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Connexion exquisite of distant worlds!
Distinguished link in being's endless chain!
Midway from nothing to the Deity!

A beam ethereal, sullied and absorpt!
Though sullied and dishonoured, still divine!
Dim miniature of greatness absolute!
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust:
Helpless immortal! insect infinite!

A worm! a god! I tremble at myself,
And in myself am lost. At home, a stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surprised, aghast,
And wondering at her own. How reason reels!
Oh what a miracle to man is man!
Triumphantly distressed! what joy! what dread!
Alternately transported and alarmed!

What can preserve my life! or what destroy!
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
Legions of angels can't confine me there.


Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts;
Inters celestial hopes without one sigh.
Prisoner of earth, and pent beneath the moon,
Here pinions all his wishes; winged by heaven
To fly at infinite: and reach it there
Where seraphs gather immortality,

On life's fair tree, fast by the throne of God.
What golden joys ambrosial clustering glow

In his full beam, and ripen for the just,
Where momentary ages are no more!

Where time, and pain, and chance, and death expire!
And is it in the flight of threescore years

To push eternity from human thought,
And smother souls immortal in the dust?
A soul immortal, spending all her fires.
Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness,
Thrown into tumult, raptured or alarmed,
At aught this scene can threaten or indulge,
Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
To waft a feather, or to drown a fly.


The bell strikes one. We take no note of time

But from its loss: to give it then a tongue

Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,

I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright,
It is the knell of my departed hours.

Where are they? With the years beyond the flood.
It is the signal that demands despatch:

How much is to be done? My hopes and fears
Start up alarmed, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down-on what? A fathomless abyss.
A dread eternity! how surely mine!
And can eternity belong to me,

Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?

Youth is not rich in time; it may be poor;
Part with it as with money, sparing; pay

No moment, but in purchase of its worth;
And what it's worth, ask death-beds; they can tell

Part with it as with life, reluctant; big

With holy hope of nobler time to come;

Time higher aimed, still nearer the great mark

Of men and angels, virtue more divine.

Ah! how unjust to nature and himself
Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!
Like children babbling nonsense in their sports,
We censure Nature for a span too short;
That span too short we tax as tedious too;
Torture invention, all expedients tire,

To lash the lingering moments into speed,
And whirl us (happy riddance) from ourselves.

We waste, not use our time; we breathe, not live; Time wasted is existence; used, is life:

And bare existence man, to live ordained,

Wrings and oppresses with enormous weight.

And why? since time was given for use, not waste, Enjoined to fly, with tempest, tide, and stars,

To keep his speed, nor ever wait for man.

Time's use was doomed a pleasure, waste a pain,
That man might feel his error if unseen,

And, feeling, fly to labour for his cure;

Not blundering, split on idleness for ease.

We push time from us, and we wish him back; Life we think long and short; death seek and shun. Oh the dark days of vanity! while

Here, how tasteless! and how terrible when gone! Gone? they ne'er go; when past, they haunt us still: The spirit walks of every day deceased,

And smiles an angel, or a fury frowns.

Nor death nor life delight us.

If time past,

And time possessed, both pain us, what can please? That which the Deity to please ordained,

Time used. The man who consecrates his hours

By vigorous effort, and an honest aim,

At once he draws the sting of life and death:
He walks with nature, and her paths are peace

All-sensual man, because untouched, unseen,
He looks on time as nothing. Nothing else
Is truly man's; 't is fortune's. Time's a god.
Hast thou ne'er heard of Time's omnipotence?
For, or against, what wonders can he do!

And will to stand blank neuter he disdains.

Not on those terms was time (heaven's stranger!) sent

On his important embassy to man.


Some angel guide my pencil, while I draw,
What nothing less than angel can exceed,
A man on earth devoted to the skies;

Like ships at sea, while in, above the world.
With aspect mild, and elevated eye,
Behold him seated on a mount serene,
Above the fogs of sense, and passion's storm;
All the black cares and tumults of this life,
Like harmless thunders, breaking at his feet,
Excite his pity, not impair his peace.

Earth's genuine sons, the sceptred and the slave,
A mingled mob! a wandering herd! he sees,
Bewildered in the vale; in all unlike!
His full reverse in all! what higher praise?
What stronger demonstration of the right?

The present all their care, the future his.
When public welfare calls, or private want,
They give to Fame; his bounty he conceals,

Their virtues varnish Nature, his exalt.
Mankind's esteem they court, and he his own.
Theirs the wild chase of false felicities;
His the composed possession of the true.
Alike throughout is his consistent peace,
All of one colour, and an even thread;
While party-coloured shreds of happiness,
With hideous gaps between, patch up for them
A madman's robe; each puff of Fortune blows
The tatters by, and shows their nakedness.

He sees with other eyes than theirs: where they Behold a sun, he spies a Deity.

What makes them only smile, makes him adore.
Where they see mountains, he but atoms sees.
An empire in his balance weighs a grain.
They things terrestrial worship as divine,
His hopes, immortal, blow them by as dust
That dims his sight, and shortens his survey,
Which longs in infinite to lose all bound.
Titles and honours (if they prove his fate)
He lays aside to find his dignity;
No dignity they find in aught besides.
They triumph in externals (which conceal
Man's real glory), proud of an eclipse:
Himself too much he prizes to be proud,
And nothing thinks so great in man as man.
Too dear he holds his interest to neglect
Another's welfare, or his right invade:
Their interest, like a lion, lives on prey.

They kindle at the shadow of a wrong:
Wrong he sustains with temper, looks on heaven,
Nor stoops to think his injurer his foe.

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