The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto V - Poem by Richard Savage
We left the cave. Be Fear (said I) defy'd!
Virtue (for thou art Virtue) is my guide.
By time-worn steps a steep ascent we gain,
Whose summit yields a prospect o'er the plain.
There, bench'd with turf, an oak our seat extends,
Whose top, a verdant, branch'd pavilion bends.
Vistas, with leaves, diversify the scene,
Some pale, some brown, and some of lively green.
Now, from the full-grown day a beamy show'r
Gleams on the lake, and gilds each glossy flow'r.
Gay insects sparkle in the genial blaze,
Various as light, and countless as its rays:
They dance on every stream, and pictur'd play,
'Till, by the wat'ry racer, snatch'd away.
Now, from yon range of rocks, strong rays rebound,
Doubling the day on flow'ry plains around:
King-cups beneath far-striking colours glance,
Bright as th' etherial glows the green expanse.
Gems of the field!-the topaz charms the sight,
Like these, effulging yellow streams of light.
From the same rocks, fall rills with soften'd force,
Meet in yon mead, and well a river's source.
Thro' her clear channel, shine her finny shoals,
O'er sands, like gold, the liquid crystal rolls.
Dimm'd in yon coarser moor, her charms decay,
And shape, thro' rustling reeds, a ruffled way.
Near willows short and bushy shadows throw:
Now lost, she seems thro' nether tracts to flow;
Yet, at yon point, winds out in silver state,
Like Virtue from a labyrinth of fate.
In length'ning rows, prone from the mountains, run
The flocks:-their fleeces glist'ning in the sun;
Her streams they seek, and, 'twixt her neighb'ring trees,
Recline in various attitudes of ease.
Where the herds sip, the little scaly fry,
Swift from the shore, in scatt'ring myriads fly.
Each liv'ry'd cloud, that round th' horizon glows,
Shifts in odd scenes, like earth, from whence it rose.
The bee hums wanton in yon jasmine bow'r,
And circling settles, and despoils the flow'r.
Melodious there the plumy songsters meet,
And call charm'd Echo from her arch'd retreat.
Neat-polish'd mansions rise in prospect gay;
Time-batter'd tow'rs frown awful in decay;
The sun plays glitt'ring on the rocks and spires,
And the lawn lightens with reflected fires.
Here Mirth, and Fancy's wanton train advance,
And to light measures turn the swimming dance.
Sweet, slow-pac'd Melancholy next appears,
Pompous in grief, and eloquent of tears.
Here Meditation shines, in azure drest,
All-starr'd with gems: a sun adorns her crest.
Religion, to whose lifted, raptur'd eyes
Seraphic hosts descend from opening skies;
Beauty, who sways the heart, and charms the sight;
Whose tongue is music, and whose smile delight;
Whose brow is majesty; whose bosom peace;
Who bad creation be, and chaos cease;
Whose breath perfumes the spring; whose eye divine
Kindled the sun, and gave its light to shine.
Here, in thy likeness, fair Ophelia, seen,
She throws kind lustre o'er th' enliven'd green.
Next her, Description, robed in various hues,
Invites attention from the pensive Muse!
The Muse!-she comes! refin'd the passions wait,
And Precept, ever winning, wise, and great.
The Muse! a thousand spirits wing the air:
(Once men, who made, like her, mankind their care)
Inamour'd round her press th' inspiring throng,
And swell to ecstacy her solemn song.
Thus in the dame each nobler grace we find,
Fair Wortley's angel-accent, eyes, and mind.
Whether her sight the dew-bright dawn surveys,
The noon's dry heat, or evening's temper'd rays,
The hours of storm, or calm, the gleby ground,
The coral'd sea, gem'd rock, or sky profound,
A Raphael's fancy animates each line,
Each image strikes with energy divine;
Bacon, and Newton in her thought conspire;
Not sweeter than her voice is Handel's lyre.
My hermit thus. She beckons us away:
Oh, let us swift the high behest obey!
Now thro' a lane, which mingling tracts have crost,
The way unequal, and the landscape lost,
We rove. The warblers lively tunes essay,
The lark on wing, the linnet on the spray,
While music trembles in their songful throats,
The bullfinch whistles soft his flute-like notes.
The bolder blackbird swells sonorous lays;
The varying thrush commands a tuneful maze;
Each a wild length of melody pursues;
While the soft-murm'ring, am'rous wood-dove cooes,
And when in spring these melting mixtures flow,
The cuckoo sends her unison of woe.
