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While others not so satisfied unhorse
The gilded equipage, and turning loose
His steeds, usurp a place they well deserve.
Why? what has charm'd them? Hath he saved the state?
No. Doth he purpose its salvation? No.
Enchanting novelty, that moon at full,
That finds out every crevice of the head
That is not sound and perfect, hath in theirs
Wrought this disturbance. But the wane is near,
And his own cattle must suffice him soon.
Thus idly do we waste the breath of praise,
And dedicate a tribute, in its use
And just direction sacred, to a thing
Doom'd to the dust, or lodged already there.
Encomium in old time was poets' work;
But poets having lavishly long since
Exhausted all materials of the art,
The task now falls into the public hand.
And I, contented with an humble theme,
Have poured my stream of panegyric down
The vale of nature, where it creeps and winds
Among her lovely works, with a secure
And unambitious course, reflecting clear
If not the virtues yet the worth of brutes.
And I am recompensed, and deem the toils.
Of poetry not lost, if verse of mine
May stand between an animal and woe,
And teach one tyrant pity for his drudge.
The groans of nature in this nether world,
Which Heaven has heard for ages, have an end.
Foretold by prophets, and by poets sung
Whose fire was kindled at the prophets' lamp,
The time of rest, the promised sabbath comes.
Six thousand years of sorrow have well nigh
Fulfill'd their tardy and disastrous course
Over a sinful world. And what remains
Of this tempestuous state of human things,
Is merely as the working of a sea
Before a calm, that rocks itself to rest.
For He whose car the winds are, and the clouds
The dust that waits upon his sultry march
When sin hath moved him and his wrath is hot,
Shall visit earth in mercy; shall descend
Propitious, in his chariot paved with love,
And what his storms have blasted and defaced
For man's revolt, shall with a smile repair.
Sweet is the harp of prophecy: too sweet
Not to be wrong'd by a mere mortal touch;
Nor can the wonders it records be sung
To meaner music, and not suffer loss.
But when a poet, or when one like me,
Happy to rove among poetic flowers,
Though poor in skill to rear them, lights at last
On some fair theme, some theme divinely fair 20,
Such is the impulse and the spur he feels
To give it praise proportioned to its worth,
That not to attempt it, arduous as he deems
The labour, were a task more arduous still.
Oh scenes surpassing fable, and yet true, Scenes of accomplish'd bliss! which who can see 760 Though but in distant prospect, and not feel
20 True she is fair, oh how divinely fair!
His soul refresh'd with foretaste of the joy?
Rivers of gladness water all the earth,
And clothe all climes with beauty; the reproach
Of barrenness is past. The fruitful field"1
Laughs with abundance; and the land once lean,
Or fertile only in its own disgrace,
Exults to see its thistly curse repealed.
The various seasons woven into one,
And that one season an eternal spring,
The garden fears no blight, and needs no fence,
For there is none to covet, all are full.
The lion and the libbard and the bear
Graze with the fearless flocks. All bask at noon
Together, or all gambol in the shade
Of the same grove, and drink one common stream.
Antipathies are none. No foe to man
Lurks in the serpent now; the mother sees
And smiles to see her infant's playful hand
Stretch'd forth to dally with the crested worm,
To stroke his azure neck, or to receive
The lambent homage of his arrowy tongue.
All creatures worship man, and all mankind
One Lord, one Father. Error has no place;
That creeping pestilence is driven away,
The breath of heaven has chased it. In the heart
No passion touches a discordant string,
But all is harmony and love. Disease
Is not. The pure and uncontaminate blood
Holds its due course, nor fears the frost of age. 790
21 The folds shall be full of sheep: the valleys also shall stand so thick with corn that they shall laugh and sing.
One song employs all nations, and all cry
Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain for us!"
The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks
Shout to each other; and the mountain tops
From distant mountains catch the flying joy,
Till nation after nation taught the strain,
Each rolls the rapturous Hosanna round.
Behold the measure of the promise fill'd,
See Salem built, the labour of a God!
Bright as a sun the sacred city shines;
All kingdoms and all princes of the earth
Flock to that light; the glory of all lands
Flows into her, unbounded is her joy,
And endless her increase. Thy rams are there
Nebaioth, and the flocks of Kedar 22 there;
The looms of Ormus, and the mines of Ind23,
And Saba's spicy groves pay tribute there.
Praise is in all her gates. Upon her walls,
And in her streets, and in her spacious courts
Is heard salvation. Eastern Java there
Kneels with the native of the farthest West,
And Ethiopia spreads abroad the hand
And worships. Her report has travell❜d forth
Into all lands. From every clime they come
To see thy beauty, and to share thy joy
23 High on a throne of royal state which far Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind.
22 Nebaioth and Kedar, the sons of Ishmael and progenitors of the Arabs, in the prophetic scripture here alluded to, may be reasonably considered as representatives of the Gentiles at large. C.
O Sion! an assembly such as earth
Saw never, such as heaven stoops down to see.
Thus heavenward all things tend. For all were once Perfect, and all must be at length restored. So God has greatly purposed; who would else In his dishonoured works himself endure Dishonour, and be wrong'd without redress. Haste then, and wheel away a shatter'd world, Ye slow-revolving seasons! We would see (A sight to which our eyes are strangers yet,) A world that does not dread and hate his laws, And suffer for its crime: would learn how fair The creature is that God pronounces good, How pleasant in itself what pleases him. Here every drop of honey hides a sting; Worms wind themselves into our sweetest flowers, And even the joy that haply some poor heart Derives from heaven, pure as the fountain is, Is sullied in the stream; taking a taint From touch of human lips, at best impure. Oh for a world in principle as chaste As this is gross and selfish! over which Custom and prejudice shall bear no sway That govern all things here, shouldering aside The meek and modest truth, and forcing her To seek a refuge from the tongue of strife In nooks obscure, far from the ways of men Where violence shall never lift the sword, Nor cunning justify the proud man's wrong,
Par. Lost, iii. 46.