« PreviousContinue »
Critics I saw, that other names deface,
And fix their own, with labor, in their place:
Their own, like others, soon their place resign'd,
Or disappear'd, and left the first behind.
Nor was the work impair'd by storms alone,
But felt the approaches of too warm a sun;
For Faine, impatient of extremes, decays
Not more by Envy, than excess of Praise.
Yet part no injuries of Heaven could feel,
Like crystal faithful to the graving steel:
The rock's high summit, in the temple's shade,
Nor heat could melt, nor beating storm invade.
Their names inscrib'd unnumber'd ages past
From Time's first birth, with Time itself shall last;
These ever new, nor subject to decays,
Spread and grow brighter with the length of days.
So Zembla's rocks (the beauteous work of frost)
Rise white in air, and glitter o'er the coast;
Pale suns, unfelt, at distance roll away,
And on th' impassive ice the lightnings play;
Eternal snows the growing mass supply,
Till the bright mountains prop th' incumbent sky;
As Atlas fix'd, each hoary pile appears,
The gather'd winter of a thousand years.
On this foundation Fame's high temple stands;
Stupendous pile! not rear'd by mortal hands.
Whate'er proud Rome or artful Greece beheld,
Or elder Babylon, its frame excell'd.
Four faces had the dome, and every face
Of various structure, but of equal grace!
Four brazen gates, on columns lifted high,
Salute the different quarters of the sky.
Here fabled chiefs in darker ages born,
Or worthies old, whom arms or arts adorn,
Who cities rais'd, or tam'd a monstrous race,
The walls in venerable order grace:
Heroes in animated marble frown,
And legislators seem to think in stone.
Westward, a sumptuous frontispiece appear'd,
On Doric pillars of white marble rear'd,
Crown'd with an architrave of antique mould,
And sculpture rising on the roughen'd gold.
In shaggy spoils here Theseus was beheld,
And Perseus dreadful with Minerva's shield:
There great Alcides, stooping with his toil,
Rests on his club, and holds th' Hesperian spoil:
Here Orpheus sings; trees moving to the sound
Start from their roots, and form a shade around:
Amphion there the loud creating lyre
Strikes, and behold a sudden Thebes aspire!
Cytheron's echoes answer to his call,
And half the mountain rolls into a wall:
There might you see the lengthening spires ascend,
The dome swell up, the widening arches bend,
The growing towers like exhalations rise,
And the huge columns heave into the skies.
The eastern front was glorious to behold,
With diamond flaming, and Barbaric gold.
There Ninus shone, who spread th' Assyrian fame,
And the great founder of the Persian name:
There in long robes the royal Magi stand,
Grave Zoroaster waves the circling wand:
The sage Chaldæans rob'd in white appear'd,
And Brachmans, deep in desert woods rever'd.
These stopp'd the Moon, and call'd the unbodied
To midnight banquets in the glimmering glades;
Made visionary fabrics round them rise,
And airy spectres skim before their eyes;
Of talismans and sigils knew the power,
And careful watch'd the planetary hour.
Superior, and alone, Confucius stood,
Who taught that useful science, to be good.
But on the south, a long majestic race
Of Egypt's priests the gilded niches grace,
Who measur'd Earth, describ'd the starry spheres
And trac'd the long records of lunar years.
High on his car Sesostris struck my view,
Whom sceptred slaves in golden harness drew:
His hands a bow and pointed javelin hold;
His giant limbs are arm'd in scales of gold.
Between the statues obelisks were plac'd,
And the learn'd walls with hieroglyphics grac'd.
Of Gothic structure was the northern side,
O'erwrought with ornaments of barbarous pride.
There huge Colosses rose, with trophies crown'd,
And Runic characters were grav'd around.
There sat Zamolxis with erected eyes,
And Odin here in mimic trances dies.
There on rude iron columns, smear'd with blood,
The horrid forms of Scythian heroes stood,
Druids and bards (their once loud harps unstrung)
And youths that died to be by poets sung.