But as smooth seas are furrow'd by a storm;
As troubles all our tranquil joys deform;
So, loud through air, unwelcome noises sound,
And harmony's at once, in discord, drown'd.
From yon dark cypress, croaks the raven's cry;
As dissonant the daw, jay, chatt'ring pie:
The clam'rous crows abandon'd carnage seek,
And the harsh owl shrills out a sharp'ning shriek.
At the lane's end a high-lath'd gate's prefer'd,
To bar the trespass of a vagrant herd.
Fast by, a meagre mendicant we find,
Whose russet rags hang flutt'ring in the wind:
Years bow his back, a staff supports his tread,
And soft white hairs shade thin his palsy'd head.
Poor wretch!-Is this for charity his haunt?
He meets the frequent slight, and ruthless taunt.
On slaves of guilt oft smiles the squand'ring peer;
But passing knows not common bounty here.
Vain thing! in what dost thou superior shine?
His our first sire: what race more ancient thine?
Less backward trac'd, he may his lineage draw
From men whose influence kept the world in awe:
Whose worthless sons, like thee, perchance consum'd
Their ample store, their line to want was doom'd.
So thine may perish, by the course of things,
While his, from beggars re-ascend to kings.
Now lazar, as thy hardships I peruse,
On my own state instructed would I muse.
When I view greatness, I my lot lament,
Compar'd to thee, I snatch supreme content.
I might have felt, did heav'n not gracious deal,
A fate, which I must mourn to see thee feel.
But soft! the cripple our approach descries,
And to the gate, tho' weak, officious hies.
I spring preventive, and unbar the way,
Then, turning, with a smile of pity, say,
Here, friend!-this little copper alms receive,
Instance of will, without the pow'r to give.
Hermit, if here with pity we reflect,
How must we grieve, when learning meets neglect?
When god-like souls endure a mean restraint;
When gen'rous will is curb'd by tyrant want?
He truly feels what to distress belongs,
Who, to his private, adds a people's wrongs;
Merit's a mark, at which disgrace is thrown,
And ev'ry injur'd virtue is his own.
Such, their own pangs with patience here endure,
Yet there weep wounds, they are denied to cure,
Thus rich in poverty, thus humbly great,
And tho' depress'd, superior to their fate.
Minions in pow'r, and misers, 'mid their store,
Are mean in greatness, and in plenty poor.
What's pow'r, or wealth? Were they not form'd for aid,
A spring for virtue, and from wrongs a shade?
In pow'r we savage tyranny behold,
And wily av'rce owns polluted gold.
From golden sands her pride could Lybia raise,
Could she, who spreads no pasture, claim our praise?
Loath'd were her wealth, where rabid monsters breed;
Where serpents, pamper'd on her venom, feed,
No sheltry trees invite the Wand'rer's eye,
No fruits, no grain, no gums, her tracts supply;
On her vast wilds, no lovely prospects run;
But all lies barren, tho' beneath the sun.
My Hermit thus. I know thy soul believes,
'Tis hard vice triumphs, and that virtue grieves;
Yet oft affliction purifies the mind,
Kind benefits oft flow from means unkind.
Were the whole known, that we uncouth suppose,
Doubtless, would beauteous symmetry disclose.
The naked cliff, that singly rough remains,
In prospect dignifies the fertile plains;
Lead-colour'd clouds, in scatt'ring fragments seen,
Shew, tho' in broken views, the blue serene.
Severe distresses industry inspire;
Thus captives oft excelling arts acquire,
And boldly struggle thro' a state of shame,
To life, ease, plenty, liberty, and fame.
Sword-law has often Europe's balance gain'd,
And one red vict'ry years of peace maintain'd.
We pass thro' want to wealth, thro' dismal strife
To calm content, thro' death to endless life.
Lybia thou nam'st-Let Afric's wastes appear
Curst by those heats, that fructify the year;
Yet the same suns her orange-groves befriend,
Where clust'ring globes in shining rows depend.
Here when fierce beams o'er with'ring plants are roll'd,
There the green fruit seems ripen'd into gold.
Ev'n scenes that strike with terrible surprize,
Still prove a God, just, merciful, and wise.
Sad wint'ry blasts, that strip the autumn, bring
The milder beauties of a flow'ry spring.
Ye sulph'rous fires in jaggy lightnings break!
Ye thunders rattle, and ye nations shake!
Ye storms of riving flame the forest tear!
Deep crack the rocks! rent trees be whirl'd in air!
Reft at a stroke, some stately fane we'll mourn;
Her tombs wide-shatter'd, and her dead up-torn:
Were noxious spirits not from caverns drawn,
Rack'd earth would soon in gulfs enormous yawn:
Then all were lost!-Or should we floating view
The baleful cloud, there would destruction brew;
Plague, fever, frenzy, close-engend'ring lie,
'Till these red ruptures clear the sullied sky,
Now a field opens to enlarge my thought,
In parcell'd tracts to various uses wrought.
Here hard'ning ripeness the first blooms behold,
There the last blossoms spring-like pride unfold.
Here swelling peas on leafy stalks are seen,
Mix'd flow'rs of red and azure shine between;
Whose waving beauties, heighten'd by the sun,
In colour'd lanes along the furrows run.
There the next produce of a genial show'r,
The bean fresh-blossoms in a speckled flow'r;
Whose morning dews, when to the sun resign'd,
With undulating sweets embalm the wind.
Now daisy plats of clover square the plain,
And part the bearded from the beardless grain.
There fib'rous flax with verdure binds the field,
Which on the loom shall art-spun labours yield.
The mulb'ry, in fair summer-green array'd,
Full in the midst starts up, a silky shade.
For human taste the rich-stain'd fruitage bleeds;
The leaf the silk-emitting reptile feeds.
As swans their down, as flocks their fleeces leave,
Here worms for man their glossy entrails weave.
Hence to adorn the fair, in texture gay,
Sprigs, fruits, and flow'rs on figur'd vestments play:
But Industry prepares them oft to please
The guilty pride of vain, luxuriant ease.
Now frequent, dusty gales offensive blow,
And o'er my sight a transient blindness throw.
Windward we shift, near down th' etherial steep,
The lamp of day hangs hov'ring o'er the deep.
Dun shades, in rocky shapes, up ether roll'd,
Project long, shaggy points, deep ting'd with gold.
Others take faint th' unripen'd cherry's dye,
And paint amusing landscapes on the eye.
There blue-veil'd yellow, thro' a sky serene,
In swelling mixture forms a floating green.
Streak'd thro' white clouds a mild vermillion shines,
And the breeze freshens, as the heat declines.
Yon crooked, sunny roads change rising views
From brown, to sandy-red, and chalky hues.
One mingled scene another quick succeeds,
Men, chariots, teams, yok'd steers, and prancing steeds,
Which climb, descend, and, as loud whips resound,
Stretch, sweat, and smoke along unequal ground.
On winding Thames reflecting radiant beams,
When boats, ships, barges mark the roughen'd streams,
This way, and that, they diff'rent points pursue;
So mix the motions, and so shifts the view,
While thus we throw around our gladden'd eyes,
The gifts of heav'n in gay profusion rise;
Trees rich with gums, and fruits, with jewels rocks;
Plains with flow'rs, herbs, and plants, and beeves, and flocks;
Mountains with mines; with oak, and cedar, woods;
Quarries with marble, and with fish the floods.
In dark'ning spots, mid fields of various dies,
Tilth new manur'd, or naked fallow lies.
Near uplands fertile pride enclos'd display,
The green grass yellowing into scentful hay,
And thick-set hedges fence the full-ear'd corn,
And berries blacken on the virid thorn.
Mark in yon heath oppos'd the cultur'd scene,
Wild thyme, pale box, and firs of darker green.
The native strawberry red-ripening grows,
By nettles guarded, as by thorns the rose.
There nightingales in unprun'd copses build,
In shaggy furzes lies the hare conceal'd.
'Twixt ferns and thistles, unsown flow'rs amuse,
And form a lucid chase of various hues;
Many half-grey with dust: confus'd they lie,
Scent the rich year, and lead the wand'ring eye.
Contemplative, we tread the flow'ry plain,
The Muse preceding with her heav'nly train.
When, lo! the mendicant, so late behind,
Strange view! now journeying in our front we find!
And yet a view, more strange, our heed demands;
Touch'd by the Muse's wand transform'd he stands,
O'er skin late wrinkled, instant beauty spreads;
The late-dimm'd eye, a vivid lustre sheds;
Hairs, once so thin, now graceful locks decline;
And rags now chang'd, in regal vestments shine.
The Hermit thus. In him the bard behold,
Once seen by midnight's lamp in winter's cold;
The bard, whose want so multiplied his woes,
He sunk a mortal, and a seraph rose.
See!-Where those stately yew-trees darkling grow,
And, waving o'er yon groves, brown horrors throw,
Scornful he points-there, o'er his sacred dust,
Arise the sculptur'd tomb, and labour'd bust.
Vain pomp! bestow'd by ostentatious pride,
Who to a life of want relief deny'd.
But thus the bard. Are these the gifts of state?
Gifts unreceiv'd!-These? Ye ungen'rous great!
How was I treated when in life forlorn?
My claim your pity; but my lot your scorn.
Why were my studious hours oppos'd by need?
In me did poverty from guilt proceed?
Did I contemporary authors wrong,
And deem their worth, but as they priz'd my song?
Did I sooth vice, or venal strokes betray
In the low-purpos'd, loud polemic fray?
Did e'er my verse immodest warmth contain,
Or, once licentious, heav'nly truths profane?
Never-And yet when envy sunk my name,
Who call'd my shadow'd merit into fame?
When, undeserv'd, a prison's grate I saw,
What hand redeem'd me from the wrested law?
Who cloath'd me naked, or when hungry fed?
Why crush'd the living? Why extoll'd the dead?-
But foreign languages adopt my lays,
And distant nations shame you into praise.
Why should unrelish'd wit these honours cause?
Custom, not knowledge, dictates your applause:
Or think you thus a self-renown to raise,
And mingle your vain-glories with my bays?
Be yours the mould'ring tomb! Be mine the lay
Immortal!-Thus he scoffs the pomp away.
Tho' words like these unletter'd pride impeach,
To the meek heart he turns with milder speech.
Tho' now a seraph, oft he deigns to wear
The face of human friendship, oft of care;
To walk disguis'd an object of relief,
A learn'd, good man, long exercis'd in grief;
Forlorn, a friendless orphan oft to roam,
Craving some kind, some hospitable home;
Or, like Ulysses, a low lazar stand;
Beseeching Pity's eye and Bounty's hand;
Or, like Ulysses, royal aid request,
Wand'ring, from court to court, a king distrest.
Thus varying shapes, the seeming son of woe
Eyes the cold heart, and hearts that gen'rous glow;
Then to the Muse relates each lordly name,
Who deals impartial infamy, and fame.
Oft, as when man, in mortal state depress'd,
His lays taught virtue, which his life confess'd,
He now forms visionary scenes below,
Inspiring patience in the heart of woe;
Patience that softens every sad extreme,
That casts thro' dungeon-glooms a chearful gleam,
Disarms disease of pain, mocks slander's sting,
And strips of terrors the terrific king,
'Gainst Want, a sourer foe, its succour lends,
And smiling sees th' ingratitude of friends.
Nor are these tasks to him alone consign'd,
Millions invisible befriend mankind.
When wat'ry structures, seen cross heav'n t'ascend,
Arch above arch in radiant order bend,
Fancy beholds adown each glitt'ring side,
Myriads of missionary seraphs glide:
She sees good angels genial show'rs bestow
From the red convex of the dewy bow.
They smile upon the swain: He views the prize;
Then grateful bends, to bless the bounteous skies.
Some winds collect, and send propitious gales
Oft where Britannia's navy spreads her sails;
There ever wafting, on the breath of fame,
Unequal'd glory in her sovereign's name.
Some teach young zephyrs vernal sweets to bear.
And float the balmy health on ambient air;
Zephyrs, that oft, where lovers list'ning lie,
Along the grove, in melting music die,
And in lone caves to minds poetic roll
Seraphic whispers, that abstract the soul.
Some range the colours, as they parted fly,
Clear-pointed to the philosophic eye;
The flaming red, that pains the dwelling gaze;
The stainless, lightsome yellow's gilding rays;
The clouded orange, that betwixt them glows,
And to kind mixture tawny lustre owes;
All-cheering-green, that gives the spring its dye;
The bright, transparent blue, that robes the sky;
And indico, which shaded light displays;
And violet, which in the view decays.
Parental hues, whence others all proceed;
An ever-mingling, changeful, countless breed;
Unravel'd, variegated, lines of light,
When blended, dazzling in promiscuous white.
Oft thro' these bows departed spirits range,
New to the skies, admiring at their change;
Each mind a void, as when first born to earth,
Beheld a second blank in second birth;
Then, as yon Seraph-bard fram'd hearts below,
Each sees him here transcendent knowledge show,
New saints he tutors into truth refin'd,
And tunes to rapt'rous love the new-form'd mind.
He swells the lyre, whose loud, melodious lays
Call high Hosannah's from the voice of praise;
Tho' one bad age such poesy cou'd wrong,
Now worlds around retentive roll the song:
Now God's high throne the full-voic'd raptures gain,
Celestial hosts returning strain for strain.
Thus he, who once knew want without relief,
Sees joys resulting from well-suff'ring grief.
Hark! while we talk, a distant, patt'ring rain
Resounds!-See! up the broad etherial plain
Shoots the bright bow!-The seraph flits away;
The Muse, the Graces from our view decay.
Behind yon western hill the globe of light
Drops sudden, fast-pursued by shades of night.
Yon graves from winter-scenes to mind recall
Rebellion's council, and rebellion's fall.
What fiends in sulph'rous, car-like clouds up-flew;
What midnight treason glar'd beneath their view?
And now the traitors rear their Babel-schemes,
Big, and more big, stupendous mischief seems;
But Justice, rouz'd, superior strength employs,
Their scheme wide shatters, and their hope destroys,
Discord she wills; the missile ruin flies;
Sudden, unnatural debates arise,
Doubt, mutual jealousy, and dumb disgust,
Dark-hinted mutt'rings, and avow'd distrust;
To secret ferment is each heart resign'd;
Suspicion hovers in each clouded mind;
They jar, accus'd, accuse; revil'd, revile;
And wrath to wrath oppose, and guile to guile;
Wrangling they part, themselves themselves betray;
Each dire device starts naked into day;
They feel confusion in the van with fear;
They feel the king of terrors in the rear.
Of these were three by diff'rent motives fir'd,
Ambition one, and one revenge inspir'd.
The third, O Mammon, was thy meaner slave;
Thou idol seldom of the great and brave.
Florio, whose life was one continu'd feast,
His wealth diminish'd, and his debts increas'd,
Vain pomp, and equipage, his low desires,
Who ne'er to intellectual bliss aspires;
He, to repair by vice what vice has broke,
Durst with bold treasons judgment's rod provoke.
His strength of mind, by lux'ry half dissolv'd,
Ill brooks the woe, where deep he stands involv'd.
He weeps, stamps wild, and to and fro now flies;
Now wrings his hands, and sends unmanly cries,
Arraigns his judge, affirms unjust he bleeds,
And now recants, and now for mercy pleads;
Now blames associates, raves with inward strife,
Upbraids himself; then thinks alone on life.
He rolls red-swelling tearful eyes around,
Sore smites his breast, and sinks upon the ground.
He wails, he quite desponds, convulsive lies,
Shrinks from the fancy'd axe, and thinks he dies:
Revives, with hope enquires, stops short with fear,
Entreats ev'n flatt'ry, nor the worst will hear;
The worst alas, his doom!-What friend replies;
Each speaks with shaking head, and down-cast eyes.
One silence breaks, then pauses, drops a tear;
Nor hope affords, nor quite confirms his fear;
But what kind friendship part reserves unknown
Comes thund'ring in his keeper's surly tone.
Enough, struck thro' and thro', in ghastly stare,
He stands transfix'd, the statue of despair;
Nor ought of life, nor ought of death he knows,
Till thought returns, and brings return of woes:
Now pours a storm of grief in gushing streams:
That past-Collected in himself he seems,
And with forc'd smiles retires-His latent thought
Dark, horrid, as the prison's dismal vault.
If with himself at variance ever-wild,
With angry heav'n how stands he reconcil'd?
No penitential orisons arise;
Nay, he obtests the justice of the skies.
Not for his guilt, for sentenc'd life he moans;
His chains rough-clanking to discordant groans,
To bars harsh-grating, heavy-creaking doors,
Hoarse-echoing walls, and hollow-ringing floors,
To thoughts more dissonant, far, far less kind,
One anarchy, one chaos of the mind.
At length, fatigu'd with grief, on earth he lies:
But soon as sleep weighs down th' unwilling eyes,
Glad liberty appears, no damps annoy,
Treason succeeds, and all transforms to joy.
Proud palaces their glitt'ring stores display;
Gain he pursues, and rapine leads the way.
What gold? What gems?-He strains to seize the prize;
Quick from his touch dissolv'd, a cloud it flies.
Conscious he cries-And must I wake to weep?
Ah, yet return, return, delusive Sleep!
Sleep comes; but liberty no more:-Unkind,
The dungeon-glooms hang heavy on his mind.
Shrill winds are heard, and howling dæmons call;
Wide flying portals seem unhing'd to fall;
Then close with sudden claps; a dreadful din!
He starts, wakes, storms, and all is hell within.
His genius flies-reflects he now on prayer?
Alas! bad spirits turn those thoughts to air.
What shall he next? What, straight relinquish breath,
To bar a public, just, tho' shameful death?
Rash, horrid thought! yet now afraid to live,
Murd'rous he strikes-May heav'n the deed forgive!
Why had he thus false spirit to rebel!
And why not fortitude to suffer well?
Were his success, how terrible the blow?
And it recoils on him eternal woe.
Heav'n this affliction then for mercy meant,
That a good end might close a life mispent.
Where no kind lips the hallow'd dirge resound,
Far from the compass of yon sacred ground;
Full in the center of three meeting ways,
Stak'd thro' he lies-Warn'd let the wicked gaze.
Near yonder fane, where mis'ry sleeps in peace,
Whose spire fast-lessons, as the shades increase,
Left to the north, whence oft brew'd tempests roll,
Tempests, dire emblems, Cosmo, of thy soul!
There mark that Cosmo, much for guile renown'd!
His grave by unbid plants of poison crown'd.
When out of pow'r thro' him the public good,
So strong his factious tribe, suspended stood.
In pow'r, vindictive actions were his aim,
And patriots perish'd by th' ungenerous flame.
If the best cause he in the senate chose,
Ev'n right in him, from some wrong motive rose.
The bad he loth'd, and would the weak despise;
Yet courted for dark ends, and shun'd the wise.
When ill his purpose, eloquent his strain;
His malice had a look and voice humane.
His smile, the signal of some vile intent,
A private poniard, or empoison'd scent;
Proud, yet to popular applause a slave;
No friend he honour'd, and no foe forgave.
His boons unfrequent, or unjust to need;
The hire of guilt, of infamy the meed:
But if they chanc'd on learned worth to fall,
Bounty in him was ostentation all.
No true benevolence his thought sublimes,
His noblest actions are illustrious crimes.
Fine parts, which virtue might have rank'd with fame,
Enhance his guilt, and magnify his shame.
When parts and probity in man combine,
In wisdom's eye, how charming must he shine?
Let him, less happy, truth at least impart,
And what he wants in genius bear in heart.
Cosmo, as death draws nigh, no more conceals
That storm of passion, which his nature feels:
He feels much fear, more anger, and most pride;
But pride and anger make all fear subside,
Dauntless he meets at length untimely fate;
A desp'rate spirit! rather fierce than great.
Darkling he glides along the dreary coast,
A sullen, wand'ring, self-tormenting ghost.
Where veiny marble dignifies the ground,
With emblem fair in sculpture rising round,
Just where a crossing, length'ning aisle we find,
Full east; whence God returns to judge mankind,
Once-lov'd Horatio sleeps, a mind elate!
Lamented shade, ambition was thy fate.
Ev'n angels, wond'ring, oft his worth survey'd;
Behold a man, like one of us! they said.
Straight heard the furies, and with envy glar'd,
And to precipitate his fall prepar'd.
First Av'rice came. In vain Self-love she pressd;
The poor he pity'd still, and still redress'd:
Learning was his, and knowledge to commend,
Of arts a patron, and of want a friend.
Next came Revenge: but her essay how vain!
Not hate, nor envy, in his heart remain.
No previous malice could his mind engage,
Malice, the mother of vindictive rage.
No-from his life his foes might learn to live;
He held it still a triumph to forgive.
At length Ambition urg'd his country's weal,
Assuming the fair look of Public Zeal;
Still in his breast so gen'rous glow'd the flame,
The vice, when there, a virtue half became.
His pitying eye saw millions in distress,
He deem'd it god-like to have pow'r to bless:
Thus, when unguarded, Treason stain'd him o'er,
And Virtue, and Content were then no more.
But when to death by rig'rous justice doom'd,
His genuine spirits saint-like state resum'd,
Oft from soft penitence distill'd a tear;
Oft hope in heav'nly mercy lighten'd fear;
Oft wou'd a drop from struggling nature fall,
And then a smile of patience brighten all.
He seeks in heav'n a friend, nor seeks in vain:
His guardian angel swift descends again;
And resolution thus bespeaks a mind,
Not scorning life, yet all to death resign'd;
-Ye chains, fit only to restrain the will
Of common, desp'rate veterans in ill,
Tho' rankling on my limbs ye lie, declare,
Did e'er my rising soul your pressure wear?
No!-free as liberty, and quick as light,
To worlds remote she takes unbounded flight.
Ye dungeon-glooms, that dim corporeal eyes,
Cou'd ye once blot her prospect of the skies?
No!-from her clearer sight, ye fled away,
Like error, pierc'd by truth's resistless ray.
Ye walls, that witness my repentant moan!
Ye echoes, that to midnight sorrows groan!
Do I, in wrath, to you of fate complain?
Or once betray fear's most inglorious pain?
No!-Hail, twice hail then ignominious death!
Behold how willing glides my parting breath!
Far greater, better far,-ay, far indeed!
Like me, have suffer'd, and like me will bleed.
Apostles, patriarchs, prophets, martyrs all,
Like me once fell, nor murmur'd at their fall.
Shall I, whose days, at best, no ill design'd,
Whose virtue shone not, tho' I lov'd mankind,
Shall I, now guilty wretch, shall I repine?
Ah, no! to justice let me life resign!
Quick, as a friend, would I embrace my foe!
He taught me patience, who first taught me woe;
But friends are foes, they render woe severe,
For me they wail, from me extort the tear.
Not those, yet absent, missive griefs controul;
These periods weep, those rave, and these condole.
At entrance shrieks a friend, with pale surprize;
Another panting, prostrate, speechless lies?
One gripes my hand, one sobs upon my breast!
Ah, who can bear?-It shocks, it murders rest!
And is it yours, alas! my friends to feel?
And is it mine to comfort, mine to heal?
Is mine the patience, yours the bosom-strife?
Ah! would rash love lure back my thoughts to life?
Adieu, dear, dang'rous mourners! swift depart!
Ah, fly me! fly-I tear you from my heart.
Ye saints, whom fears of death could ne'er controul,
In my last hour compose, support my soul!
See my blood wash repented sin away!
Receive, receive me to eternal day!
With words like these the destin'd hero dies,
While angels waft his soul to happier skies.
Distinction now gives way; yet on we talk,
Full darkness deep'ning o'er the formless walk.
Night treads not with light step the dewy gale,
Nor bright-distends her star-embroider'd veil;
Her leaden feet, inclement damps distil,
Clouds shut her face, black winds her vesture fill;
An earth-born meteor lights the sable skies,
Eastward it shoots, and, sunk, forgotten dies.
So pride, that rose from dust to guilty pow'r,
Glares out in vain; so dust shall pride devour.
Fishers, who yonder brink by torches gain,
With teethful tridents strike the scaly train.
Like snakes in eagles' claws, in vain they strive,
When heav'd aloft, and quiv'ring yet alive.
While here, methought, our time in converse pass'd,
The moon clouds muffled, and the night wore fast.
At prowling wolves was heard the mastiff's bay,
And the warn'd master's arms forbad the prey.
Thus treason steals, the patriot thus descries,
Forth springs the monarch, and the mischief flies.
Pale glow-worms glimmer'd thro' the depth of night,
Scatt'ring, like hope thro' fear, a doubtful light.
Lone Philomela tun'd the silent grove,
With pensive pleasure listen'd wakeful Love.
Half-dreaming Fancy form'd an angel's tongue,
And Pain forgot to groan, so sweet she sung.
The Night-crone, with the melody alarm'd,
Now paus'd, now listen'd, and awhile was charm'd!
But like the man, whose frequent-stubborn will
Resists what kind, seraphic sounds instill,
Her heart the love-inspiring voice repell'd,
Her breast with agitating mischief swell'd;
Which clos'd her ear, and tempted to destroy
The tuneful life, that charms with virtuous joy.
Now fast we measure back the trackless way;
No friendly stars directive beams display.
But lo!-a thousand lights shoot instant rays;
Yon kindling rock reflects the startling blaze.
I stand astonish'd-thus the hermit cries:
Fear not, but listen with enlarg'd surprize!
Still must these hours our mutual converse claim,
And cease to echo still Olympia's name;
Grots, riv'lets, groves, Olympia's name forget,
Olympia now no sighing winds repeat.
Can I be mortal, and those hours no more,
Those am'rous hours, that plaintive echoes bore?
Am I the same? Ah, no!-Behold a mind,
Unruffled, firm, exalted, and refin'd!
Late months, that made the vernal season gay,
Saw my health languish off in pale decay.
No racking pain yet gave disease a date;
No sad, presageful thought preluded fate:
Yet number'd were my days-My destin'd end
Near, and more near-Nay, ev'ry fear suspend!
I pass'd a weary, ling'ring, sleepless night;
Then rose, to walk in morning's earliest light:
But few my steps-a faint, and cheerless few!
Refreshment from my flagging spirits flew.
When, low, retir'd beneath a cypress shade,
My limbs upon a flow'ry bank I laid,
Soon by soft-creeping, murm'ring winds compos'd,
A slumber press'd my languid eyes-They clos'd:
But clos'd not long-Methought Olympia spoke;
Thrice loud she call'd, and thrice the slumber broke.
I wak'd. Forth gliding from a neighb'ring wood,
Full in my view the shad'wy charmer stood.
Rapt'rous I started up to clasp the shade;
But stagger'd, fell, and found my vitals fade:
A mantling chilness o'er my bosom spread,
As if that instant number'd with the dead.
Her voice now sent a far, imperfect sound,
When in a swimming trance my pangs were drown'd.
Still farther off she call'd-With soft surprize
I turn'd-but void of strength, and aid to rise;
Short, shorter, shorter yet my breath I drew:
Then up my struggling soul unburthen'd flew.
Thus from a state, where sin, and grief abide,
Heav'n summon'd me to mercy-thus I died.
He said. Th' astonishment with which I start,
Like bolted ice runs shiv'ring thro' my heart.
Art thou not mortal then? (I cried) But lo!
His raiment lightens, and his features glow!
In shady ringlets falls a length of hair;
Embloom'd his aspect shines, enlarg'd his air.
Mild from his eyes enliv'ning glories beam;
Mild on his brow sits majesty supreme.
Bright plumes of ev'ry dye, that round him flow,
Vest, robe, and wings, in vary'd lustre show.
He looks, and forward steps with mien divine;
A grace celestial gives him all to shine.
He speaks-Nature is ravish'd at the sound,
The forests move, and streams stand list'ning round!
Thus he. As incorruption I assum'd,
As instant in immortal youth I bloom'd!
Renew'd, and chang'd, I felt my vital springs,
With diff'rent lights discern'd the form of things;
To earth my passions fell like mists away,
And reason open'd in eternal day.
Swifter than thought from world to world I flew,
Celestial knowledge shone in ev'ry view.
My food was truth-what transport could I miss?
My prospect, all infinitude of bliss.
Olympia met me first, and, smiling gay,
Onward to mercy led the shining way;
As far transcendent to her wonted air,
As her dear wonted self to many a fair!
In voice and form, beauty more beauteous shows,
And harmony still more harmonious grows.
She points out souls, who taught me friendship's charms,
They gaze, they glow, they spring into my arms!
Well pleas'd, high ancestors my view command;
Patrons, and patriots all; a glorious band!
Horatio too, by well-born fate refin'd,
Shone out white-rob'd with saints, a spotless mind!
What once, below, ambition made him miss,
Humility here gain'd, a life of bliss!
Tho' late, let sinners then from sin depart!
Heav'n never yet despis'd the contrite heart.
Last shone, with sweet, exalted lustre grac'd,
The seraph-bard, in highest order plac'd!
Seers, lovers, legislators, prelates, kings,
All raptur'd listen, as he raptur'd sings.
Sweetness and strength his look and lays employ,
Greet smiles with smiles, and ev'ry joy with joy:
Charmful he rose; his ever-charmful tongue
Joy to our second hymeneals sung;
Still, as we pass'd, the bright, celestial throng
Hail'd us in social love, and heav'nly song.
Of that no more! my deathless friendship see!
I come an angel to the Muse and thee.
These lights, that vibrate, and promiscuous shine,
Are emanations all of forms divine.
And here the Muse, tho' melted from thy gaze,
Stands among spirits, mingling rays with rays.
If thou wou'dst peace attain, my words attend,
The last, fond words of thy departed friend!
True joy's a seraph, that to heav'n aspires.
Unhurt it triumphs, mid' celestial choirs.
But shou'd no cares a mortal state molest,
Life were a state of ignorance at best.
Know then, if ills oblige thee to retire,
Those ills solemnity of thought inspire.
Did not the soul abroad for objects roam,
Whence could she learn to call ideas home?
Justly to know thyself, peruse mankind;
To know thy God, paint nature on thy mind:
Without such science of the worldly scene,
What is retirement?-empty pride or spleen:
But with it-wisdom. There shall cares refine,
Render'd by contemplation half-divine.
Trust not the frantic, or mysterious guide,
Nor stoop a captive to the schoolman's pride.
On nature's wonders fix alone thy zeal!
They dim not reason, when they truth reveal:
So shall religion in thy heart endure,
From all traditionary falshood pure;
So life make death familiar to thy eye,
So shalt thou live, as thou may'st learn to die;
And, tho' thou view'st thy worst oppressor thrive,
From transient woe immortal bliss derive.
Farewel-Nay, stop the parting tear!-I go!
But leave the Muse thy comforter below.
He said. Instant his pinions upward soar,
He less'ning as they rise, till seen no more.
While Contemplation weigh'd the mystic view,
The lights all vanish'd, and the vision flew.
Comments about The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto V by Richard Savage
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