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The unprevailing hoariness of age,

And man once fleeting o'er the transient scene

Swift as an unremembered vision stands

Immortal upon earth: no longer now

He slays the lamb that looks him in the face,

And horribly devours his mangled flesh,

Which still avenging nature's broken law,

Kindled all putrid humours in his frame,

All evil passions, and all vain belief,

Hatred, despair, and loathing in his mind,

The germs of misery, death, disease, and crime.

No longer now the winged habitants,

That in the woods their sweet lives sing away,

Flee from the form of man; but gather round,

And prune their sunny feathers on the hands

While little children stretch in friendly sport

Towards these dreadless partners of their play.

All things are void of terror: man has lost

His terrible prerogative, and stands

An equal amidst equals: happiness

And science dawn though late upon the earth;

Peace cheers the mind, health renovates the frame

Disease and pleasure cease to mingle here,—

Reason and passion cease to combat there;

Whilst each unfettered o'er the earth extend

Their all-subduing energies, and wield

The sceptre of a vast dominion there;

Whilst every shape and mode of matter lends

Its force to the omnipotence of mind,

Which from its dark mine drags the gem of truth

To decorate its paradise of peace.

IX.

O Happy Earth! reality of Heaven 1

To which those restless souls that ceaselessly

Throng through the human universe, aspire;

Thou consummation of all mortal hope!

Thou glorious prize of blindly working will!

Whose rays diffused throughout all space and time,

Verge to one point and blend forever there:

Of purest spirits thou pure dwelling-place!
Where care and sorrow, impotence and crime,
Languor, disease, and ignorance, dare not come:
O happy Earth,—reality of Heaven!

Genius has seen thee in her passionate dreams,
And dim forebodings of thy loveliness
Haunting the human heart, have there entwined
Those rooted hopes of some sweet place of bliss
Where friends and lovers meet to part no more.
Thou art the end of all desire and will,
The product of all action: and the souls
That by the paths of an aspiring change
Have reached thy haven of perpetual peace,
There rest from the eternity of toil
That framed the fabric of thy perfectness.

Even Time, the conqueror, fled thee in his fear;

That hoary giant, who, in lonely pride,

So long had ruled the world, that nations fell

Beneath his silent footstep. Pyramids,

That for milleniums had withstood the tide

Of human things, his storm-breath drove in sand

Across that desert where their stones survived

The name of him whose pride had heaped them there.

Yon monarch, in his solitary pomp,

Was but the mushroom of a summer day,

That his light-winged footstep pressed to dust:

Time was the king of earth; all things gave way

Before him, but the fixed and virtuous will,

The sacred sympathies of soul and sense,

That mocked his fury and prepared his fall.

Yet slow and gradual dawned the morn of love;

Long lay the clouds of darkness o'er the scene,

Till from its native heaven they rolled away:

First, crime, triumphant o'er all hope careered

Unblushing, undisguising, bold, and strong:

Whilst falsehood, tricked in virtue's attributes,

Long sanctified all deeds of vice and woe,

Till done by her own venomous sting to death

She left the moral world without a law,

No longer fettering passion's fearless wing,

Nor searing reason with the brand of God.

Then steadily the happy ferment worked:

Reason was free; and wild though passion went
Through tangled glens and wood-embosomed meeds,
Gathering a garland of the strangest flowers,
Yet like the bee returning to her queen,
She bound the sweetest on her sister's brow,
Who, meek and sober, kissed the sportive child,
No longer trembling at the broken rod.

Mild was the slow necessity of death:

The tranquil Spirit failed beneath its grasp,

Without a groan, almost without a fear,

Calm as a voyager to some distant land,

And full of wonder, full of hope as he.

The deadly germs of languor and disease

Died in the human frame, and purity

Blest with all gifts her earthly worshippers.

How vigorous then the athletic form of age!

How clear its open and unwrinkled brow!

Where neither avarice, cunning, pride, or care,

Had stamped the seal of grey deformity

On all the mingling lineaments of time.

How lovely the intrepid front of youth!

Which meek. eyed courage decked with freshest grace,

Courage of soul, that dreaded not a name,

And elevated will, that journeyed on

Through life's phantasmal scene in fearlessness,

With virtue, love, and pleasure, hand in hand.

Then, that sweet bondage which is freedom's self,

And rivets with sensation's softest tie

The kindred sympathies of human souls.

Needed no fetters of tyrannic law:

Those delicate and timid impulses

In nature's primal modesty arose,

And with undoubting confidence disclosed

The growing longings of its dawning love,

Unchecked by dull and selfish chastity,

That virtue of the cheaply virtuous,

Who pride themselves in senselessness and frost

No longer prostitution's venomed bane

Poisoned the springs of happiness and life;

Woman and man, in confidence and love,

Equal, and free, and pure, together trod

The mountain-paths of virtue, which no more
Were stained with blood from many a pilgrim's feet.

Then, where, through distant ages, long in pride
The palace of the monarch-slave had mocked
Famine's faint groan, and penury's silent tear,
A heap of crumbling ruins stood, and threw
Year after year their stones upon the field,
Wakening a lonely echo; and the leaves
Of the old thorn, that on the topmost tower
Usurped the royal ensign's grandeur, shook
In the stern storm that swayed the topmost tower
And whispered strange tales in the whirlwind's ear.

Low through the lone cathedral's roofless aisles

The melancholy winds a death-dirge sung:

It were a sight of awfulness to see

The works of faith and slavery, so vast,

So sumptuous, yet so perishing withal!

Even as the corpse that rests beneath its wall.

A thousand mourners deck the pomp of death

To-day, the breathing marble glows above

To decorate its memory, and tongues

Are busy of its life: to-morrow worms

In silence and in darkness seize their prey.

Within the massy prison's mouldering courts,

Fearless and free the ruddy children played,

Weaving gay chaplets for their innocent brows

With the green ivy and the red wall-flower,

That mock the dungeon's unavailing gloom;

The ponderous chains, and gratings of strong iron,

There rusted amid heaps of broken stone

That mingled slowly with their native earth:

There the broad beam of day, which feebly once

Lighted the cheek of lean captivity

With a pale and sickly glare, then freely shone

On the pure smiles of infant playfulness:

No more the shuddering voice of hoarse despair

Pealed through the echoing vaults, but soothing notes

Of ivy-fingered winds and gladsome birds

And merriment were resonant around.

These ruins soon left not a wreck behind:
Their elements, wide scattered o'er the globe,
To happier shapes were moulded, and became
Ministrant to all blissful impulses:
Thus human things were perfected, and earth,
Even as a child beneath its mother's love,
Was strengthened in all excellence, and grew
Fairer and nobler with each passing year.

Now Time his dusky pennons o'er the scene

Closes in stedfast darkness, and the past

Fades from our charmed sight. My task is done:

Thy lore is learned. Earth's wonders are thine own,

With all the fear and all the hope they bring.

My spells are past: the present now recurs.

Ah me! a pathless wilderness remains

Yet unsubdued by man's reclaiming hand.

Yet, human Spirit, bravely hold thy course,

Let virtue teach you firmly to pursue

The gradual paths of an aspiring change:

For birth, and life, and death, and that strange state

Before the naked soul has found its home,

All tend to perfect happiness, and urge

The restless wheels of being on their way,

Whose flashing spokes, instinct with infinite life,

Bicker and burn to gain their destined goal.

For birth but wakej the spirit to the sense

Of outward shows, whose inexperienced shape

New modes of passion to its frame may lend;

Life is its state of action, and the store

Of all events is aggregated there

That variegate the eternal universe;

Death is a gate of dreariness and gloom,

That leads to azure isles and beaming skies

And happy regions of eternal hope.

Therefore, O Spirit! fearlessly bear on:

Though storms may break the primrose on its stalk,

Though frost may blight the freshness of its bloom,

Yet spring's awakening breath will woo the earth,

To feed with kindliest dews its favourite flower,

That blooms in mossy banks and darksome glens,

Lighting the greenwood with its sunny smile.

Fear not then, Spirit, death's disrobing hand,
So welcome when the tyrant is awake,

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