« PreviousContinue »
Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng, I look for streams immortalized in song, That lost in silence and oblivion lie (Dumb are their fountains and their channels dry), Yet run for ever by the Muse's skill, And in the smooth description murmur still.
Sometimes to gentle Tiber I retire, And the famed river's empty shores admire, That, destitute of strength, derives its course From thrifty urns and an unfruitful source ; Yet sung so often in poetic lays, With scorn the Danube and the Nile surveys; So high the deathless Muse exalts her theme ! Such was the Boyne, a poor inglorious stream, That in Hibernian vales obscurely stray'd, And, unobserved in wild meanders play'd; Till by your lines and Nassau's sword renown'd, Its rising billows through the world resound, Where'er the hero's godlike acts can pierce, Or where the fame of an immortal verse.
Oh, could the Muse my ravish'd breast inspire With warmth like yours, and raise an equal fire, Unnumber'd beauties in my verse should shine, And Virgil's Italy should yield to mine!
See how the golden groves around me smile, That shun the coast of Britain's stormy isle ; Or, when transplanted and preserved with care, Curse the cold clime, and starve in northern air. Here kindly warmth their mountain juice ferments To nobler tastes and more exalted scents : E’en the rough rocks with tender myrtle bloom, And trodden weeds send out a rich perfume. Bear me, some god, to Baia's gentle seats, Or cover me in Umbria's green retreats, Where western gales eternally reside, And all the seasons lavish all their pride : Blossoms, and fruits, and flowers together rise, And the whole year in gay confusion lies.
Immortal glories in my mind revive, And in my soul a thousand passions strive, When Rome's exalted beauties I descry Magnificent in piles of ruin lie. An amphitheatre's amazing height Here fills my eye with terror and delight, That on its public shows unpeopled Rome, And held, uncrowded, nations in its womb; Here pillars rough with sculpture pierce the skies, And here proud triumphal arches rise, Where the old Romans deathless acts display'd, Their base, degenerate progeny upbraid: Whole rivers here forsake the fields below, And, wondering at their height, through airy chan
nels flow. Still to new scenes my wandering Muse retires, And the dumb show of breathing rocks admires : Where the smooth chisel all its force has shown, And soften'd into flesh the rugged stone. In solemn silence, a majestic band, Heroes, and gods, and Roman consuls stand. Stern tyrants, whom their cruelties renown, And emperors in Parian marble frown: While the bright dames, to whom they humbly sued, Still show the charms that their proud hearts subdued.
Fain would I Raphael's godlike art rehearse, And show th' immortal labours in my verse, Where, from the mingled strength of shade and light, A new creation rises to my sight, Such heavenly figures from his pencil flow, So warm with life his blended colours glow. From theme to theme, with secret pleasure toss'd, Amid the soft variety I'm lost : Here pleasing airs my ravish'd soul confound With circling notes and labyrinths of sound; Here domes and temples rise in distant views, And open palaces invite my Muse.
How has kind Heaven adorn'd the happy land, And scatter'd blessings with a wasteful hand!
But what avail her unexhausted stores,
Oh Liberty, thou goddess heavenly bright,
Thee, goddess, thee, Britannia's isle adores; How has she oft exhausted all her stores, How oft in field of death thy presence sought, Nor thinks the mighty prize too dearly bought! On foreign mountains may the sun refine The grape's soft juice, and mellow it to wine, With citron groves adorn a distant soil, And the fat olive swell with floods of oil : We envy not the warmer clime, that lies In ten degrees of more indulgent skies, Nor at the arseness of our heaven pine, Though o'er our heads the frozen Pleiades shine: 'Tis liberty that crowns Britannia's isle, And makes her barren rocks and her bleak mounts
PARAPHRASE ON PSALM XXIII. The Lord my pasture shall prepare, And seed me with a shepherd's care; His presence shall my wants supply, And guard me with a watchful eye: My noonday walks he shall attend, And all my midnight hours defend. When in the sultry glebe I faint, Or on the thirsty mountain pant, To fertile vales and dewy meads My weary, wandering steps he leads : Where peaceful rivers, soft and slow, Amid the verdant landscape flow. Though in the paths of death I tread, With gloomy horrors overspread, My steadfast heart shall fear no ill, For thou, oh Lord, art with me still ; Thy friendly crook shall give me aid, And guide me through the dreadful shade. Though in a bare and rugged way, Through devious, lonely wilds I stray, Thy bounty shall my wants beguile, The barren wilderness shall smile, With sudden greens and herbage crown'd, And streams shall murmur all around.
How are thy servants bless'd, oh Lord !
How sure is their defence ! Eternal wisdom is their guide,
Their help Omnipotence.
In foreign realms, and lands remote,
Supported by thy care, Through burning climes I pass'd unhurt,
And breathed in tainted air.
Thy mercy sweeten'd every soil,
Made every region please;
And smooth'd the Tyrrhene seas.
How, with affrighted eyes,
In all its horrors rise.
Confusion dwelt on every face,
And fear in every heart; When waves on waves, and gulfs on gulfs,
O'ercame the pilot's art.
Yet then from all my griefs, oh lord !
Thy mercy set me free; Whilst in the confidence of
prayer My soul took hold on thee.
For though in dreadful whirls we hung
High on the broken wave;
Nor impotent to save.
The storm was laid, the winds retired,
Obedient to thy will ;
At thy command was still.
Thy goodness I'll adore;
And humbly hope for more.