AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

27 May 2016

Patient.


A JOURNEY FROM PATAPSCO IN MARYLAND TO ANNAPOLIS, APRIL 4, 1730

At length the wintry Horrors disappear,
And April views with Smiles the infant Year;
The grateful Earth from frosty Chains unbound,
Pours out its vernal Treasures all around,
Her Face bedeckt with Grass, with Buds the Trees are crown'd.
In this soft Season, 'ere the Dawn of Day,
I mount my Horse, and lonely take my Way,
From woody Hills that shade Patapsco's Head
(In whose deep Vales he makes his stony Bed,
From whence he rushes with resistless Force,
Tho' huge rough Rocks retard his rapid Course,)
Down to Annapolis, on that smooth Stream
Which took from fair Anne-Arundel its Name.
And now the Star that ushers in the Day,
“Begins to pale her ineffectual Ray[”].
The Moon with blunted Horns, now shines less bright,
Her fading Face eclips'd with growing Light;
The fleecy Clouds with streaky Lustre glow,
And day quits Heav'n to view the Earth below.
O'er yon tall Pines the Sun shews half his Face,
And fires their floating Foliage with his Rays:
Now sheds aslant on earth his lightsome Beams,
That trembling shine in many-colour'd Streams.
Slow-rising from the Marsh, the Mist recedes,
The Trees, emerging, rear their dewy Heads;
Their dewy Heads the Sun with Pleasure views,
And brightens into Pearls the pendent Dews.
The Beasts uprising, quit their leafy Beds,
And to the cheerful Sun erect their Heads;
All joyful rise, except the filthy Swine,
On obscene Litter stretch'd they snore supine:
In vain the Day awakes, Sleep seals their Eyes,
Till Hunger breaks the Band and bids them rise.
Meanwhile the Sun with more exalted Ray,
From cloudless Skies distributes riper Day;
Thro' sylvan Scenes my Journey I pursue,
Ten thousand Beauties rising to my View;
Which kindle in my Breast poetic Flame,
And bid me my Creator's Praise proclaim;
Tho' my low Verse ill-suits the noble Theme.
Here various Flourets grace the teeming Plains.
Adorn'd by Nature's Hand with beauteous Stains.
First born of Spring, here the Pacone appears,
Whose golden Root a silver Blossom rears.
In spreading Tufts, see there the Crowfoot blue,
On whose green Leaves still shines a globous Dew;
Behold the Cinque-foil, with its dazling Dye
Of flaming Yellow, wounds the tender Eye.
But there enclos'd the grassy Wheat is seen,
To heal the aching Sight with cheerful Green.
Safe in yon Cottage dwells the Monarch Swain,
His Subject Flocks, close-grazing hide the Plain;
For him they live; and die t' uphold his Reign.
Viands unbought his well-till'd Lands afford,
And smiling Plenty waits upon his Board;
Health shines with sprightly Beams around his Head,

And Sleep, with downy Wings, o'ershades his bed,
His Sons robust his daily Labours share,
Patient of Toil, Companions of his Care.
And all their Toils with sweet Success are crown'd.
In graceful Banks there Trees adorn the Ground,
The Peach, the Plum, the Apple, here are found
Delicious Fruits!—Which from their Kernels rise,
So fruitful is the Soil—so mild the Skies:
The lowly Quince yon sloping Hill o'ershades,
Here lofty Cherry-Trees erect their Heads;
High in the Air each spiry Summit waves,
Whose Blooms thick-springing yield no Space for Leaves;
Evolving Odours fill the ambient Air,
The Birds delighted to the Groves repair:
On ev'ry Tree behold a tuneful Throng,
The vocal Vallies echo to their Song.
But what is He, who perch'd above the rest,
Pours out such various Musick from his Breast!
His Breast, whose Plumes a cheerful White display.
His quiv'ring Wings are dress'd in sober Grey.
Sure all the Muses, this their Bird inspire!
And he, alone, is equal to the Choir
Of warbling Songsters who around him play,
While, Echo like, He answers ev'ry Lay.
The chirping Lark now sings with sprightly Note
Responsive to her Strain He shapes his Throat,
Now the poor widow'd Turtle wails her Mate,
While in soft Sounds He cooes to mourn his Fate.
Oh sweet Musician, thou dost far excel
The soothing Song of pleasing Philomel!
Sweet is her Song, but in few Notes confin'd;
But thine, thou Mimic of the feath'ry Kind,
Runs thro' all Notes!—Thou only know'st them All,
At once the Copy—and th' Original.
My Ear thus charm'd, my Eye with Pleasure sees
Hov'ring about the Flow'rs th' industrious Bees.
Like them in Size, the Humming Birds I view,
Like them, He sucks his Food, the Honey Dew,
With nimble Tongue, and Beak of jetty Hue.
He takes with rapid Whirl his noisy Flight,
His gemmy Plumage strikes the Gazer's Sight;
And as he moves his ever-flutt'ring Wings,
Ten thousand Colours he around him flings.
Now I behold the Em'rald's vivid Green,
Now scarlet, now a purple Die is seen;
In brightest Blue, his Breast He now arrays,
Then strait his Plumes emit a golden Blaze.
Thus whirring round he flies, and varying still
He mocks the Poet's and the Painter's Skill;
Who may forever strive with fruitless Pains,
To catch and fix those beauteous changeful Stains;
While Scarlet now, and now the Purple shines,
And Gold to Blue its transient Gloss resigns.
Each quits, and quickly each resumes its Place,
And ever-varying Dies each other chase.
Smallest of Birds, what Beauties shine in thee!
A living Rainbow on thy Breast I see.
Oh had that Bard, in whose heart-pleasing Lines,
The Phœnix in a Blaze of Glory shines,
Beheld those Wonders which are shewn in Thee,
That Bird had lost his Immortality!
Thou in His verse hadst stretch'd thy flutt'ring Wing
Above all other Birds,—their beauteous King.
But now th' enclos'd Plantation I forsake,
And onwards thro' the Woods my Journey take;
The level Road, the longsome Way beguiles,
A blooming Wilderness around me smiles;
Here hardy Oak, there fragrant Hick'ry grows

