Howeer Dispersed Ye Various Nations Hear
Howe’er dispers’d, ye various nations, hear,
Ye sons of frailty, lend a list’ning ear;
Whether in honours and in wealth ye flow,
Whether immers’d in penury and woe:
Wisdom’s the sacred subject of my song,
Wisdom employs my lyre and tunes my tongue;
Wisdom, to all that hear her, steady friend:
Plain is my parable, if you’ll attend.
Why shou’d the dread of distant want controul
The active vigour of my heav’n-born soul?
Why forfeit I my claim to future bliss
By anxious cares for earthly happiness?
They, who in purple and in gold are drest,
Of honours and of opulence possest,
With wealth, with pow’r elate, when dies the friend,
Whom they with joy wou’d to the shades attend;
Him by their gold, their honours, can they save,
Can they redeem him from the greedy grave?
Ah no; no wealth the parting soul can stay,
That from the sinking body fleets away.
Inexorable death the bribe rejects;
Nor pray’rs, nor tears, nor ransom, he respects;
He views their proffer’d, gilded bait, with scorn,
And bluntly tells them, there is no return.
The wise, the foolish, feel alike his pow’r,
While thankless heirs possess their shining store:
Vainly they think, the lofty domes they raise,
Will spread their honours e’en to after-days,
Their large possessions will retain their name,
And fair-enrol them in the lists of fame.
Alas! when once they die, when once no more,
Soon are forgot their name, their wealth, their pow’r.
Yet still like folly to their race extends;
From family to family descends.
As the fierce wolf devours his fleecy prey,
Feeds on them death, and finishes their day;
And while bright hours, that never have an end,
And shining prospects righteous souls attend;
Weak feeble age their beauty shall consume,
And sink their honours in the mould’ring tomb.
But me redeems my Saviour from the grave;
Me to himself, to glory, he’ll receive:
Nor thou repine, when one of low estate,
By fortune favour’d, fuddenly grows great.
What shall attend him, when he comes to die?
See, his unfaithful honours from him fly:
Tho’, while he liv’d, he ev’ry good enjoy’d,
And flow’d in pleasures, till his soul was cloy’d;
Tho’ he to others shew’d the tempting way,
And bad them, like himself, be ever gay;
When to his fathers he descends below,
To those black scenes of wretchedness and woe,
Where not one glad’ning ray his soul revives,
He then his mad prepost’rous folly grieves.
For man, of honours and of wealth possest,
If not with wisdom’s sacred influence blest;
Not nobler than a bestial can be thought,
And, like a bestial, will at length be nought.