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Seem hostile all to hostile eyes ;
The sons of Atreus see them, and despise.
Woe to the mother, in her close of day,
Woe to her desolate heart, and temples gray,
When she shall hear
Her loved one's story whispered in her ear!
“Woe, woe!" will be the cry,-
No quiet murmur like the tremulous wail
Of the lone bird, the querulous nightingale, –
But shrieks that fly Piercing, and wild, and loud, shall mourn the tale ; And she will beat her breast and rend her hair, Scattering the silver locks that Time hath left her
Oh! when the pride of Græcia's noblest race
Wanders, as now, in darkness and disgrace,
When Reason's day
Sets rayless—joyless--quenched in cold decay,
Better to die, and sleep
The never-waking sleep, than linger on,
And dare to live, when the soul's life is gone:
But thou shalt weep,
Thou wretched father, for thy dearest son,
Thy best beloved, by inward Furies torn,
The deepest, bitterest curse, thine ancient house bath
(From Ovid's Metamorphoses.)
The Kings were moved; conviction hung
On soft Persuasion's honeyed tongue;
And Victory to Wisdom gare
The weapons of the fallen brave.
That Chief, unshrinking, unsubdued,
Had grasped his spear in fire and feud
And never dreamed of fear;
Had stemmed fierce Hector's wild alarm,-
Had braved the Thunderer's red right arm,--
But Rage is Victor here.
By nothing could the hero fall
Save by the pangs that conquer all!
He snatched the falchion from his side ;
And, “This at least is mine,” he cried,
“ This e’en Ulysses will not crave :
But let it dig its master's grave:
In many a glorious field of yore
This blade has blushed with Phrygian gore,
And when mine own shall glisten, mine
Shall well become its warlike shine.
Ajax shall fall by Ajax' hand,
A warrior by a warrior's brand.”
He spoke, and, smiling sternly, pressed
The weapon to his struggling breast.
Too feeble was the hero's strength
To force the weapon's chilling length
From out the reeking wound;
The blood upon its gory track
In rushing eddies bore it back;
And on the moistened ground
There bloomed (as poets love to tell),
Where'er the gushing dewdrops fell,
A melancholy Flower;
The same fair flower had wept beside
The turf where Hyacinthus died;
And, from that fatal hour,
It syllables on every leaf
The record of a double grief.
(From Virg. An. vi. 255.)
But look, where first the God of Day
From Heaven pours out his golden ray,
Earth groans a sullen groan;
Shake the old monarchs of the woods,
And ban-dogs from their solitudes
Shriek out their ominous moan.
“ Avaunt!" the shuddering Sibyl cries,
“ Avaunt, ye unpermitted eyes !
And thou, Æneas, twine thine hand
Fearless, around thy ready brand,
And come in darkness on !".
She spoke, and through the cavern led :
He followed with as firm a tread.
They went, unseen, through cold and cloud,
Where Darkness flung her solemn shroud-
A dim, unearthly shade :
Mirk was the air, as when through night
The moon looks down with partial light
When Jupiter to earth and heaven
A drear and viewless veil hath given,
And, in the calm obscure of even,
All things and colors fade.
“Ye Gods, whom Destiny hath made
The Guardians of the voiceless shade,–
The voiceless shade of parted souls,
Where Phlegethon forever rolls,
And gloomy Chaos reigns,-
Forgive me that with living eye
I look upon your privacy,
And rend the sulphurous canopy
Which clothes your dark domains !"
THE HOOPOE'S INVOCATION TO THE NIGHTINGALE.
(From the Birds of ARISTOPHANES, I. 209.)
WAKEN, dear one, from thy slumbers;
Pour again those holy numbers,
Which thou warblest there alone
In a heaven instructed tone,
Mourning from this leafy shrine
Lost—lost Itys, mine and thine,
In the melancholy cry
Of a mother's agony;
Echo, ere the murmurs fade,
Bears them from the yew-tree's shade