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While Vengeance, in the lurid air,
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:
there was silence for a while ;
· 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
At his command we came away ;
Thou who such weary lengths hast past,
e'er be I found, by thee over-aw'd,
Him we saw not, for he was gone; but Theseus
As from a fearful sight intolerable.
* 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
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
meed decree, And I, O Fear, will dwell with thee !*
The bird of dawning singeth all night long :
which have been thus translated ;
Et quoties redeunt natalia tempora Christi
* 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,
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,
But com’st a decent maid,
In Attic robe array'd,
By all the honey'd store
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.