Clement Clark Moore's Poetry
Clement Clark Moore
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Dread pestilence hath now fled far away;
And life and health, once more, around us play;
The din of commerce spreads from street to street;
And parted friends with new warm'd friendship meet.
Now many-colour'd nymphs, in noon-tide rows,
To gazing eyes fresh-gather'd charms disclose.
Welcome! all welcome to your wish'd abodes:
But chiefly you who, skill'd in pleasure's modes,
Forbid your thoughts on humbler themes to dwell,
Receive the welcome of a veteran belle
Whose heart's now dancing at the visions bright
Of high exploits that play in fancy's sight.
Now haste we to our winter's lov'd campaign,
Arm'd for the glorious contests we maintain;
For wars with all the rules grave matron's teach,
Cold casuists applaud, or parsons preach.
Courage! dear friends; our cause shall yet prevail.
But there are notions, hatch'd from doctrines stale,
'Gainst which 'twere well your valorous souls to guard;
For trifles oft e'en conquerors retard.
We're told by moralists and dull divines
That no pursuit becomes us which confines
Our highest wishes to mere sensual joys,
And thought of dread futurity destroys.
They hold it not, indeed, true wisdom's part
To wear grief's impress ever in the heart;
But deem the oblivious temper of our mind
For noble purposes by Heaven design'd;
To aid mortality beneath the weight
Of evils which oppress our tottering state;
To check despair, and give our reason play;
Reason, which calls from anxious cares away,
And teaches to behold, with minds serene,
The joys and ills that crowd life's motley scene.
Try now this antique stuff by reason's test.
All science and all rules of action rest
On few clear principles assum'd as true.
The rule we, frolic's children, keep in view
Is this plain truth, whence all true precepts flow;
Pleasure's the worthiest object man can know.
Not pleasure felt by intellect alone;
Nor dreams of bliss in distant prospect shown;
But solid pleasure, present and secure;
All that can flatter passion, sense allure.
Let no vain fears this golden maxim hide,
But let heart-chilling laws by this be tried;
Then mark how emptily those croakers prate
Of what beseems our frail inconstant state.
Our frailty well we know; and 'tis for this
We should forget futurity's abyss,
And snatch from ruthless Time each proffered joy.
Shall we, like drowsy dotards, e'er destroy
Our blissful sports by thought? of ills the worst
With which humanity by Heaven is curst?
Thought! which forever tells some hateful truth;
Says, wintry age must chill the glow of youth;
To towering strength decrepitude foretells,
And wrinkles to the cheek where beauty dwells?
Drive, drive the fiend forever from your breasts;
On thoughtlessness alone your pleasure rests.
We late, you know, were chas'd by panic fears:
'Tis then but just to claim the due arrears
Of pleasure thus detain'd, and to our store
Of present joys add those withheld before.
Let listless drones serenity approve;
In no dull medium let us deign to move.
Society is like a running wheel;
All parts the same progressive impulse feel;
And yet, towards happiness, the general end,
These various parts with different motions tend.
Calm conscientious minds the centre hold;
While we are in the swift circumference roll'd.
Those at the centre keep an even way;
We in eccentric movements round them play.
In quick vicissitudes we're whirl'd around;
Now rais'd on high, now low upon the ground.
We spurn the safe unchanging course they keep;
And, while they calmly take their central sleep,
We rush like wind, we make the sparkles fly;
We raise the dust, and plunge through wet and dry;
We splash the folk, and make the world all know
Our rattling shall be heard where'er we go.
"Enough of argument;" I hear you cry,
"Where pleasure calls we'll like the lightning fly.
"Come then, ye lofty favorers of the dance
And splendid feast, whom fortune's gifts advance
To eminence in Fashion's wide domain;
Whose bright example leads a mimic train,
With eager steps, your flowery paths to tread;
Whose ire all deprecate with deeper dread
Than wrath of Heav'n; for how can Heav'n assist
The heart that mourns an invitation miss'd?
Come forth with all your gay munificence,
And teach mankind that true pre-eminence,
True dignity, from outward grandeur springs;
That they rise highest in the scale of things
At whose command the guests most numerous throng;
Whose halls ring oftenest with the dance and song;
Who Nature's ill-fram'd laws most boldly slight;
Convert the night to day, and day to night;
Decrepitude in youthful sports engage;
And teach to youth the confidence of age.
"To arms! ye ever-ready belles, to arms!
Arouse! ye gallant beaux, at Fashion's call.
She, to excuse you from the feast or ball,
Will heed no specious plea by sloth alleg'd.
And chiefly you, ye beaux with chins unfledg'd,
Who wisely quit your Algebra and Greek,
True honor in our well-throng'd school to seek,
Now quickly muster all your hopeful band,
Train'd by our care, the glory of the land.
How bright ye shine beyond those awkward clowns
Who care for none but their preceptor's frowns;
Who heed their noisy sports and cross-grain'd books
More than the fairest fair-one's sweetest looks.
"Men are too oft by this persuasion led;
That care is due supremely to the head.
But you, ne'er let your learned feet forget
Their chassez, pigeon-wing and pirouette;
And let mankind by your example know,
The head's no worthier member than the toe.
"Ye tawny minstrels; wake your viols sweet
Whose measures guide our lightly tripping feet.
Our life, depriv'd of you, were worse than death.
Your heavenly notes are pleasure's vital breath.
How oft does gloom the crowded hall pervade:
In vain the hostess smiles, the beaux upbraid;
The whispering murmurs rise, the gape goes round;
Decorum's self in weariness is drown'd.
But let your magic string's approaching twang
Be heard, and feast of Comus sure ne'er rang
With keener ecstacy and mirth more loud
Than burst tumultuous from the wakening crowd.
Thus, when some bark's becalm'd upon the deep,
The listless passengers lie press'd with sleep
And lassitude; the moments scarce creep by;
And Sol seems weary as he climbs the sky.
But, when the skilful mariner foresees,
By tokens sure, a fair approaching breeze,
Then instant life appears in every part;
All spring alert, for joy fills every heart;
With various notes the coming breeze they hail;
Strain every rope, and set each swelling sail.
"Ye powers of sport! I'm madden'd with delight
By visions flying round, as meteors bright.
Cotillions, concerts, fiddlers, mirth's whole train
Of countless joys, rush wildly through my brain.
Oh! may the phrenzy catch from soul to soul;
May all who now own sober law's control
Acknowledge law mere breath, mere ink and paper,
And starch morality not worth a caper."


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