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Or harsh, which, once elanc'd, must ever fly
Irrevocable; the too prompt reply,
Seed of severe distrust and fierce debate;
What we should shun, and what we ought to hate.
Add too the blood impoverish'd, and the course
Of health suppress'd, by wine's continual force.
Unhappy man! whom sorrow thus and rage
To different ills alternately engage;
Who drinks, alas! but to forget; nor sees
That melancholy sloth, severe disease,
Memory confus'd, and interrupted thought,
Death's harbingers, lie latent in the draught;
And, in the flowers that wreath the sparkling bowl,
Fell adders hiss, and poisonous serpents roll.
Remains there aught untried that may remove
Sickness of mind, and heal the bosom ?-Love.
Love yet remains: indulge his genial fire,
Cherish fair hope, solicit young desire,
And boldly bid thy anxious soul explore
This last great remedy's mysterious power.
Why therefore hesitates my doubtful breast?
Why ceases it one moment to be blest?
Fly swift, my friends; my servants, fly; employ
Your instant pains to bring your master joy.
Let all my wives and concubines be dress'd;
Let them to-night attend the royal feast;
All Israel's beauty, all the foreign fair;
The gifts of princes, or the spoils of war:
Before their monarch they shall singly pass,
And the most worthy shall obtain the grace."
I said: the feast was serv'd, the bowl was crown'd;
To the king's pleasure went the mirthful round.
The women came: as custom wills, they past:
On one (0 that distinguish'd one!) I cast
The favorite glance! O! yet my mind retains
That fond beginning of my infant pains.
Mature the virgin was, of Egypt's race;
When she, with modest scorn, the wreath return'd
Reclin'd her beauteous neck, and inward mourn'd!
Forc'd by my pride, I my concern suppress'd,
Pretended drowsiness, and wish of rest:
And sullen I forsook th' imperfect feast,
Ordering the eunuchs, to whose proper care
Our eastern grandeur gives th' imprison'd fair,
To lead her forth to a distinguish'd bower,
And bid her dress the bed, and wait the hour.
Restless I follow'd this obdurate maid
(Swift are the steps that Love and Anger tread);
Approach'd her person, courted her embrace,
Renew'd my flame, repeated my disgrace;
By turns put on the suppliant and the lord;
Threaten'd this moment, and the next implor'd,
Offer'd again the unaccepted wreath,
And choice of happy love, or instant death.
Averse to all her amorous king desir'd,
Far as she might she decently retir'd;
And, darting scorn and sorrow from her eyes,
"What means," said she, “king Solomon the wise?
"This wretched body trembles at your power:
Thus far could Fortune, but she can no more.
Free to herself my potent mind remains,
Nor fears the victor's rage, nor feels his chains.
""Tis said, that thou canst plausibly dispute,
Supreme of seers! of angel, man, and brute;
Canst plead, with subtle wit and fair discourse,
Of passion's folly, and of reason's force;
That, to the tribes attentive, thou canst show
Whence their misfortunes or their blessings flow;
That thou in science as in power art great,
And truth and honor on thy edicts wait.
Where is that knowledge now, that regal thought,
With just advice and timely counsel fraught?
Where now, O judge of Israel! does it rove?—
What in one moment dost thou offer? Love-
Grace shap'd her limbs, and beauty deck'd her Love! why 'tis joy or sorrow, peace or strife;
Easy her motion seem'd, serene her air;
Full, though unzon'd, her bosom rose; her hair,
Untied, and ignorant of artful aid,
Adown her shoulders loosely lay display'd,
And in the jetty curls ten thousand Cupids play'd.
Fix'd on her charms, and pleas'd that I could love,
"Aid me, my friends, contribute to improve
Your monarch's biiss," I said; "fresh roses bring
To strew my bed, till the impoverish'd Spring
Confess her want; around my amorous head
Be dropping myrrh and liquid amber shed,
Till Arab has no more. From the soft lyre,
Sweet flute, and ten-string'd instrument, require
Sounds of delight: and thou, fair nymph! draw
Thou, in whose graceful form and potent eye,
Thy master's joy, long sought, at length is found;
And, as thy brow, let my desires be crown'd;
O favorite virgin! that hast warm'd the breast,
Whose sovereign dictates subjugate the East!"
I said and sudden from the golden throne,
With a submissive step, I hasted down.
The glowing garland from my hair I took,
Love in my heart, obedience in my look;
Prepar'd to place it on her comely head:
"O favorite virgin!" yet again I said,
"Receive the honors destin'd to thy brow;
And O, above thy fellows, happy thou!
Their duty must thy sovereign word obey:
Rise up, my love, my fair-one, come away."
What pangs, alas! what ecstacy of smart,
Tore up my senses, and transfix'd my heart,
"Tis all the color of remaining life:
And human misery must begin or end,
As he becomes a tyrant or a friend.
Would David's son, religious, just, and grave,
To the first bride-bed of the world receive
A foreigner, a heathen, and a slave?
Or, grant thy passion has these names destroy'd,
That Love, like Death, makes all distinction void;
Yet in his empire o'er thy abject breast
His flames and torments only are exprest;
His rage can in my smiles alone relent,
And all his joys solicit my consent.
"Soft love, spontaneous tree, its parted root
Must from two hearts with equal vigor shoot;
Whilst each, delighted and delighting, gives
The pleasing ecstacy which each receives:
Cherish'd with hope, and fed with joy, it grows;
Its cheerful buds their opening bloom disclose,
And round the happy soil diffusive odor flows.
If angry Fate that mutual care denies,
The fading plant bewails its due supplies;
Wild with despair, or sick with grief, it dies.
By force beasts act, and are by force restrain'd:
The human mind by gentle means is gain'd.
Thy useless strength, mistaken king, employ:
Sated with rage, and ignorant of joy,
Thou shalt not gain what I deny to yield,
the harvest, though thou spoild'st the field.
Know, Solomon, thy poor extent of sway;
Contract thy brow, and Israel shall obey:
But wilful Love thou must with smiles appease,
Approach his awful throne by just degrees,
And, if thou wouldst be happy, learn to please.
"Not that those arts can here successful prove, Entirely thus I find the fiend portray'd,
For I am destin'd to another's love.
Beyond the cruel bounds of thy command,
To my dear equal in my native land,
My plighted vow I gave; I his receiv'd:
Each swore with truth, with pleasure each believ'd.
The mutual contract was to Heaven convey'd;
In equal scales the busy angels weigh'd
Its solemn force, and clapp'd their wings, and spread
The lasting roll, recording what we said.
"Now in my heart behold thy poniard stain'd;
Take the sad life which I have long disdain'd;
End, in a dying virgin's wretched fate,
Thy ill-starr'd passion and my stedfast hate:
For, long as blood informs these circling veins,
Or fleeting breath its latest power retains,
Hear me to Egypt's vengeful Gods declare,
Hate is my part, be thine, O king, despair.
Since first, alas! I saw the beauteous maid.
I felt him strike, and now I see him fly:
Curs'd demon! O! for ever broken lie
Those fatal shafts, by which I inward bleed!
O! can my wishes yet o'ertake thy speed!
Tir'd may'st thou pant, and hang thy flagging wing,
Except thou turn'st thy course, resolv'd to bring
The damsel back, and save the love-sick king!"
My soul thus struggling in the fatal net,
Unable to enjoy, or to forget;
I reason'd much, alas! but more I lov'd:
Sent and recall'd, ordain'd and disapprov'd;
Till, hopeless, plung'd in an abyss of grief,
I from necessity receiv'd relief:
Time gently aided to assuage my pain,
And Wisdom took once more the slacken'd rein.
But O, how short my interval of woe!
Now strike," she said, and open'd bare her Our griefs how swift! our remedies how slow!
"Stand it in Judah's chronicles confest,
That David's son, by impious passion mov'd,
Smote a she-slave, and murder'd what he lov'd!"
Asham'd, confus'd, I started from the bed,
And to my soul, yet uncollected, said,
Into thyself, fond Solomon, return;
Reflect again, and thou again shalt mourn.
