Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ne'er had Hector pressed the plain
By a trick of Pallas slain,
Nor the chief to Jove allied
By Achilles' phantom died.

Could enchantments life prolong,
Circe, saved by magic song,
Still had lived, and equal skill
Had preserved Medea still.

Dwelt in herbs and drugs a power
To avert man's destined hour,
Learn’d Machaon should have known
Doubtless to avert his own;

Chiron had survived the smart
Of the hydra-tainted dart,
And Jove's bolt had been, with ease,
Foiled by Asclepiades.

Thou too, sage ! of whom forlorn
Helicon and Cirrha mourn,
Still hadst filled thy princely place,
Regent of the gowned race;

Hadst advanced to higher fame
Still thy much-ennobled name,
Nor in Charon's skiff explored
The Tartarean gulf abhorred.

But resentful Proserpine,
Jealous of thy skill divine,
Snapping short thy vital thread,
Thee too numbered with the dead.

Wise and good! untroubled be
The green turf that covers thee !
Thence, in gay profusion, grow
All the sweetest flowers that blow !

Pluto's consort bid thee rest !
Æacus pronounce thee blest,
To her home thy shade consign,
Make Elysium ever thine !

ON THE Death of the Bishop of ELY

WRITTEN IN THE AUTHOR'S SEVENTEENTH YEAR

My lids with grief were tumid yet.
And still my sullied cheek was wet
With briny tears, profusely shed
For venerable Winton dead,
When Fame, whose tales of saddest sound,
Alas ! are ever truest found,
The news through all our cities spread
Of yet another mitred head
By ruthless Fate to death consigned
Ely, the honour of his kind !

At once a storm of passion heaved
My boiling bosom ; much I grieved,
But more I raged, at every breath
Devoting Death himself to death.
With less revenge did Naso teem,
When hated Ibis was his theme;
With less Archilochus denied
The lovely Greek, his promised bride.
But lo ! while thus I execrate,
Incensed, the minister of fate,
Wondrous accents, soft, yet clear,
Wafted on the gale I hear.

“Ah, much deluded ! lay aside “ Thy threats and anger misapplied ! “ Art not afraid with sounds like these “ To offend whom thou canst not appease ? Death is not (wherefore dream'st thou thus?) “ The son of Night and Erebus; “ Nor was of fell Erinnys born On gulfs where Chaos rules forlorn : “ But, sent from God, His presence leaves “ To gather home his ripened sheaves, “ To call encumbered souls away

From fleshly bonds to boundless day, (As when the winged Hours excite “ And summon forth the morning light) “ And each to convoy to her place “ Before the Eternal Father's face. “ But not the wicked :-them, severe “Yet just, from all their pleasures here “ He hurries to the realms below,

“Terrific realms of penal woe!
“Myself no sooner heard his call,
“Than, 'scaping through my prison wall,
“I bade adieu to bolts and bars,
“ And soared, with angels, to the stars,
“ Like him of old, to whom 'twas given
« To mount on fiery wheels to heaven.
“ Boötes' waggon, slow with cold,
“ Appalled me not; nor to behold
“The sword that vast Orion draws,
“Or even the Scorpion's horrid claws.
“ Beyond the Sun's bright orb I fly,
“And far beneath my feet descry
“Night's dread goddess, seen with awe,
“Whom her winged dragons draw.
Thus, ever wondering at my speed,
“ Augmented still as I proceed,
“ I pass the planetary sphere,
The Milky Way—and now appear
“ Heaven's crystal battlements, her door
« Of massy pearl, and emerald floor.

“But here I cease. For never can
The tongue of once a mortal man
“ In suitable description trace
“The pleasures of that happy place;
“Suffice it, that those joys divine
“ Are all, and all for ever, mine!"

NATURE UNIMPAIRED BY TIME

Ah, how the human mind wearies herself
With her own wanderings, and, involved in gloom
Impenetrable, speculates amiss !
Measuring, in her folly, things divine
By human; laws inscribed on adamant
By laws of man's device, and counsels fixt
For ever by the hours that pass and die.

