent in his country's cause,
His care of right, his reverence to the laws,
But could with joy his years of folly trace,
Broken and old in Bathsheba's embrace
Could follow him where'er he stray'd from good,
And cite his sad example, whilst I trod
Paths open to deceit, and track'd with blood.
With smiles I could betray, with temper kill;
Soon in a brother could a rival view,
Watch all his acts, and all his ways pursue:
In vain for life he to the altar fled;
Ambition and Revenge have certain speed.
Even there, my soul, even there he should have fell,
But that my interest did my rage conceal:
Doubling my crime I promise and deceive,
Purpose to slay, whilst swearing to forgive.
Treaties, persuasions, sighs, and tears, are vain
With a mean lie cursed vengeance I sustain.
Join fraud to force, and policy to power,
Till of the destined fugitive secure,
In solemn state to parricide I rise,
And, as God lives, this day my brother dies.
Be witness to my tears, celestial Muse!
In vain I would forget, in vain excuse,
Fraternal blood by my direction spilt;
In vain on Joab's head transfer the guilt:
The deed was acted by the subject's hand,
The sword was pointed by the King's command:
Mine was the murder; it was mine alone;
Years of contrition must the crime atone:
Nor can my guilty soul expect relief
But from a long sincerity of grief.
With an imperfect hand and trembling heart,
Her love of truth superior to her art,
Already the reflecting Muse has traced
The mournful figures of my actions past,
The pensive goddess has already taught
How vain is hope, and how vexatious thought;
From growing childhood to declining age,
How tedious every step, how gloomy every stage,
This course of vanity almost complete,
Tired in the field of life, I hope retreat
In the still shades of death; for dread, and pain,
And grief, will find their shafts elanced in vain,
And their points broke, retorted from the head,
Safe in the grave, and free among the dead.
Yet tell me, frighted reason! what is death?
Blood only stopp'd, and interrupted breath?
The utmost limit of a narrow span,
And end of motion, which with life began?
As smoke that rises from the kindling fires
Is seen this moment, and the next expires;
As empty clouds by rising winds are lost,
Their fleeting forms scarce sooner found than lost,
So vanishes our state, so pass our days,
So life but opens now, and now decays;
The cradle and the tomb, alas! so nigh,
To live is scarce distinguish'd from to die.
Cure of the miser's wish and coward's fear,
Death only shows us what we knew was near,
With courage therefore view the pointed hour,
Dread not Death's anger, but expect his power,
Nor Nature's law with fruitless sorrow mourn,
But die, O mortal man! for thou wast born.
Cautious through doubt, by want of courage wise,
To such advice the reasoner still replies.
Yet measuring all the long continued space,
Every successive day's repeated race,
Since Time first started from his pristine goal,
Till he had reach'd that hour wherein my soul
Join'd to my body swell'd the womb, I was
(At least I think so) nothing; must I pass
Again to nothing when this vital breath
Ceasing, consigns me o'er to rest and death?
Must the whole man, amazing thought! return
To the cold marble or contracted urn?
And never shall those particles agree
That were in life this individual he?
But sever'd, must they join the general mass,
Through other forms and shapes ordain'd to pass,
Nor thought nor image kept of what he was?
Does the great word that gave him sense ordain
That life shall never wake that sense again?
And will no power his sinking spirits save
From the dark caves of death, and chambers of the grave?
Each evening I behold the setting sun
With downward speed into the ocean run;
Yet the same light (pass but some fleeting hours)
Exerts his vigour and renews his powers;
Starts the bright race again: his constant flame
Rises and sets, returning still the same.
I mark the various fury of the winds;
These neither seasons guide nor order binds;
They now dilate, and now contract their force;
Various their speed, but endless is their course,
From his first fountain and beginning ooze,
Down to the sea each brook and torrent flows;
Though sundry drops or leave or swell the stream,
The whole still runs, with equal pace the same;
Still other waves supply the rising urns,
And the eternal flood no want of water mourns.
Why then must man obey the sad decree,
Which subjects neither sun, nor wind, nor sea?
A flower that does with opening morn arise,
And flourishing the day at evening dies;
A winged eastern blast, just skimming o'er
The ocean's brow, and sinking on the shore;
A fire, whose flames through crackling stubbles fly;
A meteor shooting from the summer sky;
A bowl adown the bending mountain roll'd;
A bubble breaking, and a fable told;
A noontide shadow, and a midnight dream,
Are emblems which with semblance apt proclaim
Our earthly course; but, O my Soul! so fast
Must life run off, and death for ever last!
This dark opinion sure is too confined,
Else whence this hope and terror of the mind?
Does something still, and somewhere, yet remain,
Reward or punishment, delight or pain?
Say, shall our relics second birth receive?
Sleep we to wake, and only die to live?
When the sad wife has closed her husband's eyes,
And pierced the echoing vault with doleful cries,
Lies the pale corpse not yet entirely dead,
The spirit only from the body fled,
The grosser part of heat and motion void,
To be by fire, or worm, or time, destroy'd;
The soul, immortal substance, to remain
Conscious of joy and capable of pain?
And if her acts have been directed well,
While with her friendly clay she deign'd to dwell,
Shall she with safety reach her pristine seat,
Find her rest endless, and her bliss complete?
And while the buried man we idly mourn,
Do angels joy to see his better half return?
But if she has deform'd this earthly life
With murderous rapine and seditious strife,
Amazed, repulsed, and by those angels driven
From the ethereal seat and blissful heaven,
In everlasting darkness must she lie,
Still more unhappy that she cannot die?
Amid two seas, on one small point of land,
Wearied, uncertain, and amazed, we stand;
On either side our thoughts incessant turn,
Forward we dread, and looking back we mourn,
Losing the present in this dubious haste,
And lost ourselves betwixt the future and the past.
These cruel doubts contending in my breast,
My reason staggering and my hopes oppress'd,
Once more I said, once more I will inquire,
What is this little, agile, pervious fire,
This flattering motion which we call the Mind,
How does she act? and where is she confined?
Have we the power to give her as we please?
Whence then those evils that obstruct our ease?
We happiness pursue: we fly from pain;
Yet the pursuit and yet the flight is vain;
And while poor Nature labours to be bless'd,
By day with pleasure, and by night with rest,
Some stronger power eludes our sickly will,
Dashes our rising hope with certain ill,
And makes us, with reflective trouble, see
That all is destined which we fancy free.
That power superior then which rules our mind,
Is his decree by human prayer inclined?
Will he for sacrifice our sorrows ease!
And can our tears reverse his firm decrees?
Then let religion aid where reason fails,
Throw loads of incense in to turn the scales,
And let the silent sanctuary show,
What from the babbling schools we may not know,
How man may shun or bear his destined part of wo.
What shall amend, or what absolve our fate?
Anxious we hover in a mediate state
Betwixt infinity and nothing; bounds,
Or boundless terms, whose doubtful sense confounds:
Unequal thought, whilst all we apprehend
Is, that our hopes must rise, our sorrows end,
As our Creator deigns to be our friend.
I said, - and instant bade the priests prepare
The ritual sacrifice and solemn prayer.
Select from vulgar herds, with garlands gay,
A hundred bulls ascend the sacred way:
The artful youth proceed to form the choir,
They breathe the flute, or strike the vocal wire.
The maids in comely order next advance,
They beat the timbrel and instruct the dance:
Follows the chosen tribe, from Levi sprung,
Chanting by just return the holy song.
Along the choir in solemn state they pass'd,
- The anxious King came last.
The sacred hymn perform'd, my promised vow
I paid, and, bowing at the altar low.
Father of heaven! I said, and Judge of earth!
Whose word call'd out this universe to birth,
By whose kind power and influencing care
The various creatures move, and live, and are;
But ceasing once that care, withdrawn that power,
They move (alas!) and live, and are no more;
Omniscient Master, omnipresent King,
To thee, to thee my last distress I bring.
Thou that canst still the raging of the seas,
Chain up the winds, and bid the tempests cease,
Redeem my shipwreck'd soul from raging gusts
Of cruel passion and deceitful lusts;
From storms of rage and dangerous rocks of pride,
Let thy strong hand this little vessel guide,
(It was thy hand that made it) through the tide
Impetuous of this life, let thy command
Direct my course, and bring me safe to land.
If, while this wearied flesh draws fleeting breath,
Not satisfied with life, afraid of death,
It haply be thy will that I should know
Glimpse of delight, or pause from anxious wo,
From now, from instant now, great Sire! dispel
The clouds that press my soul; from now reveal
A gracious beam of light; from now inspire
My tongue to sing, my hand to touch the lyre;
My open'd thought to joyous prospects raise,
And for thy mercy let me sing thy praise:
Or, if thy will ordains, I still shall wait
Some new hereafter and a future state,
Permit me strength my weight of wo to bear,
And raise my mind superior to my care.
Let me, howe'er unable to explain
The secret lab'rinths of thy ways to man,
With humble zeal confess thy awful power,
Still weeping hope, and wondering, still adore:
So in my conquest be thy might declared,
And for thy justice be thy name revered.
My prayer scarce ended, a stupendous gloom
Darkens the air; loud thunder shakes the dome:
To the beginning miracle succeed
An awful silence and religious dread.
Sudden breaks forth a more than common day,
The sacred wood, which on the alter lay
Untouch'd, unlighted glows -
Ambrosial odour, such as never flows
From Arab's gum or the Sabaean rose,
Does round the air evolving scents diffuse:
The holy ground is wet with heavenly dews:
Celestial music (such Jessides' lyre,
Such Miriam's timbrel would in vain require)
Strikes to my thought through admiring ear,
With ecstasy too fine, and pleasure hard to bear:
And, lo! what sees my ravish'd eye? what feels
My wondering soul? an opening cloud reveals
A heavenly form embodied and array'd
With robes of light, I heard; the angel said,
Cease, Man, of women born, to hope relief
From daily trouble and continued grief.
Thy hope of joy deliver to the wind:
Suppress thy passions, and prepare thy mind.
Free and familiar with misfortune grow;
Be used to sorrow, and inured to wo.
By weakening toil and hoary age o'ercome,
See thy decrease, and hasting to thy tomb.
Leave to thy children tumult, strife, and war,
Portions of toil, and legacies of care:
Send the successive ills through ages down,
And let each weeping father tell his son
That, deeper struck, and more distinctly grieved,
He must augment the sorrows he received.
The child to whose success thy hope is bound,
Ere thou art scarce interr'd or he is crown'd,
To lust of arbitrary sway inclined,
(That cursed poison to the prince's mind!)
Shall from thy dictates and his duty rove,
And lose his great defence, his people's love:
Ill counsell'd, vanquish'd, fugitive, disgraced,
Shall mourn the fame of Jacob's strength effaced:
Shall sigh the King diminish'd, and the crown
With lessen'd rays descending to his son:
Shall see the wreaths his grandsire knew to reap
By active toil and military sweat,
Rining incline their sickly leaves, and shed
Their falling honours from his giddy head:
By arms or prayer unable to assuage
Domestic horror and intestine rage,
Shall from the victor and the vanquish'd fear,
From Israel's arrow and from Judah's spear:
Shall cast his wearied limbs on Jordan's flood,
By brothers' arms disturb'd, and stain'd with kindred blood.
Hence labouring years shall weep their destined race,
Charged with ill omens, sully'd with disgrace;
Time, by necessity compell'd, shall go
Through scenes of war, and epochas of wo:
The empire lessen',d in a parted stream
Shall lose its course -
Indulge thy tears; the Heathen shall blaspheme;
Judah shall fall, oppress'd by grief and shame,
And men shall from her ruins know her fame.
New Egypts yet and second bonds remain,
A harsher Pharaoh, and a heavier chain.
Again, obedient to a dire command,
Thy captive sons shall leave the promised land;
Their name more low, their servitude more vile,
Shall on Euphrates' bank renew the grief of Nile.
These pointed spires that wound the ambient sky,
Inglorious change shall in destruction lie
Low, levell'd with the dust, their heights unknown,
Or measured by their ruin. Yonder throne,
For lasting glory built, design'd the seat
Of kings for ever bless'd, for ever great,
Removed by the invader's barbarous hand,
Shall grace his triumph in a foreign land:
The tyrant shall demand yon' sacred load
Of gold and vessels set apart to God,
Then by bile hands to common use debased,
Shall send them flowing round his drunken feast,
With sacrilegious taunt and impious jest.
