ON THE OMNISCIENCE OF THE SUPREME BEING.
1 ARISE, divine Urania, with new strains
2 To hymn thy God, and thou, immortal Fame,
3 Arise, and blow thy everlasting trump.
4 All glory to th' Omniscient, and praise,
5 And power, and domination in the height!
6 And thou, cherubic Gratitude, whose voice
7 To pious ears sounds silverly so sweet,
8 Come with thy precious incense, bring thy gifts,
9 And with thy choicest stores the altar crown.
10 Thou too, my heart, whom He, and He alone
11 Who all things knows, can know, with love replete,
12 Regenerate, and pure, pour all thyself
13 A living sacrifice before his throne:
14 And may th' eternal, high mysterious tree,
15 That in the center of the arcehd Heavens
16 Bears the rich fruit of Knowledge, with some branch
17 Stoop to my humble reach, and bless my toil!
18 When in my mother's womb conceal'd I lay
19 A senseless embryo, then my soul thou knew'st,
20 Knew'st all her future workings, every thought,
21 And every faint Idea yet unform'd.
22 When up the imperceptible ascent
23 Of growing years, led by thy hand, I rose,
24 Perception's gradual light, that ever dawns
25 Insensibly to day, thou didst vouchsafe,
26 And taught me by that reason thou inspir'dst,
27 That what of knowledge in my mind was low,
28 Imperfect, incorrect — in Thee is wondrous,
29 Uncircumscrib'd, unsearchably profound,
30 And estimable solely by itself.
31 What is that secret power, that guides the brutes,
32 Which Ignorance calls instinct? 'Tis from Thee,
33 It is the operation of thine hands
34 Immediate, instantaneous; 'tis thy wisdom,
35 That glorious shines transparent thro' thy works.
36 Who taught the Pye, or who forewarn'd the Jay
37 To shun the deadly nightshade? tho' the cherry
38 Boasts not a glossier hue, nor does the plumb
39 Lure with more seeming sweets the amorous eye,
40 Yet will not the sagacious birds, decoy'd
41 By fair appearance, touch the noxious fruit.
42 They know to touch is fatal, whence alarm'd
43 Swift on the winnowing winds they work their way.
44 Go to, proud reas'ner philosophic Man,
45 Hast thou such prudence, thou such knowledge? — No.
46 Full many a race has fell into the snare[Page 307]
47 Of meretricious looks, of pleasing surface.
48 And oft in desart isles the famish'd pilgrim
49 By forms of fruit, and luscious taste beguil'd;
50 Like his forefather Adam, eats and dies.
51 For why? his wisdom on the leaden sect
52 Of slow experience, dully tedious, creeps,
53 And comes, like vengeance, after long delay.
54 The venerable Sage, that nightly trims
55 The learned lamp, t' investigate the powers
56 Of plants medicinal, the earth, the air,
57 And the dark regions of the fossil world,
58 Grows old in following, what he ne'er shall find;
59 Studious in vain! till haply, at the last
60 He spies a mist, then shapes it into mountains,
61 And baseless fabrics from conjecture builds:
62 While the domestic animal, that guards
63 At midnight hours his threshold, if oppress'd
64 By sudden sickness, at his master's feet
65 Begs not that aid his services might claim,
66 But is his own physician, knows the case,
67 And from th' emetic herbage works his cure.
68 Hark, far, from afar thec
c The hen turkey.feather'd matron screams.
69 And all her brood alarms, the docile crew
70 Accept the signal one and all, expert
71 In th' art of nature and unlearn'd deceit;
72 Along the sod, in counterfeited death,
73 Mute, motionless they lie; sull well appriz'd,[Page 308]
74 That the rapacious adversary's near.
75 But who inform'd her of th' approaching danger,
76 Who taught the cautious mother, that the hawk
77 Was hatch'd her foe, and liv'd by her destruction?
78 Her own prophetic soul is active in her,
79 And more than human providence her guard.
80 When Philomela, e'er the cold domain
81 Of crippled winter 'gins t' advance, prepares
82 Her annual flight, and in some poplar shade
83 Takes her melodious leave, who then's her pilot?
84 Who points her passage thro' the pathless void
85 To realms from us remote, to us unknown?
86 Her science is the science of her God.
87 Not the magnetic index to the North
88 E'er ascertains her course, nor buoy, nor beacon:
89 She, Heaven-taught voyager, that sails in air,
90 Courts nor coy West nor East, but instant knows
d The Longitude.Newton, or not sought, or sought in vain.
92 Illustrious name, irrefragable proof
93 Of man's vast genius, and the soaring soul!
94 Yet what wert thou to him, who knew his works,
95 Before creation form'd them, long before
96 He measur'd in the hollow of his hand
97 Th' exulting ocean, and the highest Heavens
98 He comprehended with a span, and weigh'd[Page 309]
99 The mighty mountains in his golden scales:
100 Who shone supreme, who was himself the light,
101 E'er yet Refraction learn'd her skill to paint,
102 And bend athwart the clouds her beauteous bow.
103 When Knowledge at her father's dread command
104 Resign'd to Israel's king her golden key,
105 O! to have join'd the frequent auditors
106 In wonder and delight, that whilom heard
107 Great Solomon descanting on the brutes.
108 O! how sublimely glorious to apply
109 To God's own honour, and good will to man,
110 That wisdom he alone of men possess'd
111 In plenitude so rich, and scope so rare.
112 How did he rouse the pamper'd silken sons
113 Of bloated ease, by placing to their view
114 The sage industrious Ant, the wisest insect,
115 And best oeconomist of all the field!
116 Tho' she presumes not by the solar orb
117 To measure times and seasons, nor consults
118 Chaldean calculations, for a guide;
119 Yet conscious that December's on the march,
120 Pointing with icy hand to want and woe,
121 She waits his dire approach, and undismay'd
122 Receives him as a welcome guest, prepar'd
123 Against the churlish winter's fiercest blow.
124 For when, as yet the favourable Sun
125 Gives to the genial earth th' enlivening ray,
126 Not the poor suffering slave, that hourly toils[Page 310]
127 To rive the groaning earth for ill-sought gold,
128 Endures such trouble, such fatigue, as she;
129 While all her subterraneous avenues.
130 And siorm-proof cells with management most meet
131 And unexampled housewifry she forms:
132 Then to the field she hies, and on her back,
133 Burden immense! she bears the cumbrous corn.
134 Then many a weary step, and many a strain,
135 And many a grievous groan subdued, at length
136 Up the huge hill she hardly heaves it home:
137 Nor rests she here her providence, but nips
138 With subtle tooth the grain, lest from her garner
139 In mischievous fertility it steal,
140 And back to day-light vegetate its way.
141 Go to the Ant, thou sluggard, learn to live,
142 And by her wary ways reform thine own.
143 But, if thy deaden'd sense, and listless thought
144 More glaring evidence demand; behold,
145 Where yon pellucid populous hive presents
146 A yet uncopied model to the world!
147 There Machiavel in the reflecting glass
148 May read himself a fool. The Chemist there
149 May with astonishment invidious view
150 His toils outdone by each plebeian Bee,
151 Who, at the royal mandate, on the wing
152 From various herbs, and from discordant flowers,
153 A perfect harmony of sweets compounds.
154 Avaunt Conceit, Ambition take thy flight
155 Back to the Prince of vanity and air![Page 311]
156 O! 'tis a thought of energy most piercing;
157 Form'd to make pride grow humble; form'd to force
158 Its weight on the reluctant mind, and give her
159 A true but Irksome image of herself.
160 Woful vicissitude! when Man, fall'n Man,
161 Who first from Heaven, from gracious God himself
162 Learn'd knowledge of the Brutes, must know, by Brutes
163 Instructed and reproach'd, the scale of being;
164 By slow degrees from lowly steps ascend,
165 And trace Omniscience upwards to its spring!
166 Yet murmur not, but praise — for tho' we stand
167 Of many a Godlike privilege amere'd
168 By Adam's dire transgression, tho' no more
169 Is Paradise our home, but o'er the portal
170 Hangs in terrific pomp the burning blade;
171 Still with ten thousand beauties blooms the Earth
172 With pleasures populous, and with riches crown'd.
173 Still is there scope for wonder and for love
174 Ev'n to their last exertion — showers of blessings
175 Far more than human virtue can deserve,
176 Or hope expect, or gratitude return.
177 Then, O ye People, O ye Sons of Men,
178 Whatever be the colour of your lives,
179 Whatever portion of itself his Wisdom
180 Shall deign t' allow, still patiently abide
181 And praise him more and more; nor cease to chaunt
182 ALL GLORY TO TH' OMNISCIENT AND PRAISE,
183 AND POWER AND DOMINATION IN THE HEIGHT!
184 And thou, cherubic Gratitude, whose voice[Page 312]
185 To pious ears sounds silverly so sweet,
186 Come with thy precious incense, bring thy gifts,
187 And with thy choicest stores the altar crown.
ΤΟ ΘΕΩ ΔΟΞΑ
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): ON THE OMNISCIENCE OF THE SUPREME BEING.
Author: Christopher Smart
Themes: God; religion
Genres: blank verse; essay
References: DMI 32677
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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.