These and a thousand more of doubtful fame,
To whom old fables gave a lasting name,
In ranks adorn'd the temple's outward face;
The wall in lustre and effect like glass,
Which, o'er each object casting various dyes,
Enlarges some, and others multiplies:
Nor void of emblem was the mystic wall,
For thus romantic Fame increases all.
The temple shakes, the sounding gates unfold,
Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold:
Rais'd on a thousand pillars wreath'd around
With laurel-foliage, and with eagles crown'd:
Of bright transparent beryl were the walls,
The friezes gold, and gold the capitals:
As Heaven with stars, the roof with jewels glows,
And ever-living lamps depend in rows.
Full in the passage of each spacious gate,
The sage historians in white garments wait;
Grav'd o'er their seats the form of Time was found
His scythe revers'd, and both his pinions bound.
Within stood heroes, who through loud alarms
In bloody fields pursued renown in arms.
High on a throne with trophies charg'd, I view'd
The youth that all things but himself subdued;
His feet on sceptres and tiaras trod,
And his horn'd head belied the Lybian god.
There Cæsar, grac'd with both Minervas, shone;
Cæsar, the world's great master, and his own;
| Unmov'd, superior still in every state,
And scarce detested in his country's fate.
But chief were those, who not for empire fought,
But with their toils their people's safety bought:
High o'er the rest Epaminondas stood;
Timoleon, glorious in his brother's blood;
Bold Scipio, savior of the Roman state,
Great in his triumphs, in retirement great;
And wise Aurelius, in whose well-taught mind
With boundless power unbounded virtue join'd,
His own strict judge, and patron of mankind.
Much-suffering heroes next their honors claim,
Those of less noisy, and less guilty fame,
Fair Virtue's silent train: supreme of these
Here ever shines the godlike Socrates;
He whom ungrateful Athens could expel,
At all times just, but when he sign'd the shell
Here his abode the martyr'd Phocian claims,
With Agis, not the last of Spartan names:
Unconquer'd Cato shows the wound he tore,
And Brutus his ill genius meets no more.
But in the centre of the hallow'd choir,
Six pompous columns o'er the rest aspire;
Around the shrine itself of Fame they stand,
Hold the chief honors, and the fane command.
High on the first, the mighty Homer shone ;
Eternal adamant compos'd his throne;
Father of verse! in holy fillets drest,
His silver beard wav'd gently o'er his breast;
Though blind, a boldness in his looks appears;
In years he seem'd, but not impair'd by years.
The wars of Troy were round the pillar seen:
Here fierce Tydides wounds the Cyprian queen;
Here Hector glorious from Patroclus' fall,
Here dragg'd in triumph round the Trojan wall.
Motion and life did every part inspire,
Bold was the work, and prov'd the master's fire;
A strong expression most he seem'd t' affect,
And here and there disclos'd a brave neglect.
A golden column next in rank appear'd, On which a shrine of purest gold was rear'd; Finish'd the whole, and labor'd every part, With patient touches of unwearied Art : The Mantuan there in sober triumph sate, Compos'd his posture, and his look sedate; On Homer still he fix'd a reverent eye, Great without pride, in modest majesty. In living sculpture on the sides were spread The Latian wars, and haughty Turnus dead; Eliza stretch'd upon the funeral pyre, Æneas bending with his aged sire: Troy flam'd in burning gold, and o'er the throne ARMS AND THE MAN in golden ciphers shone.
Four swans sustain a car of silver bright, With heads advanc'd, and pinions stretch'd for flight: Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode, And seem'd to labor with th' inspiring god. Across the harp a careless hand he flings, And boldly sinks into the sounding strings. The figur'd games of Greece the column grace, Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race. The youths hang o'er their chariots as they run; The fiery steeds seem starting from the stone; The champions in distorted postures threat; And all appear'd irregularly great.
