Sidebilder
PDF

Await them, taught by Nature as they are

To know one common good, one common ill. For Cymon not his valour, not his birth Deriv'd from Codrus, not a thousand gifts Dealt round him with a wise, benignant hand, No, not the Olympic olive by himself From his own brow transferr'd to sooth the mind Of this Pisistrattis, can long preserve From the fell envy of the tyrant's sons, And their assassin dagger. But if Death Obscure upon his gentle steps attend, Yet Fate an ample recompense prepares In his victorious son, that other great

Miltiades, who o'er the very throne Of glory shall with Time's assiduous hand In adamantine characters engrave The name of Athens; and, by freedom arm'd 'Gainst the gigantic pride of Asia's king, Shall all the achievements of the heroes old Surmount, of Hercules, of all who sail'd From Thessaly with Jason, all who fought For empire or for fame at Thebes or Troy.

Such were the patriots who within the porch Of Solon had assembled. But the gate Now opens, and across the ample floor Straight they proceed into an open space Bright with the beams of morn: a verdant spot, Where stands a rural altar, pil'd with sods Cut from the grassy turf, and girt with wreaths Of branching palm. Here Solon's self they found Clad in a robe of purple pure, and deck'd With leaves of olive on his reverend brow. He bow'd before the altar, and o'er cakes Of barley from two earthern vessels pour'd Of honey and of milk a plenteous stream; Calling meantime the Muses to accept His simple offering, by no victim ting'd With blood, nor sullied by destroying fire, But such as for himself Apollo claims In his own Delos, where his favourite haunt Is thence the Altar of the Pious nam'd. Unseen the guests drew near, and silent view'd That worship; till the hero priest his eye Turn'd toward a seat on which prepar'd there lay A branch of laurel. Then his friends confess'd Before him stood. Backward his step he drew, As loth that care or tumult should approach Those early rites divine: but soon their looks, So anxious, and their hands, held forth with such Desponding gesture, bring him on perforce To speak to their affliction. "Are ye come," He cried, " to mourn with me this common shame? Or ask ye some new effort which may break Our fetters? Know then, of the public cause Not for yon traitor's cunning or his might Do I despair: nor could I wish from Jove Aught dearer, than at this late hour of life, As once by laws, so now by strenuous arms, From impious violation to assert The rights our fathers left us. But, alas! What arms? or who shall wield them? Ye beheld The Athenian people. Many bitter days Must pass, and many wounds from cruel pride Be felt, ere yet their partial hearts find room For just resentment, or their hands endure To smite this tyrant brood, so near to all Their hopes, so oft admir'd, so long belov'd. That time will come, however. Be it yours To watch its fair approach, and urge it on With honest prudence: me it ill beseems

Again to supplicate the unwilling crowd,

To rescue from a vile deceiver's hold

That envied power which once with eager zeal

They offer'd to myself; nor can I plunge

In counsels deep and various, nor prepare

For distant wars, thus faultering as I tread

On life's last verge, ere long to join the shades

Of Minos and Lycurgus. But behold

What care employs me now. My Vowb I pay

To the sweet Muses, teachers of my youth,

And solace of my age. If right I deem

Of the still voice that whispers at my heart,

The immortal sisters have not quite withdrawn

Their old harmonious influence. Let your tongues'

With sacred silence favour what I speak,

And haply shall my faithful lips be taught

To unfold celestial counsels, which may arm

As with impenetrable steel your breasts

For the long strife before you, and repel

The darts of adverse Fate." He said, and snntrh'd

The laurel bough, and sate in silence down,

Fix'd, wrapp'd in solemn musing, full before

The Sun, who now from all his radiant orb

Drove the grey clouds, and pour'd his genial lighf

Upon the breast of Solon. Solon rais'd

Aloft the leafy rod, and thus began.

"Ye beauteous offspring of Olympian Jove And Memory divine, Pierian maids, Hear me, propitious. In the morn of life. When hope shone bright, and all the prospect smil'd, To your sequester'd mansion oft my steps Were turn'd, O Muses, and within your gate My offerings paid. Ye taught me then with strnup Of (lowing harmony to soften War's Dire voice, or in fair colours, that might charm The public eye, to clothe the form austere Of Civil Counsel. Now my feeble age Neglected, and supplanted of the hope On which it lean'd, yet sinks not, but to you, To your mild wisdom flies, refuge belov'd Of solitude and silence. Ye can teach The visions of my bed whate'er the gods In the rude ages of the world inspir'd, Or the first heroes acted: ye can make The morning light more gladsome to my sense, Than ever it appear'd to active youth Pursuing careless pleasure: ye can give To this long leisure, these unheeded hours, A labour as sublime, as when the sons Of Athens throng'd and speechless round me stood To hear pronoune'd for all their future deeds The bounds of right and wrong. Celestial powers, I feel that ye are near me: and behold, To meet your energy divine, I bring A high and sacred theme; not less than thoee Which to the eternal custody of Fame Your lips entrusted, when of old ye deign'd With Orpheus or with Homer to frequent The groves of lla-mus or the Chian shore."Ye know, harmonious maids, (for what of all My various life was e'er from you estrang'd ?) Oft hath my solitary song to you Reveal'd that duteous pride which turn'd my steps To willing exile; earnest to withdraw From Envy and the disappointed thirst Of Lucre, lest the bold familiar strife, Which in the eye of Athens they upheld Against her legislator, should impair With trivial doubt the reverence of his laws. To Egypt therefore through tlie JF.gean isles

PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION. BOOK Iff.

93

My coarse I stccr'd, and by the banks of Nile Dwelt in Canopus. Thence the hallow'd domes Of San, and the rites to Isis paid,

I wught, and in her temple's silent courts, Through many changing moons, attentive heard The venerahle Sonchis, while his tongue At mom or midnight the deep story told Of her who represents whate'er has heen,

Or is, or shall he; whose mysterious veil No mortal hand hath ever yet remov'd. By him exhorted, southward to the walls Of On I pass'd, the city of the Sun, The ever-youthful god. Twas there amid His priests and sages, who the live-long night Watch the dread movements of the starry sphere, Or who in wondrous fables half disclose The secrets of the elements, 'twas there That great Psenophis taught my raptur'd ears The fame of old Atlantis, of her chiefs.

And her pure laws, the first which Earth ohey'd.

Deep in my hosom sunk the noble tale;And often, while I listen'd, did my mind Foretell with what delight her own free lyre Should sometime for an Attic audience raise Anew that lofty scene, and from their tombs Call forth those ancient demigods to speak Of Justice and the hidden Providence That walk among mankind. But yet meantime The mystic pomp of Amman's gloomy sons Became less pleasing. With contempt I gaz'd On that tame garb and those unvarying paths To which the double yoke of king and priest Had cramp'd the sullen race. At last, with hymns Invoking our own Pallas and the gods Of cheerful Greece, a glad farewell I gave To Egypt, and before the southern wind Spread my full sails. What climes I then survey'd, What fortunes I encounter'd in the realm Of Croesus or upon the Cyprian shore, The Muse, who prompts my hosom, doth not now Consent that I reveal. But when at length Ten times the Sun returning from the south Had strow'd with flowers the verdant Earth and fill'd

The groves with music, pleas'd I then beheld The term of those long errours drawing nigh. Nor yet, I said, will I sit down within The walls of Athens, till my feet have trod The Cretan soil, have piere'd those reverend haunts Whence Law and Civil Concord issued forth As from their ancient home, and still to Greece Their wisest, loftiest discipline proclaim. Straight where Amnisus, mart of wealthy ships, Appears beneath fam'd Cnossus and her towers

like the fair handmaid of a stately queen,

I check'd my prow, and thence with eager steps The city of Minos enter'd. O ye gods, Who taught the leaders of the simpler time By written words to curb the untoward will Of mortals, how within that generous isle Have ye the triumphs of your power displayed

Mimificent! Those splendid merchants, lords Of traffic and the sea, with what delight I saw them at their public meal, like sons Of the same household, join the plainer sort Whose wealth was only freedom! whence to these Vile Envy, and to those fantastic Pride,

