TO notes of joy my LUTE was lightly strung,
When PLEASURE led me thro’ the bowers of YOUTH:
Beside my path the blooms of FANCY sprung,
While fairy phantoms veil’d the face of TRUTH.
Accustom’d fleeting shadows to pursue,
How painful ’tis to face the rising ray;
Yet, by degrees th’ intellectual view,
With eagle eye enjoys the blaze of day.
Where’er, O MAN! thou may’st sojourn, or rove
By streams where cool and balmy breezes blow,
O’er rugged hills, or thro’ the darkling grove,
Or in parch’d deserts meet the sultry glow.
Let NATURE’s charms attract thy wand’ring eye,
Her simple voice, persuasive, gain thine ear,
She reigns around thee, as she beams on high,
And guides the planets through the rolling sphere.
From her pure LAWS creation never strays:
In this the tyger and the lamb unite;
The falcon owns them, as the dove obeys;
The scowling tempest, and the orient light.
Shall MAN—vain MAN, presume with impious aim
To raise himself on ART’s fantastic throne;
To powers exclusive urge his boastful claim,
Burst from Creation’s bonds, and act alone?
Self-starting from its base, with equal ease,
Yon rugged mountain might in air ascend,
Traverse the plain, or float upon the seas,
As MAN to more than mortal powers pretend.
Yet, mortal powers, perverted from that aim
For which they surely were by Heaven design’d,
The right of tyrannizing o’er mankind.
Ye gloomy DESPOTS, gorged with human blood!
Ye foes to virtue, innocence, and truth!
Whose pageant influence, hard to be withstood,
Sway’d the lost moments of my giddy youth.
Why does one thought of those delusions dwell,
With your detested memory on my mind:
But that the comforts of this savage cell
O’erbalance all AMBITION yet could find?
Mine is that FREEDOM which you would destroy;
Mine is that PEACE you never can enjoy:
By NATURE’s bounty are my wants supplied;
GOD’s PROVIDENCE my guard, his INBORN LAW my guide.