Phillis Wheatley, poesie di schiavitù e di libertà
Fu nel lontano 1773 che soave tratto pittorico s’apprestò a delinear aggraziati lineamenti d’una donna — all’epoca pressoché ventenne — ritraendola completamente assorta nell’ovattante rimuginar che avvolge i verseggiatori nella magia dell’attimo ispirato, raffigurazione cristallizzandone elegiaco meditar nell’atto del regger candida penna tra fogli e calamaio, frattanto femmineo volto dal cogitabondo sguardo finemente poggiandosi col mento alla mano di colei che fu Phillis Weathley, poetessa statunitense, d’origini africane, i cui componimenti con fierezza seppero oltrepassar proibenti ostacoli ed imporsi nel panorama nazionale sfondando ottuse preclusioni, la di lei bell’anima con purezza elevandosi oltre tempo, come sfuggente saetta in eco sul mondo.
Libera dai limiti la mente e colmala del tuo fuoco.
Nata libera — s’ipotizza l’otto maggio del 1753 — sotto l’infuocato cielo dell’Africa occidentale, incontrastabile sorte volle Phillis sradicata dalla propria terra attorno ai sette/otto anni, insieme ai familiari catturata nel 1761 dal mercante di schiavi Timothy Fitch (1725-1790) e condotta, in compagnia di circa duecento connazionali, a bordo della goletta del capitano Peter Gwinn — fra i due uomini gerarchico scambio epistolare chiarendo direttive — e facente parte di quelle impiegate nel cosiddetto “commercio triangolare”, o “di Guinea”, tratta atlantica di schiavi africani — intercorsa fra il diciassettesimo e il diciannovesimo secolo — per mezzo della qual i malcapitati venivano brutalmente mercanteggiati come forza lavoro tra paese natio, America ed Europa, destinazione decidendosi in base al tipo di mano d’opera richiesta, solitamente agli aitanti riservandosi spossante futuro all’interno delle coloniali piantagioni di canna da zucchero, tabacco o cotone, viceversa i soggetti particolarmente giovani o meno possenti venendo relegati ad attività di prestazione domestica od artigianale, per giunger a luogo prefissato oceano Atlantico traversando a bordo di navi negriere ed in condizioni talmente inumane da provocar elevate percentuali di decessi o suicidi in conseguenza alle devastanti privazioni subite, occhi di bimba plausibilmente tatuandosi d’indelebili visioni e similmente sconquassanti accoramenti, drammatici momenti vissuti — stipata tra disperati prigionieri — in balìa d’interminabili settimane di navigazione, solitaria infante — che mai più avrebbe rivisto i genitori — giungendo a capolinea nel prospero porto di Boston, ove ad acquistarla furono il facoltoso sarto ed esercente, John Wheatley (1703-1778) e la moglie Suzannah Wheeler (1709-1774), i coniugi — rincrescendosi al cospetto dell’evidente gracilità, aggravata da asma cronica e tubercolosi — acquistandola per cifra irrisoria e sebbene fonti riportino che scelta di battezzarla Phillis fu suggerita dalla denominazione dell’imbarcazione con cui ella era stata rapita all’Africa — potrebbe esser stata ad opera della summenzionata donna, all’interno del nuovo nucleo d’appartenenza la piccola ricevendo trattamento prediletto e premuroso, fin da subito manifestando inaspettato acume nel tentar d’imparare l’alfabeto da sé e precocemente palesata attrattiva per la letteratura — coltivata sia nel consultar la variegata e corposa collezione di libri di proprietà del signor John che all’aver in dono carta e candele per scrivere anche di notte — alla fanciulla venendo riconosciuta e spronata dall’intera famiglia, in risoluto anticonformismo rispetto a correnti concezioni, in alcuni Stati avvalorate persin a livello legislativo nel ritener illegale pratica di lettura da parte di africani schiavizzati — i figli, gemelli, Mary (1743-1778) e Nathaniel (1743-1783) affiancandola nell’apprendimento della lingua latina ed inglese, fungendole da insegnanti di storia e geografia, oltreché sentitamente inoltrandola alla sacra lettura della Bibbia e — perlomeno da quanto s’evince dalle pagine di The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley — maggior erudizione appartenendo a Nathaniel in paragone alla madre, giacché favorevole condizione economica permettendone percorso di studi — per almeno un sessennio — presso la Boston Latin School (BLS), scuola fondata il 23 aprile 1635 e il più antico istituto scolastico tanto dell’America britannica quanto degli Stati Uniti, la cui didattica imprescindibilmente legata allo studio dei classici, ritenuti essenziale garanzia di dotta sapienza, mentre per quanto concerne apporto dell’acculturata Mary, ella assumendone ruolo di tutrice, arricchendo Phillis Wheatley d’affascinanti nozioni d’astronomia e parimenti conducendola nella mitologia greca, dell’omeriche opere prediligendo le magistrali traduzioni del poeta inglese Alexander Pope (1688-1744), sagace allieva dimostrando brillante ingegno e progredito estro erompendo in mistica riflessione nei versetti di On Messrs Hussey and Coffin, poesia apparsa, il 21 dicembre 1767, sulle pagine del Newport Mercury, settimanale di Rhode Island fondato nel 1758 da Ann Smith Franklin (1696-1763) — cognata di Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) — unendosi alle antesignane pubblicazioni coloniali, nonché rivelandosi precursore, lungimirante ed emancipato, nel comprendere l’ineluttabile esigenza d’affrancare dall’oppressione, l’arte, l’espressività africana, nella fattispecie, soavemente aurorale, poetica.
Cresciuta in fede al cristianesimo — che ne influenzò irreversibilmente poetica — strada facendo Phillis venne incuriosita e calamitata dal fervente predicatore calvinista inglese George Whitefield (1714-1770), la cui morte omaggiando in On the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, poco meno d’un anno prima di consacrarsi a battesimo il 18 agosto del 1771, a celebrarne iniziazione il sacerdote Samuel Cooper (1725-1783), fra le mura dell’Old South Meeting House, storica chiesa congregazionale eretta nel 1729 — tra Milk e Washington Street di Downtown Crossing — come casa di riunione puritana, della qual sarebbe divenuta membro pochi mesi più tardi, nel mentre solenne elogio dedicato riscuotendo un così vasto successo, da convincere Suzannah della necessità d’editare gli scritti della sua protetta, dunque una Phillis fresca di bagaglio culturale affettuosamente e con accortezza nutrito, ulteriormente giovando di partecipe ed amorevole mentoring, la donna con orgoglio presentandola agli ospiti in visita e facendola conoscere a eminenti personalità bostoniane — quali, fra tanti altri, il presidente del Secondo Congresso Continentale, firmatario della Dichiarazione d’Indipendenza degli Stati Uniti e dal 1780 al 1785 governatore del Massachusetts, John Hancock (1737-1793), l’affarista, storico e politico lealista del Massachusetts Bay, Thomas Hutchinson (1711-1780) e il successore Andrew Oliver (1706-1774) — all’interno d’elitari salotti Phillis amabilmente conversando di questioni letterarie, religiose e morali con spontanea padronanza, l’elogiata giovane a generale ammirazione mantenendosi comunque costantemente in bilico fra la consapevolezza del privilegio a lei accordato rispetto a persone di medesima etnia ed il radicato timore d’entrar a far parte d’un ambiente ancor lontano da totali aperture mentali immuni a sterili preconcetti, atteggiamento preventivo portandola — seppur con educato garbo — a non sedersi nello stesso tavolo degli altri, qualora invitata a farlo, taluni episodi avendone già umiliato il nobile animo, ad esempio quando nel corso d’una visita ad Eunice Fitch (1731-1799) — consorte del commerciante di schiavi — Wheatley venendo vergognosamente screditata dalle sopraggiunte figlie, irritate dal doverne tollerare presenza sorseggiando una tazza di tè, all’opposto Eunice smorzando polemiche sul nascere e levandola dall’imbarazzo sull’istante nel convincerla a restare fra loro per tutta la durata della visita, leale gesto degnamente onorandone preziosa presenza, al di là di fallaci ed inflessibili opinioni, peraltro equivalenti a quelle ch’erratamente accusarono la Phillis di ritenere positivo lo schiavismo, quand’invece la sedicenne — nelle otto battute della controversa “On Being Brought from Africa to America” — candidamente espresse una sorta di personale gratitudine per essersi convertita cristianesimo, attribuendone scoperta in virtù dell’essere stata portata dalla sua “terra pagana” all’America, ov’appunto si rese devota all’amato Iddio.
Le ventotto poesie raggruppate da Suzannah Wheeler nel desiderio di far conoscere Phillis, non avevano possibilità di stampa alcuna in Boston, all’interno delle colonie americane ancor pullulando stolta convinzione dell’assoluta superiorità dell’etnia indoeuropea, da siffatto pensiero derivando incrollabile certezza — ampiamente sostenuta da insigni intellettuali illuministi, uno su tutti l’economista, storico e filosofo scozzese, David Hume (1711-1776) e il fidato adepto prussiano Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) — che unica abilità in dote agli africani fosse quella lavorativa, gli stessi venendo considerati alla stregua d’animali scevri d’ogni facoltà cognitiva e Suzannah — con tal muro consciamente scontrandosi — non demordendo e cercando supporto nella nobildonna Selina Shirley Hastins, contessa di Huntingdon (1707-1791), calvinista affiliata alla parrocchia di Whitefield la quale — in tutta risposta al ricever in missiva orazione funebre della Wheatley al teologo titolata — nell’immediato ebbe a dimostrar piena e convinta disponibilità, sennonché posponendola — data la condizione di schiavitù dell’autrice — alla presentazione d’inconfutabili prove d’autenticità, eventuale conferma destabilizzando la rassicurante cultura dell’epoca, in quanto se ad una schiava fosse stata ufficialmente accreditata valentia scrittoria, ciò avrebbe celermente invalidato ogni teoria d’inferiorità etnica, segnando un punto a favore degli abolizionisti e nel bel mezzo del turbinìo venutosi a creare — questione infervorando i circoli più esclusivi — l’intraprendente signora Wheeler avanzando attestazione rilasciata dalle diciotto ragguardevoli autorità che — nell’ottobre del 1772 — s’erano riunite per sottoporre poetessa ad esame — erroneamente convinte di poterla disorientare a suon di quesiti argomentativi, all’inverso a preventivo sconcerto piacevolmente sostituendosi compiaciuto ravvedimento — traguardo tagliandosi in quel di Londra, nella certezza di conseguir agognato beneplacito tant’arduo da concretar nella guardinga circospezione aleggiante fra le tipografie di Boston e nella capitale britannica vedendo la luce — a settembre 1773 — Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, antologia di trentanove poesie che ne decretarono lo straordinario merito d’esser la prima donna africana ad ottenere in America la pubblicazione d’una propria opera.
Phillis Wheatley, l’alba della letteratura afroamericana
Sull’onda del risonante assenso ricevuto, un quadrimestre prima della pubblicazione Phillis partì alla volta di Londra con Nathaniel, alle cui mani Suzannah Wheeler consegnando raccomandazione scritta indirizzata a Selina Hastings affinché si prendesse cura dell’adorata ragazza, in territorio londinese ella ricevendo trionfale accoglienza ed intrecciando significative conoscenze, come tale fu con il succitato politico, tra i Padri Fondatori degli Stati Uniti — oltre che firmatario della Dichiarazione di Indipendenza, editore, naturalista, scrittore e inventore — Benjamin Franklin, ma ad improvvisamente interrompere beatitudine del gratificante soggiorno con l’istantaneità d’un fulmine a ciel sereno, fu la notizia delle severe condizioni di salute della Wheeler, desiderio di starle accanto riportando Nathaniel e Phillis in Massachusetts il ventisei luglio, per tal ragione disdicendo invito avanzatole dal sovrano Giorgio III (1738-1820) e con enorme rammarico non potendo prender parte alla tanto attesa uscita del proprio libro, in seguito alla qual crescente fama fece gradatamente sorgere nella mente dei lettori condivisi e pressanti interrogativi sul persistere del suo stato di schiavitù, la famiglia liberandola al suo rientro e la successiva annata in Boston iniziando a comparire copie della ormai celeberrima e scomoda silloge, parallelamente su svariati periodici apparendo parti dell’intenso scambio epistolare intrattenutosi tra Phillis e il pastore presbiteriano Samson Occom (1723-1792) — amico dei Wheatley che nel 1766 si era recato in Scozia ed Inghilterra nel tentativo di racimolare fondi a favor dell’istruzione dei nativi americani nel New England — egli incentivandola ad affidar ad eco giornalistico il contenuto delle lettere, riguardante comune speranza dello svanir d’ogni sopraffazione, ella all’amico confidando inconsolabile sofferenza in cuor originatasi alla perdita dell’amata Suzannah, passata a miglior vita — il tre marzo di quell’anno — a sessantacinque anni d’età, in cuor la poetessa provando l’opprimente vuoto della graffiante nostalgia degli affetti più cari, a desolata afflizione aggiungendosi cognizion di causa nel valutar come potersi mantenere economicamente da donna libera, indi puntando sulla ricezione e consecutiva vendita di Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, ma commercio nel porto di Boston stoppandosi il primo giugno, per effetto del blocco imposto su promulgazione del Regno Unito, all’interno d’una serie di leggi denominata Intolerable Acts, vale a dire emendamenti con i quali si rispose al verificarsi di crescenti scompigli fra le Tredici Colonie, specifico rigore riservandosi alla capitale del Massachusetts, poiché l’anno precedente teatro del Boston Tea Party, storica rivolta contro il Parlamento britannico e bollente episodio rivoluzionario precursore della Guerra d’indipendenza americana (1775-1783), al cui scoppio seguirono insurrezioni armate da parte d’almeno diecimila bostoniani, ad avvalorarne intrepida e sovversiva azione, Phillis e John Wheatley, l’uomo esortandola e parimenti la figlia Mary — il 30 gennaio 1771, convolata a nozze con il ministro congrezionalista John Lothrop (1740-1816) — a trasferirsi nel minuscolo Stato di Rhode Island dove le due donne, accompagnate da Lotroph, si stabilirono a Providence e nella popolosa capitale, la verseggiatrice inviando missiva a George Washington (1732-1799) allegando indirizzata poesia e per la qual ricevette sinceri apprezzamenti da parte del futuro presidente — lo statista invitandola nel quartier generale di Cambridge e formale incontro realizzandosi intorno al 1776, di lì a pochi giorni milizie britanniche ritirandosi da Boston e nove mesi più avanti la poetessa, posandovi piede, non potendo che constatare la strascico distruttivo urlante fra le crepe degli edifici, comprese quelle demolenti l’abitazione che ne accolse crescita ed a frammenti di passato andati in fumo, nemmeno un biennio dopo sciaguratamente sommandosi dispiacere per la morte del settantaduenne John Wheatley e — in un impercettibile soffio di tempo — della figlia Mary, Nathaniel trovandosi a Londra con Mary Enderby, erede di un socio in affari sposata nel novembre del 1773, destabilizzante diaspora familiare orientando passo della Phillis sul cammino della solitudine, nell’aprile del 1778 mosso dal fato verso l’altare, unendosi in matrimonio con il droghiere — amicizia d’un quinquennio — John Peters, come lei africano affrancato dalla schiavitù e da coniugal legame nascendo Mary, Eliza e George, ma due delle creature prematuramente perendo.
Nell’intero trimestre del 1779, Phillis Wheatley tentò raccolta d’adesioni — pubblicizzata a mezzo stampa — a sostegno di trentatré poesie consacrate a Benjamin Franklin, proposito vanificandosi nello scarso ritorno — dovuto alle angustie economiche del periodo bellico, svilenti qualunque interesse — ed attività letteraria della scrittrice subendo temporanea interruzione, nel 1780 — anno in cui la magistratura del Massachusetts definitivamente abolì schiavitù, parità di diritti per tutti gli uomini venendo elencata nella nuova Costituzione — la coppia serenamente traslocando nel rinomato quartiere Queen Street (dal 1788 Court Street), dopo breve tempo problematicità finanziarie dimorandoli nella contenuta Wilmington e poi ancora a Boston, in una zona alquanto obsoleta, visti gli insufficienti introiti monetari alternativa non permettendo, la versificatrice non decollando in ambito letterario come avrebbe voluto e dal canto suo Peters alternandosi fra saltuari lavori e debiti accumulati, a difetto di scarso fiuto per gli affari, e che ne furono causa d’incarcerazione nel 1784 — poiché nell’America coloniale l’insolvenza costituendo crimine giuridicamente perseguibile senza possibilità di rimedio — l’ancór essenzialmente sola Phillis Wheatley, nonostante la segnatamente profonda sorellanza — testimoniata peraltro da cospicua corrispondenza sin all’ultimo intrattenuta — con l’altrettanto schiava e presumibilmente deportata in America su medesima nave, Obour Tanner (1750-1835), stentatamente mantenendosi come domestica, fragilità di salute non reggendo mole di lavoro ed ella fermando spossato respiro il cinque dicembre di medesimo anno, pochi giorni dopo raggiungendola l’unico figliolo sopravvissuto, esili spoglie pacifiche riposando — nell’ingrato sfregio d’anonima tomba — al Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, di lei restando un secondo libro di poesie quasi concluso ma relegato all’oscurità del momento da sfavorevole diniego dei correnti editori ed affidato alle mani di Peters da una nipote, vedova, di Suzannah — ospitante Phillis e prole temporaneamente — dopo dipartita della sposa.
Scomparsa non ne scalfì ardore poetico, allo scorrer del tempo venendole riconosciuto infuso talento, The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley materializzandosi a pubblicazione postuma nel 1834 ed il settecentesco stile a lei proprio rimbalzando oltre dimensione e spianando terreno al sorger della letteratura afroamericana, movimento letterario nato — sul finire del diciottesimo secolo — sulle di lei opere e su quelle di scrittori ch’ebbero a comun denominatore l’ardimentoso affrontar le scottanti tematiche dell’uguaglianza, della schiavitù e della posizione degli africani sullo sfondo della società statunitense, settarie intolleranze e dilagante segregazione ubriacando le menti ed avvizzendo gli animi, al pari di Phillis Wheatley ispirando penne d’autori quali, fra gli altri, Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797), Jupiter Hammon (1711-1806 circa), schiavo mai liberato e che — il quattro agosto 1778 — onorò la poetessa dell’ode An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley, la di ella infuocata voce esponenzialmente spandendosi nei decenni, rappresentando pionieristico cardine scrittorio scardinante le coscienze, mano tesa ai contemporanei e nodale ispirazione a livello clericale, nuove chiese levandosi all’Altissimo sulla forza dalle sue parole instillata ai posteri, due fra le più importanti l’African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church e l’Episcopal Church African Methodist, rispettivamente fondate nel 1800 a New York e nel 1816 a Philadelphia, alla Phillis venendo titolati molteplici istituti scolastici, biblioteche ed associazioni, ma beltà del profilo eternamente raccontandone lirico trasporto nell’incisione — l’originale malauguratamente andata perduta — che frontespizio fu di Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, diffusamente attribuita all’artista visivo Sapio, africano residente a Boston, schiavo del reverendo John Moorhead e della moglie Sarah, insegnante d’arte e probabile sua istruttrice, dubbio sgorgando dalla somiglianza stilistica con il pittore statunitense, attivo nel New England, John Singleton Coopley (1738-1815), simmetricamente risultando opinabile il considerarlo autore del suddetto frontespizio, nei suoi dipinti — egualmente ai pittori “bianchi” dell’epoca — mai apparendo soggetti femminili di colore, per di più dediti alla scrittura, inoltre avvallo a Sapio parrebbero esser versi che Phillis a lui dedicò e ad ogni modo, qualunque sia la verità Phillis Wheatley spiccando — leggiadramente sognante — in procinto di ricamare ad inchiostro edificanti strofe traboccanti classicismo e moderatezza, talvolta caricate di detonante pathos a strenua difesa della libertà, da lei mirabilmente conquistata, schiettamente allentando il bieco ed arido avanzar di fanatiche discriminazioni, esaltando il valore intrinseco alla diversità e nel divario esistente fra individui adagiando perle d’eletta saggezza.
An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley
O come you pious youth! adore
The wisdom of thy God,
In bringing thee from distant shore,
To learn His holy word.
Thou mightst been left behind
Amidst a dark abode;
God’s tender mercy still combin’d
Thou hast the holy word.
Fair wisdom’s ways are paths of peace,
And they that walk therein,
Shall reap the joys that never cease
And Christ shall be their king.
God’s tender mercy brought thee here;
Tost o’er the raging main;
In Christian faith thou hast a share,
Worth all the gold of Spain.
While thousands tossed by the sea,
And others settled down,
God’s tender mercy set thee free,
From dangers that come down.
That thou a pattern still might be,
To youth of Boston town,
The blessed Jesus set thee free,
From every sinful wound.
The blessed Jesus, who came down,
Unvail’d his sacred face,
To cleanse the soul of every wound,
And give repenting grace.
That we poor sinners may obtain
The pardon of our sin;
Dear blessed Jesus now constrain
And bring us flocking in.
Come you, Phillis, now aspire,
And seek the living God,
So step by step thou mayst go higher,
Till perfect in the word.
While thousands mov’d to distant shore,
And others left behind,
The blessed Jesus still adore,
Implant this in thy mind.
Thou hast left the heathen shore;
Thro’ mercy of the Lord,
Among the heathen live no more,
Come magnify thy God.
I pray the living God may be,
The shepherd of thy soul;
His tender mercies still are free,
His mysteries to unfold.
Thou, Phillis, when thou hunger hast,
Or pantest for thy God;
Jesus Christ is thy relief,
Thou hast the holy word.
The bounteous mercies of the Lord
Are hid beyond the sky,
And holy souls that love His word,
Shall taste them when they die.
These bounteous mercies are from God,
The merits of His Son;
The humble soul that loves his word,
He chooses for His own.
Come, dear Phillis, be advis’d
To drink Samaria’s flood,
There’s nothing that shall suffice
But Christ’s redeeming blood.
While thousands muse with earthly toys;
and range about the street;
Dear Phillis, seek for heaven’s joys,
Where we do hope to meet.
When God shall send his summons down
And number saints together
Blest angels chant (Triumphant sound)
Come live with me forever.
The humble soul shall fly to God,
And leave the things of time.
Stand forth as ‘twere at the first word,
To taste things more divine.
Behold! the soul shall waft away,
Whene’er we come to die,
And leave its cottage made of clay,
In twinkling of an eye.
Now glory be to the Most High,
United praises given
By all on earth, incessantly,
And all the hosts of heav’n.
Phillis Wheatley: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral
- To Maecenas
- On Virtue
- To the University of Cambridge
- To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty
- On being brought from Africa to America
- On the Death of the Rev. Dr. Sewell
- On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield
- On the Death of a young Lady of five years of age
- On the Death of a young Gentleman
- To a Lady on the Death of her husband
- Goliath of Gath. I Sam. Chap. XVII
- Thoughts on the Works of Providence
- To a Lady on the Death of three relations
- To a Clergyman on the Death of his Lady
- An Hymn to the Morning
- An Hymn to the Evening
- Isaiah LXIII, 1-8
- On Recollection
- On Imagination
- A Funeral Poem on the Death of C. E.
- To Captain H — D, of the 65th Regiment
- To the Right Honourable William, Earl of Dartmouth
- Ode to Neptune
- To a Lady on her coming to North-America
- To a Lady on her remarkable Preservation
- To a Lady and her Children
- To a Gentleman and Lady
- On the Death of Dr. Samuel Marshall
- To a Gentleman on his Voyage to Great-Britain
- To the Rev. Dr. Thomas Amory
- On the Death of J. C.
- An Hymn to Humanity
- To the Honourable T. H. Esq
- Niobe in Distress for her children slain by Apollo
- To S. M. a young African Painter
- To His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor
- A Farewel to America
- A Rebus
- An Answer to the Rebus
- An Address to the Atheist
- An Address to the Deist
- On Messrs Hussey and Coffin
- To the Hon.ble Commodore Hood
- On Friendship
- On the Death of Mr. Snider
- An Elegy, To Miss. Mary Moorhead
Maecenas, you, beneath the myrtle shade,
Read o’er what poets sung, and shepherds play’d.
What felt those poets but you feel the same?
Does not your soul possess the sacred flame?
Their noble strains your equal genius shares
In softer language, and diviner airs.
While Homer paints lo! circumfus’d in air,
Celestial Gods in mortal forms appear;
Swift as they move hear each recess rebound,
Heav’n quakes, earth trembles, and the shores resound.
Great Sire of verse, before my mortal eyes,
The lightnings blaze across the vaulted skies,
And, as the thunder shakes the heav‘nly plains,
A deep-felt horror thrills through all my veins.
When gentler strains demand thy graceful song,
The length’ning line moves languishing along.
When great Patroclus courts Achilles’ aid,
The grateful tribute of my tears is paid;
Prone on the shore he feels the pangs of love,
And stern Pelides tend’rest passions move.
Great Maro’s strain in heav‘nly numbers flows,
The Nine inspire, and all the bosom glows.
O could I rival thine and Virgil’s page,
Or claim the Muses with the Mantuan Sage;
Soon the same beauties should my mind adorn,
And the same ardors in my soul should burn:
Then should my song in bolder notes arise,
And all my numbers pleasingly surprize;
But here I sit, and mourn a grov’ling mind
That fain would mount, and ride upon the wind.
Not you, my friend, these plaintive strains become,
Not you, whose bosom is the Muses home;
When they from tow‘ring Helicon retire,
They fan in you the bright immortal fire,
But I less happy, cannot raise the song,
The fault’ring music dies upon my tongue.
The happier Terence all the choir inspir‘d,
His soul replenish’d, and his bosom fir’d;
But say, ye Muses, why this partial grace,
To one alone of Afric’s sable race;
From age to age transmitting thus his name
With the first glory in the rolls of fame?
Thy virtues, great Maecenas! shall be sung
In praise of him, from whom those virtues sprung:
While blooming wreaths around thy temples spread,
I’ll snatch a laurel from thine honour’d head,
While you indulgent smile upon the deed.
As long as Thames in streams majestic flows,
Or Naiads in their oozy beds repose,
While Phoebus reigns above the starry train,
While bright Aurora purples o’er the main,
So long, great Sir, the muse thy praise shall sing,
So long thy praise shall make Parnassus ring:
Then grant, Maecenas, thy paternal rays,
Hear me propitious, and defend my lays.
O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive
To comprehend thee. Thine own words declare
Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach.
I cease to wonder, and no more attempt
Thine height t‘explore, or fathom thy profound.
But, O my soul, sink not into despair,
Virtue is near thee, and with gentle hand
Would now embrace thee, hovers o’er thine head.
Fain would the heav’n-born soul with her converse,
Then seek, then court her for her promis’d bliss.
Auspicious queen, thine heav’nly pinions spread,
And lead celestial Chastity along;
Lo! now her sacred retinue descends,
Array’d in glory from the orbs above.
Attend me, Virtue, thro’ my youthful years!
O leave me not to the false joys of time!
But guide my steps to endless life and bliss.
Greatness, or Goodness, say what I shall call thee,
To give an higher appellation still,
Teach me a better strain, a nobler lay,
O Thou, enthron’d with Cherubs in the realms of day!
While an intrinsic ardor prompts to write,
The muses promise to assist my pen;
‘Twas not long since I left my native shore
The land of errors, and Egyptian gloom:
Father of mercy, ’twas thy gracious hand
Brought me in safety from those dark abodes.
Students, to you ‘tis giv’n to scan the heights
Above, to traverse the ethereal space,
And mark the systems of revolving worlds.
Still more, ye sons of science ye receive
The blissful news by messengers from heav’n,
How Jesus’ blood for your redemption flows.
See him with hands out-stretcht upon the cross;
Immense compassion in his bosom glows;
He hears revilers, nor resents their scorn:
What matchless mercy in the Son of God!
When the whole human race by sin had fall’n,
He deign’d to die that they might rise again,
And share with him in the sublimest skies,
Life without Death, and glory without end.
Improve your privileges while they stay,
Ye pupils, and each hour redeem, that bears
Or good or bad report of you to heav’n.
Let sin, that baneful evil to the soul,
By you be shunn‘d, nor once remit your guard;
Suppress the deadly serpent in its egg.
Ye blooming plants of human race divine,
An Ethiop tells you ’tis your greatest foe;
Its transient sweetness turns to endless pain,
And in immense perdition sinks the soul.
Your subjects hope, dread Sire —
The crown upon your brows may flourish long,
And that your arm may in your God be strong!
O may your sceptre num’rous nations sway,
And all with love and readiness obey!
But how shall we the British king reward!
Rule thou in peace, our father, and our lord!
Midst the remembrance of thy favours past,
The meanest peasants most admire the last.
May George, belov’d by all the nations round,
Live with heav‘ns choicest constant blessings crown’d!
Great God, direct, and guard him from on high,
And from his head let ev’ry evil fly!
And may each clime with equal gladness see
A monarch’s smile can set his subjects free!
‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
«Their colour is a diabolic die».
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.
Ere yet the morn its lovely blushes spread,
See Sewell number’d with the happy dead.
Hail, holy man, arriv’d th’ immortal shore,
Though we shall hear thy warning voice no more.
Come, let us all behold with wishful eyes
The saint ascending to his native skies;
From hence the prophet wing’d his rapt‘rous way
To the blest mansions in eternal day.
Then begging for the Spirit of our God,
And panting eager for the same abode,
Come, let us all with the same vigour rise,
And take a prospect of the blissful skies;
While on our minds Christ’s image is imprest,
And the dear Saviour glows in ev’ry breast.
Thrice happy saint! to find thy heav’n at last,
What compensation for the evils past!
Great God, incomprehensible, unknown
By sense, we bow at thine exalted throne.
O, while we beg thine excellence to feel,
Thy sacred Spirit to our hearts reveal,
And give us of that mercy to partake,
Which thou hast promis’d for the Saviour’s sake!
«Sewell is dead». Swift-pinion’d Fame thus cry’d.
«Is Sewell dead», my trembling tongue reply‘d,
O what a blessing in his flight deny’d!
How oft for us the holy prophet pray‘d!
How oft to us the Word of Life convey’d!
By duty urg’d my mournful verse to close,
I for his tomb this epitaph compose.
«Lo, here a Man, redeem’d by Jesus’ blood,
A sinner once, but now a saint with God;
Behold ye rich, ye poor, ye fools, ye wise,
Nor let his monument your heart surprize;
‘Twill tell you what this holy man has done,
Which gives him brighter lustre than the sun.
Listen, ye happy, from your seats above.
I speak sincerely, while I speak and love,
He sought the paths of piety and truth,
By these made happy from his early youth!
In blooming years that grace divine he felt,
Which rescues sinners from the chains of guilt.
Mourn him, ye indigent, whom he has fed,
And henceforth seek, like him, for living bread;
Ev’n Christ, the bread descending from above,
And ask an int’rest in his saving love.
Mourn him, ye youth, to whom he oft has told
God’s gracious wonders from the times of old.
I, too have cause this mighty loss to mourn,
For he my monitor will not return.
O when shall we to his blest state arrive?
When the same graces in our bosoms thrive».
Hail, happy saint, on thine immortal throne,
Possest of glory, life, and bliss unknown;
We hear no more the music of thy tongue,
Thy wonted auditories cease to throng.
Thy sermons in unequall’d accents flow‘d,
And ev’ry bosom with devotion glow’d;
Thou didst in strains of eloquence refin’d
Inflame the heart, and captivate the mind.
Unhappy we the setting sun deplore,
So glorious once, but ah! it shines no more.
Behold the prophet in his tow‘ring flight!
He leaves the earth for heav’n’s unmeasur’d height,
And worlds unknown receive him from our sight.
There Whitefield wings with rapid course his way,
And sails to Zion through vast seas of day.
Thy pray‘rs, great saint, and thine incessant cries
Have pierc’d the bosom of thy native skies.
Thou moon hast seen, and all the stars of light,
How he has wrestled with his God by night.
He pray’d that grace in ev’bry heart might dwell,
He long’d to see America excel;
He charg’d its youth that ev‘ry grace divine
Should with full lustre in their conduct shine;
That Saviour, which his soul did first receive,
The greatest gift that ev’n a God can give,
He freely offer’d to the num’rous throng,
That on his lips with list’ning pleasure hung.
«Take him, ye wretched, for your only good,
Take him ye starving sinners, for your food;
Ye thirsty, come to this life-giving stream,
Ye preachers, take him for your joyful theme;
Take him my dear Americans, he said,
Be your complaints on his kind bosom laid:
Take him, ye Africans, he longs for you,
Impartial Saviour is his title due:
Wash’d in the fountain of redeeming blood,
You shall be sons, and kings, and priests to God».
Great Countess, we Americans revere
Thy name, and mingle in thy grief sincere;
New England deeply feels, the Orphans mourn,
Their more than father will no more return.
But, though arrested by the hand of Death,
Whitefield no more exerts his lab‘ring breath,
Yet let us view him in th’ eternal skies,
Let ev’ry heart to this bright vision rise;
While the tomb safe retains its sacred trust,
Till life divine re-animates his dust.
From dark abodes to fair etherial light
Th’ enraptur’d innocent has wing’d her flight;
On the kind bosom of eternal love
She finds unknown beatitude above.
This know, ye parents, nor her loss deplore,
She feels the iron hand of pain no more;
The dispensations of unerring grace,
Should turn your sorrows into grateful praise;
Let then no tears for her henceforward flow,
No more distress’d in our dark vale below.
Her morning sun, which rose divinely bright,
Was quickly mantled with the gloom of night;
But hear in heav‘n’s blest bow’rs your Nancy fair,
And learn to imitate her language there.
«Thou, Lord, whom I behold with glory crown‘d,
By what sweet name, and in what tuneful sound
Wilt thou be prais’d? Seraphic pow’rs are faint
Infinite love and majesty to paint.
To thee let all their grateful voices raise,
And saints and angels join their songs of praise».
Perfect in bliss she from her heav‘nly home
Looks down, and smiling beckons you to come;
Why then, fond parents, why these fruitless groans?
Restrain your tears, and cease your plaintive moans.
Freed from a world of sin, and snares, and pain,
Why would you wish your daughter back again?
No — bow resign’d. Let hope your grief control,
And check the rising tumult of the soul.
Calm in the prosperous, and adverse day,
Adore the God who gives and takes away;
Eye him in all, his holy name revere,
Upright your actions, and your hearts sincere,
Till having sail’d through life’s tempestuous sea,
And from its rocks, and boist’rous billows free,
Yourselves, safe landed on the blissful shore,
Shall join your happy babe to part no more.
Who taught thee conflict with the pow‘rs of night,
To vanquish Satan in the fields of fight?
Who strung thy feeble arms with might unknown,
How great thy conquest, and how bright thy crown!
War with each princedom, throne, and pow’r is o‘er.
The scene is ended to return no more.
O could my muse thy seat on high behold,
How deckt with laurel, how enrich’d with gold!
O could she hear what praise thine harp employs,
How sweet thine anthems, how divine thy joys!
What heav’nly grandeur should exalt her strain!
What holy raptures in her numbers reign!
To sooth the troubles of the mind to peace,
To still the tumult of life’s tossing seas,
To ease the anguish of the parents heart,
What shall my sympathizing verse impart?
Where is the balm to heal so deep a wound?
Where shall a sov‘reign remedy be found?
Look, gracious Spirit, from thine heav’nly bow’r,
And thy full joys into their bosoms pour;
The raging tempest of their grief control,
And spread the dawn of glory through the soul,
To eye the path the saint departed trod,
And trace him to the bosom of his God.
Grim monarch! see, depriv’d of vital breath,
A young physician in the dust of Death:
Dost thou go on incessant to destroy,
Our griefs to double, and lay waste our joy?
Enough thou never yet wast known to say,
Though millions die, the vassals of thy sway:
Nor youth, nor science, nor the ties of love,
Nor aught on earth thy flinty heart can move.
The friend, the spouse from his dire dart to save,
In vain we ask the sovereign of the grave.
Fair mourner, there see thy lov’d Leonard laid,
And o‘er him spread the deep impervious shade;
Clos’d are his eyes, and heavy fetters keep
His senses bound in never-waking sleep,
Till time shall cease, till many a starry world
Shall fall from heav’n, in dire confusion hurl’d,
Till nature in her final wreck shall lie,
And her last groan shall rend the azure sky:
Not, not till then his active soul shall claim
His body, a divine immortal frame.
But see the softly-stealing tears apace
Pursue each other down the mourner’s face;
But cease thy tears, bid ev‘ry sigh depart,
And cast the load of anguish from thine heart:
From the cold shell of his great soul arise,
And look beyond, thou native of the skies;
There fix thy view, where fleeter than the wind
Thy Leonard mounts, and leaves the earth behind.
Thyself prepare to pass the vale of night
To join for ever on the hills of light:
To thine embrace his joyful spirit moves
To thee, the partner of his earthly loves;
He welcomes thee to pleasures more refin’d,
And better suited to th’ immortal mind.
Ye martial pow’rs, and all ye tuneful nine,
Inspire my song, and aid my high design.
The dreadful scenes and toils of war I write,
The ardent warriors, and the fields of fight:
You best remember, and you best can sing
The acts of heroes to the vocal string:
Resume the lays with which your sacred lyre,
Did then the poet and the sage inspire.
Now front to front the armies were display‘d,
Here Israel rang’d, and there the foes array’d;
The hosts on two opposing mountains stood,
Thick as the foliage of the waving wood;
Between them an extensive valley lay,
O‘er which the gleaming armour pour’d the day,
When from the camp of the Philistine foes,
Dreadful to view, a mighty warrior rose;
In the dire deeds of bleeding battle skill’d,
The monster stalks the terror of the field.
From Gath he sprung, Goliath was his name,
Of fierce deportment, and gigantic frame:
A brazen helmet on his head was plac‘d,
A coat of mail his form terrific grac’d,
The greaves his legs, the targe his shoulders prest:
Dreadful in arms high-tow‘ring o’er the rest
A spear he proudly wav’d, whose iron head,
Strange to relate, six hundred shekels weigh’d;
He strode along, and shook the ample field,
While Phoebus blaz’d refulgent on his shield:
Through Jacob’s race a chilling horror ran,
When thus the huge, enormous chief began:
«Say, what the cause that in this proud array
You set your battle in the face of day?
One hero find in all your vaunting train,
Then see who loses, and who wins the plain;
For he who wins, in triumph may demand
Perpetual service from the vanquish’d land:
Your armies I defy, your force despise,
By far inferior in Philistia’s eyes:
Produce a man, and let us try the fight,
Decide the contest, and the victor’s right».
Thus challeng’d he: all Israel stood amaz‘d,
And ev’ry chief in consternation gaz’d;
But Jesse’s son in youthful bloom appears,
And warlike courage far beyond his years:
He left the folds, he left the flow’ry meads,
And soft recesses of the sylvan shades.
Now Israel’s monarch, and his troops arise,
With peals of shouts ascending to the skies;
In Elah’s vale the scene of combat lies.
When the fair morning blush’d with orient red,
What David’s sire enjoin’d the son obey‘d,
And swift of foot towards the trench he came,
Where glow’d each bosom with the martial flame.
He leaves his carriage to another’s care,
And runs to greet his brethren of the war.
While yet they spake the giant-chief arose,
Repeats the challenge, and insults his foes:
Struck with the sound, and trembling at the view,
Affrighted Israel from its post withdrew.
«Observe ye this tremendous foe, they cry’d,
Who in proud vaunts our armies hath defy’d:
Whoever lays him prostrate on the plain,
Freedom in Israel for his house shall gain;
And on him wealth unknown the king will pour,
And give his royal daughter for his dow’r».
Then Jesse’s youngest hope: «My brethren say,
What shall be done for him who takes away
Reproach from Jacob, who destroys the chief,
And puts a period to his country’s grief.
He vaunts the honours of his arms abroad,
And scorns the armies of the living God».
Thus spoke the youth, th’ attentive people ey’d
The wond’rous hero, and again reply’d:
«Such the rewards our monarch will bestow,
On him who conquers, and destroys his foe».
Eliab heard, and kindled into ire
To hear his shepherd-brother thus inquire,
And thus begun? «What errand brought thee? say
Who keeps thy flock? or does it go astray?
I know the base ambition of thine heart,
But back in safety from the field depart».
Eliab thus to Jesse’s youngest heir,
Express’d his wrath in accents most severe.
When to his brother mildly he reply’d,
«What have I done? or what the cause to chide?»
The words were told before the king, who sent
For the young hero to his royal tent:
Before the monarch dauntless he began,
«For this Philistine fail no heart of man:
I’ll take the vale, and with the giant fight:
I dread not all his boasts, nor all his might».
When thus the king: «Dar‘st thou a stripling go,
And venture combat with so great a foe?
Who all his days has been inur’d to fight,
And made its deeds his study and delight:
Battles and bloodshed brought the monster forth,
And clouds and whirlwinds usher’d in his birth».
When David thus: «I kept the fleecy care,
And out there rush’d a lion and a bear;
A tender lamb the hungry lion took,
And with no other weapon than my crook
Bold I pursu’d, and chas’d him o‘er the field,
The prey deliver’d, and the felon kill’d:
As thus the lion and the bear I slew,
So shall Goliath fall, and all his crew:
The God, who sav’d me from these beasts of prey,
By me this monster in the dust shall lay».
So David spoke. The wond‘ring king reply’d;
«Go thou with heav’n and victory on thy side:
This coat of mail, this sword gird on», he said,
And plac’d a mighty helmet on his head:
The coat, the sword, the helm he laid aside,
Nor chose to venture with those arms untry’d,
Then took his staff, and to the neighb‘ring brook
Instant he ran, and thence five pebbles took.
Mean time descended to Philistia’s son
A radiant cherub, and he thus begun:
«Goliath, well thou know’st thou hast defy’d
Yon Hebrew armies, and their God deny’d:
Rebellious wretch! audacious worm! forbear,
Nor tempt the vengeance of their God too far:
Them, who with his omnipotence contend,
No eye shall pity, and no arm defend:
Proud as thou art, in short liv’d glory great,
I come to tell thee thine approaching fate.
Regard my words. The judge of all the gods,
Beneath whose steps the tow‘ring mountain nods,
Will give thine armies to the savage brood,
That cut the liquid air, or range the wood.
Thee too a well-aim’d pebble shall destroy,
And thou shalt perish by a beardless boy:
Such is the mandate from the realms above,
And should I try the vengeance to remove,
Myself a rebel to my king would prove.
Goliath say, shall grace to him be shown,
Who dares heav’ns monarch, and insults his throne?»
«Your words are lost on me», the giant cries,
While fear and wrath contended in his eyes,
When thus the messenger from heav’n replies:
«Provoke no more Jehovah’s awful hand
To hurl its vengeance on thy guilty land:
He grasps the thunder, and, he wings the storm,
Servants their sov’reign’s orders to perform».
The angel spoke, and turn’d his eyes away,
Adding new radiance to the rising day.
Now David comes: the fatal stones demand
His left, the staff engag’d his better hand:
The giant mov‘d, and from his tow’ring height
Survey’d the stripling, and disdain’d the sight,
And thus began: «Am I a dog with thee?
Bring’st thou no armour, but a staff to me?
The gods on thee their vollied curses pour,
And beasts and birds of prey thy flesh devour».
David undaunted thus, «Thy spear and shield
Shall no protection to thy body yield:
Jehovah’s name — no other arms I bear,
I ask no other in this glorious war.
To-day the Lord of Hosts to me will give
Vict‘ry, to-day thy doom thou shalt receive;
The fate you threaten shall your own become,
And beasts shall be your animated tomb,
That all the earth’s inhabitants may know
That there’s a God, who governs all below:
This great assembly too shall witness stand,
That needs nor sword, nor spear, th’ Almighty’s hand:
The battle his, the conquest he bestows,
And to our pow’r consigns our hated foes».
Thus David spoke; Goliath heard and came
To meet the hero in the field of fame.
Ah! fatal meeting to thy troops and thee,
But thou wast deaf to the divine decree;
Young David meets thee, meets thee not in vain;
’Tis thine to perish on th’ensanguin’d plain.
And now the youth the forceful pebble flung,
Philistia trembled as it whizz’d along:
In his dread forehead, where the helmet ends,
Just o‘er the brows the well-aim’d stone descends,
It pierc’d the skull, and shatter’d all the brain,
Prone on his face he tumbled to the plain:
Goliath’s fall no smaller terror yields
Than riving thunders in aerial fields:
The soul still ling’red in its lov’d abode,
Till conq‘ring David o’er the giant strode:
Goliath’s sword then laid its master dead,
And from the body hew’d the ghastly head;
The blood in gushing torrents drench’d the plains,
The soul found passage through the spouting veins.
And now aloud th’illustrious victor said,
«Where are your boastings now your champion’s dead?»
Scarce had he spoke, when the Philistines fled:
But fled in vain; the conqu’ror swift pursu’d:
What scenes of slaughter! and what seas of blood!
There Saul thy thousands grasp’d th’impurpled sand
In pangs of Death the conquest of thine hand;
And David there were thy ten thousands laid:
Thus Israel’s damsels musically play’d.
Near Gath and Ekron many an hero lay,
Breath’d out their souls, and curs’d the light of day:
Their fury, quench’d by Death, no longer burns,
And David with Goliath’s head returns,
To Salem brought, but in his tent he plac’d
The load of armour which the giant grac’d.
His monarch saw him coming from the war,
And thus demanded of the son of Ner.
«Say, who is this amazing youth?» he cry‘d,
When thus the leader of the host reply’d;
«As lives thy soul I know not whence he sprung,
So great in prowess though in years so young»:
«Inquire whose son is he», the sov’reign said,
«Before whose conq‘ring arm Philistia fled».
Before the king behold the stripling stand,
Goliath’s head depending from his hand:
To him the king: «Say of what martial line
Art thou, young hero, and what sire was thine?»
He humbly thus; «the son of Jesse I:
I came the glories of the field to try.
Small is my tribe, but valiant in the fight;
Small is my city, but thy royal right».
«Then take the promis’d gifts», the monarch cry’d,
Conferring riches and the royal bride:
«Knit to my soul for ever thou remain
With me, nor quit my regal roof again».
Arise, my soul, on wings enraptur’d, rise
To praise the monarch of the earth and skies,
Whose goodness and beneficence appear
As round its centre moves the rolling year,
Or when the morning glows with rosy charms,
Or the sun slumbers in the ocean’s arms:
Of light divine be a rich portion lent
To guide my soul, and favour my intent.
Celestial muse, my arduous flight sustain,
And raise my mind to a seraphic strain!
Ador’d for ever be the God unseen,
Which round the sun revolves this vast machine,
Though to his eye its mass a point appears:
Ador’d the God that whirls surrounding spheres,
Which first ordain’d that mighty Sol should reign
The peerless monarch of th’ ethereal train:
Of miles twice forty millions is his height,
And yet his radiance dazzles mortal sight
So far beneath—from him th’ extended earth
Vigour derives, and ev‘ry flow’ry birth:
Vast through her orb she moves with easy grace
Around her Phoebus in unbounded space;
True to her course th’ impetuous storm derides,
Triumphant o’er the winds, and surging tides.
Almighty, in these wond‘rous works of thine,
What Pow’r, what Wisdom, and what Goodness shine?
And are thy wonders, Lord, by men explor‘d,
And yet creating glory unador’d!
Creation smiles in various beauty gay,
While day to night, and night succeeds to day:
That Wisdom, which attends Jehovah’s ways,
Shines most conspicuous in the solar rays:
Without them, destitute of heat and light,
This world would be the reign of endless night:
In their excess how would our race complain,
Abhorring life! how hate its length‘ned chain!
From air adust what num’rous ills would rise?
What dire contagion taint the burning skies?
What pestilential vapours, fraught with Death,
Would rise, and overspread the lands beneath?
Hail, smiling morn, that from the orient main
Ascending dost adorn the heav‘nly plain!
So rich, so various are thy beauteous dies,
That spread through all the circuit of the skies,
That, full of thee, my soul in rapture soars,
And thy great God, the cause of all adores.
O’er beings infinite his love extends,
His Wisdom rules them, and his Pow‘r defends.
When tasks diurnal tire the human frame,
The spirits faint, and dim the vital flame,
Then too that ever active bounty shines,
Which not infinity of space confines.
The sable veil, that Night in silence draws,
Conceals effects, but shews th’ Almighty Cause;
Night seals in sleep the wide creation fair,
And all is peaceful but the brow of care.
Again, gay Phoebus, as the day before,
Wakes ev’ry eye, but what shall wake no more;
Again the face of nature is renew’d,
Which still appears harmonious, fair, and good.
May grateful strains salute the smiling morn,
Before its beams the eastern hills adorn!
Shall day to day, and night to night conspire
To show the goodness of the Almighty Sire?
This mental voice shall man regardless hear,
And never, never raise the filial pray’r?
To-day, O hearken, nor your folly mourn
For time mispent, that never will return.
But see the sons of vegetation rise,
And spread their leafy banners to the skies.
All-wise Almighty providence we trace
In trees, and plants, and all the flow‘ry race;
As clear as in the nobler frame of man,
All lovely copies of the Maker’s plan.
The pow’r the same that forms a ray of light,
That call’d creation from eternal night.
«Let there be light», he said: from his profound
Old Chaos heard, and trembled at the sound:
Swift as the word, inspir’d by pow’r divine,
Behold the light around its maker shine,
The first fair product of th’ omnific God,
And now through all his works diffus’d abroad.
As reason’s pow‘rs by day our God disclose,
So we may trace him in the night’s repose:
Say what is sleep? And dreams how passing strange!
When action ceases, and ideas range
Licentious and unbounded o’er the plains,
Where Fancy’s queen in giddy triumph reigns.
Hear in soft strains the dreaming lover sigh
To a kind fair, or rave in jealousy;
On pleasure now, and now on vengeance bent,
The lab‘ring passions struggle for a vent.
What pow’r, O man! thy reason then restores,
So long suspended in nocturnal hours?
What secret hand returns the mental train,
And gives improv’d thine active pow‘rs again?
From thee, O man, what gratitude should rise!
And, when from balmy sleep thou op’st thine eyes,
Let thy first thoughts be praises to the skies.
How merciful our God who thus imparts
O’erflowing tides of joy to human hearts,
When wants and woes might be our righteous lot,
Our God forgetting, by our God forgot!
Among the mental pow’rs a question rose,
«What most the image of th’ Eternal shows?»
When thus to Reason (so let Fancy rove)
Her great companion spoke immortal Love.
«Say, mighty pow‘r, how long shall strife prevail,
And with its murmurs load the whisp’ring gale?
Refer the cause to Recollection’s shrine,
Who loud proclaims my origin divine,
The cause whence heav’n and earth began to be,
And is not man immortaliz’d by me?
Reason let this most causeless strife subside».
Thus Love pronounc’d, and Reason thus reply’d.
«Thy birth, celestial queen! ’tis mine to own,
In thee resplendent is the Godhead shown;
Thy words persuade, my soul enraptur’d feels
Resistless beauty which thy smile reveals».
Ardent she spoke, and, kindling at her charms,
She clasp’d the blooming goddess in her arms.
Infinite Love wher‘er we turn our eyes
Appears: this ev’ry creature’s wants supplies;
This most is heard in Nature’s constant voice,
This makes the morn, and this the eve rejoice;
This bids the fost‘ring rains and dews descend
To nourish all, to serve one gen’ral end,
The good of man: yet man ungrateful pays
But little homage, and but little praise.
To him, whose works array’d with mercy shine,
What songs should rise, how constant, how divine!
We trace the pow‘r of Death from tomb to tomb,
And his are all the ages yet to come.
’Tis his to call the planets from on high,
To blacken Phoebus, and dissolve the sky;
His too, when all in his dark realms are hurl’d,
From its firm base to shake the solid world;
His fatal sceptre rules the spacious whole,
And trembling nature rocks from pole to pole.
Awful he moves, and wide his wings are spread:
Behold thy brother number’d with the dead!
From bondage freed, the exulting spirit flies
Beyond Olympus, and these starry skies.
Lost in our woe for thee, blest shade, we mourn
In vain; to earth thou never must return.
Thy sisters too, fair mourner, feel the dart
Of Death, and with fresh torture rend thine heart.
Weep not for them, who wish thine happy mind
To rise with them, and leave the world behind.
As a young plant by hurricanes up torn,
So near its parent lies the newly born—
But ’midst the bright ethereal train behold
It shines superior on a throne of gold:
Then, mourner, cease; let hope thy tears restrain,
Smile on the tomb, and sooth the raging pain.
On yon blest regions fix thy longing view,
Mindless of sublunary scenes below;
Ascend the sacred mount, in thought arise,
And seek substantial and immortal joys;
Where hope receives, where faith to vision springs,
And raptur’d seraphs tune th’ immortal strings
To strains extatic. Thou the chorus join,
And to thy father tune the praise divine.
Where contemplation finds her sacred spring,
Where heav‘nly music makes the arches ring,
Where virtue reigns unsully’d and divine,
Where wisdom thron’d, and all the graces shine,
There sits thy spouse amidst the radiant throng,
While praise eternal warbles from her tongue;
There choirs angelic shout her welcome round,
With perfect bliss, and peerless glory crown’d.
While thy dear mate, to flesh no more confin‘d,
Exults a blest, an heav’n-ascended mind,
Say in thy breast shall floods of sorrow rise?
Say shall its torrents overwhelm thine eyes?
Amid the seats of heav’n a place is free,
And angels ope their bright ranks for thee;
For thee they wait, and with expectant eye
Thy spouse leans downward from th’ empyreal sky:
«O come away, her longing spirit cries,
And share with me the raptures of the skies.
Our bliss divine to mortals is unknown;
Immortal life and glory are our own.
There too may the dear pledges of our love
Arrive, and taste with us the joys above;
Attune the harp to more than mortal lays,
And join with us the tribute of their praise
To him, who dy’d stern justice to atone,
And make eternal glory all our own.
He in his Death slew ours, and, as he rose,
He crush’d the dire dominion of our foes;
Vain were their hopes to put the God to flight,
Chain us to hell, and bar the gates of light».
She spoke, and turn’d from mortal scenes her eyes,
Which beam’d celestial radiance o’er the skies.
Then thou, dear man, no more with grief retire,
Let grief no longer damp devotion’s fire,
But rise sublime, to equal bliss aspire.
Thy sighs no more be wafted by the wind,
No more complain, but be to heav’n resign’d.
‘Twas thine t’ unfold the oracles divine,
To sooth our woes the task was also thine;
Now sorrow is incumbent on thy heart,
Permit the muse a cordial to impart;
Who can to thee their tend’rest aid refuse?
To dry thy tears how longs the heav’nly muse!
Attend my lays, ye ever honour’d nine,
Assist my labours, and my strains refine;
In smoothest numbers pour the notes along,
For bright Aurora now demands my song.
Aurora hail, and all the thousand dies,
Which deck thy progress through the vaulted skies:
The morn awakes, and wide extends her rays,
On ev’ry leaf the gentle zephyr plays;
Harmonious lays the feather’d race resume,
Dart the bright eye, and shake the painted plume.
Ye shady groves, your verdant gloom display
To shield your poet from the burning day:
Calliope awake the sacred lyre,
While thy fair sisters fan the pleasing fire:
The bow’rs, the gales, the variegated skies
In all their pleasures in my bosom rise.
See in the east th’ illustrious king of day!
His rising radiance drives the shades away —
But Oh! I feel his fervid beams too strong,
And scarce begun, concludes th’ abortive song.
Soon as the sun forsook the eastern main
The pealing thunder shook the heav’nly plain;
Majestic grandeur! From the zephyr’s wing,
Exhales the incense of the blooming spring.
Soft purl the streams, the birds renew their notes,
And through the air their mingled music floats.
Through all the heav‘ns what beauteous dies are spread!
But the west glories in the deepest red:
So may our breasts with ev’ry virtue glow,
The living temples of our God below!
Fill’d with the praise of him who gives the light,
And draws the sable curtains of the night,
Let placid slumbers sooth each weary mind,
At morn to wake more heav’nly, more refin’d;
So shall the labours of the day begin
More pure, more guarded from the snares of sin.
Night’s leaden sceptre seals my drowsy eyes,
Then cease, my song, till fair Aurora rise.
Say, heav‘nly muse, what king, or mighty God,
That moves sublime from Idumea’s road?
In Bozrah’s dies, with martial glories join’d,
His purple vesture waves upon the wind.
Why thus enrob’d delights he to appear
In the dread image of the Pow’r of war?
Compress’d in wrath the swelling wine-press groan’d,
It bled, and pour’d the gushing purple round.
«Mine was the act», th’ Almighty Saviour said,
And shook the dazzling glories of his head,
«When all forsook I trod the press alone,
And conquer’d by omnipotence my own;
For man’s release sustain’d the pond’rous load,
For man the wrath of an immortal God:
To execute th’ Eternal’s dread command
My soul I sacrific’d with willing hand;
Sinless I stood before the avenging frown,
Atoning thus for vices not my own».
His eye the ample field of battle round
Survey’d, but no created succours found;
His own omnipotence sustain’d the fight,
His vengeance sunk the haughty foes in night;
Beneath his feet the prostrate troops were spread,
And round him lay the dying, and the dead.
Great God, what light‘ning flashes from thine eyes?
What pow’r withstands if thou indignant rise?
Against thy Zion though her foes may rage,
And all their cunning, all their strength engage,
Yet she serenely on thy bosom lies,
Smiles at their arts, and all their force defies.
Mneme begin. Inspire, ye sacred nine,
Your vent‘rous Afric in her great design..
Mneme, immortal pow’r, I trace thy spring:
Assist my strains, while I thy glories sing:
The acts of long departed years, by thee
Recover‘d, in due order rang’d we see:
Thy pow’r the long-forgotten calls from night,
That sweetly plays before the fancy’s sight.
Mneme in our nocturnal visions pours
The ample treasure of her secret stores;
Swift from above she wings her silent flight
Through Phoebe’s realms, fair regent of the night;
And, in her pomp of images display‘d,
To the high-raptur’d poet gives her aid,
Through the unbounded regions of the mind,
Diffusing light celestial and refin’d.
The heav’nly phantom paints the actions done
By ev’ry tribe beneath the rolling sun.
Mneme, enthron’d within the human breast,
Has vice condemn‘d, and ev’ry virtue blest.
How sweet the sound when we her plaudit hear?
Sweeter than music to the ravish’d ear,
Sweeter than Maro’s entertaining strains
Resounding through the groves, and hills, and plains.
But how is Mneme dreaded by the race,
Who scorn her warnings and despise her grace?
By her unveil’d each horrid crime appears,
Her awful hand a cup of wormwood bears.
Days, years mispent, O what a hell of woe!
Hers the worst tortures that our souls can know.
Now eighteen years their destin’d course have run,
In fast succession round the central sun.
How did the follies of that period pass
Unnotic‘d, but behold them writ in brass!
In Recollection see them fresh return,
And sure ’tis mine to be asham’and mourn.
O Virtue, smiling in immortal green,
Do thou exert thy pow’r, and change the scene;
Be thine employ to guide my future days,
And mine to pay the tribute of my praise.
Of Recollection such the pow‘r enthron’d
In ev’ry breast, and thus her pow‘r is own’d.
The wretch, who dar’d the vengeance of the skies,
At last awakes in horror and surprize,
By her alarm’d, he sees impending fate,
He howls in anguish, and repents too late.
But O! what peace, what joys are hers t‘impart
To ev’ry holy, ev’ry upright heart!
Thrice blest the man, who, in her sacred shrine,
Feels himself shelter’d from the wrath divine!
Thy various works, imperial queen, we see,
How bright their forms! how deck’d with pomp by thee!
Thy wond’rous acts in beauteous order stand,
And all attest how potent is thine hand.
From Helicon’s refulgent heights attend,
Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend:
To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,
Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.
Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,
Till some lov’d object strikes her wand’ring eyes,
Whose silken fetters all the senses bind,
And soft captivity involves the mind.
Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God,
We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,
And leave the rolling universe behind:
From star to star the mental optics rove,
Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,
Or with new worlds amaze th’ unbounded soul.
Though Winter frowns to Fancy’s raptur’d eyes
The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise;
The frozen deeps may break their iron bands,
And bid their waters murmur o‘er the sands.
Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign,
And with her flow’ry riches deck the plain;
Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round,
And all the forest may with leaves be crown’d:
Show’may descend, and dews their gems disclose,
And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose.
Such is thy pow‘r, nor are thine orders vain,
O thou the leader of the mental train:
In full perfection all thy works are wrought,
And thine the sceptre o’er the realms of thought.
Before thy throne the subject-passions bow,
Of subject-passions sov’reign ruler Thou,
At thy command joy rushes on the heart,
And through the glowing veins the spirits dart.
Fancy might now her silken pinions try
To rise from earth, and sweep th’ expanse on high;
From Tithon’s bed now might Aurora rise,
Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies,
While a pure stream of light o’erflows the skies.
The monarch of the day I might behold,
And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold,
But I reluctant leave the pleasing views,
Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse;
Winter austere forbids me to aspire,
And northern tempests damp the rising fire;
They chill the tides of Fancy’s flowing sea,
Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.
Through airy roads he wings his instant flight
To purer regions of celestial light;
Enlarg’d he sees unnumber’d systems roll,
Beneath him sees the universal whole,
Planets on planets run their destin’d round,
And circling wonders fill the vast profound.
Th’ ethereal now, and now th’ empyreal skies
With growing splendors strike his wond‘ring eyes:
The angels view him with delight unknown,
Press his soft hand, and seat him on his throne;
Then smiling thus. «To this divine abode,
The seat of saints, of seraphs, and of God,
Thrice welcome thou».
The raptur’d babe replies,
«Thanks to my God, who snatch’d me to the skies,
E’er vice triumphant had possess’d my heart,
E‘er yet the tempter had beguil’d my heart,
E’er yet on sin’s base actions I was bent,
E‘er yet I knew temptation’s dire intent;
E’er yet the lash for horrid crimes I felt,
E‘er vanity had led my way to guilt,
But, soon arriv’d at my celestial goal,
Full glories rush on my expanding soul».
Joyful he spoke: exulting cherubs round
Clapt their glad wings, the heav’nly vaults resound.
Say, parents, why this unavailing moan?
Why heave your pensive bosoms with the groan?
To Charles, the happy subject of my song,
A brighter world, and nobler strains belong.
Say would you tear him from the realms above
By thoughtless wishes, and prepost‘rous love?
Doth his felicity increase your pain?
Or could you welcome to this world again
The heir of bliss? with a superior air
Methinks he answers with a smile severe,
«Thrones and dominions cannot tempt me there».
But still you cry, «Can we the sigh forbear,
And still and still must we not pour the tear?
Our only hope, more dear than vital breath,
Twelve moons revolv’d, becomes the prey of Death;
Delightful infant, nightly visions give
Thee to our arms, and we with joy receive,
We fain would clasp the Phantom to our breast,
The Phantom flies, and leaves the soul unblest».
To yon bright regions let your faith ascend,
Prepare to join your dearest infant friend
In pleasures without measure, without end.
Say, muse divine, can hostile scenes delight
The warrior’s bosom in the fields of fight?
Lo! here the christian, and the hero join
With mutual grace to form the man divine.
In H—d see with pleasure and surprize,
Where valour kindles, and where virtue lies:
Go, hero brave, still grace the post of fame,
And add new glories to thine honour’d name,
Still to the field, and still to virtue true:
Britannia glories in no son like you.
Hail, happy day, when, smiling like the morn,
Fair Freedom rose New-England to adorn:
The northern clime beneath her genial ray,
Dartmouth, congratulates thy blissful sway:
Elate with hope her race no longer mourns,
Each soul expands, each grateful bosom burns,
While in thine hand with pleasure we behold
The silken reins, and Freedom’s charms unfold.
Long lost to realms beneath the northern skies
She shines supreme, while hated faction dies:
Soon as appear’d the Goddess long desir’d,
Sick at the view, she lanquish’d and expir’d;
Thus from the splendors of the morning light
The owl in sadness seeks the caves of night.
No more, America, in mournful strain
Of wrongs, and grievance unredress’d complain,
No longer shalt thou dread the iron chain,
Which wanton Tyranny with lawless hand
Had made, and with it meant t’enslave the land.
Should you, my lord, while you peruse my song,
Wonder from whence my love of Freedom sprung,
Whence flow these wishes for the common good,
By feeling hearts alone best understood,
I, young in life, by seeming cruel fate
Was snatch’d from Afric’s fancy’d happy seat:
What pangs excruciating must molest,
What sorrows labour in my parent’s breast?
Steel’d was that soul and by no misery mov’d
That from a father seiz’d his babe belov’d:
Such, such my case. And can I then but pray
Others may never feel tyrannic sway?
For favours past, great Sir, our thanks are due,
And thee we ask thy favours to renew,
Since in thy pow‘r, as in thy will before,
To sooth the griefs, which thou did’st once deplore.
May heav‘nly grace the sacred sanction give
To all thy works, and thou for ever live
Not only on the wings of fleeting Fame,
Though praise immortal crowns the patriot’s name,
But to conduct to heav’ns refulgent fane,
May fiery coursers sweep th’ ethereal plain,
And bear thee upwards to that blest abode,
Where, like the prophet, thou shalt find thy God.
While raging tempests shake the shore,
While AE‘lus’ thunders round us roar,
And sweep impetuous o’er the plain
Be still, O tyrant of the main;
Nor let thy brow contracted frowns betray,
While my Susannah skims the wat’ry way.
The Pow’r propitious hears the lay,
The blue-ey’d daughters of the sea
With sweeter cadence glide along,
And Thames responsive joins the song.
Pleas’d with their notes Sol sheds benign his ray,
And double radiance decks the face of day.
To court thee to Britannia’s arms
Serene the climes and mild the sky,
Her region boasts unnumber’d charms,
Thy welcome smiles in ev‘ry eye.
Thy promise, Neptune keep, record my pray’r,
Nor give my wishes to the empty air.
Indulgent muse! my grov’ling mind inspire,
And fill my bosom with celestial fire.
See from Jamaica’s fervid shore she moves,
Like the fair mother of the blooming loves,
When from above the Goddess with her hand
Fans the soft breeze, and lights upon the land;
Thus she on Neptune’s wat‘ry realm reclin’d
Appear’d, and thus invites the ling’ring wind.
«Arise, ye winds, America explore,
Waft me, ye gales, from this malignant shore;
The Northern milder climes I long to greet,
There hope that health will my arrival meet».
Soon as she spoke in my ideal view
The winds assented, and the vessel flew.
Madam, your spouse bereft of wife and son,
In the grove’s dark recesses pours his moan;
Each branch, wide-spreading to the ambient sky,
Forgets its verdure, and submits to die.
From thence I turn, and leave the sultry plain,
And swift pursue thy passage o‘er the main:
The ship arrives before the fav’ring wind,
And makes the Philadelphian port assign‘d,
Thence I attend you to Bostonia’s arms,
Where gen’rous friendship ev‘ry bosom warms:
Thrice welcome here! may health revive again,
Bloom on thy cheek, and bound in ev’ry vein!
Then back return to gladden ev’ry heart,
And give your spouse his soul’s far dearer part,
Receiv’d again with what a sweet surprize,
The tear in transport starting from his eyes!
While his attendant son with blooming grace
Springs to his father’s ever dear embrace.
With shouts of joy Jamaica’s rocks resound,
With shouts of joy the country rings around.
Though thou did‘st hear the tempest from afar,
And felt’st the horrors of the wat‘ry war,
To me unknown, yet on this peaceful shore
Methinks I hear the storm tumultuous roar,
And how stern Boreas with impetuous hand
Compell’d the Nereids to usurp the land.
Reluctant rose the daughters of the main,
And slow ascending glided o’er the plain,
Till AEolus in his rapid chariot drove
In gloomy grandeur from the vault above:
Furious he comes. His winged sons obey
Their frantic sire, and madden all the sea.
The billows rave, the wind’s fierce tyrant roars,
And with his thund‘ring terrors shakes the shores:
Broken by waves the vessel’s frame is rent,
And strows with planks the wat’ry element.
But thee, Maria, a kind Nereid’s shield
Preserv’d from sinking, and thy form upheld:
And sure some heav’nly oracle design’d
At that dread crisis to instruct thy mind
Things of eternal consequence to weigh,
And to thine heart just feelings to convey
Of things above, and of the future doom,
And what the births of the dread world to come.
From tossing seas I welcome thee to land.
«Resign her, Nereid», ‘twas thy God’s command.
Thy spouse late buried, as thy fears conceiv’d,
Again returns, thy fears are all reliev’d:
Thy daughter blooming with superior grace
Again thou see’st, again thine arms embrace;
O come, and joyful show thy spouse his heir,
And what the blessings of maternal care!
O‘erwhelming sorrow now demands my song:
From death the overwhelming sorrow sprung.
What flowing tears? What hearts with grief opprest?
What sighs on sighs heave the fond parent’s breast?
The brother weeps, the hapless sisters join
Th’ increasing woe, and swell the crystal brine;
The poor, who once his gen’rous bounty fed,
Droop, and bewail their benefactor dead.
In death the friend, the kind companion lies,
And in one death what various comfort dies!
Th’ unhappy mother sees the sanguine rill
Forget to flow, and nature’s wheels stand still,
But see from earth his spirit far remov‘d,
And know no grief recals your best-belov’d:
He, upon pinions swifter than the wind,
Has left mortality’s sad scenes behind
For joys to this terrestrial state unknown,
And glories richer than the monarch’s crown.
Of virtue’s steady course the prize behold!
What blissful wonders to his mind unfold!
But of celestial joys I sing in vain:
Attempt not, muse, the too advent’rous strain.
No more in briny show‘rs, ye friends around,
Or bathe his clay, or waste them on the ground:
Still do you weep, still wish for his return?
How cruel thus to wish, and thus to mourn?
No more for him the streams of sorrow pour,
But haste to join him on the heav’nly shore,
On harps of gold to tune immortal lays,
And to your God immortal anthems raise.
On Death’s domain intent I fix my eyes,
Where human nature in vast ruin lies:
With pensive mind I search the drear abode,
Where the great conqu’ror has his spoils bestow’d;
‘here there the offspring of six thousand years
In endless numbers to my view appears:
Whole kingdoms in his gloomy den are thrust,
And nations mix with their primeval dust:
Insatiate still he gluts the ample tomb;
His is the present, his the age to come.
See here a brother, here a sister spread,
And a sweet daughter mingled with the dead.
But, Madam, let your grief be laid aside,
And let the fountain of your tears be dry‘d,
In vain they flow to wet the dusty plain,
Your sighs are wafted to the skies in vain,
Your pains they witness, but they can no more,
While Death reigns tyrant o’er this mortal shore.
The glowing stars and silver queen of light
At last must perish in the gloom of night:
Resign thy friends to that Almighty hand,
Which gave them life, and bow to his command;
Thine Avis give without a murm‘ring heart,
Though half thy soul be fated to depart.
To shining guards consign thine infant care
To waft triumphant through the seas of air:
Her soul enlarg’d to heav’nly pleasure springs,
She feeds on truth and uncreated things.
Methinks I hear her in the realms above,
And leaning forward with a filial love,
Invite you there to share immortal bliss
Unknown, untasted in a state like this.
With tow’ring hopes, and growing grace arise,
And seek beatitude beyond the skies.
Through thickest glooms look back, immortal shade,
On that confusion which thy death has made;
Or from Olympus’ height look down, and see
A Town involv’d in grief bereft of thee.
Thy Lucy sees thee mingle with the dead,
And rends the graceful tresses from her head,
Wild in her woe, with grief unknown opprest
Sigh follows sigh deep heaving from her breast.
Too quickly fled, ah! whither art thou gone?
Ah! lost for ever to thy wife and son!
The hapless child, thine only hope and heir,
Clings round his mother’s neck, and weeps his sorrows there.
The loss of thee on Tyler’s soul returns,
And Boston for her dear physician mourns.
When sickness call’d for Marshall’s healing hand,
With what compassion did his soul expand?
In him we found the father and the friend:
In life how lov’d! how honour’d in his end!
And must not then our Æsculapius stay
To bring his ling’ring infant into day?
The babe unborn in the dark womb is tost,
And seems in anguish for its father lost.
Gone is Apollo from his house of earth,
But leaves the sweet memorials of his worth:
The common parent, whom we all deplore,
From yonder world unseen must come no more,
Yet ’midst our woes immortal hopes attend
The spouse, the sire, the universal friend.
While others chant of gay Elysian scenes,
Of balmy zephyrs, and of flow’ry plains,
My song more happy speaks a greater name,
Feels higher motives and a nobler flame.
For thee, O R —, the muse attunes her strings,
And mounts sublime above inferior things.
I sing not now of green embow‘ring woods,
I sing not now the daughters of the floods,
I sing not of the storms o’er ocean driv‘n,
And how they howl’d along the waste of heav’n,
But I to R — would paint the British shore,
And vast Atlantic, not untry’d before:
Thy life impair’d commands thee to arise,
Leave these bleak regions and inclement skies,
Where chilling winds return the winter past,
And nature shudders at the furious blast.
O thou stupendous, earth-enclosing main
Exert thy wonders to the world again!
If ere thy pow‘r prolong’d the fleeting breath,
Turn’d back the shafts, and mock’d the gates of death,
If ere thine air dispens’d an healing pow’r,
Or snatch’d the victim from the fatal hour,
This equal case demands thine equal care,
And equal wonders may this patient share.
But unavailing, frantic is the dream
To hope thine aid without the aid of him
Who gave thee birth, and taught thee where to flow,
And in thy waves his various blessings show.
May R — return to view his native shore
Replete with vigour not his own before,
Then shall we see with pleasure and surprize,
And own thy work, great Ruler of the skies!
To cultivate in ev‘ry noble mind
Habitual grace, and sentiments refin’d,
Thus while you strive to mend the human heart,
Thus while the heav’nly precepts you impart,
O may each bosom catch the sacred fire,
And youthful minds to Virtue’s throne aspire!
When God’s eternal ways you set in sight,
And Virtue shines in all her native light,
In vain would Vice her works in night conceal,
For Wisdom’s eye pervades the sable veil.
Artists may paint the sun’s effulgent rays,
But Amory’s pen the brighter God displays:
While his great works in Amory’s pages shine,
And while he proves his essence all divine,
The Atheist sure no more can boast aloud
Of chance, or nature, and exclude the God;
As if the clay without the potter’s aid
Should rise in various forms, and shapes self-made,
Or worlds above with orb o‘er orb profound
Self-mov’d could run the everlasting round.
It cannot be—unerring Wisdom guides
With eye propitious, and o’er all presides.
Still prosper, Amory! Still may‘st thou receive
The warmest blessings which a muse can give,
And when this transitory state is o’er,
When kingdoms fall, and fleeting Fame’s no more,
May Amory triumph in immortal fame,
A noble title, and superior name!
No more the flow‘ry scenes of pleasure rise,
Nor charming prospects greet the mental eyes,
No more with joy we view that lovely face
Smiling, disportive, flush’d with ev’ry grace.
The tear of sorrow flows from ev‘ry eye,
Groans answer groans, and sighs to sighs reply;
What sudden pangs shot thro’ each aching heart,
When, Death, thy messenger dispatch’d his dart?
Thy dread attendants, all-destroying Pow’r,
Hurried the infant to his mortal hour.
Could’st thou unpitying close those radiant eyes?
Or fail’d his artless beauties to surprize?
Could not his innocence thy stroke controul,
Thy purpose shake, and soften all thy soul?
The blooming babe, with shades of Death o‘erspread,
No more shall smile, no more shall raise its head,
But, like a branch that from the tree is torn,
Falls prostrate, wither’d, languid, and forlorn.
«Where flies my James?» ‘tis thus I seem to hear
The parent ask, «Some angel tell me where
He wings his passage thro’ the yielding air?»
Methinks a cherub bending from the skies
Observes the question, and serene replies,
«In heav’ns high palaces your babe appears:
Prepare to meet him, and dismiss your tears».
Shall not th‘intelligence your grief restrain,
And turn the mournful to the chearful strain?
Cease your complaints, suspend each rising sigh,
Cease to accuse the Ruler of the sky.
Parents, no more indulge the falling tear:
Let Faith to heav’n’s refulgent domes repair,
There see your infant, like a seraph glow:
What charms celestial in his numbers flow
Melodious, while the soul-enchanting strain
Dwells on his tongue, and fills th‘ethereal plain?
Enough — for ever cease your murm’ring breath;
Not as a foe, but friend converse with Death,
Since to the port of happiness unknown
He brought that treasure which you call your own.
The gift of heav’n intrusted to your hand
Chearful resign at the divine command:
Not at your bar must sov’reign Wisdom stand.
Lo! for this dark terrestrial ball
Forsakes his azure-paved hall
A prince of heav’nly birth!
Divine Humanity behold.
What wonders rise, what charms unfold
At his descent to earth!
The bosoms of the great and good
With wonder and delight he view‘d,
And fix’d his empire there:
Him, close compressing to his breast,
The sire of gods and men address’d,
«My son, my heav’nly fair!
Descend to earth, there place thy throne;
To succour man’s afflicted son
Each human heart inspire:
To act in bounties unconfin’d
Enlarge the close contracted mind,
And fill it with thy fire».
Quick as the word, with swift career
He wings his course from star to star,
And leaves the bright abode.
The Virtue did his charms impart;
Their G — y! then thy raptur’d heart
Perceiv’d the rushing God:
For when thy pitying eye did see
The languid muse in low degree,
Then, then at thy desire
Descended the celestial nine;
O’er me methought they deign’d to shine,
And deign’d to string my lyre.
Can Afric’s muse forgetful prove?
Or can such friendship fail to move
A tender human heart?
Immortal Friendship laurel-crown’d
The smiling Graces all surround
With ev‘ry heav’nly Art.
While deep you mourn beneath the cypress-shade
The hand of Death, and your dear daughter laid
In dust, whose absence gives your tears to flow,
And racks your bosom with incessant woe,
Let Recollection take a tender part,
Assuage the raging tortures of your heart,
Still the wild tempest of tumultuous grief,
And pour the heav‘nly nectar of relief:
Suspend the sigh, dear Sir, and check the groan,
Divinely bright your daughter’s Virtues shone:
How free from scornful pride her gentle mind,
Which ne’er its aid to indigence declin’d!
Expanding free, it sought the means to prove
Unfailing charity, unbounded love!
She unreluctant flies to see no more
Her dear-lov’d parents on earth’s dusky shore:
Impatient heav‘n’s resplendent goal to gain,
She with swift progress cuts the azure plain,
Where grief subsides, where changes are no more,
And life’s tumultuous billows cease to roar;
She leaves her earthly mansion for the skies,
Where new creations feast her wond’ring eyes.
To heav‘n’s high mandate chearfully resign’d
She mounts, and leaves the rolling globe behind;
She, who late wish’d that Leonard might return,
Has ceas’d to languish, and forgot to mourn;
To the same high empyreal mansions come,
She joins her spouse, and smiles upon the tomb:
And thus I hear her from the realms above:
«Lo! this the kingdom of celestial love!
Could ye, fond parents, see our present bliss,
How soon would you each sigh, each fear dismiss?
Amidst unutter’d pleasures whilst I play
In the fair sunshine of celestial day,
As far as grief affects an happy soul
So far doth grief my better mind controul,
To see on earth my aged parents mourn,
And secret wish for T — 1 to return:
Let brighter scenes your ev’ning-hours employ:
Converse with heav’n, and taste the promis’d joy».
Apollo’s wrath to man the dreadful spring
Of ills innum‘rous, tuneful goddess, sing!
Thou who did’st first th’ ideal pencil give,
And taught’st the painter in his works to live,
Inspire with glowing energy of thought,
What Wilson painted, and what Ovid wrote.
Muse! lend thy aid, nor let me sue in vain,
Tho’ last and meanest of the rhyming train!
O guide my pen in lofty strains to show
The Phrygian queen, all beautiful in woe.
’Twas where Maeonia spreads her wide domain
Niobe dwelt, and held her potent reign:
See in her hand the regal sceptre shine,
The wealthy heir of Tantalus divine,
He most distinguish’d by Dodonean Jove,
To approach the tables of the gods above:
Her grandsire Atlas, who with mighty pains
Th’ ethereal axis on his neck sustains:
Her other gran sire on the throne on high
Rolls the loud-pealing thunder thro’ the sky.
Her spouse, Amphion, who from Jove too springs,
Divinely taught to sweep the sounding strings.
Seven sprightly sons the royal bed adorn,
Seven daughters beauteous as the op’ning morn,
As when Aurora fills the ravish’d sight,
And decks the orient realms with rosy light
From their bright eyes the living splendors play,
Nor can beholders bear the flashing ray.
Wherever, Niobe, thou turn‘st thine eyes,
New beauties kindle, and new joys arise!
But thou had’st far the happier mother prov’d,
If this fair offspring had been less belov’d:
What if their charms exceed Aurora’s teint,
No words could tell them, and no pencil paint,
Thy love too vehement hastens to destroy
Each blooming maid, and each celestial boy.
Now Manto comes, endu’d with mighty skill,
The past to explore, the future to reveal.
Thro’ Thebes’ wide streets Tiresia’s daughter came,
Divine Latona’s mandate to proclaim:
The Theban maids to hear the orders ran,
When thus Moeonia’s prophetess began:
«Go Thebans! great Latona’s will obey,
And pious tribute at her altars pay:
With rights divine, the goddess be implor’d,
Nor be her sacred offspring unador’d».
Thus Manto spoke. The Theban maids obey,
And pious tribute to the goddess pay.
The rich perfumes ascend in waving spires,
And altars blaze with consecrated fires;
The fair assembly moves with graceful air,
And leaves of laurel bind the flowing hair.
Niobe comes with all her royal race,
With charms unnumber‘d, and superior grace:
Her Phrygian garments of delightful hue,
Inwove with gold, refulgent to the view,
Beyond description beautiful she moves
Like heav’nly Venus, ‘midst her smiles and loves:
She views around the supplicating train,
And shakes her graceful head with stern disdain,
Proudly she turns around her lofty eyes,
And thus reviles celestial deities:
«What madness drives the Theban ladies fair
To give their incense to surrounding air?
Say why this new sprung deity preferr’d?
Why vainly fancy your petitions heard?
Or say why Coeus’ offspring is obey’d,
While to my goddesship no tribute’s paid?
For me no altars blaze with living fires,
No bullock bleeds, no frankincense transpires,
Tho’ Cadmus’ palace, not unknown to fame,
And Phrygian nations all revere my name.
Where‘er I turn my eyes vast wealth I find.
Lo! here an empress with a goddess join’d.
What, shall a Titaness be deify’d,
To whom the spacious earth a couch deny’d?
Nor heav‘n, nor earth, nor sea receiv’d your queen,
’Till pitying Delos took the wand‘rer in.
Round me what a large progeny is spread!
No frowns of fortune has my soul to dread.
What if indignant she decrease my train
More than Latona’s number will remain?
Then hence, ye Theban dames, hence haste away,
Nor longer off’rings to Latona pay?
Regard the orders of Amphion’s spouse,
And take the leaves of laurel from your brows».
Niobe spoke. The Theban maids obey’d,
Their brows unbound, and left the rights unpaid.
The angry goddess heard, then silence broke
On Cynthus’ summit, and indignant spoke;
«Phoebus! behold, thy mother in disgrace,
Who to no goddess yields the prior place
Except to Juno’s self, who reigns above,
The spouse and sister of the thund’ring Jove.
Niobe sprung from Tantalus inspires
Each Theban bosom with rebellious fires;
No reason her imperious temper quells,
But all her father in her tongue rebels;
Wrap her own sons for her blaspheming breath,
Apollo! wrap them in the shades of death».
Latona ceas’d and ardent thus replies,
The God, whose glory decks th’ expanded skies.
«Cease thy complaints, mine be the task assign’d
To punish pride, and scourge the rebel mind».
This Phoebe join’d.—They wing their instant flight;
Thebes trembled as th’ immortal pow’rs alight.
With clouds incompass’d glorious Phoebus stands;
The feather’d vengeance quiv’ring in his hands.
Near Cadmus’ walls a plain extended lay,
Where Thebes’ young princes pass’d in sport the day:
There the bold coursers bounded o’er the plains,
While their great masters held the golden reins.
Ismenus first the racing pastime led,
And rul’d the fury of his flying steed.
«Ah me», he sudden cries, with shrieking breath,
While in his breast he feels the shaft of death;
He drops the bridle on his courser’s mane,
Before his eyes in shadows swims the plain,
He, the first-born of great Amphion’s bed,
Was struck the first, first mingled with the dead.
Then didst thou, Sipylus, the language hear
Of fate portentous whistling in the air:
As when th’ impending storm the sailor sees
He spreads his canvas to the fav‘ring breeze,
So to thine horse thou gav’st the golden reins,
Gav‘st him to rush impetuous o’er the plains:
But ah! a fatal shaft from Phoebus’ hand
Smites through thy neck, and sinks thee on the sand.
Two other brothers were at wrestling found,
And in their pastime claspt each other round:
A shaft that instant from Apollo’s hand
Transfixt them both, and stretcht them on the sand:
Together they their cruel fate bemoan‘d,
Together languish’d, and together groan’d:
Together too th’unbodied spirits fled,
And sought the gloomy mansions of the dead.
Alphenor saw, and trembling at the view,
Beat his torn breast, that chang’d its snowy hue.
He flies to raise them in a kind embrace;
A brother’s fondness triumphs in his face:
Alphenor fails in this fraternal deed,
A dart dispatch’d him (so the fates decreed:)
Soon as the arrow left the deadly wound,
His issuing entrails smoak’d upon the ground.
What woes on blooming Damasichon wait!
His sighs portend his near impending fate.
Just where the well-made leg begins to be,
And the soft sinews form the supple knee,
The youth sore wounded by the Delian god
Attempts t‘extract the crime-avenging rod,
But, whilst he strives the will of fate t’avert,
Divine Apollo sends a second dart;
Swift thro’ his throat the feather’d mischief flies,
Bereft of sense, he drops his head, and dies.
Young Ilioneus, the last, directs his pray’r,
And cries, «My life, ye gods celestial! spare».
Apollo heard, and pity touch’d his heart,
But ah! too late, for he had sent the dart:
Thou too, O Ilioneus, art doom’d to fall,
The fates refuse that arrow to recal.
On the swift wings of ever-flying Fame
To Cadmus’ palace soon the tidings came:
Niobe heard, and with indignant eyes
She thus express’d her anger and surprize:
«Why is such privilege to them allow’d?
Why thus insulted by the Delian god?
Dwells there such mischief in the pow‘rs above?
Why sleeps the vengeance of immortal Jove»
For now Amphion too, with grief oppress’d,
Had plung’d the deadly dagger in his breast.
Niobe now, less haughty than before,
With lofty head directs her steps no more.
She, who late told her pedigree divine,
And drove the Thebans from Latona’s shrine,
How strangely chang‘d! — yet beautiful in woe,
She weeps, nor weeps unpity’d by the foe.
On each pale corse the wretched mother spread
Lay overwhelm’d with grief, and kiss’d her dead,
Then rais’d her arms, and thus, in accents slow,
«Be sated cruel Goddess! with my woe;
If I’ve offended, let these streaming eyes,
And let this sev’nfold funeral suffice:
Ah! take this wretched life you deign’d to save,
With them I too am carried to the grave.
Rejoice triumphant, my victorious foe,
But show the cause from whence your triumphs flow?
Tho’ I unhappy mourn these children slain,
Yet greater numbers to my lot remain».
She ceas‘d, the bow string twang’d with awful sound,
Which struck with terror all th’assembly round,
Except the queen, who stood unmov’d alone,
By her distresses more presumptuous grown.
Near the pale corses stood their sisters fair
In sable vestures and dishevell’d hair;
One, while she draws the fatal shaft away,
Faints, falls, and sickens at the light of day.
To sooth her mother, lo! another flies,
And blames the fury of inclement skies,
And, while her words a filial pity show,
Struck dumb — indignant seeks the shades below.
Now from the fatal place another flies,
Falls in her flight, and languishes, and dies.
Another on her sister drops in death;
A fifth in trembling terrors yields her breath;
While the sixth seeks some gloomy cave in vain,
Struck with the rest, and mingled with the slain.
One only daughter lives, and she the least;
The queen close clasp’d the daughter to her breast:
«Ye heav‘nly pow’rs, ah spare me one», she cry’d,
«Ah! spare me one», the vocal hills reply’d:
In vain she begs, the Fates her suit deny,
In her embrace she sees her daughter die.
«The queen of all her family bereft,
Without or husband, son, or daughter left,
Grew stupid at the shock. The passing air
Made no impression on her stiff‘ning hair.
The blood forsook her face: amidst the flood
Pour’d from her cheeks, quite fix’d her eye-balls stood.
Her tongue, her palate both obdurate grew,
Her curdled veins no longer motion knew;
The use of neck, and arms, and feet was gone,
And ev’n her bowels hard’ned into stone:
A marble statue now the queen appears,
But from the marble steal the silent tears».
To show the lab‘ring bosom’s deep intent,
And thought in living characters to paint,
When first thy pencil did those beauties give,
And breathing figures learnt from thee to live,
How did those prospects give my soul delight,
A new creation rushing on my sight?
Still, wond’rous youth! each noble path pursue,
On deathless glories fix thine ardent view:
Still may the painter’s and the poet’s fire
To aid thy pencil, and thy verse conspire!
And may the charms of each seraphic theme
Conduct thy footsteps to immortal fame!
High to the blissful wonders of the skies
Elate thy soul, and raise thy wishful eyes.
Thrice happy, when exalted to survey
That splendid city, crown’d with endless day,
Whose twice six gates on radiant hinges ring:
Celestial Salem blooms in endless spring.
Calm and serene thy moments glide along,
And may the muse inspire each future song!
Still, with the sweets of contemplation bless‘d,
May peace with balmy wings your soul invest!
But when these shades of time are chas’d away,
And darkness ends in everlasting day,
On what seraphic pinions shall we move,
And view the landscapes in the realms above?
There shall thy tongue in heav’nly murmurs flow,
And there my muse with heav’nly transport glow:
No more to tell of Damon’s tender sighs,
Or rising radiance of Aurora’s eyes,
For nobler themes demand a nobler strain,
And purer language on th’ ethereal plain.
Cease, gentle muse! the solemn gloom of night
Now seals the fair creation from my sight.
All-conquering Death! by thy resistless pow‘r,
Hope’s tow’ring plumage falls to rise no more!
Of scenes terrestrial how the glories fly,
Forget their splendors, and submit to die!
Who ere escap’d thee, but the saint of old
Beyond the flood in sacred annals told,
And the great sage, whom fiery courses drew
To heav‘n’s bright portals from Elisha’s view;
Wond’ring he gaz’d at the refulgent car,
Then snatch’d the mantle floating on the air.
From Death these only could exemption boast,
And without dying gain’d th’ immortal coast.
Not falling millions sate the tyrant’s mind,
Nor can the victor’s progress be confin’d.
But cease thy strife with Death, fond Nature, cease:
He leads the virtuous to the realms of peace;
His to conduct to the immortal plains,
Where heav’n’s Supreme in bliss and glory reigns.
There sits, illustrious Sir, thy beauteous spouse;
A gem-blaz’d circle beaming on her brows.
Hail’d with acclaim among the heav‘nly choirs,
Her soul new-kindling with seraphic fires,
To notes divine she tunes the vocal strings,
While heav’n’s high concave with the music rings.
Virtue’s rewards can mortal pencil paint?
No — all descriptive arts, and eloquence are faint;
Nor canst thou, Oliver, assent refuse
To heav’nly tidings from the Afric muse.
As soon may change thy laws, eternal fate,
As the saint miss the glories I relate;
Or her Benevolence forgotten lie,
Which wip’d the trick‘ling tear from Mis’ry’s eye.
Whene‘er the adverse winds were known to blow,
When loss to loss ensu’d, and woe to woe,
Calm and serene beneath her father’s hand
She sat resign’d to the divine command.
No longer then, great Sir, her death deplore,
And let us hear the mournful sigh no more,
Restrain the sorrow streaming from thine eye,
Be all thy future moments crown’d with joy!
Nor let thy wishes be to earth confin‘d,
But soaring high pursue th’unbodied mind.
Forgive the muse, forgive th‘advent’rous lays,
That fain thy soul to heav’nly scenes would raise.
Adieu, New-England’s smiling meads,
Adieu, the flow‘ry plain:
I leave thine op’ning charms, O spring,
And tempt the roaring main.
In vain for me the flow’rets rise,
And boast their gaudy pride,
While here beneath the northern skies
I mourn for health deny’d.
Celestial maid of rosy hue,
O let me feel thy reign!
I languish till thy face I view,
Thy vanish’d joys regain.
Susannah mourns, nor can I bear
To see the crystal show’r,
Or mark the tender falling tear
At sad departure’s hour;
Nor unregarding can I see
Her soul with grief opprest:
But let no sighs, no groans for me,
Steal from her pensive breast.
In vain the feather’d warblers sing,
In vain the garden blooms,
And on the bosom of the spring
Breathes out her sweet perfumes,
While for Britannia’s distant shore
We sweep the liquid plain,
And with astonish’d eyes explore
The wide-extended main.
Lo! Health appears! celestial dame!
Complacent and serene,
With Hebe’s mantle o’er her Frame,
With soul-delighting mein.
To mark the vale where London lies
With misty vapours crown’d,
Which cloud Aurora’s thousand dyes,
And veil her charms around,
Why, Phoebus, moves thy car so slow?
So slow thy rising ray?
Give us the famous town to view
Thou glorious king of day!
For thee, Britannia, I resign
New-England’s smiling fields;
To view again her charms divine,
What joy the prospect yields!
But thou! Temptation hence away,
With all thy fatal train
Nor once seduce my soul away,
By thine enchanting strain.
Thrice happy they, whose heav‘nly shield
Secures their souls from harms,
And fell Temptation on the field
Of all its pow’r disarms!
A Bird delicious to the taste,
On which an army once did feast,
Sent by an hand unseen;
A creature of the horned race,
Which Britain’s royal standards grace;
A gem of vivid green;
A town of gaiety and sport,
Where beaux and beauteous nymphs resort,
And gallantry doth reign;
A Dardan hero fam’d of old
For youth and beauty, as we’re told,
And by a monarch slain;
A peer of popular applause,
Who doth our violated laws,
And grievances proclaim.
Th’initials show a vanquish’d town,
That adds fresh glory and renown
To old Britannia’s fame.
The poet asks, and Phillis can’t refuse
To shew th’obedience of the Infant muse.
She knows the Quail of most inviting taste
Fed Israel’s army in the dreary waste;
And what’s on Britain’s royal standard borne,
But the tall, graceful, rampant Unicorn?
The Emerald with a vivid verdure glows
Among the gems which regal crowns compose;
Boston’s a town, polite and debonair,
To which the beaux and beauteous nymphs repair,
Each Helen strikes the mind with sweet surprise,
While living lightning flashes from her eyes.
See young Euphorbus of the Dardan line
By Menelaus’ hand to death resign:
The well known peer of popular applause
Is C — m zealous to support our laws.
Quebec now vanquish’d must obey,
She too must annual tribute pay
To Britain of immortal fame,
And add new glory to her name.
Poesie non incluse nell’antologia
Manoscritto custodito presso l’Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Where now shall I begin this Spacious Feild
To tell what curses unbeleif doth yield
Thou that dost daily feel his hand and rod
And dare deny the essence of a god
If there’s no god from whence did all things spring
He made the greatest and minutest thing
If there’s no heaven whither wilt thou go
Make thy Elysium in the Shades below
With great astonishment any soul is struck
O rashness great hast thou thy sense forsook
Hast thou forgot the preterperfect days
They are recorded in the Book of praise
If twas not written by the hand of God
Why was it sealed with Immanuel’s blood
Tho ‘tis a second point thou dost deny
Unmeasur’d vengeance Scarlet sins do cry
Turn now I pray thee from the dangerous road
Rise from the dust and seek the mighty God
By whose great mercy we do move and live
Whose Loving kindness doth our sins forgive
Tis Beelzebub our adversary great
Withholds from us the kingdom and the seat
Bliss weeping waits us in her arms to fly
To the vast regions of Felicity
Perhaps thy Ignorance will ask us where
Go to the corner stone it will declare
Thy heart in unbeleif will harder grow
Altho thou hidest it for pleasure now
Thou tak’st unusual means, the path forbear
Unkind to Others to thyself severe
Methinks I see the consequence thou art blind
Thy unbeleif disturbs the peaceful mind
The endless Scene too far for me to tread
Too great to Accomplish from so weak a head
If men Such wise inventions then should know
In the high Firmament who made the bow
That covenant was made for to ensure
Made to establish lasting to endure
Who made the heavens and earth a lasting
Spring Of Admiration. to whom dost thou bring
Thy thanks, and tribute, Adoration pay,
To heathen Gods, can wise Apollo say
Tis I that saves thee from the deepest hell
Minerva teach thee all thy days to tell
Doth Pluto tell thee thou shalt see the Shade
Of fell perdition for thy learning made
Doth Cupid in thy breast that warmth inspire
To Love thy brother which is Gods desire
Look thou above and see who made the sky
Nothing more Lucid to an Atheist’s eye
Look thou beneath, behold each purling stream
It surely can not a Delusion Seem
Mark rising Pheobus when he spreads his ray
And his commission for to guide the day
At night keep watch, and see a Cynthia bright
And her commission for to guide the night
See how the stars when the do sing his praise
Witness his essence in celestial Lays.
Massachusetts Historical Society
Muse! where shall I begin the spacious feild
To tell what curses unbeleif doth yeild?
Thou who dost daily feel his hand, and rod
Darest thou deny the Essence of a God! —
If there’s no heav‘n, ah! whither wilt thou go
Make thy Ilysium in the shades below?
If there’s no God from whom did all things
Spring He made the greatest and minutest
Thing Angelic ranks no less his Power display
Than the least mite scarce visible to Day
With vast astonishment my soul is struck
Have Reason’g powers thy darken’d breast forsook?
The Laws deep Graven by the hand of God,
Seal’d with Immanuel’s all-redeeming blood:
This second point thy folly dares deny
On thy devoted head for vengeance cry—
Turn then I pray thee from the dangerous road
Rise from the dust and seek the mighty God.
His is bright truth without a dark disguise
And his are wisdom’s all beholding Eyes:
With labour’d snares our Adversary great
Withholds from us the Kingdom and the seat.
Bliss weeping waits thee, in her Arms to fly
To her own regions of felicity —
Perhaps thy ignorance will ask us where?
Go to the Corner stone he will declare.
Thy heart in unbelief will harden’d grow
Tho’ much indulg’d in vicious pleasure now —
Thou tak‘st unusual means; the path forbear
Unkind to others to thy self Severe —
Methinks I see the consequence thou’rt blind
Thy unbelief disturbs the peaceful Mind.
The endless scene too far for me to tread
Too great to utter from so weak a head.
That man his maker’s love divine might know
In heavens high firmament he placed his Bow
To shew his covenant for ever sure
To endless Age unchanging to endure —
He made the Heavens and earth that lasting
Spring Of admiration! To whom dost thou bring
Thy grateful tribute? Adoration pay
To heathen Gods? Can wise Apollo say
Tis I that saves thee from the deepest hell;
Minerva teach thee all thy days to tell?
Doth Pluto tell thee thou Shalt see the shade
Of fell perdition for transgression made?
Doth Cupid in thy breast that warmth inspire
To love thy Brother, which is God’s desire?
Atheist! behold the wide extended skies
And wisdom infinite shall strike thine eyes
Mark rising Sol when far he spreads his
Ray And his Commission read — To rule the Day
At night behold that silver Regent bright
And her command to lead the train of Night
Lo! how the Stars all vocal in his praise
Witness his Essence in celestial lays!
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Must Ethiopians be imploy’d for you
Greatly rejoice if any good I do
I ask O unbeleiver satan’s child
Has not thy saviour been to meek & mild
The auspicious rays that round his head do shine
Do still declare him to be christ divine
Doth not the Omnipotent call him son?
And is well pleas’d with his beloved One
How canst thou thus divide the trinity
What can‘st thou take up for to make the three
Tis satan snares a Fluttering in the wind
Whereby he hath ensnar’d thy Foolish mind
God the eternal Orders this to be
Sees thy vain arg’ments to divide the three
Canst thou not see the consequence in store
Begin the Omnipotent to adore
Arise the pinions of Persuasions here
Seek the Eternal while he is so near
At the last day where wilt thou hide thy face
The day approaching is no time for grace
Then wilt thou cry thyself undone and lost
Proclaiming Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Who trod the wine press of Jehovahs wrath
Who taught us prayer and gave us grace and faith
Who but the great and the Supreme who bless’d
Ever and ever in Immortal rest
The meanest prodigal that comes to God
Is not cast off, but brought by Jesus Blood
When to the faithless Jews he oft did cry
One call’d him Teacher some made him a lye
He came to you in mean apparell clad
He came to save you from your sins and had
Far more Compassion than I can express
Pains his companions, and his Friends Distress
Immanuel God with us these pains did bear
Must the Eternal our Petitions hear?
Ah! cruel distiny his life he Laid
Father Forgive them thus the saviour said
They nail’d King Jesus to the cross for us
For our Transgressions he did bear the curse.
Possa io, o Eterno, rivolgere un saluto all’aurora prima d’iniziare la Tua lode, compia la mortale polvere quanto agli immortali può essere d’ardua comprensione e allora, o Onnipotente, umilmente chiederò, dopo aver implorato perdono per tale presunzione, quando ci avvicineremo alla Tua presenza coronata di Dignità celestiali, quando vedremo il luogo ove riposa l’immenso Supremo, quando Ti vedremo. O Redentore d’ogni risplendente Misericordia di un addolorato Dio, saggi inviati dai climi d’Oriente Ora sono guidati da serafini verso la dimora benedetta.
Massachusetts Historical Society
Must Ethiopians be employ’d for you?
Much I rejoice if any good I do.
I ask O unbeleiver, Satan’s child
Hath not thy Saviour been too much revil’d
Th’ auspicious rays that round his temples shine
Do still declare him to be Christ divine
Doth not the great Eternal call him Son
Is he not pleas’d with his beloved One —?
How canst thou thus divide the Trinity —
The blest the Holy the eternal three
Tis Satan’s Snares are fluttering in the wind
Whereby he doth insnare thy foolish mind
God, the Eternal Orders this to be
Sees thy vain arg’ments to divide the three
Cans’t thou not see the Consequence in store?
Begin th’ Almighty monarch to adore
Attend to Reason whispering in thine ear
Seek the Eternal while he is so near.
Full in thy view I point each path I know
Lest to the vale of black dispair I go.
At the last day where wilt thou hide thy face
That Day approaching is no time for Grace.
Too late percieve thyself undone and lost
To late own Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Who trod the wine-press of Jehovah’s wrath?
Who taught us prayer, and promis’d grace and faith — ?
Who but the Son, who reigns supremely blest
Ever, and ever, in immortal rest?
The vilest prodigal who comes to God
Is not cast out but bro’t by Jesus’ blood.
When to the faithless Jews he oft did cry
Some own’d this teacher Some made him a lye
He came to you in mean apparel clad
He came to Save us from our Sins, and had
Compassion more than language can express.
Pains his companions, and his friends distress
Immanuel on the cross those pains did bear —
Will the eternal our petitions hear?
Ah! wondrous Distiny his life he laid.
«Father forgive them», thus the Saviour pray’d
Nail’d was King Jesus on the cross for us.
For our transgressions he sustain’d the Curse.
Sui signori Hussey e Coffin. Allo Stampatore, Newport Mercury, 21 dicembre 1767.
Vi prego di inserire le seguenti righe, composte da una Ragazza Negra (appartenente a un certo Signor Wheatley di Boston) nella seguente occasione: i Signori Hussey e Coffin, come detto, provenienti da Nantucket, essendo diretti da lì a Boston, hanno rischiato di essere dirottati a Cape-Cod, durante una delle ultime Tempeste; al loro Arrivo dal Signor Wheatley, mentre cenavano, hanno raccontato della loro Sventura e, la Ragazza Negra, che nel frattempo serviva a tavola, ascoltando la Storia, ha composto i seguenti versi.
Did Fear and Danger so perplex your Mind,
As made you fearful of the Whistling Wind?
Was it not Boreas knit his angry Brow
Against you? Or did Consideration bow?
To lend you Aid, did not his Winds combine?
To stop your passage with a churlish Line,
Did haughty Eolus with Contempt look down
With Aspect windy, and a study’d Frown?
Regard them not;—the Great Supreme, the Wise,
Intends for something hidden from our Eyes.
Suppose the groundless Gulph had snatch’d away
Hussey and Coffin to the raging Sea;
Where wou’d they go? where wou’d be their Abode?
With the supreme and independent God,
Or made their Beds down in the Shades below,
Where neither Pleasure nor Content can flow.
To Heaven their Souls with eager Raptures soar,
Enjoy the Bliss of him they wou’d adore.
Had the soft gliding Streams of Grace been near,
Some favourite Hope their fainting hearts to cheer,
Doubtless the Fear of Danger far had fled:
No more repeated Victory crown their Heads.
Se avessi la parola di un Serafino, come esalterei la tua Lode; il tuo Nome al pari d’incenso volerebbe al Paradiso, e il Ricordo della tua Bontà, all’Oceano infinito della Beatitudine! — Allora la Terra splenderebbe di Ardore serafico. Anima Benedetta, che osservi il Giorno mentre la Luce illumina, il sentiero tracciato dal Segno divino.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
New England first a wilderness was found
Till for a continent ‘twas destin’d round
From feild to feild the savage monsters run
E’r yet Brittania had her work begun
Thy Power, O Liberty, makes strong the weak
And (wond‘rous instinct) Ethiopians speak
Sometimes by Simile, a victory’s won
A certain lady had an only son
He grew up daily virtuous as he grew
Fearing his Strength which she undoubted knew
She laid some taxes on her darling son
And would have laid another act there on
Amend your manners I’ll the task remove
Was said with seeming Sympathy and Love
By many Scourges she his goodness try’d
Untill at length the Best of Infants cry’d
He wept, Brittania turn’d a senseless ear
At last awaken’d by maternal fear
Why weeps americus why weeps my Child
Thus spake Brittania, thus benign and mild
My dear mama said he, shall I repeat—
Then Prostrate fell, at her maternal feet
What ails the rebel, great Brittania Cry’d
Indeed said he, you have no cause to Chide
You see each day my fluent tears my food.
Without regard, what no more English blood?
Has length of time drove from our English veins
The kindred he to Great Brittania deigns?
Tis thus with thee O Brittain keeping down
New English force, thou fear’st his Tyranny and thou
He weeps afresh to feel this Iron chain
Turn, O Brittania claim thy child again
Riecho Love drive by thy powerful charms
Indolence Slumbering in forgetful arms
See Agenoria diligent imploy’s
Her sons, and thus with rapture she replys
Arise my sons with one consent arise
Lest distant continents with vult’ring eyes
Should charge America with Negligence
They praise Industry but no pride commence
To raise their own Profusion, O Brittain See
By this, New England will increase like thee
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
It was thy noble soul and high desert
That caus’d these breathings of my grateful heart
You sav’d a soul from Pluto’s dreary shore
You sav’d his body and he asks no more
This generous act Immortal wreaths shall bring
To thee for meritorious was the Spring
From whence from whence, this candid ardor
To grace thy name, and Glorify thy God
The Eatherial spirits in the realms above
Rejoice to see thee exercise thy Love
Hail: Commodore may heaven delighted pour
Its blessings plentious in a silent shower
The voice of pardon did resound on high
While heaven consented, and he must not die
On thee, fair victor be the Blessing shed
And rest for ever on thy matchless Head
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University
Let amicitia in her ample reign
Extend her notes to a Celestial strain
Benevolent far more divinely Bright
Amor like me doth triumph at the sight
When my thoughts in gratitude imploy
Mental Imaginations give me Joy
Now let my thoughts in Contemplation steer
The Footsteps of the Superlative fair
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
In heavens eternal court it was decreed
How the first martyr for the cause should bleed
To clear the country of the hated brood
He whet his courage for the common good
Long hid before, a vile infernal here
Prevents Achilles in his mid career
Where‘er this fury darts his Pois’nous breath
All are endanger’d to the shafts of death
The generous Sires beheld the fatal wound
Saw their young champion gasping on the ground
They rais’d him up. but to each present ear
What martial glories did his tongue declare
The wretch appal’d no longer can despise
But from the Striking victim turns his eyes —
When this young martial genius did appear
The Tory cheifs no longer could forbear.
Ripe for destruction, see the wretches doom
He waits the curses of the age to come
In vain he flies, by Justice Swiftly chaced
With unexpected infamy disgraced
Be Richardson for ever banish’d here
The grand Usurpers bravely vaunted Heir.
We bring the body from the watry bower
To lodge it where it shall remove no more.
Snider behold with what Majestic Love
The Illustrious retinue begins to move
With Secret rage fair freedoms foes beneath
See in thy corse ev’n Majesty in Death
Involv’d in Clouds of Wo, Maria mourns,
And various Anguish wracks her Soul by turns;
See thy lov’d Parent languishing in Death,
His Exit watch, and catch his flying Breath;
«Stay happy Shade», distress’d Maria cries;
«Stay happy Shade», the hapless Church replies;
«Suspend a while, suspend thy rapid flight,
Still with thy Friendship, chear our sullen Night;
The sullen Night of Error, Sin, and Pain;
See Earth astonish’d at the Loss, complain»;
Thine, and the Church’s Sorrows I deplore;
Moorhead is dead, and Friendship is no more;
From Earth she flies, nor mingles with our Wo,
Since cold the Breast, where once she deign’d to glow;
Here shone the heavenly Virtue, there confess‘d,
Celestial Love, reign’d joyous in his Breast;
Till Death grown jealous for his drear Domain,
Sent his dread Offspring, unrelenting Pain.
With hasty Wing, the Son of Terror flies,
Lest Moorhead find the Portal of the Skies;
Without a Passage through the Shades below,
Like great Elijah, Death’s triumphant Foe;
Death follows soon, nor leaves the Prophet long,
His Eyes are seal’d, and every Nerve unstrung;
Forever silent is the stiff’ning Clay,
While the rapt Soul, explores the Realms of Day.
Oft has he strove to raise the Soul from Earth,
Oft has he travail’d in the heavenly Birth;
Till Jesus took possession of the Soul,
Till the new Creature liv’d throughout the whole.
When the fierce conviction seiz’d the Sinner’s Mind,
The Law-loud thundering he to Death consign’d;
Jehovah’s Wrath revolving, he surveys,
The Fancy’s terror, and the Soul’s amaze.
Say, what is Death? The Gloom of endless Night,
Which from the Sinner, bars the Gates of Light:
Say, what is Hell? In Horrors passing strange;
His Vengeance views, who seals his final Change;
The winged Hours, the final Judgment brings,
Decides his Fate, and that of Gods and Kings;
Tremendous Doom! And dreadful to be told,
To dwell in Tophet ’stead of shrines of Gold.
«Gods! Ye shall die like Men», the Herald cries,
«And stil’d no more the Children of the Skies».
Trembling he sees the horrid Gulf appear,
Creation quakes, and no Deliverer near;
With Heart relenting to his Feelings kind,
See Moorhead hasten to relieve his Mind.
See him the Gospel’s healing Balm impart,
To sooth the Anguish of his tortur’d Heart.
He points the trembling Mountain, and the Tree,
Which bent beneath th’ incarnate Deity,
How God descended, wonderous to relate,
To bear our Crimes, a dread enormous Weight;
Seraphic Strains too feeble to repeat,
Half the dread Punishment the God-Head meet.
Suspended there, (till Heaven was reconcil‘d,)
Like Moses’ Serpent in the Desert wild.
The Mind appeas’d what new Devotion glows,
With Joy unknown, the raptur’d Soul o’erflows;
While on his God-like Savior’s Glory bent,
His Life proves witness of his Heart’s intent.
Lament ye indigent the Friendly Mind,
Which oft relented, to your Mis’ry kind.
With humble Gratitude he render’d Praise,
To Him whose Spirit had inspir’d his Lays;
To Him whose Guidance gave his Words to flow,
Divine instruction, and the Balm of Wo:
To you his Offspring, and his Church, be given,
A triple Portion of his Thirst for Heaven;
Such was the Prophet; we the Stroke deplore,
Which let’s us hear his warning Voice no more.
But cease complaining, hush each murm’ring Tongue,
Pursue the Example which inspires my Song.
Let his Example in your Conduct shine;
Own the afflicting Providence, divine;
So shall bright Periods grace your joyful Days,
And heavenly Anthems swell your Songs of Praise.
Now muse divine, thy heav‘nly aid impart,
The feast of Genius, and the play of Art.
From high Parnassus’ radiant top repair,
Celestial Nine! propitious to my pray’r.
In vain my Eyes explore the wat’ry reign,
By you unaided with the flowing strain.
When first old Chaos of tyrannic soul
Wav’d his dread Sceptre o‘er the boundless whole,
Confusion reign’d till the divine Command
On floating azure fix’d the Solid Land,
Till first he call’d the latent seeds of light,
And gave dominion o’er eternal Night.
From deepest glooms he rais’d this ample Ball,
And round its walls he bade its surges roll;
With instant haste the new made seas complyd,
And the globe rolls impervious to the Tide;
Yet when the mighty Sire of Ocean frownd
«His awful trident shook the solid Ground».
The King of Tempests thunders o‘er the plain,
And scorns the azure monarch of the main,
He sweeps the surface, makes the billows rore,
And furious, lash the loud resounding shore.
His pinion’d race his dread commands obey,
Syb’s, Eurus, Boreas, drive the foaming sea!
See the whole stormy progeny descend!
And waves on waves devolving without End,
But cease Eolus, all thy winds restrain,
And let us view the wonders of the main
Where the proud Courser paws the blue abode,
Impetuous bounds, and mocks the driver’s rod.
There, too, the Heifer fair as that which bore
Divine Europa to the Cretan shore.
With guileless mein the gentle Creature strays
Quaffs the pure stream, and crops ambrosial Grass
Again with recent wonder I survey
The finny sov’reign bask in hideous play
(So fancy sees) he makes a tempest rise
And intercept the azure vaulted skies
Such is his sport:—but if his anger glow
What kindling vengeance boils the deep below!
Twas but e‘er now an Eagle young and gay
Pursu’d his passage thro’ the aierial way
He aim’d his piece, would C f’s hand do more
Yes, him he brought to pluto’s dreary shore
Slow breathed his last, the painful minutes move
With lingring pace his rashness to reprove;
Perhaps his father’s Just commands he bore
To fix dominion on some distant shore
Ah! me unblest he cries Oh! had I staid
Or swift my Father’s mandate had obey
But ah! too late. — Old Ocean heard his cries
He stroakes his hoary tresses and replies
What mean these plaints so near our wat’ry throne,
And what the Cause of this distressful moan?
Confess Iscarius, let thy words be true
Not let me find a faithless Bird in you
His voice struck terror thro’ the whole domain
Aw’d by his frowns the royal youth began,
Saw you not Sire, a tall and Gallant ship
Which proudly skims the surface of the deep
With pompous form from Boston’s port she came
She flies, and London her resounding name
O’er the rough surge the dauntless Chief prevails
For partial Aura fills his swelling sails
His fatal musket shortens thus my day
And thus the victor takes my life away
Faint with his wound Iscarius said no more
His Spirit sought Oblivion’s sable shore.
This Neptune saw, and with a hollow groan
Resum’d the azure honours of his Throne.
Alla seconda chitarra, il tastierista dei Wailers, Earl ‘Wya’ Lindo, Jamaica TV, 1980