ON THE IMMENSITY OF THE SUPREME BEING.
1 ONCE more I dare to rouse the sounding string
2 THE POET OF MY GOD — Awake my glory,
3 Awake my lute and harp — myself shall wake,
4 Soon as the stately night-exploding bird
5 In lively lay sings welcome to the dawn.
6 List ye! how nature with ten thousand tongues
7 Begins the grand thanksgiving, Hail, all hail,
8 Ye tenants of the forest and the field!
9 My fellow subjects of th' eternal King,
10 I gladly join your Mattins, and with you
11 Confess his presence, and report his praise.
12 O Thou, who or the Lambkin, or the Dove,
13 When offer'd by the lowly, meek, and poor,
14 Prefer'st to Pride's whole hecatomb, accept
15 This mean Essay, nor from thy treasure-house
16 Of Glory' immense the Orphan's mite exclude.
17 What tho' th' Almighty's regal throne be rais'd
18 High o'er yon azure Heaven's exalted dome
19 By mortal eye unkenn'd — where East nor West
20 Nor South, nor blustering North has breath to blow;
21 Albeit He there with Angels, and with Saints
22 Hold conference, and to his radiant host
23 Ev'n face to face stand visibly confest:
24 Yet know that nor in Presence or in Power
25 Shines He less perfect here; 'tis Man's dim eye
26 That makes th' obscurity. He is the same,
27 Alike in all his Universe the same.
28 Whether the mind along the spangled sky
29 Measures her pathless walk, studious to view
30 Thy works of vaster fabric, where the Planets
31 Weave their harmonious rounds, their march directing
32 Still faithful, still inconstant to the Sun;
33 Or where the Comet thro' space infinite
34 (Tho' whirling worlds oppose, and globes of fire)
35 Darts, like a javelin, to his destin'd goal.
36 Or where in Heaven above the Heaven of Heavens
37 Burn brighter Sans, and goodlier Planets roll
38 With Satellits more glorious — Thou art there.
39 Or whether on the Ocean's boisterous back
40 Thou ride triumphant, and with out-stretch'd arm
41 Curb the wild winds and discipline the billows,
42 The suppliant Sailor finds Thee there, his chief,
43 His only help — When Thou rebuk'st the storm —[Page 301]
44 It ceases — and the vessel gently glides
45 Along the glassy level of the calm.
46 O! could I search the bosom of the sea,
47 Down the great depth descending; there thy works
48 Would also speak thy residence; and there
49 Would I thy servant, like the still profound,
50 Astonish'd into silence muse thy praise!
51 Behold! behold! th' unplanted garden round
52 Of vegetable coral, sea-flowers gay,
53 And shrubs of amber from the pearl-pav'd bottom
54 Rise richly varied, where the finny race
55 In blithe security their gambols play:
56 While high above their heads Leviathan,
57 The terror and the glory of the main,
58 His pastime takes with transport, proud to see
59 The ocean's vast dominion all his own.
60 Hence thro' the genial bowels of the earth
61 Easy may fancy pass; till at thy mines
62 Gani or Raolconda she arrive,
63 And from the adamant's imperial blaze
64 Form weak ideas of her Maker's glory.
65 Next to Pegu or Ceylon let me rove,
66 Where the rich ruby (deem'd by Sages old
67 Of Sovereign virtue) sparkles ev'n like Sirius,
68 And blushes into flames. Thence will I go
69 To undermine the treasure-fertile womb
70 Of the huge Pyrenean, to detect
71 The Agat and the deep-intrenched gem[Page 302]
72 Of kindred Jasper — Nature in them both
73 Delights to play the Mimic on herself;
74 And in their veins she oft pourtrays the forms
75 Of leaning hills, of trees erect, and streams
76 Now stealing softly on, now thundering down
77 In desperate cascade with flowers and beasts
78 And all the living landskip of the vale:
79 In vain thy pencil Claudio, or Poussin,
80 Or thine, immortal Guido, would essay
81 Such skill to imitate — it is the hand
82 Of God himself — for God himself is there.
83 Hence with the ascending springs let me advance
84 Thro' beds of magnets, minerals, and spar,
85 Up to the mountain's summit, there t' indulge
86 Th' ambition of the comprehensive eye,
87 That dares to call th' Horizon all her own.
88 Behold the forest, and the expansive verdure
89 Of yonder level lawn, whose smooth-shorn sod
90 No object interrupts, unless the oak
91 His lordly head uprears, and branching arms
92 Extends — Behold in regal solitude,
93 And pastoral magnificence he stands
94 So simple! and so great! the under-wood
95 Of meaner rank an awful distance keep.
96 Yet Thou art there, yet God himself is there
97 Ev'n on the bush (tho' not as when to Moses
98 He shone in burning majesty reveal'd)
99 Nathless conspicuous in the Linnet's throat[Page 303]
100 Is his unbounded goodness — Thee her Maker,
101 Thee her Preserver chaunts she in her song;
102 While all the emulative vocal tribe
103 The grateful lesson learn — no other voice
104 Is heard, no other sound — for in attention
105 Buried, ev'n babbling Echo bolds her peace.
106 Now from the plains, where th' unbounded prospect
107 Gives liberty her utmost scope to range,
108 Turn we to yon enclosures, where appears
109 Chequer'd variety in all her forms,
110 Which the vague mind attract and still suspend
111 With sweet perplexity. What are yon towers,
112 The work of labouring man and clumsy art,
113 Seen with the ring-dove's nest — on that tall beech
114 Her pensile house the feather'd Artist builds —
115 The rocking winds molest her not; for see,
116 With such due poize the wond'rous fabric's hung,
117 That, like the compass in the bark, it keeps
118 True to itself, and stedfast ev'n in storms.
119 Thou ideot that asserts, there is no God,
120 View and be dumb for ever —
121 Go bid Vitruvius or Palladio build
122 The bee his mansion, or the ant her cave —
123 Go call Correggio, or let Titian come
124 To paint the hawthorn's bloom, or teach the cherry
125 To blush with just vermillion — hence away —
126 Hence ye prophane! for God himself is here.
127 Vain were th' attempt, and impious to trace[Page 304]
128 Thro' all his works th' Artificer Divine —
129 And tho' nor shining sun, nor twinkling star
130 Bedeck'd the crimson curtains of the sky;
131 Tho' neither vegetable, beast, nor bird
132 Were extant on the surface of this ball,
133 Nor lurking gem beneath; tho' the great sea
134 Slept in profound stagnation, and the air
135 Had left no thunder to pronounce its maker;
136 Yet man at home, within himself, might find
137 The Deity immense, and in that frame
138 So fearfully, so wonderfully made,
139 See and adore his providence and power —
140 I see, and I adore — O God most bounteous!
141 O infinite of Goodness and of Glory!
142 The knee, that thou hast shap'd, shall bend to Thee,
143 The tongue, which thou hast tun'd, shall chaunt thy praise,
144 And, thine own image, the immortal foul,
145 Shall consecrate herself to Thee for ever.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): ON THE IMMENSITY OF THE SUPREME BEING.
Author: Christopher Smart
Themes: God; religion
Genres: blank verse; essay
References: DMI 32676
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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.