Part 2 out of 8
One solid dish his week-day meal affords,
An added pudding solemnised the Lord's:
Constant at church, and 'Change; his gains were sure,
His givings rare, save farthings to the poor.
The devil was piqued such saintship to behold,
And long'd to tempt him like good Job of old: 350
But Satan now is wiser than of yore,
And tempts by making rich, not making poor.
Roused by the Prince of Air, the whirlwinds sweep
The surge, and plunge his father in the deep;
Then lull against his Cornish lands they roar,
And two rich shipwrecks bless the lucky shore.
Sir Balaam now, he lives like other folks,
He takes his chirping pint, and cracks his jokes:
'Live like yourself,' was soon my Lady's word;
And, lo! two puddings smoked upon the board. 360
Asleep and naked as an Indian lay,
An honest factor stole a gem away:
He pledged it to the knight; the knight had wit,
So kept the diamond, and the rogue was bit.
Some scruple rose, but thus he eased his thought--
'I'll now give sixpence where I gave a groat;
Where once I went to church, I'll now go twice--
And am so clear, too, of all other vice.'
The Tempter saw his time; the work he plied;
Stocks and subscriptions pour on every side, 370
Till all the demon makes his full descent
In one abundant shower of cent, per cent.;
Sinks deep within him, and possesses whole,
Then dubs director, and secures his soul.
Behold Sir Balaam, now a man of spirit,
Ascribes his gettings to his parts and merit;
What late he call'd a blessing, now was wit,
And God's good providence, a lucky hit.
Things change their titles, as our manners turn:
His counting-house employ'd the Sunday-morn; 380
Seldom at church ('twas such a busy life)
But duly sent his family and wife.
There (so the devil ordain'd) one Christmas-tide,
My good old lady catch'd a cold, and died.
A nymph of quality admires our knight;
He marries, bows at court, and grows polite:
Leaves the dull cits, and joins (to please the fair)
The well-bred cuckolds in St James's air:
First, for his son a gay commission buys,
Who drinks, whores, fights, and in a duel dies: 390
His daughter flaunts a viscount's tawdry wife;
She bears a coronet and pox for life.
In Britain's senate he a seat obtains,
And one more pensioner St Stephen gains.
My lady falls to play; so bad her chance,
He must repair it; takes a bribe from France;
The House impeach him; Coningsby harangues;
The court forsake him--and Sir Balaam hangs:
Wife, son, and daughter, Satan! are thy own,
His wealth, yet dearer, forfeit to the crown: 400
The devil and the king divide the prize,
And sad Sir Balaam curses God, and dies.
After VER. 50, in the MS.--
To break a trust were Peter bribed with wine,
Peter! 'twould pose as wise a head as thine.
VER. 77, in the former edition--
Well then, since with the world we stand or fall,
Come, take it as we find it, gold and all.
After VER. 218 in the MS.--
Where one lean herring furnish'd Cotta's board,
And nettles grew, fit porridge for their lord;
Where mad good-nature, bounty misapplied,
In lavish Curio blazed awhile and died;
There Providence once more shall shift the scene,
And showing H----y, teach the golden mean.
After VER. 226, in the MS.--
That secret rare with affluence hardly join'd,
Which W----n lost, yet B----y ne'er could find;
Still miss'd by vice, and scarce by virtue hit,
By G----'s goodness, or by S----'s wit.
After VER. 250 in the MS--
Trace humble worth beyond Sabrina's shore,
Who sings not him, oh, may he sing no more!
VER. 287, thus in the MS.--
The register enrolls him with his poor,
Tells he was born and died, and tells no more.
Just as he ought, he fill'd the space between;
Then stole to rest, unheeded and unseen.
VER. 337, in the former editions--
That knotty point, my lord, shall I discuss
Or tell a tale!--A tale.--It follows thus.
EPISTLE IV.--TO RICHARD BOYLE, EARL OF BURLINGTON.
OF THE USE OF RICHES.
The vanity of expense in people of wealth and quality. The abuse of the
word 'taste,' ver. 13. That the first principle and foundation, in this
as in every thing else, is good sense, ver. 40. The chief proof of it is
to follow nature, even in works of mere luxury and elegance. Instanced
in architecture and gardening, where all must be adapted to the genius
and use of the place, and the beauties not forced into it, but resulting
from it, ver. 50. How men are disappointed in their most expensive
undertakings, for want of this true foundation, without which nothing
can please long, if at all; and the best examples and rules will but be
perverted into something burdensome or ridiculous, ver. 65 to 92. A
description of the false taste of magnificence; the first grand error of
which is to imagine that greatness consists in the size and dimension,
instead of the proportion and harmony of the whole, ver. 97; and the
second, either in joining together parts incoherent, or too minutely
resembling, or in the repetition of the same too frequently, ver. 105,
&c. A word or two of false taste in books, in music, in painting, even
in preaching and prayer, and lastly in entertainments, ver. 133, &c. Yet
Providence is justified in giving wealth to be squandered in this
manner, since it is dispersed to the poor and laborious part of mankind,
ver. 169 [recurring to what is laid down in the 'Essay on Man,' ep. ii.
and in the epistle preceding this, ver. 159, &c.] What are the proper
objects of magnificence, and a proper field for the expense of great
men, ver. 177, &c.; and finally, the great and public works which become
a prince, ver. 191, to the end.
'Tis strange, the miser should his cares employ
To gain those riches he can ne'er enjoy:
Is it less strange, the prodigal should waste
His wealth, to purchase what he ne'er can taste?
Not for himself he sees, or hears, or eats;
Artists must choose his pictures, music, meats;
He buys for Topham drawings and designs,
For Pembroke statues, dirty gods, and coins;
Rare monkish manuscripts for Hearne alone,
And books for Mead, and butterflies for Sloane. 10
Think we all these are for himself? no more
Than his fine wife, alas! or finer whore.
For what has Virro painted, built, and planted?
Only to show how many tastes he wanted.
What brought Sir Visto's ill-got wealth to waste?
Some demon whisper'd, 'Visto! have a taste.'
Heaven visits with a taste the wealthy fool,
And needs no rod but Ripley with a rule.
See! sportive fate, to punish awkward pride,
Bids Bubo build, and sends him such a guide: 20
A standing sermon, at each year's expense,
That never coxcomb reach'd magnificence!
You show us, Rome was glorious, not profuse,
And pompous buildings once were things of use.
Yet shall (my lord) your just, your noble rules
Fill half the land with imitating fools,
Who random drawings from your sheets shall take,
And of one beauty many blunders make;
Load some vain church with old theatric state,
Turn arcs of triumph to a garden-gate; 30
Reverse your ornaments, and hang them all
On some patch'd dog-hole eked with ends of wall;
Then clap four slices of pilaster on't,
That, laced with bits of rustic, makes a front.
Shall call the winds through long arcades to roar,
Proud to catch cold at a Venetian door;
Conscious they act a true Palladian part.
And if they starve, they starve by rules of art.
Oft have you hinted to your brother peer,
A certain truth, which many buy too dear: 40
Something there is more needful than expense,
And something previous even to taste--'tis sense:
Good sense, which only is the gift of Heaven,
And though no science, fairly worth the seven:
A light, which in yourself you must perceive;
Jones and Le Nôtre have it not to give.
To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
To rear the column, or the arch to bend,
To swell the terrace, or to sink the grot;
In all, let Nature never be forgot. 50
But treat the goddess like a modest fair,
Nor overdress, nor leave her wholly bare;
Let not each beauty everywhere be spied,
Where half the skill is decently to hide.
He gains all points, who pleasingly confounds,
Surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds.
Consult the genius of the place in all;
That tells the waters or to rise, or fall;
Or helps the ambitious hill the heavens to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale; 60
Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades;
Now breaks, or now directs, the intending lines;
Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.
Still follow sense, of every art the soul,
Parts answering parts shall slide into a whole,
Spontaneous beauties all around advance,
Start even from difficulty, strike from chance;
Nature shall join you; time shall make it grow
A work to wonder at--perhaps a Stowe. 70
Without it, proud Versailles! thy glory falls;
And Nero's terraces desert their walls:
The vast parterres a thousand hands shall make,
Lo! Cobham comes, and floats them with a lake:
Or cut wide views through mountains to the plain,
You'll wish your hill or shelter'd seat again.
Even in an ornament its place remark,
Nor in an hermitage set Dr Clarke.
Behold Villario's ten years' toil complete;
His quincunx darkens, his espaliers meet; 80
The wood supports the plain, the parts unite,
And strength of shade contends with strength of light;
A waving glow the blooming beds display,
Blushing in bright diversities of day,
With silver-quivering rills meander'd o'er--
Enjoy them, you! Villario can no more;
Tired of the scene parterres and fountains yield,
He finds at last he better likes a field.
Through his young woods how pleased Sabinus stray'd,
Or sat delighted in the thickening shade, 90
With annual joy the reddening shoots to greet,
Or see the stretching branches long to meet!
His son's fine taste an opener vista loves,
Foe to the Dryads of his father's groves;
One boundless green, or flourish'd carpet views,
With all the mournful family of yews;
The thriving plants, ignoble broomsticks made,
Now sweep those alleys they were born to shade.
At Timon's villa let us pass a day,
Where all cry out, 'What sums are thrown away!' 100
So proud, so grand; of that stupendous air,
Soft and agreeable come never there.
Greatness, with Timon, dwells in such a draught
As brings all Brobdignag before your thought.
To compass this, his building is a town,
His pond an ocean, his parterre a down:
Who but must laugh, the master when he sees,
A puny insect, shivering at a breeze!
Lo, what huge heaps of littleness around!
The whole a labour'd quarry above ground; 110
Two Cupids squirt before: a lake behind
Improves the keenness of the northern wind.
His gardens next your admiration call,
On every side you look, behold the wall!
No pleasing intricacies intervene,
No artful wildness to perplex the scene;
Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother,
And half the platform just reflects the other.