Their bursting Buds the tender Leaves disclose;
The tender Leaves in downy Robes appear,
Trembling, they seem to move with cautious Fear,
Yet new to Life, and Strangers to the Air.
Here stately Pines unite their whisp'ring Heads,
And with a solemn Gloom embrown the Glades.
See there a green Savana opens wide,
Thro' which smooth Streams in wanton Mazes glide;
Thick-branching Shrubs o'erhang the silver Streams,
Which scarcely deign t' admit the solar Beams.
While with Delight on this soft Scene I gaze,
The Cattle upward look, and cease to graze,
But into Covert run thro' various Ways.
And now the Clouds in black Assemblage rise,
And dreary Darkness overspreads the Skies,
Thro' which the Sun strives to transmit his Beams,
“But sheds his sickly Light in straggling Streams.
Hush'd is the Musick of the wood-land Choir,
Fore-knowing of the Storm, the Birds retire
For Shelter, and forsake the shrubby Plains,
And a dumb Horror, thro' the Forest reigns;
In that lone House which opens wide its Door,
Safe may I tarry till the Storm is o'er.
Hark how the Thunder rolls with solemn Sound!
And see the forceful Lightning dart a Wound
On yon tall Oak!—Behold its Top laid bare!
Its Body rent, and scatter'd thro' the Air
The Splinters fly!—Now—now the Winds arise,
From different Quarters of the low'ring Skies;
Forth issuing fierce, the West and South engage,
The waving Forest bends beneath their Rage:
But where the winding Valley checks their Course,
They roar and ravage with redoubled Force;
With circling sweep in dreadful Whirlwinds move
And from its Roots tear up the gloomy Grove,
Down rushing fall the Trees, and beat the Ground
In Fragments flie the shatter'd Limbs around;
Tremble the Underwoods, the Vales resound.
Follows, with patt'ring Noise the icy Hail,
And Rain, fast falling, floods the lowly Vale.
Again the Thunders roll, the Lightnings fly,
And as they first disturb'd, now clear the Sky;
For lo! the Gust decreases by Degrees,
The dying Winds but sob amidst the Trees;
With pleasing Softness falls the silver Rain,
Thro' which at first faint gleaming o'er the Plain,
The Orb of Light scarce darts a wat'ry Ray
To gild the Drops that fall from ev'ry Spray;
But soon the dusky Vapours are dispell'd,
And thro' the Mist that late his Face conceal'd,
Bursts the broad Sun, triumphant in a Blaze
Too keen for Sight—Yon Cloud refracts his Rays;
The mingling Beams compose th' etherial Bow,
How sweet, how soft, its melting Colours glow!
Gaily they shine, by heav'nly Pencils laid,
Yet vanish swift—How soon does Beauty fade!
The Storm is past, my Journey I renew,
And a new Scene of Pleasure greets my View:
Wash'd by the copious Rain the gummy Pine,
Does cheerful, with unsully'd Verdure shine!
The Dogwood Flow'rs assume a snowy white,
The Maple blushing gratifies the Sight:
No verdant leaves the lovely Red-Bud grace,
Carnation Blossoms now supply their Place.

