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Troop to the infernal jail,
Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave,
And the yellow-skirted fays
Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.
But see! the Virgin blest
Hath laid her Babe to rest.
Time is our tedious song should here have ending :
Heaven's youngest-teemèd star
Hath fixed her polished car,
Her sleeping Lord, with handmaid lamp, attending ;
And all about the courtly stable
Bright-harnessed angels sit in order serviceable.
Ye flaming powers, and winged warriors bright,
That erst with music, and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful shepherds' ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along,
Through the soft silence of the listening night,
Now mourn; and, if sad share with us to bear
Your fiery essence can distil no tear,
Burn in your sighs, and borrow
Seas wept from our deep sorrow.
He, who with all Heaven's heraldry whilere
Entered the world, now bleeds to give us ease.
Alas ! how soon our sin
Sore doth begin
His infancy to seize !
O more exceeding love, or law more just ?
Just law, indeed, but more exceeding love !
For we, by rightful doom remediless,
Were lost in death, till He, that dwelt above
High-throned in secret bliss, for us frail dust
Emptied His glory, even to nakedness;
And that great covenant which we still transgress
And the full wrath beside
Of vengeful justice bore for our excess,
And seals obedience first with wounding smart
This day; but oh ! ere long,
Huge pangs and strong
Will pierce more near His heart.
EREWHILE of music, and ethereal mirth,
Wherewith the stage of air and earth did ring,
And joyous news of heavenly Infant's birth,
My muse with angels did divide to sing ;
But headlong joy is ever on the wing,
In wintry solstice like the shortened light
Soon swallowed up in dark and long outliving night.
For now to sorrow must I tune my song,
And set my harp to notes of saddest woe,
Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long,
Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than so,
Which He for us did freely undergo :
Most pefect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
Of labours huge and hard, too hard for human wight!
He, Sovereign Priest, stooping His regal head,
That dropped with odorous oil down His fair eyes,
Poor fleshly tabernacle entered,
His starry front low-roofed beneath the skies :
Oh, what a mask was there, what a disguise !
Yet more: the stroke of death He must abide ;
Then lies Him meekly down fast by His brethren's side.
These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
To this horizon is my Phoebus bound.
His Godlike acts, and His temptations fierce,
And former sufferings, otherwhere are found;
Loud o'er the rest Cremona's trump doth sound:
Me softer airs befit, and softer strings
Of lute, or viol still, more apt for mournful things.
Befriend me, night, best patroness of grief !
Over the pole thy thickest mantle throw,
And work my flattered fancy to belief
That Heaven and earth are coloured with my woe;
My sorrows are too dark for day to know :
The leaves should all be black whereon I write, And letters, where my tears have washed, a wannish white.
See, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels,
That whirled the prophet up at Chebar flood;
My spirit some transporting cherub feels
To bear me where the towers of Salem stood,
Once glorious towers, now sunk in guiltless blood.
There doth my soul in holy vision sit,
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit.
Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heaven's richest store,
And here, though grief my feeble hands up-lock,
Yet on the softened quarry would I score
My plaining verse as lively as before;
For sure so well instructed are my tears
That they would fitly fall in ordered characters.
Or, should I thence, hurried on viewless wing,
Take up a weeping on the mountains wild,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their echoes mild ;
And I (for grief is easily beguiled)
Might think the infection of my sorrows loud
Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud.
This subject the Author finding to be above the years he had when he wrote it, and
nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.
Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race:
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain !
For, when as each thing bad thou hast entombed,
And, last of all, thy greedy self consumed,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss,
And joy shall overtake us as a flood ;
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With truth, and peace, and love, shall ever shine
About the supreme throne
Of Him, to whose happy-making sight alone
When once our heavenly-guided soul shall climb,
Then, all this earthly grossness quit,
Attired with stars we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over death, and chance, and thee, O Time!
AT A SOLEMN MUSIC.
BLESSED pair of sirens, pledges of Heaven's joy,
Sphere-born harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse,
Wed your divine sounds, and mixed power employ,
Dead things with inbreathed sense able to pierce ;
And to our high-raised phantasy present
That undisturbed song of pure concent,
Aye sung before the sapphire-coloured throne
To Him that sits thereon,
With saintly shout and solemn jubilee;
Where the bright Seraphim in burning row
Their loud uplifted angel-trumpets blow,
And the cherubic host in thousand choirs
Touch their immortal harps of golden wires,
With those just spirits that wear victorious palms,
Hymns devout and holy psalms
Singing everlastingly :
That we on earth, with undiscording voice,
May rightly answer that melodious noise ;
As once we did, till disproportioned sin
Jarred against nature's chime, and with harsh din 20
Broke the fair music that all creatures made
To their great Lord, whose love their motion swayed
In perfect diapason, whilst they stood
In first obedience, and their state of good.
Oh, may we soon again renew that song,
And keep in tune with Heaven, till God ere long
To His celestial consort us unite,
To live with Him, and sing in endless morn of light !
AN EPITAPH ON THE MARCHIONESS OF WINCHESTER.
THIS rich marble doth inter
The honoured wife of Winchester,
A Viscount's daughter, an Earl's heir,
Besides what her virtues fair
Added to her noble birth,
More than she could own from earth.