For the Winter Solstice, December 11, 1740


Now to the utmost southern goal
The sun has trac'd his annual way,
And backward now prepares to roll,
And bless the north with earlier day.
Prone on Potosi's lofty brow
Floods of sublimer splendour flow,
Ripening the latent seeds of gold,
Whilst, panting in the lonely shade,
Th' afflicted Indian hides his head,
Nor dares the blaze of noon behold.

But lo! on this deserted coast
How faint the light, how chill the air!
Lo! arm'd with whirlwind, hail, and frost,
Fierce Winter desolates the year.
The fields resign their cheerful bloom,
No more the breezes breathe perfume,
No more the warbling waters roll;
Deserts of snow fatigue the eye,
Successive tempests bloat the sky,
And gloomy damps oppress the soul.

But let my drooping genius rise,
And hail the sun's remotest ray:
Now, now he climbs the northern skies,
To-morrow nearer than to-day.
Then louder howl the stormy waste,
Be land or ocean worse defac'd,
Yet brighter hours are on the wing,
And Fancy, through the wintry gloom,
Radiant with dews and flowers in bloom,
Already hails th' emerging spring.

O fountain of the golden day!
Could mortal vows but urge thy speed,
How soon before thy vernal ray
Should each unkindly damp recede!
How soon each tempest hovering fly,
That now fermenting loads the sky,
Prompt on our heads to burst amain,
To rend the forest from the steep,
And thundering o'er the Baltic deep,
To whelm the merchant's hopes of gain!

But let not man's imperfect views
Presume to tax wise Nature's laws;
'Tis his with silent joy to use
Th' indulgence of the Sovereign Cause;
Secure that from the whole of things
Beauty and good consummate springs
Beyond what he can reach to know,
And that the providence of Heaven
Has some peculiar blessing given
To each allotted state below.

Even now how sweet the wintry night
Spent with the old illustrious dead!
While by the taper's trembling light,
I seem those awful courts to tread,
Where chiefs and legislators lie,
Whose triumphs move before my eye,
With every laurel fresh display'd;
While charm'd I rove in classic song,
Or bend to freedom's fearless tongue,
Or walk the academic shade.
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