The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto II
While thus a mind humane, and wise, he shows,
All-eloquent of truth his language flows.
Youth, tho' depress'd, thro' all his form appears;
Thro' all his sentiments the depth of years.
Thus he-Yet farther Industry behold,
Which conscious waits new wonders to unfold.
Enter my chapel next-Lo! here begin
The hallow'd rites, that check the growth of sin.
When first we met, how soon you seem'd to know
My bosom, lab'ring with the throbs of woe!
Such racking throbs!-Soft! when I rouse those cares,
On my chill'd mind pale Recollection glares!
When moping Frenzy strove my thoughts to sway,
Here prudent labours chas'd her pow'r away.
Full, and rough-rising from yon sculptur'd wall,
Bold prophets, nations to repentance call!
Meek martyrs smile in flames! gor'd champions groan!
And muse-like cherubs tune their harps in stone!
Next shadow'd light a rounding force bestows,
Swells into life, and speaking action grows!
Here pleasing, melancholy subjects find,
To calm, amuse, exalt the pensive mind!
This figure tender grief, like mine, implies,
And semblant thoughts, that earthly pomp despise.
Such penitential Magdalene reveals;
Loose-veil'd, in negligence of charms she kneels.
Tho' dress, near-stor'd, its vanity supplies,
The vanity of dress unheeded lies.
The sinful world in sorrowing eye she keeps,
As o'er Jerusalem Messiah weeps.
One hand her bosom smites; in one appears
The lifted lawn, that drinks her falling tears.
Since evil outweighs good, and sways mankind,
True fortitude assumes the patient mind:
Such prov'd Messiah's, tho' to suff'ring born,
To penury, repulse, reproach and scorn.
Here, by the pencil, mark his flight design'd:
The weary'd virgin by a stream reclin'd,
Who feeds the child. Her looks a charm express,
A modest charm, that dignifies distress.
Boughs o'er their heads with blushing fruits depend,
Which angels to her busied consort bend.
Hence by the smiling infant seems discern'd,
Trifles, concerning Him, all heav'n, concern'd.
Here the transfigur'd Son from earth retires:
See! the white form in a bright cloud aspires!
Full on his foll'wers bursts a flood of rays,
Prostrate they fall beneath th' o'erwhelming blaze!
Like noon-tide summer-suns the rays appear,
Unsuff'rable, magnificent, and near!
What scene of agony the garden brings;
The cup of gall; the suppliant king of kings!
The crown of thorns; the cross, that felt him die;
These, languid in the sketch, unfinish'd lie.
There, from the dead, centurions see him rise,
See! but struck down with horrible surprize!
As the first glory seem'd a sun at noon,
This casts the silver splendor of the moon.
Here peopled day, th' ascending God surveys!
The glory varies, as the myriads gaze!
Now soften'd, like a sun at distance seen,
When thro' a cloud bright-glancing, yet serene!
Now fast-encreasing to the croud amaz'd,
Like some vast meteor high in ether rais'd!
My labour, yon high-vaulted altar stains
With dies, that emulate etherial plains.
The convex glass which in that opening glows,
Mid circling rays a pictur'd Saviour shows!
Bright it collects the beams, which, trembling, all,
Back from the God, a show'ry radiance fall.
Light'ning the scene beneath! a scene divine!
Where faints, clouds, seraphs, intermingled shine!
Here water-falls, that play melodious round,
Like a sweet organ, swell a lofty sound!
The solemn notes bid earthly passions fly,
Lull all my cares, and lift my soul on high!
This monumental marble-this I rear
To one-Oh! ever mourn'd!-Oh! ever dear!
He stopt-pathetic sighs the pause supply.
And the prompt tear starts, quiv'ring, on his eye!
I look'd-two columns near the wall were seen,
An imag'd beauty stretch'd at length between.
Near the wept fair, her harp Cecilia strung;
Leaning, from high, a list'ning angel hung!