The Sassafras unfolds its fragrant Bloom,
The Vine affords an exquisite Perfume.
These grateful Scents wide-wafting thro' the Air
The smelling Sense with balmy Odours cheer.
And now the Birds, sweet singing, stretch their Throats,
And in one Choir unite their Various Notes,
Nor yet unpleasing is the Turtle's Voice,
Tho' he complains while other Birds rejoice.
These vernal Joys, all restless Thoughts controul,
And gently soothing calm the troubled Soul.
While such Delights my Senses entertain,
I scarce perceive that I have left the Plain;
'Till now the Summit of a Mount I gain:
Low at whose sandy Base the River glides,
Slow-rolling near their Height his languid Tides;
Shade above Shade, the Trees in rising Ranks,
Cloath with eternal Green his steepy Banks:
The Flood, well pleas'd, reflects their verdant Gleam
From the smooth Mirror of his limpid Stream.
But see the Hawk, who with acute Survey,
Tow'ring in Air predestinates his Prey
Amid the Floods!—Down dropping from on high,
He strikes the Fish, and bears him thro' the Sky.
The Stream disturb'd no longer shews the Scene
That lately stain'd its silver Waves with green;
In spreading Circles roll the troubled Floods,
And to the Shores bear off the pictur'd Woods.
Now looking round I view the outstretch'd Land,
O'er which the Sight exerts a wide Command;
The fertile Vallies, and the naked Hills,
The Cattle feeding near the chrystal Rills;
The Lawns wide-op'ning to the sunny Ray,
And mazy Thickets that exclude the Day.
Awhile the Eye is pleas'd these Scenes to trace,
Then hurrying o'er the intermediate space,
Far-distant Mountains drest in Blue appear,
And all their Woods are lost in empty Air.
The Sun near setting now arrays his Head
In milder Beams, and lengthens ev'ry Shade.
The rising Clouds usurping on the Day
A bright variety of Dies display;
About the wide Horizon swift they fly,
“And chase a Change of Colours round the Sky.
And now I view but half the flaming Sphere,
Now one faint Glimmer shoots along the Air,
And all his golden Glories disappear.
Onwards the Ev'ning moves in Habit grey,
And for her Sister Night prepares the way.
The plumy People seek their secret Nests,
To Rest repair the ruminating Beasts;
Now deep'ning Shades confess th' Approach of Night,
Imperfect Images elude the Sight:
From earthly Objects I remove mine Eye,
And view with Look erect the vaulted Sky,
Where dimly shining now the Stars appear,
At first thin-scatt'ring thro' the misty Air;
Till Night confirm'd, her jetty Throne ascends,
On her the Moon in clouded State attends,
But soon unveil'd her lovely Face is seen,
And Stars unnumber'd wait around their Queen;
Rang'd by their Maker's Hand in just Array,
They march majestic thro' th' etherial Way.
Are these bright Luminaries hung on high
Only to please with twinkling Rays our Eye?
Or may we rather count each Star a Sun,
Round which full peopled Worlds their Courses run?
Orb above Orb harmoniously they steer
Their various Voyages thro' Seas of Air.
Snatch me some Angel to those high Abodes,
The Seats perhaps of Saints and Demigods!
Where such as bravely scorn'd the galling Yoke

Of vulgar Error, and her Fetters broke;
Where Patriots, who to fix the publick Good,
In Fields of Battle sacrific'd their Blood;
Where pious Priests, who Charity proclaim'd,
And Poets whom a virtuous Muse enflam'd;
Philosophers who strove to mend our Hearts,
And such as polish'd Life with useful Arts,
Obtain a Place; when by the Hand of Death
Touch'd, they retire from this poor Speck of Earth;
Their Spirits freed from bodily Alloy,
Perceive a Fore-tast of that endless Joy,
Which from Eternity hath been prepar'd,
To crown their Labours with a vast Reward.
While to these Orbs my wand'ring Thoughts aspire,
A falling Meteor shoots his lambent Fire;
Thrown from the heav'nly Space he seeks the Earth,
From whence he first deriv'd his humble Birth.
The Mind advis'd by this instructive Sight,
Descending sudden from th' aerial Height,
Obliges me to view a different Scene,
Of more importance to myself, tho' mean.
These distant Objects I no more pursue,
But turning inward my reflective View,
My working Fancy helps me to survey
In the just Picture of this April Day,
My Life o'er past,—a Course of thirty Years,
Blest with few joys, perplex'd with num'rous Cares.
In the dim Twilight of our Infancy,
Scarce can the Eye surrounding Objects see.
Then thoughtless Childhood leads us pleas'd and gay,
In life's fair morning thro' a flow'ry Way:
The Youth in Schools inquisitive of Good,
Science pursues thro' Learning's mazy Wood;
Whole lofty Trees, he, to his Grief perceives,
Are often bare of Fruit, and only fill'd with Leaves:
Thro' lonely Wilds his tedious Journey lies,
At last a brighter Prospect cheers his Eyes,
Now the gay Fields of Poetry he views,
And joyous listens to the tuneful Muse;
Now History affords him vast Delight,
And opens lovely Landscapes to his Sight:
But ah! too soon this Scene of Pleasure flies;
And o'er his Head tempestuous Troubles rise.
He hears the Thunders roll, he feels the Rains,
Before a friendly shelter he obtains;
And thence beholds with Grief the furious Storm
The noontide Beauties of his Life deform:
He views the painted Bow in distant Skies;
Hence, in his heart some Gleams of Comfort rise;
He hopes the Gust has almost spent its Force,
And that he safely may pursue his Course.
Thus far my Life does with the Day agree,
Oh! may its coming Stage from Storms be free,
While passing thro' the World's most private Way,
With Pleasure I my Maker's Works survey;
Within my Heart let Peace a Dwelling find,
Let my Good-will extend to all Mankind:
Freed from Necessity, and blest with Health;
Give me Content, let others toil for Wealth.
In busy Scenes of Life let me exert
A careful Hand, and wear an honest Heart;
And suffer me my leisure Hours to spend,
With chosen Books, or a well-natur'd Friend,
Thus journeying on, as I advance in Age
May I look back with Pleasure on my Stage;
And as the setting Sun withdrew his Light
To rise on other Worlds serene and bright,
Cheerful may I resign my vital Breath,
Nor anxious tremble at th' Approach of Death;
Which shall (I hope) but strip me of my Clay,
And to a better World my Soul convey.
Thus musing, I my silent Moments spend,
Till to the River's Margin I descend,
From whence I may discern my Journey's End:

Annapolis adorns its further Shore,
To which the Boat attends to bear me o'er.
And now the moving Boat the Flood divides,
While the Stars “tremble on the floating Tides, [”].
Pleas'd with the Sight, again I raise mine Eye
To the bright Glories of the azure Sky;
And while these Works of God's creative Hand,
The Moon and Stars, that move at his Command
Obedient thro' their circling Course on high,
Employ my Sight,—struck with amaze I cry,
Almighty Lord! whom Heav'n and Earth proclaim
The Author of their universal Frame.
Wilt thou vouchsafe to view the Son of Man,
The Creature, who but Yesterday began,
Thro' animated Clay to draw his Breath,
Tomorrow doom'd a Prey to ruthless Death!
Tremendous God! may I not justly fear,
That I, unworthy Object of thy Care,
Into this World from thy bright Presence tost,
Am in th' Immensity of Nature lost!
And that my Notions of the World above,
Are but Creations of my own Self-Love!
To feed my coward Heart, afraid to die,
With fancied Feasts of Immortality!
These Thoughts, which thy amazing Works suggest,
Oh glorious Father, rack my troubled Breast.
Yet Gracious God, reflecting that my Frame
From Thee deriv'd in animating Flame,
And that what e'er I am, however mean,
By thy Command I enter'd on this Scene
Of Life—thy wretched Creature of a Day,
Condemn'd to travel thro' a tiresome Way;
Upon whose Banks (perhaps to cheer my Toil!)
I see thin Verdures rise, and Daisies smile:
Poor Comforts these, my Pains t' alleviate!
While on my Head tempestuous Troubles beat.
And must I, when I quit this Earthly Scene,
Sink total into Death, and never rise again?
No sure,—These Thoughts which in my Bosom roll.
Must issue from a never-dying Soul;
These active Thoughts, that penetrate the Sky,
Excursive into dark Futurity;
Which hope eternal Happiness to gain,
Could never be bestow'd on Man in vain.
To Thee, O Father, fill'd with fervent Zeal,
And sunk in humble Silence I appeal;
Take me, my great Creator, to Thy Care.
And gracious listen to my ardent Prayer!
Supreme of Beings, omnipresent Pow'r,
My great Preserver from my natal Hour,
Fountain of Wisdom, boundless Deity,

Omniscient God, my wants are known to Thee,
With Mercy look on mine Infirmity!
Whatever State thou shalt for me ordain.
Whether my Lot in Life be Joy or Pain;
Patient let me sustain thy wise Decree,
And learn to know myself, and honour Thee.

Richard Lewis

No comments: