Edward Young.

Night thoughts on life, death and immortality online

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If this song lives, posterity shall know
One (though in Britain born, with courtiers bred),
Who thought e'en gold might come a day too late ;
Nor on his subtle death-bed plann'd his scheme
For future vacancies in church or state j 105


Some avocation deeming it to die;

Unbit by rage canine of dying rich ;

Guilt's blunder, and the loudest laugh of hell.

O my coevals ! remnants of yourselves !
Poor human ruins, tott'ring o'er the grave ! 1 10

Shall we, shall aged men, like aged trees,
Strike deeper their vile root, and closer cling,
Still more enamour'd of this wretched soil ?
Shall our pale, wither'd hands, be still stretch'd out,
Trembling, at once, with eagerness and age ? 115
With av'rice and convulsions, grasping hard ?
Grasping at air ! for what has earth beside ?
Man wants but little ; nor that little, long ;
How soon must he resign his very dust,
Which frugal Nature lent him for an hour ! 1 20

Years inexperienc'd rush on num'rous ills ;
And soon as Man, expert from time, has found
The key of life, it opes the gates of death.

When in this vale of years I backward look,
And miss such numbers, numbers too of such, 125
Firmer in health, and greener in their age,
And stricter on their guard, and fitter far
To play life's subtle game, I scarce believe
I still survive : And am I fond of life,
Who scarce can think it possible, I live? 130

Alive by miracle ! or, what is next,
Alive by MEAD ! if I am still alive,
Who long have bury'd what gives life to live,
Firmness of nerve, and energy of thought.
Life's lee is not more shallow, than impure
And vapid ; Sense and Reason shew the door,
Call for my bier, and point me to the dust.



O thou great Arbiter of life and death !
Nature's immortal, immaterial Sun !
Whose all-prolific beam late call'd me forth 140

From darkness, teeming darkness, where I lay
The worm's inferior, and, in rank, beneath
The dust I tread on, high to bear my brow,
To drink the spirit of the golden day,
And triumph in existence; and couldst know 145
No motive, but my bliss ; and hast ordain'd
A rise in blessing ! with the Patriarch's joy,
Thy call I follow to the land unknown ;
I trust in thee, and know in whom I trust ;
Or life, or death, is equal j neither weighs : 1 50

All weight in this O let me live to Thee !

Though Nature's terrors, thus, may be represt ;
Still frowns grim Death ; guilt points the tyrant's spear.
And whence all human guilt ? From death forgot.
Ah me! too long I set at nought the swarm 155

Of friendly warnings, which around me flew ;
And smil'd, unsmitten : Small my cause to smile !
Death's admonitions, like shafts upwards shot,
More dreadful by delay ; the longer ere
They strike our hearts, the deeper is their wound. 1 60
O think how deep, LORENZO ! here it stings :
Who can appease its anguish ? How it burns !
What hand the barb'd, invenom'd thought can draw ?
What healing hand can pour the balm of peace,
And turn my sight undaunted on the tomb ? 1 65

With joy with grief, that healing hand I see ;
Ah! too conspicuous ! It is fix'd on high.
On high ? What means my frenzy ? I blaspheme ;
Alas ! how low ! how far beneath the skies !


The skies it form'd ; and now it bleeds for me 170
But bleeds the balm I want yet still it bleeds.
Draw the dire steel Ah no! the dreadful blessing
What heart or can sustain, or dares forego ?
There hangs all human hope ; that nail supports
The falling universe : That gone, we drop ! 175

Horror receives us, and the dismal wish
Creation had been smother'd in her birth-
Darkness his curtain, and his bed the dust ;
"When stars and sun are dust beneath his throne !
In Heav'n itself can such indulgence dwell ? 180

O what a groan was there ! A groan not his.
He seiz'd our dreadful right ; the load sustain'd ;
And heav'd the mountain from a guilty world.
A thousand worlds, so bought, were bought too dear.
Sensations new in angels bosoms rise; 185

Suspend their song, and make a pause in bliss.

