THE TRIUMPH OF MELANCHOLY.
1 MEMORY, be still! why throng upon the thought
2 These scenes so deeply stain'd with Sorrow's die?
3 Is there in all thy stores no chearful draught,
4 To brighten yet once more in Fancy's eye?
5 Yes — from afar a landscape seems to rise,
6 Embellish'd by the lavish hand of Spring;
7 Thin gilded clouds float lightly o'er the skies,
8 And laughing Loves disport on fluttering wing.
9 How blest the youth in yonder valley laid!
10 What smiles in every conscious feature play!
11 While to the murmurs of the breezy glade
12 His merry pipe attunes the rural lay.
13 Hail Innocence! whose bosom all serene
14 Feels not as yet th' internal tempest roll:
15 O! ne'er may Care distract that placid mien!
16 Ne'er may the shades of Doubt o'erwhelm thy soul!
17 Vain wish! for lo, in gay attire conceal'd
18 Yonder she comes! the heart-enflaming fiend!
19 (Will no kind power the helpless stripling shield!)
20 Swift to her destin'd prey see Passion bend!
21 O smile accurst, to hide the worst designs!
22 Now with blithe eye she wooes him to be blest;
23 While round her arm unseen a serpent twines —
24 And lo, she hurls it hissing at his breast!
25 And instant, lo, his dizzy eye-ball swims
26 Ghastly, and reddening darts a frantic glare;
27 Pain with strong grasp distorts his writhing limbs,
28 And Fear's cold hand erects his frozen hair.
29 Is this, O Life, is this thy boasted prime!
30 And does thy spring no happier prospect yield!
31 Why should the sun-beam pain thy glittering clime,
32 When the keen mildew desolates the field!
33 How Memory pains! Let some gay theme beguile
34 The musing mind, and soothe to soft delight:
35 Ye images of Woe, no more recoil;
36 Be life's past scenes wrapt in oblivious night.
37 Now when fierce Winter, arm'd with wasteful power,
38 Heaves the wild deep that thunders from afar:
39 How sweet to sit in the sequester'd bower,
40 To hear, and but to hear, the mingling war!
41 Ambition here displays no gilded toy,
42 That tempts on desperate wing the soul to rise;
43 Nor Pleasure's paths to wilds of Woe decoy,
44 Nor Anguish lurks in Grandeur's proud disguise.
45 Oft has Contentment chear'd this lone abode
46 With the mild languish of her smiling eye;
47 Here Health in rosy bloom has often glow'd,
48 While loose-rob'd Quiet stood enamour'd by.
49 Even the storm lulls to more profound repose;
50 The storm these humble walls assails in vain:
51 The shrub is shelter'd, when the whirlwind blows,
52 While the oak's mighty ruin strows the plain.
53 Blow on, ye winds! thine, Winter, be the skies,
54 And toss th' infuriate surge, and vales lay waste:
55 Nature thy temporary rage defies;
56 To her relief the gentler Seasons haste.
57 Thron'd in her emerald car, see Spring appear!
58 (As Fancy wills the landscape starts to view)
59 Her emerald car the youthful Zephyrs bear,
60 Fanning her bosom with their pinions blue.
61 Around the jocund Hours are fluttering seen.
62 And lo, her rod the rose-lip'd Power extends!
63 And lo, the lawns are deck'd in living green,
64 And Beauty's bright-ey'd train from Heaven descends!
65 Haste, happy days, and make all Nature glad —
66 But will all Nature joy at your return?
67 O can ye chear pale Sickness' gloomy bed,
68 Or dry the tears that bathe th' untimely urn?
69 Will ye one transient ray of gladness dart,
70 Where groans the dungeon to the captive's wail?
71 To ease tir'd Disappointment's bleeding heart,
72 Will all your stores of softening balm avail?
73 When stern Oppression, in his harpy-fangs,
74 From Want's weak grasp the last sad morsel bears,
75 Can ye allay the dying parent's pangs,
76 Whose infant craves relief with fruitless tears?
77 For ah! thy reign, Oppression, is not past.
78 Who from the shivering limbs the vestment rends?
79 Who lays the once rejoicing village waste,
80 Bursting the ties of lovers and of friends?
81 But hope not, Muse, vain-glorious as thou art,
82 With the weak impulse of thy humble strain,
83 Hope not to soften Pride's obdurate heart,
84 When ERROLL's bright example shines in vain.
85 Then cease the theme. Turn, Fancy, turn thine eye,
86 Thy weeping eye, nor further urge thy flight;
87 Thy haunts, alas! no gleams of joy supply,
88 Or transient gleams that flash and sink in night.
89 Yet fain the mind its anguish would forego.
90 Spread then, historic Muse, thy pictur'd scroll;
91 Bid thy great scenes in all their splendor glow,
92 And rouse to thought sublime th' exulting soul.
93 What mingling pomps rush on th' enraptur'd gaze!
94 Lo, where the gallant navy rides the deep!
95 Here glittering towns their spiry turrets raise,
96 There bulwarks overhang the shaggy steep.
97 Bristling with spears, and bright with burnish'd shields.
98 Th' embattled legions stretch their long array;
99 Discord's red torch, as fierce she scours the fields,
100 With bloody tincture stains the face of day.
101 And now the hosts in silence wait the sign:
102 Keen are their looks whom Liberty inspires:
103 Quick as the Goddess darts along the line,
104 Each breast impatient burns with noble fires.
105 Her form how graceful! in her lofty mien
106 The smiles of Love stern Wisdom's frown controul;
107 Her fearless eye, determin'd tho' serene,
108 Speaks the great purpose, and th' unconquer'd soul.
109 Mark, where Ambition leads the adverse band,
110 Each feature fierce and haggard, as with pain!
111 With menace loud he cries, while from his hand
112 He vainly strives to wipe the crimson stain.
113 Lo, at his call, impetuous as the storms,
114 Headlong to deeds of death the hosts are driven;
115 Hatred to madness wrought each face deforms,
116 Mounts the black whirlwind, and involves the heaven.
117 Now, Virtue, now thy powerful succour lend,
118 Shield them for Liberty who dare to die —
119 Ah! Liberty, will none thy cause befriend!
120 Are those thy sons, thy generous sons that fly!
121 Not Virtue's self, when Heaven its aid denies,
122 Can brace the loosen'd nerves, or warm the heart;
123 Not Virtue's self can still the bursts of sighs,
124 When festers in the soul Misfortune's dart.
125 See, where by Terror and Despair dismay'd
126 The scattering legions pour along the plain!
127 Ambition's car, in bloody spoils array'd,
128 Hews its broad way, as Vengeance guides the rein.
129 But who is he, that, by yon lonely brookb
b Such, according to Plutarch, was the scene of Brutus's death.,
130 With woods o'erhung, and precipices rude,
131 Lies all abandon'd, yet with dauntless look
132 Sees streaming from his breast the purple flood?
133 Ah, Brutus! ever thine be Virtue's tear!
134 Lo, his dim eyes to Liberty he turns,
135 As scarce supported on her broken spear
136 O'er her expiring son the Goddess mourns.
137 Loose to the wind her azure mantle flies,
138 From her dishevell'd locks she rends the plume;
139 No lustre lightens in her weeping eyes,
140 And on her tear-stain'd cheek no roses bloom.
141 Meanwhile the world, Ambition, owns thy sway,
142 Fame's loudest trumpet labours with thy name;
143 For thee, the Muse awakes her sweetest lay,
144 And Flattery bids for thee her altars flame.
145 Nor in life's lofty bustling sphere alone,
146 The sphere where monarchs and where heroes toil,
147 Sink Virtue's sons beneath Misfortune's frown,
148 While Guilt's thrill'd bosom leaps at Pleasure's smile.
149 Full oft where Solitude and Silence dwell,
150 Far, far remote amid the lowly plain,
151 Resounds the voice of Woe from Virtue's cell,
152 Such is Man's doom; and Pity weeps in vain.
153 Still Grief recoils — How vainly have I strove
154 Thy power, O Melancholy, to withstand!
155 Tir'd, I submit; but yet, O yet remove,
156 Or ease the pressure of thy heavy hand!
157 Yet for a while let the bewilder'd soul
158 Find in society relief from woe;
159 O yield a while to Friendship's soft controul!
160 Some respite, Friendship, wilt thou not bestow!
161 Come then, Philander, whose exalted mind
162 Looks down from far on all that charms the great;
163 For thou canst bear, unshaken and resign'd,
164 The brightest smiles, the blackest frowns of Fate:
165 Come thou, whose love unlimited, sincere,
166 Nor Faction cools, nor Injury destroys;
167 Who lend'st to Misery's moan a pitying ear,
168 And feel'st with ecstasy another's joys:
169 Who know'st man's frailty, with a favouring eye,
170 And melting heart, behold'st a brother's fall;
171 Who, unenslav'd by Fashion's narrow tye,
172 With manly freedom follow'st Nature's call.
173 And bring thy Delia, sweetly-smiling fair,
174 Whose spotless soul no rankling thoughts deform;
175 Her gentle accents calm each throbbing care,
176 And harmonize the thunder of the storm.
177 Tho' blest with wisdom, and with wit refin'd,
178 She courts no homage, nor desires to shine;
179 In her each sentiment sublime is join'd
180 To female softness and a form divine.
181 Come, and disperse th' involving shadows drear;
182 Let chasten'd Mirth the social hours employ:
183 O catch the swift-wing'd moment while 'tis near,
184 On swiftest wing the moment flies of joy.
185 Even while the careless disencumber'd soul
186 Sinks all dissolving into Pleasure's dream,
187 Even then to time's tremendous verge we roll
188 With headlong haste along life's surgy stream.
189 Can Gaiety the vanish'd years restore,
190 Or on the withering limbs fresh beauty shed,
191 Or soothe the sad inevitable Hour,
192 Or Chear the dark, dark mansions of the Dead?
193 Still sounds the solemn knell in Fancy's ear,
194 That call'd Eliza to the silent tomb:
195 With her how jocund roll'd the sprightly year!
196 How shone the nymph in Beauty's brightest bloom!
197 Ah! Beauty's bloom avails not in the grave,
198 Youth's lofty mien, nor Age's awful grace:
199 Moulder alike unknown the Prince and Slave,
200 Whelm'd in th' enormous wreck of human race:
201 The thought-fix'd portraiture, the breathing bust,
202 The arch with proud memorials array'd,
203 The long-liv'd pyramid shall sink in dust,
204 To dumb Oblivion's ever-desart shade.
205 Fancy from Joy still wanders far astray;
206 Ah! Melancholy, how I feel thy power!
207 Long have I labour'd to elude thy sway —
208 But 'tis enough; for I resist no more:
209 The traveller thus, that o'er the midnight waste
210 Thro' many a lonesome path is doom'd to roam,
211 'Wilder'd and weary sits him down at last
212 For the long night, and distant far his home.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): THE TRIUMPH OF MELANCHOLY.
Author: James Beattie
Themes: grief; sadness; melancholy
References: DMI 32635
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