Last night unpleasing visions round my head,
In horror clad, their baleful influence spread!
Spectres most ghastly rose before my view,
And every moment more tremendous grew!
Appall’d! I shudder’d at the fearful sight,
And blest the beam of slow returning light.
Say, sacred Muse, whence the portentous dream,
When lost to reason, the rapt senses seem?
Might not the soul imprison’d in her cell,
On some seraphic prelibation dwell?
When her career a short suspension knows,
Why seeks she thus to add to human woes?
Why not expanded on celestial wing,
Of future hopes, in strains immortal sing?
Why not delight to give the burst of thought,
With all the treasur’d stores of wisdom fraught?
Reflection luminous darts o’er my mind,
And reason, harbinger of light design’d,
Throws back the clouds, and with pervading ray,
Pours from her orb illimitable day.
Reflection as a mental mine appears,
And industry its golden treasures shares,
Come then, investigation hither bend,
And let refulgent truth unveil’d descend.
The soul encumber’d by her mass of clay
Stoops-reason faith-through the revolving day
To the debasing claims of earth born care,
And in each wayward passion takes her share,
To various offices perforce submits,
Now stands, now walks, and now inactive sits:
But when deep sleep enwraps the body round,
No longer by these clay forg’d fetters bound,
Glad of the respite-free from every load,
She speeds away to some divine abode,
On outstretch’d wing renews her latent fires,
And freely in her native air respires.
And, as attraction sways the natural world,
Or dire confusion o’er our globe were hurl’d:
So, by some secret law, as yet untaught,
Back to her post, the fugitive is brought-
Compell’d, her well known functions she resumes,
Glows in the eye, and in the features blooms;
Nor can th’unfolded senses greet the day,
‘Till animated by her genial ray:
And, mid the broken slumbers of the night,
A viewless instant points her rapid flight:
But while abroad, the deathless wand’rer strays,
A thousand giddy gambols folly plays,
The breast a theatre of sport becomes,
Where each buffoon his mimick part assumes,
Fantastic spright the motley scenes display,
While mirthful fancy, unreserv’dly gay,
Laughs as she paints-’till baleful specters rise,
And a dark group th’ infernal fiend supplies:
Then passions all tumultuous swell the breast,
Assassinating the fair hours of rest.
Alternate visions thus chaotic rise,
Now sink us low-then mount us to the skies.
But when our guard’an angel designs to fill,
The empty void-and heavenly truths instill,
Visions seraphic flit before our sight
Cherubic forms enrob’d in spotless white,
Successive images of bliss arise,
‘Till the returning spirit ardent sighs,
For that celestial world, her native home,
Where joys eternal shall unceasing bloom.