« PreviousContinue »
5 A silver stream shall roll his waters near,
Gilt with the sunbeams here and there,
On whose enamelled bank I'll walk,
And see how prettily they smile,
And hear how prettily they talk.
6 Ah! wretched, and too solitary he,
Who loves not his own company!
He'll feel the weight of it many a day,
Unless he calls in sin or vanity
To help to bear it away.
7 O Solitude! first state of humankind!
Which bless'd remained till man did find
Even his own helper's company:
As soon as two, alas ! together joined,
The serpent made up three.
8 Though God himself, through countless
His sole companion chose to be,
Thee, sacred Solitude ! alone,
Before the branchy head of number's tree
Sprang from the trunk of one;
9 Thou (though men think thine an unactive part)
Dost break and tame the unruly heart,
Which else would know no settled pace,
Making it move, well managed by thy art,
With swiftness and with grace.
10 Thou the faint beams of reason's scattered light
Dost, like a burning glass, unite,
Dost multiply the feeble heat,
And fortify the strength, till thou dost bright
And noble fires beget.
11 Whilst this hard truth I teach, methinks I see
The monster London laugh at me;
I should at thee, too, foolish city!
If it were fit to laugh at misery;
But thy estate I pity.
12 Let but thy wicked men from out thee go,
And all the fools that crowd thee so,
Even thou, who dost thy millions boast,
A village less than Islington wilt grow,
A solitude almost.
Lest the misjudging world should chance to say
I durst not but in secret murmurs pray,
To whisper in Jove's ear
How much I wish that funeral,
Or gape at such a great one's fall;
This let all ages hear,
And future times in my soul's picture see
What I abhor, what I desire to be.
I would not be a Puritan, though he
Can preach two hours, and yet his sermon be
But half a quarter long ;
Though from his old mechanic trade
By vision he's a pastor made,
His faith was grown so strong ;
Nay, though he think to gain salvation
By calling the Pope the Whore of Babylon.
I would not be a Schoolmaster, though to him
His rods no less than Consuls' fasces seem ;
Though he in many a place,
Turns Lily oftener than his gowns,
Till at the last he makes the nouns
Fight with the verbs apace ;
Nay, though he can, in a poetic heat,
Figures, born since, out of poor Virgil beat.
I would not be a Justice of Peace, though he
Can with equality divide the fee,
And stakes with his clerk draw;
Nay, though he sits upon the place
Of judgment, with a learned face
Intricate as the law ;
And whilst he mulcts enormities demurely,
Breaks Priscian's head with sentences securely.
I would not be a Courtier, though he
Makes his whole life the truest comedy;
Although he be a man
In whom the tailor's forming art,
And nimble barber, claim more part
Than Nature herself can;
Though, as he uses men, 'tis his intent
To put off Death too with a compliment.
From Lawyers' tongues, though they can spin with ease
The shortest cause into a paraphrase,
From Usurers' conscience
(For swallowing up young heirs so fast,
Without all doubt they 'll choke at last)
Make me all innocence,
Good Heaven! and from thy eyes, 0 Justice ! keep;
For though they be not blind, they're oft asleep.
From Singing-men’s religion, who are
Always at church, just like the crows, 'cause there
They build themselves a nest;
From too much poetry, which shines
With gold in nothing but its lines,
Free, O you
my And from astronomy, which in the skies Finds fish and bulls, yet doth but tantalise.
From your Court-madam's beauty, which doth carry
At morning May, at night a January ;
From the grave City-brow
(For though it want an R, it has
The letter of Pythagoras)
Keep me, O Fortune ! now,
And chines of beef innumerable send me,
Or from the stomach of the guard defend me.
This only grant me, that my means may lie
Too low for envy, for contempt too high.
Some honour I would have,
Not from great deeds, but good alone :
The unknown are better than ill known:
Rumour can ope
Acquaintance I would have, but when 't depends
Not from the number, but the choice of friends.
Books should, not business, entertain the light,
And sleep, as undisturbed as death, the night.
My house a cottage more
Than palace, and should fitting be
For all my use, not luxury;
My garden, painted o'er
With Nature's hand, not Art's, that pleasure yield
Horace might envy in his Sabine field.
Thus would I double my life's fading space ;
For he that runs it well twice runs his race;
And in this true delight,
These unbought sports, and happy state,
I would not fear, nor wish my fate,
But boldly say each night,
To-morrow let my sun his beams display,
Or in clouds hide them, I have lived to-day.
UPON THE SHORTNESS OF MAN'S LIFE.
1 Mark that swift arrow, how it cuts the air,
How it outruns thy following eye!
Use all persuasions now, and try
If thou canst call it back, or stay it there.
That way it went, but thou shalt find
No track is left behind.
2 Fool! 'tis thy life, and the fond archer thou.
Of all the time thou 'st shot away,
I'll bid thee fetch but yesterday,
And it shall be too hard a task to do.
Besides repentance, what canst find
That it hath left behind ?