Here happy Horace tun'd th' Ausonian lyre To sweeter sounds, and temper'd Pindar's fire: Pleas'd with Alcæus' manly rage to infuse The softer spirit of the Sapphic Muse. The polish'd pillar different sculptures grace; A work outlasting monumental brass. Here smiling Loves and Bacchanals appear, The Julian star and great Augustus here. The doves that round the infant poet spread Myrtles and bays, hung hovering o'er his head. Here, in a shrine that cast a dazzling light, Sate fix'd in thought the mighty Stagirite; His sacred head a radiant zodiac crown'd, And various animals his sides surround; His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view Superior worlds, and look all Nature through. With equal rays immortal Tully shone, The Roman rostra deck'd the consul's throne: Gathering his flowing robe, he seem'd to stand In act to speak, and graceful stretch'd his hand. Behind, Rome's genius waits with civic crowns, And the great father of his country owns.
These massy columns in a circle rise, O'er which a pompous dome invades the skies: Scarce to the top I stretch'd my aching sight, So large it spread, and swell'd to such a height. Full in the midst proud Fame's imperial seat With jewels blaz'd, magnificently great; The vivid emeralds there revive the eye, The flaming rubies show their sanguine dye, Bright azure rays from lively sapphires stream. And lucid amber casts a golden gleam. With various-color'd light the pavement shone, And all on fire appear'd the glowing throne; The dome's high arch reflects the mingled blaze, And forms a rainbow of alternate rays. When on the goddess first I cast my sight, Scarce seem'd her stature of a cubit's height; But swell'd to larger size, the more I gaz'd, Till to the roof her towering front she rais'd. With her, the temple every moment grew, And ampler vistas open'd to my view: Upward the columns shoot, the roofs ascend, And arches widen, and long aisles extend. Such was her form, as ancient bards have told, Wings raise her arms, and wings her feet infold; A thousand busy tongues the goddess bears, And thousand open eyes, and thousand listening
Beneath, in order rang'd, the tuneful Nine
(Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine :
With eyes on Fame for ever fix'd, they sing;
For Fame they raise their voice, and tune the string;
With Time's first birth began the heavenly lays,
And last, eternal, through the length of days.
Around these wonders as I cast a look,
The trumpet sounded, and the temple shook,
And all the nations, summon'd at the call,
From different quarters fill the crowded hall:
Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard;
In various garbs promiscuous throngs appear'd;
Thick as the bees, that with the spring renew
Their flowery toils, and sip the fragrant dew,
When the wing'd colonies first tempt the sky,
O'er dusky fields and shaded waters fly,
Or, settling, seize the sweets the blossoms yield,
And a low murmur runs along the field.
Millions of suppliant crowds the shrine attend,
And all degrees before the goddess bend;
The poor, the rich, the valiant, and the sage,
And boasting youth, and narrative old-age.
Their pleas were different, their request the same
For good and bad alike are fond of Fame.
Some she disgrac'd, and some with honors crown'd
Unlike successes equal merits found.
Thus her blind sister, fickle Fortune, reigns,
And undiscerning scatters crowns and chains.
First at the shrine the learned world appear, And to the goddess thus prefer their prayer. "Long have we sought t'instruct and please man kind,
With studies pale, with midnight vigils blind;
But thank'd by few, rewarded yet by none,
We here appeal to thy superior throne
On wit and learning the just prize bestow,
For Fame is all we must expect below."
The goddess heard, and bade the Muses raise
The golden trumpet of eternal Praise :
From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound,
That fills the circuit of the world around,
Not all at once, as thunder breaks the cloud;
The notes at first were rather sweet than loud ·
By just degrees they every moment rise,
Fill the wide Earth, and gain upon the skies.
At every breath were balmy odors shed,
Which still grew sweeter, as they wider spread:
Less fragrant scents th' unfolding rose exhales,
Or spices breathing in Arabian gales.
Next these the good and just, an awful train,
Thus on their knees address the sacred fane.
Since living virtue is with envy curs'd,
And the best men are treated like the worst,
Do thou, just goddess, call our merits forth,
And give each deed th' exact intrinsic worth."
