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Sweet conference. Inquires what strains were

they With which Heaven rang, when every star, in

haste To gratulate the new-created earth, Sent forth a voice, and all the sons of God Shouted for joy. Tell me, ye shining hosts, That navigate a sea that knows no storms, Beneath a vault unsullied with a cloud, If from your elevation, whence ye view Distinctly scenes invisible to man, And systems, of whose birth no tidings yet Have reach'd this nether world, ye spy a race Favour'd as ours: transgressors from the womb And hasting to a grave, yet doom'd to rise, And to possess a brighter Heaven than yours ? As one, who, long detain'd on foreign shores, Pants to return, and when he sees afar His country's weather-bleach'd and batter'd

rocks, From the green wave emerging, darts an eye. Radiant with joy toward the happy land; So I with animated hopes behold, And many an aching wish, your beamy fires, That show like beacons in the blue abyss, Ordain'd to guide th' embodied spirit home From toilsome life to never-ending rest. Love kindles as I gaze. I feel desires That give assurance of their own success, And that, infus'd from Heaven, must thither

tend.' So reads he Nature, whom the lamp of truth

Illuminates. Thy lamp, mysterious Word!
Which whoso sees, no longer wanders lost,
With intellcets bemaz'd in endless doubt,
But runs the road of wisdom. Thou hast built
With means that wear not, till by thee employ'd,
Worlds that had never been, hadst thou in

strength
Been less, or less benevolent than strong.
They are thy witnesses, who speak thy pow'r
And goodness infinite, but speak in ears
That hear not, or receive not their report
In vain thy creatures testify of thee,
Till thou proclaim-thyself. Theirs is indeed
A teaching voice ; but 'tis the praise of thine,
That whom it teaches it makes prompt to learn,
And with the boon gives talents for its use.
Till thou art heard, imaginations vain
Possess the heart, and fables false as hell:
Yet deem'd oracular, lure down to death
The uninform'd and heedless souls of men.
We give to chance, blind chance, ourselves as

blind, The glory of thy work; which yet appears Perfect and unimpeachable of blame, Challenging human scrutiny, and prov'd Then skilful most when most severely judg’d. But chance is not; or is not where thou reign'st ; Thy providence forbids that fickle pow'r (If pow'r she be, that works but to confound) To mix her wild vagaries with thy laws. Yet thus we dote, refusing while we can, Instruction, and inventing to ourselves

Gods such as guilt makes welcome ; gods that

sleep, Or disregard our follies, or that sit Amus'd spectators of this bustling stage. Thee we reject, unable to abide Thy purity, till pure as thou art pure, Made such by thee, we love thee for that cause, For which we shunn'd and hated thee before. Then we are free. Then liberty, like day, Breaks on the soul, and by a flash from heay'n Fires all the faculties with glorious joy. A voice is heard that mortal ears hear not, Till thou hast touch'd them; 'tis the voice of song, A loud Hosannå sent from all thy works ; Which he that hears it, with a shout repeats, And adds his-rapture to the general praise ! In that blest moment, Nature, throwing wide Her veil opaque, discloses with a smile The author of hes beauties, who, retir'd Behind his own creation, works unseen By the impure, and hears his pow'r denied : Thou art ihe source and centre of all minds, Their only point of rest, eternal Word ! From the departing, they are lost, and rove At random, without honour, hope, or peace. From thee is all that sooths the life of man, His high endeavour, and his glad success, His strength to suffer, and his will to serve. But () thou bounteous Giver of all good, Thou art of all thy gifts thyself the crown! Give what thou canst, without thee we are poor, And with thee rich, take what thou wilt away.

THE TASK.

BOOK VI.

THE WINTER WALK AT NOON.

ARGUMENT OF THE SIXTH BOOK. Bells at a distance-Their effect--A fine noon in winter

A sheltered walk-Meditation better than books-Our familiarity with the course of Nature makes it appear less wonderful than it is-The transformation that Spring effects in a shrubbery, described - A mistake concerning the course of Nature corrected-God main. tains it by an unremitted act—The amusements fashionable at this hour of the day reproved-Animals häppy, a delightful sight-Origin of cruelty to animals That it is a great crime proved from Scripture-That proof illustrated by a tale-A line drawn between the lawful and unlawful destruction of them-Their good and useful properties insisted on-Apologies for the encomiums bestowed by the author on animals-Instances of man's extravagant praise of man-The groans of the creation shall have an end-A view taken of the restoration of all things --An invocation and an invitation of Him who shall bring it to pass-The retired man vi dicated from the charge of uselessness-Conclusion 12

177

There is in souls a sympathy with sounds,
And as the mind is pitch'd, the ear is pleas'd
With melting airs or martial, brisk, or grave;
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies,
How soft the music of those village bells,
Falling at intervals upon the ear
In cadence sweet, now dying all away,
Now pealing loud again, and louder still,
Clear and sonorous, as the gale comes on!
With easy force it opens all the cells
Where Men'ry slept. Wherever I have heard
A kindred melody, the scene recurs,
And with it all its pleasures and its pains.
Such comprehensive views the spirit takes,
That in a few short moments I retrace
(As in a map the voyager his course)
The windings of my way through many years.
Short as in retrospect the journey seems,
It seem'd not always short; the rugged path,
And prospect oft so dreary and forlorn,
Mov'd many a sigh at its disheart'ning length.
Yet feeling present evils, while the past
Faintly impress the mind or not at all,
How readily we wish time spent revok’d,
That we might try the ground again, where once
(Through inexperience as we now perceive)
We miss'd that happiness we might have found !
Some friend is gone, perhaps his son's best

friend! A father, whose authority, in show When most severe, and must'ring all its force,

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