Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Now frequent trines the happier lights among,
And high raised Jove from his dark prison freed,
Those weights took off that on his planet hung,
Will gloriously the new-laid work succeed.

Methinks already from this chymic flame,
I see a city of more precious mold:
Rich as the town which gives the Indies name,
With silver pav'd, and all divine with gold.

Already labouring with a mighty fate,

She shakes the rubbish from her mounting brow, And seems to have renew'd her charter's date,

Which Heaven will to the death of Time allow.

More great than human now, and more august, Now deify'd she from her fires does rise: Her widening streets on new foundations trust, And opening into larger parts she flies.

Before she like some shepherdess did show,

Who sat to bathe her by a river's side; Not answering to her fame, but rude and low, Nor taught the beauteous arts of modern pride.

Now like a maiden queen she will behold,

From her high turrets, hourly suitors come: The East with incense, and the West with gold, Will stand like suppliants to receive her doom.

The silver Thames, her own domestic flood,

Shall bear her vessels like a sweeping train; And often wind, as of his mistress proud,

With longing eyes to meet her face again.

The wealthy Tagus, and the wealthier Rhine,

The glory of their towns no more shall boast, And Seyne, that would with Belgian rivers join, Shall find her lustre stain'd, and traffic lost.

The venturous merchant, who design'd more far,
And touches on our hospitable shore,
Charm'd with the splendour of this northern star,
Shall here unlade him and depart no more.

Our powerful navy shall no longer meet,

The wealth of France or Holland to invade ; The beauty of this town without a fleet,

From all the world shall vindicate her trade.

And while this fam'd emporium we prepare,

The British ocean shall such triumphs boast, That those, who now disdain our trade to share, Shall rob like pirates on our wealthy coast.

Already we have conquer'd half the war,

And the less dangerous part is left behind: Our trouble now is but to make them dare, And not so great to vanquish as to find.

Thus to the eastern wealth through storms we go, But now, the Cape once doubled, fear no more; A constant trade-wind will securely blow,

And gently lay us on the spicy shore.

[blocks in formation]

With flying fingers touch'd the lyre :
The trembling notes ascend the sky,
And heavenly joys inspire.
The song began from Jove,
Who left his blissful seats above,
(Such is the power of mighty love.)
A dragon's fiery form bely'd the god
Sublime on radiant spires he rode,

When he to fair Olympia press'd:
And while he sought her snowy breast:
Then, round her slender waist he curl'd,
And stamp'd an image of himself, a sovereign of the
The listening crowd admire the lofty sound,
A present deity, they shout around:
A present deity the vaulted roofs rebound:
With ravish'd ears

The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,
Affects to nod,

And seems to shake the spheres.


With ravish'd ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,
Affects to nod,

And seems to shake the spheres.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

The mighty master smil'd, to see
That love was in the next degree:
'Twas but a kindred sound to move,
For pity melts the mind to love.

Softly sweet, in Lydian measures,
Soon he sooth'd his soul to pleasures.
War, he sung, is toil and trouble;
Honour but an empty bubble;

Never ending, still beginning,
Fighting still, and still destroying;

If the world be worth thy winning,
Think, O think, it worth enjoying:
Lovely Thais sits beside thee,
Take the good the gods provide thee.
The many rend the skies with loud applause;
So Love was crown'd, but Music won the cause.
The prince, unable to conceal his pain,

Gaz'd on the fair

Who caus'd his care,

And sigh'd and look'd, sigh'd and look'd, Sigh'd and look'd, and sigh'd again : At length, with love and wine at once oppress'd, The vanquish'd victor sunk upon her breast.

[blocks in formation]

Now strike the golden lyre again :
A louder yet, and yet a louder strain.
Break his bands of sleep asunder,

And rouse him, like a rattling peal of thunder.
Hark, hark, the horrid sound
Has rais'd up his head!

As awak'd from the dead,
And amaz'd, he stares around.

Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries,
See the Furies arise:

See the snakes that they rear,
How they hiss in their hair,

And the sparkles that flash from their eyes!

Behold a ghastly band,

Each a torch in his hand!

