English Poets of the Eighteenth Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 311 pages of information about English Poets of the Eighteenth Century.

THOMAS PARNELL

  FROM A NIGHT-PIECE ON DEATH

  By the blue taper’s trembling light,
  No more I waste the wakeful night,
  Intent with endless view to pore
  The schoolmen and the sages o’er;
  Their books from wisdom widely stray,
  Or point at best the longest way. 
  I’ll seek a readier path, and go
  Where wisdom’s surely taught below.

  How deep yon azure dyes the sky,
  Where orbs of gold unnumbered lie,
  While through their ranks in silver pride
  The nether crescent seems to glide! 
  The slumbering breeze forgets to breathe,
  The lake is smooth and clear beneath,
  Where once again the spangled show
  Descends to meet our eyes below. 
  The grounds which on the right aspire,
  In dimness from the view retire: 
  The left presents a place of graves,
  Whose wall the silent water laves. 
  That steeple guides thy doubtful sight
  Among the livid gleams of night. 
  There pass, with melancholy state,
  By all the solemn heaps of fate,
  And think, as softly-sad you tread
  Above the venerable dead,
  ’Time was, like thee they life possessed,
  And time shall be, that thou shalt rest.’

  Those graves, with bending osier bound,
  That nameless heave the crumbled ground,
  Quick to the glancing thought disclose,
  Where toil and poverty repose. 
  The flat smooth stones that bear a name,
  The chisel’s slender help to fame,
  (Which ere our set of friends decay
  Their frequent steps may wear away;)
  A middle race of mortals own,
  Men, half ambitious, all unknown. 
  The marble tombs that rise on high,
  Whose dead in vaulted arches lie,
  Whose pillars swell with sculptured stones,
  Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones;
  These, all the poor remains of state,
  Adorn the rich, or praise the great;
  Who while on earth in fame they live,
  Are senseless of the fame they give.

  Ha! while I gaze, pale Cynthia fades,
  The bursting earth unveils the shades! 
  All slow, and wan, and wrapped with shrouds
  They rise in visionary crowds,
  And all with sober accent cry,
  ‘Think, mortal, what it is to die.’

  Now from yon black and funeral yew
  That bathes the charnel house with dew
  Methinks I hear a voice begin: 
  (Ye ravens, cease your croaking din;
  Ye tolling clocks, no time resound
  O’er the long lake and midnight ground)
  It sends a peal of hollow groans
  Thus speaking from among the bones: 
  ’When men my scythe and darts supply,
  How great a king of fears am I! 
  They view me like the last of things: 
  They make, and then they dread, my stings. 
  Fools! if you less provoked your fears,
  No more my spectre-form appears. 
  Death’s but a path that must be trod
  If man would ever pass to God,
  A port of calms, a state of ease
  From the rough rage of swelling seas.’

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English Poets of the Eighteenth Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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