Constantia: or, The Man of Law's Tale, Modernized from Chaucer - Part 16

Full many a day, and many a night, forlorn,
Thro' shelves, and rocks, and eddying tempest born,
Thro' drizzling sky, and nightly damp severe,
No fire to warm, no social face to cheer;
On many a meal of tainted viands fed,
The chill blast whistling round her beauteous head;
The pensive Innocence attends her fate,
Amidst surrounding deaths, and storms, sedate.

Ye silken sons of Affluence and Pride!
Whose fortunes roll a soft superfluous tide,
Who yet on visionary wants refine,
And rack'd with false fantastic woes repine;
And ye, whom Penury and sharp Distress,
With bitter, but salubrious medicine, bless —
Behold that sex, whose softness men despise;
Behold a Maid, who might instruct the wise,
Give patience precedent, fierce frenzy 'swage,
And with philosophy new-form the sage!
For her the tides of regal fullness flow'd;
For her oppression heap'd the cumbrous load;
In affluence humble, in misfortune great,
She stands the worst alternatives of fate!

At length, her galley wing'd before the blast,
Swift launching, thro' the straits of Ceuta past;
And winding now before the varying gale,
Tempestuous Auster rends her labouring sail:
Hispania's realm the obsequious vessel coasts;
Now Gallia's surge the Beauteous Burthen boasts;
Till last, Britannia's wave the Charge receives,
And from the Atlantic main, exalting, heaves;
The destined freight with pleased emotion bore,
And gently wafted to Northumbria's shore.

But haply now 'twere obvious to demand,
How borne from Solyma's far-distant land,
Thro' many a clime and strait that might restrain,
The gust of winter, and the whelming main,
Britannia's coast should fix the wandering Maid,
Thro' such a length of devious tracts convey'd?

" Say first, when ships in dizzy whirlwinds wheel,
" Who points the fervour of the amorous steel?
" Wing'd by whose breath the bidden tempests blow?
" Heaved in whose fulness mighty oceans flow?
" Yet what are winds that blow, or seas that roll?
" The globe stupendous, or the poising pole?
" What the seven planets on their axis spun?
" What the wide system of our centering sun?
" A point, an atom, to the ambient space,
" Where worlds on worlds in circling myriads race!
" Yet these the inanimate volution keep,
" And roll eliptic thro' the boundless deep;
" While One H AND weighs the infinite suspense,
" The insensate loads and measures the immense;
" Within, without, thro' height and depth presides;
" With equal arm, the bark, or planet, guides.
" By T HEE uplifted, thro' the pathless skies,
" With conscious plume, the birds of passage rise;
" Thro' T HEE their patent longitude is known,
" The stated climate, and the varying zone.
" T HY W ILL informs the universal plan,
" The ways of Angels, and the ways of man;
" The moral and material world connects,
" Thro' each, S UPREME , both governs and inspects;
" Conducts the blood thro' each arterial round,
" Conducts each system thro' the vast profound:
" One R ULE , the joint, the boundless model forms,
" And the small ant to love of order warms;
" Alike, thro' high, and low, and great, and small,
" Nor aught's mysterious, or mysterious all. "
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