105. Despondency: An Ode
OPPRESS’D with grief, oppress’d with care,
A burden more than I can bear,
I set me down and sigh;
O life! thou art a galling load,
Along a rough, a weary road,
To wretches such as I!
Dim backward as I cast my view,
What sick’ning scenes appear!
What sorrows yet may pierce me through,
Too justly I may fear!
Still caring, despairing,
Must be my bitter doom;
My woes here shall close ne’er
But with the closing tomb!
Happy! ye sons of busy life,
Who, equal to the bustling strife,
No other view regard!
Ev’n when the wished end’s denied,
Yet while the busy means are plied,
They bring their own reward:
Whilst I, a hope-abandon’d wight,
Unfitted with an aim,
Meet ev’ry sad returning night,
And joyless morn the same!
You, bustling, and justling,
Forget each grief and pain;
I, listless, yet restless,
Find ev’ry prospect vain.
How blest the solitary’s lot,
Who, all-forgetting, all forgot,
Within his humble cell,
The cavern, wild with tangling roots,
Sits o’er his newly gather’d fruits,
Beside his crystal well!
Or haply, to his ev’ning thought,
By unfrequented stream,
The ways of men are distant brought,
A faint, collected dream;
While praising, and raising
His thoughts to heav’n on high,
As wand’ring, meand’ring,
He views the solemn sky.
Than I, no lonely hermit plac’d
Where never human footstep trac’d,
Less fit to play the part,
The lucky moment to improve,
And just to stop, and just to move,
With self-respecting art:
But ah! those pleasures, loves, and joys,
Which I too keenly taste,
The solitary can despise,
Can want, and yet be blest!
He needs not, he heeds not,
Or human love or hate;
Whilst I here must cry here
At perfidy ingrate!
O, enviable, early days,
When dancing thoughtless pleasure’s maze,
To care, to guilt unknown!
How ill exchang’d for riper times,
To feel the follies, or the crimes,
Of others, or my own!
Ye tiny elves that guiltless sport,
Like linnets in the bush,
Ye little know the ills ye court,
When manhood is your wish!
The losses, the crosses,
That active man engage;
The fears all, the tears all,
Of dim declining age!