What sovereign good shall satiate man's desires,
Propell'd by Hope's unconquerable fires?
Vain each bright bauble by ambition prized;
Unwon, 'tis worshipp'd--but possess'd, despised.
Yet all defect with virtue shines allied,
His mightiest impulse genius owes to pride.
From conquer'd science graced with glorious spoils,
He still dares on, demands sublimer toils;
And, had not Nature check'd his vent'rous wing,
His eye had pierced her at her primal spring.
Thus when, enwrapt, Prometheus strove to trace
Inspired perceptions of celestial grace,
Th' ideal spirit, fugitive as wind,
Art's forceful spells in adamant confined:
Curved with nice chisel floats the obsequious line;
From stone unconscious, beauty beams divine;
On magic poised, th' exulting structure swims,
And spurns attraction with elastic limbs.
While ravish'd fancy vivifies the form;
While judgment toils to analyze its charm;
While admiration spreads her speaking hands;
The lofty artist undelighted stands.
He longs to ravish from the bless'd abodes
The seal of heaven, the attribute of gods;
To give his labour more than man can give,
Breathe Jove's own breath, and bid the marble live!
Won from her woof, embellishing the skies,
Descending, Pallas soothes her vot'ry's sighs,
Where, 'midst the twilight of o'er-arching groves,
By waking visions led, th' enthusiast roves;
Like summer suns, by showery clouds conceal'd,
With sudden blaze the goddess shines reveal'd:
Behold, she cries, in thy distinguished cause
I challenge Jove's inexorable laws!
With life-stol'n essence let th' awaken'd stone
A super-human generation own.
Defrauded nature shall admire the deed,
And time recoil at thy immortal meed.
Impregn'd with action, and convoked to breathe,
Sighs the still form his ardent hands beneath;
Electric lustres flash from either eve,
O'er its pale cheeks suffusive flushes fly,
And glossy damps its clust'ring curls adorn,
Like dew-drops bright'ning on the brows of morn.
Through nerves that vibrate in unfolding chains,
Foams the warm life-blood, excavating veins;
'Till all infused, and organized the whole,
The finish'd fabric hails the breathing soul!
Then waked tumultuous in th' alarmed breast,
Contending passions claim th' etherial guest;
And still, as each alternate empire proves,
She hopes, she fears, she envies, and she loves;
Owns all sensations that deride the span,
And eternize the little life of man!