'To Immagination'* 

Stay sleepless guest! aieriel trav'ler stay;
Now e'er the full invigorating ray
Spreads from the East, where beaming glories rise;
And dart refulgent up the vaulted skies.
Whilst thus the muse her morning incence brings,
Suspend one moment here thine outstretch'd wings;
Thus I invoke thee {and fair} thus thy course would bend
To Lands to Objects, that so sweetly lend
The pow'rfull charm that human ills can cure,
Oil to my labour, adoration pure;
The soul of {to} every joy the eye can trace
O'er mountains, seas, sublimity and space;
The eye of those, (o priviledge divine,)
Of those whom Fortune always favours, but not mine,
Yet Fortune's favours still would I despise,
Save those that teach me to be good and wise
Thou scorner of the prison, airy pow'r;
To thee then I appeal; in hallow'd hour.
Mount through the regions of the whistling wind,
Go, leave the loit'rer lightning far behind
O'er the tall streamer'd mast on Ocean's beam
Stretch on thy cloudless way, and lightly scim
O'er Chili's hills, Peru's enchanting groves,
Scenes that unfetter'd fancy dearly loves;
O'er woodland coverts, Mountains, Floods be bold,
Thy garb's not warlike, nor thine errand gold.
Arising bid the haunts of Man adieu,
Nature's magnificence invites thy view;
O'er half-till'd regions speed thy ceaseless flight,
Outstrip the weary trav'lers bounded sight;
Excursive bid luxuriant plains receed,
Be gay variety thy glorious meed;
Then, in the Forest dale in days full prime
Measure the serpents folds, and see him climb;
Where each diclevity, or, slop'd at ease
Proud of its burthen, waving Forest trees;
Or, more abbrupt in brown or vivid green,
Shall crown with glory the romantick scene.
Ten thousand hues here vegitation spreads,
Unnumber'd colours flutter through the glades,
Here shrub-grown caves exclude the joyous beams,
There Hill and Dale resound the parrots screams;
And tempting fruits the parting boughs unfold,
Hung in the fervid ray like pendant gold.
The Streams before thee, circling round the Hill,
Swell'd from a spouting snow engendered rill;
Thither haste thou, hang o'er the winding flood
Where oft the branchless graybeard of the wood,
Decending quits his native Forests brave,
And diving meets the broad pacific wave.
If bold primeaval features mark each shore,
If promontorys droop their honnours o'er,
Where sink the curlings of the infant wave,
And the stream issues slow as from a cave,
If dark untrodden Wood extends forlorn;
Or sunscorch'd Rock's obdurate front upborne,
If sounding Cataract, or desert drear,
Close every vista of thy wild career,
Go on; pass every point, thy destin'd way
Perue [sic], and upland prospects still survey,
Till the stream lessens and the air grows cold,
Then sweet the downward regions to behold,
Then horizontal flight, the peacefull dell,
Then flowrs, and fruits, and Woods, and Streams farewell.
Above the wilderness outstrettching wide,
Here ranging steeps behind each other hide,
And speak the base of some stupendous pile,
That even Spring arrays not with a smile;
Whose everlasting Winter stoops thus far,
And pelts the Mountain shrub with ratling war,
Or spreads his new form'd snows light hov'ring down,
Or shakes the poud'ring hoar-frost from his crown
Mark but yon peak! Where human foot n'er trod!
Nor willing knee e'er bowed to Nature's God,
Whose load recumbent waining Winters leave,
Whos excavated sides the whirlwinds brave;
Stand firm! 'twas but its crown of ice gave way,
And crashing, choak'd the tempest's destin'd way.
Ascend its brown, in triumph of thy pow'r;
What tho' accumulating horrors lowr!
Tis thine to gain the bleak aieriel height,
O'er wind-swep'd Clifts, where clouds indignant smite
Your steadfast sides, ye venerable hills;
Ye that attract, then turn them into rills.
For what impeeds Immagination's course?
Why raves the storm with unavailing force,?
Mount through the labouring foggs that upward sweep,
Emerge, as from the bosom of the deep;
While round the congregated vapours run,
Meet thou the glories of a cloudless sun;
The mighty Cordeleras vanquished lie,
Earth's utmost effort to approach the sky,
Whose towring tops o'er many a rude retreat,
Oer Nations basking in December's heat,
Through thine own track of liquid space on high,
To either Ocean guide thy piercing eye.
Or, down, should sev'ring clouds awhile give way,
And readmitt to Earth the beaming day,
Down on the giant hills that heave below,
And to superior elevations bow.
Though consternation seizes e'en the just,
When your foundations tremble, and to dust
Your huge projections tumble from on
Often an huge projection tumbling roars;
Though Towns may sink, and Ocean sweep your shoars;
Though on Time's brow such dreadfull ills still hang,
Far greater ills from your dark bosoms sprang
Beneath your loads with radiant tints that glow,
Your glittring masses of eternal snow;
Deep lodg'd, your perfrosted entrals hold
Exhaustless treasures, hoards of shining gold;
Where, grov'ling in the earth with anguish torn,
The native masters of the soil have borne
From age to age, with never-ceasing pain,
The conqueror's lash, and toil'd for others gain.
The driver sleeps, erect the Indian stands
And sighs fateagued; erect his eye, his hands;
From the Mine's mouth truth mounts upon the wind,
Yet outweighs all the trash she leaves behind.
'O Liberty, O peace, renown, all fled,!
'O country dear thine energy is dead;
'Dishonourd shades,! O violated groves;
Once dear to many friendships, Virgin loves;
Extinct the fire that led our hosts to fame,
Yet glory's sons survive, survive their shame;
We, who at dayspring's teeming hour adored
The life-dispensing Orb again restor'd;
Beheld that face in each reflecting flood,
That gladst the world, and ripens all its food;
We, of all men, the oppressor and oppress'd,
Least feel his beams, with vital air unbless'd.
Ye Mountains holding darkness oer mine head,
What though ye crush me while I speak, and ye led
Hither that stranger slav'ry link'd with woe;
Your high heads whispering wealth, intic'd the foe;
Your wealth, unconscious of their scenes of blood,
Gilding the warriors dreams, still foremost stood;
Still onward urged the great momentous hour,
And gave Ambition's sword a double pow'r;
Till sunk repelling arms no more to rise,
And every plain ye shade became their prize.
Ye are the idols of our Christian foes;
Our race their scorn, amidst unregarded woes;
We, whilst we labouring bid an attom fall,
Forge chains our children's children to enthrall;
And make like mine, their lamentations rise
From height to height in murmurs to the skies?
Heard thou, high climbing o'er the mourner's head,
Thou, who at dawn my soul to raptures led,?
Heard misery's accents fly to grace divine,?
Thou didst, and gave them wings; what more is thine?
Whilst thus thou soar'st beyond the Eagle's flight,
Through frozen rigeons, and unclouded light;
Above earth's dread, the loud conflicting storm,
Count, if thou canst how many summits form
The wondrous chain; from where they southward rise,
Till northward they salute meridian skies;
Perchance a fair exalted spring thou'lt find,
Where the Rocks echo to the whistling whispering wind,
Here hush'd to peace; and bowing to the earth,
For here the king of Rivers has his birth;
Whose farthest trav'ling drops here seek the plain,
The weariest pilgrims to the hallow'd main;
Here first his infant stream unsullied hides
Beneath deep shades that climb the Mountains sides;
And thence invite thee down, with promise fair,
Of scenes romantick and a balmy air.
Come then as when the Lark his pinions close,
Here on the margin of the Brook repose;
Quit heights etherial, quit the piercing day,
Silence shall greet thee, flow'rs shall paint thy way.
Through fruitfull climes that own the burning year,
Their shades how solemn! and the stream how clear!
The stream, where Orilanna's ventrous crew
Saw regions unexplor'd, and Rivers new;
Whose daring Bark brav'd dangers and fateagues,
And ran the windings of a thousand leagues.
O loiter oer the charms each scene supply,
And to my soul bring home the empassion'd sigh;
Dwell on the airy steep, the flow'r fresh blown;
Dart o'er the prospects wild there open thrown,
Woods, where the echoing Axe was never heard;
Nor Man e'er proudly said, with hand uprear'd,
Thy course thou silver current shall be here;
Grow there dark Forest; be that Valley clear;
But sweeping Vales, and jutting hills that lie
Approaching or receeding from the eye,
August and striking cloath'd in smile or frown,
Nature's triumphant glories are their own.
To him obsequeous, unrival'd flood;
Who through thy peopled labarinth of wood,
From the cold bosom of the melting snow,
First taught thee where to spring, and where to flow;
How shrink European streams, how droop their pride;
Thames, Shannon, Loire, are rivulets by thy side;
Thou thus augmented spreads't thy mighty bounds,
Here, many a mile of deep morass surrounds;
There, pressed by meeting heights and roaring loud,
The Tawny Nations, of thy fury proud
Sport on thy banks; now sever'd wider still,
They worship nightly on the rising hill
(While flash the lightnings and the gale loud roars)
The unseen genius of your sounding shoars.
Hark! the wild hunter hallo's to his love,
And doubling echos o'er the waters rove;
His taper'd lance and well-strung bow he stands on high,
Courage and conscious manhood in his eye;
She hears; and answering shrill, with plumy pride
Gains the green emminence, the Forest's side;
And joys to meet beneath the spreading wood,
Him whose bold arm supplies their Hutt with food;
Who thus exulting owns his native land,
Oer half a Kingdom pointing with his hand.
'To yon blue hills we chased the bleeding game;
'The valleys thunder'd where the hunters came,
'We saw before us foaming waters flee,
'Lo! gasping here these stores I bring to thee.
Tis his abroad the neighbouring wilds to roam,
The unreflecting lordling of his home;
Restraint disdaining, nature only heeds;
Caprice rules all his unaccounted deeds;
Tenacious of his power, power all his own;
Revenge unchaind; judicial right unknown;
His scene of freedom, (fearless of the floods,)
The range of unappropriated woods;
Their tennants his, by cunning, prowis, toil;
His the spontaneous produce of the soil;
His, oer his warlike boundr'y ample brim,
That playfull flutter, or that silent swim;
Where with firm step, and eye indignant seen,
With Amazonian hardiness of mein,
The Female lifts the shield, disdaining fear,
And grasps by turns her infant and her spear.
Still journeying on, by day his bosom bright
With many a keel, his sedgy coves by night
Their wellscreen'd haven, or, where banks o'erwhelm,
The foaming current flows from realm to realm,
Encreasing still; for every Valley brings
A christial tribute, from its unknown springs.
His shoars estrang'd, hear not each other's roar,
Vales, Rocks, and Woods, confronting greet no more;
But midway, scatter'd Islands intervene,
That rich in Nature's pomp, for ever seen;
Resist with pointed Rock abbrupt and strong,
Its weight of waters as they roll along.
Till all obstructions, windings, bound'rys, past;
Th'astonished Ocean knows his pow'r at last;
Still further, further launching from the shoar,
His far-felt current bears a foam before;
The distant waves the curving deluge feel,
And roar in unison a ceaseless peal.
Creating power,! sweet florist of the mind,
Who leav'st at will the flying land behind,
Thou, whom I supplicate for blissfull tastes
Of genuine nature in the boundless wastes;
Light hov'ring here upon the dying breeze,
Wilt range the sultry Caribbean seas;?
Oer golden groves and every lesser charm,
Where Earth, by labour's wonder-working arm
Her treasures opening, puts forth all her pow'rs,
And teems abundant through her scorching hours.
But what within my swelling bosom beats,
That thou disgusted quit'st the promis'd sweets?
Who loves not shades? yet o'er the widespread lawn,
When in straight lines each darkning shadows drawn,
The changeless prospect falls upon the eye,
And the heart sickens for variety.
Though verdure springs and blooms the moisten'd flow'r
With wing unjoyous flies the tasteless hour:
Shut from unstudied shades and grace divine,
Mourn we an hour, the shackles of design,?
Glance but thine eye across th'Atlantic wave,
The Negro's mourning ends but in the grave.
Hope, like a budless stem, from day to day
No tempting fruits lets fall, to chear his way;
The miserable future to his eyes
No beck'ning smiles display, no half shewn prize;
But heavy on him hangs that close-link'd chain,
That gloomy perpetuity of pain,
That worst of ills amidst a wretched whole,
That death of Genius, dead weight on the soul,
Labour without reward. Poor injur'd race!
While the drops trickle from each shining face,
Boast of your native plains; your doughty scars;
Your wand'ring Fathers; homicidal wars;
What light they have they use, a boast so high,
Dare your oppressors to themselves apply?
But what avails when avarice holds a bar,
Truth's inspiration;? pitty's wordy war?
Most unavailing mine. To kinder skies
Then claimant of my vagrant song arise;
Let the deep-freighted Barks white canvass swell,
Bid culture's pride, and spicy gales farewell;
Quit the gay fields that whips and bondage till,
In rout circuitous gather raptures still.
Wouldst thou at once unnerving languour fly?
The North lifts up its wonders to thine eye;
Lifts up exulting in more healthfull beams,
A watry waste of interchanging streams;
Shoars, where wild Bees the blossom's nectre drain,
Shoars lash'd by waves, though strangers to the main;
Where great Ontario and his kindred floods,
Roar to their vast interminable woods.
How will thou grasp the complicated scene,
The bold terrific, and the gay serene?
How, leave the mosses of the Forest ground,
The chafing bough's shrill intermitting sound;
The gloomy darkness leave, and rising meet
Loud thunders, that for ever, ever greet
The listning ear,? and in long dying peals
Ride Winter's biting breath, and Summers gales.?
No vengfull Hurricane the forest sweeps,
No cloud electric bursting oer the deeps,
Would'st thou advent'res chase the awful sound,
O'er Erie's waters wing thy dubious round;
Whose overflowing will arrest thy course,
Claim all thy speed, and more than all thy force.
And O benignant comforter arise,
That glads the musing eye and light'st the skies;
Moon, lift thy face above the Hills and Streams,
And glance abroad thy peace-inspiring beams,
Sweet on the grey-worn Rock, and stooping Tree;
Though here the rushing stream reflects not thee;
A tumult of unfinish'd shades preside
O'er the sloped current, furious and wide,
Resistless sweeping, and with surges hoarse,
Still gathering tenfold vengance in its course,
Its rugged bed tosses the foam on shoar,
Till the scoop'd Rock supports its weight no more.
Tis thense eternal thunder strikes the Hills,
The Lakes repeat it, and the creeping rills
From forest labarinths lift the sound again,
And great St Laurence rolls it to the main.
Hung on the breese the new form'd vapours press,
O'er horror's indescribable recess;
Inchanting horrors! many a heart ye've warm'd,
For beauty cloth'd thee when the Rocks were form'd;
The foam first taught to rise, in Nature's prime,
When greatness in the infancy of time
Language defied; when bellowing depths and heights
Defy'd Immagination's bolder flights;
And spoke through future times revolving hour,
'Thee we deride, and mock the pencil's pow'r.'
Though foild, a friendly vision in thy train,
With golden promise chears my heart again;
The nights solemnity alone were dear,
But more than mortal sounds salute mine ear,
As from the starry sky their native home,
Lo! radiant spirits crown'd with glory come.
Their Harps gigantic peacefull blue shews fair,
Through the wide fields of unobstructed air;
Each clouds mountainous brow is lightly press'd,
The bright illumm'd clouds that breezeless rest;
Their Harps they sweep, and bid the Nations rouse;
Man the strong impulse feels, and prostrate bows,
And crouds each glittring strand and Beech-clad Hill,
Or, where pale rays the wood's green openings fill
Great Niagara thundring greets the throng,
Invites to praise and bears aloft the song.