Alihe was strange; hut nohle Concord still Cherish'd the strength untam'd, the rustic faith, Of their first fathers. Then the growing race,

Ha* pleasing to. hehold them in their schools,

Their sports, their lahours, ever plac'd within,

0 shade of Minos, thy controlling eye!
Here was a docile band in tuneful tones
Thy laws pronouncing, or with lofty hymns
Praising the hounteous gods, or, to preserve
Their country's heroes from ohlivious night.
Resounding what the Muse inspir'd of old;
There, on the verge of manhood, others met,
In heavy armour through the heats of noon To march, the rugged mountains height to climb
With measur'd swiftness, from the hard-hent how
To send resistless arrows to their mark,
Or for the fame of prowess to contend,
Now wrestling, now with fists and staves oppos'd,
Now with the hiting falehion, and the fence
Of brazen shields; while still the warhling flute
Presided o'er the comhat, hreathing strains
Grave, solemn, soft; and changing headlong spite
To thoughtful resolution cool and clear.
Such I heheld those islanders renown'd,
So tutor'd from their hirth to meet in war
Each hold invader, and in peace to guard
That living flame of reverence for their laws
Which, nor the storms of fortune, nor the flood
Of foreign wealth diffus'd o'er all the land,
Could quench or slacken. First of human names
In every Cretan's heart was Minos still;And holiest far, of what the Sun surveys
Through his whole course, were those primeval seats
Which with religious footsteps he had taught
Their sires to approach; the wild Dictrran cave
Where Jove was horn; the ever-verdant meads
Of Ida, and the spacious grotto, where
His active youth he pass'd, and where his throne
Yet stands mysterious; whither Minos came
Each ninth returning year, the king of gods
And mortals there in secret to consult
On justice, and the tables of his law
To inscribe anew. Oft also with like zeal
Great Rhea's mansion from the Cnossian gatss
Men visit; nor less oft the antique fane
Built on that sacred spot, along the hanks .
Of shady Theron, where benignant Jove
And his majestic consort join'd their hands
And spoke their nuptial vows. Alas! 'twas there
That the dire fame of Athens sunk in honds

I first rccciv'd; what time an annual feast
Had summon'd all the genial country round,
By sacrifice and pomp to bring to mind That first great spousal; while the enanf our'd youtls
And virgins, with the priest before the shrine,
Observe the same pure ritual, and invoke
The same glad omens. There, among the crowd
Of strangers from those naval cities drawn
Which deck, like gems, the island's northern shore,
A merchant of ASgina I descrih'd,
My ancient host. But, forward as I sprung
To meet him, he, with dark dejected brow,
Stopp'd half-averse; and, 'O Athenian guest,'
He said, 'art thou in Crete; these joyful rites
Partaking? Know thy laws are hlotted out:
Thy country kneels before a tyrant's throne'
He added names of men, with hostile deeds
Disastrous; which obscure and indistinct
I heard : for, while he spake, my heart prcv cold
And my eyes dim: the altars and their train
No more were present to me: how I far'd,
Or whither turn'd, I know not; nor recall
Aught of those moments other than the sense
Of. one. who struggles in oppressive, sleep,,

And, from the toils of some distressful dream
To break away, with palpitating heart,
Weak limbs, and temples bath'd in death-like dew,
Makes many a painful effort. When at last
The Sun and Nature's face again appear'd,
Not far I found me; where the public path,
Winding through cypress groves and swelling meads,
From Cnossus to the cave of Jove ascends.
Heedless I follow'd on; till soon the skirts
Of Ida rose before me, and the vault
Wide-opening piere'd the mountain's rocky side.
Entering within the threshold, on the ground
I flung me, sad, faint, overworn "with toil."

TOR

BEGINNING OF THE FOURTH BOOK

PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.

One effort more, one cheerful sally more,
Our destin'd course will finish. And in peace
Then for an offering sacred to the powers
Who lent us gracious guidance, we w ill then
Inscribe a monument of deathless praise,
O my adventurous song. With steady speed
Long hast thou, on an untried voyage hound,
Sail'd hetween Earth and Heaven: hast now sur-
vey'd,

Streteh'd out heneath thee, all the mazy tracts Of Passion and Opinion; like a waste Of sands and flowery lawns and tangling woods, Where mortals roam bewilder'd: and hast now Exulting soar'd among the worlds ahove,

Or hover'd near the eternal gates of Heaven, If haply the discourses of the gods, A curious, but an unpresuming guest,

Thou might'st partake, and carry back some strain Of divine wisdom, lawful to repeat, And apt to be conceiv'd of man helow. i' A different task remains; the secret paths Of early genius to explore: to trace Those haunts where Fancy her predestin'd sons, Like to the demigods of old, doth nurse Remote from eyes profane. Ye happy souls Who now her tender discipline obey, Where dwell ye? What wild river's brink at eve Imprint your steps? What solemn groves at noon Use ye to visit, often breaking forth In rapture 'mid your dilatory walk, Or musing, as in slumber, on the green?—Would I again were with you! —O ye dales Of Tyne, and ye most ancient woodlands; where, Oft as the giant flood obliquely strides, And his banks open, and his lawns extend, Stops short the pleased traveller to view Presiding o'er the scene some rustic tower Founded by Norman or by Saxon hands:

O ye Northumbrian shades, which overlook The rocky pavement and the mossy falls Of solitary Wensheck's limpid stream;How gladly I recall your well-known seats Belov'd of old, and that delightful time When all alone, for many a summer's, day.

I wander'd through your calm recesses, led
In silence by some powerful hand unseen.

Nor will I e'er forget you. Nor shall e'er
The graver tasks of manhood, or the advice
Of vulgar wisdom, move me to disclaim
Those studies which possess'd me in the dawn
Of life, and fix'd the colour of my mind
For every future year: whence even now
From sleep I rescue the clear hours of morn,
And, while the world around lies overwhelm'd
In idle darkness, am alive to thoughts
Of honourable fame, of truth divine
Or moral, and of minds to virtue won
By the sweet magic of harmonious verse;
The themes which now expect us. For thus far
On general habits, and on arts which grow
Spontaneous in the minds of all mankind,
Hath dwelt our argument; and how self-taught,
Though seldom conscious of their own employ,
in Nature's or in Fortune's changeful scene
Men learn to judge of beauty, and acquire
Those forms set up, as idols in the soul
For love and zealous praise. Yet indistinct,
In vulgar hosoms, and unnotie'd fie
These pleasing stores, unless the casual force
Of things external prompt the heedless mind
To recognize her wealth. But some there are
Conscious of nature, and the rule which man
O'er nature holds: some who, within themselves
Retiring from the trivial scenes of chance
And momentary passion, can at will Call up these fair exemplars of the mind;
Review their features; scan the secret laws
Which bind them to each other: and display
By forms, or sounds, or colours, to the sense
Of all the world their latent charms display:
Even as in Nature's frame (if such a word,
If such a word, so bold, may from the lips
Of man proceed) as in this outward frame
Of things, the Great Artificer portrays
His own immense idea. Various names
These among mortals bear, as various signs
They use, and by peculiar organs speak
To human sense. There are who by the flight
Of air through tubes with moving stops distinct.
Or by extended chords in measure taught
To vibrate, can assemble powerful sounds
Expressing every temper of the mind
From every cause, and charming all the soul
With pass on void of care. Others mean time
The rugged mass of metal, wood, or stone,
Patiently taming; or with easier hand
Descrihing lines, and with more ample scope
Uniting colours; can to general sight
Produce those permanent and perfect forms,
Those characters of heroes and of gods,
Which from the crude materials of the world
Their own high minds created. But the chief
Are poets; eloquent men, who dwell on Earth
To clothe whate'er the soul admires or loves
With language and with numbers. Hence to these
A field is open'd wide as Nature's sphere;
Nay, wider: various as the sudden acts
Of human wit, and vast as the demands
Of human will. The bard nor length, nor depth.
Nor place, nor form controls. To eyes, to ears,
To every organ of the copious mind,
He oflereth all its treasures. Him the hours,
The seasons him obey: and changeful Time
Sees him at will keep measure witi his flight.

ODES ON SEVERAL SUBJECTS. BOOK I.

At will outstrip it . To enhance his toil, He snmmoneth from the uttermost extent Of things which God hath taught him, every form Auxiliar, every power; and all beside Excludes imperious. His prevailing hand Gives, to corporeal essence, life and sense And every stately function of the soul. The soul itself to him ohsequious lies,

Like matter's passive heap; and as he wills, To reason and affection he assigns Their just alliances, their just degrees:

Whence his peculiar honours; whence the race Of men who people his delightful world, Men genuine and according to themselves, Transcend as far the uncertain sons of Earth, As Earth itself to his delightful world The palm of spotless beauty doth resign.

ODES ON SEVERAL SUBJECTS.

IN TWO BOOKS.

BOOK THE .FIRST.
ODE t.
PREFACE.

Chi yonder verdant hilloc laid, Where oaks and elms, a friendly shade,

O'erlook the falling stream,
O master of the Latin lyre,
A while with thee will I retire

From summer's noontide heam. «

And, lo! within my lonely hower,

The industrious bee from many a flower

Collects her balmy dews: "For me," she sings, "the gems are horn, For me their silken robe adorn,

Their fragrant breath diffuse."

Sweet murmurer! may no rude storm
This hospitable scene deform,

Nor check thy gladsome toils;
Still may the buds unsullied spring,
Still showers and sunshine court thy wing

To these ambrosial spoils.

Nor shall my Muse hereafter fail
Her fellow-lahourer thee to hail;

And lucky be the strains!
For long ago did Nature frame
Your seasons and your arts the same,

Your pleasures and your pains.

like thee, in lowly, sylvan scenes,
On river-banks and flowery greens

My Muse delighted plays;
Nor through the desert or the air,
Though swans or eagles triumph there,

With fond amhition strays.
VOL. XIV.

Nor where the hoding raven chants, Nor near the owl's unhallowed haunts

Will she her cares employ;
But flies from ruins and from tombs,
From Superstition's horrid glooms,

To day-light and to joy.

Nor will she tempt the barren waste;
Nor deigns the lurking strength to taste

Of any noxious thing;
But leaves with scorn to Envy's use
The insipid nightshade's haneful juice,

The nettle's sordid sting.

From all which Nature fairest knows,
The vernal blooms, the summer rose,

She draws her blameless wealth;
And, when the generous task is done,
She consecrates a douhle hoon,

To pleasure and to health.

ODE II. No. I.
FOR THE WINTER SOLSTICE.
DEC. I I. M.DCC.XLi.

Now to the utmost southern goal

The Sun has trac'd his annual way,
And backward now prepares to roll,

And bless the North with earlier day.
Prone on Potosi's lofty brow,
Floods of sublimer splendour flow,

Ripening the latent seeds of gold,
Whilst, panting in the lonely shade,
The afflicted Indian hides his head, Nor dares the blaze of noon behold.

But lo! on this deserted coast,

How faint the light! how chill the air! Lo! arm'd with whirlwind, hail, and frost,

Fierce Winter desolates the year. The fields resign their cheerful bloom; No more the hreezes hreathe perfume;

No more the warbling waters roll: Deserts of snow fatigue the eye; Successive tempests bloat the sky,

And gloomy damps oppress the soul.

But let my drooping genius rise,

And hail the Sun's remotest ray: Now, now he climbs the northern skies,

To morrow nearer than to day. Then, louder howl the stormy waste, Be sand and ocean worse defac'd,

Yet brighter hours are on the wing, And Fancy, through the wintery gloom, Radiant with dews and flowers in bloom,

Already hails the emerging Spring.

O fountain of the golden day,

Could mortal vows but urge thy speed,

How soon, before the vernal ray,
Should each unkindly damp recede!

i This Ode was afterwards entirely altered; as may he seen in the following poem. The reader will not be displeased to see it as it was originaljiy written. N. H

9B

How soon each tempest hovering fly,
That now, fermenting, loads the sky,

Prompt on our heads to burst amain,
To rend the forest from the steep,
And, thundering o'er the Baltic deep,

To 'whelm the merchant's hopes of gain!

