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(Such was the force of Merlin's art), became
Pregnant with Arthur of heroic fame.
These themes I now revolve,-and oh-if Fate
Proportion to these themes my lengthened date,
Adieu my shepherd's reed! yon pine-tree bough
Shall be thy future home; there dangle thou
Forgotten and disused, unless ere long
Thou change thy Latian for a British song.
A British?-even so,—the powers of man
Are bounded; little is the most he can:
And it shall well suffice me, and shall be
Fame, and proud recompense enough for me,
If Usa, golden-haired, my verse may learn.
If Alain bending o'er his crystal urn,
Swift-whirling Abra, Trent's o'ershadowed stream,
Thames, lovelier far than all in my esteem,
Tamar's ore-tinctured flood, and, after these,
The wave-worn shores of utmost Orcades.
“Go, go, my lambs, untended homeward fare ;
My thoughts are all now due to other care.
All this I kept in leaves of laurel-rind
Enfolded safe, and for thy view designed;
This, and a gift from Manso's hand beside,
(Manso, not least his native city's pride) -
Two cups, that radiant as their giver shone,
Adorned by sculpture with a double zone.
The spring was graven there ; here slowly wind
The Red-sea shores with groves of spices lined ;
Her plumes of various hues amid the boughs
The sacred solitary Phænix shows,
And, watchful of the dawn, reverts her head,
To see Aurora leave her watery bed.
In other part, the expansive vault above,
And there too, even there, the god of love ;
With quiver armed he mounts, his torch displays
A vivid light, his gem-tipt arrows blaze ;
Around his bright and fiery eyes he rolls,
Nor aims at vulgar minds, or little souls,
Nor deigns one look below, but aiming high
Sends every arrow to the lofty sky;
Hence forms divine, and minds immortal, learn
The power of Cupid, and enamoured burn.
“Thou also, Damon, (neither need I fear
That hope delusive) thou art also there;
For whither should simplicity like thine
Retire? where else such spotless virtue shine ?
Thou dwell'st not (thought profane) in shades below,
Nor tears suit thee ;-cease then, my tears, to flow !
Away with grief, on Damon ill bestowed !
Who, pure himself, has found a pure abode,
Has passed the showery arch, henceforth resides
With saints and heroes, and from flowing tides
Quaffs copious immortality and joy,
With hallowed lips !-Oh! blest without alloy,
And now enriched with all that faith can claim,
Look down, entreated by whatever name !
If Damon please thee most, that rural sound
Shall oft with echoes fill the groves around ;
Or if Diodatus, by which alone
In those ethereal mansions thou art known.
Thy blush was maiden, and thy youth the taste
Of wedded bliss knew never, pure and chaste ;
The honours therefore by divine decree
The lot of virgin worth are given to thee.
Thy brows encircled with a radiant band,
And the green palm-branch waving in thy hand,
Thou in immortal nuptials shalt rejoice,
And join with seraphs thy according voice,
Where rapture reigns, and the ecstatic lyre
Guides the blest orgies of the blazing choir.”
AN ODE ADDRESSED TO MR. JOHN ROUSE,
LIBRARIAN OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD. On a lost volume of my poems, which he desired me to replace, that he might aud them to my other works deposited in the library,
My twofold book ! single in show,
But double in contents,
Neat, but not curiously adorned, -
Which, in his early youth,
A poet gave, no lofty one in truth,
Although an earnest wooer of the Muse
Say, while in cool Ausonian shades
Or British wilds he roamed,
Striking by turns his native lyre,
By turns the Daunian lute,
And stepped almost in air,-
Say, little book, what furtive hand
Thee from thy fellow-books conveyed,
What time, at the repeated suit
Of my most learned friend,
I sent thee forth an honoured traveller,
From our great city to the source of Thames,
Where rise the fountains, and the raptures ring
Of the Aonian choir,
Durable as yonder spheres,
And through the endless lapse of years
Secure to be admired ?
Now what god, or demigod,
For Britain's ancient genius moved
(If our afflicted land
Have expiated at length the guilty sloth
Of her degenerate sons)
Shall terminate our impious feuds,
And discipline, with hallowed voice, recall ?
Recall the Muses too,
Driven from their ancient seats
In Albion, and well nigh from Albion's shore,
And with keen Phæbean shafts
Piercing the unseemly birds
Whose talons menace us,
Shall drive the harpy race from Helicon afar?
But thou, my book, though thou hast strayed,
Whether by treachery lost,
Or indolent neglect, thy bearer's fault,
From all thy kindred books,
To some dark cell, or cave forlorn,
Where thou endur'st, perhaps,
The chafing of some hard untutored hand,
For lo ! again the splendid hope appears
That thou mayst yet escape
The gulfs of Lethe, and on oary wings
Mount to the everlasting courts of Jove !
Since Rouse desires thee, and complains
That, though by promise his,
Thou yet appear'st not in thy place
Among the literary noble stores
Given to his care,
But, absent, leav'st his numbers incomplete.
He therefore, guardian vigilant
Of that unperishing wealth,
Calls thee to the interior shrine, his charge,
Where he intends a richer treasure far
Than Iön kept (lön, Erectheus' son
Illustrious, of the fair Creüsa born)
In the resplendent temple of his god,
Tripods of gold, and Delphic gifts divine.
Haste, then, to the pleasant groves
The Muses' favourite haunt ;
Resume thy station in Apollo's dome.
Dearer to him
Than Delos, or the fork'd Parnassian hill !
Exulting go, Since now a splendid lot is also thine, And thou art sought by my propitious friend;
For there thou shalt be read
With authors of exalted note, The ancient glorious lights of Greece and Rome.
Ye then, my works, no longer vain,
And worthless deemed by me !
Whate'er this sterile genius has produced,
Expect, at last, the rage of envy spent,
An unmolested happy home,
Gift of kind Hermes and my watchful friend ;
Where never flippant tongue profane
Shall entrance find,
And whence the coarse unlettered multitude
Shall babble far remote.
Perhaps some future distant age,
Less tinged with prejudice and better tauglit,
Shall furnish minds of power
To judge more equally.
Then, malice silenced in the tomb),
Cooler heads and sounder hearts,
Thanks to Rouse, if anght of praise I merit, shall with candour weigh the claim.
The opening lines in Comus stood as follows in Milton's original MS.; but the fourteen lines, ensuing after the first four, were crossed out with a pen, apparently to shorten the speech for the actor's convenience :
Before the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aerial spirits live insphered
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Amidst th' Hesperian gardens, on whose banks
Bedewed with nectar and celestial songs,
Eternal roses grow, and hyacinth,
And fruits of golden rind, on whose fair tree
The scaly-harnessed dragon ever keeps
His unenchanted eye : around the verge
And sacred limits of this blissful isle,
The jealous Ocean, that old river, winds
His far-extended arms, till with steep fall
Half his waste flood the wild Atlantic fills,
And half the slow unfathomed Stygian pool.
But soft, I was not sent to court your wonder
With distant worlds, and strange removed climes.
Yet thence I come, and oft from thence behold
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,
Which men call Earth, &c., &c.