Not with bare justice shall your act be crown'd,"
(Said Fame)" but high above desert renown'd:
Let fuller notes th' applauding world amaze,
And the loud clarion labor in your praise."
This band dismiss'd, behold another crowd
Preferr'd the same request, and lowly bow'd;
The constant tenor of whose well-spent days
No less deserv'd a just return of praise.
But straight the direful trump of Slander sounds;
Through the big dome the doubling thunder
Loud as the burst of cannon rends the skies,
The dire report through every region flies,
In every ear incessant rumors rung,
And gathering scandals grew on every tongue.
From the black trumpet's rusty concave broke
Sulphureous flames, and clouds of rolling smoke:
The poisonous vapor blots the purple skies,
And withers all before it as it flies.
A troop came next, who crowns and armor wore,
And proud defiance in their looks they bore:
For thee" (they cried), "amidst alarms and strife,
We sail'd in tempests down the stream of life;
For thee whole nations fill'd with flames and blood,
And swam to empire through the purple flood.
Those ills we dar'd, thy inspiration own;
What virtue seem'd, was done for thee alone."
"Ambitious fools!" (the queen replied, and frown'd)
Be all your acts in dark oblivion drown'd;
There sleep forgot, with mighty tyrants gone,
Your statues moulder'd, and your names unknown!"
A sudden cloud straight snatch'd them from my
And each majestic phantom sunk in night.
Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen;
Plain was their dress, and modest was their mien.
"Great idol of mankind! we neither claim
The praise of merit, nor aspire to Fame!
But, safe in deserts from th' applause of men,
Would die unheard of, as we liv'd unseen.
"Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight
Those acts of goodness which themselves requite.
O let us still the secret joys partake,
To follow Virtue ev'n for Virtue's sake."
Hither," they cried, "direct your eyes, and see
The men of pleasure, dress, and gallantry;
Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays;
Sprightly our nights, polite are all our days;
Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care
To pay due visits, and address the fair:
In fact, 'tis true, no nymph we could persuade,
But still in fancy vanquish'd every maid;
Of unknown duchesses lewd tales we tell,
Yet, would the world believe us, all were well.
The joy let others have, and we the name,
And what we want in pleasure, grant in fame."
The queen assents, the trumpet rends the skies,
And at each blast a lady's honor dies.
Pleas'd with the same success, vast numbers prest
Around the shrine, and made the same request:
What you!" (she cried)" unlearn'd in arts to please,
Slaves to yourselves, and ev'n fatigu'd with ease,
Who lose a length of undeserving days,
Would you usurp the lover's dear-bought praise?
To just contempt, ye vain pretenders, fall,
The people's fable, and the scorn of all."
Straight the black clarion sends a horrid sound,
Loud laughs burst out, and bitter scoffs fly round,
Whispers are heard, with taunts reviling loud,
And scornful hisses run through all the crowd.
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs done,
Enslave their country, or usurp a throne!
Or who their glory's dire foundation laid
On sovereigns ruin'd, or on friends betray'd:
Calm, thinking villains, whom no faith could fix,
Of crooked counsels and dark politics;
Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne,
And beg to make th' immortal treasons known.
The trumpet roars, long flaky flames expire,
With sparks that seem'd to set the world on fire.
At the dread sound, pale mortals stood aghast,
And startled Nature trembled with the blast.
This having heard and seen, some power un-
Straight chang'd the scene, and snatch'd me from
Before my view appear'd a structure fair, Its site uncertain, if in earth or air; With rapid motion turn'd the mansion round; With ceaseless noise the ringing walls resound; Not less in number were the spacious doors, Than leaves on trees, or sands upon the shores; Which still unfolded stand, by night, by day, Pervious to winds, and open every way. As flames by nature to the skies ascend, As weighty bodies to the centre tend, As to the sea returning rivers roll, And the touch'd needle trembles to the Pole; Hither, as to their proper place, arise All various sounds from earth, and seas, and skies Or spoke aloud, or whisper'd in the ear; Nor ever silence, rest, or peace, is here. As on the smooth expanse of crystal lakes The sinking stone at first a circle makes; The trembling surface, by the motion stirr'd, Spreads in a second circle, then a third; Wide, and more wide, the floating rings advance, Fill all the watery plain, and to the margin dance Thus every voice and sound, when first they break On neighboring air a soft impression make; Another ambient circle then they move; That, in its turn, impels the next above; Next these a youthful train their vows express'd, Through undulating air the sounds are sent, With feathers crown'd, with gay embroidery dress'd:] And spread o'er all the fluid element.
"And live there men, who slight immortal Fame?
Who then with incense shall adore our name?
But, mortals! know, 'tis still our greatest pride,
To blaze those virtues which the good would hide.
Rise! Muses, rise! add all your tuneful breath;
These must not sleep in darkness and in death."
She said in air the trembling music floats,
And on the winds triumphant swell the notes;
So soft, though high, so loud, and yet so clear,
Ev'n listening angels lean from Heaven to hear:
To farthest shores th' ambrosial spirit flies,
Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies.
There various news I heard of love and strife,
Of peace and war, health, sickness, death, and life,
Of loss and gain, of famine and of store,
Of storms at sea, and travels on the shore,
Of prodigies, and portents seen in air,
Of fires and plagues, and stars with blazing hair,
Of turns of fortune, changes in the state,
The fails of favorites, projects of the great,
Of old mismanagements, taxations new:
All neither wholly false, nor wholly true.
Oh! if the Muse must flatter lawless sway,
And follow still where Fortune leads the way;
Or if no basis bear my rising name,
But the fall'n ruins of another's fame;
Then teach me, Heaven! to scorn the guilty bays,
Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
Oh, grant an honest fame, or grant me none!"
Above, below, without, within, dround, Confus'd, unnumber'd multitudes are found, Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away; Hosts rais'd by fear, and phantoms of a day: Astrologers, that future fates foreshow, Projectors, quacks, and lawyers, not a few; And priests, and party zealots, numerous bands With home-born lies, or tales from foreign lands; Each talk'd aloud, or in some secret place, And wild impatience star'd in every face. The flying rumors gather'd as they roll'd, Scarce any tale was sooner heard than told; And all who told it added something new, And all who heard it made enlargements too, In every ear it spread, on every tongue it grew. Thus flying east and west, and north and south, News travell'd with increase from mouth to mouth. So from a spark, that kindled first by chance, With gathering force the quickening flames ad- Andræmon lov'd; and, bless'd in all those charms
Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire,
And towers and temples sink in floods of fire.
When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung,
Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue,
Through thousand vents, impatient, forth they flow,
And rush in millions on the world below;
Fame sits aloft, and points them out their course,
Their date determines, and prescribes their force.
Some to remain, and some to perish soon:
Or wane and wax alternate like the Moon.
Around a thousand winged wonders fly, [the sky.
Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd through
There, at one passage, oft you might survey
A lie and truth contending for the way;
And long 'twas doubtful, though so closely pent,
Which first should issue through the narrow vent:
At last agreed, together out they fly,
Inseparable now the truth and lie;
The strict companions are for ever join'd,
And this or that unmix'd, no mortal e'er shall find.
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear,
One came, methought, and whisper'd in my ear:
"What could thus high thy rash ambition raise ?
Art thou, fond youth, a candidate for praise?"
""Tis true," said I, "not void of hopes I came,
For who so fond as youthful bards of Fame?
But few, alas! the casual blessing boast,
So hard to gain, so easy to be lost.
How vain that second life in others' breath,
Th' estate which wits inherit after death!
Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign,
Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine!)
The great man's curse, without the gains, endure,
Be envied, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor;
All luckless wits their enemies profest,
And all successful, jealous friends at best.
Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favors call;
She comes unlook'd for, if she comes at all.
