Genius of musings, who, the midnight hour
Wasting in woods or haunted forests wild,
Dost watch Orion in his arctic tower,
Thy dark eye fix'd as in some holy trance;
Or when the vollied lightnings cleave the air,
And Ruin gaunt bestrides the winged storm,
Sitt'st in some lonely watchtower, where thy lamp,
Faint blazing, strikes the fisher's eye from far,
And, 'mid the howl of elements, unmoved,
Dost ponder on the awful scene, and trace
The vast effect to its superior source,-
Spirit, attend my lowly benison!
For now I strike to themes of import high
The solitary lyre; and, borne by thee
Above this narrow cell, I celebrate
The mysteries of Time!

Him who, august,
Was e'er these worlds were fashion'd,-ere the sun
Sprang from the east, or Lucifer display'd
His glowing cresset in the arch of morn,
Or Vesper gilded the serener eve.
Yea, He had been for an eternity!
Had swept unvarying from eternity
The harp of desolation-ere his tones,
At God's command, assumed a milder strain,
And startled on his watch, in the vast deep,
Chaos's sluggish sentry, and evoked
From the dark void the smiling universe.

Chain'd to the groveling frailties of the flesh,
Mere mortal man, unpurged from earthly dross,
Cannot survey, with fix'd and steady eye,
The dim uncertain gulf, which now the muse,
Adventurous, would explore; but dizzy grown,
He topples down the abyss.-If he would scan
The fearful chasm, and catch a transient glimpse
Of its unfathomable depths, that so
His mind may turn with double joy to God,
His only certainty and resting place;
He must put off awhile this mortal vest,
And learn to follow, without giddiness,
To heights where all is vision, and surprise,
And vague conjecture.-He must waste by night
The studious taper, far from all resort
Of crowds and folly, in some still retreat;
High on the beetling promontory's crest,
Or in the caves of the vast wilderness,
Where, compass'd round with Nature's wildest shapes,
He may be driven to centre all his thoughts
In the great Architect, who lives confess'd
In rocks, and seas, and solitary wastes.

So has divine Philosophy, with voice
Mild as the murmurs of the moonlight wave,
Tutor'd the heart of him, who now awakes,
Touching the chords of solemn minstrelsy,
His faint, neglected song-intent to snatch
Some vagrant blossom from the dangerous steep
Of poesy, a bloom of such a hue,
So sober, as may not unseemly suit
With Truth's severer brow; and one withal
So hardy as shall brave the passing wind
Of many winters,-rearing its meek head
In loveliness, when he who gathered it
Is number'd with the generations gone.
Yet not to me hath God's good providence
Given studious leisure, or unbroken thought,
Such as he owns,-a meditative man;
Who from the blush of morn to quiet eve
Ponders, or turns the page of wisdom o'er,
Far from the busy crowd's tumultuous din:
From noise and wrangling far, and undisturb'd
With Mirth's unholy shouts. For me the day
Hath duties which require the vigorous hand
Of steadfast application, but which leave
No deep improving trace upon the mind.
But be the day another's;-let it pass!
The night's my own!-They cannot steal my night!
When evening lights her folding star on high,
I live and breathe; and in the sacred hours
Of quiet and repose my spirit flies,
Free as the morning, o'er the realms of space.
And mounts the skies, and imps her wing for Heaven.

Hence do I love the sober-suited maid;
Hence Night's my friend, my mistress, and my theme,
And she shall aid me now to magnify
The night of ages,-now when the pale ray
Of starlight penetrates the studious gloom,
And, at my window seated, while mankind
Are lock'd in sleep, I feel the freshening breeze
Of stillness blow, while, in her saddest stole,
Thought, like a wakeful vestal at her shrine,
Assumes her wonted sway.

Behold the world
Rests, and her tired inhabitants have paused
From trouble and turmoil. The widow now
Has ceased to weep, and her twin orphans lie
Lock'd in each arm, partakers of her rest.
The man of sorrow has forgot his woes;
The outcast that his head is shelterless,
His griefs unshared.-The mother tends no more
Her daughter's dying slumbers, but surprised
With heaviness, and sunk upon her couch,
Dreams of her bridals. Even the hectic, lull'd
On Death's lean arm to rest, in visions wrapp'd,
Crowning with Hope's bland wreath his shuddering nurse,
Poor victim! smiles.-Silence and deep repose
Reign o'er the nations; and the warning voice
Of Nature utters audibly within
The general moral:-tells us that repose,
Deathlike as this, but of far longer span,
Is coming on us-that the weary crowds,
Who now enjoy a temporary calm,
Shall soon taste lasting quiet, wrapp'd around
With grave clothes: and their aching restless heads
Mouldering in holes and corners unobserved,
Till the last trump shall break their sullen sleep.

Who needs a teacher to admonish him
That flesh is grass, that earthly things are mist?
What are our joys but dreams? and what our hopes
But goodly shadows in the summer cloud?
There's not a wind that blows but bears with it
Some rainbow promise:-Not a moment flies
But puts its sickle in the fields of life,
And mows its thousands, with their joys and cares.
'T is but as yesterday since on yon stars,
Which now I view, the Chaldee shepherd gazed
In his mid watch observant, and disposed
The twinkling hosts as fancy gave them shape.
Yet in the interim what mighty shocks
Have buffeted mankind-whole nations razed-
Cities made desolate-the polish'd sunk
To barbarism, and once barbaric states
Swaying the wand of science and of arts;
Illustrious deeds and memorable names
Blotted from record, and upon the tongue
Of gray Tradition, voluble no more.

Where are the heroes of the ages past?
Where the brave chieftains, where the mighty ones
Who flourish'd in the infancy of days?
All to the grave gone down. On their fallen fame
Exultant, mocking at the pride of man,
Sits grim Forgetfulness.-The warrior's arm
Lies nerveless on the pillow of its shame;
Hush'd is his stormy voice, and quench'd the blaze
Of his red eyeball.-Yesterday his name
Was mighty on the earth.-To-day-'t is what?
The meteor of the night of distant years,
That flash'd unnoticed, save by wrinkled eld,
Musing at midnight upon prophecies,
Who at her lonely lattice saw the gleam
Point to the mist-poised shroud, then quietly
Closed her pale lips, and lock'd the secret up
Safe in the enamel's treasures.

Oh how weak
Is mortal man! how trifling-how confined
His scope of vision! Puff'd with confidence,
His phrase grows big with immortality,
And he, poor insect of a summer's day!
Dreams of eternal honours to his name;
Of endless glory and perennial bays.
He idly reasons of eternity,
As of the train of ages,-when, alas!
Ten thousand thousand of his centuries
Are, in comparison, a little point
Too trivial for account.-O, it is strange,
'Tis passing strange, to mark his fallacies;
Behold him proudly view some pompous pile,
Whose high dome swells to emulate the skies,
And smile, and say, My name shall live with this
Till time shall be no more; while at his feet,
Yea, at his very feet, the crumbling dust
Of the fallen fabric of the other day
Preaches the solemn lesson.-He should know
That time must conquer; that the loudest blast
That ever fill'd Renown's obstreperous trump
Fades in the lapse of ages, and expires.
Who lies inhumed in the terrific gloom
Of the gigantic pyramid? or who
Rear'd its huge walls? Oblivion laughs, and says,
The prey is mine.-They sleep, and never more
Their names shall strike upon the ear of man,
Their memory burst its fetters.

Where is Rome?
She lives but in the tale of other times;
Her proud pavilions are the hermit's home,
And her long colonnades, her public walks,
Now faintly echo to the pilgrim's feet,
Who comes to muse in solitude, and trace,
Through the rank moss reveal'd, her honour'd dust.
But not to Rome alone has fate confined
The doom of ruin; cities numberless,
Tyre, Sidon, Carthage, Babylon, and Troy,
And rich Phoenicia-they are blotted out,
Half razed from memory, and their very name
And being in dispute.-Has Athens fallen?
Is polish'd Greece become the savage seat
Of ignorance and sloth? and shall we dare

* * * * *

And empire seeks another hemisphere.
Where now is Britain?-Where her laurel'd names.
Her palaces and halls? Dash'd in the dust.
Some second Vandal hath reduced her pride,
And with one big recoil hath thrown her back
To primitive barbarity.--Again,
Through her depopulated vales, the scream
Of bloody Superstition hollow rings,
And the scared native to the tempest howls
The yell of deprecation. O'er her marts,
Her crowded ports, broods Silence; and the cry
Of the low curlew, and the pensive dash
Of distant billows, breaks alone the void;
Even as the savage sits upon the stone
That marks where stood her capitols, and hears
The bittern booming in the weeds, he shrinks
From the dismaying solitude.-Her bards
Sing in a language that hath perished;
And their wild harps suspended o'er their graves,
Sigh to the desert winds a dying strain.

Meanwhile the Arts, in second infancy,
Rise in some distant clime, and then, perchance,
Some bold adventurer, fill'd with golden dreams,
Steering his bark through trackless solitudes,
Where, to his wandering thoughts, no daring prow
Hath ever ploughed before,-espies the cliffs
Of fallen Albion.-To the land unknown
He journeys joyful; and perhaps descries
Some vestige of her ancient stateliness:
Then he, with vain conjecture, fills his mind
Of the unheard-of race, which had arrived
At science in that solitary nook,
Far from the civil world; and sagely sighs,
And moralizes on the state of man.

Still on its march, unnoticed and unfelt,
Moves on our being. We do live and breathe,
And we are gone. The spoiler heeds us not.
We have our springtime and our rottenness;
And as we fall, another race succeeds,
To perish likewise.-Meanwhile Nature smiles-
The seasons run their round-The Sun fulfils
His annual course-and heaven and earth remain
Still changing, yet unchanged-still doom'd to feel
Endless mutation in perpetual rest.
Where are conceal'd the days which have elapsed?
Hid in the mighty cavern of the past,
They rise upon us only to appall,
By indistinct and half-glimpsed images,
Misty, gigantic, huge, obscure, remote.

Oh, it is fearful, on the midnight couch,
When the rude rushing winds forget to rave,
And the pale moon, that through the casement high
Surveys the sleepless muser, stamps the hour
Of utter silence, it is fearful then
To steer the mind, in deadly solitude.
Up the vague stream of probability;
To wind the mighty secrets of the past,
And turn the key of time!-Oh! who can strive
To comprehend the vast, the awful truth,
Of the eternity that hath gone by,
And not recoil from the dismaying sense
Of human impotence? The life of man
Is summ'd in birthdays and in sepulchres;
But the Eternal God had no beginning;
He hath no end. Time had been with him
For everlasting, ere the dredal world
Rose from the gulf in loveliness.-Like him
It knew no source, like him, 't was uncreate.
What is it then? The past Eternity!
We comprehend a future without end;
We feel it possible that even yon sun
May roll for ever: but we shrink amazed-
We stand aghast, when we reflect that time
Knew no commencement.-That heap age on age,
And million upon million, without end,
And we shall never span the void of days
That were and are not but in retrospect.
The Past is an unfathomable depth,
Beyond the span of thought; 'tis an elapse
Which hath no mensuration, but hath been
For ever and for ever.

Change of days
To us is sensible; and each revolve
Of the recording sun conducts us on
Further in life, and nearer to our goal.
Not so with Time,-mysterious chronicler,
He knoweth not mutation;-centuries
Are to his being as a day, and days
As centuries.-Time past, and Time to come,
Are always equal; when the world began
God had existed from eternity.

* * * * *

Now look on man
Myriads of ages hence.-Hath time elapsed?
Is he not standing in the selfsame place
Where once we stood?-The same eternity
Hath gone before him, and is yet to come;
His past is not of longer span than ours,
Though myriads of ages intervened;
For who can add to what has neither sum,
Nor bound, nor source, nor estimate, nor end?
Oh, who can compass the Almighty mind?
Who can unlock the secrets of the high?
In speculations of an altitude
Sublime as this, our reason stands confess'd
Foolish, and insignificant, and mean.
Who can apply the futile argument
Of finite beings to infinity?

He might as well compress the universe
Into the hollow compass of a gourd,
Scoop'd out by human art; or bid the whale
Drink up the sea it swims in!-Can the less
Contain the greater? or the dark obscure
Infold the glories of meridian day?
What does philosophy impart to man
But undiscovered wonders?-Let her soar
Even to her proudest heights-to where she caught
The soul of Newton and of Socrates,
She but extends the scope of wild amaze
And admiration. All her lessons end
In wider views of God's unfathom'd depths.

Lo! the unletter'd hind, who never knew
To raise his mind excursive to the heights
Of abstract contemplation, as he sits
On the green hillock by the hedge-row side,
What time the insect swarms are murmuring,
And marks, in silent thought, the broken clouds
That fringe with loveliest hues the evening sky,
Feels in his soul the hand of Nature rouse
The thrill of gratitude, to him who form'd
The goodly prospect; he beholds the God
Throned in the west, and his reposing ear
Hears sounds angelic in the fitful breeze
That floats through neighbouring copse or fairy brake,
Or lingers playful on the haunted stream.
Go with the cotter to his winter fire,
Where o'er the moors the loud blast whistles shrill,
And the hoarse ban-dog bays the icy moon;
Mark with what awe he lists the wild uproar.
Silent, and big with thought; and hear him bless
The God that rides on the tempestuous clouds,
For his snug hearth, and all his little joys:
Hear him compare his happier lot with his
Who bends his way across the wintry wolds,
A poor night traveller, while the dismal snow
Beats in his face, and, dubious of his path,
He stops, and thinks, in every lengthening blast,
He hears some village mastiff's distant howl,
And sees, far streaming, some lone cottage light;
Then, undeceived, upturns his streaming eyes,
And clasps his shivering hands; or overpowered,
Sinks on the frozen ground, weigh'd down with sleep,
From which the hapless wretch shall never wake.
Thus the poor rustic warms his heart with praise
And glowing gratitude,-he turns to bless,
With honest warmth, his Maker and his God!
And shall it e'er be said, that a poor hind,
Nursed in the lap of Ignorance, and bred
In want and labour, glows with nobler zeal
To laud his Maker's attributes, while he
Whom starry Science in her cradle rock'd,
And Castaly enchasten'd with his dews,
Closes his eyes upon the holy word,
And, blind to all but arrogance and pride,
Dares to declare his infidelity,
And openly contemn the Lord of Hosts?
What is philosophy, if it impart
Irreverence for the Deity, or teach
A mortal man to set his judgment up
Against his Maker's will? The Polygar,
Who kneels to sun or moon, compared with him
Who thus perverts the talents he enjoys,
Is the most bless'd of men! Oh! I would walk
A weary journey, to the furthest verge
Of the big world, to kiss that good man's hand,
Who, in the blaze of wisdom and of art,
Preserves a lowly mind; and to his God,
Feeling the sense of his own littleness,
Is as a child in meek simplicity!
What is the pomp of learning? the parade
Of letters and of tongues? e'en as the mists
Of the gray morn before the rising sun,
That pass away and perish.

Earthly things
Are but the transient pageants of an hour;
And earthly pride is like the passing flower,
That springs to fall, and blossoms but to die.
'T is as the tower erected on a cloud,
Baseless and silly as the schoolboy's dream.
Ages and epochs that destroy our pride,
And then record its downfall, what are they
But the poor creatures of man's teeming brain?
Hath Heaven its ages? or doth Heaven preserve
Its stated eras? Doth the Omnipotent
Hear of to-morrows or of yesterdays?
There is to God nor future nor a past;
Throned in his might, all times to him are present;
He hath no lapse, no past, no time to come;
He sees before him one eternal now.
Time moveth not!-our being 't is that moves;
And we, swift gliding down life's rapid stream,
Dream of swift ages and revolving years,
Ordain'd to chronicle our passing days:
So the young sailor in the gallant bark,
Scudding before the wind, beholds the coast
Receding from his eyes, and thinks the while,
Struck with amaze, that he is motionless,
And that the land is sailing.

Such, alas!
Are the illusions of this proteus life!
All, all is false: through every phasis still
'T is shadowy and deceitful. It assumes
The semblances of things and specious shapes;
But the lost traveller might as soon rely
On the evasive spirit of the marsh,
Whose lantern beams, and vanishes, and flits,
O'er bog, and rock, and pit, and hollow way,
As we on its appearances.

On earth
There is no certainty nor stable hope.
As well the weary mariner, whose bark
Is toss'd beyond Cimmerian Bosphorus,
Where storm and darkness hold their drear domain,
And sunbeams never penetrate, might trust
To expectation of serener skies,
And linger in the very jaws of death,
Because some peevish cloud were opening,
Or the loud storm had bated in its rage;
As we look forward in this vale of tears
To permanent delight-from some slight glimpse
Of shadowy, unsubstantial happiness.

The good man's hope is laid far, far beyond
The sway of tempests, or the furious sweep
Of mortal desolation.-He beholds
Unapprehensive, the gigantic stride
Of rampant Ruin, or the unstable waves
Of dark Vicissitude.-Even in death,-
In that dread hour, when, with a giant pang,
Tearing the tender fibres of the heart,
The immortal spirit struggles to be free,
Then, even then, that hope forsakes him not,
For it exists beyond the narrow verge
Of the cold sepulchre. The petty joys
Of fleeting life indignantly it spurn'd,
And rested on the bosom of its God.
This is man's only reasonable hope;
And 't is a hope which, cherish'd in the breast,
Shall not be disappointed. Even he,
The Holy One-Almighty-who elanced
The rolling world along its airy way,
Even He will deign to smile upon the good,
And welcome him to these celestial seats,
Where joy and gladness hold their changeless reign.

Thou, proud man, look upon yon starry vault,
Survey the countless gems which richly stud
The night's imperial chariot;-Telescopes
Will show thee myriads more innumerous
Than the sea sand;-each of those little lamps
Is the great source of light, the central sun
Round which some other mighty sisterhood
Of planets travel, every planet stock'd
With Hying beings impotent as thee.
Now, proud man! now, where is thy greatness fled?
What art thou in the scale of universe?
Less, less than nothing!-Yet of thee the God
Who built this wondrous frame of worlds is careful,
As well as of the mendicant who begs
The leavings of thy table. And shalt thou
Lift up thy thankless spirit, and contemn
His heavenly providence! Deluded fool,
Even now the thunderbolt is wing'd with death,
Even now thou totterest on the brink of hell.

How insignificant is mortal man,
Bound to the hasty pinions of an hour!
How poor, how trivial in the vast conceit
Of infinite duration, boundless space!
God of the universe! Almighty One!
Thou who dost walk upon the winged winds,
Or with the storm, thy rugged charioteer,
Swift and impetuous as the northern blast,
Ridest from pole to pole; Thou who dost hold
The forked lightnings in thine awful grasp,
And reignest in the earthquake, when thy wrath
Goes down towards erring man, I would address
To thee my parting pæan; for of Thee,
Great beyond comprehension, who thyself
Art Time and Space, sublime Infinitude,
Of Thee has been my song!-With awe I kneel
Trembling before the footstool of thy state,
My God!-my Father!-I will sing to thee
A hymn of laud, a solemn canticle,
Ere on the cypress wreath, which overshades
The throne of Death, I hang my mournful lyre,
And give its wild strings to the desert gale.
Rise, Son of Salem! rise, and join the strain,
Sweep to accordant tones thy tuneful harp,
And, leaving vain laments, arouse thy soul
To exultation. Sing hosanna, sing,
And halleluiah, for the Lord is great,
And full of mercy! He has thought of man;
Yea, compass'd round with countless worlds, has thought
Of us poor worms, that batten in the dews
Of morn, and perish ere the noonday sun.
Sing to the Lord, for he is merciful:
He gave the Nubian lion but to live,
To rage its hour, and perish; but on man
He lavish'd immortality and Heaven.
The eagle falls from her aërial tower,
And mingles with irrevocable dust:
But man from death springs joyful,
Springs up to life and to eternity.
Oh, that, insensate of the favouring boon,
The great exclusive privilege bestow'd
On us unworthy trifles, men should dare
To treat with slight regard the proffer'd Heaven,
And urge the lenient, but All-Just, to swear
In wrath, “They shall not enter in my rest.”
Might I address the supplicative strain
To thy high footstool, I would pray that thou
Wouldst pity the deluded wanderers,
And fold them, ere they perish, in thy flock.
Yea, I would bid thee pity them, through Him,
Thy well beloved, who, upon the cross,
Bled a dread sacrifice for human sin,
And paid, with bitter agony, the debt
Of primitive transgression.

Oh! I shrink,
My very soul doth shrink, when I reflect
That the time hastens, when, in vengeance clothed,
Thou shalt come down to stamp the seal of fate
On erring mortal man. Thy chariot wheels
Then shall rebound to earth's remotest caves,
And stormy Ocean from his bed shall start
At the appalling summons. Oh I how dread,
On the dark eye of miserable man,
Chasing his sins in secrecy and gloom,
Will burst the effulgence of the opening Heaven;
When to the brazen trumpet's deafening roar
Thou and thy dazzling cohorts shall descend,
Proclaiming the fulfilment of the word!
The dead shall start astonish'd from their sleep!
The sepulchres shall groan and yield their prey,
The bellowing floods shall disembogue their charge
Of human victims. From the farthest nook
Of the wide world shall troop the risen souls,
From him whose bones are bleaching in the waste
Of polar solitudes, or him whose corpse,
Whelm'd in the loud Atlantic's vexed tides,
Is wash'd on some Caribbean prominence,
To the lone tenant of some secret cell
In the Pacific's vast … realm,
Where never plummet's sound was heard to part
The wilderness of water; they shall come
To greet the solemn advent of the Judge.

Thou first shalt summon the elected saints
To their apportion'd Heaven! and thy Son,
At thy right hand, shall smile with conscious joy
On all his past distresses, when for them
He bore humanity's severest pangs.
Then shalt thou seize the avenging scimitar,
And, with a roar as loud and horrible
As the stern earthquake's monitory voice,
The wicked shall be driven to their abode,
Down the immitigable gulf, to wail
And gnash their teeth in endless agony.

* * * * *

Rear thou aloft thy standard.-Spirit, rear
Thy flag on high!-Invincible, and throned
In unparticipated might. Behold
Earth's proudest boasts, beneath thy silent sway,
Sweep headlong to destruction, thou the while,
Unmoved and heedless, thou dost hear the rush
Of mighty generations, as they pass
To the broad gulf of ruin, and dost stamp
Thy signet on them, and they rise no more.
Who shall contend with Time-unvanquish'd Time,
The conqueror of conquerors, and lord
Of desolation?-Lo! the shadows fly,
The hours and days, and years and centuries,
They fly, they fly, and nations rise and fall,
The young are old, the old are in their graves.
Heard'st thou that shout? It rent the vaulted skies;
It was the voice of people,-mighty crowds,-
Again! 't is hushed-Time speaks, and all is hush'd;
In the vast multitude now reigns alone
Unruffled solitude. They all are still;
All-yea, the whole-the incalculable mass,
Still as the ground that clasps their cold remains.

Rear thou aloft thy standard.-Spirit, rear
Thy flag on high, and glory in thy strength.
But do thou know the season yet shall come,
When from its base thine adamantine throne
Shall tumble; when thine arm shall cease to strike,
Thy voice forget its petrifying power;
When saints shall shout, and Time shall be no more.
Yea, he doth come-the mighty champion comes,
Whose potent spear shall give thee thy death wound,
Shall crush the conqueror of conquerors,
And desolate stern Desolation's lord.
Lo! where he cometh! the Messiah comes!
The King! the Comforter! the Christ!-He comes
To burst the bonds of Death, and overturn
The power of Time.-Hark! the trumpet's blast
Rings o'er the heavens! They rise, the myriads rise-
Even from their graves they spring, and burst the chains
Of torpor,-He has ransom'd them,…

Forgotten generations live again,
Assume the bodily shapes they own'd of old,
Beyond the flood:-the righteous of their times
Embrace and weep, they weep the tears of joy.
The sainted mother wakes, and in her lap
Clasps her dear babe, the partner of her grave,
And heritor with her of Heaven,-a flower,
Wash'd by the blood of Jesus from the stain
Of native guilt, even in its early bud.
And, hark! those strains, how solemnly serene
They fall, as from the skies-at distance fall-
Again more loud-the halleluiahs swell;
The newly risen catch the joyful sound;
They glow, they burn; and now with one accord
Bursts forth sublime from every mouth the song
Of praise to God on high, and to the Lamb
Who bled for mortals.

* * * * *

Yet there is peace for man.-Yea, there is peace
Even in this noisy, this unsettled scene;
When from the crowd, and from the city far,
Haply he may be set (in his late walk
O'ertaken with deep thought) beneath the boughs
Of honeysuckle, when the sun is gone,
And with fix'd eye, and wistful, he surveys
The solemn shadows of the Heavens sail,
And thinks the season yet shall come, when Time
Will waft him to repose, to deep repose,
Far from the unquietness of life-from noise
And tumult far-beyond the flying clouds,
Beyond the stars, and all this passing scene,
Where change shall cease, and Time shall be no more.