« PreviousContinue »
THE PROGRESS OF GENIUS.
A who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where Fame's proud temple shines
afar ! Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime Hath felt the influence of malignant star, And wag'd with Fortune an eternal war; Check'd by the scoff of Pride, by Envy's frown, And Poverty's unconquerable bar,
In life's low vale remote hath pin'd alone, Then dropt into the grave, unpitied and unknown.
And yet, the languor of inglorious days Not equally oppressive is to all. Him, who ne'er listen'd to the voice of praise, The silence of neglect can ne'er appal. There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call, Would shrink to hear the obstreperous trump of Fame; Supremely blest, if to their portion fall Health, competence, and peace. Nor higher aim Had He, whose simple tale these artless lines proclaim,
The rolls of fame, I will not now explore ;
Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride,
The parasite their influence never warms,
Tho' richest hues the peacock's plumes adorn, Yet horror screams from his discordant throat. Rise, sons of harmony, and hail the morn, While warbling larks on russet pinions float: Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote, Where the grey linnets carol from the hill. O let them ne'er, with artificial note, To please a tyrant, strain the little bill, But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where
Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand;
Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies, And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes.
Then grieve not, thou, to whom the indulgent Muse
To fancy, freedom, harmony, resign;
Canst thou forego the pure etherial soul
Where fear, distrust, malevolence, abide,
O how canst thou renounce the boundless store Of charms which Nature to her votary yields ! The warbling woodland, the resounding shore, The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields; All that the genial ray of morning gilds, And all that echoes to the song of even, All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields, And all the dread magnificence of heaven, O how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven!
These charms shall work thy soul's eternal health, And love, and gentleness, and joy, impart. But these thou must renounce, if lust of wealth E'er win its way to thy corrupted heart; For, ah ! it poisons like a scorpion's dart; Prompting th' ungenerous wish, the selfish scheme, The stern resolve, unmov'd by pity's smart, -The troublous day, and long distressful dream.Return, my roying Muse, resume thy purpos'd theme.
There liv'd in Gothic days, as legends tell,
Patient of toil; serene amidst alarms;
The shepherd-swain of whom I mention made,
And he, tho' oft with dust and sweat besprent,
From labour health, from health contentment
For on his vows the blameless Phæbe smil'd,
* There is hardly an ancient Ballad or Romance, wherein a Minstrel or Harper appears, but he is characterized, by way of eminence, to have been “ of the North Countrie,” It is probable, that under this appellation were formerly como prehended all the provinces to the north of the Trent. See Percy's Essay on the English Minstrels.