A poem by Mercy Otis Warren


A Thought on the Inestimable Blessing of Reason

What is it moves within my soul,
And as the needle to the pole
Directs me to the final cause
The central point of nature’s laws?
‘Tis reason, Lord, which thou has given
A ray divine, let down from Heaven,
A spark struck from effulgent light,
Transcendant, clear, — divinely bright,
thou hast bestow’d lest man should grope
In endless darkness, void of hope.

Creative being! –who reason gave
And by whose aid the powers we have
To think, to judge, to will, to know,
From whom these reasoning powers flow,
Thy name be ever magnified
That thus to angels we’re allied,
Distinguish’d thus in the great chain
Nor left the least in thy domain.

Yet should’st thou but a moment frown,
Or wink this boasted reason down
‘Twould level proud imperious man
With the least worm in nature’s plan.
Then humbly will I thee implore,
Whom worlds of rationals adore,
That thou this taper should preserve
From reason’s laws let me ne’er swerve,
But calmly, mistress of my mind
A friend to virtue and mankind.
Oh! gently lead me on to peace
May years the heavenly gleam increase,
Nor waste beneath the frown of age,
As I tread down time’s narrow stage,
But brighter burn as life decays
More fit to join the heavenly lays.
And when the tenement shall fall
When broken down this feeble wall
Then may the glad, enlighten’d soul
Free from these clogs, this dull controul
Expand her wings, shake off her load
And rise to glorify her God.

–Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814)

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