But let not man's imperfect views,

Presume to tax wise Nature's laws t Tis his with silent joy to use

The indulgence of the sovereign cause; Secure that from the whole of things Beauty and good consummate springs,

Beyond what he can reach to know, And that the Providence of Heaven Has some peculiar blessing given

To each allotted state below.

Ev'n now how sweet the wintcry night

Spent with the old illustrious dead: While, by the taper's trembling light,

I seem the awful course to tread; Where chiefs and legislators lie, Whose triumphs move before my eye,

With every laurel fresh display'd: While, charm'd, I rove in classic song, Or bend to Freedom's fearless tongue,

Or walk the academic shade.

No. II.

ON THE WINTER SOLSTICE.
li.DCC.XL-

The radiant ruler of the year

At length his wintery goal attains; Seems to reverse the long career,

And northward bend his steady reins. Now, piercing half Potosi's height, Prone rush the fiery floods of light

Ripening the mountain's silver stores: While in some cavern's horrid shade, The panting Indian hides his head,

And oft the approach of eve implores.

But lo, on this deserted coast

How pale the Sun! how thick the air i Mustering his storms, a sordid host,

Lo, Winter desolates the year: The fields resign their latest hloom; No more the breezes waft perfume,

No more the streams in music roll: But snows fall dark, or rains resound; And, while great Nature mourns around,

Her griefs infect the human soul.

Hence the loud city's busy throngs

Urge the warm bowl and splendid fire; Harmonious dances, festive songs

Against the spiteful Heaven conspire: Meantime, perhaps, with tender fears Some village-dame the curfew hears,

While round the hearth her children play: At morn their father went abroad; The Moon is sunk, and deep the road;

eihe igt.*, and wonders at his stay.

AKENSIDE'S POEMS.But thou, my lyre, awake, arise,

And hail the Sun's returning force;
Even now he climbs the northern skies,

And Health and Hope attend his course.
Then louder howl the aerial waste,
Be Earth with keener cold emhrac'd,

Yet gentle Hours advance their wing;
And Fancy, mocking Winter's might,
With flowers and dews and streaming light
Already decks the new-born Spring.

O fountain of the golden day,

Could mortal vows promote thy speed, How soon before thy vernal ray

Should each unkindly damp recede!
How soon each hovering tempest fly,
Whose stores for mischief arm the sky,

Prompt on our heads to burst amain,
To rend the forest from the steep,
Or, thundering o'er the Baltic deep,

To 'whelm the merchant's hopes of gain!

But let not man's unequal views

Presume o'er Nature and her laws: Tis his with grateful joy to use

The indulgence of the sovran cause; Secure that health and heauty springs Through this majestic frame of things,

Beyond what he can reach to know; And that Heaven's all-subduing will, With good the progeny of ill,

Attempereth every state below.

How pleasing wears the wintery night,

Spent with the old illustrious dead!
While, by the taper's tremhling light,

I seem those awful scenes to tread
Where chiefs or legislators lie,
Whose triumphs move before my eye

In arms and antique pomp array'd;
While now I taste the Ionian song,
Now bend to Plato's godlike tongue Resounding through the olive shade. But should some cheerful, equal friend Bid leave the studious page a while,
Let Mirth on Wisdom then attend, And social Ease on learned Toil.
Then while, at Love's uncareful shrine.
Each dictates to the god of wine

Her name, whom all his hopes obey, What flattering dreams each hosom warm. While absence, heightening every charm. Invokes the slow returning May!

May, thou delight of Heaven and Earth,

When will thy genial star arise? The auspicious morn, which gives thee hirth.

Shall bring Eudora to my eyes.
Within her sylvan haunt behold,
As in the happy garden old,

She moves like that primeval fair:
Thither, ye silver-sounding lyres,
Ye tender smiles, ye chaste desires, Fond hope and mutual faith, repair.

And if believing Love can read

Ilis hetter omens in hcr eye,
Then shall my fears, O charming maid, And every pain of ahsence die:

« ForrigeFortsett »