O for their song to reach my lofty theme !
Inspire me, Night ! with all thy tuneful spheres inspire j
"Whilst I with seraphs share seraphic themes,
And shew to men the dignity of Man ; j 90

Lest I blaspheme my subject with my song.
Shall Pagan pages glow celestial flame,
And Christian languish ? On our hearts, not heads,
Falls the foul infamy : My heart ! awake.
What can awake thee, unawak'd by this, 195

" Expended Deity on human weal ?"
Feel the great truths, which burst the tenfold night
Of Heathen error, with a golden flood
Of endless day : To feel, is to be fir'd j
And to believe, LORENZO! is to feel. 200

Thou most indulgent, most tremendous Pow'r !
K 2


Still more tremendous, for thy wondrous love !
That arms, with awe more awful, thy commands ;
And foul transgression dips in sev'nfold night ;
How our hearts tremble at thy love immense ! 205
In love immense, inviolably just,
Thou, rather than thy justice should be stain'd,
Didst stain the cross ; and, work of wonders far
The greatest ! that thy dearest far might bleed.

Bold thought! Shall I dare speak it, or repress ? 210
Should Man more execrate, or boast, the guilt
Which rous'd such vengeance ? which such love

inflam'd ?

O'er guilt (how mountainous !) with out-stretcht arms,
Stern Justice, and soft-smiling Love, embrace,
Supporting, in full majesty, thy throne, 215

When seem'd its majesty to need support,
Or that, or Man, inevitably lost.
What, but the fathomless of thought divine,
Could labour such expedient from despair,
And rescue both ! both rescue! both exalt! 220

O how are both exalted by the deed !
The wondrous deed ! or shall I call it more ?
A wonder in Omnipotence itself!
A mystery, no less to gods than men !

Not, thus, our infidels th' Eternal draw, 225

A God all o'er, consummate, absolute,
Full-orb'd, in his whole round of rays complete :
They set at odds Heav Vs jarring attributes ;
And, with one excellence, another wound ;
Maim Heav'n's perfection, break its equal beams, 23,0
Bid Mercy triumph over God himself,
Undeify'd by their opprobrious praise :


A God all mercy, is a God unjust.

Ye brainless wits ! ye baptiz'd infidels !
Ye worse for mending ! wash'd to fouler stains ! 235
The ransom was paid down ; the fund of Heav'n,
Heav'n's inexhaustible exhausted fund,
Amazing, and amaz'd, pour'd forth the price,
All price beyond : Though curious to compute,
Archangels fail'd to cast the mighty sum : 240

Its value vast ungraspt by minds create,
For ever hides, and glows in, the Supreme.

And was the ransom paid ? It was : And paid
(What can exalt the bounty more ?) for you.
The sun beheld it No, the shocking scene 245

Drove back his chariot : Midnight veil'd his face ;
Not such as this ; not such as Nature makes ;
A midnight, Nature shudder'd to behold ;
A midnight new ! a dread eclipse (without
Opposing spheres) from her Creators frown ! 250
Sun ! didst thou fly thy Maker's pain ? or start
At that enormous load of human guilt,
Which bow'd his blessed head; o'erwhelm'd his cross;
Made groan the centre ; burst earth's marble womb,
With pangs, strange pangs ! deliver'd of her dead? 255
Hell howl'd ; and Heav'n that hour let fall a tear ;
Heav'n wept, that Men might smile ! Heav'n bled, that

Might never die I

And is devotion virtue ? 'T is compell'd :
What heart of stone, but glows at thoughts like these !
Such contemplations mount us; and should mount 261
The mind still higher ; nor ever glance on Man,
Unraptur'd, uninflam'd. Where roll my thoughts


To rest from wonders ? Other wonders rise ;

And strike where-e'er they roll: My soul is caught : 265

Heav'n's sov'reign blessings, clust'ring from the cross,

Rush on her, in a throng, and close her round,

The pris'ner of amaze ! In his blest life,

I see the path, and, in his death, the price,

And in his great ascent, the proof supreme 270

Of immortality. And did he rise ?

Hear, O ye nations ! hear it, O ye dead !

He rose ! He rose ! He burst the bars of Death.

Lift up your heads, ye everlasting gates !

And give the King of Glory to come in. 275

Who is the King of Glory ? He who left

His throne of glory, for the pang of death.

Lift up your heads, ye everlasting gates !

And give the King of Glory to come in.

Who is the King of Glory ? He who slew 280

The rav'nous foe, that gorg'd all human race !

The King of Glory, He, whose glory filPd

Heav'n with amazement at his love to Man ;

And with divine complacency beheld

Pow'rs most illumin'd, wilder'd in the theme. 285

The theme, the joy, how then shall Man sustain ?
Oh the burst gates, crush'd sting, demolished throne,
Last gasp, of vanquish'd Death ! Shout, Earth and

Heav'n !

This sum of good to Man : Whose nature, then,
Took wing, and mounted with him from the tomb !
Then, then I rose ; then first Humanity 29 1

Triumphant past the crystal ports of light,
(Stupendous guest 1) and seiz'd eternal youth,
Seiz'd in our name. E'er since, 't is blasphemous


To call Man mortal. Man's mortality 295

Was, then, transferr'd to Death; and Heav'n's duration
Unalienably seaPd to this frail frame,
This child of dust. Man, all-immortal ! hail ;
Hail, Heciv'n ! all-lavish of strange gifts to Man !
Thine all the glory ; Man's the boundless bliss. 300

Where am I rapt by this triumphant theme,
On Christian joy's exulting wing ? Above
Th' Aonian mount ! Alas, small cause for joy !
What if to pain immortal ? if extent
Of being, to preclude a close of woe ? 305

Where, then, my boast of immortality ?
I boast it still, though cover'd o'er with guilt j
For guilt, not innocence, his life he pour'd !
5 T is guilt alone can justify his death ;
Nor that, unless his death can justify 310

Relenting guilt in Heav'n's indulgent sight.
If, sick of folly, I relent ; he writes
My name in Heav'n, with that inverted spear
(A spear deep-dipt in blood !) which pierc'd his side,
And open'd there a font for all mankind, 3 1 5

Who strive, who combat crimes, to drink, and live :
This, only this, subdues the Fear of Death.

And what is this ? Survey the wondrous cure ;
And at each step, let higher wonder rise !
" Pardon for infinite offence ! and pardon 320

Through means, that speak its value infinite !
A pardon bought with blood ! with blood divine !
With blood divine of Him, I made my foe!
Persisted to provoke ! though woo'd, and aw'd,
Blest, and chastis'd, a flagrant rebel still ! . 325

A rebel, 'midst the thunders of his throne !


Nor I alone ! a rebel universe !

My species up in arms ! not one exempt !

Yet for the foulest of the foul, he dies ;

Most joy'd, for the redeem'd from deepest guilt !

As if our race were held of highest rank ; 331

And Godhead dearer, as more kind to Man !"

Bound, ev'ry heart ! and, ev'ry bosom, burn !
Oh what a scale of miracles is here !
Its lowest round, high planted on the skies j 335

Its tow'ring summit lost beyond the thought
Of Man or Angel ! Oh that I could climb
The wonderful ascent with equal praise !
Praise ! flow for ever (if astonishment
Will give thee leave), my praise ! for ever flow ; 340
Praise ardent, cordial, constant, to high Heav'n
More fragrant, than Arabia sacrific'd ;
And all her spicy mountains in a flame.

So dear, so due to Heav'n, shall praise descend,
With her soft plume (from plausive angels' wing 345
First pluck'd by Man) to tickle mortal ears,
Thus diving in the pockets of the great?
Is praise the perquisite of ev'ry paw,
Though black as hell, that grapples well for gold ?
Oh love of gold ! thou meanest of amours ! 350

Shall praise her odours waste on virtues dead ?
Embalm the base, perfume the stench of guilt,
Earn dirty bread by washing j9ithiops fair,
Removing filth, or sinking it from sight,
A scavenger in scenes, where vacant posts 355

Like gibbets yet untenanted, expect
Their future ornaments ? From courts and thrones,
Return, apostate praise ! thou vagabond !


Thou prostitute ! to thy first love return,

Thy first, thy greatest, once unrival'd theme. 360

There flow redundant ; like Meander flow,
Back to thy fountain ; to that parent Pow'r,
Who gives the tongue to sound, the thought to soar,
The soul to be. Men homage pay to men,
Thoughtless beneath whose dreadful eye they bow 365
In mutual awe profound, of clay to clay,
Of guilt to guilt; and turn their backs on Thee,
Great SIRE ! whom thrones celestial ceaseless sing;
To prostrate angels, an amazing scene !
O the presumption of Man's awe for Man ! 370

Man's Author, End, Restorer, Law, and Judge !
Thine, all ; day thine, and thine this gloom of night,
With all her wealth, with all her radiant worlds ;
What, night eternal, but a frown from Thee ?
What, Heav'n's meridian glory, but thy smile? 375
And shall not praise be thine ? not human praise ?
While Heav'n's high host on hallelujahs live ?

O may I breathe no longer, than I breathe
My soul in praise to Him, who gave my soul,
And all her infinite of prospect fair, 380

Cut through the shades of hell, great love ! by Thee,
Oh most adorable ! most unador'd !
Where shall that praise begin, which ne'er should end ?
Where-e'er I turn, what claim on all applause !
How is Night's sable mantle labour'd o'er, 385

How richly wrought with attributes divine !
What wisdom shines ! what love ! This midnight pomp,
This gorgeous arch, with golden worlds inlay'd !
Built with divine ambition ! nought to Thee ;
For others this profusion : Thou, apart, 390



Above, beyond ! Oh tell me, mighty Mind !

What art thou ? Shall I dive into the deep ?

Call to the sun, or ask the roaring winds,

For their Creator ? Shall I question loud

The thunder, if in that th* Almighty dwells ? 395

Or holds he furious storms in streighten'd reins,

And bids fierce whirlwinds wheel his rapid car ?

What mean these questions ? Trembling I retract;
My prostrate soul adores the present God :
Praise I a distant Deity ? He tunes 400

My voice (if tun'd' ; the nerve that writes, sustains:
Wrap'd in his being, I resound his praise :
But though past all difFus'd, without a shore,
His essence ; local is his throne (as meet),
To gather the disperst (as standards call 405

The listed from afar) j to fix a point,
A central point, collective of his sons,
Since finite ev'ry nature, but his own.
The nameless He, whose nod is Nature's birth ;
And Nature's shield, the shadow of his hand j 410
Her dissolution, his suspended smilei
The great First Last ! pavilion'd high he sits
In darkness, from excessive splendour, borne,
By gods unseen, unless through lustre lost.
His glory, to created glory, bright, 415

As that to central horrors ; He looks down
On all that soars ; and spans immensity.

Though Night unnumber'd worlds unfolds to view,
Boundless creation ! what art thou ? A beam,
A mere effluvium of his majesty : 420

And shall an atom of this atom-world
Mutter, in dust and sin, the theme of lieav'n ?


Down to the centre should I send my thought,

Through beds of glitt'ring ore, and glowing gems,

Their beggar'd blaze wants lustre for my lay; 425

Goes out in darkness : If, on tow'ring wing,

I send it through the boundless vault of stars,

The stars, though rich, what dross their gold to Thee,

Great, good, wise, wonderful, eternal King !

If to those conscious stars thy throne around 430

Praise ever-pouring, and imbibing bliss ;

And ask their strain ; they want it, more they want,

Poor their abundance, humble their sublime,

Languid their energy, their ardour cold,

Indebted still, their highest rapture burns ; 435

Short of its mark, defective, though divine.

Still more this theme is Man's, and Man's alone;
Their vast appointments reach it not : They see
On earth a bounty not indulg'd on high ;
And downward look for Heav'n's superior praise ! 440
First-born of ether ! high in fields of light !
View Man, to see the glory of your God!
Could angels envy, they had envy'd here ;
And some did envy ; and the rest, though gods,
Yet still gods unredeein'd (there triumphs Man, 445
Tempted to weigh the dust against the skies),
They less would feel, though more adorn, my theme.
They sung Creation (for in that they shar'd) ;
How rose in melody, the child of love,
Creation's great superior, Man ! is thine ; 450

Thine is Redemption ; they just gave the key;
'T is thine to raise, and eternize, the song ;
Though human, yet divine; for should not this
Raise Man o'er Man, and kindle seraphs here?


