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Be circumspect; oft with insidious ken
The caitiff eyes your steps aloof, and oft
Lies perdue in a nook or gloomy cave,
Prompt to enchant some inadvertent wretch
With his unhallow'd touch. So (poets sing)
Grimalkin, to domestic vermin sworn
An everlasting foe, with watchful eye
Lies nightly brooding o’er a chinky gap,
Protending her fell claws, to thoughtless mice
Sure ruin. So her disembowell'd web
Arachne, in a hall or kitchen, spreads
Obvious to vagrant flies: she secret stands
Within her woven cell : the humming prey,
Regardless of their fate, rush on the toils
Inextricable, nor will aught avail
Their arts, or arms, or shapes of lovely hue;
The wasp insidious, and the buzzing drone,
And butterfly, proud of expanded wings
Distinct with gold, entangled in her snares,
Useless resistance make; with eager strides,
She towering flies to her expected spoils ;
Then, with envenom'd jaws, the vital blood
Drinks of reluctant foes, and to her cave
Their bulky carcasses triumphant drags.
So pass my days. But when nocturnal shades
This world envelop, and th’ inclement air
Persuades men to repel benumbing frosts
With pleasant wines and crackling blaze of wood;
Me, lonely sitting, nor the glimmering light
Of make-weight candle, nor the joyous talk
Of loving friend, delights : distress'd, forlorn,
Amid the horrors of the tedious night,
Darkling I sigh, and feed with dismal thoughts
My anxious mind: or sometimes mournful verse
Indite, and sing of groves and myrtle shades,
Or desperate lady near a purling stream,
Or lover pendant on a willow-tree.
Meanwhile I labour with eternal drought,
And restless wish, and rave; my parched throat
Finds no relief, nor heavy eyes repose:
But if a slumber haply does invade
My weary limbs, my fancy's still awake,
Thoughtful of drink, and eager, in a dream,
Tipples imaginary pots of ale
In vain; awake, I find the settled thirst
Still gnawing, and the pleasant phantom curse.
Thus do I live, from pleasure quite debarr'd,
Nor taste the fruits that the sun's genial rays
Mature, john-apple, nor the downy peach,
Nor walnut in rough-furrow'd coat secure,
Nor medlar, fruit delicious in decay;
Afflictions great! yet greater still remain :
My galligaskins, that have long withstood
The winter's fury and encroaching frosts,
By time subdued (what will not time subdue !),
A horrid chasm disclosed with orifice
Wide, discontinuous; at which the winds
Eurus and Auster, and the dreadful force
Of Boreas, that congeals the Cronian waves,
Tumultuous enter with dire chilling blasts,
Portending agues. Thus a well-fraught ship
Long sail'd secure, or through th' Ægean deep,
Or the Ionian, till cruising near
The Lilybean shore, with hideous crush
On Scylla or Charybdis (dangerous rocks!)
She strikes rebounding; whence the shatter'd oak,
So fierce a shock unable to withstand,
Admits the sea : in at the gaping side
The crowding waves gush with impetuous rage,
Resistless, overwhelming; horrors seize
The mariners ; Death in their eyes appears; (pray:
They stare, they lave, they pump, they swear, they
(Vain efforts !) still the battering waves rush in,
Implacable, till, deluged by the foam,
The ship sinks foundering in the vast abyss.
JOSEPH ADDISON. 1672–1719.
“Salve magna parens frugum Saturnia tellus,
Magna virûm! tibi res antiquæ laudis et artis
Aggredior, sanctos ausus recludere fontes."
Virg., Georg., ïi.
WHILE you, my lord, the rural shades admire,
And from Britannia's public posts retire,
Nor longer, her ungrateful sons to please,
For their advantage sacrifice your ease;
Me into foreign realms my fate conveys
Through nations fruitsul of immortal lays,
Where the soft season and inviting clime
Conspire to trouble your repose with rhyme.
For wheresoe'er I turn my ravish'd eyes,
Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects rise,
Poetic fields encompass me around,
And still I seem to tread on classic ground;
For here the Muse so oft her harp has strung,
That not a mountain rears its head unsung,
Renown'd in verse each shady thicket grows,
And every stream in heavenly numbers flows.
How am I-pleased to search the hills and woods
For rising springs and celebrated floods!
To view the Nar, tumultuous in his course,
And trace the smooth Clitumnus to his source;
To see the Mincio draw his watery store,
Through the long windings of a fruitful shore;
And hoary Albula's infected tide
O'er the warm bed of smoking sulphur glide.
Fired with a thousand raptures, I survey Eridanus through flowery meadows stray, The king of foods! that, rolling o'er the plains, The towering Alps of half their moisture drains, And proudly swoln with a whole winter's snows, Distributes wealth and plenty where he flows.
Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng,
I look for streams immortalized in song,
That lost in silence and oblivion lie
(Dumb are their fountains and their channels dry),
Yet run for ever by the Muse's skill,
And in the smooth description murmur still.
Sometimes to gentle Tiber I retire,
And the famed river's empty shores admire,
That, destitute of strength, derives its course
From thrifty urns and an unfruitful source ;
Yet sung so often in poetic lays,
With scorn the Danube and the Nile surveys;
So high the deathless Muse exalts her theme !
Such was the Boyne, a poor inglorious stream,
That in Hibernian vales obscurely stray'd,
And, unobserved in wild meanders play'd;
Till by your lines and Nassau's sword renown'd,
Its rising billows through the world resound,
Where'er the hero's godlike acts can pierce,
Or where the fame of an immortal verse.
Oh, could the Muse my ravish'd breast inspire With warmth like yours, and raise an equal fire, Unnumber'd beauties in my verse should shine, And Virgil's Italy should yield to mine!
See how the golden groves around me smile, That shun the coast of Britain's stormy isle ; Or, when transplanted and preserved with care, Curse the cold clime, and starve in northern air. Here kindly warmth their mountain juice ferments To nobler tastes and more exalted scents : E'en the rough rocks with tender myrtle bloom, And trodden weeds send out a rich perfume. Bear me, some god, to Baia's gentle seats, Or cover me in Umbria's green retreats, Where western gales eternally reside, And all the seasons lavish all their pride : Blossoms, and fruits, and flowers together rise, And the whole year in gay confusion lies.
Immortal glories in my mind revive, And in my soul a thousand passions strive, When Rome's exalted beauties I descry Magnificent in piles of ruin lie. An amphitheatre's amazing height Here fills my eye with terror and delight, That on its public shows unpeopled Rome, And held, uncrowded, nations in its womb; Here pillars rough with sculpture pierce the skies, And here proud triumphal arches rise, Where the old Romans deathless acts display'd, Their base, degenerate progeny upbraid: Whole rivers here forsake the fields below, And, wondering at their height, through airy chan
nels flow. Still to new scenes my wandering Muse retires, And the dumb show of breathing rocks admires : Where the smooth chisel all its force has shown, And soften'd into flesh the rugged stone. In solemn silence, a majes band, Heroes, and gods, and Roman consuls stand. Stern tyrants, whom their cruelties renown, And emperors in Parian marble frown: While the bright dames, to whom they humbly sued, Still show the charms that their proud hearts subdued.
Fain would I Raphael's godlike art rehearse, And show th' immortal labours in my verse, Where, from the mingled strength of shade and light, A new creation rises to my sight, Such heavenly figures from his pencil flow, So warm with lise his blended colours glow. From theme to theme, with secret pleasure toss'd, Amid the soft variety I'm lost : Here pleasing airs my ravish'd soul confound With circling notes and labyrinths of sound; Here domes and temples rise in distant views, And open palaces invite my Muse.
How has kind Heaven adorn'd the happy land, And scatter'd blessings with a wasteful hand!