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Observe the dappled foresters, how light
They bound and airy o'er the sunny glade-
One falls the rest, wide-scatter'd with affright,
Vanish at once into the darkest shade.
Had we their wisdom, should we, often warn'd,
Still need repeated warnings, and at last,
A thousand awful admonitions scorn'd,
Die self-accused of life run all to waste?
Sad waste! for which no after-thrift atones.
The grave admits no cure for guilt or sin;
Dew drops may deck the turf, that hides the bones,
But tears of godly grief ne'er flow within.
Learn then, ye living! by the mouths be taught
Of all these sepulchres, instructors true,
That, soon or late, death also is your lot,
And the next opening grave may yawn for you.
ON A SIMILAR OCCASION,
FOR THE YEAR 1789.
-Placidûque ibi demum morte quievit. VIRG. There calm at length he breathed his soul away.
'O MOST delightful hour by man
Experienced here below,
The hour that terminates his span,
'His folly, and his wo!
'Worlds should not bribe me back to tread
Again life's dreary waste,
To see again my day o'erspread
With all the gloomy past.
My home henceforth is in the skies,
Earth, seas, and sun adieu!
All Heaven unfolded to my eyes,
I have no sight for you.'
So spake Aspasio, firm possess'd
Of faith's supporting rod,
Then breathed his soul into its rest,
The bosom of his God.
He was a man among the few
Sincere on virtue's side;
And all his strength from Scripture drew
To hourly use applied.
That rule he prized, by that he fear'd,
He hated, hoped, and loved;
Nor ever frown'd, or sad appear'd,
But when his heart had roved.
For he was frail, as thou or I,
And evil felt within:
But, when he felt it, heaved a sigh,
And loathed the thought of sin.
Such lived Aspasio; and at last
Call'd up from Earth to Heaven, The gulf of death triumphant pass'd, By gales of blessing driven.
His joys be mine, each Reader cries,
When my last hour arrives:
They shall be yours, my Verse replies,
Such only be your lives.
ON A SIMILAR OCCASION,
FOR THE YEAR 1790.
Ne commonentem recta sperne.
Despise not my good counsel.
HE who sits from day to day,
Where the prison'd lark is hung,
Heedless of his loudest lay,
Hardly knows what he has sung.
Where the watchman in his round
Nightly lifts his voice on high,
None, accustom'd to the sound,
Wakes the sooner for his cry.
So your verse-man I, and clerk,
Yearly in my song proclaim
Death at hand-yourselves his mark-
And the foe's unerring aim.
Duly at my time I come,
Publishing to all aloud-
Soon the grave must be your home,
And your only suit, a shroud.
But the monitory strain,
Oft repeated in your ears,
Seems to sound too much in vain,
Wins no notice, wakes no fears.
Can a truth, by all confess'd
Of such magnitude and weight,
Grow, by being oft impress'd,
Trivial as a parrot's prate?
Pleasure's call attention wins,
Hear it often as we may;
New as ever seem our sins,
Though committed every day.
Death and Judgment, Heaven and Hell-
These alone, so often heard,
No more move us than the bell,
When some stranger is interr'd.
O then, ere the turf or tomb
Cover us from every eye,
Spirit of instruction come,
Make us learn, that we must die.