Those are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain,

And unbury'd remain
Inglorious on the plain:
Give the vengeance due
To the valiant crew.

Behold how they toss their torches on high,
How they point to the Persian abodes,
And glittering temples of their hostile gods.
The princes applaud, with a furious joy;
And the king seiz'd a flambeau with zeal to destroy;
Thais led the way,

To light him to his prey,

And, like another Helen, fir'd another Troy.

[blocks in formation]

Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire.
At last divine Cecilia came,
Inventress of the vocal frame;

The sweet enthusiast, from her sacred store,

Enlarg'd the former narrow bounds, And added length to solemn sounds, With Nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown before. Let old Timotheus yield the prize,

Or both divide the crown; He rais'd a mortal to the skies; She drew an angel down.


At last divine Cecilia came,
Inventress of the vocal frame;

The sweet enthusiast, from her sacred store,
Enlarg'd the former narrow bounds,

And added length to solemn sounds, With Nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown before. Let old Timotheus yield the prize,

Or both divide the crown; He rais'd a mortal to the skies; She drew an angel down.




Let fall some drops of pity on our grief,
If what we beg be just, and we deserve relief:
For none of us, who now thy grace implore,
But held the rank of sovereign queen before ;
Till, thanks to giddy Chance, which never bears,
That mortal bliss should last for length of years,
She cast us headlong from our high estate,
And here in hope of thy return we wait :
And long have waited in the temple nigh,
Built to the gracious goddess Clemency.
But reverence thou the power whose name it bears,
Relieve th' oppress'd, and wipe the widow's tears.
I, wretched I, have other fortune seen,
The wife of Capaneus, and once a queen:
At Thebes he fell, curst be the fatal day!
And all the rest thou seest in this array
To make their moan, their lords in battle lost
Before that town, besieg'd by our confederate host:
But Creon, old and impious, who commands
The Theban city, and usurps the lands,
Denies the rites of funeral fires to those
Whose breathless bodies yet he calls his foes.
Unburn'd, unbury'd, on a heap they lie;
Such is their fate, and such his tyranny;
No friend has leave to bear away the dead,
But with their lifeless limbs his hounds are fed."
At this she shriek'd aloud; the mournful train
Echo'd her grief, and, groveling on the plain,
With groans, and hands upheld, to move his mind,
Besought his pity to their helpless kind!

The prince was touch'd, his tears began to flow,
And, as his tender heart would break in two,
He sigh'd, and could not but their fate deplore,
So wretched now, so fortunate before.
Then lightly from his lofty steed he flew,
And raising, one by one, the suppliant crew,
To comfort each, full solemnly he swore,
That by the faith which knights to knighthood bore,
And whate'er else to chivalry belongs,

He would not cease, till he reveng'd their wrongs:
That Greece should see perform'd what he declar'd;
And cruel Creon find his just reward.
He said no more, but, shunning all delay,
Rode on; nor enter'd Athens on his way:
But left his sister and his queen behind,
And wav'd his royal banner in the wind :
Where in an argent field the god of war
Was drawn triumphant on his iron car;
Red was his sword, and shield, and whole attire,
And all the godhead seem'd to glow with fire;

And beat their breasts, and held their hands on high, Ev'n the ground glitter'd where the standard flew,
Creeping and crying, till they seiz'd at last
His courser's bridle, and his feet embrac'd.

"Tell me," said Theseus," what and whence
you are,

And why this funeral pageant you prepare?
Is this the welcome of my worthy deeds,
To meet my triumph in ill-omen'd weeds?
Or envy you my praise, and would destroy
With grief my pleasures, and pollute my joy?
Or are you injur'd, and demand relief?
Name your request, and I will ease your grief."

And the green grass was dy'd to sanguine hue.
High on his pointed lance his pennon bore
His Cretan fight, the conquer'd Minotaur:
The soldiers shout around with generous rage,
And in that victory their own presage.
He prais'd their ardour; inly pleas'd to see
His host the flower of Grecian chivalry.
All day he march'd; and all th' ensuing night;
And saw the city with returning light.
The process of the war I need not tell,
How Theseus conquer'd, and how Creon fell:
Or after, how by storm the walls were won,
Or how the victor sack'd and burn'd the town:
How to the ladies he restor'd again
The bodies of their lords in battle slain :
And with what ancient rites they were interr'd;
All these to fitter times shall be deferr'd:
I spare the widows' tears, their woeful cries,
And howling at their husbands' obsequies;

The most in years of all the mourning train
Began (but swooned first away for pain);
Then scarce recover'd spoke: "Nor envy we
Thy great renown, nor grudge thy victory;
'Tis thine, O king, th' afflicted to redress,
And Fame has fill'd the world with thy success :
We, wretched women, sue for that alone,
Which of thy goodness is refus'd to none;

Book I.

In days of old, there liv'd, of mighty fame,
A valiant prince, and Theseus was his name:
A chief, who more in feats of arms excell'd,
The rising nor the setting Sun beheld.

Of Athens he was lord; much land he won,
And added foreign countries to his crown.
In Scythia with the warrior queen he strove,
Whom first by force he conquered, then by love;
He brought in triumph back the beauteous dame,
With whom her sister, fair Emilia, came.
With honour to his home let Theseus ride,
With Love to friend, and Fortune for his guide,
And his victorious army at his side.
I pass their warlike pomp, their proud array,
Their shouts, their songs, their welcome on the way.
But, were it not too long, I would recite
The feats of Amazons, the fatal fight
Betwixt the hardy queen and hero knight;
The town besieg'd, and how much blood it cost
The female army and th' Athenian host;
The spousals of Hippolita, the queen ;
What tilts and turneys at the feast were seen;
The storm at their return, the ladies' fear:
But these, and other things, I must forbear.
The field is spacious I design to sow,
With oxen far unfit to draw the plow :
The remnant of my tale is of a length
To tire your patience, and to waste my strength;
And trivial accidents shall be forborn,
That others may have time to take their turn;
As was at first enjoin'd us by mine host,
That he whose tale is best, and pleases most,
Should win his supper at our common cost.

And therefore where I left, I will pursue
This ancient story, whether false or true,
In hope it may be mended with a new.
The prince I mentioned, full of high renown,
In this array drew near th' Athenian town;
When, in his pomp and utmost of his pride,
Marching, he chanc'd to cast his eye aside,
And saw a choir of mourning dames, who lay
By two and two across the common way:
At his approach they rais'd a rueful cry,

How Theseus at these funerals did assist,
And with what gifts the mourning dames dismiss'd.
Thus when the victor chief had Creon slain,
And conquer'd Thebes, he pitch'd upon the plain
His mighty camp, and, when the day return'd,
The country wasted, and the hamlets burn'd,
And left the pillagers, to rapine bred,
Without control to strip and spoil the dead.

There, in a heap of slain, among the rest Two youthful knights they found beneath a load oppress'd

Of slaughter'd foes, whom first to death they sent,
The trophies of their strength, a bloody monument.
Both fair, and both of royal blood they seem'd,
Whom kinsmen to the crown the heralds deem'd;
That day in equal arms they fought for fame;
Their swords, their shields, their surcoats, were the


Close by each other laid, they press'd the ground, Their manly bosoms pierc'd with many a griesly wound;

Nor well alive, nor wholly dead they were,
But some faint signs of feeble life appear:
The wandering breath was on the wing to part,
Weak was the pulse, and hardly heav'd the heart.
These two were sisters' sons; and Arcite one,
Much fam'd in fields, with valiant Palamon.
From these their costly arms the spoilers rent,
And softly both convey'd to Theseus' tent:
Whom, known of Creon's line, and cur'd with care,
He to his city sent as prisoners of the war,
Hopeless of ransom, and condemn'd to lie
In durance, doom'd a lingering death to die.
This done, he march'd away with warlike sound,
And to his Athens turn'd with laurels crown'd,
Where happy long he liv'd, much lov'd, and more

But in a tower, and never to be loos'd,
The woeful captive kinsmen are enclos'd.

Thus year by year they pass, and day by day,
Till once, 'twas on the morn of cheerful May,
The young Emilia, fairer to be seen
Than the fair lily on the flowery green,
More fresh than May herself in blossoms new,
For with the rosy colour strove her hue,
Wak'd, as her custom was, before the day,
To do th' observance due to sprightly May:
For sprightly May commands our youth to keep
The vigils of her night, and breaks their sluggard


Each gentle breast with kindly warmth she moves;
Inspires new flames, revives extinguish'd loves.
In this remembrance Emily, ere day,

Arose, and dress'd herself in rich array;
Fresh as the month, and as the morning fair;
Adown her shoulders fell her length of hair:
A ribband did the braided tresses bind,
The rest was loose, and wanton'd in the wind.
Aurora had but newly chas'd the night,
And purpled o'er the sky with blushing light,
When to the garden walk she took her way,
To sport and trip along in cool of day,
And offer maiden vows in honour of the May.

At every turn, she made a little stand,
And thrust among the thorns her lily hand
To draw the rose; and every rose she drew,
She shook the stalk, and brush'd away the dew:
Then party-colour'd flowers of white and red
She wore, to make a garland for her head :
This done, she sung and carol'd out so clear,
That men and angels might rejoice to hear:

Ev'n wondering Philomel forgot to sing,
And learn'd from her to welcome-in the Spring.
The tower, of which before was mention made,
Within whose keep the captive knights were laid,
Built of a large extent, and strong withal,
Was one partition of the palace wall:
The garden was enclos'd within the square,
Where young Emilia took the morning air.

It happen'd Palamon, the prisoner knight,
Restless for woe, arose before the light,
And with his gaoler's leave desir'd to breathe
An air more wholesome than the damps beneath :
This granted, to the tower he took his way,
Cheer'd with the promise of a glorious day:
Then cast a languishing regard around,
And saw with hateful eyes the temples crown'd
With golden spires, and all the hostile ground.
He sigh'd, and turn'd his eyes, because he knew
'Twas but a larger gaol he had in view :
Then look'd below, and, from the castle's height,
Beheld a nearer and more pleasing sight,
The garden, which before he had not seen,
In Spring's new livery clad of white and green,
Fresh flowers in wide parterres, and shady walks

This view'd, but not enjoy'd, with arms across
He stood, reflecting on his country's loss;
Himself an object of the public scorn,

And often wish'd he never had been born.
At last, for so his destiny requir'd,

With walking giddy, and with thinking tir'd,
He through a little window cast his sight,
Though thick of bars, that gave a scanty light:
But ev'n that glimmering serv'd him to descry
Th' inevitable charms of Emily.

Scarce had he seen, but, seiz'd with sudden smart, Stung to the quick, he felt it at his heart; Struck blind with over-powering light he stood, Then started back amaz'd, and cry'd aloud.

Young Arcite heard; and up he ran with haste, To help his friend, and in his arms embrac'd; And ask'd him why he look'd so deadly wan, And whence and how his change of cheer began, Or who had done th' offence? "But if," said he, "Your grief alone is hard captivity, For love of Heaven, with patience undergo A cureless ill, since Fate will have it so : So stood our horoscope in chains to lie, And Saturn in the dungeon of the sky, Or other baleful aspect, rul'd our birth, When all the friendly stars were under Earth: Whate'er betides, by Destiny 'tis done;

And better bear like men, than vainly seek to shun."
"Nor of my bonds," said Palamon again,
"Nor of unhappy planets I complain;
But when my mortal anguish caus'd me cry,
That moment I was hurt through either eye;
Pierc'd with a random shaft, I faint away,
And perish with insensible decay :

A glance of some new goddess gave the wound,
Whom, like Acteon, unaware I found.
Look how she walks along yon shady space,
Not Juno moves with more majestic grace;
And all the Cyprian queen is in her face.
If thou art Venus (for thy charms confess
That face was form'd in Heaven, nor art thou less;
Disguis'd in habit, undisguis'd in shape)
O help us captives from our chains t' escape;
But if our doom be past, in bonds to lie
For life, and in a loathsome dungeon die,
M 2

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »