To SICKNESS; AN ELEGY.
1 HOW blithe the flow'ry graces of the spring
2 From nature's wardrobe come! and hark how gay
3 Each glittering insect, hovering on the wing,
4 Sings their glad welcome to the fields of May!
5 They gaze, with greedy eye, each beauty o'er;
6 They suck the sweet breath of the blushing rose;
7 Sport in the gale, or sip the rainbow show'r;
8 Their life's short day no pause of pleasure knows.
9 Like their's, dread pow'r! my chearful morn display'd
10 The flattering promise of a golden noon,
11 'Till each gay cloud, that sportive nature spread,
12 Dy'd in the gloom of thy distemper'd frown.
13 Yes, ere I told my two-and-twentieth year,
14 Swift from thy quiver flew the deadly dart;
15 Harmless it pass'd 'mid many a blithe compeer,
16 And found its fated entrance near my heart.
17 Pale as I lay beneath thy ebon wand,
18 I saw them rove thro' pleasure's flowery field;
19 I saw Health paint them with her rosy hand,
20 Eager to burst my bonds, but forc'd to yield.
21 Yet, while this mortal cot of mould'ring clay
22 Shakes at the stroke of thy tremendous power,
23 Ah! must the transient tenant of a day
24 Bear the rough blast of each tempestuous hour?
25 Say; shall the terrors thy pale flag unfolds,
26 Too rigid queen! unnerve the soul's bright powers,
27 Till with a joyless smile the eye beholds
28 Art's magic charms, and nature's fairy bowers?
29 No, let me follow still, those bow'rs among,
30 Her flow'ry footsteps as the goddess goes;
31 Let me, just lifted 'bove th' unletter'd throng,
32 Read the few books the learned few compose.
33 And suffer, when thy aweful pleasure calls
34 The soul to share her frail companion's smart,
35 Yet suffer me to taste the balm that falls,
36 From Friendship's tongue, so sweet upon the heart.
37 Then, tho' each trembling nerve confess thy frown,
38 Ev'n till this anxious being shall become
39 But a brief name upon a little stone,
40 Without one murmur I embrace my doom.
41 For many a virtue, shelter'd from mankind,
42 Lives calm with thee, and lord o'er each desire;
43 And many a feeble frame, whose mighty mind
44 Each muse has touch'd with her immortal fire.
* Mr. POPE. He, sole terror of a venal age,
46 The tuneful bard, whose philosophic soul
47 With such bright radiance glow'd on Virtue's page,
48 Learn'd many a lesson from thy moral school.
† Mr. GRAY. too, who "mounts and keeps his distant way,"
50 His daring mind thy humanizing glooms
51 Have temper'd with a melancholy ray,
52 And taught to warble 'mid the village tombs.
53 Yes, goddess, to thy temple's deep recess
54 I come, and lay for ever at its door
55 The syren throng of follies numberless,
56 Nor wish their flattering songs should soothe me more.
57 Thy decent garb shall o'er my limbs be spread,
58 Thy hand shall lead me to thy sober train,
59 Who here retir'd, with pensive pleasure tread
60 The silent windings of thy dark domain.
61 Hither the cherub Charity shall fly,
62 From her bright orb, and brooding o'er my mind,
63 For misery raise a sympathizing sigh,
64 Pardon for foes, and love for human kind.
65 Then, while Ambition's trump, from age to age
66 Its slaughter'd millions boasts; while Fame shall rear
67 Her deathless trophies o'er the bard and sage;
68 Be mine the widow's sigh, the orphan's pray'r.