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The hymning Angels, and the herald star,
That led the Wise, who sought him from afar,
And idols on their own unhallowed shore
Dashed, at his birth, to be revered no more !
This theme on reeds of Albion I rehearse :
The dawn of that blest day inspired the verse;
Verse that, reserved in secret, shall attend
Thy candid voice, my critic, and my friend !
COMPOSED IN THE AUTHOR'S NINETEENTH YEAR
As yet a stranger to the gentle fires
That Amathusia's smiling queen inspires,
Not seldom I derided Cupid's darts,
And scorned his claim to rule all human hearts.
“Go, child," I said, “ transfix the timorous dove!
“ An easy conquest suits an infant love;
“ Enslave the sparrow, for such prize shall be
« Sufficient triumph to a chief like thee!
“Why aim thy idle arms at human kind?
“ Thy shafts prevail not 'gainst the noble mind.”
The Cyprian heard, and, kindling into ire,
(None kindles sooner) burned with double fire.
It was the spring, and newly-risen day Peeped o'er the hamlets on the first of May; My eyes, too tender for the blaze of light, Still sought the shelter of retiring night, When Love approached : in painted plumes arrayed The insidious god his rattling darts betrayed, Nor less his infant features, and the sly Sweet intimations of his threatening eye. Such the Sigean boy is seen above, Filling the goblet for imperial Jove; Such he, on whom the nymphs bestowed their charms, Hylas, who perished in a Naiad's arms. Angry he seemed, yet graceful in his ire, And added threats, not destitute of fire. “My power,” he said, “ by others' pain alone “ 'Twere best to learn ; now learn it by thy own! “With those who feel my power that power altest, “ And in thy anguish be my sway confest ! “ I vanquished Phæbus, though returning vain “ From his new triumph o'er the Python slain,
“ And when he thinks on Daphne, even he
“ Will yield the prize of archery to me.
“A dart less true the Parthian horseman sped,
“ Behind him killed, and conquered as he Aed :
“Less true the expert Cydonian, and less true
« The youth whose shaft his latent Procris slew.
“ Vanquished by me see huge Orion bend,
“By me Alcides, and Alcides' friend.
“At me should Jove himself a bolt design,
“ His bosom first should bleed transfixt by mine.
“But all thy doubts this shaft will best explain,
“Nor shall it teach thee with a trivial pain.
“ Thy muse, vain youth ! shall not thy peace ensure,
« Nor Phæbus' serpent yield thy wound a cure.”
He spoke, and, waving a bright shaft in air
Sought the warm bosom of the Cyprian fair.
That thus a child should bluster in my ear
Provoked my laughter, more than moved my fear.
I shunned not, therefore, public haunts, but strayed
Careless in city or suburban shade.
And, passing and repassing, nymphs that moved
With grace divine beheld where'er I roved.
Bright shone the vernal day, with double blaze,
As beauty gave new force to Phæbus rays.
By no grave scruples checked, I freely eyed
The dangerous show, rash youth my only guide,
And many a look of many a Fair unknown
Met full, unable to control my own,
But one I marked (then peace forsook my breast) —
One-oh how far superior to the rest !
What lovely features ! such the Cyprian queen
Herself might wish, and Juno wish her mien.
The very nymph was she, whom, when I dared
His arrows, Love had even then prepared ;
Nor was himself remote, nor unsupplied
With torch well-trimmed and quiver at his side !
Now to her lips he clung, her eyelids now,
Then settled on her cheeks, or on her brow :
And with a thousand wounds from every part
Pierced, and transpierced, my undefended heart.
A fever, new to me, of fierce desire
Now seized my soul, and I was all on fire;
But she, the while, whom only I adore,
Was gone, and vanished, to appear no more.
In silent sadness I pursue my way;
I pause, I turn, proceed, yet wish to stay,
And while I follow her in thought, bemoan,
With tears, my soul's delight so quickly flown.
When Jove had hurled him to the Lemnian coast,
So Vulcan sorrowed for Olympus lost,
And so Eclides, sinking into night,
From the deep gulf looked up to distant light.
Wretch that I am, what hopes for me remain,
Who cannot cease to love, yet love in vain ?
Oh could I once, once more behold the Fair,
Speak to her, tell her, of the pangs I bear,
Perhaps she is not adamant, would show
Perhaps some pity at my tale of woe.
O inauspicious flame!-'tis mine to prove
A matchless instance of disastrous love.
Ah spare me, gentle Power !—If such thou be,
Let not thy deeds and nature disagree.
Spare me, and I will worship at no shrine
With vow and sacrifice, save only thine.
Now I revere thy fires, thy bow, thy darts.
Now own thee sovereign of all human hearts.
Remove! no-grant me still this raging woe!
Sweet is the wretchedness that lovers know :
But pierce hereafter (should I chance to see
One destined mine) at once both her and me.
Such were the trophies, that, in earlier days,
By vanity seduced, I toiled to raise,
Studious, yet indolent, and urged by youth,
That worst of teachers ! from the ways of truth;
Till learning taught me, in his shady bower,
To quit Love's servile yoke, and spurn his power.
Then, on a sudden, the fierce flame supprest,
A frost continual settled on my breast,
Whence Cupid fears his flames extinct to see,
And Venus dreads a Diomede in me.
ON THE INVENTOR OF Guns
PRAISE in old times the sage Prometheus won,
Who stole æthereal radiance from the sun ;
But greater he, whose bold invention strove
To emulate the fiery bolts of Jove.
The Poems on the subject of the Gunpowder Treason I have not translated, both because the matter of them is unpleasant, and because they are written with an asperity, which, however it might be warranted in Milton's day, would be extremely unseasonable now.-C.
To LEONORA SINGING AT ROME
[I have translated only two of the three poetical compliments addressed to Leonora, as they appear to me far superior to what I have omitted.-C.)
ANOTHER Leonora once inspired
Tasso, with fatal love to frenzy fired;
But how much happier, lived he now, were he,
Pierced with whatever pangs for love of thee!
Since could he hear that heavenly voice of thine,
With Adriana's lute of sound divine,
Fiercer than Pentheus' though his eye might roll,
Or idiot apathy benumb his soul,
You still with medicinal sounds might cheer
His senses wandering in a blind career;
And, sweetly breathing through his wounded breast,
Charm, with soul-soothing song, his thoughts to rest
NAPLES, too credulous, ah! boast no more
The sweet-voiced Siren buried on thy shore,
That, when Parthenope deceased, she gave
Her sacred dust to a Chalcidic grave;
For still she lives, but has exchanged the hoarse
Pausilipo for Tiber's placid course,
Where, idol of all Rome, she now in chains
Of magic song both gods and men detains.
THE COTTAGER AND HIS LANDLORD
A PEASANT to his lord paid yearly court,
Presenting pippins of so rich a sort
That he, displeased to have a part alone,
Removed the tree, that all might be his own.
The tree, too old to travel, though before
So fruitful, withered, and would yield no more.
The squire, perceiving all his labour void,
Cursed his own pains so foolishly employed,
And “Oh,” he cried, "that I had lived content “With tribute, small indeed, but kindly meant ! “My avarice has expensive proved to me, “ Has cost me both my pippins and my tree.”
To CHRISTINA, QUEEN OF SWEDEN
WRITTEN IN CROMWELL'S NAME, AND SENT WITH THE
CHRISTINA, maiden of heroic mien !
Star of the North ! of northern stars the queen!
Behold what wrinkles I have earned, and how
The iron casque still chafes my veteran brow,
While, following Fate's dark footsteps, I fulfil
The dictates of a hardy people's will.
But softened, in thy sight, my looks appear.
Not to all queens or kings alike severe.
ON THE DEATH OF THE VICE-CHANCELLOR
LEARN, ye nations of the earth,
The condition of your birth;
Now be taught your feeble state;
Know, that all must yield to Fate !
If the mournful rover, Death,
Say but once—“ Resign your breath!”
Vainly of escape you dream,
You must pass the Stygian stream.
Could the stoutest overcome
Death's assault, and baffle doom,
Hercules had both withstood,
Undiseased by Nessus' blood.