Midnight Thoughts by Young

Letter T.

Thou, who didst put to flight

Primeval silence, when the morning stars,

Exulting, shouted o'er the rising ball:

O Thou! whose word from solid darkness struck

That spark, the sun, strike wisdom from my soul;

My soul which flies to thee, her trust her treasure,

As misers to their gold, while others rest:

Through this opaque of nature and of soul,

This double night, transmit one pitying ray,

To lighten and to cheer. Oh, lead my mind,

(A mind that fain would wander from its woe,)

Lead it through various scenes of life and death,

And from each scene the noblest truths inspire.

Nor less inspire my conduct, than my song;

Teach my best reason, reason; my best will

Teach rectitude; and fix my firm resolve

Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear;

Nor let the phial of thy vengeance, pour'd

On this devoted head, be pour'd in vain.

The bell strikes One. We take no note of time

But from its loss; to give it then a tongue

Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,

I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright,

It is the knell of my departed hours.

Where are they? with the years beyond the flood!

It is the signal that demands dispatch:

How much is to be done! My hopes and fears

Start up alarm'd, and o'er life's narrow verge

Look down—on what? A fathomless abyss!

A dread eternity! How surely mine!

And can eternity belong to me,

Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?

How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,

How complicate, how wonderful is man!

How passing wonder He who made him such!

Who center'd in our make such strange extremes—

From different natures, marvellously mix'd:

Connexion exquisite! of distant worlds

Distinguish'd link in being's endless chain!

Midway from nothing to the Deity;

A beam ethereal—sullied and absorpt!

Though sullied and dishonour'd, still divine!

Dim miniature of greatness absolute!

An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!

Helpless immortal! insect infinite!

A worm! a god! I tremble at myself,

And in myself am lost. At home a stranger.

Thought wanders up and down, surprised, aghast,

And wondering at her own. How reason reels!

Oh, what a miracle to man is man!

Triumphantly distress'd! what joy! what dread

Alternately transported and alarm'd!

What can preserve my life, or what destroy?

An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;

Legions of angels can't confine me there.

'Tis past conjecture; all things rise in proof.

While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread,

What though my soul fantastic measures trod

O'er fairy fields, or mourn'd along the gloom

Of pathless woods, or down the craggy steep

Hurl'd headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool,

Or scaled the cliff, or danced on hollow winds

With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain!

Her ceaseless flight, though devious, speaks her nature

Of subtler essence than the trodden clod:

Active, aerial, towering, unconfined,

Unfetter'd with her gross companion's fall.

Even silent night proclaims my soul immortal:

Even silent night proclaims eternal day!

For human weal Heaven husbands all events;

Dull sleep instructs, nor sport vain dreams in vain.