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Or seen the star of Hesper bright
Gild the growing gloom of night.
Oft, when Morn her charms displays,
I rise to view the orient blaze,
Or following thy footsteps, tread
Jocund o'er the flowery mead.
And now through gloomy woods we go,
Where the tall tree's lofty bough,
Shooting proudly to the skies,
An impervious shade supplies;
Now across the far spread plain
Quick my anxious steps I strain;
Now upon the rising ground,
I view the landscape stretch'd around;
Now where rolling torrents sweep,
Swift we cross the craggy steep,
Where Danger sits with rugged brow
Frowning o'er the depths below.
Nought my hasty steps restrains,
Swift I,speed across the plains,
Swift I speed, nor make a stay
While thou, Nymph, dost lead the way. ⠀
Led to many a distant land
By thee, the trav'ller quits the strand,
Quits his country and his friends,
And the parting bark ascends.
Now where icy mounts appear
See the bold advent'rers steer;
Where while the gelid north winds sweep,
And raise to storms the swelling deep,
Lo, frozen by their stern commands,
In act to fall the billow stands!
Southward then they spread the sail;
For thee too slowly blows the gale;
Thou sweepest now the boiling wave
Which does Afric's windings lave;
And now, (long past the burning line)
The Crosiers* in the zenith shine.
Goddess of descent divine,
What barrier can thy steps confine?
Though the lofty Alps oppose
Rough rocks crown'd with constant snows,
The Alps themselves thy course invite,
Pregnant still with new delight.
Up the steep ascent we climb,
'Till on the mountain top sublime
We view the prospect stretching wide,
Long plains and hills in gloomy pride.
Where yon cave's broad mouth extends,
And the darkening road descends,
I see thee point my downward way—
Goddess, I thy will obey.
Now see the distant light recede,
Dimmer still at every tread!
Far we leave the cheerful day
To view what scenes these deeps display;
Where dull Silence holds her reign,
Encompass'd by her solemn train,
Where never since the world began
Echoed yet the steps of man.
* A constellation near the south pole.
-Now no light the cavern knows,
Save what a feeble torch bestows,
By which pendent over head
I view the high arch'd rocks outspread.
Now in the narrow way we bend,
Now aloft the roofs ascend;
Varying colours there I view*
Glistering in the drops of dew,
As the flambeau's glimm'ring light
Gleams along the walls of night.
Thus led by thee, O Nymph, I go,
Through these gloomy vaults below;
For where thou biddest man to stray
Few dangers fright him from his way.
E'en where fierce Vesuvius roars
And the red fiery tempest pours,
Thou didst inspire the saget to tread
While death hung dreadful o'er his head.
Nor less in secret dost thou love
Study's calm delights to prove;
Often dost thou scan the page
Where shine the deeds of every age.
Or songs of bards in days of yore.
Or studious sages' modern lore.
Oft, O Nymph, incline my will,
When the slow rolling night is still,
Th' inspiring volume to peruse
And wise maxims thence deduce,
* In many subterraneous aves the water oozes through the top and hangs there in drops, which, when a light is carried into the cavern, exhibit all the colours of the rainbow.
precepts in my mind
Of the greatest of mankind.
Come, but banish far from thee
Rashness and Inconstancy;
Let not these thy steps betray,
But sober Prudence guard thy way.
Thus, still improving, let me go,
Till nought more remains to know,
And kindly on my labours past
Approving Wisdom smile at last.
ADDRESS TO THE EVENING STAR,
Written just before the time of its disappearing, July 1796.
ONCE more beneath thy trembling ray,
O Hesper! o'er the field I rove, Pleas'd as my steps neglected stray, To mark thee and thy train above.
Now fading in the western sky,
I gaze on many a mingled hue; I hear the distant kildee's cry That bids the dying day adieu;
The bat flits slowly through the air;
The fish spring from the dimpling flood;
The mastiff's hoarse note dies afar;
The night-bird* echoes from the wood.
And now, quite quench'd each solar beam,
Deep darkness broods o'er plain and grove,
Save where awhile yont insects gleam,
And where thy mild light burns above.