James Beattie

(25 October 1735 – 18 August 1803 / Laurencekirk in the Mearns, Scotland)

Elegy


1

Tired with the busy crowds, that all the day
Impatient throng where Folly's altars flame,
My languid powers dissolve with quick decay,
Till genial Sleep repair the sinking frame.


2

Hail, kind reviver! that canst lull the cares,
And every weary sense compose to rest,
Lighten the oppressive load which anguish bears,
And warm with hope the cold desponding breast.


3

Touch'd by thy rod, from Power's majestic brow
Drops the gay plume; he pines a lowly clown;
And on the cold earth stretch'd, the son of Woe
Quaffs Pleasure's draught, and wears a fancied crown.


4

When roused by thee, on boundless pinions borne,
Fancy to fairy scenes exults to rove,
Now scales the cliff gay-gleaming on the morn,
Now sad and silent treads the deepening grove;


5

Or skims the main, and listens to the storms,
Marks the long waves roll far remote away;
Or, mingling with ten thousand glittering forms,
Floats on the gale, and basks in purest day.


6

Haply, ere long, pierced by the howling blast,
Through dark and pathless deserts I shall roam,
Plunge down the unfathom'd deep, or shrink aghast
Where bursts the shrieking spectre from the tomb:


7

Perhaps loose Luxury's enchanting smile
Shall lure my steps to some romantic dale,
Where Mirth's light freaks the unheeded hours beguile,
And airs of rapture warble in the gale.


8

Instructive emblem of this mortal state!
Where scenes as various every hour arise
In swift succession, which the hand of Fate
Presents, then snatches from our wondering eyes.


9

Be taught, vain man, how fleeting all thy joys,
Thy boasted grandeur and thy glittering store:
Death comes, and all thy fancied bliss destroys;
Quick as a dream it fades, and is no more.


10

And, sons of Sorrow! though the threatening storm
Of angry Fortune overhang awhile,
Let not her frowns your inward peace deform;
Soon happier days in happier climes shall smile.


11

Through Earth's throng'd visions while we toss forlorn,
'Tis tumult all, and rage, and restless strife;
But these shall vanish like the dreams of morn,
When Death awakes us to immortal life.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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