Ode to Religion

Daughter of Heaven! whose tender eye
Bends from thy throne of light above,
And in the wounds of misery
Distils the healing tears of love;
Clad in the spotless robes of day,
Thou clear'st the moral night away,
And at thy touch dispersive roll
The dark, impervious clouds, that shroud the guilty soul.

Along the vale of death and pain,
In sable weeds, a band appears;
Around them fly a horrent train
Of sharp regrets and boding fears;
O'er flinty paths their way they wind,
And leave their track in blood behind;
Remembrance has no light to cheer,
And dim, through lowering clouds, the beams of hope appear.

They backward look on early flowers,
On buds of bliss and dews of joy:
How few, how fleeting, were those hours!
They flattered only to destroy:
Amid the woven blossoms rose
The gloomy forms of real woes,
And Disappointment backward threw,
With cold, repulsive hand, the eager-hastening crew.

With bounding heart and burning soul
With look elate, and eye of fire,
Youth hurried from the lifted goal,
Impelled by glory, love, desire:
Before him shone the dazzling prize,—
Hope flashed exulting from his eyes;
He stretched his hand,—Despair, with thrilling scream,
Repelled his grasp, and broke his gilded dream.

Celestial maid! thy mellow light
Can pierce the clouds that round us lower,
And pour upon the drooping sight
From Heaven the soul-enkindling shower;
And as the soft-distilling rain
Enlivens all the thirsty plain,
Thy drops of love awake the heart,
And heal the festering wounds of sorrow's venomed dart.

O come! and on me kindly lay
The mantle of thy loveliness,
And all my errors wash away
In the pure fountain of thy grace;
And when I weep o'er joys gone by,
And view the past with wishful eye,
Be thine to lift my sinking soul,
And guide my wearied steps to Heaven's eternal goal.
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