When I through number'd years have Pleasure
And in vain hope the wanton phantom caught;
To mock my sense, and mortify my pride,
"Tis in another's power, and is denied.
Am I a king, great Heaven! does life or death
Hang on the wrath or mercy of my breath;
While kneeling I my servant's smiles implore,
And one mad damsel dares dispute my power?
"To ravish her! that thought was soon depress'd,
Which must debase the monarch to the beast.
To send her back! O whither, and to whom?
To lands where Solomon must never come?
To that insulting rival's happy arms,
For whom, disdaining me, she keeps her charms ?
"Fantastic tyrant of the amorous heart,
How hard thy yoke! how cruel is thy dart!
Those 'scape thy anger, who refuse thy sway,
And those are punish'd most who most obey.
See Judah's king revere thy greater power:
What canst thou covet, or how triumph more?
Why then, O Love, with an obdurate ear,
Does this proud nymph reject a monarch's prayer?
Why to some simple shepherd does she run
From the fond arms of David's favorite son?
Why flies she from the glories of a court,
Where wealth and pleasure may thy reign support,
To some poor cottage on the mountain's brow,
Now bleak with winds, and cover'd now with snow,
Where pinching want must curb her warm desires,
And household cares suppress thy genial fires?
"Too aptly the afflicted Heathens prove
Thy force, while they erect the shrines of Love.
His mystic form the artisans of Greece
In wounded stone, or molten gold, express;
And Cyprus to his godhead pays her vow,
Fast in his hand the idol holds his bow;
A quiver by his side sustains his store
Of pointed darts; sad emblems of his power:
A pair of wings he has, which he extends
Now to be gone! which now again he bends,
Prone to return, as best may serve his wanton ends.
Another nymph, (for so did Heaven ordain,
To change the manner, but renew the pain,)
Another nymph, amongst the many fair,
That made my softer hours their solemn care,
Before the rest affected still to stand,
And watch'd my eye, preventing my command.
Abra, she so was call'd, did soonest haste
To grace my presence; Abra went the last;
Abra was ready ere I call'd her name;
And, though I call'd another, Abra came.
Her equals first observ'd her growing zeal,
And, laughing, gloss'd, that Abra serv'd so well.
To me her actions did unheeded die,
Or were remark'd but with a common eye;
Till more appriz'd of what the rumor said,
More I observ'd peculiar in the maid.
The Sun declined had shot his western ray,
When, tir'd with business of the solemn day,
I purpos'd to unbend the evening hours,
And banquet private in the women's bowers
I call'd, before I sat, to wash my hands
(For so the precept of the law commands):
Love had ordain'd, that it was Abra's turn
To mix the sweets, and minister the urn.
With awful homage and submissive dread,
The maid approach'd, on my declining head
To pour the oils; she trembled as she pour'd:
With an unguarded look she now devour'd
My nearer face! and now recall'd her eye,
And heav'd, and strove to hide, a sudden sigh.
And whence," said I, "canst thou have dread
What can thy imagery of sorrow mean?
Secluded from the world and all its care,
Hast thou to grieve or joy, to hope or fear?
For sure," I added, "sure thy little heart
Ne'er felt Love's anger, nor receiv'd his dart."
Abash'd, she blush'd, and with disorder spoke
Her rising shame adorn'd the words it broke
"If the great master will descend to hear
The humble series of his handmaid's care;
O! while she tells it, let him not put on
The look, that awes the nations from the throne!
O! let not death severe in glory lie
"O! witness Earth beneath, and Heaven above! O! yet my tortur'd senses deep retain For can I hide it? I am sick of love;
"Thou Sovereign Power? whose secret will con-
The inward bent and motion of our souls!
Why hast thou plac'd such infinite degrees
Between the cause and cure of my disease?
The mighty object of that raging fire,
In which unpitied Abra must expire,
Had he been born some simple shepherd's heir,
The lowing herd or fleecy sheep his care,
At morn with him I o'er the hills had run,
Scornful of winter's frost and summer's sun,
Still asking where he made his flock to rest at noon.