Nations, from yet unalienated lands,
Hail the mild lustre with uplifted hands;
Expiring Nations in a remnant seen,
By moonlight waters tread the shadowy green;
Whose great forefathers wore a martial frown,
And call'd the land of wonders all their own,
Till dear to Science, Wisdom's solar ray,
The all-exploring Needle chased away
The terrors of the watry world; and join'd
The sea-devided shoars, and taught mankind
A more devotional and purer praise;
And preach'd the living God a thousand ways.
But see! benignly mild the trembling light
Brightens the Forest's crown, enchanting sight!
Th'unloaded breath of Heav'n flies lightly o'er,
And human faces ranged on every shoar,
On the Moon gazing, or the rippling Lake;
The sweet expectancy of transport speak.
And now the airy symphony descends,
And every branch with whispring homage bends;
Note softning note, articulated praise
The silver'd folliage strikes, where echo plays;
Now loud, now soft, the dying cadence sweeps;
O'er peacefull and precipitated deeps.—
'Earth to thy clouds from whence we view thy face
'In lunar radiance deck'd and heav'nly grace,
'Thou giv'st not, (though miredian fruits may shine,)
'In all their ample round scenes more divine.
'Hail holy teachers! still your powers employ,
'Still rouse the stranger into shouts of joy;
'Hail brineless seas! o'er timeworn Rocks released,
'Still spread abroad the soul's delicious feast;
'(Whither by ear imbibed or roving eye)
'Astonishment, of mortal joys most high.
'To him, who spoke and light and glory shone;
'Who poised a thousand worlds beneath his throne;
'Who bade the vivifying Sun arise,
'Your Sun prolific, and your azure skies;
'And, emblem mild of Mercy's gratefull streams,
'This neighbouring Orb, reflector of his beams;
'To him, who here, upon your fruitfull ball
'These traits of greatness from his hand let fall;
'Who gave the wand'ring world in hallow'd hour
'Those feeble glim'rings of his mighty power,
'Ye Nations let your chorus mount on high,
'His glory be the theme; let echo fly.'
And hark! exulting myriads rejoin,
'Let echo fly,' the glory all be thine;
And scarce thy praise, when from the wilds around
Responsive howlings through the air resound;
Again the Nations shout, the forests howl,
Th'Angelic choir their growing fervours roll;
Yet still distinctly heard, oerwhelming strong
The Earth's responses and the Angels song,
The Cataract pours forth to every shoar,
Its dreadfull bass, its unsuspended roar.
O incence pure on meditation's shrine,
Gush forth, and let me taste of bliss divine;
Haste, let me triumph over mortal pains;
Gush forth ye tears;! why hold my soul in chains,
Fast drop ye pearls, still faster, still abound;
Speech of the soul, that never dwelt in sound,
Tis rapture all. Yet ardent mounting high,
To prostrate worlds, to Immortality;
Through the bright realms of everlasting day
'Immagination, thou still lead'st the way;
But spare me jaded from thy daring flights;
Domestick peace, connubial love invites;
I yield; while Hope, bright Saraph, whispring soft,
Pours her rich balm and points her hand aloft;
'When times last thread shall snap, the world decay,
'And dark oblivion sweep thy name away,
'Thou'lt wake upon a shoar where no flow'r fades;
'Where Cherub wings shall spread their purple shades;
'Thou'lt wake to sing again (O promise high)
'Where song shall flourish, rapture never die;
'Enlarged capacities, a nobler fire
'Shall animate the Millions in their quoir;
'Till Heav'n resounds, and flaming thrones reply,
'His glory be the theme, let echo fly.'

Hunington, May 11 – 1800

* Text from BL Add. MS 30809, ff. 1–7; 'Market Night' follows on ff. 8–9, on the same paper—same pen & ink, [n.d.] BACK