But if the purchase costs so dear a price
As soothing Folly, or exalting Vice:
FROM OVID'S METAMORPHOSES, BOOK IX. SHE said, and for her lost Galanthis sighs, When the fair consort of her son replies: Since you a servant's ravish'd form bemoan, And kindly sigh for sorrows not your own; Let me (if tears and grief permit) relate A nearer woe, a sister's stranger fate. No nymph of all Echalia could compare For beauteous form with Dryope the fair, Her tender mother's only hope and pride (Myself the offering of a second bride). This nymph, compress'd by him who rules the day, Whom Delphi and the Delian isle obey,
That pleas'd a god, succeeded to her arms.
A lake there was, with shelving banks around, Whose verdant summit fragrant myrtles crown'd. These shades, unknowing of the Fates, she sought, And to the Naiads flowery garlands brought; Her smiling babe (a pleasing charge) she prest Within her arms, and nourish'd at her breast. Not distant far, a watery lotos grows; The spring was new, and all the verdant boughs, Adorn'd with blossoms, promis'd fruits that vie In glowing colors with the Tyrian dye: Of these she cropp'd to please her infant son; And I myself the same rash act had done; But lo! I saw (as near her side I stood) The violated blossoms drop with blood. Upon the tree I cast a frightful look; The trembling tree with sudden horror shook. Lotis the nymph (if rural tales be true), As from Priapus' lawless lust she flew, Forsook her form; and, fixing here, became A flowery plant, which still preserves her name. This change unknown, astonish'd at the sight, My trembling sister strove to urge her flight: And first the pardon of the nymphs implor'd, And those offended sylvan powers ador'd: But when she backward would have fled, she found Her stiffening feet were rooted in the ground: In vain to free her fastening feet she strove, And, as she struggles, only moves above; She feels th' encroaching bark around her grow By quick degrees, and cover all below: Surpris'd at this, her trembling hand she heaves To rend her hair; her hand is fill'd with leaves Where late was hair, the shooting leaves are seer To rise, and shade her with a sudden green. The child Amphissus, to her bosom press'd, Perceiv'd a colder and a harder breast, And found the springs, that ne'er till then denied Their milky moisture, on a sudden dried.
I saw, unhappy! what I now relate,
And stood the helpless witness of thy fate,
Embrac'd thy boughs, thy rising bark delay'd,
There wish'd to grow, and mingle shade with shade.
Behold Andræmon and th' unhappy sire
Appear, and for their Dryope inquire;
A springing tree for Dryope they find,
And print warm kises on the panting rind;
Prostrate, with tears their kindred plant bedew,
And close embrace as to the roots they grew.
The face was all that now remain'd of thee,
No more a woman, nor yet quite a tree;
Thy branches hung with humid pearls appear,
From every leaf distils a trickling tear,
And straight a voice, while yet a voice remains,
Thus through the trembling boughs in sighs com-
"If to the wretched any faith be given,
I swear by all th' unpitying powers of Heaven,
No wilful crime this heavy vengeance bred;
In mutual innocence our lives we led:
If this be false, let these new greens decay,
Let sounding axes lop my limbs away,
And crackling flames on all my honors prey!
But from my branching arms this infant bear,
Let some kind nurse supply a mother's care:
And to his mother let him oft be led,
Sport in her shades, and in her shades be fed;
Teach him, when first his infant voice shall frame
Imperfect words, and lisp his mother's name,
To hail this tree; and say, with weeping eyes,
Within this plant my hapless parent lies:
And when in youth he seeks the shady woods,
Oh, let him fly the crystal lakes and floods,
Nor touch the fatal flowers; but warn'd by me,
Believe a goddess shrin'd in every tree.
My sire, my sister, and my spouse, farewell!
If in your breasts or love or pity dwell,
Protect your plant, nor let my branches feel
The browsing cattle, or the piercing steel.
Farewell! and since I cannot bend to join
My lips to yours, advance at least to mine.
My son, thy mother's parting kiss receive,
While yet thy mother has a kiss to give.
I can no more; the creeping rind invades
My closing lips, and hides my head in shades:
Remove your hands; the bark shall soon suffice
Without their aid to seal these dying eyes."
She ceas'd at once to speak, and ceas'd to be;
And all the nymph was lost within the tree;
Yet latent life through her new branches reign'd,
And long the plant a human heat retain'd.
VERTUMNUS AND POMONA.
FROM OVID'S METAMORPHOSES, BOOK IV. THE fair Pomona flourish'd in his reign: Of all the virgins of the sylvan train, None taught the trees a nobler race to bear, Or more improv'd the vegetable care. To her the shady grove, the flowery field, The streams and fountains, no delights could yield; 'Twas all her joy the ripening fruits to tend, And see the boughs with happy burthens bend. The hook she bore instead of Cynthia's spear, To lop the growth of the luxuriant year, To decent form the lawless shoots to bring, And teach th' obedient branches where to spring. Now the cleft rind inserted graffs receives, And yields an offspring more than Nature gives;
Now sliding streams the thirsty plants renew,
And feed their fibres with reviving dew.
These cares alone her virgin breast employ,
Averse from Venus and the nuptial joy.
Her private orchards, wall'd on every side,
To lawless sylvans all access denied.
How oft the Satyrs and the wanton Fawns,
Who haunt the forest, or frequent the lawns,
The god whose ensign scares the birds of prey,
And old Silenus, youthful in decay,
Employ'd their wiles and unavailing care,
To pass the fences, and surprise the fair!
Like these, Vertumnus own'd his faithful flame,
Like these, rejected by the scornful dame.
To gain her sight a thousand forms he wears :
And first a reaper from the field appears;
Sweating he walks, while loads of golden grain
O'ercharge the shoulders of the seeming swain.
Oft o'er his back a crooked scythe is laid,
And wreaths of hay his sun-burnt temples shade
Oft in his harden'd hand a goad he bears,
Like one who late unyok'd the sweating steers.
Sometimes his pruning-hook corrects the vines,
And the loose stragglers to their ranks confines.
Now gathering what the bounteous year allows
He pulls ripe apples from the bending boughs.
A soldier now, he with his sword appears;
A fisher next, his trembling angle bears:
Each shape he varies, and each art he tries,
On her bright charms to feast his longing eyes.
A female form at last Vertumnus wears,
With all the marks of reverend age appears,
His temples thinly spread with silver hairs:
Propp'd on his staff, and stooping as he goes,
A painted mitre shades his furrow'd brows.
The god, in this decrepit form array'd,
The gardens enter'd, and the fruit survey'd ;
And "Happy you!" (he thus address'd the maid)
Whose charms as far all other nymphs outshine
As other gardens are excell'd by thine!"
Then kiss'd the fair; (his kisses warmer grow
Than such as women on their sex bestow ;)
Then, plac'd beside her on the flowery ground.
Beheld the trees with autumn's bounty crown'd.
An elm was near, to whose embraces led,
The curling vine her swelling clusters spread :
He view'd her twining branches with delight,
And prais'd the beauty of the pleasing sight.
"Yet this tall elm, but for his vine" (he said) "Had stood neglected, and a barren shade; And this fair vine, but that her arms surround Her married elm, had crept along the ground. Ah, beauteous maid! let this example move Your mind, averse from all the joys of love: Deign to be lov'd, and every heart subdue! What nymph could e'er attract such crowds as you? Not she whose beauty urg'd the Centaur's arms, Ulysses' queen, nor Helen's fatal charms. Ev'n now, when silent scorn is all they gain, A thousand court you, though they court in vain, A thousand sylvans, demigods, and gods, That haunt our mountains, and our Alban woods. But if you'll prosper, mark what I advise, Whom age and long experience render wise, And one whose tender care is far above All that these lovers ever felt of love, (Far more than e'er can by yourself be guess'd) Fix on Vertumnus, and reject the rest. For his firm faith I dare engage my own; Scarce to himself, himself is better known.