Page images
PDF
EPUB

While Vengeance, in the lurid air,
Lifts her red arın, expos'd and bare:
On whom that ravening Brood of fate,
Who lap the blood of Sorrow, wait;
Who, Fear, this ghastly train can see,
And look not madly wild, like thee?

EPODE.

In earliest Greece, to thee, with partial choice,

The grief-full Muse addrest her infant tongue; The maids and matrons, on her awful voice

Silent and pale in wild amazement hung.

Yet he, the Bard* who first invok'd thy name,

Disdain'd in Marathon its power to feel : For not alone he nurs’d the poet's flame,

But reach'd from Virtue's hand the patriot's steel.

But who is he, whom later garlands grace,

Who left a while o’er Hybla's dews to rove, With trembling eyes thy dreary steps to trace,

Where thou and Furies shar’d the baleful grove P't

* Æschylus.-In his play, entitled Eumenides (Furies),he introduced a chorus of 50 persons, whose habits, gestures, and appearance altogether, were so formidable, as to terrify the whole audience. Æschylus fought at the battle of Marathon.-C.

† The allusion here is to the Edipus Coloneus of Sophocles, which con. tains the most sublime scene in the whole compass of the Greeian Drama, of that kind of sublimity which arises from the obscure, and is calculated to produce terror.-See Ed. Col. v. 1658.-C.

Wrapt in thy cloudy veil th' incestuous Queen*

Sigh'd the sad call her son and husband heard, When once alone it broke the silent scene,

And he the wretch of Thebes no more appear’d. Ο Fear, I know thee by my throbbing heart,

Thy withering power inspir'd each mournful line, Tho’gentle pity claim her mingled part,

Yet all the thunders of the scene are thine!

* Jocasta.-This is a little inaccurate : it was not Jocasta who called, nor was the call sighed out:

:-
Ην μεν σιωπη" φθεγμα δ' εξαίφνης τινος
Θωυξεν αυλον, ωςε πανιας ορθιας
Σησαι φοβω δεισανίας εξαιφνης τριχας"
Καλει γαρ αυτον πολλα πολλακις Θεος,
Ω ουλος ουλος Οιδιπες,κτλ. ν. 1694.

there was silence for a while ;
But sudden he was summond by a voice
That made our hairs all stand on end who heard it;
Some deity so loud and often called

· Thou, Edipus The person who makes this report goes on to relate, that Edipus then ordered them all to depart except Theseus, who alone was to witness liis end.

ως δ' απηλθομεν
Χρονο βραχει ςραφενίες, εξαπειλομεν
Τον Ανδρα, τον μεν, αδαμε παρον7' οτι,
Ανακλα δ' αυτον ομμαίων επισκιον
Χειρ' αντεχονία κραίος, ως δεινά τινος
Φοβε φανενloς, εδ' ανασχεθε βλεπειν. ν. 1718.

At his command we came away ;
When shortly after turning round to view,

ANTISTROPHE.

Thou who such weary lengths hast past,
Where wilt thou rest, mad Nymph, at last?
Say, wilt thou shroud in haunted cell,
Where gloomy Rape and Murder dwell ?
Or in some hollow'd seat,
'Gainst which the big waves beat,
Hear drowning seamen's cries in tempest brought!
Dark Power, with shuddering meek submitted thought,
Be mine, to read the visions old,
Which thy awakening bards have told:
And, lest thou meet my blasted view,
Hold each strange tale devoutly true.

e'er be I found, by thee over-aw'd,
In that thrice-hallow'd eve* abroad,
When ghosts, as cottage-unaids believe,
Their pebbled beds permitted leave,
And goblins haunt from fire or fen,
Or mine, or flood, the walks of men !

Him we saw not, for he was gone; but Theseus
Stood with his hand o'ershadowing his eyes,

As from a fearful sight intolerable.
The mysterious fate of the British King Arthur is recorded in our old
English ballad, with some circumstances that may remind us of this Grecian
catastrophe.-See Percy's Ant. Songs, vol.3.-C.

* The eve which was hallowed, one might imagine, should rather be free from all these objects of fear, as Suakspeare represents it:

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,

O thou whose spirit most possest The sacred seat of Shakspeare's breast ! By all that from thy prophet broke, In thy divine emotions spoke! Hither again thy fury deal, Teach me but once like him to feel : His

my

meed decree, And I, O Fear, will dwell with thee !*

cypress wreath

The bird of dawning singeth all night long :
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, no witch bath power to charm;
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.-Hamlet, A. 1, S. l.

which have been thus translated ;

Et quoties redeunt natalia tempora Christi
Nocturnas gallum usque ferunt cantare per horas :
Tum quoque & innocuas stellas tenebrasque salubres
Esse ferunt; illo nam tempore dira vetantur
Spectra suis exire locis, lemuresque latescunt,
Et sagis lædendi est interdicta potestas ;
Tanta est sacratæ reverentia credita nocti.-C.

* It is difficult to keep entirely separate the active and passive qualities of allegorical personages: difficult to say whether such a thing as Fear should be the agent in inspiring, or the victim agitated by the passion. In this ode the latter idea prevails; for Fear appears in the character of a nymph pursued, like D.iyden's Honoria, by the ravening brood of Fate. She is distracted by the ghastly train conjured up by Danger, and hunted through the world without being suffered to take repose : yet this idea is somewhat departed from, when the poet endeavours to propitiate Fear, by offering her, as a suitable abode, the cell where Rape and Murder dwell;

ODE TO SIMPLICITY.

O thou by Nature taught,

To breathe her genuine thought,
In numbers warmly pure, and sweetly strong:

Who first on mountains wild,

In Fancy, loveliest child, Thy babe, and Pleasure's, nurs’d the powers of song !

Thou, who with hermit heart

Disdain'st the wealth of art,
And gauds, and pageant weeds, and trailing pall:

But com’st a decent maid,

In Attic robe array'd,
O‘chaste, unboastful nymph, to thee I call!

By all the honey'd store
On Hybla's thymy shore,

or a cave whence she may hear the cries of drowning seamen. She then becomes the Power who delights in inflicting fear. But perhaps the reader is an enemy to his own gratitication, who investigates the attributes of these shadowy beings, with too nice and curious an eye.-B.

* Hybla is a mountain in Sicily; but this allegorical imagery of the honey store, the blooms, and murmurs of Hybla, alludes to the sweetness. and beauty of the Attic poetry.-L.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »