It must be so,Plato, thou reasonest well! Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire, This longing after immortality? Or whence this secret dread and inward horror Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul Back on herself, and startles at destruction? T is the divinity that stirs within us; T is Heaven itself that points out an hereafter, And intimates eternity to man. Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
I m weary of conjectures,this must end em. Thus am I doubly armed: my death and life, My bane and antidote, are both before me: This in a moment brings me to an end; But this informs me I shall never die. The soul, secured in her existence, smiles At the drawn dagger, and defies its point. The stars shall fade away, the sun himself Grow dim with age, and Nature sink in years; But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,2 Unhurt amidst the war of elements, The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds.
Soon as the evening shades prevail, The moon takes up the wondrous tale, And nightly to the listening earth Repeats the story of her birth; While all the stars that round her burn, And all the planets in their turn, Confirm the tidings as they roll, And spread the truth from pole to pole.
Note 1. Give me, kind Heaven, a private station, A mind serene for contemplation! Title and profit I resign; The pot of honour shall be mine. John Gay: Fables, Part ii. The Vulture, the Sparrow, and other Birds. [back]
Note 2. Smiling always with a never fading serenity of countenance, and flourishing in an immortal youth.Isaac Barrow (16301677): Duty of Thanksgiving, Works, vol. i. p. 66. [back]
Note 3. Malone states that this was the first time the phrase classic ground, since so common, was ever used. [back]
Note 4. This line is frequently ascribed to Pope, as it is found in the Dunciad, book iii. line 264. [back]