Twice fourteen ages shall their way complete,
Empires by various turns shall rise and set,
While thy abandon'd tribes shall only know
A different master and a change of wo;
With downcast eyelids, and with looks aghast,
Shall dread the future or bewail the past.
Afflicted Israel shall sit weeping down,
Fast by the streams where Babel's waters run,
Their harps upon the neighbouring willows hung,
Nor joyous hymn encouraging their tongue,
Nor cheerful dance their feet; with toil oppress'd,
Their wearied limbs aspiring but to rest.
In the reflective stream the sighing bride,
Viewing her charms impair'd, abash'd shall hide
Her pensive head, and in her languid face
The bridegroom shall foresee his sickly race,
While ponderous fetters vex their close embrace
With irksome anguish then your priests shall mourn
Their long neglected feasts despair'd return,
And sad oblivion of their solemn days:
Thenceforth their voices they shall only raise,
Louder to weep. By day your frighted seers
Shall call for fountains to express their tears,
And wish their eyes were floods: by night, from dreams
Of opening gulfs, black storms, and raging flames,
Starting amazed, shall to the people show
Emblems of heavenly wrath, and mystic types of wo.
The captives, as their tyrant shall require
That they should breathe the song and touch the lyre,
Shall say, Can Jacob's servile race rejoice,
Untuned the music, and disused the voice?
What can we play, (they shall discourse) how sing
In foreign lands, and to a barbarous king?
We and our fathers, from our childhood bred
To watch the cruel victor's eye, to dread
The arbitrary lash, to bend, to grieve,
(Outcast of mortal race) can we conceive
Image of ought delightful, soft, or gay?
Alas! when we have toil the longsome day,
The fullest bliss our hearts aspire to know,
Is but some interval from active wo;
In broken rest and startling sleep to mourn,
Till morn the tyrant and the scourge return:
Bred up in grief, can pleasure be our theme?
Our endless anguish does not nature claim?
Reason and sorrow are to us the same.
Alas! with wild amazement we require
If idle Folly was not Pleasure's sire?
Madness, we fancy, gave an ill-timed birth.
This is the series of perpetual wo
Which thou, alas! and thine, are born to know.
Illustrious wretch! repine not nor reply;
View not what Heaven ordains with reason's eye;
Too bright the object is, the distance is too high.
The man who would resolve the work of fate
May limit number and make crooked straight:
Stop thy inquiry, then, and curb thy sense,
'Tis God who must dispose and man sustain,
Born to endure, forbidden to complain:
Thy sum of life must his decrees fufil;
What derogates from his command is ill,
And that alone is good which centres in his will.
Yet that thy labouring senses may not droop,
Lost to delight, and destitute of hope,
Remark what I, God's messenger, aver
From him who neither can deceive nor err.
The land, at length redeem'd, shall cease to mourn,
Shall from her sad captivity return:
Sion shall raise her long-dejected head,
And in her courts the law again be read,
Again the glorious temple shall arise,
And with now lustre pierce the neighbouring skies:
The promised seat of empire shall again
Cover the mountain and command the plain;
And from thy race distinguish'd, One shall spring
Greater in act than victor, more than king;
In dignity and power sent down from heaven
To succour earth. To him, to him, 'tis given
Passion, and care, and anguish, to destroy;
Through him soft peace and plenitude of joy
Perpetual o'er the world redeem'd shall flow;
No more may man inquire or angel know.
Now, Solomon, remembering who thou art,
Act through thy remnant life a decent part:
Go forth; be strong; with patience and with care
Perform and suffer; to thyself severe,
Gracious to others, thy desires suppress'd,
Diffused thy virtues, first of men, be best.
Thy sum of duty let two words contain,
O may they graven in thy heart remain!
Be humble and be just. The angel said:
With upward speed his agile wings he spread,
Whilst on the holy ground I prostrate lay,
By various doubts impell'd, or to obey
Or to object; at length (my mournful look
Heavenward erect) determined, thus I spoke:
Supreme, all-wise, eternal Potentate!
Sole author, sole disposer, of our fate!
Enthroned in light and immortality,
Whom no man fully sees, and none can see!
Original of Beings! Power divine!
Since that I live, that I think, is thine;
Benign Creator! let thy plastic hand
Dispose its own effect: let thy command
Restore, great Father, thy instructed son,
And in my act may thy great will be done.