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"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.
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;
"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.
"Now strike," she said, and open'd bare her Our griefs how swift! our remedies how slow!
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!
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,
"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.
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
In the king's frown, and terror of his eye!
"Mine to obey, thy part is to ordain;
And though to mention be to suffer pain,
If the king smile whilst I my woe recite,
If, weeping, I find favor in his sight,
Flow fast, my tears, full rising his delight.
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-
"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;
If madness may the name of passion bear,
Or love be call'd what is indeed despair.
"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,
With unborn monarchs charg'd, and Solomons to
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.
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 savory 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:
Then in the flowery mead, or verdant shade,
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, [mind; 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 day.
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; Were to the forehead of the rabbins tied,
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,
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.
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,
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.
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?”
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;
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.-
From my despair alone
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,
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.
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
I always should, it said, esteem her well,
But never see her more: it bid her feel
No future pain for me; but instant wed
A lover more proportion'd to her bed,
And quiet dedicate her remnant life
To the just duties of an humble wife.
She read, and forth to me she wildly ran,
To me, the ease of all her former pain.
She kneel'd, entreated, struggled, threaten'd, cried, No longer does swift Memory trace the cells,
And with alternate passion liv'd and died:
Till, now, denied the liberty to mourn,
And by rude fury from my presence torn,
This only object of my real care,
Cut off from hope, abandon'd to despair,
In some few posting fatal hours is hurl'd
From wealth, from power, from love, and from the
"Here tell me, if thou dar'st, my conscious soul,
What different sorrows did within thee roll?
What pangs, what fires, what racks, didst thou
What sad vicissitudes of smarting pain?
How oft from pomp and state did I remove,
To feed despair, and cherish hopeless love?
How oft, all day, recall'd I Abra's charms,
Her beauties press'd, and panting in my arms?
How oft, with sighs, view'd ev'ry female face,
Where mimic fancy might her likeness trace?
How oft desir'd to fly from Israel's throne,
And live in shades with her and Love alone?
How oft all night pursued her in my dreams,
O'er flowery valleys, and through crystal streams,
And, waking, view'd with grief the rising Sun,
And fondly mourn'd the dear delusion gone?"
When thus the gather'd storms of wretched love
In my swoln bosom, with long war had strove ;
At length they broke their bounds; at length their
Bore down whatever met its stronger course,
Laid all the civil bonds of manhood waste,
And scatter'd ruin as the torrent past.
So from the hills, whose hollow caves contain
The congregated snow and swelling rain,
Till the full stores their ancient bounds disdain,
Precipitate the furious torrent flows:
In vain would speed avoid, or strength oppose;
Towns, forests, herds, and men, promiscuous drown'd,
With one great death deform the dreary ground:
The echoed woes from distant rocks resound.
And now, what impious ways my wishes took,
How they the monarch and the man forsook;
And how I follow'd an abandon'd will,
Through crooked paths, and sad retreats of ill;
How Judah's daughters now, now foreign slaves,
By turns my prostituted bed receives;
Through tribes of women how I loosely rang'd
Impatient: lik'd to-night, to-morrow chang'd;
And, by the instinct of capricious lust,
Enjoy'd, disdain'd, was grateful, or unjust:
O! be these scenes from human eyes conceal'd,
In clouds of decent silence justly veil'd!
O! be the wanton images convey'd
To black oblivion and eternal shade!
Buried in sloth, and lost in ease, I lay;
The night I revell'd, and I slept the day.
New heaps of fuel damp'd my kindling fires,
And daily change extinguish'd young desires.
By its own force destroy'd, fruition ceas'd,
And, always wearied, I was never pleas'd.
No longer now does my neglected mind
Its wonted stores and old ideas find.
Fix'd Judgment there no longer does abide,
To take the true, or set the false aside.
Where springing Wit, or young Invention, dwells.
Frequent debauch to habitude prevails;
Patience of toil, and love of virtue, fails.
By sad degrees impair'd, my vigor dies,
Till I command no longer ev'n in vice.
They ask, I grant; they threaten, I obey.
The women on my dotage build their sway:
Aw'd by the Persian damsel's haughty pride:
In legal garments now I gravely stride,
In ropes tuck'd up, opprobrious to the king.
Now with the looser Syrian dance and sing,
Charm'd by their eyes, their manners I acquire,
And shape my foolishness to their desire;
Seduc'd and aw'd by the Philistine dame,
At Dagon's shrine I kindle impious flame.
With the Chaldean's charms her rites prevail,
And curling frankincense ascends to Baal,
To each new harlot I new altars dress,
And serve her god, whose person I caress.
Where, my deluded sense, was Reason flown?
Where the high majesty of David's throne?
Where all the maxims of eternal truth,
With which the living God inform'd my youth,
When with the lewd Egyptian I adore
Vain idols, deities that ne'er before
In Israel's land had fix'd their dire abodes,
Osiris, Apis, powers that chew the cud,
Beastly divinities, and droves of gods;
And dog Anubis, flatterer for his food?
When in the woody hills' forbidden shade
I carv'd the marble, and invok'd its aid;
When in the fens to snakes and flies, with zeal
Unworthy human thought, I prostrate fell;
To shrubs and plants my vile devotion paid,
And set the bearded leek, to which I pray'd;
When to all beings sacred rites were given,
Forgot the Arbiter of Earth and Heaven?
Or let their sad epitome alone,
Into myself my Reason's eye I turn'd,
And as I much reflected, much I mourn'd.
A mighty king I am, an earthly god;
Nations obey my word, and wait my nod:
And outward lines, to future age be known,
Enough to propagate the sure belief,
That vice engenders shame, and folly broods o'er I raise or sink, imprison or set free,
Some seeds of light at length began to roll.
Through these sad shades, this chaos in my soul,
The rising motion of an infant ray
Shot glimmering thro' the cloud, and promis'd day.
And now, one moment able to reflect,
I found the king abandon'd to neglect,
Seen without awe, and serv'd without respect.
I found my subjects amicably join
To lessen their defects by citing mine.
The priest with pity pray'd for David's race,
And left his text, to dwell on my disgrace.
The father, whilst he warn'd his erring son
The sad examples which he ought to shun,
Describ'd, and only nam'd not, Solomon,
Each bard, each sire, did to his pupil sing,
"A wise child better than a foolish king."
And life or death depends on my decree.
Fond the idea, and the thought is vain;
O'er Judah's king ten thousand tyrants reign;
Legions of lust, and various powers of ill,
Insult the master's tributary will;