"Tho' gratitude were bless'd with all the pow'rs / Her bursting heart cou'd long for, tho' the swift, / The firey-wing'd imagination soar'd / Beyond ambition's wish--yet all were vain / To speak him as he is, who is INEFFABLE."
— Smart, Christopher (1722-1771)
Shall find itself at home; and like the ark
Fix'd on the mountain-top, shall look-aloft
O'er the vague passage of precarious life;
And, winds and waves and rocks and tempests past,
Enjoy the everlasting calm of Heav'n:
'Tis then, nor sooner, that the deathless soul
Shall justly know its nature and its rise:
'Tis then the human tongue new-tun'd shall give
Praises more worthy the eternal ear.
Yet what we can, we ought;--and therefore, Thou,
Purge thou my heart, Omnipotent and Good!
Purge thou my heart with hyssop, left like Cain
I offer fruitless sacrifice, with gifts
Offend, and not propitiate the Ador'd.
Tho' gratitude were bless'd with all the pow'rs
Her bursting heart cou'd long for, tho' the swift,
The firey-wing'd imagination soar'd
Beyond ambition's wish--yet all were vain
To speak him as he is, who is INEFFABLE.
Yet still let reason thro' the eye of faith
View Him with fearful love; let truth pronounce,
And adoration on her bended knee
With Heav'n-directed hands confess His reign.
And let th'Angelic, Archangelic band
With all the Hosts of Heav'n, Cherubic forms,
And forms Seraphic, with their silver trumps
And golden lyres attend:--'For Thou art holy,
For thou art One, th'Eternal, who alone
Exerts all goodness, and transcends all praise.'
(pp. 20-1, ll. 121-150)
Text from The Poems of the Late Christopher Smart ... Consisting of His Prize Poems, Odes, Sonnets, and Fables, Latin and English Translations: Together With Many Original Compositions, Not Included in the Quarto Edition. To Which Is Prefixed, an Account of His Life and Writings, Never Before Published. 2 vols. (London: Printed and Sold by Smart and Cowslade; and sold by F. Power and Co., 1791).
See On the Eternity of the Supreme Being. A Poetical Essay. by Christopher Smart, M. a. Fellow of Pembroke-Hall in the University of Cambridge. (Cambridge : printed by J. Bentham Printer to the University. Sold by W. Thurlbourn in Cambridge, C. Bathurst in Fleet-Street, R. Dodsley at Tullyâ€™s Head in Pall-Mall, London; and J. Hildyard at York, 1750). <Link to ESTC>
Reading in Katrina Williamson and Marcus Walsh, eds., Christopher Smart: Selected Poems (New York: Penguin Books, 1990).