For him at night, the dear expected guest,
I had with hasty joy prepar'd the feast;
And from the cottage, o'er the distant plain,
Sent forth my longing eye to meet the swain,
Wavering, impatient, toss'd by hope and fear,
Till he and joy together should appear,
And the lov'd dog declare his master near.
On my declining neck and open breast
I should have lull'd the lovely youth to rest,
And from beneath his head, at dawning day,
With softest care have stol'n my arm away,
To rise and from the fold release the sheep,
Fond of his flock, indulgent to his sleep.
"Or if kind Heaven, propitious to my flame,
(For sure from Heaven the faithful ardor came,)
Had blest my life, and deck'd my natal hour
With height of title, and extent of power;
Without a crime my passion had aspir'd,
Found the lov'd prince, and told what I desir'd.
"Then I had come, preventing Sheba's queen,
To see the comeliest of the sons of men,
To hear the charming poet's amorous song,
And gather honey falling from his tongue,
To take the fragrant kisses of his mouth,
Sweeter than breezes of her native south,
Likening his grace, his person, and his mien,
To all that great or beauteous I had seen.
Serene and bright his eyes, as solar beams
Reflecting temper'd light from crystal streams;
Ruddy as gold his cheek; his bosom fair
As silver; the curl'd ringlets of his hair
Black as the raven's wing; his lip more red
Than eastern coral, or the scarlet thread;
Even his teeth, and white like a young flock
Coeval, newly shorn, from the clear brook
Recent, and branching on the sunny rock.
Ivory, with sapphires interspers'd, explains
How white his hands, how blue the manly veins.
Columns of polish'd marble, firmly set
On golden bases, are his legs and feet;
His stature all majestic, all divine,
Straight as the palm-tree, strong as is the pine.
Saffron and myrrh are on his garments shed,
And everlasting sweets bloom round his head.
What utter I! where am I wretched maid!
Die, Abra, die: too plainly hast thou said
Thy soul's desire to meet his high embrace,
And blessing stamp'd upon thy future race;
To bid attentive nations bless thy womb,
The wretched memory of my former pain, The dire affront, and my Egyptian chain.
"As time," I said, "may happily efface That cruel image of the king's disgrace, Imperial reason shall resume her seat, And Solomon, once fall'n, again be great. Betray'd by passion, as subdued in war, We wisely should exert a double care, Nor ever ought a second time to err." This Abra then
I saw her; 'twas humanity; it gave
Some respite to the sorrows of my slave.
Her fond excess proclaim'd her passion true,
And generous pity to that truth was due.
Well I entreated her, who well deserv'd;
I call'd her often, for she always serv'd.
Use made her person easy to my sight,
And ease insensibly produc'd delight.
Whene'er I revell'd in the women's bowers,
(For first I sought her but at looser hours)
The apples she had gather'd smelt most sweet,
The cakes she kneaded was the savery meat:
But fruits their odor lost, and meats their taste,
If gentle Abra had not deck'd the feast;
Dishonor'd did the sparkling goblet stand,
Unless receiv'd from gentle Abra's hand;
And, when the virgins form'd the evening choir,
Raising their voices to the master lyre,
Too flat I thought this voice, and that too shrill;
One show'd too much, and one too little skill;
Nor could my soul approve the music's tone,
Till all was hush'd, and Abra sung alone.
Fairer she seem'd distinguish'd from the rest,
And better mien disclos'd, as better drest.
A bright tiara, round her forehead tied,
To juster bounds confin'd its rising pride;
The blushing ruby on her snowy breast
Render'd its panting whiteness more confess'd;
Bracelets of pearl gave roundness to her arm,
And every gem augmented every charm.
Her senses pleas'd, her beauty still improv'd,
And she more lovely grew, as more belov'd.
And now I could behold, avow, and blame The several follies of my former flame; Willing my heart for recompense to prove The certain joys that lie in prosperous love. For what," said I, "from Abra can I fear, Too humble to insult, too soft to be severe ? The damsel's sole ambition is to please: With freedom I may like, and quit with ease; She soothes, but never can enthral my mind: Why may not Peace and Love for once be join'd?” Great Heaven! how frail thy creature man is
How by himself insensibly betray'd!
In our own strength unhappily secure,
Too little cautious of the adverse power,
And by the blast of self-opinion mov'd,
We wish to charm, and seek to be belov'd.
On Pleasure's flowing brink we idly stray,
Masters as yet of our returning way;
Seeing no danger, we disarm our mind,
And give our conduct to the waves and wind;
With unborn monarchs charg'd, and Solomons to Then in the flowery mead, or verdant shade,
Here o'er her speech her flowing eyes prevail. O foolish maid! and O unhappy tale! My suffering heart for ever shall defy
New wounds and danger from a future eye.
To wanton dalliance negligently laid,
We weave the chaplet, and we crown the bowl.
And smiling see the nearer waters roll,
Till the strong gusts of raging passion rise.
Till the dire tempest mingles earth and skies;
And, swift into the boundless ocean borne,
Our foolish confidence too late we mourn;
Round our devoted heads the billows beat, [treat.
And from our troubled view the lessen'd lands re-
O mighty Love! from thy unbounded power
How shall the human bosom rest secure?
How shall our thought avoid the various snare?
Or Wisdom to our caution'd soul declare
The different shapes thou pleasest to employ,
When bent to hurt, and certain to destroy?
The haughty nymph, in open beauty drest,
To-day encounters our unguarded breast:
She looks with majesty, and moves with state;
Unbent her soul, and in misfortune great,
She scorns the world, and dares the rage of Fate.
Here whilst we take stern manhood for our guide,
And guard our conduct with becoming pride;
Charm'd with the courage in her action shown,
We praise her mind, the image of our own,
She that can please is certain to persuade,
To-day belov'd, to-morrow is obey'd.
We think we see through Reason's optics right,
Nor find how Beauty's rays elude our sight:
Struck with her eye, whilst we applaud her mind,
And when we speak her great, we wish her kind.
To-morrow, cruel power! thou arm'st the fair
With flowing sorrow, and dishevell'd hair;
Sad her complaint, and humble is her tale,
Her sighs explaining where her accents fail.
Here generous softness warms the honest breast;
We raise the sad, and succor the distress'd.
And, whilst our wish prepares the kind relief,
Whilst pity mitigates her rising grief,
We sicken soon from her contagious care,
Grieve for her sorrows, groan for her despair;
And against Love too late those bosoms arm,
Which tears can soften, and which sighs can warm.
Against this nearest, cruellest of foes,
What shall Wit meditate, or Force oppose?
Whence, feeble Nature, shall we summon aid,
If by our pity and our pride betray'd?
External remedy shall we hope to find,
When the close fiend has gain'd our treacherous
Insulting there does Reason's power deride,
And, blind himself, conducts the dazzled guide?
My conqueror now, my lovely Abra, held
My freedom in her chains; my heart was fill'd
With her, with her alone; in her alone
It sought its peace and joy: while she was gone,
It sigh'd and griev'd, impatient of her stay;
Return'd, she chas'd those sighs, that grief, away:
Her absence made the night, her presence brought
The ball, the play, the mask, by turns succeed: For her I make the song, the dance with her I lead. I court her various in each shape and dress, That luxury may form, or thought express. To-day, beneath the palm-tree on the plains, In Deborah's arms and habit Abra reigns: The wreath, denoting conquest, guides her brow, And low, like Barak, at her feet I bow. The mimic chorus sings her prosperous hand, As she had slain the foe, and sav'd the land. To-morrow she approves a softer air, Forsakes the pomp and pageantry of war, The form of peaceful Abigail assumes, And from the village with the present comes. The youthful band depose their glittering arms, Receive her bounties, and recite her charms;
Whilst I assume my father's step and mien, To meet with due regard my future queen.
If haply Abra's will be now inclin'd To range the woods, or chase the flying hind, Soon as the Sun awakes, the sprightly court Leave their repose, and hasten to the sport. In lessen'd royalty, and humble state, Thy king, Jerusalem, descends to wait
Till Abra comes: she comes; a milk-white steed
Mixture of Persia's and Arabia's breed,
Sustains the nymph: her garments flying loose,
(As the Sydonian maids or Thracian use,)
And half her knee and half her breast appear,
By art, like negligence, disclos'd and bare.
Her left-hand guides the hunting courser's flight,
A silver bow she carries in her right,
And from the golden quiver at her side
Rustles the ebon arrow's feather'd pride.
Sapphires and diamonds on her front display
An artificial moon's increasing ray.
Diana, huntress, mistress of the groves,
The favorite Abra speaks, and looks, and moves.
Her, as the present goddess, I obey:
Beneath her feet the captive game I lay.
The mingled chorus sings Diana's fame:
Clarions and horns in louder peals proclaim
Her mystic praise; the vocal triumphs bound
Against the hills; the hills reflect the sound.
If, tir'd this evening with the hunted woods,
To the large fish-pools, or the glassy floods,
Her mind to-morrow points; a thousand hands,
To-night employ'd, obey the king's commands.
Upon the watery beach an artful pile
Of planks is join'd, and forms a moving isle:
A golden chariot in the midst is set,
And silver cygnets seem to feel its weight.
Abra, bright queen, ascends her gaudy throne,
In semblance of the Grecian Venus known:
Tritons and sea-green Naïads round her move,
And sing in moving strains the force of love;
Whilst, as th' approaching pageant does appear,
And echoing crowds speak mighty Venus near,
I, her adorer, too devoutly stand
Fast on the utmost margin of the land,
With arms and hopes extended, to receive
The fancied goddess rising from the wave.
O subject Reason! O imperious Love!
Whither yet further would my folly rove?
Is it enough, that Abra should be great
In the wall'd palace, or the rural seat?
That masking habits, and a borrow'd name,
Contrive to hide my plenitude of shame?
No, no! Jerusalem combin'd must see
My open fault, and regal infamy.
Solemn a month is destin'd for the feast:
Abra invites; the nation is the guest.
To have the honor of each day sustain'd,
The woods are travers'd, and the lakes are drain'd:
Arabia's wilds, and Egypt's, are explor'd;
The edible creation decks the board:
Hardly the phenix 'scapes-
The men their lyres, the maids their voices raise,
To sing my happiness, and Abra's praise;
And slavish bards our mutual loves rehearse
In lying strains and ignominious verse:
While, from the banquet leading forth the bride,
Whom prudent Love from public eyes should hide,
I show her to the world, confess'd and known
Queen of my heart, and partner of my throne.
And now her friends and flatterers fill the court;
From Dan and from Beer-sheba they resort:
They barter places, and dispose of grants,
Whole provinces unequal to their wants;
They teach her to recede, or to debate,
With toys of love to mix affairs of state;
By practis'd rules her empire to secure,
And in my pleasure make my ruin sure.
They gave, and she transferr'd the curs'd advice,
That monarchs should their inward soul disguise,
Dissemble and command, be false and wise;
By ignominious arts, for servile ends,
Were to the forehead of the rabbins tied,
Our youth's instruction, and our age's pride?
Could not the wise his wild desires restrain?
Then was our hearing, and his preaching, vain!
What from his life and letters were we taught,
But that his knowledge aggravates his fault?"
In lighter mood the humorous and the gay
(As crown'd with roses at their feasts they lay)
Sent the full goblet, charg'd with Abra's name,
And charms superior to their master's fame.
Laughing, some praise the king, who let them see
How aptly luxe and empire might agree:
Should compliment their foes, and shun their Some gloss'd, how love and wisdom were at strife, friends.
And now I leave the true and just supports
Of legal princes, and of honest courts,
Barzillai's and the fierce Benaiah's heirs,
Whose sires, great partners in my father's cares,
Saluted their young king, at Hebron crown'd,
Great by their toil, and glorious by their wound.
And now (unhappy counsel!) I prefer
Those whom my follies only made me fear,
Old Corah's blood, and taunting Shimei's race;
Miscreants who ow'd their lives to David's grace,
Though they had spurn'd his rule, and curs'd him
to his face.
Still Abra's power, my scandal still increas'd;
Justice submitted to what Abra pleas'd:
Her will alone could settle or revoke,
And law was fix'd by what she latest spoke.
Israel neglected, Abra was my care:
I only acted, thought, and liv'd, for her.
I durst not reason with my wounded heart;
Abra possess'd; she was its better part.
O! had I now review'd the famous cause,
Which gave my righteous youth so just applause,
In vain on the dissembled mother's tongue
Had cunning art and sly persuasion hung,
And real care in vain, and native love,
In the true parent's panting breast had strove ;
While both, deceiv'd, had seen the destin'd child
Or slain or sav'd, as Abra frown'd or smil'd.
Unknowing to command, proud to obey,
A lifeless king, a royal shade, I lay.
Unheard, the injur'd orphans now complain;
The widow's cries address the throne in vain.
Causes unjudg'd disgrace the loaded file,
And sleeping laws the king's neglect revile.
No more the elders throng'd around my throne,
To hear my maxims, and reform their own.
No more the young nobility were taught
How Moses govern'd, and how David fought.
Loose and undisciplin'd the soldier lay,
Or lost in drink and game the solid day.
Porches and schools, design'd for public good,
Uncover'd, and with scaffolds cumber'd, stood,
Or nodded, threatening ruin.-
Half pillars wanted their expected height,
And roofs imperfect prejudic'd the sight.
The artists grieve; the laboring people droop:
My father's legacy, my country's hope,
God's temple, lies unfinish'd.
And brought my proverbs to confront my life.
However, friend, here's to the king," one cries:
"To him who was the king," the friend replies.
The king, for Judah's and for Wisdom's curse,
To Abra yields: could I or thou do worse?
Our looser lives let Chance or Folly steer,
If thus the prudent and determin'd err.
Let Dinah bind with flowers her flowing hair,
And touch the lute, and sound the wanton air:
Let us the bliss without the sting receive,
Free, as we will, or to enjoy, or leave.
Pleasures on levity's smooth surface flow:
Thought brings the weight that sinks the soul to woe-
Now be this maxim to the king convey'd,
And added to the thousand he has made."
"Sadly, O Reason! is thy power express'd,
Thou gloomy tyrant of the frighted breast!
And harsh the rules which we from thee receive,
If for our wisdom we our pleasure give;
And more to think be only more to grieve:
If Judah's king, at thy tribunal tried,
Forsakes his joy, to vindicate his pride,
And, changing sorrows, I am only found
Loos'd from the chains of Love, in thine more
"But do I call thee tyrant, or complain
How hard thy laws, how absolute thy reign?
While thou, alas! art but an empty name,
To no two men, who e'er discours'd, the same;
The idle product of a troubled thought,
In borrow'd shapes and airy colors wrought;
A fancied line, and a reflected shade;
A chain which man to fetter man has made;
By artifice impos'd, by fear obey'd!
"Yet, wretched name, or arbitrary thing,
Whence-ever I thy cruel essence bring,
I own thy influence, for I feel thy sting.
Reluctant I perceive thee in my soul,
Form'd to command, and destin'd to control.
Yes; thy insulting dictates shall be heard;
Virtue for once shall be her own reward:
Yes; rebel Israel! this unhappy maid
Shall be dismiss'd: the crowd shall be obey'd:
The king his passion and his rule shall leave,
No longer Abra's, but the people's slave.
My coward soul shall bear its wayward fate;
I will, alas! be wretched to be great,
And sigh in royalty, and grieve in state."
I said: resolv'd to plunge into my grief
The wise and great deplor'd their monarch's fate, At once so far, as to expect relief
And future mischiefs of a sinking state.
"Is this," the serious said, "is this the man,
Whose active soul through every science ran?
Who, by just rule and elevated skill,
Prescrib'd the dubious bounds of good and ill?
Whose golden sayings, and immortal wit,
On large phylacteries expressive writ,
From my despair alone
I chose to write the thing I durst not speak
To her I lov'd, to her I must forsake.
The harsh epistle labor'd much to prove
How inconsistent majesty and love.
I always should, it said, esteem her well,
But never see her more: it bid her feel