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And while she stands abashed, with conscious eye,
Yet why, you ask, these humble crimes relate,
A VISION OF LIFE IN DEATH
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
And stopped my wild career;
In agonies and blood,
As near His cross I stood.
Can I forget that look:
me with His death,
My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me in despair;
And helped to nail Him there.
Alas! I know not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
For I the Lord have slain!
'I freely all forgive;
I die, that thou may'st live.'
Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
It seals my pardon too.
My spirit now is filled
Yet live by Him I killed.
FROM TABLE TALK
[THE POET AND RELIGION] Pity Religion has so seldom found A skilful guide into poetic ground! The flowers would spring where'er she deigned to stray, And every muse attend her in her way. Virtue indeed meets many a rhyming friend, And many a compliment politely penned, But unattired in that becoming vest Religion weaves for her, and half undressed, Stands in the desert shivering and forlorn, A wintry figure, like a withered thorn.
The shelves are full, all other themes are sped,
[THE DUBIOUS AND THE POSITIVE] Dubious is such a scrupulous good man,Yes, you may catch him tripping if you can. He would not with a peremptory tone Assert the nose upon his face his own; With hesitation admirably slow, He humbly hopes—presumes—it may be so. His evidence, if he were called by law To swear to some enormity he saw, For want of prominence and just relief, Would hang an honest man, and save a thief. Through constant dread of giving truth offence, He ties up all his hearers in suspense; Knows what he knows, as if he knew it not; What he remembers seems to have forgot; His sole opinion, whatsoe'er befall, Centering at last in having none at all. Yet though he tease and baulk your listening ear, He makes one useful point exceeding clear; Howe'er ingenious on his darling theme A sceptic in philosophy may seem, Reduced to practice, his beloved rule Would only prove him a consummate fool;
Useless in him alike both brain and speech,
Where men of judgment creep and feel their way,
TO A YOUNG LADY
Friendly to peace, but not to me!
And heart that cannot rest, agree!
This glassy stream, that spreading pine,
Those alders quivering to the breeze,
And please, if anything could please.
But fixed unalterable Care
Foregoes not what she feels within,
And slights the season and the scene.
For all that pleased in wood or lawn
While Peace possessed these silent bowers, Her animating smile withdrawn,
Has lost its beauties and its powers.
The saint or moralist should tread
This moss-grown alley, musing, slow,
But not, like me, to nourish woe!
Me, fruitful scenes and prospects waste
Alike admonish not to roam;
And those of sorrows yet to come.
FROM THE TASK
[LOVE OF FAMILIAR SCENES]
Scenes that soothed Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find Still soothing and of power to charm me still. And witness, dear companion of my walks, Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive Fast locked in mine, with pleasure such as love, Confirmed by long experience of thy worth And well-tried virtues, could alone inspire, Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long. Thou knowest my praise of nature most sincere, And that my raptures are not conjured up To serve occasions of poetic pomp, But genuine, and art partner of them all.