The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto III
Thus free our social time from morning flows,
Till rising shades attempt the day to close.
Thus my new friend: Behold the light's decay:
Back to yon city let me point thy way.
South-west, behind yon hill, the slooping sun,
To ocean's verge his fluent course has run:
His parting eyes a wat'ry radiance shed,
Glance through the vale, and tip the mountain's head:
To which oppos'd the shad'wy gulfs below,
Beauteous, reflect the party-colour'd snow.
Now dance the stars, where Vesper leads the way;
Yet all faint-glimm'ring with remains of day.
Orient, the Queen of Night emits her dawn,
And throws, unseen, her mantle o'er the lawn.
Up the blue steep, her crimson orb now shines;
Now on the mountain-top her arm reclines,
In a red crescent seen: her zone now gleams,
Like Venus, quiv'ring in reflecting streams.
Yet red'ning, yet round-burning up the air,
From the white cliff, her feet slow-rising glare!
See! flames, condens'd, now vary her attire;
Her face, a broad circumference of fire.
Dark firs seem kindled in nocturnal blaze;
Thro' ranks of pines, her broken lustre plays,
Here glares, there brown-projecting shade bestows,
And, glitt'ring, sports upon the spangled snows.
Now silver turn her beams!-Yon den they gain;
The big, rouz'd lion shakes his brindled main.
Fierce, fleet, gaunt monsters, all prepar'd for gore,
Rend woods, vales, rocks, with wide-resounding roar.
O dire presage!-But fear not thou, my friend,
Our steps the guardians of the just attend.
Homeward I'll wait thee on-and now survey,
How men, and spirits, chace the night away!
Yon nymps and swains in am'rous mirth advance;
To breathing music moves the circling dance.
Here the bold youth in deeds advent'rous glow,
Skimming in rapid sleds the crackling snow.
Not when Tydides won the fun'ral race,
Shot his light car along in swifter pace.
Here the glaz'd way with iron feet they dare,
And glide, well-pois'd, like Mercuries in air.
There crowds, with stable tread, and levell'd eye,
Lift, and dismiss the quoits, that whirling fly.
With force superior, not with skill so true,
The pond'rous disk from Roman sinews flew.
Where neighb'ring hills some cloudy sheet sustain,
Freez'd o'er the nether vale a pensive plain,
Cross the roof'd hollow rolls the massy round,
The crack'd ice rattles, and the rocks resound!
Censures, disputes, and laughs, alternate, rise;
And deaf'ning clangor thunders up the skies.
Thus, amid crowded images, serene,
From hour to hour we pass'd, from scene to scene:
Fast wore the night. Full long we pac'd our way;
Vain steps! the city yet far distant lay.
While thus the Hermit, ere my wonder spoke,
Methought, with new amusement, silence broke:
Yon amber-hu'd cascade, which fleecy flies
Thro' rocks, and strays along the trackless skies
To frolic fairies marks the mazy ring;
Forth to the dance from little cells they spring,
Measur'd to pipe, or harp!-and next they stand.
Marshall'd beneath the moon, a radiant band!
In frost-work now delight the sportive kind:
Now court wild Fancy in the whistling wind.
Hark!-the funereal bell's deep-sounding toll,
To bliss, from mis'ry, calls some righteous soul!
Just freed from life, like swift-ascending fire,
Glorious it mounts, and gleams from yonder spire!
Light claps its wings!-It views, with pitying sight,
The friendly mourner pay the pious rite;
The plume high-wrought, that black'ning nods in air;
The slow-pac'd weeping pomp; the solemn pray'r;
The decent tomb; the verse, that Sorrow gives,
Where, to remembrance sweet, fair Virtue lives.
Now to mid-heav'n the whiten'd moon inclines,
And shades contract, mark'd out in clearer lines;
With noiseless gloom the plains are delug'd o'er:
See!-from the north, what streaming meteors pour!
Beneath Boötes springs the radiant train,
And quiver thro' the axle of his wain.
O'er altars thus, impainted, we behold
Half-circling glories shoot in rays of gold.
Cross either swift elance the vivid fires!
As swift again each pointed flame retires!
In fancy's eye encount'ring armies glare,
And sanguine ensigns wave unfurl'd in air!
Hence the weak vulgar deem impending fate,
A monarch ruin'd, or unpeopled state.
Thus comets, dreadful visitants! arise
To them wild omens, science to the wise!
These mark the comet to the sun incline,
While deep-red flames around its center shine!
While its fierce rear a winding trail displays,
And lights all ether with the sweepy blaze!
Or when, compell'd, it flies the torrid zone,
And shoots by worlds unnumber'd, and unknown;
By worlds, whose people, all-aghast with fear,
May view that minister of vengeance near!
'Till now the transient glow, remote, and lost,
Decays, and darkens 'mid involving frost!
Or when it, sun-ward, drinks rich beams again,
And burns imperious on th' etherial plain!
The learn'd-one, curious, eyes it from afar,
Sparkling thro' night, a new, illustrious star!
The moon, descending, saw us now pursue
The various talk;-the city near in view!
Here from still life (he cries) avert thy sight,
And mark what deeds adorn, or shame the night!
But, heedful, each immodest prospect fly;
Where decency forbids enquiry's eye.
Man were not man, without love's wanton fire,
But reason's glory is to quell desire.
What are thy fruits, O Lust? Short blessings, bought
With long remorse, the seed of bitter thought;
Perhaps some babe to dire diseases born,
Doom'd for another's crimes, thro' life, to mourn;
Or murder'd, to preserve a mother's fame;
Or cast obscure; the child of want and shame!
False pride! What vices on our conduct steal,
From the world's eye one frailty to conceal?
Ye cruel mothers!-Soft! those words command;
So near shall cruelty and mother stand?
Can the dove's bosom snakey venom draw?
Can its foot sharpen, like the vulture's claw?
Can the fond goat, or tender fleecy dam
Howl, like the wolf, to tear the kid, or lamb?
Yes, there are mothers-There I fear'd his aim,
And conscious, trembled at the coming name;
Then, with a sigh, his issuing words oppos'd!
Straight with a falling tear the speech he clos'd.
That tenderness which ties of blood deny,
Nature repaid me from a stranger's eye.
Pale grew my cheeks!-But now to gen'ral views
Our converse turns, which thus my friend renews.
Yon mansion, made by beaming tapers gay,
Drowns the dim night, and counterfeits the day.
From lumin'd windows glancing on the eye,
Around, athwart, the frisking shadows fly,
There midnight riot spreads illusive joys,
And fortune, health, and dearer time destroys.
Soon death's dark agent to luxuriant ease,
Shall wake sharp warnings in some fierce disease.
O man! thy fabric's like a well-form'd state;
Thy thoughts, first-rank'd, were sure design'd the great!
Passions plebeians are, which faction raise;
Wine, like pour'd oil, excites the raging blaze:
Then giddy anarchy's rude triumphs rise:
Then sov'reign reason from her empire flies:
That ruler once depos'd, wisdom and wit,
To noise and folly, place and pow'r submit;
Like a frail bark thy weaken'd mind is tost,
Unsteer'd, unbalanc'd, till its wealth is lost.
The miser-spirit eyes the spendthrift heir,
And mourns, too late, effects of sordid care.
His treasures fly to cloy each fawning slave;
Yet grudge a stone to dignify his grave.
For this, low-thoughted craft his life employ'd;
For this, tho' wealthy, he no wealth enjoy'd;
For this, he grip'd the poor, and alms deny'd,
Unfriended liv'd, and unlamented died.
Yet smile, griev'd shade! when that unprosp'rous store
Fast-lessens, when gay hours return no more;
Smile at thy heir, beholding in his fall,
Men once oblig'd, like him, ungrateful all!
Then thought-inspiring woe his heart shall mend,
And prove his only wise, unflatt'ring friend.
Folly exhibits thus unmanly sport,
While plotting mischief keeps reserv'd her court.
Lo! from that mount, in blasting sulphur broke,
Stream flames voluminous, enwrapp'd with smoke!
In chariot-shape they whirl up yonder tow'r,
Lean on its brow, and like destruction low'r!
From the black depth a fiery legion springs;
Each bold, bad spectre claps her sounding wings:
And straight beneath a summon'd, trait'rous band,
On horror bent, in dark convention stand:
From each fiend's mouth a ruddy vapour flows,
Glides thro' the roof, and o'er the council glows:
The villains, close beneath th' infection pent,
Feel, all-possess'd, their rising galls ferment;
And burn with faction, hate, and vengeful ire,
For rapine, blood, and devastation dire!
But Justice marks their ways: she waves, in air,
The sword, high-threat'ning, like a comet's glare.
While here dark Villainy herself deceives,
There studious Honesty our view relieves.
A feeble taper, from yon lonesome room,
Scatt'ring thin rays, just glimmers thro' the gloom.
There sits the sapient bard in museful mood,
And glows impassion'd for his country's good!
All the bright spirits of the just, combin'd,
Inform, refine, and prompt his tow'ring mind!
He takes the gifted quill from hands divine,
Around his temples rays refulgent shine!
Now rapt! now more than man!-I see him climb,
To view this speck of earth from worlds sublime!
I see him now o'er Nature's works preside!
How clear the vision! and the scene how wide!
Let some a name by adulation raise,
Or scandal, meaner than a venal praise!
My muse (he cries) a nobler prospect view!
Thro' fancy's wilds some moral's point pursue!
From dark deception clear-drawn truth display,
As from black chaos rose resplendent day!
Awake compassion, and bid terror rise!
Bid humble sorrows strike superior eyes!
So pamper'd pow'r, unconscious of distress,
May see, be mov'd, and, being mov'd, redress.
Ye traytors, tyrants, fear his stinging lay!
Ye pow'rs unlov'd, unpity'd in decay!
But know, to you sweet-blossom'd Fame he brings,
Ye heroes, patriots, and paternal kings!
O Thou, who form'd, who rais'd the poet's art,
(Voice of thy will!) unerring force impart!
If wailing worth can gen'rous warmth excite,
If verse can gild instruction with delight,
Inspire his honest Muse with orient flame,
To rise, to dare, to reach the noblest aim!
But, O my friend! mysterious is our fate!
How mean his fortune, tho' his mind elate!
Æneas-like, he passes thro' the crowd,
Unsought, unseen beneath misroftune's cloud;
Or seen with slight regard: Unprais'd his name;
His after-honour, and our after-shame.
The doom'd desert to av'rice stands confess'd;
Her eyes averted are, and steel'd her breast.
Envy asquint the future wonder eyes:
Bold Insult, pointing, hoots him as he flies;
While coward Censure, skill'd in darker ways,
Hints sure detraction in dissembled praise!
Hunger, thirst, nakedness, there grievous fall!
Unjust Derision too!-that tongue of gall!
Slow comes relief, with no mild charms endu'd,
Usher'd by Pride, and by Reproach pursu'd.
Forc'd Pity meets him with a cold respect,
Unkind as Scorn, ungen'rous as Neglect.
Yet, suff'ring Worth! thy fortitude will shine!
Thy foes are Virtue's, and her friends are thine!
Patience is thine, and Peace thy days shall crown;
Thy treasure Prudence, and thy claim Renown:
Myriads, unborn, shall mourn thy hapless fate,
And myriads grow, by thy example, great!
Hark! from the watch-tow'r rolls the trumpet's sound,
Sweet thro' still night, proclaiming safety round!
Yon shade illustrious quits the realms of rest,
To aid some orphan of its race distrest,
Safe winds him thro' the subterraneous way,
That mines yon mansion, grown with ruin grey,
And marks the wealthy, unsuspected ground,
Where, green with rust, long-buried coins abound.
This plaintive ghost, from earth when newly fled,
Saw those, the living trusted, wrong the dead;
He saw, by fraud abus'd, the lifeless hand
Sign the false deed that alienates his land;
Heard, on his fame, injurious censure thrown,
And mourn'd the beggar'd orphan's bitter groan.
Commission'd now, the falshood he reveals,
To justice soon th' enabled heir appeals;
Soon, by this wealth, are costly pleas maintain'd,
And, by discover'd truth, lost right regain'd.
But why (may some enquire) why kind success,
Since mystic heav'n gives mis'ry oft to bless?
Tho' mis'ry leads to happiness and truth,
Unequal to the load, this languid youth,
Unstrengthen'd virtue scarce his bosom fir'd,
And fearful from his growing wants retir'd.
(Oh, let none censure, if, untried by grief,
If, amidst woe, untempted by relief,)
He stoop'd reluctant to low arts of shame,
Which then, ev'n then he scorn'd, and blush'd to name.
Heav'n sees, and makes th' imperfect worth its care,
And cheers the trembling heart, unform'd to bear.
Now rising fortune elevates his mind,
He shines unclouded, and adorns mankind.
So in some engine, that denies a vent,
If unrespiring is some creature pent,
It sickens, droops, and pants, and gasps for breath,
Sad o'er the sight swim shad'wy mists of death;
If then kind air pours pow'rful in again,
New heats, new pulses quicken ev'ry vein;
From the clear'd, lifted, life-rekindled eye,
Dispers'd, the dark and dampy vapours fly.
From trembling tombs the ghosts of greatness rise,
And o'er their bodies hang with wistful eyes;
Or discontented stalk, and mix their howls
With howling wolves, their screams with screaming owls.
The interval 'twixt night and morn is nigh,
Winter more nitrous chills the shadow'd sky.
Springs with soft heats no more give borders green,
Nor smoaking breathe along the whiten'd scene;
While steamy currents, sweet in prospect, charm
Like veins blue-winding on a fair-one's arm.
Now Sleep to Fancy parts with half his pow'r,
And broken slumbers drag the restless hour.
The murder'd seems alive, and ghastly glares,
And in dire dreams the conscious murd'rer scares,
Shews the yet-spouting wound, th' ensanguin'd floor,
The walls yet smoaking with the spatter'd gore;
Or shrieks to dozing justice, and reveals
The deed, which fraudful art from day conceals;
The delve obscene, where no suspicion pries,
Where the disfigur'd corse unshrouded lies;
The sure, the striking proof, so strong maintain'd,
Pale Guilt starts self-convicted, when arraign'd.
These spirits, treason of its pow'r divest,
And turn the peril from the patriot's breast.
Those solemn thought inspire, or bright descend
To snatch, in vision sweet, the dying friend.
But we deceive the gloom, the matin bell
Summon's to prayer!-Now breaks th' inchanter's spell!
And now-But yon fair spirit's form survey!
'Tis she!-Olympia beckons me away!
I haste! I fly-adieu!-and when you see
The youth who bleeds with fondness, think on me:
Tell him my tale, and be his pain carest;
By love I tortur'd was, by love I'm blest.
When worship'd woman we entranc'd behold,
We praise the Maker in his fairest mould;
The pride of nature, harmony combin'd,
And light immortal to the soul refin'd!
Depriv'd of charming woman, soon we miss
The prize of friendship, and the life of bliss!
Still thro' the shades Olympia dawning breaks!
What bloom, what brightness lusters o'er her cheeks!
Again she calls!-I dare no longer stay!
A kind farewel-Olympia, I obey.
He turn'd, nor longer in my sight remain'd;
The mountain he, I safe the city gain'd.
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