Friendship, whose figure at the feet remains,
A phoenix, with irradiate crest, sustains:
This grac'd one palm, while one extends t'impart
Two foreign hands, that clasp a burning heart.
A pendent veil two hov'ring seraphs raise,
Which opening heav'n upon the roof displays!
And two, benevolent, less-distant, hold
A vase, collective of perfumes uproll'd!
These from the heart, by Friendship held, arise,
Od'rous as incense gath'ring in the skies,
In the fond pelican is love exprest,
Who opens to her young her tender breast.
Two mated turtles hov'ring hang in air,
One by a faulcon struck!-In wild despair,
The hermit cries-So death, alas! destroys
The tender consort of my cares and joys!
Again soft tears upon his eye-lid hung,
Again check'd sounds dy'd, flutt'ring, on his tongue.
Too well his pining inmost thought I know!
Too well e'en silence tells the story'd woe!
To his my sighs, to his my tears reply!
I stray o'er all the tomb a wat'ry eye!
Next, on the wall her scenes of life I gaz'd,
The form back-leaning, by a globe half-rais'd!
Cherubs a proffer'd crown of glory show,
Ey'd wistful by th' admiring fair below.
In action eloquent dispos'd her hands,
One shows her breast, in rapture one expands!
This the fond hermit seiz'd!-o'er all his soul,
The soft, wild, wailing, am'rous passion stole!
In stedfast gaze his eyes her aspect keep,
Then turn away, awhile dejected weep;
Then he reverts 'em; but reverts in vain,
Dimm'd with the swelling grief that streams again.
Where now is my philosophy? (he cries)
My joy, hope, reason, my Olympia dies!
Why did I e'er that prime of blessings know?
Was it, ye cruel fates, t'embitter woe?
Why would your bolts not level first my head?
Why must I live to weep Olympia dead?
-Sir, I had once a wife! fair bloom'd her youth,
Her form was beauty, and her soul was truth!
Oh, she was dear! How dear, what words can say?
She dies!-my heav'n at once is snatch'd away!
Ah! what avails, that, by a father's care,
I rose a wealthy and illustrious heir?
That early in my youth I learn'd to prove
Th' instructive, pleasing, academic grove?
That in the senate eloquence was mine?
That valour gave me in the field to shine?
That love show'r'd blessings too-far more than all
High rapt ambition e'er could happy call?
Ah!-What are these, which e'en the wise adore?
Lost is my pride!-Olympia is no more!
Had I, ye persecuting pow'rs! been born
The world's cold pity, or, at best, its scorn;
Of wealth, of rank, of kindred warmth bereft;
To want, to shame, to ruthless censure left!
Patience, or pride, to this, relief supplies!
But a lost wife!-there! there distraction lies!
Now three sad years I yield me all to grief,
And fly the hated comfort of relief:
Tho' rich, great, young, I leave a pompous seat,
(My brother's now) to seek some dark retreat:
Mid cloister'd solitary tombs I stray,
Despair and horror lead the cheerless way!
My sorrow grows to such a wild excess,
Life, injur'd life, must wish the passion less!
Olympia!-My Olympia's lost! (I cry.)
Olympia's lost, the hollow vaults reply!
Louder I make my lamentable moan;
The swelling echoes learn like me to groan;
The ghosts to scream, as thro' lone aisles they sweep!
The shrines to shudder, and the saints to weep!
Now grief and rage, by gath'ring sighs, supprest,
Swell my full heart, and heave my lab'ring breast!
With struggling starts, each vital string they strain,
And strike the tott'ring fabric of my brain!
O'er my sunk spirits frowns a vap'ry scene,
Woe's dark retreat! the madding maze of spleen!
A deep damp gloom o'erspreads the murky cell;
Here pining thoughts, and secret terrors dwell!
Here learn the Great unreal wants to feign!
Unpleasing truths here mortify the vain!
Here learning, blinded first, and then beguil'd,
Looks dark as Ignorance, as Frenzy wild!
Here first Credulity on Reason won!
And here false Zeal mysterious rants begun!
Here Love inpearls each moment with a tear,
And Superstition owes to Spleen her fear!
Fantastic lightnings, thro' the dreary way,
In swift short signals flash the bursting day!
Above, beneath, across, around, they fly!
A dire deception strikes the mental eye!
By the blue fires, pale phantoms grin severe!
Shrill, fancy'd echoes wound th' affrighted ear!
Air-banish'd spirits flag in fogs profound,
And, all-obscene, shed baneful damps around!
Now whispers, trembling in some feeble wind,
Sigh out prophetic fears, and freeze the mind!
Loud laughs the hag!-She mocks complaint away,
Unroofs the den, and lets in more than day.
Swarms of wild Fancies, wing'd in various flight,
Seek emblematic shades, and mystic light!
Some drive with rapid steeds the shining car!
These nod from thrones! Those thunder in the war!
Till, tir'd, they turn from the delusive show,
Start from wild joy, and fix in stupid woe.
Here the lone hour, a blank of life displays,
Till now bad thoughts a fiend more active raise;
A fiend in evil moments ever nigh!
Death in her hand, and frenzy in her eye!
Her eye all red, and sunk!-A robe she wore,
With life's calamities embroider'd o'er.
A mirror in one hand collective shows,
Varied, and multiply'd that group of woes.
This endless foe to gen'rous toil and pain
Lolls on a couch for ease; but lolls in vain;
She muses o'er her woe-embroider'd vest,
And self-abhorrence heightens in her breast.
To shun her care, the force of sleep she tries,
Still wakes her mind, tho' slumbers doze her eyes:
She dreams, starts, rises, stalks from place to place,
With restless, thoughtful, interrupted pace;
Now eyes the sun, and curses ev'ry ray,
Now the green ground, where colour fades away.
Dim spectres dance! Again her eye she rears;
Then from the blood-shot ball wipes purpled tears;
Then presses hard her brow, with mischief fraught,
Her brow half bursts with agony of thought!
From me (she cries) pale wretch, thy comfort claim,
Born of Despair, and Suicide my name!
Why should thy life a moment's pain endure?
Here ev'ry object proffers grief a cure.
She points where leaves of hemlock black'ning shoot!
Fear not! pluck! eat (said she) the sov'reign root!
Then Death, revers'd, shall bear his ebon lance!
Soft o'er thy sight shall swim the shadowy trance!
Or leap yon rock, possess a wat'ry grave,
And leave wild sorrow to the wind and wave!
Or mark-this poniard thus from mis'ry frees!
She wounds her breast!-the guilty steel I seize!
Straight, where she struck, a smoaking spring of gore
Wells from the wound, and floats the crimson'd floor,
She faints! she fades!-Calm thoughts the deed revolve,
And now, unstartling, fix the dire resolve;
Death drops his terrors, and, with charming wiles,
Winning, and kind, like my Olympia smiles!
He points the passage to the seats divine,
Where poets, heroes, sainted lovers shine!
I come, Olympia!-My rear'd arm extends;
Half to my breast the threat'ning point descends!
Straight thunder rocks the land! new lightnings play!
When, lo! a voice resounds-Arise! away!
Away! nor murmur at th' afflictive rod!
Nor tempt the vengeance of an angry God!
Fly'st thou from Providence for vain relief?
Such ill-sought ease shall draw avenging grief.
Honour, the more obstructed, stronger shines,
And zeal by persecution's rage refines.
By woe, the soul to daring actions swells;
By woe, in paintless patience it excels;
From patience, prudent clear experience springs,
And traces knowledge thro' the course of things!
Thence hope is form'd, thence fortitude, success,
Renown:-whate'er men covet and caress.
The vanish'd fiend thus sent a hollow voice-
Would'st thou be happy! Straight be death thy choice.
How mean are those, who passively complain;
While active souls, more free, their fetters strain?
Tho' knowledge thine, hope, fortitude, success,
Renown:-whate'er men covet and caress;
On earth success must in its turn give way,
And ev'n perfection introduce decay.
Never the world of spirits thus-their rest
Untouch'd! entire! once happy, ever blest!
Earnest the heav'nly voice responsive cries,
Oh, listen not to subtilty unwise!
Thy guardian saint, who mourns thy hapless fate,
Heav'n grants to prop thy virtue, ere too late.
Know, if thou wilt thy dear-lov'd wife deplore,
Olympia waits thee on a foreign shore;
There in a cell thy last remains be spent;
Away! deceive Despair, and find Content!
I heard, obey'd; nor more of fate complain'd;
Long seas I measur'd, and this mountain gain'd.
Soon to a yawning rift, chance turn'd my way;
A den it prov'd where a huge serpent lay!
Flame-ey'd he lay!-He rages now for food,
Meets my first glance, and meditates my blood!
His bulk, in many a gather'd orb uproll'd,
Rears spire on spire! His scales, be-dropt with gold,
Shine burnish'd in the sun! Such height they gain,
They dart green lustre on the distant main!
Now writh'd in dreadful slope, he stoops his crest,
Furious to fix on my unshielded breast!
Just as he springs, my sabre smites the foe!
Headless he falls beneath th' unerring blow!
Wrath yet remains, tho' strength his fabric leaves,
And the meant hiss, the gasping mouth deceives;
The length'ning trunk slow-loosens ev'ry fold,
Lingers in life; then stretches stiff, and cold,
Just as th' invet'rate son of mischief ends,
Comes a white dove, and near the spot descends:
I hail this omen! all bad passions cease,
Like the slain snake, and all within is peace.
Next, to Religion this plain roof I raise!
In duteous rites my hallow'd tapers blaze!
I bid due incense on my altar smoke!
Then, at this tomb, my promis'd Love invoke!
She hears!-She comes!-My heart what raptures warm?
All my Olympia sparkles in the form!
No pale, wan, livid mark of Death she bears!
Each roseate look a quick'ning transport wears!
A robe of light, high-wrought, her shape invests;
Unzon'd the swelling beauty of her breasts!
Her auburn hair each flowing ring resumes,
In her fair hand, Love's branch of myrtle blooms!
Silent, awhile, each well-known charm I trace;
Then thus, (while nearer she avoids th' embrace)
Thou dear deceit!-must I a shade pursue?
Dazzled I gaze!-thou swimm'st before my view!
Dipt in etherial dews, her bough divine
Sprinkles my eyes, which, strengthen'd, bear the shine:
Still thus I urge (for still the shadowy bliss
Shuns the warm grasp, nor yields the tender kiss)
Oh, fly not!-fade not! listen to Love's call!
She lives!-no more I'm man!-I'm spirit all!
Then let me snatch thee!-press thee!-take me whole!
Oh, close!-yet closer!-closer to my soul!
Twice, round her waist, my eager arms entwin'd,
And, twice deceiv'd, my frenzy clasp'd the wind!
Then thus I rav'd-Behold thy husband kneel,
And judge! O judge, what agonies I feel!
Oh! be no longer, if unkind, thus fair;
Take Horror's shape, and fright me with despair!
Rather than thus, unpitying, see my moan,
Far rather frown, and fix me here in stone!
But mock not thus-Alas! (the charmer said,
Smiling; and, in her smile, soft radiance play'd)
Alas! no more eluded strength employ,
To clasp a shade!-What more is mortal joy?
Man's bliss is, like his knowledge, but surmis'd;
One ignorance, the other pain disguis'd!
Thou wert (had all thy wish been still possest)
Supremely curst from being greatly blest;
For oh! so fair, so dear was I to thee,
Thou hadst forgot thy God, to worship me;
This he foresaw, and snatch'd me to the tomb;
Above I flourish in unfading bloom.