The suffering eye inverted nature sees,
Trees cut to statues, statues thick as trees; 120
With here a fountain, never to be play'd;
And there a summer-house, that knows no shade;
Here Amphitritè sails through myrtle bowers;
There gladiators fight, or die in flowers;
Unwater'd see the drooping sea-horse mourn,
And swallows roost in Nilus' dusty urn.
My lord advances with majestic mien,
Smit with the mighty pleasure, to be seen:
But soft--by regular approach--not yet--
First through the length of yon hot terrace sweat; 130
And when up ten steep slopes you've dragg'd your thighs,
Just at his study-door he'll bless your eyes.
His study! with what authors is it stored?
In books, not authors, curious is my lord;
To all their dated backs he turns you round:
These Aldus printed, those Du Sueil has bound.
Lo! some are vellum, and the rest as good
For all his lordship knows, but they are wood.
For Locke or Milton 'tis in vain to look, 140
These shelves admit not any modern book.
And now the chapel's silver bell you hear,
That summons you to all the pride of prayer:
Light quirks of music, broken and uneven,
Make the soul dance upon a jig to heaven.
On painted ceilings you devoutly stare,
Where sprawl the saints of Verrio or Laguerre,
On gilded clouds in fair expansion lie,
And bring all Paradise before your eye.
To rest, the cushion and soft dean invite,
Who never mentions hell to ears polite. 150
But hark! the chiming clocks to dinner call;
A hundred footsteps scrape the marble hall:
The rich buffet well-colour'd serpents grace,
And gaping Tritons spew to wash your face.
Is this a dinner? this a genial room?
No, 'tis a temple, and a hecatomb.
A solemn sacrifice, perform'd in state,
You drink by measure, and to minutes eat.
So quick retires each flying course, you'd swear
Sancho's dread doctor and his wand were there. 160
Between each act the trembling salvers ring,
From soup to sweet-vine, and God bless the king.
In plenty starving, tantalised in state,
And complaisantly help'd to all I hate,
Treated, caress'd, and tired, I take my leave,
Sick of his civil pride from morn to eve;
I curse such lavish cost, and little skill,
And swear no day was ever pass'd so ill.
Yet hence the poor are clothed, the hungry fed;
Health to himself, and to his infants bread 170
The labourer bears: what his hard heart denies,
His charitable vanity supplies.
Another age shall see the golden ear
Imbrown the slope, and nod on the parterre,
Deep harvests bury all his pride has plann'd,
And laughing Ceres reassume the land.
Who then shall grace, or who improve the soil?--
Who plants like Bathurst, or who builds like Boyle.
'Tis use alone that sanctifies expense,
And splendour borrows all her rays from sense. 180
His father's acres who enjoys in peace,
Or makes his neighbours glad, if he increase:
Whose cheerful tenants bless their yearly toil,
Yet to their lord owe more than to the soil;
Whose ample lawns are not ashamed to feed
The milky heifer and deserving steed;
Whose rising forests, not for pride or show,
But future buildings, future navies, grow:
Let his plantations stretch from down to down,
First shade a country, and then raise a town. 190
You, too, proceed! make falling arts your care,
Erect new wonders, and the old repair;
Jones and Palladio to themselves restore,
And be whate'er Vitruvius was before:
Till kings call forth the ideas of your mind,
(Proud to accomplish what such hands design'd.)
Bid harbours open, public ways extend,
Bid temples, worthier of the god, ascend;
Bid the broad arch the dangerous flood contain,
The mole projected break the roaring main; 200
Back to his bonds their subject sea command,
And roll obedient rivers through the land;
These honours, peace to happy Britain brings,
These are imperial works, and worthy kings.
After VER. 22 in the MS.--
Must bishops, lawyers, statesmen have the skill
To build, to plant, judge paintings, what you will?
Then why not Kent as well our treaties draw,
Bridginan explain the gospel, Gibs the law?
EPISTLE V. TO MR ADDISON.
OCCASIONED BY HIS DIALOGUES ON MEDALS.
See the wild waste of all-devouring years!
How Rome her own sad sepulchre appears,
With nodding arches, broken temples spread!
The very tombs now vanish'd, like their dead!
Imperial wonders raised on nations spoil'd
Where mix'd with slaves the groaning martyr toil'd:
Huge theatres, that now unpeopled woods,
Now drain'd a distant country of her floods:
Fanes, which admiring gods with pride survey,
Statues of men, scarce less alive than they! 10
Some felt the silent stroke of mouldering age,
Some hostile fury, some religious rage,
Barbarian blindness, Christian zeal conspire,
And Papal piety, and Gothic fire.
Perhaps, by its own ruins saved from flame,
Some buried marble half-preserves a name;
That name the learn'd with fierce disputes pursue,
And give to Titus old Vespasian's due.
Ambition sigh'd: she found it vain to trust
The faithless column, and the crumbling bust: 20
Huge moles, whose shadow stretch'd from shore to shore,
Their ruins perish'd, and their place no more!
Convinced, she now contracts her vast design,
And all her triumphs shrink into a coin.
A narrow orb each crowded conquest keeps,
Beneath her palm, here sad Judæa weeps.
Now scantier limits the proud arch confine,
And scarce are seen the prostrate Nile or Rhine;
A small Euphrates through the piece is roll'd,
And little eagles wave their wings in gold. 30
The medal, faithful to its charge of fame,
Through climes and ages bears each form and name:
In one short view subjected to our eye
Gods, emperors, heroes, sages, beauties, lie.
With sharpen'd sight, pale antiquaries pore,
The inscription value, but the rust adore.
This the blue varnish, that the green endears,
The sacred rust of twice ten hundred years!
To gain Pescennius one employs his schemes,
One grasps a Cecrops in ecstatic dreams. 40
Poor Vadius, long with learned spleen devour'd.
Can taste no pleasure since his shield was scour'd:
And Curio, restless by the fair one's side,
Sighs for an Otho, and neglects his bride.
Theirs is the vanity, the learning thine:
Touch'd by thy hand, again Rome's glories shine;
Her gods, and god-like heroes rise to view,
And all her faded garlands bloom anew.
Nor blush, these studies thy regard engage;
These pleased the fathers of poetic rage; 50
The verse and sculpture bore an equal part,
And Art reflected images to Art.
Oh! when shall Britain, conscious of her claim,
Stand emulous of Greek and Roman fame?
In living medals see her wars enroll'd,
And vanquish'd realms supply recording gold?
Here, rising bold, the patriot's honest face;
There, warriors frowning in historic brass:
Then future ages with delight shall see
How Plato's, Bacon's, Newton's looks agree; 60
Or in fair series laurell'd bards be shown,
A Virgil there, and here an Addison.
Then shall thy Craggs (and let me call him mine)
On the cast ore, another Pollio, shine;
With aspect open, shall erect his head,
And round the orb in lasting notes be read,
'Statesman, yet friend to truth! of soul sincere,
In action faithful, and in honour clear;
Who broke no promise, served no private end,
Who gain'd no title, and who lost no friend; 70
Ennobled by himself, by all approved,
And praised, unenvied, by the Muse he loved.'
TRANSLATIONS AND IMITATIONS.
SAPPHO TO PHAON.
FROM THE FIFTEENTH OF OVID'S EPISTLES.
Say, lovely youth, that dost my heart command,
Can Phaon's eyes forget his Sappho's hand?
Must then her name the wretched writer prove,
To thy remembrance lost, as to thy love?
Ask not the cause that I new numbers choose,
The lute neglected and the lyric Muse;
Love taught my tears in sadder notes to flow,
And tuned my heart to elegies of woe,
I burn, I burn, as when through ripen'd corn
By driving winds the spreading flames are borne! 10
Phaon to Ætna's scorching fields retires,
While I consume with more than Ætna's fires!
No more my soul a charm in music finds;
Music has charms alone for peaceful minds.
Soft scenes of solitude no more can please;
Love enters there, and I'm my own disease.
No more the Lesbian dames my passion move,
Once the dear objects of my guilty love;
All other loves are lost in only thine,
Ah, youth ungrateful to a flame like mine! 20
Whom would not all those blooming charms surprise,
Those heavenly looks, and dear deluding eyes!
The harp and bow would you like Phoebus bear,
A brighter Phoebus Phaon might appear;
Would you with ivy wreath your flowing hair,
Not Bacchus' self with Phaon could compare:
Yet Phoebus loved, and Bacchus felt the flame,
One Daphne warm'd, and one the Cretan dame;
Nymphs that in verse no more could rival me,
Than e'en those gods contend in charms with thee. 30
The Muses teach me all their softest lays,
And the wide world resounds with Sappho's praise.
Though great Alcaeus more sublimely sings,
And strikes with bolder rage the sounding strings,
No less renown attends the moving lyre,
Which Venus tunes, and all her loves inspire.
To me what nature has in charms denied,
Is well by wit's more lasting flames supplied.
Though short my stature, yet my name extends
To heaven itself, and earth's remotest ends. 40
Brown as I am, an Ethiopian dame
Inspired young Perseus with a generous flame;
Turtles and doves of different hues unite,
And glossy jet is pair'd with shining white.
If to no charms thou wilt thy heart resign,
But such as merit, such as equal thine,
By none, alas! by none thou canst be moved,
Phaon alone by Phaon must be loved!
Yet once thy Sappho could thy cares employ,
Once in her arms you centred all your joy: 50
No time the dear remembrance can remove,
For, oh! how vast a memory has love!
My music, then, you could for ever hear,
And all my words were music to your ear.
You stopp'd with kisses my enchanting tongue,
And found my kisses sweeter than my song,
In all I pleased, but most in what was best;
And the last joy was dearer than the rest.
Then with each word, each glance, each motion fired,
You still enjoy'd, and yet you still desired, 60
Till, all dissolving, in the trance we lay,
And in tumultuous raptures died away.
The fair Sicilians now thy soul inflame;
Why was I born, ye gods, a Lesbian dame?
But ah, beware, Sicilian nymphs! nor boast
That wandering heart which I so lately lost;
Nor be with all those tempting words abused,
Those tempting words were all to Sappho used.
And you that rule Sicilia's happy plains,
Have pity, Venus, on your poet's pains! 70
Shall fortune still in one sad tenor run,
And still increase the woes so soon begun?
Inured to sorrow from my tender years,
My parents' ashes drank my early tears:
My brother next, neglecting wealth and fame,
Ignobly burn'd in a destructive flame:
An infant daughter late my griefs increased,
And all a mother's cares distract my breast,
Alas! what more could Fate itself impose,
But thee, the last, and greatest of my woes? 80
No more my robes in waving purple flow,
Nor on my hand the sparkling diamonds glow;
No more my locks in ringlets curl'd diffuse
The costly sweetness of Arabian dews,
Nor braids of gold the varied tresses bind,
That fly disorder'd with the wanton wind:
For whom should Sappho use such arts as these?
He's gone, whom only she desired to please!
Cupid's light darts my tender bosom move;
Still is there cause for Sappho still to love: 90
So from my birth the Sisters fix'd my doom,
And gave to Venus all my life to come;
Or, while my Muse in melting notes complains,
My yielding heart keeps measure to my strains.
By charms like thine, which all my soul have won,
Who might not--ah! who would not be undone?
For those Aurora Cephalus might scorn,
And with fresh blushes paint the conscious morn.
For those might Cynthia lengthen Phaon's sleep;
And bid Endymion nightly tend his sheep; 100
Venus for those had rapt thee to the skies;
But Mars on thee might look with Venus' eyes.
Oh scarce a youth, yet scarce a tender boy!
Oh useful time for lovers to employ!
Pride of thy age, and glory of thy race,
Come to these arms, and melt in this embrace!
The vows you never will return, receive;
And take, at least, the love you will not give.
See, while I write, my words are lost in tears!
The less my sense, the more my love appears. 110
Sure 'twas not much to bid one kind adieu,
(At least to feign was never hard to you)
'Farewell, my Lesbian love,' you might have said;
Or coldly thus, 'Farewell, O Lesbian maid!'
No tear did you, no parting kiss receive,
Nor knew I then how much I was to grieve.
No lover's gift your Sappho could confer,
And wrongs and woes were all you left with her.
No charge I gave you, and no charge could give,
But this, 'Be mindful of our loves, and live.' 120
Now by the Nine, those powers adored by me,
And Love, the god that ever waits on thee,
When first I heard (from whom I hardly knew)
That you were fled, and all my joys with you,
Like some sad statue, speechless, pale, I stood,
Grief chill'd my breast, and stopp'd my freezing blood;
No sigh to rise, no tear had power to flow,
Fix'd in a stupid lethargy of woe:
But when its way the impetuous passion found,
I rend my tresses, and my breast I wound: 130
I rave, then weep; I curse, and then complain;
Now swell to rage, now melt in tears again.
Not fiercer pangs distract the mournful dame,
Whose first-born infant feeds the funeral flame.
My scornful brother with a smile appears,
Insults my woes, and triumphs in my tears;
His hated image ever haunts my eyes;
'And why this grief? thy daughter lives!' he cries.
Stung with my love, and furious with despair,
All torn my garments, and my bosom bare, 140
My woes, thy crimes, I to the world proclaim;
Such inconsistent things are love and shame!
'Tis thou art all my care and my delight,
My daily longing, and my dream by night;
Oh night more pleasing than the brightest day,
When fancy gives what absence takes away,
And, dress'd in all its visionary charms,
Restores my fair deserter to my arms!
Then round your neck in wanton wreaths I twine,
Then you, methinks, as fondly circle mine: 150
A thousand tender words I hear and speak;
A thousand melting kisses give and take:
Then fiercer joys, I blush to mention these,
Yet, while I blush, confess how much they please.
But when, with day, the sweet delusions fly,
And all things wake to life and joy but I,
As if once more forsaken, I complain,
And close my eyes to dream of you again:
Then frantic rise, and like some Fury rove
Through lonely plains, and through the silent grove; 160
As if the silent grove, and lonely plains,
That knew my pleasures, could relieve my pains.
I view the grotto, once the scene of love,
The rocks around, the hanging roofs above,
That charm'd me more, with native moss o'ergrown,
Than Phrygian marble, or the Parian stone;
I find the shades that veil'd our joys before;
But, Phaon gone, those shades delight no more.
Here the press'd herbs with bending tops betray
Where oft entwined in amorous folds we lay; 170
I kiss that earth which once was press'd by you,
And all with tears the withering herbs bedew.
For thee the fading trees appear to mourn,
And birds defer their songs till thy return:
Night shades the groves, and all in silence lie,
All but the mournful Philomel and I:
With mournful Philomel I join my strain,
Of Tereus she, of Phaon I complain.
A spring there is, whose silver waters show,
Clear as a glass, the shining sands below: 180
A flowery lotus spreads its arms above,
Shades all the banks, and seems itself a grove;
Eternal greens the mossy margin grace,
Watch'd by the sylvan genius of the place.
Here as I lay, and swell'd with tears the flood,
Before my sight a watery virgin stood:
She stood and cried, 'O you that love in vain!
Fly hence, and seek the fair Leucadian main;
There stands a rock, from whose impending steep
Apollo's fane surveys the rolling deep; 190
There injured lovers, leaping from above,
Their flames extinguish, and forget to love.
Deucalion once with hopeless fury burn'd,
In vain he loved, relentless Pyrrha scorn'd:
But when from hence he plunged into the main,
Deucalion scorn'd, and Pyrrha loved in vain.
Haste, Sappho, haste, from high Leucadia throw
Thy wretched weight, nor dread the deeps below!'
She spoke, and vanish'd with the voice--I rise,
And silent tears fall trickling from my eyes. 200
I go, ye nymphs! those rocks and seas to prove;
How much I fear, but ah, how much I love!
I go, ye nymphs! where furious love inspires:
Let female fears submit to female fires.
To rocks and seas I fly from Phaon's hate,
And hope from seas and rocks a milder fate.
Ye gentle gales, beneath my body blow,
And softly lay me on the waves below!
And thou, kind Love, my sinking limbs sustain,
Spread thy soft wings, and waft me o'er the main, 210
Nor let a lover's death the guiltless flood profane!
On Phoebus' shrine my harp I'll then bestow,
And this inscription shall be placed below:
'Here she who sung, to him that did inspire,
Sappho to Phoebus consecrates her lyre;
What suits with Sappho, Phoebus, suits with thee:
The gift, the giver, and the god agree.'
But why, alas! relentless youth, ah, why
To distant seas must tender Sappho fly?
Thy charms than those may far more powerful be, 220
And Phoebus' self is less a god to me.
Ah! canst thou doom me to the rocks and sea,
Oh far more faithless and more hard than they?
Ah! canst thou rather see this tender breast
Dash'd on these rocks than to thy bosom press'd?
This breast which once, in vain, you liked so well;
Where the Loves play'd, and where the Muses dwell.
Alas! the Muses now no more inspire;
Untuned my lute, and silent is my lyre.
My languid numbers have forgot to flow, 230
And fancy sinks beneath a weight of woe.
Ye Lesbian virgins, and ye Lesbian dames,
Themes of my verse, and objects of my flames,
No more your groves with my glad songs shall ring,
No more these hands shall touch the trembling string:
My Phaon's fled, and I those arts resign;
(Wretch that I am, to call that Phaon mine!)
Return, fair youth! return, and bring along
Joy to my soul, and vigour to my song:
Absent from thee, the poet's flame expires; 240
But ah! how fiercely burn the lover's fires?
Gods! can no prayers, no sighs, no numbers move
One savage heart, or teach it how to love?
The winds my prayers, my sighs, my numbers bear,
The flying winds have lost them all in air!
Oh when, alas! shall more auspicious gales
To these fond eyes restore thy welcome sails?
If you return--ah, why these long delays?
Poor Sappho dies while careless Phaon stays.
Oh launch thy bark, nor fear the watery plain; 250
Venus for thee shall smooth her native main.
Oh launch thy bark, secure of prosperous gales;
Cupid for thee shall spread the swelling sails.
If you will fly--(yet ah! what cause can be,
Too cruel youth, that you should fly from me?)
If not from Phaon I must hope for ease,
Ah, let me seek it from the raging seas:
To raging seas unpitied I'll remove,
And either cease to live, or cease to love!
THE FABLE OF DRYOPE.
FROM THE NINTH BOOK OF OVID'S METAMORPHOSES.
She said, and for her lost Galanthis sighs;
When the fair consort of her son replies:
'Since you a servant's ravish'd form bemoan,
And kindly sigh for sorrows not your own,
Let me (if tears and grief permit) relate
A nearer woe, a sister's stranger fate.
No nymph of all Oechalia could compare
For beauteous form with Dryope the fair,
Her tender mother's only hope and pride,
(Myself the offspring of a second bride). 10
This nymph, compress'd by him who rules the day,
Whom Delphi and the Delian isle obey,
Andraemon loved; and, bless'd in all those charms
That pleased a god, succeeded to her arms.
'A lake there was with shelving banks around,
Whose verdant summit fragrant myrtles crown'd.
These shades, unknowing of the fates, she sought,
And to the Naiads flowery garlands brought:
Her smiling babe (a pleasing charge) she press'd
Within her arms, and nourish'd at her breast. 20
Not distant far, a watery lotus grows;
The spring was new, and all the verdant boughs,
Adorn'd with blossoms, promised fruits that vie
In glowing colours with the Tyrian dye:
Of these she cropp'd, to please her infant son,
And I myself the same rash act had done:
But, lo! I saw (as near her side I stood)
The violated blossoms drop with blood;
Upon the tree I cast a frightful look;
The trembling tree with sudden horror shook. 30
Lotis the nymph (if rural tales be true)
As from Priapus' lawless lust she flew,
Forsook her form, and, fixing here, became
A flowery plant, which still preserves her name.
'This change unknown, astonish'd at the sight,
My trembling sister strove to urge her flight;
And first the pardon of the nymphs implored,
And those offended sylvan powers adored:
But when she backward would have fled, she found
Her stiffening feet were rooted in the ground: 40
In vain to free her fasten'd feet she strove,
And as she struggles only moves above;
She feels th' encroaching bark around her grow
By quick degrees, and cover all below:
Surprised at this, her trembling hand she heaves
To rend her hair; her hand is fill'd with leaves:
Where late was hair, the shooting leaves are seen
To rise, and shade her with a sudden green.
The child Amphissus, to her bosom press'd,
Perceived a colder and a harder breast, 50
And found the springs, that ne'er till then denied
Their milky moisture, on a sudden dried.
I saw, unhappy! what I now relate,
And stood the helpless witness of thy fate;
Embraced thy boughs, thy rising bark delay'd,
There wish'd to grow, and mingle shade with shade.
'Behold Andraemon and th' unhappy sire
Appear, and for their Dryope inquire:
A springing tree for Dryope they find,
And print warm kisses on the panting rind, 60
Prostrate, with tears their kindred plant bedew,
And close embrace as to the roots they grew.
The face was all that now remain'd of thee,
No more a woman, nor yet quite a tree;
Thy branches hung with humid pearls appear,
From every leaf distils a trickling tear;
And straight a voice, while yet a voice remains,
Thus through the trembling boughs in sighs complains:
'"If to the wretched any faith be given,
I swear by all th' unpitying powers of Heaven, 70
No wilful crime this heavy vengeance bred;
In mutual innocence our lives we led:
If this be false, let these new greens decay,
Let sounding axes lop my limbs away,
And crackling flames on all my honours prey.
But from my branching arms this infant bear,
Let some kind nurse supply a mother's care:
And to his mother let him oft be led,
Sport in her shades, and in her shades be fed:
Teach him, when first his infant voice shall frame 80
Imperfect words, and lisp his mother's name,
To hail this tree, and say, with weeping eyes,
'Within this plant my hapless parent lies:'
And when in youth he seeks the shady woods,
Oh! let him fly the crystal lakes and floods,
Nor touch the fatal flowers; but, warn'd by me,
Believe a goddess shrined in every tree.
My sire, my sister, and my spouse, farewell!
If in your breasts or love or pity dwell,
Protect your plant, nor let my branches feel 90
The browsing cattle or the piercing steel.
Farewell! and since I cannot bend to join
My lips to yours, advance at least to mine.
My son, thy mother's parting kiss receive,
While yet thy mother has a kiss to give.
I can no more; the creeping rind invades
My closing lips, and hides my head in shades:
Remove your hands, the bark shall soon suffice
Without their aid to seal these dying eyes."
'She ceased at once to speak and ceased to be, 100
And all the nymph was lost within the tree;
Yet latent life through her new branches reign'd,
And long the plant a human heat retain'd.'
VERTUMNUS AND POMONA,
FROM THE FOURTEENTH BOOK OF OVID'S METAMORPHOSES.
The fair Pomona flourish'd in his reign;
Of all the virgins of the sylvan train
None taught the trees a nobler race to bear,
Or more improved the vegetable care.
To her the shady grove, the flowery field,
The streams and fountains no delights could yield:
'Twas all her joy the ripening fruits to tend,
And see the boughs with happy burdens bend.
The hook she bore instead of Cynthia's spear,
To lop the growth of the luxuriant year, 10
To decent forms the lawless shoots to bring,
And teach th' obedient branches where to spring.
Now the cleft rind inserted grafts receives,
And yields an offspring more than nature gives;
Now sliding streams the thirsty plants renew,
And feed their fibres with reviving dew.
These cares alone her virgin breast employ,
Averse from Venus and the nuptial joy.
Her private orchards, wall'd on every side,
To lawless sylvans all access denied. 20
How oft the satyrs and the wanton fauns,
Who haunt the forests or frequent the lawns,
The god whose ensign scares the birds of prey,
And old Silenus, youthful in decay,
Employ'd their wiles and unavailing care
To pass the fences, and surprise the fair!
Like these, Vertumnus own'd his faithful flame,
Like these, rejected by the scornful dame.
To gain her sight a thousand forms he wears;
And first a reaper from the field appears: 30
Sweating he walks, while loads of golden grain
O'ercharge the shoulders of the seeming swain:
Oft o'er his back a crooked scythe is laid,
And wreaths of hay his sunburnt temples shade:
Oft in his harden'd hand a goad he bears,
Like one who late unyoked the sweating steers:
Sometimes his pruning-hook corrects the vines,
And the loose stragglers to their ranks confines:
Now gathering what the bounteous year allows,
He pulls ripe apples from the bending boughs: 40
A soldier now, he with his sword appears;
A fisher next, his trembling angle bears:
Each shape he varies, and each art he tries,
On her bright charms to feast his longing eyes.
A female form at last Vertumnus wears,
With all the marks of reverend age appears,
His temples thinly spread with silver hairs:
Propp'd on his staff, and stooping as he goes,
A painted mitre shades his furrow'd brows.
The god in this decrepid form array'd 50
The gardens enter'd, and the fruit survey'd;
And, 'Happy you!' he thus address'd the maid,
'Whose charms as far all other nymphs outshine,
As other gardens are excell'd by thine!'
Then kiss'd the fair; (his kisses warmer grow
Than such as women on their sex bestow)
Then, placed beside her on the flowery ground,
Beheld the trees with autumn's bounty crown'd.
An elm was near, to whose embraces led,
The curling vine her swelling clusters spread: 60
He view'd her twining branches with delight,
And praised the beauty of the pleasing sight.
'Yet this tall elm, but for this vine,' he said,
'Had stood neglected, and a barren shade;
And this fair vine, but that her arms surround
Her married elm, had crept along the ground.
Ah, beauteous maid! let this example move
Your mind, averse from all the joys of love.
Deign to be loved, and every heart subdue!
What nymph could e'er attract such crowds as you? 70
Not she whose beauty urged the Centaur's arms,
Ulysses' queen, nor Helen's fatal charms.
Ev'n now, when silent scorn is all they gain,
A thousand court you, though they court in vain--
A thousand sylvans, demigods, and gods,
That haunt our mountains and our Alban woods.
But if you'll prosper, mark what I advise,
Whom age and long experience render wise,
And one whose tender care is far above
All that these lovers ever felt of love, 80
(Far more than e'er can by yourself be guess'd)
Fix on Vertumnus, and reject the rest:
For his firm faith I dare engage my own:
Scarce to himself, himself is better known.
To distant lands Vertumnus never roves;
Like you, contented with his native groves;
Nor at first sight, like most, admires the fair:
For you he lives; and you alone shall share
His last affection, as his early care.
Besides, he's lovely far above the rest, 90
With youth immortal, and with beauty bless'd.
Add, that he varies every shape with ease,
And tries all forms that may Pomona please.
But what should most excite a mutual flame,
Your rural cares and pleasures are the same.
To him your orchard's early fruits are due;
(A pleasing offering when 'tis made by you)
He values these; but yet, alas! complains
That still the best and dearest gift remains.
Not the fair fruit that on yon branches glows 100
With that ripe red th' autumnal sun bestows;
Nor tasteful herbs that in these gardens rise,
Which the kind soil with milky sap supplies;
You, only you, can move the god's desire:
Oh crown so constant and so pure a fire!
Let soft compassion touch your gentle mind:
Think, 'tis Vertumnus begs you to be kind:
So may no frost, when early buds appear,
Destroy the promise of the youthful year;
Nor winds, when first your florid orchard blows, 110
Shake the light blossoms from their blasted boughs!'
This, when the various god had urged in vain,
He straight assumed his native form again:
Such, and so bright an aspect now he bears,
As when through clouds th' emerging sun appears,
And thence exerting his refulgent ray,
Dispels the darkness, and reveals the day.
Force he prepared, but check'd the rash design;
For when, appearing in a form divine,
The nymph surveys him, and beholds the grace 120
Of charming features and a youthful face,
In her soft breast consenting passions move,
And the warm maid confess'd a mutual love.
THE FIRST BOOK OF STATIUS'S THEBAIS.
TRANSLATED IN THE YEAR 1703.
Oedipus, King of Thebes, having, by mistake, slain his father Laius, and
married his mother Jocasta, put out his own eyes, and resigned his realm
to his sons Eteocles and Polynices. Being neglected by them, he makes
his prayer to the fury Tisiphone, to sow debate betwixt the brothers.
They agree at last to reign singly, each a year by turns, and the first
lot is obtained by Eteocles. Jupiter, in a council of the gods, declares
his resolution of punishing the Thebans, and Argives also, by means of a
marriage betwixt Polynices and one of the daughters of Adrastus, King of
Argos. Juno opposes, but to no effect; and Mercury is sent on a message
to the shades, to the ghost of Laius, who is to appear to Eteocles, and
provoke him to break the agreement. Polynices, in the meantime, departs
from Thebes by night, is overtaken by a storm, and arrives at Argos,
where he meets with Tydeus, who had fled from Calydon, having killed his
brother. Adrastus entertains them, having received an oracle from Apollo
that his daughters should be married to a boar and a lion, which he
understands to be meant by these strangers, by whom the hides of those
beasts were worn, and who arrived at the time when he kept an annual
feast in honour of that god. The rise of this solemnity, he relates to
his guests; the loves of Phoebus and Psamathe, and the story of
Choroebus. He inquires, and is made acquainted with their descent and
quality. The sacrifice is renewed, and the book concludes with a hymn to
Fraternal rage, the guilty Thebes' alarms,
Th' alternate reign destroy'd by impious arms,
Demand our song; a sacred fury fires
My ravish'd breast, and all the Muse inspires.
O goddess! say, shall I deduce my rhymes
From the dire nation in its early times,
Europa's rape, Agenor's stern decree,
And Cadmus searching round the spacious sea?
How with the serpent's teeth he sow'd the soil,
And reap'd an iron harvest of his toil? 10
Or how from joining stones the city sprung,
While to his harp divine Amphion sung?
Or shall I Juno's hate to Thebes resound,
Whose fatal rage th' unhappy monarch found?
The sire against the son his arrows drew,
O'er the wide fields the furious mother flew,
And while her arms a second hope contain,
Sprung from the rocks, and plunged into the main.
But wave whate'er to Cadmus may belong,
And fix, O Muse! the barrier of thy song 20
At Oedipus--from his disasters trace
The long confusions of his guilty race:
Nor yet attempt to stretch thy bolder wing,
And mighty Caesar's conquering eagles sing;
How twice he tamed proud Ister's rapid flood,
While Dacian mountains stream'd with barbarous blood;
Twice taught the Rhine beneath his laws to roll,
And stretch'd his empire to the frozen pole;
Or, long before, with early valour strove
In youthful arms t' assert the cause of Jove. 30
And thou, great heir of all thy father's fame,
Increase of glory to the Latian name!
Oh! bless thy Rome with an eternal reign,
Nor let desiring worlds entreat in vain.
What though the stars contract their heavenly space,
And crowd their shining ranks to yield thee place;
Though all the skies, ambitious of thy sway,
Conspire to court thee from our world away;
Though Phoebus longs to mix his rays with thine,
And in thy glories more serenely shine; 40
Though Jove himself no less content would be
To part his throne, and share his heaven with thee:
Yet stay, great Cæsar! and vouchsafe to reign
O'er the wide earth, and o'er the watery main;
Resign to Jove his empire of the skies,
And people heaven with Roman deities.
The time will come when a diviner flame
Shall warm my breast to sing of Cæsar's fame;
Meanwhile, permit that my preluding Muse
In Theban wars an humbler theme may choose: 50
Of furious hate surviving death she sings,
A fatal throne to two contending kings,
And funeral flames, that, parting wide in air,
Express the discord of the souls they bear:
Of towns dispeopled, and the wandering ghosts
Of kings unburied in the wasted coasts;
When Dirce's fountain blush'd with Grecian blood,
And Thetis, near Ismenos' swelling flood,
With dread beheld the rolling surges sweep
In heaps his slaughter'd sons into the deep. 60
What hero, Clio! wilt thou first relate?
The rage of Tydeus, or the prophet's fate?
Or how, with hills of slain on every side,
Hippomedon repell'd the hostile tide?
Or how the youth, with every grace adorn'd,
Untimely fell, to be for ever mourn'd?
Then to fierce Capaneus thy verse extend,
And sing with horror his prodigious end.
Now wretched Oedipus, deprived of sight,
Led a long death in everlasting night; 70
But while he dwells where not a cheerful ray
Can pierce the darkness, and abhors the day,
The clear reflecting mind presents his sin
In frightful views, and makes it day within;
Returning thoughts in endless circles roll,
And thousand Furies haunt his guilty soul:
The wretch then lifted to th' unpitying skies
Those empty orbs from whence he tore his eyes,
Whose wounds, yet fresh, with bloody hands he strook,
While from his breast these dreadful accents broke: 80
'Ye gods! that o'er the gloomy regions reign,
Where guilty spirits feel eternal pain;
Thou, sable Styx! whose livid streams are roll'd
Through dreary coasts, which I though blind behold;
Tisiphone! that oft hast heard my prayer,
Assist, if Oedipus deserve thy care.
If you received me from Jocasta's womb,
And nursed the hope of mischiefs yet to come;
If, leaving Polybus, I took my way
To Cyrrha's temple, on that fatal day 90
When by the son the trembling father died,
Where the three roads the Phocian fields divide;
If I the Sphynx's riddles durst explain,
Taught by thyself to win the promised reign;
If wretched I, by baleful Furies led,
With monstrous mixture stain'd my mother's bed,
For hell and thee begot an impious brood,
And with full lust those horrid joys renew'd;
Then, self-condemn'd to shades of endless night,
Forced from these orbs the bleeding balls of sight; 100
Oh, hear! and aid the vengeance I require,
If worthy thee, and what thou might'st inspire!
My sons their old, unhappy sire despise,
Spoil'd of his kingdom, and deprived of eyes;
Guideless I wander, unregarded mourn,
Whilst these exalt their sceptres o'er my urn:
These sons, ye gods! who with flagitious pride
Insult my darkness and my groans deride.
Art thou a father, unregarding Jove!
And sleeps thy thunder in the realms above? 110
Thou Fury! then some lasting curse entail,
Which o'er their children's children shall prevail;
Place on their heads that crown, distain'd with gore,
Which these dire hands from my slain father tore;
Go! and a parent's heavy curses bear;
Break all the bonds of nature, and prepare
Their kindred souls to mutual hate and war.
Give them to dare, what I might wish to see,
Blind as I am, some glorious villany!
Soon shalt thou find, if thou but arm their hands, 120
Their ready guilt preventing thy commands:
Couldst thou some great proportion'd mischief frame,
They'd prove the father from whose loins they came.'
The Fury heard, while on Cocytus' brink
Her snakes, untied, sulphureous waters drink;
But at the summons roll'd her eyes around,
And snatch'd the starting serpents from the ground.
Not half so swiftly shoots along in air
The gliding lightning or descending star;
Through crowds of airy shades she wing'd her flight, 130
And dark dominions of the silent night;
Swift as she pass'd the flitting ghosts withdrew,
And the pale spectres trembled at her view:
To th' iron gates of Tenarus she flies,
There spreads her dusky pinions to the skies.
The day beheld, and, sickening at the sight,
Veil'd her fair glories in the shades of night.
Affrighted Atlas on the distant shore
Trembled, and shook the heavens and gods he bore.
Now from beneath Malea's airy height 140
Aloft she sprung, and steer'd to Thebes her flight;
With eager speed the well-known journey took,
Nor here regrets the hell she late forsook.
A hundred snakes her gloomy visage shade,
A hundred serpents guard her horrid head;
In her sunk eyeballs dreadful meteors glow:
Such rays from Phoebe's bloody circle flow,
When, labouring with strong charms, she shoots from high
A fiery gleam, and reddens all the sky.
Blood stain'd her cheeks, and from her mouth there came 150
Blue steaming poisons, and a length of flame.
From every blast of her contagious breath
Famine and drought proceed, and plagues and death.
A robe obscene was o'er her shoulders thrown,
A dress by Fates and Furies worn alone.
She toss'd her meagre arms; her better hand
In waving circles whirl'd a funeral brand:
A serpent from her left was seen to rear
His flaming crest, and lash the yielding air.
But when the Fury took her stand on high, 160
Where vast Cithæron's top salutes the sky,
A hiss from all the snaky tire went round:
The dreadful signal all the rocks rebound,
And through th' Achaian cities send the sound.
Oete, with high Parnassus, heard the voice;
Eurotas' banks remurmur'd to the noise;
Again Leucothoë shook at these alarms,
And press'd Palærmon closer in her arms.
Headlong from thence the glowing Fury springs,
And o'er the Theban palace spreads her wings, 170
Once more invades the guilty dome, and shrouds
Its bright pavilions in a veil of clouds.
Straight with the rage of all their race possess'd,
Stung to the soul, the brothers start from rest,
And all their Furies wake within their breast:
Their tortured minds repining Envy tears,
And Hate, engender'd by suspicious fears:
And sacred thirst of sway, and all the ties
Of nature broke; and royal perjuries;
And impotent desire to reign alone, 180
That scorns the dull reversion of a throne:
Each would the sweets of sovereign rule devour,
While Discord waits upon divided power.
As stubborn steers, by brawny ploughmen broke,
And join'd reluctant to the galling yoke,
Alike disdain with servile necks to bear
Th' unwonted weight, or drag the crooked share,
But rend the reins, and bound a different way,
And all the furrows in confusion lay:
Such was the discord of the royal pair 190
Whom fury drove precipitate to war.
In vain the chiefs contrived a specious way
To govern Thebes by their alternate sway:
Unjust decree! while this enjoys the state,
That mourns in exile his unequal fate,
And the short monarch of a hasty year
Foresees with anguish his returning heir.
Thus did the league their impious arms restrain,
But scarce subsisted to the second reign.
Yet then no proud aspiring piles were raised, 200
No fretted roofs with polish'd metals blazed;
No labour'd columns in long order placed,
No Grecian stone the pompous arches graced:
No nightly bands in glittering armour wait
Before the sleepless tyrant's guarded gate;
No chargers then were wrought in burnish'd gold,
Nor silver vases took the forming mould;
Nor gems on bowls emboss'd were seen to shine,
Blaze on the brims, and sparkle in the wine--
Say, wretched rivals! what provokes your rage? 210
Say, to what end your impious arms engage?
Not all bright Phoebus views in early morn,
Or when his evening beams the west adorn,
When the south glows with his meridian ray,
And the cold north receives a fainter day;
For crimes like these, not all those realms suffice,
Were all those realms the guilty victor's prize!
But Fortune now (the lots of empire thrown)
Decrees to proud Eteocles the crown:
What joys, O tyrant! swell'd thy soul that day, 220
When all were slaves thou couldst around survey,
Pleased to behold unbounded power thy own,
And singly fill a fear'd and envied throne!
But the vile vulgar, ever discontent,
Their growing fears in secret murmurs vent;
Still prone to change, though still the slaves of state,
And sure the monarch whom they have, to hate;
New lords they madly make, then tamely bear,
And softly curse the tyrants whom they fear.
And one of those who groan beneath the sway 230
Of kings imposed, and grudgingly obey,
(Whom envy to the great, and vulgar spite,
With scandal arm'd, th' ignoble mind's delight)
Exclaim'd--'O Thebes! for thee what fates remain,
What woes attend this inauspicious reign?
Must we, alas! our doubtful necks prepare
Each haughty master's yoke by turns to bear,
And still to change whom changed we still must fear?
These now control a wretched people's fate
These can divide, and these reverse the state: 240
E'en fortune rules no more--O servile land,
Where exiled tyrants still by turns command!
Thou sire of gods and men, imperial Jove!
Is this th' eternal doom decreed above?
On thy own offspring hast thou fix'd this fate
From the first birth of our unhappy state,
When banish'd Cadmus, wandering o'er the main,
For lost Europa search'd the world in vain,
And, fated in Boeotian fields to found,
A rising empire on a foreign ground, 250
First raised our walls on that ill omen'd plain
Where earth-born brothers were by brothers slain?
What lofty looks th' unrivall'd monarch bears!
How all the tyrant in his face appears!
What sullen fury clouds his scornful brow!
Gods! how his eyes with threatening ardour glow!
Can this imperious lord forget to reign,
Quit all his state, descend, and serve again?
Yet who, before, more popularly bow'd?
Who more propitious to the suppliant crowd? 260
Patient of right, familiar in the throne,
What wonder then? he was not then alone.
Oh wretched we! a vile, submissive train,
Fortune's tame fools, and slaves in every reign!
'As when two winds with rival force contend,
This way and that the wavering sails they bend,
While freezing Boreas and black Eurus blow,
Now here, now there, the reeling vessel throw;
Thus on each side, alas! our tottering state
Feels all the fury of resistless fate, 270
And doubtful still, and still distracted stands,
While that prince threatens, and while this commands.'
And now th' almighty Father of the gods
Convenes a council in the bless'd abodes.
Far in the bright recesses of the skies,
High o'er the rolling heavens, a mansion lies,
Whence, far below, the gods at once survey
The realms of rising and declining day,
And all th' extended space of earth, and air, and sea.
Full in the midst, and on a starry throne, 280
The Majesty of heaven superior shone:
Serene he look'd, and gave an awful nod,
And all the trembling spheres confess'd the god.
At Jove's assent the deities around
In solemn state the consistory crown'd.
Next a long order of inferior powers
Ascend from hills, and plains, and shady bowers;
Those from whose urns the rolling rivers flow,
And those that give the wandering winds to blow:
Here all their rage and ev'n their murmurs cease, 290
And sacred silence reigns, and universal peace.
A shining synod of majestic gods
Gilds with new lustre the divine abodes:
Heaven seems improved with a superior ray,
And the bright arch reflects a double day.
The monarch then his solemn silence broke,
The still creation listen'd while he spoke;
Each sacred accent bears eternal weight,
And each irrevocable word is fate.
'How long shall man the wrath of Heaven defy, 300
And force unwilling vengeance from the sky?
O race confederate into crimes, that prove
Triumphant o'er th' eluded rage of Jove!
This wearied arm can scarce the bolt sustain,
And unregarded thunder rolls in vain:
Th' o'erlabour'd Cyclops from his task retires,
Th' AEolian forge exhausted of its fires.
For this, I suffer'd Phoebus' steeds to stray,
And the mad ruler to misguide the day,
When the wide earth to heaps of ashes turn'd, 310
And Heaven itself the wandering chariot burn'd:
For this my brother of the watery reign
Released the impetuous sluices of the main;
But flames consumed, and billows raged in vain.
Two races now, allied to Jove, offend;
To punish these, see Jove himself descend.
The Theban kings their line from Cadmus trace,
From godlike Perseus those of Argive race.
Unhappy Cadmus' fate who does not know,
And the long series of succeeding woe? 320
How oft the Furies, from the deeps of night,
Arose, and mix'd with men in mortal fight;
Th' exulting mother stain'd with filial blood,
The savage hunter and the haunted wood?
The direful banquet why should I proclaim,
And crimes that grieve the trembling gods to name?
Ere I recount the sins of these profane,
The sun would sink into the western main,
And, rising, gild the radiant east again.
Have we not seen (the blood of Laius shed) 330
The murdering son ascend his parent's bed,
Through violated nature force his way,
And stain the sacred womb where once he lay?
Yet now in darkness and despair he groans,
And for the crimes of guilty fate atones;
His sons with scorn their eyeless father view,
Insult his wounds, and make them bleed anew.
Thy curse, O OEdipus! just Heaven alarms,
And sets th' avenging Thunderer in arms.
I from the root thy guilty race will tear, 340
And give the nations to the waste of war.
Adrastus soon, with gods averse, shall join
In dire alliance with the Theban line;
Hence strife shall rise, and mortal war succeed;
The guilty realms of Tantalus shall bleed:
Fix'd is their doom. This all-remembering breast
Yet harbours vengeance for the tyrant's feast.'
He said; and thus the queen of heaven return'd:
(With sudden grief her labouring bosom burn'd)
'Must I, whose cares Phoroneus' towers defend, 350
Must I, O Jove! in bloody wars contend?
Thou know'st those regions my protection claim,
Glorious in arms, in riches, and in fame:
Though there the fair Egyptian heifer fed,
And there deluded Argus slept and bled:
Though there the brazen tower was storm'd of old,
When Jove descended in almighty gold!
Yet I can pardon those obscurer rapes,
Those bashful crimes disguised in borrow'd shapes;
But Thebes, where, shining in celestial charms, 360
Thou cam'st triumphant to a mortal's arms,
When all my glories o'er her limbs were spread,
And blazing lightnings danced around her bed;
Cursed Thebes the vengeance it deserves may prove--
Ah! why should Argos feel the rage of Jove?
Yet since thou wilt thy sister-queen control,
Since still the lust of discord fires thy soul,
Go, raze my Samos, let Mycene fall,
And level with the dust the Spartan wall;
No more let mortals Juno's power invoke, 370
Her fanes no more with Eastern incense smoke,
Nor victims sink beneath the sacred stroke!
But to your Isis all my rights transfer,
Let altars blaze and temples smoke for her;
For her, through Egypt's fruitful clime renown'd,
Let weeping Nilus hear the timbrel sound.
But if thou must reform the stubborn times,
Avenging on the sons the fathers' crimes,
And from the long records of distant age
Derive incitements to renew thy rage; 380
Say, from what period then has Jove design'd
To date his vengeance? to what bounds confined?
Begin from thence, where first Alpheus hides
His wandering stream, and through the briny tides
Unmix'd to his Sicilian river glides.
Thy own Arcadians there the thunder claim,
Whose impious rites disgrace thy mighty name;
Who raise thy temples where the chariot stood
Of fierce Oenomaüs, defiled with blood;
Where once his steeds their savage banquet found, 390
And human bones yet whiten all the ground.
Say, can those honours please? and canst thou love
Presumptuous Crete, that boasts the tomb of Jove?
And shall not Tantalus's kingdoms share
Thy wife and sister's tutelary care?
Reverse, O Jove! thy too severe decree,
Nor doom to war a race derived from thee;
On impious realms and barbarous kings impose
Thy plagues, and curse them with such sons as those.'
Thus in reproach and prayer the queen express'd 400
The rage and grief contending in her breast;
Unmoved remain'd the ruler of the sky,
And from his throne return'd this stern reply:
''Twas thus I deem'd thy haughty soul would bear
The dire, though just revenge which I prepare
Against a nation thy peculiar care:
No less Dione might for Thebes contend.
Nor Bacchus less his native town defend;
Yet these in silence see the Fates fulfil
Their work, and reverence our superior will: 410
For by the black infernal Styx I swear,
(That dreadful oath which binds the Thunderer)
'Tis fix'd, th' irrevocable doom of Jove;
No force can bend me, no persuasion more.
Haste then, Cyllenius, through the liquid air;
Go, mount the winds, and to the shades repair;
Bid hell's black monarch my commands obey,
And give up Laius to the realms of day,
Whose ghost yet shivering on Cocytus' sand
Expects its passage to the further strand: 420
Let the pale sire revisit Thebes, and bear
These pleasing orders to the tyrant's ear;
That, from his exiled brother, swell'd with pride
Of foreign forces and his Argive bride,
Almighty Jove commands him to detain
The promised empire, and alternate reign:
Be this the cause of more than mortal hate;
The rest, succeeding times shall ripen into fate.'
The god obeys, and to his feet applies
Those golden wings that cut the yielding skies; 430
His ample hat his beamy locks o'erspread,
And veil'd the starry glories of his head.
He seized the wand that causes sleep to fly,
Or in soft slumbers seals the wakeful eye;
That drives the dead to dark Tartarean coasts,
Or back to life compels the wandering ghosts.
Thus through the parting clouds the son of May
Wings on the whistling winds his rapid way;
Now smoothly steers through air his equal flight,
Now springs aloft, and towers th' ethereal height: 440
Then wheeling down the steep of heaven he flies,
And draws a radiant circle o'er the skies.
Meantime the banish'd Polynices roves
(His Thebes abandon'd) through the Aonian groves,
While future realms his wandering thoughts delight,
His daily vision, and his dream by night;
Forbidden Thebes appears before his eye,
From whence he sees his absent brother fly,
With transport views the airy rule his own,
And swells on an imaginary throne. 450
Fain would he cast a tedious age away,
And live out all in one triumphant day.
He chides the lazy progress of the sun,
And bids the year with swifter motion run:
With anxious hopes his craving mind is toss'd
And all his joys in length of wishes lost.
The hero then resolves his course to bend
Where ancient Danaus' fruitful fields extend;
And famed Mycene's lofty towers ascend;
(Where late the sun did Atreus' crimes detest, 460
And disappear'd in horror of the feast).
And now by chance, by fate, or furies led,
From Bacchus' consecrated caves he fled,
Where the shrill cries of frantic matrons sound,
And Pentheus' blood enrich'd the rising ground;
Then sees Cithaeron towering o'er the plain,
And thence declining gently to the main;
Next to the bounds of Nisus' realm repairs,
Where treacherous Scylla cut the purple hairs;
The hanging cliffs of Scyron's rock explores, 470
And hears the murmurs of the different shores;
Passes the strait that parts the foaming seas,
And stately Corinth's pleasing site surveys.
'Twas now the time when Phoebus yields to night,
And rising Cynthia sheds her silver light;
Wide o'er the world in solemn pomp she drew
Her airy chariot, hung with pearly dew:
All birds and beasts lie hush'd; sleep steals away
The wild desires of men, and toils of day,
And brings, descending through the silent air, 480
A sweet forgetfulness of human care.
Yet no red clouds, with golden borders gay,
Promise the skies the bright return of day;
No faint reflections of the distant light
Streak with long gleams the scattering shades of night:
From the damp earth impervious vapours rise,
Increase the darkness, and involve the skies.
At once the rushing winds with roaring sound
Burst from th' Æolian caves, and rend the ground;
With equal rage their airy quarrel try, 490
And win by turns the kingdom of the sky;
But with a thicker night black Auster shrouds
The heavens, and drives on heaps the rolling clouds,
From whose dark womb a rattling tempest pours,
Which the cold north congeals to haily showers.
From pole to pole the thunder roars aloud,
And broken lightnings flash from every cloud.
Now smokes with showers the misty mountain-ground,
And floated fields lie undistinguish'd round;
Th' Inachian streams with headlong fury run, 500
And Erasinus rolls a deluge on;
The foaming Lerna swells above its bounds,
And spreads its ancient poisons o'er the grounds:
Where late was dust, now rapid torrents play,
Rush through the mounds, and bear the dams away:
Old limbs of trees, from crackling forests torn,
Are whirl'd in air, and on the winds are borne:
The storm the dark Lycæan groves display'd,
And first to light exposed the sacred shade.
Th' intrepid Theban hears the bursting sky,
Sees yawning rocks in massy fragments fly,
And views astonish'd, from the hills afar,
The floods descending, and the watery war, 510
That, driven by storms, and pouring o'er the plain,
Swept herds, and hinds, and houses to the main.
Through the brown horrors of the night he fled,
Nor knows, amazed, what doubtful path to tread;
His brother's image to his mind appears,
Inflames his heart with rage, and wings his feet with fears.
So fares the sailor on the stormy main, 520
When clouds conceal Bootes' golden wain,
When not a star its friendly lustre keeps,
Nor trembling Cynthia glimmers on the deeps;
He dreads the rocks, and shoals, and seas, and skies,
While thunder roars, and lightning round him flies.
Thus strove the chief, on every side distress'd;
Thus still his courage with his toils increased:
With his broad shield opposed, he forced his way
Through thickest woods, and roused the beasts of prey
Till he beheld, where from Larissa's height, 530
The shelving walls reflect a glancing light:
Thither with haste the Theban hero flies;
On this side Lerna's poisonous water lies,
On that Prosymna's grove and temple rise:
He pass'd the gates which then unguarded lay,
And to the regal palace bent his way;
On the cold marble, spent with toil, he lies,
And waits till pleasing slumbers seal his eyes.
Adrastus here his happy people sways,
Bless'd with calm peace in his declining days; 540
By both his parents of descent divine,
Great Jove and Phoebus graced his noble line:
Heaven had not crown'd his wishes with a son,
But two fair daughters heir'd his state and throne.
To him Apollo (wondrous to relate!
But who can pierce into the depths of fate?)
Had sung--'Expect thy sons on Argos' shore,
A yellow lion and a bristly boar.'
This, long revolved in his paternal breast,
Sat heavy on his heart, and broke his rest; 550
This, great Amphiaraus! lay hid from thee,
Though skill'd in fate and dark futurity.
The father's care and prophet's art were vain,
For thus did the predicting god ordain.
Lo, hapless Tydeus, whose ill-fated hand
Had slain his brother, leaves his native land,
And, seized with horror, in the shades of night,
Through the thick deserts headlong urged his flight:
Now by the fury of the tempest driven,
He seeks a shelter from th' inclement heaven, 560
Till, led by fate, the Theban's steps he treads,
And to fair Argos' open court succeeds.
When thus the chiefs from different lands resort
To Adrastus' realms and hospitable court,
The king surveys his guests with curious eyes,
And views their arms and habit with surprise.
A lion's yellow skin the Theban wears,
Horrid his mane, and rough with curling hairs:
Such once employ'd Alcides' youthful toils,
Ere yet adorn'd with Nemea's dreadful spoils. 570
A boar's stiff hide, of Calydonian breed,
Oenides' manly shoulders overspread;
Oblique his tusks, erect his bristles stood,
Alive, the pride and terror of the wood.
Struck with the sight, and fix'd in deep amaze,
The king th' accomplish'd oracle surveys,
Reveres Apollo's vocal caves, and owns
The guiding godhead, and his future sons.
O'er all his bosom secret transports reign,
And a glad horror shoots through every vein: 580
To heaven he lifts his hands, erects his sight,
And thus invokes the silent queen of night:
'Goddess of shades! beneath whose gloomy reign
Yon spangled arch glows with the starry train;
You who the cares of heaven and earth allay
Till nature, quicken'd by th' inspiring ray,
Wakes to new vigour with the rising day:
O thou who freest me from my doubtful state,
Long lost and wilder'd in the maze of fate,
Be present still, O goddess! in our aid; 590
Proceed, and firm those omens thou hast made.
We to thy name our annual rites will pay,
And on thy altars sacrifices lay;
The sable flock shall fall beneath the stroke,
And fill thy temples with a grateful smoke.
Hail, faithful Tripos! hail, ye dark abodes
Of awful Phoebus; I confess the gods!'
Thus, seized with sacred fear, the monarch pray'd;
Then to his inner court the guests convey'd,
Where yet thin fumes from dying sparks arise, 600
And dust yet white upon each altar lies,
The relics of a former sacrifice.
The king once more the solemn rites requires,
And bids renew the feasts and wake the fires.
His train obey; while all the courts around
With noisy care and various tumult sound.
Embroider'd purple clothes the golden beds;
This slave the floor, and that the table spreads;
A third dispels the darkness of the night,
And fills depending lamps with beams of light; 610
Here loaves in canisters are piled on high,
And there in flames the slaughter'd victims fly.
Sublime in regal state Adrastus shone,
Stretch'd on rich carpets on his ivory throne;
A lofty couch receives each princely guest;
Around, at awful distance, wait the rest.
And now the king, his royal feast to grace,
Acestis calls, the guardian of his race,
Who first their youth in arts of virtue train'd,
And their ripe years in modest grace maintain'd; 620
Then softly whisper'd in her faithful ear,
And bade his daughters at the rites appear.
When from the close apartments of the night
The royal nymphs approach, divinely bright,
Such was Diana's, such Minerva's face;
Nor shine their beauties with superior grace,
But that in these a milder charm endears,
And less of terror in their looks appears.
As on the heroes first they cast their eyes,
O'er their fair cheeks the glowing blushes rise; 630
Their downcast looks a decent shame confess'd,
Then on their father's reverend features rest.
The banquet done, the monarch gives the sign
To fill the goblet high with sparkling wine,
Which Danaus used in sacred rites of old,
With sculpture graced, and rough with rising gold:
Here to the clouds victorious Perseus flies,
Medusa seems to move her languid eyes,
And, e'en in gold, turns paler as she dies:
There from the chase Jove's towering eagle bears, 640
On golden wings, the Phrygian to the stars;
Still as he rises in th' ethereal height,
His native mountains lessen to his sight,
While all his sad companions upward gaze,
Fix'd on the glorious scene in wild amaze;
And the swift hounds, affrighted as he flies,
Run to the shade, and bark against the skies.
This golden bowl with generous juice was crown'd,
The first libation sprinkled on the ground;
By turns on each celestial power they call; 650
With Phoebus' name resounds the vaulted hall.
The courtly train, the strangers, and the rest,
Crown'd with chaste laurel, and with garlands dress'd,
While with rich gums the fuming altars blaze,
Salute the god in numerous hymns of praise.
Then thus the king: 'Perhaps, my noble guests,
These honour'd altars, and these annual feasts
To bright Apollo's awful name design'd,
Unknown, with wonder may perplex your mind.
Great was the cause: our old solemnities 660
From no blind zeal or fond tradition rise;
But saved from death, our Argives yearly pay
These grateful honours to the god of day.
'When by a thousand darts the Python slain,
With orbs unroll'd lay covering all the plain,
(Transfix'd as o'er Castalia's streams he hung,
And suck'd new poisons with his triple tongue),
To Argos' realms the victor god resorts,
And enters old Crotopus' humble courts.
This rural prince one only daughter bless'd, 670
That all the charms of blooming youth possess'd;
Pair was her face, and spotless was her mind,
Where filial love with virgin sweetness join'd:
Happy! and happy still she might have proved,
Were she less beautiful, or less beloved!
But Phoebus loved, and on the flowery side
Of Nemea's stream the yielding fair enjoy'd.
Now, ere ten moons their orb with light adorn,
Th' illustrious offspring of the god was born;
The nymph, her father's anger to evade, 680
Retires from Argos to the sylvan shade;
To woods and wilds the pleasing burden bears,
And trusts her infant to a shepherd's cares.
'How mean a fate, unhappy child! is thine!
Ah! how unworthy those of race divine!
On flowery herbs in some green covert laid,
His bed the ground, his canopy the shade,
He mixes with the bleating lambs his cries,
While the rude swain his rural music tries,
To call soft slumbers on his infant eyes. 690
Yet ev'n in those obscure abodes to live
Was more, alas! than cruel fate would give;
For on the grassy verdure as he lay,
And breathed the freshness of the early day,
Devouring dogs the helpless infant tore,
Fed on his trembling limbs, and lapp'd the gore.
Th' astonish'd mother, when the rumour came,
Forgets her father, and neglects her fame;
With loud complaints she fills the yielding air,
And beats her breast, and rends her flowing hair; 700
Then, wild with anguish, to her sire she flies,
Demands the sentence, and contented dies.
'But, touch'd with sorrow for the deed too late,
The raging god prepares t' avenge her fate.
He sends a monster horrible and fell,
Begot by Furies in the depths of hell.
The pest a virgin's face and bosom bears;
High on her crown a rising snake appears,
Guards her black front, and hisses in her hairs:
About the realm she walks her dreadful round, 710
When Night with sable wings o'erspreads the ground,
Devours young babes before their parents' eyes,
And feeds and thrives on public miseries.
'But generous rage the bold Choroebus warms,
Choroebus, famed for virtue as for arms.
Some few like him, inspired with martial flame,
Thought a short life well lost for endless fame.
These, where two ways in equal parts divide,
The direful monster from afar descried,
Two bleeding babes depending at her side, 720
Whose panting vitals, warm with life, she draws,
And in their hearts imbrues her cruel claws.
The youths surround her with extended spears;
But brave Choroebus in the front appears;
Deep in her breast he plunged his shining sword,
And hell's dire monster back to hell restored.
Th' Inachians view the slain with vast surprise,
Her twisting volumes, and her rolling eyes,
Her spotted breast, and gaping womb, imbrued
With livid poison and our children's blood. 730
The crowd in stupid wonder fix'd appear,
Pale ev'n in joy, nor yet forget to fear.
Some with vast beams the squalid corse engage,
And weary all the wild efforts of rage.
The birds obscene, that nightly flock'd to taste,
With hollow screeches fled the dire repast;
And ravenous dogs, allured by scented blood,
And starving wolves, ran howling to the wood.
'But fired with rage, from cleft Parnassus' brow
Avenging Phoebus bent his deadly bow, 740
And hissing flew the feather'd fates below:
A night of sultry clouds involved around
The towers, the fields, and the devoted ground:
And now a thousand lives together fled;
Death with his scythe cut off the fatal thread,
And a whole province in his triumph led.
'But Phoebus, ask'd why noxious fires appear,
And raging Sirius blasts the sickly year,
Demands their lives by whom his monster fell,
And dooms a dreadful sacrifice to hell. 750
'Bless'd be thy dust, and let eternal fame
Attend thy manes, and preserve thy name,
Undaunted hero! who, divinely brave,
In such a cause disdained thy life to save,
But view'd the shrine with a superior look,
And its upbraided godhead thus bespoke:
"With piety, the soul's securest guard,
And conscious virtue, still its own reward,
Willing I come, unknowing how to fear,
Nor shalt thou, Phoebus, find a suppliant here: 760
Thy monster's death to me was owed alone,
And 'tis a deed too glorious to disown.
Behold him here, for whom, so many days,
Impervious clouds conceal'd thy sullen rays;
For whom, as man no longer claim'd thy care,
Such numbers fell by pestilential air!
But if th' abandon'd race of human kind
From gods above no more compassion find;
If such inclemency in heaven can dwell,
Yet why must unoffending Argos feel 770
The vengeance due to this unlucky steel?
On me, on me, let all thy fury fall,
Nor err from me, since I deserve it all:
Unless our desert cities please thy sight,
Or funeral flames reflect a grateful light.
Discharge thy shafts, this ready bosom rend,
And to the shades a ghost triumphant send;
But for my country let my fate atone;
Be mine the vengeance, as the crime my own!"
'Merit distress'd, impartial heaven relieves: 780
Unwelcome life relenting Phoebus gives;
For not the vengeful power, that glow'd with rage,
With such amazing virtue durst engage.
The clouds dispersed, Apollo's wrath expired,
And from the wondering god th' unwilling youth retired.
Thence we these altars in his temple raise,
And offer annual honours, feasts, and praise;
These solemn feasts propitious Phoebus please;
These honours, still renew'd, his ancient wrath appease.
'But say, illustrious guest, (adjoin'd the king) 790
What name you bear, from what high race you spring?
The noble Tydeus stands confess'd, and known
Our neighbour prince, and heir of Calydon:
Relate your fortunes, while the friendly night
And silent hours to various talk invite.'
The Theban bends on earth his gloomy eyes,
Confused, and sadly thus at length replies:--
'Before these altars how shall I proclaim
(O generous prince!) my nation or my name,
Or through what veins our ancient blood has roll'd? 800
Let the sad tale for ever rest untold!
Yet if, propitious to a wretch unknown,
You seek to share in sorrows not your own,
Know then from Cadmus I derive my race,
Jocasta's son, and Thebes my native place.'
To whom the king (who felt his generous breast
Touch'd with concern for his unhappy guest)
Replies--'Ah! why forbears the son to name
His wretched father, known too well by fame?
Fame, that delights around the world to stray, 810
Scorns not to take our Argos in her way.
Ev'n those who dwell where suns at distance roll,
In northern wilds, and freeze beneath the pole,
And those who tread the burning Libyan lands,
The faithless Syrtes, and the moving sands;
Who view the western sea's extremest bounds,
Or drink of Ganges in their eastern grounds;
All these the woes of Oedipus have known,
Your fates, your furies, and your haunted town.
If on the sons the parents' crimes descend, 820
What prince from those his lineage can defend?
Be this thy comfort, that 'tis thine t' efface,
With virtuous acts, thy ancestors' disgrace,
And be thyself the honour of thy race.
But see! the stars begin to steal away,
And shine more faintly at approaching day;
Now pour the wine; and in your tuneful lays
Once more resound the great Apollo's praise.'
'O father Phoebus! whether Lycia's coast
And snowy mountains thy bright presence boast: 830
Whether to sweet Castalia thou repair,
And bathe in silver dews thy yellow hair;
Or pleased to find fair Delos float no more,
Delight in Cynthus and the shady shore;
Or choose thy seat in Ilion's proud abodes,
The shining structures raised by labouring gods:
By thee the bow and mortal shafts are borne;
Eternal charms thy blooming youth adorn:
Skill'd in the laws of secret fate above,
And the dark counsels of almighty Jove, 840
'Tis thine the seeds of future war to know,
The change of sceptres and impending woe,
When direful meteors spread through glowing air
Long trails of light and shake their blazing hair.
Thy rage the Phrygian felt, who durst aspire
T' excel the music of thy heavenly lyre;
Thy shafts avenged lewd Tityus' guilty flame,
Th' immortal victim of thy mother's fame;
Thy hand slew Python, and the dame who lost
Her numerous offspring for a fatal boast. 850
In Phlegyas' doom thy just revenge appears,
Condemn'd to Furies and eternal fears;
He views his food, but dreads, with lifted eye,
The mouldering rock that trembles from on high.
'Propitious hear our prayer, O power divine!
And on thy hospitable Argos shine;
Whether the style of Titan please thee more,
Whose purple rays th' Achæmenes adore:
Or great Osiris, who first taught the swain
In Pharian fields to sow the golden grain; 860
Or Mithra, to whose beams the Persian bows,
And pays, in hollow rocks, his awful vows;
Mithra! whose head the blaze of light adorns,
Who grasps the struggling heifer's lunar horns.'
* * * * *
JANUARY AND MAY.
There lived in Lombardy, as authors write,
In days of old, a wise and worthy knight;
Of gentle manners, as of generous race,
Bless'd with much sense, more riches, and some grace:
Yet, led astray by Venus' soft delights,
He scarce could rule some idle appetites:
For long ago, let priests say what they could,
Weak sinful laymen were but flesh and blood.
But in due time, when sixty years were o'er,
He vow'd to lead this vicious life no more; 10
Whether pure holiness inspired his mind,
Or dotage turn'd his brain, is hard to find;
But his high courage prick'd him forth to wed,
And try the pleasures of a lawful bed.
This was his nightly dream, his daily care,
And to the heavenly powers his constant prayer,
Once, ere he died, to taste the blissful life
Of a kind husband and a loving wife.
These thoughts he fortified with reasons still
(For none want reasons to confirm their will). 20
Grave authors say, and witty poets sing,
That honest wedlock is a glorious thing:
But depth of judgment most in him appears
Who wisely weds in his maturer years.
Then let him choose a damsel young and fair,
To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir;
To soothe his cares, and, free from noise and strife,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life.
Let sinful bachelors their woes deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more: 30
Unawed by precepts, human or divine,
Like birds and beasts, promiscuously they join;
Nor know to make the present blessing last,
To hope the future, or esteem the past:
But vainly boast the joys they never tried,
And find divulged the secrets they would hide.
The married man may bear his yoke with ease,
Secure at once himself and Heaven to please;
And pass his inoffensive hours away,
In bliss all night, and innocence all day: 40
Though fortune change, his constant spouse remains,
Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what so pure which envious tongues will spare?
Some wicked wits have libell'd all the fair.
With matchless impudence they style a wife
The dear-bought curse, and lawful plague of life;
A bosom serpent, a domestic evil,
A night invasion, and a midday devil.
Let not the wise these slanderous words regard,
But curse the bones of every lying bard. 50
All other goods by fortune's hand are given,
A wife is the peculiar gift of Heaven.
Vain fortune's favours, never at a stay,
Like empty shadows, pass, and glide away;
One solid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly supplies us all our life:
This blessing lasts (if those who try say true)
As long as heart can wish--and longer too.
Our grandsire Adam, ere of Eve possess'd,
Alone, and e'en in Paradise unbless'd, 60
With mournful looks the blissful scenes survey'd,
And wander'd in the solitary shade.
The Maker saw, took pity, and bestow'd
Woman, the last, the best reserved of God.
A wife! ah, gentle deities! can he
That has a wife e'er feel adversity?