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“ Such, Maiden, are the pangs that wait the hour Of easiest dissolution ! yet weak man Resolves, in timid piety, to live; And veiling Fear in Superstition's garb, He calls her Resignation !
Coward wretch ! Fond coward, thus to make his reason war 200 Against his reason! Insect as he is, This sport of chance, this being of a day, Whose whole existence the next cloud may blast, Believes himself the care of heavenly powers, That God regards man, miserable man, 205 And preaching thus of power and providence, Will crush the reptile that may cross his path!
« Fool that thou art! the Being that permits Existence, gives to man the worthless boon: A goodly gift to those who, fortune-blest, 210 Bask in the sunshine of prosperity, And such do well to keep it. But to one Sick at the heart with misery, and sore With many a hard unmerited affliction, It is a hair that chains to wretchedness
215 The slave who dares not burst it!
Thinkest thou, The parent, if his child should unrecallid Return and fall upon his neck, and cry, • Oh! the wide world is comfortless, and full Of fleeting joys and heart-consuming cares, 220 I can be only happy in my home With thee - my friend ! — my father!'Thinkest thou, That he would thrust him as an outcast forth?
Oh! he would clasp the truant to his heart, 224 And love the trespass.”
Whilst he spake, his eye Dwelt on the Maiden's cheek, and read her soul Struggling within. In trembling doubt she stood, Even as a wretch, whose famish'd entrails crave Supply, before him sees the poison'd food In greedy horror.
Yet, not silent long, 230 “ Eloquent tempter cease !” the Maiden cried, “ What though affliction be my portion here, Thinkest thou I do not feel high thoughts of joy, Of heart-ennobling joy, when I look back Upon a life of duty well perform'd,
235 Then lift mine eyes to Heaven, and there in faith Know my reward ? . I grant, were this life all, Was there no morning to the tomb's long night, If man did mingle with the senseless clod, Himself as senseless, then wert thou indeed 240 A wise and friendly comforter !.. But, fiend, There is a morning to the tomb's long night, A dawn of glory, a reward in heaven, He shall not gain who never merited.
244 If thou didst know the worth of one good deed In life's last hour, thou would'st not bid me lose The precious privilege, while life endures To do my Father's will. A mighty task Is mine,.. a glorious call. France looks to me For her deliverance.
Maiden, thou hast done 250 Thy mission here,” the unbaffled fiend replied : • The foes are fled from Orleans: thou, perchance
Exulting in the pride of victory,
Her glowing cheek
He stamp'd the earth, 280
Than ever palsied in her wildest dream
Below, the vault dilates 290
Here stopt the Gouls, Reaching the destined spot. The fiend stept out, And from the coffin as he led the Maid, Exclaim'd, “ Where mortal never stood before, 300 Thou standest: look around this boundless vault; Observe the dole that Nature deals to man, And learn to know thy friend."
She answer'd not, Observing where the Fates their several tasks 304 Plied ceaseless." Mark how long the shortest web Allow'd to man!” he cried ; “ observe how soon, Twined round yon never-resting wheel, they change Their snowy hue, darkening through many a shade, Till Atropos relentless shuts the sheers. 309
Too true he spake, for of the countless threads, 7
Drawn from the heap, as white as unsunn'd snow,
To her the fiend, well hoping now success,
330 “ This is thy thread; observe how short the span; And little doth the evil Genius spare His bitter tincture there.” The Maiden saw Calmly. “ Now gaze!” the tempter fiend exclaim'd, And placed again the poniard in her hand, 335 For Superstition, with a burning torch, Approach'd the loom. “ This, Damsel, is thy fate! The hour draws on—now strike the dagger home! Strike now, and be at rest !”
The Maid replied, “ Or to prevent or change the will of Heaven, 340 Impious I strive not: let that will be done!”