Redemption! 't was creation more sublime ; 455

Redemption ! 't was the labour of the skies ;

Far more than labour It was death in Heav'n.

A truth so strange ! 't were bold to think it true ;

If not far bolder still, to disbelieve. 459

Here pause, and ponder: Was there death in Heav'n?
What then on earth? on earth, which struck the blow ?
Who struck it? Who? O how is Man enlarg'd,
Seen through this medium 1 how the pigmy tow'rs !
How counterpoised his origin from dust !
How counterpois'd, to dust his sad return ! 465

How voided his vast distance from the skies !
How near he presses on the seraph's wing !
Which is the seraph ? which the born of clay ?
How this demonstrates, through the thickest cloud
Of guilt, and clay condens'd, the son of Heav'n ! 470
The double son ; the made, and the re-made !
And shall Heav'n's double property be lost ?
Man's double madness only can destroy.
To Man the bleeding cross has promis'd all ;
The bleeding cross has sworn eternal grace ; 475

Who gave his life, what grace shall he deny ?
O ye ! who, from this Rock of ages, leap,
Disdainful, plunging headlong in the deep !
What cordial joy, what consolation strong,
Whatever winds arise, or billows roll, 480

Our int'rest in the master of the storm !
Cling there, and in wreck'd Nature's ruins smile j
While vile apostates tremble in a calm.

Man ! know thyself. All wisdom centres there j
To none Man seems ignoble, but to Man ; 48$,

Angels that grandeur, men o'erlook, admire :


How long shall human nature be their book,

Degen'rate mortal ! and unread by thee ?

The beam dim Reason sheds shews wonders there ;

What high contents ! illustrious faculties ! 490

But the grand comment, which displays at full

Our human height, scarce sever'd from divine,

By Heav'n compos'd, was publish'd on the cross.

Who looks on that, and sees not in himself
An awful stranger, a terrestrial god ? 495

A glorious partner with the Deity
In that high attribute, immortal life ?
If a God bleeds, he bleeds not for a worm :
I gaze, and, as I gaze, my mounting soul
Catches strange fire, Eternity ! at thee ; 500

And drops the world or rather more enjoys :
How chang'd the face of Nature ! how improv'd !
What seem'd a chaos, shines a glorious world,
Or what a world, an Eden ; heighten'd all !
It is another scene! another self! 505

And still another, as time rolls along ;
And that a self far more illustrious still.
Beyond long ages, yet roll'd up in shades
Unpierc'd by bold Conjecture's keenest ray,
What evolutions of surprising fate ! 510

How Nature opens, and receives my soul
In boundless walks of raptur'd thought! where gods
Encounter, and embrace me ! What new births
Of strange adventure, foreign to the sun,
Where what now charms, perhaps whate'er exists,
Old Time, and fair Creation, are forgot ! 516

Is this extravagant ? Of Man we form
Extravagant conception, to be just :


Conception unconfin'd wants wings to reach him :

Beyond its reach, the Godhead only, more. 520

He, the great Father ! kindled at one flame

The world of rationals ; one spirit pour'd

From spirit's awful Fountain ; pour'd himself

Through all their souls ; but not in equal stream,

Profuse, or frugal, of th' inspiring God, 525

As his wise plan demanded ; and when past

Their various trials, in their various spheres,

If they continue rational, as made,

Resorbs them all into himself again ;

His throne their centre, and his smile their crown.

Why doubt we, then, the glorious truth to sing, 53 1
Though yet unsung, as deem'd, perhaps, too bold ?
Angels are men of a superior kind ;
Angels are men in lighter habit clad,
High o'er celestial mountains wing'd in flight ; 535
And men are angels, loaded for an hour,
Who wade this miry vale, and climb with pain,
And slipp'ry step, the bottom of the steep.
Angels their failings, mortals have their praise ;
While here, of corps ethereal, such inroll'd, 540
And summon'd to the glorious standard soon,
Which flames eternal crimson 'through the skies.
Nor are our brothers thoughtless of their kin,
Yet absent ; but not absent from their love.
Michael has fought our battles ; Raphael sung 545
Our triumphs ; Gabriel on our errands flown,
Sent by the SOV'REIGN : And are these, O Man !
Thy friends, thy warm allies ? and thou (shame burn
The cheek to cinder !) rival to the brute ?

Religion's all. Descending from the skies 550

t , ftre

uf /ro?n //ne j#

*! S.Anrmt, u, Harm.-**- Air. .


To wretched Man, the goddess in her left
Holds out this world, and in her right, the next ;
Religion ! the sole voucher Man is Man ;
Supporter sole of Man above himself;
Ev'n in this night of frailty, change, and death,
She gives the soul a soul that acts a god.
Religion ! Providence ! an after-state !
Here is firm footing ; here is solid rock ;
This can support us ; all is sea besides ;
Sinks under us ; bestorms, and then devours.
His hand the good Man fastens on the skies,
And bids Earth roll, nor feels her idle whirl.

As when a wretch, from thick, polluted air,
Darkness, and stench, and suffocating damps,
And dungeon-horrors, by kind fate discharged,
Climbs some fair eminence, where ether pure
Surrounds him, and Elysian prospects rise,
His heart exults, his spirits cast their load ;
As if new-born, he triumphs in the change;
So joys the soul, when from inglorious aims, 570
And sordid sweets, from feculence and froth
Of -ties terrestrial, set at large, she mounts
To Reason's region, her own element,
Breathes hopes immortal, and affects the skies.

Religion ! thou the soul of happiness ; cj*

And, groaning Calvary, of thee ! There shine
The noblest truths ; there strongest motives stino- j
There sacred violence assaults the soul;
There, nothing but compulsion is forborn.
Can love allure us ? or can terror awe ? 583

He weeps ! the falling drop puts out the sun;
He sighs ! the sigh earth's deep foundation shakes.


If in his love so terrible, what then
His wrath inflam'd ? his tenderness on fire ;
Like soft, smooth oil, outblazing other fires ? 585
Can pray'r, can praise avert it ? Thou, my all !
My theme ! my inspiration ! and my crown !
My strength in age ! my rise in low estate !
My soul's ambition, pleasure, wealth ! my world !
My light in darkness ! and my life in death ! 590

My boast through time ! bliss through eternity !
Eternity, too short to speak thy praise !
Or fathom thy profound of love to Man ;
To man of men the meanest, ev'n to me !
My sacrifice ! my God ! what things are these ! 595
What then art THOU? by what name shall I call thee?
Knew 1 the name devout archangels use,
Devout archangels should the name enjoy,
By me unrivall'd : Thousands more sublime, 599
None half so dear, as that, which, though unspoke,
Still glows at heart : O how Omnipotence
Is lost in love ! Thou great PHILANTHROPIST !
Father of Angels ! but the friend of Man !
Like Jacob, fondest of the younger born ! 604

Thou, who didst save him, snatch the smoking brand
From out the flames, and quench it in thy blood !
How art thou pleas'd, by bounty to distress !
To make us groan beneath our gratitude,
Too big for birth ! to favour, and confound j
To challenge, and to distance, all return ! 6 1 o

Of lavish love stupendous heights to soar,
And leave praise panting in the distant vale !
Thy right too great defrauds thee of thy due ;
And sacrilegious our sublimest song.


J3ut since the naked will obtains thy smile, 615

Beneath this monument of praise unpaid,

And future life symphonious to my strain,

(That noblest hymn to Heav'n !) for ever lie

Intomb'd, my fear of death ! and ev'ry fear,

The dread of ev'ry evil) but thy frown. 620

Whom see I yonder, so demurely smile ?
Laughter a labour, and might break their resti
Ye quietists, in homage to the skies !
Serene ! of soft address ! who mildly make

Online LibraryEdward YoungNight thoughts on life, death and immortality → online text (page 5 of 24)