Oh could I catch the fleeting thoughts that now
Through all my mind take their devious flight,
And paint them in their colours, gay and bright,
I'd clip th' electric chain's unceasing flow,
And fix them here all glitt'ring in their light.
Alas! how vain the wish; swift--swift they change!
Blending their tints as rainbow's varied hues,
Each flying thought, a flying thought pursues;
Nor shuttle swift--nor tissue--half so strange
As the gay visions woven by the muse.
Why then do thoughts, so evanescent, glow?
Idea, charm us with such fickle wile?
Or fancy picture with enchanting smile,
The phantom images deluding so,
That, like the magic lamps, our minds beguile?
Tell me where, and whence the wondrous power
That shifts the light'ning of capricious thought,
That calls up images unwished, unsought,
Shades of the past, or wit to gild the hour,
Or views of heav'n by revelation taught?
Ah! not to human intellect is given
Power to trace its own mysterious stream;
Whose source sublime, INTELLIGENCE SUPREME!
Waters, with Reason's light from founts of heav'n,
Our wand'rings here, else but an idle dream.
Hence noble science draws its vast designs!
Hence deep philosophy contemplates Love!
In all His works below!--in all above!
Kindling the virtue that the heart refines,
And all our social nature best improve!
Thought! wondrous thought! Imagination's seat!
Empire of genius! bright intelligence!
Solitude's companion! who would dispense,
With its celestial pow'r to charm, or cheat,
Life of its toil, or sorrow of its sense?
Delightful gift!--Heavenly attribute!
Be it ever mine, calm, undisturbed, to flow
Through scenes of joy, or rugged paths of woe!
May no dark cloud eclipse, or sin pollute
Its placid course while wand'ring here below!