Edward Young.

Night thoughts on life, death and immortality online

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All point at earth, and hiss at human pride,

The wisdom of the wise, and prancings of the great.

But, O LORENZO ! far the rest above,
Of ghastly nature, and enormous size, 125

One form assaults my sight, and chills my blood,
And shakes my frame. Of one departed world

1 see the mighty shadow : Oozy wreath

And dismal sea-weed crown her ; o'er her urn
Reclin'd, she weeps her desolated realms, 130

And bloated sons ; and, weeping, prophesies
Another's dissolution, soon, in flames.
But, like Cassandra, prophesies in vain ;
In vain, to many ; not, I trust, to thee.

For, know'st thou not, or art thou loth to know, 1 35


The great decree, the counsel of the skies ?

Deluge and Conflagration, dreadful pow'rs !

Prime ministers of vengeance! chain'd in caves

Distinct, apart the giant furies roar ;

Apart ; or, such their horrid rage for ruin, 140

In mutual conflict would they rise, and wage

Eternal war, till one was quite devoured.

But not for this, ordain'd their boundless rage :

When Heav'n's inferior instruments of wrath,

War, Famine, Pestilence, are found too weak 145

To scourge a world for her enormous crimes,

These are let loose, alternate : Down they rush,

Swift and tempestuous, from th' eternal throne,

With irresistible commission arm'd,

The world, in vain corrected, to destroy, 150

And ease creation of the shocking scene.

Seest thou, LORENZO ! what depends on Man ?
The fate of Nature ; as for Man, her birth.
Earth's actors change Earth's transitory scenes,
And make creation groan with human guilt. 155

How must it groan, in a new deluge whelm'd,
But not of waters ! At the destin'd hour,
By the loud trumpet summoned to the charge,
See, all the formidable sons of fire,
Eruptions, earthquakes, comets, lightnings, play 160
Their various engines j all at once disgorge
Their blazing magazines ; and take, by storm,
This poor terrestrial citadel of Man.

Amazing period ! when each mountain-height
Out-burns Vesuvius ; rocks eternal pour 165

Their melted mass, as rivers once they pour'd j
Stars rush j and final Ruin fiercely drives


Her ploughshare o'er creation ! While aloft,

More than astonishment ! if more can be !

Far other firmament than e'er was seen, 170

Than e'er was thought by Man ! far other stars !

Stars animate, that govern these of fire ;

Far other sun ! a sun, O how unlike

The Babe at Bethle'm ! how unlike the Man

That groan'd on Calvary ! Yet HE it is ; 175

That Man of Sorrows ! O how chang'd ! What pomp !

In grandeur terrible, all heav'n descends !

And gods, ambitious, triumph in his train.

A swift archangel, with his golden wing,

As blots and clouds, that darken and disgrace 180

The scene divine, sweeps stars and suns aside.

And now, all dross remov'd, heav'ri's own pure day,

Full on the confines of our aether, flames ;

While, (dreadful contrast !) far, how far beneath !

Hell bursting, belches forth her blazing seas, 185

And storms sulphureous ; her voracious jaws

Expanding wide, and roaring for her prey.

LORENZO ! welcome to this scene ; the last
In Nature's course ; the first in Wisdom's thought.
This strikes, if aught can strike thee ; this awakes 190
The most supine ; this snatches Man from death.
Rouse, rouse, LORENZO, then, and follow me,
Where truth, the most momentous Man can hear,
Loud calls my soul, and ardour wings her flight.
I find my inspiration in my theme ; 195

The grandeur of my subject is my muse.

At midnight (when mankind is wrapt in peace,
And worldly fancy feeds on golden dreams),
To give more dread to Man's most dreadful hour,

L L 2


At midnight, J t is presum'd, this pomp will burst 200
From tenfold darkness ; sudden as the spark
From smitten steel ; from nitrous grain, the blaze.
Man, starting from his couch, shall sleep no more !
The day is broke, which never more shall close !
Above, around, beneath, amazement all f 205

Terror and glory join'd in their extremes I
Our GOD in grandeur, and our world on fire f
All Nature struggling in the pangs of death !
Dost thou not hear her ? Dost thou not deplore
Her strong convulsions, and her final groan ? 210
Where are we now ? Ah me ! the ground is gone,
On which we stood, LORENZO ! While thou may'st,
Provide more firm support, or sink for ever !
Where ? how ? from whence ? Vain hope ! It is too late !
Where, where, for shelter, shall the guilty fly, 215
When consternation turns the good man pale ?

Great day ! for which all other days were made ;
For which earth rose from chaos, Man from earth ;
And an eternity, the date of gods,
Descended on poor earth-created Man ! 220

Great day of dread, decision, and despair !
At thought of thee each sublunary wish
Lets go its eager grasp, and drops the world ;
And catches at each reed of hope in heav'n.
At thought of thee ! And art thou absent then ? 225
LORENZO ! no ; *t is here ; it is begun j
Already is begun the grand assize,
In thee, in all : Deputed conscience scales
The dread tribunal, and forestals our doom ;
Forestals ; and, by forestalling, proves it sure. 230
Why on himself should Man void judgment pass ?


Is idle Nature laughing at her sons ?

Who Conscience sent, her sentence will support,

And GOD above assert that god in Man.

Thrice happy they ! that enter now the court 235
Heav'n opens in their bosom : But, how rare I
Ah me ! that magnanimity, how rare !
What hero, like the man who stands himself;
Who dares to meet his naked heart alone ;
Who hears, intrepid, the full charge it brings, 240
Resolv'd to silence future murmurs there !
The coward flies; and, flying, is undone.
(Art thou a coward ? No) : The coward flies ;
Thinks, but thinks slightly ; asks, but fears to know j
Asks, " What is truth ?" with Pilate ; and retires ;
Dissolves the court, and mingles with the throng ; 246
Asylum sad ! from Reason, Hope, and Heav'n !

Shall all, but Man, look out with ardent eye,
For that great day, which was ordain' d for Man ?
O day of consummation ! mark supreme 250

(If men are wise) of human thought ! nor least,
Or in the sight of angels, or their KING !
Angels, whose radiant circles, height o'er height,
Order o'er order, rising, blaze o'er blaze,
As in a theatre, surround this scene, 255

Intent on Man, and anxious for his fate.
Angels look out for thee ; for thee, their LORD,
To vindicate his glory ; and for thee,
Creation universal calls aloud,

To dis-involve the moral world, and give 260

To Nature's renovation brighter charms.

Shall Man alone, whose fate, whose final fate,
Hangs on that hour, exclude it from his thought ?


I think of nothing else ; I see ! I feel it !

All Nature, like an earthquake, trembling round ! 265

All deities, like summer's swarms, on wing!

All basking in the full meridian blaze !

I see the JUDGE inthron'd ! the flaming guard !

The volume open'd ! open'd every heart !

A sun-beam pointing out each secret thought ! 270

No patron ! intercessor none ! now past

The sweet, the clement, mediatorial hour !

For guilt no plea ! to pain, no pause ! no bound !

Inexorable, all ! and all, extreme !

Nor Man alone ; the foe of GOD and Man, 275

From his dark den, blaspheming, drags his chain,

And rears his brazen front, with thunder scarr'd j

Receives his sentence, and begins his hell.
All vengeance past, now, seems abundant grace ;
Like meteors in a stormy sky, how roll 280

His baleful eyes ! He curses whom he dreads ;
And deems it the first moment of his fall.

'T is present to my thought ! And yet where is it ?
Angels can't tell me ; angels cannot guess
The period j from created beings lock'd 285

In darkness. But the process, and the place,
Are less obscure ; for these may Man inquire.
Say, thou great Close of human hopes and fears !
Great Key of Hearts ! great Finisher of Fates !
Great End ! and great Beginning ! say, where art thou ?
Art thou in time, or in eternity ? 291

Nor in eternity, nor time, I find thee.
These, as two monarchs, on their borders meet,
(Monarchs of all elaps'd, or unarriv'd!)
As in debate, how best their pow'rs ally'd 295


May swell the grandeur, or discharge the wrath,
Of HIM, whom both their monarchies obey.

Time, this vast fabric for him built (and doom'd
With him to fall) now bursting o'er his head ;
His lamp, the sun, extinguished ; from beneath 300
The frown of hideous darkness, calls his sons
From their long slumber ; from earth's heaving womb,
To second birth ; contemporary throng !
Rous'd at one call, upstarting from one bed,
Prest in one crowd, appall'd with one amaze, 305
He turns them o'er, Eternity ! to thee.
Then (as a king depos'd disdains to live)
He falls on his own scythe ; nor falls alone ;
His greatest foe falls with him ; Time, and he
Who murder'd all Time's offspring, Death, expire. 310

Time was ! Eternity now reigns alone !
Awful Eternity ! offended queen !
And her resentment to Mankind, how just !
With kind intent, soliciting access,
How often has she knock'd at human hearts ! 315
Rich to repay their hospitality,
How often call'd ! and with the voice of GOD !
Yet bore repulse, excluded as a cheat !
A dream ! while foulest foes found welcome there !
A dream, a cheat, now, all things, but her smile. 320
For, lo ! her twice ten thousand gates thrown wide,
As thrice from Indus to the frozen pole,
With banners, streaming as the comet's blaze,
And clarions, louder than the deep in storms,
Sonorous as immortal breath can blow, 325

Pour forth their myriads, potentates, and pow'rs,
Of light, of darkness \ in a iniddle field,


Wide as creation ! populous as wide !

A neutral region ! there to mark th' event

Of that great drama, whose preceding scenes 330

Detain'd them close spectators, through a length

Of ages, rip'ning to this grand result j

Ages, as yet unnumber'd, but by GOD ;

Who now, pronouncing sentence, vindicates

The rights of Virtue, and his own renown. 335

Eternity, the various sentence past,
Assigns the sever'd throng distinct abodes,
Sulphureous or ambrosial : What ensues ?
The deed predominant ! the deed of deeds !
Which makes a hell of hell, a heav'n of heav'n. 340
The goddess, with determined aspect, turns
Her adamantine key's enormous size
Through destiny's inextricable wards,
Deep-driving ev'ry bolt, on both their fates.
Then, from the crystal battlements of heav'n, 345
Down, down, she hurls it through the dark profound,
Ten thousand thousand fathom ; there to rust,
And ne'er unlock her resolution more.
The deep resounds, and hell, through all her glooms,
Returns, in groans, the melancholy roar. 350

O how unlike the chorus of the skies !
O how unlike those shouts of joy, that shake
The whole ethereal ! How the concave rings !
Nor strange ! when deities their voice exalt j
And louder far, than when creation rose, 355

To see creation's godlike aim, and end,
So well accompllsh'd ! so divinely clos'd !
To see the mighty Dramatist's last act
(As meet) in glory rising o'er the rest.


No fancy'd god, a GOD indeed, descends, 360

To solve all knots ; to strike the moral home ;

To throw full day on darkest scenes of time ;

To clear, commend, exalt, and crown the whole.

Hence, in one peal of loud, eternal praise,

The charm'd spectators thunder their applause ; 365

And the vast void beyond, applause resounds.

What then am I ?

Amidst applauding worlds,
And worlds celestial, is there found on earth,
A peevish, dissonant, rebellious string,
Which jars in the grand chorus, and complains ? 370
Censure on thee, LORENZO ! I suspend,
And turn it on myself ; how greatly due !
All, all is right, by GOD ordain' d or done ;
And who, but GOD, resumed the friends he gave ?
And have I been complaining, then, so long ? 375
Complaining of his favours ; pain and death ?
Who, without Pain's advice, would e'er be good ?
Who, without Death, but would be good in vain ?
Pain is to save from pain ; all punishment,
To make for peace; and Death, to save from death j 380
And second death, to guard immortal life ;
To rouse the careless, the presumptuous awe,
And turn the tide of souls another way ;
By the same tenderness divine ordain'd,
That planted Eden, and high-bloom'd for Man, 385
A fairer Eden, endless in the skies.

Heav'n gives us friends to bless the present scene j
Resumes them, to prepare us for the next.
All evils natural are moral goods ;
All discipline, indulgence, on the whole. 390



None are unhappy ; all have cause to smile,

But such as to themselves that cause deny.

Our faults are at the bottom of our pains ;

Error in aft, or judgment, is the source

Of endless sighs : We sin, or we mistake, 395

And Nature tax, when false Opinion stings.

Let impious grief be banish'd, joy indulg'd,

But chiefly then, when grief puts in her claim.

Joy from the joyous, frequently betrays,

Oft lives in vanity, and dies in woe. 400

Joy, amidst ills, corroborates, exalts ;

J T is joy, and conquest ; joy, and virtue too.

A noble fortitude in ills delights

Heav'n, earth, ourselves ; J t is duty, glory, peace.

Affliction is the good man's shining scene ; 405

Prosperity conceals his brightest ray ;

As night to stars, woe lustre gives to Man.

Heroes in battle, pilots in the storm,

And virtue in calamities, admire.

The crown of manhood is a winter-joy ; 410

An evergreen, that stands the northern blast,

And blossoms in the rigour of our fate.

'T is a prime part of happiness, to know
How much imhappiness muft prove our lot ;
A part which few possess ! I '11 pay life's tax, 415
Without one rebel murmur, from this hour,
Nor think it misery to be a Man ;
Who thinks it is, shall never be a god.
Some ills we wish for, when we wish to live.

What spoke proud Passion? "Wish my being lost!"
Presumptuous! blasphemous! absurd! and false! 421
The triumph of my soul is That I am ;


And therefore that I may be What ? LORENZO!

Look inward, and look deep ; and deeper still ;

Unfathomably deep our treasure runs 425

In golden veins, through all eternity !

Ages, and ages, and succeeding still

New ages, where this phantom of an hour,

Which courts, each night, dull slumber, for repair,

Shall wake, and wonder, and exult, and praise, 430'

And fly through infinite, and all unlock ;

And (if deserv'd) by Heav'n's redundant love,

Made half-adorable itself, adore ;

And find, in adoration, endless joy !

Where thou, not master of a moment here, 435

Frail as the flow'r, and fleeting as the gale,

May'st boast a whole eternity, enrich'd

With all a kind Omnipotence can pour.

Since Adam fell, no mortal, uninspired,

Has ever yet conceiv'd, or ever shall, 440

How kind is GOD, how great (if good) is Man.

No Man too largely from Heav'n's love can hope,

If what is hop'd he labours to secure.

Ills? There are none: All-Gracious! none from thee;
From Man full many ! Numerous is the race 445

Of blacked ills, and those immortal too,
Begot by Madness on fair Liberty ;
Heav'n's daughter, hell-debauch'd ! her hand alone
Unlocks destruction to the sons of men,
Fast barr'd by thine ; high-wall'd with adamant, 4 50
Guarded with terrors reaching to this world,
And cover'd with the thunders of thy law ;
Whose threats are mercies, whose injunctions, guides,
Assisting, not restraining, Reason's choice ;

M M 2


Whose sanctions, unavoidable results 455

From Nature's course, indulgently reveal'd ;

If unreveal'd, more dang'rous, nor less sure.

Thus, an indulgent father warns his sons,

" Do this ; fly that" nor always tells the cause ;

Pleas'd to reward, as duty to his will, 460

A conduct needful to their own repose.

Great GOD of wonders ! (if, thy love surveyed,
Aught else the name of wonderful retains,)
What rocks are these, on which to build our trust !
Thy ways admit no blemish ; none I find ; 465

Or this alone " That none is to be found."
Not one, to soften Censure's hardy crime ;
Not one, to palliate peevish Grief's COMPLAINT,
Who, like a demon, murm'ring, from the dust,
Dares into judgment call her Judge. SUPREME! 470
For all I bless thee ; moft, for the severe j
Her death my own at hand the fiery gulph,
That flaming bound of wrath omnipotent !
It thunders ; but it thunders to preserve ;
It strengthens what it strikes ; its wholesome dread 475
Averts the dreaded pain ; its hideous groans
Join Heav'n's sweet hallelujahs in thy praise,
Great Source of good alone ! How kind in all !
In vengeance kind ! Pain, Death, Gehenna, save.

Thus, in thy world material, mighty Mind ! 480
Not that alone which solaces, and shines,
The rough and gloomy, challenges our praise.
The winter is as needful as the spring ;
The thunder as the sun ; a stagnate mass
Of vapours breeds a pestilential air : 485

Nor more propitious the Favonian breeze


To Nature's health, than purifying storms.

The dread volcano ministers to good ;

Its smother'd flames might undermine the world.

Loud ^Etnas fulminate in love to Man ; 490

Comets good omens are, when duly scann'd j

And, in their use, eclipses learn to shine.

Man is responsible for ills received ;
Those we call wretched are a chosen band,
Compell'd to refuge in the right, for peace. 495

Amid my list of blessings infinite,
Stand this the foremost, " That my heart has bled."
'T is Heav'n's last effort of good-will to Man ;
When Pain can't bless, Heav'n quits us in despair.
Who fails to grieve, when just occasion calls, 500
Or grieves too much, deserves not to be blest ;
Inhuman, or effeminate, his heart :
Reason absolves the grief, which Reason ends.
May Heav'n ne'er trust my friend with happiness,
Till it has taught him how to bear it well, 505

By previous pain ; and made it safe to smile !
Such smiles are mine, and such may they remain ;
Nor hazard their extinction, from excess.
My change of heart a change of style demands j
The CONSOLATION cancels the COMPLAINT, 510

And makes a convert of my guilty song.

As when o'er-labour'd, and inclin'd to breathe,
A panting traveller, some rising ground,
Some small ascent, has gain'd, he turns him round,
And measures with his eye the various vale, rj ?

The fields, woods, meads, and rivers, he has past ;
And, satiate of his journey, thinks of home,
Endear'd by distance, nor affects more toil ;


Thus 1, though small, indeed, is that ascent

The muse has gain'd, review the paths she trod ; 520

Various, extensive, beaten but by few :

And, conscious of her prudence in repose,

Pause ; and with pleasure meditate an end,

Though still remote ; so fruitful is my theme.

Through many a field of moral, and divine, 525

The muse has stray'd ; and much of sorrow seen

In human ways ; and much of false and vain ;

Which none, who travel this bad road, can miss.-

O'er friends deceas'd full heartily she wept ;

Of love divine the wonders she display'd ; 530

Prov'd Man immortal ; shew'd the source of joy ;

The grand tribunal rais'd ; assign'd the bounds

Of human grief: In few, to close the whole,

The moral muse has shadow'd out a sketch,

Though not in form, nor with a Raphael-stroke, 535

Of most our weakness needs believe, or do,

In this our land of travel, and of hope,

For peace on earth, or prospect of the skies.

What then remains ? Much ! much ! a mighty debt
To be discharg'd: These thoughts, O Night! are thine ;
From thee they came, like lovers' secret sighs, 541
While others slept. So, Cynthia (poets feign),
In shadows veil'd, soft sliding from her sphere,
Her shepherd cheer'd j of her enamour'd less,
Than I of thee. And art thou still unsung, 545

Beneath whose brow, and by whose aid, I sing ?
Immortal Silence ! Where shall I begin ?
Where end ? or how steal music from the spheres,
To sooth their goddess ?

O majestic Night !


Nature's great ancestor ! Day's elder-born ! 550

And fated to survive the transient sun !

By mortals, and immortals, seen with awe !

A starry crown thy raven brow adorns,

An azure zone, thy waist ; clouds, in Heav'n's loom.

Wrought through varieties of shape and shade, 555

In ample folds of drapery divine,

Thy flowing mantle form ; and, Heav'n throughout,

Voluminously pour thy pompous train.

Thy gloomy grandeurs (Nature's most august,

Inspiring aspect !) claim a grateful verse ; 560

And, like a sable curtain starr'd with gold,

Drawn o'er my labours past, shall close the scene.

And what, O Man ! so worthy to be sung ?
What more prepares us for the songs of Heav'n ?
Creation of archangels is the theme ! 565

What, to be sung, so needful ? what so well
Celestial joys prepares us to sustain ?
The soul of Man, His face design'd to see,
Who gave these wonders to be seen by Man,
Has here a previous scene of objects great, 573

On which to dwell ; to stretch to that expanse
Of thought, to rise to that exalted height
Of admiration, to contract that awe,
And give her whole capacities that strength,
Which best may qualify for final joy. 575

The more our spirits are enlarg'd on earth,
The deeper draught shall they receive of Heav'n.

Heav'n's KING ! whose face unveil'd consummates

bliss ;

Redundant bliss ! which fills that mighty void,
The whole creation leaves in human hearts ! 580


THOU, who didst touch the lip of Jesse's son,
Rapt in sweet contemplation of these fires,
And set his harp in concert with the spheres !
"While of thy works material the supreme
I dare attempt, assist my daring song. 585

Loose me from earth's inclosure, from the sun's
Contracted circle set my heart at large ;
Eliminate my spirit, give it range
Through provinces of thought yet unexplor'd ;
Teach me, by this stupendous scaffolding, 590

Creation's golden steps, to climb to THEE.
Teach me with Art great Nature to control,
And spread a lustre o'er the shades of Night.
Feel I thy kind assent ? And shall the sun
Be seen at midnight, rising in my song ? 595

LORENZO! come, and warm thee: Thou whose heart,
Whose little heart, is moor'd within a nook
Of this obscure terrestrial, anchor weigh.
Another ocean calls, a nobler port ;
I am thy pilot, I thy prosperous gale. 600

Gainful thy voyage through yon azure main ;
Main, without tempest, pirate, rock, or shore ;
And whence thou may'st import eternal wealth ;
And leave to beggar'd minds the pearl and gold.
Thy travels dost thou boast o'er foreign realms j 605
Thou stranger to the world ! thy tour begin j
Thy tour through Nature's universal orb.
Nature delineates her whole chart at large,
On soaring souls, that sail among the spheres ;
And Man how purblind, if unknown the whole! 6to
Who circles spacious Earth, then travels here,
Shall own, he never was from home before !


Come, my Prometheus, from thy pointed rock

Of false ambition, if unchain'd, we '11 mount j

We'll innocently steal celestial fire, 615

And kindle our devotion at the stars ;

A theft, that shall not chain, but set thee free.

Above our atmosphere's intestine wars,
Rain's fountain-head, the magazine of hail j
Above the northern nests of feather'd snows, 620
The brew of thunders, and the flaming forge
That forms the crooked lightning ; 'bove the caves
Where infant tempests wait their growing wings,
And tune their tender voices to that roar,
Which soon, perhaps, shall shake a guilty world; 625
Above misconstru'd omens of the sky,
Far-travell'd comets' calculated blaze,
Elance thy thought, and think of more than Man.
Thy soul, till now, contracted, wither'd, shrunk,
Blighted by blasts of Earth's unwholesome air, 630
Will blossom here ; spread all her faculties
To these bright ardours ; ev'ry pow'r unfold,
And rise into sublimities of thought.
Stars teach, as well as shine. At Nature's birth,
Thus, their commission ran " Be kind to Man." 635
Where art thou, poor benighted traveller !
The stars will light thee; though the moon should fail.
Where art thou, more benighted ! more astray !
In ways immoral ? The stars call thee back ;
And, if obey'd their counsel, set thee right. 640

This prospect vast, what is it? Weigh'd aright,
*T is Nature's system of divinity,
And ev'ry student of the night inspires.
'T is elder scripture, writ by GOD'S own hand ;



Scripture authentic, uncorrupt by Man. 645

LORENZO ! with my radius (the rich gift

Of thought nocturnal !) I'll point out to thee

Its various lessons ; some that may surprise

An un-adept in mysteries of Night ;

Little, perhaps, expected in her school, 650

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Online LibraryEdward YoungNight thoughts on life, death and immortality → online text (page 16 of 24)