How ?-shall the face of Nature then be ploughed
Into deep wrinkles, and shall years at last
On the great parent fix a sterile curse?
Shall even she confess old age, and halt,
And, palsy-smitten, shake her starry brows?
Shall foul Antiquity with rust, and drought,
And famine, vex the radiant worlds above?

20

Shall Time's unsated maw crave and ingulf
The very heavens that regulate his flight ?
And was the Sire of all able to fence
His works and to uphold the circling worlds,
But, through improvident and heedless haste,
Let slip the occasion ?-So, then, all is lost-
And in some future evil hour yon arch
Shall crumble and come thundering down, the poles
Jar in collision, the Olympian king
Fall with his throne, and Pallas, holding forth
The terrors of the Gorgon shield in vain,
Shall rush to the abyss, like Vulcan hurled
Down into Lemnos, through the gate of heaven.
Thou also, with precipitated wheels,
Phæbus, thy own son's fall shall imitate,
With hideous ruin shalt impress the deep
Suddenly, and the flood shall reek and hiss
At the extinction of the lamp of day.
Then too shall Hæmus, cloven to his base,
Be shattered, and the huge Ceraunian hills,
Once weapons of Tartarean Dis, immersed
In Erebus, shall fill Himself with fear.

No. The Almighty Father surer laid
His deep foundations, and, providing well
For the event of all, the scales of fate
Suspended in just equipoise, and bade
His universal works, from age to age,
One tenor hold, perpetual, undisturbed.

Hence the prime mover wheels itself about
Continual, day by day, and with it bears
In social measure swift the heavens around.
Not tardier now is Saturn than of old,
Nor radiant less the burning casque of Mars.
Phæbus, his vigour unimpaired, still shows
The effulgence of his youth, nor needs the god
A downward course that he may warm the vales;
But, ever rich in influence, runs his road,
Sign after sign, through all the heavenly zone.
Beautiful as at first ascends the star
From odoriferous Ind, whose office is
To gather home betimes the ethereal flock,
To pour them o'er the skies again at eve,
And to discriminate the night and day.
Still Cynthia's changeful horn waxes and wanes
Alternate, and, with arms extended still,
She welcomes to her breast her brother's beams. -
Nor have the elements deserted yet

50

60

Their functions : thunder, with as loud a stroke
As erst, smites through the rocks and scatters them.
The East still howls, still the relentless North
Invades the shuddering Scythian, still he breathes
The winter, and still rolls the storms along.
The king of ocean, with his wonted force,
Beats on Pelorus; o'er the deep is heard
The hoarse alarm of Triton's sounding shell ;
Nor swim the monsters of the Ægean sea
In shallows, or beneath diminished waves.
Thou, too, thy ancient vegetative power
Enjoyest, ( earth! Narcissus still is sweet,
And, Phoebus ! still thy favourite, and still
Thy favourite, Cytherea ! both retain
Their beauty; nor the mountains, ore-enriched
For punishment of man, with purer gold
Teemed ever, or with brighter gems the deep.

Thus in unbroken series all proceeds;
And shall till, wide involving either pole
And the immensity of yonder heaven,
The final flames of destiny absorb
The world, consumed in one enormous pyre !

80

ON THE PLATONIC IDEA

AS IT WAS UNDERSTOOD BY ARISTOTLE

Ye sister powers, who o'er the sacred groves
Preside, and thou, fair mother of them all,
Mnemosyne ! and thou who, in thy grot
Immense, reclined at leisure, hast in charge
The archives and the ordinances of Jove,
And dost record the festivals of heaven,
Eternity !-inform us who is He,
That great original by nature chosen
To be the archetype of human kind,
Unchangeable, immortal, with the poles
Themselves coeval, one, yet everywhere,
An image of the god who gave him being ?
Twin-brother of the goddess born from Jove
He dwells not in his father's mind, but, though
Of common nature with ourselves, exists
Apart, and occupies a local home.
Whether, companion of the stars, he spend

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »