Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ALLIANCE OF EDUCATION AND GOVERNMENT; A FRAGMENT, by THOMAS GRAY



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THE ALLIANCE OF EDUCATION AND GOVERNMENT; A FRAGMENT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: As sickly plants betray a niggard earth
Last Line: That rise and glitter o'er the ambient tide.
Subject(s): Education; Government


ESSAY I.

As sickly Plants betray a niggard Earth,
Whose barren Bosom starves her gen'rous Birth
Nor genial Warmth, nor genial Juice retains
Their Roots to feed, and fill their verdant Veins:
And as in Climes, where Winter holds his Reign,
The Soil, tho' fertile, will not teem in vain,
Forbids her Gems to swell, her Shades to rise,
Nor trusts her Blossoms to the churlish Skies.
So draw Mankind in vain the vital Airs,
Unform'd, unfriended, by those kindly Cares,
That Health and Vigour to the Soul impart,
Spread the young Thought, and warm the opening Heart
So fond Instruction on the growing Powers
Of Nature idly lavishes her Stores,
If equal Justice with unclouded Face
Smile not indulgent on the rising Race,
And scatter with a free, tho' frugal, Hand
Light golden Showers of Plenty o'er the Land:
But Tyranny has fix'd her Empire there,
To check their tender Hopes with chilling Fear,
And blast the blooming Promise of the Year.

This spacious animated Scene survey
From where the rolling Orb, that gives the Day,
His sable Sons with nearer Course surrounds
To either Pole, and Life's remotest Bounds.
How rude so e'er th' exterior Form we find,
Howe'er Opinion tinge the varied Mind,
Alike to all the Kind impartial Heav'n
The Sparks of Truth and Happines has given:
With Sense to feel, with Mem'ry to retain,
They follow Pleasure, and they fly from Pain;
Their Judgment mends the Plan their Fancy draws,
Th' Event presages, and explores the Cause.
The soft Returns of Gratitude they know,
By Fraud elude, by Force repell the Foe;
While mutual Wishes, mutual Woes, endear
The social Smile and sympathetic Tear.
Say then, thro' Ages by what Fate confined
To different Climes seem different Souls assign'd?
Here measured Laws and philosophic Ease
Fix, and improve the polish'd Arts of Peace.
There Industry and Gain their Vigils keep,
Command the Winds, and tame th' unwilling Deep.
Here Force and hardy Deeds of Blood prevail;
There languid Pleasure sighs in every Gale.
Oft o'er the trembling Nations from afar
Has Scythia breath'd the living Cloud of War;
And, where the deluge burst, with sweepy Sway
Their Arms, their Kings, their Gods were roll'd away.
As oft have issued, Host impelling Host,
The blue-eyed Muriads from the Baltic Coast.
The prostrate South to the Destroyer yields
Her boasted Titles and her golden Fields:
With grim Delight the Brood of Winter view
A brighter Day, and heavens of azure Hue,
Scent the new Fragrance of the breathing Rose,
And quaff the pendent Vintage, as it grows.
Proud of the yoke, and pliant to the Rod,
Why yet does Asia dread a Monarch's nod,
While European Freedom still withstands
Th' encroaching tide, that drowns her less'ning Lands,
And sees far off with an indignant groan
Her native Plains, and Empires once her own.
Can opener Skies, and Suns of fiercer Flame
O'erpower the Fire that animates our Frame;
As Lamps, that shed at Ev'n a chearful Ray,
Fade and expire beneath the Eye of Day?
Need we the influence of the Northern Star
To string our Nerves and steel our Hearts to War?
And, where the Face of Nature laughs around,
Must sick'ning Virtue fly the tainted Ground?
Unmanly Thought! what Seasons can controul,
What fancied Zone can circumscribe the Soul,
Who, conscious of the Source from whence she springs,
By Reason's light on Resolution's wings,
Spite of her frail Companion, dauntless goes
O'er Libya's Deserts and thro' Zembla's snows?
She bids each slumb'ring Energy awake,
Another Touch, another Temper take,
Suspends th' inferiour Laws that rule our Clay:
The stubborn Elements confess her Sway;
Their little Wants, their low Desires, refine,
And raise the Mortal to a Height divine.

Not but the human Fabrick from the Birth
Imbibes a flavour of its parent Earth.
As various Tracts enforce a various Toil,
The Manners speak the Idiom of their Soil.
An Iron-Race the Mountain-Cliffs maintain,
Foes to the gentler Genius of the Plain:
For where unwearied Sinews must be found
With sidelong Plough to quell the flinty Ground,
To turn the Torrent's swift-descending Flood,
To brave the Savage rushing from the Wood,
What wonder, if to patient Valour train'd
They guard with Spirit, what by Strength they gain'd?
And while their rocky Ramparts round they see,
The rough abode of want and liberty,
(As lawless Force from Confidence will grow)
Insult the Plenty of the Vales below?
What wonder in the sultry Climes, that spread,
Where Nile redundant o'er his summer-bed
From his broad bosom life and verdure flings,
And broods o'er Egypt with his wat'ry wings,
If with advent'rous oar and ready sail,
The dusky people drive before the gale;
Or on frail floats to distant cities ride,
That rise and glitter o'er the ambient tide.





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