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Spring claims the verse that with his influence glows,
And shall be paid with what himself bestows.
Thou, veil'd with opening foliage, lead'st the
Of feather'd minstrels, Philomel! in song; [throng
Let us, in concert, to the season sing,
Civic and sylvan heralds of the spring!
With notes triumphant spring's approach deTo spring, ye muses, annual tribute bear! [clare! The orient left, and Ethiopia's plains, The sun now northward turns his golden reins; Night creeps not now; yet rules with gentle sway, And drives her dusky horrors swift away; Now less fatigued, on this ethereal plain Bootes follows his celestial wain; And now the radiant sentinels above, Less numerous, watch around the courts of Jove, For, with the night, force, ambush, slaughter fly, And no gigantic guilt alarms the sky. Now, haply says some shepherd, while he views, Recumbent on a rock, the reddening dews, This night, this, surely, Phoebus miss'd the fair, Who stops his chariot by her amorous care. Cynthia, delighted by the morning's glow, Speeds to the woodland, and resumes her bow; Resigns her beams, and, glad to disappear, Blesses his aid, who shortens her career. Come—Phoebus cries—Aurora, come—too late Thou lingerest, slumbering, with thy wither'd mate; Leave him, and to Hymettus' top repair! Thy darling Cephalus expects thee there.
The goddess with a blush her love betrays,
But mounts, and, driving rapidly, obeys.
Earth now desires thee, Phoebus! and, to engage
Thy warm embrace, casts off the guise of age;
Desires thee, and deserves; for who so sweet
When her rich bosom courts thy genial heat?
Her breath imparts to every breeze that blows
Arabia's harvest and the Paphian rose.
Her lofty front she diadems around
With sacred pines, like Ops on Ida crown'd;
Her dewy locks, with various flowers new blown,
She interweaves, various, and all her own;
For Proserpine, in such a wreath attired,
Tsenarian Dis himself with love inspired.
Fear not, lest, cold and coy, the nymph refuse!
Herself, with all her sighing zephyrs, sues;
Each courts thee, fanning soft his scented wing,
And all her groves with warbled wishes ring.
Nor, unendow'd and indigent, aspires
The amorous earth to engage thy warm desires,
But rich in balmy drugs, assists thy claim,
Divine physician! to that glorious name.
If splendid recompense, if gifts can move
Desire in thee (gifts often purchase love),
She offers all the wealth her mountains hide,
And all that rests beneath the boundless tide.
How oft, when headlong from the heavenly steep
She sees thee playing in the western deep,
How oft she cries—"Ah Phoebus, why repair
Thy wasted force, why seek refreshment there?
Can Tethys win thee? wherefore shouldstthou lave
A face so fair in her unpleasant wave?
Come, seek my green retreats, and rather choose
To cool thy tresses in my crystal dews.
The grassy turf shall yield thee sweeter rest;
Come, lay thy evening glories on my breast,
And breathing fresh, through many a humid rose,
Soft whispering airs shall lull thee to repose!
No fears I feel like Semele to die,
Nor let thy burning wheels approach too nigh,
For thou canst govern them, here therefore rest,
And lay thy evening glories on my breast!"
Thus breathes the wanton Earth her amorous
And all her countless offspring feel the same;
For Cupid now through every region strays,
Brightening his faded fires with solar rays;
His new-strung bow sends forth a deadlier sound,
And his new-pointed shafts more deeply wound;
Nor Dian's self escapes him now untried,
Nor even Vesta at her altar side;
His mother too repairs her beauty's wane,
And seems sprung newly from the deep again.
Exulting youths the hymeneal sing,
With Hymen's name roofs, rocks, and valleys ring;
He, new attired, and by the season drest,
Proceeds, all fragrant, in his saffron vest.
Now many a golden-cinctured virgin roves
To taste the pleasures of the fields and groves,
All wish, and each alike, some favourite youth
Hers, in the bonds of hymeneal truth.
Now pipes the shepherd through his reeds again,
Nor Phillis wants a song that suits the strain;
With songs the seaman hails the starry sphere,
And dolphins rise from the abyss to hear:
Jove feels himself the season, sports again
With his fair spouse, and banquets all his train.
Now too the satyrs, in the dusk of eve, [weave,
Their mazy dance through flowery meadows
And neither god nor goat, but both in kind,
Silvanus, wreathed with cypress, skips behind.
The dryads leave their hollow sylvan cells
To roam the banks and solitary dells;
Pan riots now; and from his amorous chafe
Ceres and Cybele seem hardly safe,
And Faunus, all on fire to reach the prize,
In chase of some enticing oread flies;
She bounds before, but fears too swift a bound,
And hidden lies, but wishes to be found.
Our shades entice the immortals from above,
And some kind power presides o'er every grove;
And long, ye powers, o'er every grove preside,
For all is safe, and blest, where ye abide!
Return, O Jove! the age of gold restore—
Why choose to dwell where storms and thunder
At least thou, Phoebus! moderate thy speed!
Let not the vernal hours too swift proceed,
Command rough winter back, nor yield the pole
Too soon to night's encroaching, long control!
TO CHARLES DEODATI,
Who, while he spent his Christmas in the country, sent the Author a poetical epistle, in which he requested that his verses,if not so good as usual,might be excused on account of the many feasts to which his friends invited him, and which would not allow him leisure to finish them as he wished.
With no rich viands overcharged, I send
Health, which perchance you want, my pamper'd friend.
But wherefore should thy muse tempt mine away
From what she loves, from darkness into day?
Art thou desirous to be told how well
I love thee, and in verse? verse cannot tell.
For verse has bounds, and must in measure move;
But neither bounds nor measure knows my love.
How pleasant, in thy lines described, appear
December's harmless sports, and rural cheer!
French spirits kindling with caerulean fires,
And all such gambols as the time inspires!
Think not that wine against good verse offends,
The Muse and Bacchus have been always friends;
Nor Phoebus blushes sometimes to be found
With ivy, rather than with laurel, crown'd.
TheNine themselves ofttimes have join'd the song,
And revels of the Bacchanalian throng;
Not even Ovid could in Scythian air
Vol. in. 11