Through common sense, you understand the basic things about life. And through faith, you know that there is One True God who authored these basic things. And also through faith, you understand that God works through both natural and supernatural ways to accomplish His wonderful plan.
I marvel at these two paradoxes that I recently realized; the first one perplexes me and the second one terrifies me:
– the first one is that even though God absolutely has no need of me, He does care for me in the richness of His grace;
– the second one is that even though I am totally dependent on His mercy, I despise Him in my sinfulness.
MNEME begin. Inspire, ye sacred nine,
Your vent’rous Afric in her great design.
Mneme, immortal pow’r, I trace thy spring:
Assist my strains, while I thy glories sing:
The acts of long departed years, by thee
Recover’d, in due order rang’d we see:
Thy pow’r the long-forgotten calls from night,
That sweetly plays before the fancy’s sight.
Mneme in our nocturnal visions pours
The ample treasure of her secret stores;
Swift from above the wings her silent flight
Through Phoebe’s realms, fair regent of the night;
And, in her pomp of images display’d,
To the high-raptur’d poet gives her aid,
Through the unbounded regions of the mind,
Diffusing light celestial and refin’d.
The heav’nly phantom paints the actions done
By ev’ry tribe beneath the rolling sun.
Mneme, enthron’d within the human breast,
Has vice condemn’d, and ev’ry virtue blest.
How sweet the sound when we her plaudit hear?
Sweeter than music to the ravish’d ear,
Sweeter than Maro’s entertaining strains
Resounding through the groves, and hills, and plains.
But how is Mneme dreaded by the race,
Who scorn her warnings and despise her grace?
By her unveil’d each horrid crime appears,
Her awful hand a cup of wormwood bears.
Days, years mispent, O what a hell of woe!
Hers the worst tortures that our souls can know.
Now eighteen years their destin’d course have run,
In fast succession round the central sun.
How did the follies of that period pass
Unnotic’d, but behold them writ in brass!
In Recollection see them fresh return,
And sure ’tis mine to be asham’d, and mourn.
O Virtue, smiling in immortal green,
Do thou exert thy pow’r, and change the scene;
Be thine employ to guide my future days,
And mine to pay the tribute of my praise.
Of Recollection such the pow’r enthron’d
In ev’ry breast, and thus her pow’r is own’d.
The wretch, who dar’d the vengeance of the skies,
At last awakes in horror and surprise,
By her alarm’d, he sees impending fate,
He howls in anguish, and repents too late.
But O! what peace, what joys are hers t’ impart
To ev’ry holy, ev’ry upright heart!
Thrice blest the man, who, in her sacred shrine,
Feels himself shelter’d from the wrath divine!
O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive
To comprehend thee. Thine own words declare
Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach.
I cease to wonder, and no more attempt
Thine height t’ explore, or fathom thy profound.
But, O my soul, sink not into despair,
Virtue is near thee, and with gentle hand
Would now embrace thee, hovers o’er thine head.
Fain would the heav’n-born soul with her converse,
Then seek, then court her for her promis’d bliss.
Auspicious queen, thine heav’nly pinions spread,
And lead celestial Chastity along;
Lo! now her sacred retinue descends,
Array’d in glory from the orbs above.
Attend me, Virtue, thro’ my youthful years!
O leave me not to the false joys of time!
But guide my steps to endless life and bliss.
Greatness, or Goodness, say what I shall call thee,
To give me an higher appellation still,
Teach me a better strain, a nobler lay,
O thou, enthron’d with Cherubs in the realms of day.
The various works, imperial queen, we see,
How bright their forms! how deck’d with pomp
Thy wond’rous acts in beauteous order stand,
And all attest how potent is thine hand.
From Helicon’s refulgent heights attend,
Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend:
To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,
Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.
Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,
Till some lov’d object strikes her wand’ring eyes,
Whose silken fetters all the senses bind,
And soft captivity involves the mind.
Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God,
We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,
And leave the rolling universe behind:
From star to star the mental optics rove,
Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,
Or with new worlds amaze th’ unbounded soul.
Though Winter frowns to Fancy’s raptur’d eyes
The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise;
The frozen deeps may break their iron bands,
And bid their waters murmur o’er the sands.
Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign,
And with her flow’ry riches deck the plain;
Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round,
And all the forest may with leaves be crown’d:
Show’rs may descend, and dews their gems disclose,
And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose.
Such is thy pow’r, nor are thine orders vain,
O thou the leader of the mental train:
In full perfection all thy works are wrought,
And thine the sceptre o’er the realms of thought.
Before thy throne the subject-passions bow,
Of subject-passions sov’reign ruler thou;
At thy command joy rushes on the heart,
And through the glowing veins the spirits dart.
Fancy might now her silken pinions try
To rise from earth, and sweep th’ expanse on high:
From Tithon’s bed now might Aurora rise,
Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies,
While a pure stream of light o’erflows the skies.
The monarch of the day I might behold,
And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold,
But I reluctant leave the pleasing views,
Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse;
Winter austere forbids me to aspire,
And northern tempests damp the rising fire;
They chill the tides of Fancy’s flowing sea,
Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.
Chill penury and winter’s power
Upon my soul so hard have prest,
That I would fain have seen no more
The red flow’rs that the meadows drest:
Yet, truth! ’twere hard, if I were gone,
Upon the merry-making throng,
That loud with joy was wont to ring,
And o’er the green to dance and spring!
Under the lime tree
On the heather,
Where we had shared a place of rest,
Still you may find there,
Flowers crushed and grass down-pressed.
Beside the forest in the vale,
Sweetly sang the nightingale.
I came to meet him
At the green:
There was my truelove come before.
Such was I greeted —
Heaven’s Queen! —
That I am glad for evermore.
Had he kisses? A thousand some:
See how red my mouth’s become.
There he had fashioned
A bed from every kind of flower.
It sets to laughing
Whoever comes upon that bower;
By the roses well one may,
Mark the spot my head once lay.
If any knew
He lay with me
(May God forbid!), for shame I’d die.
What did he do?
May none but he
Ever be sure of that — and I,
And one extremely tiny bird,
Who will, I think, not say a word.