While Night in solemn Shade invests the Pole

First Line While Night in solemn Shade invests the Pole
Author Elizabeth Carter
Date 1739

Lyric [Passions; Conduct, morality].

Transcribed from Carter, Elizabeth. Poems on several occasions, 1762, pp. 31–34. Eighteenth Century Collections Online, GALE|CB0130752242.



While Night in solemn Shade invests the Pole,

And calm Reflexion soothes the pensive Soul;

While Reason undisturb'd asserts her Sway,

And Life's deceitful Colours fade away:

To Thee! all-conscious Presence! I devote

This peaceful Interval of sober Thought.

Here all my better Faculties confine,

And be this Hour of sacred Silence thine.


If by the Day's illusive Scenes misled,

My erring Soul from Virtue's Path has stray'd:

Snar'd by Example, or by Passion warm'd,

Some false Delight my giddy Sense has charm'd,

My calmer Thoughts the wretched Choice reprove,

And my best Hopes are center'd in thy Love.

Depriv'd of this, can Life one Joy afford!

It's utmost Boast a vain unmeaning Word.


But ah! how oft' my lawless Passions rove,

And break those awful Precepts I approve!

Pursue the fatal Impulse I abhor,

And violate the Virtue I adore!

Oft' when thy better Spirit's guardian Care

Warn'd my fond Soul to shun the tempting Snare,

My stubborn Will his gentle Aid represt,

And check'd the rising Goodness in my Breast,

Mad with vain Hopes, or urg'd by false Desires,

Still'd his soft Voice, and quench'd his sacred Fires.


With Grief opprest, and prostrate in the Dust,

Should'st thou condemn, I own the Sentence just.

But oh thy softer Titles let me claim,

And plead my Cause by Mercy's gentle Name.

Mercy, that wipes the penitential Tear,

And dissipates the Horrors of Despair:

From rig'rous Justice steals the vengeful Hour;

Softens the dreadful Attribute of Power;

Disarms the Wrath of an offended God, 

And seals my Pardon in a Saviour's Blood.


All pow'rful Grace, exert thy gentle Sway,

And teach my rebel Passions to obey:

Lest lurking Folly with insidious Art

Regain my volatile inconstant Heart.

Shall ev'ry high Resolve Devotion frames,

Be only lifeless Sounds and specious Names?

Or rather while thy Hopes and Fears controul,

In this still Hour each Motion of my Soul,

Secure it's Safety by a sudden Doom,

And be the soft Retreat of Sleep my Tomb.

Calm let me slumber in that dark Repose,

'Till the last Morn it's orient Beam disclose:

Then, when the great Archangel's potent Sound,

Shall echo thro' Creation's ample Round,

Wak'd from the Sleep of Death, with Joy survey

The op'ning Splendors of eternal Day.