Think me not lost: for thee I heav'n implore!
Thy guardian angel, tho' a wife no more!
I, when abstracted from this world you seem,
Hint the pure thought, and frame the heav'nly dream!
Close at thy side, when morning streaks the air,
In Music's voice I wake thy mind to pray'r!
By me, thy hymns, like purest incense, rise,
Fragrant with grace, and pleasing to the skies!
And when that form shall from its clay refine,
(That only bar betwixt my soul and thine!)
When thy lov'd spirit mounts to realms of light,
Then shall Olympia aid thy earliest flight;
Mingled we'll flame in raptures, that aspire
Beyond all youth, all sense, and all desire.
She ended. Still such sweetness dwells behind,
Th' inchanting voice still warbles in my mind:
But lo! th' unbodied vision fleets away!-
-Stay, my Olympia!-I conjure thee, stay!
Yet stay-for thee my mem'ry learns to smart!
Sure ev'ry vein contains a bleeding heart!
Sooner shall splendor leave the blaze of day,
Than love, so pure, so vast as mine, decay,
From the same heav'nly source its lustre came,
And glows, immortal, with congenial flame!
Ah!-let me not with fires neglected burn;
Sweet mistress of my soul, return, return!
Alas!-she's fled!-I traverse now the place,
Where my enamour'd thoughts her footsteps trace.
Now, o'er the tomb, I bend my drooping head,
There tears, the eloquence of sorrow, shed.
Sighs choak my words, unable to express
The pangs, the throbs of speechless tenderness!
Not with more ardent, more transparent flame,
Call dying saints on their Creator's name,
Than I on hers;-but, thro' yon yielding door,
Glides a new phantom o'er th' illumin'd floor!
The roof swift-kindles from the beaming ground,
And floods of living lustre flame around!
In all the majesty of light array'd,
Awful it shines!-'tis Cato's honour'd shade!
As I, the heav'nly visitant pursue,
Sublimer glory opens to my view!
He speaks!-But, oh! what words shall dare repeat
His thoughts!-they leave me fir'd with patriot heat
More than poetic raptures now I feel,
And own that godlike passion, public zeal!
But, from my frailty, it receives a stain,
I grow, unlike my great Inspirer, vain;
And burn, once more, the busy world to know,
And would, in scenes of action foremost glow!
Where proud ambition points her dazzling rays!
Where coronets and crowns, attractive, blaze!
When my Olympia leaves the realms above,
And lures me back to solitary love.
She tells me truth, prefers an humble state,
That genuine greatness shuns the being great!
That mean are those, who false-term'd honour prize;
Whose fabricks, from their country's ruin rise;
Who look the traitor, like the patriot fair;
Who, to enjoy the vineyard, wrong the heir.
I hear!-thro' all my veins new transpots roll!
I gaze!-warm love comes rushing on my soul!
Ravish'd I gaze!-again her charms decay!
Again my manhood to my grief gives way!
Cato returns!-Zeal takes her course to reign!
But zeal is in ambition lost again!
I'm now the slave of fondness!-now of pride!
-By turns they conquer, and by turns subside!
These balanc'd each by each, the golden mean,
Betwixt them found, gives happiness serene;
This I'll enjoy!-He ended!-I reply'd:
O Hermit! thou art worth severely try'd!
But had not innate grief produc'd thy woes,
Men, barb'rous men, had prey'd on thy repose.
When seeking joy, we seldom sorrow miss,
And often mis'ry points the path to bliss.
The soil, most worthy of the thrifty swain,
Is wounded thus, ere trusted with the grain;
The struggling grain must work obscure its way,
Ere the first green springs upward to the day;
Up-sprung, such weed-like coarseness it betrays,
Flocks on th' abandon'd blade permissive graze;
Then shoots the wealth, from imperfection clear,
And thus a grateful harvest crowns the year.
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