The Sleeper

At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And, softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley.
The rosemary nods upon the grave;
The lily lolls upon the wave;
Wrapping the fog about its breast,
The ruin molders into rest;
Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
A conscious slumber seems to take,
And would not, for the world, awake.
All Beauty sleeps!- and lo! where lies
Irene, with her Destinies!

O, lady bright! can it be right-
This window open to the night?
The wanton airs, from the tree-top,
Laughingly through the lattice drop-
The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
Flit through thy chamber in and out,
And wave the curtain canopy
So fitfully- so fearfully-
Above the closed and fringed lid
‘Neath which thy slumb’ring soul lies hid,
That, o’er the floor and down the wall,
Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!
Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?
Why and what art thou dreaming here?
Sure thou art come O’er far-off seas,
A wonder to these garden trees!
Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress,
Strange, above all, thy length of tress,
And this all solemn silentness!

The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
For ever with unopened eye,
While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep
As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!
Far in the forest, dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold-
Some vault that oft has flung its black
And winged panels fluttering back,
Triumphant, o’er the crested palls,
Of her grand family funerals-

Some sepulchre, remote, alone,
Against whose portal she hath thrown,
In childhood, many an idle stone-
Some tomb from out whose sounding door
She ne’er shall force an echo more,
Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!
It was the dead who groaned within.

   
                            Edgar Allen Poe  (1809-1849)

Clodhopping Oracles of Man

From scenes obscure, did heaven his * * * * * call,
That moral Newton, and that second Paul.
He, in clear view, saw sacred systems roll,
Of reasoning worlds, around their central soul;
Saw love attractive every system bind,
The parent linking to each filial mind;
The end of heaven’s high works resistless shew’d,
Creating glory, and created good;
And, in one little life, the gospel more
Disclos’d, than all earth’s myriads kenn’d before.
Beneath his standard; lo what number rise,
To dare for truth, and combat for the skies!
Arm’d at all points, they try the battling field,
With reason’s sword and faith’s etherial shield.
To ward this fate all irreligion can,
Whate’er sustains, or flatters sinning man;
Whate’er can conscience of her thorns disarm,
Or calm, at death’s approach, the dread alarm;
Whate’er like truth, with error cheats mankind;
Whate’er, like virtue, taints with vice the mind;
I preach’d, I wrote, I argued, pray’d, and lied,
What could my friends, or even myself, beside?
But, tho’ with glad successes often crown’d,
Unceasing fears my troubled path surround.
While with each toil my friends the cause sustain,
Their toils, their efforts, and their arts are vain.
Even plodding * * * * * * * * did but little good,
Who taught, the foul of man was made of mud:
Cold mud was virtue; warmer mud was sin;
And thoughts the angle-worms, that crawl’d within:
Nor taught alone; but wife, to precept join’d
A fair example, in his creeping mind.
In vain thro realms of nonsense * * * * * * * ran
The great Clodhopping oracle of man.
Yet faithful were his toils: What could he more?
In Satan’s cause he bustled, bruised, and swore;
And what the due reward, from me shall know,
For gentlemen of equal worth below.
To vengeance then, my soul, to vengeance rise,
Assert thy glory and assault the skies.

Timothy Dwight: The Triumph of Infidelity (1788)

Jupiter to Phillis

 

An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley

Jupiter Hammon  (1711-1805)

I
O come you pious youth! adore
The wisdom of thy God,
In bringing thee from distant shore,
To learn His holy word.

II
Thou mightst been left behind
Amidst a dark abode;
God’s tender mercy still combin’d
Thou hast the holy word.

III
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.

IV
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.

V
While thousands tossed by the sea,
And others settled down,
God’s tender mercy set thee free,
From dangers that come down.

VI
That thou a pattern still might be,
To youth of Boston town,
The blessed Jesus set thee free,
From every sinful wound.

VII
The blessed Jesus, who came down,
Unvail’d his sacred face,
To cleanse the soul of every wound,
And give repenting grace.

VIII
That we poor sinners may obtain
The pardon of our sin;
Dear blessed Jesus now constrain
And bring us flocking in.

IX
Come you, Phillis, now aspire,
And seek the living God,
So step by step thou mayst go higher,
Till perfect in the word.

X
While thousands mov’d to distant shore,
And others left behind,
The blessed Jesus still adore,
Implant this in thy mind.

XI
Thou hast left the heathen shore;
Thro’ mercy of the Lord,
Among the heathen live no more,
Come magnify thy God.

XII
I pray the living God may be,
The shepherd of thy soul;
His tender mercies still are free,
His mysteries to unfold.

XIII
Thou, Phillis, when thou hunger hast,
Or pantest for thy God;
Jesus Christ is thy relief,
Thou hast the holy word.

XIV
The bounteous mercies of the Lord
Are hid beyond the sky,
And holy souls that love His word,
Shall taste them when they die.

XV
These bounteous mercies are from God,
The merits of His Son;
The humble soul that loves his word,
He chooses for His own.

XVI
Come, dear Phillis, be advis’d
To drink Samaria’s flood,
There’s nothing that shall suffice
But Christ’s redeeming blood.

XVII
While thousands muse with earthly toys;
and range about the street;
Dear Phillis, seek for heaven’s joys,
Where we do hope to meet.

XVIII
When God shall send his summons down
And number saints together
Blest angels chant (Triumphant sound)
Come live with me forever.

XIX
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.

XX
Behold! the soul shall waft away,
Whene’er we come to die,
And leave its cottage made of clay,
In twinkling of an eye.

XXI
Now glory be to the Most High,
United praises given
By all on earth, incessantly,
And all the hosts of heav’n

 

 

The Origin Of Evil: An Elegy

Royall Tyler (1757-1826)

Of man’s first disobedience and the Fruit
Of that FORBIDDEN TREE, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe:
Sing heavenly muse!
           MILTON.
EVA.    Fructus ipse est pulcher sane visu:
           Nescio an sit ita dulcis gustatu;
          Veruntamen experiar. VAH. QUAM DULCIS EST!!!
         DIALOGI SACRI SABESTIANI CASTALIONIS.
Lovely in death the beauteous ruin lay;
And if in death still lovely, lovelier there;
Far lovelier! Pity swells the tide of love,
And will not the severe excuse a sigh?
Scorn the proud man who is asham’d to weep.
                    YOUNG’S NIGHT THOUGHTS.

Proem

Ranting topers, midnight rovers,
Cease to roar your fleshy lays;
Melancholy, moping lovers,
No more your lapsed ladies praise.

Fix your thoughts on heavenly treasure,
Let Virtue now with Wit combine;
Purge your hearts from sensual pleasure,
With Religion mix your wine.

Let each lovely Miss and Madam,
Quit the dear joys of carnal sense,
Weep the fall of Eve and Adam,
From their first state of Innocence.

An ELEGY

In the first stillness of the even,
When blushing day began to close,
In the blissful bowers of Eden,
Our chaste Grand Parents sought repose.

No pair to act love’s glowing passion,
So fit, in these late days, are seen;
Since girls’ shapes are spoil’d by fashion,
And man’s nerves unstrung by sin.

Eve, the fairest child of nature,
In naked beauty stood reveal’d,
Exposing every limb and feature,
Save those her jetty locks conceal’d.

Light and wanton curl’d her tresses
Where each sprouting lock should grow,
Her bosom, heaving for caresses,
Seem’d blushing berries cast on snow.

Adam, got by lusty nature,
Form’d to delight a woman’s eyes,
Stood confest in manly stature,
The first of men in shape and size!

As Eve cast her arms so slender,
His brawny chest to fondly stroke;
She seem’d an ivy tendril tender
Sporting round a sturdy oak.

Innocent of nuptial blisses,
Unknown to him the balm of life;
With unmeaning, wild caresses,
Adam teaz’d his virgin wife.

As her arm Eve held him hard in,
And toy’d him with her roving hand,
In the middle of Love’s Garden,
She saw the Tree of Knowledge stand.

Stately grew the tree forbidden,
Rich curling tendrils grac’d its root;
In its airy pods, half hidden,
Hung the luscious, tempting fruit.

With Love’s coyest leer she view’d it,
Then touched it with her glowing hand;
Did just touch, but not renew’d it,
Restrain’d by the divine command.

At her guilty touch the tree seem’d
Against the blue arch’d sky to knock;
With nervous vigour every branch beam’d,
And swell’d the sturdy solid stock.

Softly sigh’d the rib-form’d beauty,
‘How love does new desires produce?
This pendant fruit o’ercomes my duty,
I pant to suck its balmy juice.

‘Why was this tall tree forbidden,
So sweet and pleasant to my eyes,
Food so fit for hungry women,
Much desir’d to make me wise?’

With sweet blandishment so civil
She finger’d soft its velvet pods;
‘Let us now know good from evil,
Dear Adam, let us be like Gods.’

With burning cheeks and eyes of fire,
Raving and raging for the bliss,
Blushing and panting with desire,
She glu’d her glowing lips to his.

‘Threaten’d death will soon o’ertake me,
If this forbidden tree I pluck,
But life itself will soon forsake me,
Unless its cordial juice I suck.’

Her soft hand then half embrac’d it,
Her heaving breasts to his inclin’d,
She op’d her coral lips to taste it,
But first she peel’d its russet rind.

In her lips she scarcely put it,
And nibbl’d ’till its sweets she found,
Then like eager glutton took it,
And, gorg’d with bliss, sunk on the ground.

At that hour, through all creation,
Rode Love sublime in triumph then,
Earth, Sea, Air, gave gratulation,
And all their offspring joy’d like them.

Fish that sported in the Gihon,
Soaring Eagles, cooing Doves,
Leopard, Panther, Wolf and Lion,
Reptile and Insect joy’d their loves.

Love’s fierce fire seiz’d e’en the posies,
Which deck’d the gay enammell’d mead,
Amorous pinks and wanton roses,
Dissolv’d in love, all shed their seed!

Eve, transported beyond measure,
Stretch’d in every vital part;
Fainting with excess of pleasure,
For mighty knowledge rift her heart.

But when its nectar’d juice she tasted,
Dissolving Eve could only sigh;
‘I feel-I feel, my life is wasted,
This hour I eat, and now I die.’

But when she saw the tree so lofty,
Sapless and shrunk in size so small;
Pointing she whisper’d Adam softly:
‘See! there is DEATH! and there’s the FALL!

       FINIS

                                                     Oh Fruit divine!
Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet THUS cropt.
        MILTON.