Winter Thoughts by Thomson

Letter A.

Ah! little think the gay licentious proud,

Whom pleasure, pow'r, and affluence surround—

They who their thoughtless hours in giddy mirth,

And wanton, often cruel, riot waste;

Ah! little think they, while they dance along

How many feel this very moment death,

And all the sad variety of pain:

How many sink in the devouring flood,

Or more devouring flame! how many bleed

By shameful variance betwixt man and man!

How many pine in want and dungeon glooms,

Shut from the common air, and common use

Of their own limbs! how many drink the cup

Of baleful grief, or eat the bitter bread

Of misery! Sore pierced by wintry winds,

How many shrink into the sordid hut

Of cheerless poverty! How many shake

With all the fiercer tortures of the mind,

Unbounded passion, madness, guilt, remorse,

Whence tumbled headlong from the height of life,

They furnish matter for the Tragic Muse!

Even in the vale where Wisdom loves to dwell,

With Friendship, Peace, and Contemplation join'd,

How many, rack'd with honest passions, droop

In deep retired distress. How many stand

Around the death-bed of their dearest friends,

And point the parting anguish! Thought fond man

Of these, and all the thousand nameless ills,

That one incessant struggle render life—

One scene of toil, of suffering, and of fate,

Vice in its high career would stand appall'd,

And heedless, rambling impulse learn to think;

The conscious heart of Charity would warm,

And her wide wish Benevolence dilate;

The social tear would rise, the social sigh,

And into clear perfection gradual bliss,

Refining still, the social passions work.