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THE WOUNDED SPIRIT.
Πέτομαι δ' ἐλπίσιν,
Οὔτ ̓ ἐνθάδ ̓ ὁρῶν, ἔτ ̓ ὀπίσω.
THE following poem was prepared to be delivered before a society in College many years ago. It is founded on a story which has been told of several persons, of two skeptics agreeing that whichever of them should die first, should appear to his surviving friend to bear ocular testimony to the existence of the future world. Whether such a wild agreement was ever made, I know not. The object of the poem is to enforce the truth of Christianity, from the wants, sorrows, and sins of man. The story is merely assumed for poetic effect. Morbid misanthropy and snarly infidelity, having lately been brought into vogue by some popular writers, I wished to turn them to some account. I have therefore represented a troubled infidel going into the grave yard, at midnight, to meet the ghost of his friend according to appointment; and there, though disappointed of the expected witness, led by reflection to believe in his Saviour and his God. Perhaps the severest and most candid criticism that ought to be passed on my piece, is, that it is College poetry.
THRONGED by a host of doubts, the mind distrest
Though Fancy cheat us with her youthful train,
'Tis night; and sullen darkness' solemn robe Envelops in concealment half the globe: The planetary torches o'er me shine, Dull sleep embraces every eye but mine. Here at the feet of these entangled trees, Whose branches, fretted by the midnight breeze, O'ershade the ghosts from yonder graves that glide, And flatter Nature in her silent pride;Here will I muse, till from her secret throne, Religion make her dubious lessons known: From these abstracted walks I cannot part, Till late conviction fasten on my heart.
This is the hour; and on this grassy side,
At length, in all his bloom, when youthful pride Her branches stretched in towering hope-he died; He died; and I was there to hear him tell
His last strong promise, still remembered well;—
To warn my friend, my spirit shall return.
This is the spot, and time; I come to tread
Injure, for kind were all his ways to me;
The hour has come, from yonder steeple's height, Twelve times has toll'd the iron tongue of night; The wind expires, and weary nature throws O'er land and sea a most profound repose. From social life I seem, and pity thrown, A wanderer in the lonely world alone; Like some low worm creep along this sod, Without a father and without a God;
Yet not alone, if vows in Heaven are heard,
Hark! Did a voice my listening organs seize?
What change is here! What dreadful silence reigns Along these moonlight walks and glimmering plains! To his last mansion Rectitude is fled, And sleeps with Falsehood in a wormy bed; Pleasure has dashed her goblet down; and Pride Has laid the tassel'd robe and plume aside; Ambition here no rising impulse feels, Nor yokes his horses to his fiery wheels; The wicked from transgression are repressed ;— They cease from troubling and the weary rest; The small and great are here; no lordling's breath Molests the strict democracy of death.
Why is a terror, so peculiar, shed
O'er human hearts when walking near the dead?
He comes not, tho' the appointed hour is o'er ; He comes not-lives not-I shall wait no more. Long have I forced these trembling limbs to stay, Midst damps and silence, darkness and dismay; The moon in lustre mild, in glory still,
Shines westward of the brow of Heaven's blue hill.
My doubts are all confirmed; when breath retires,
Our schemes, our hopes, our very beings cease.
If ONE all-perfect garnished yonder skies,
What is the truth? Does pleasure harbor fear? Does wisdom waking happiness appear? Nature, as onward through her laws, she moves, To all her progeny a step-dame proves;