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View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes
In vain, in vain the all-composing hour Resistless falls: the Muse obeys the power. She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold Of Night primeval and of Chaos old! 630 Before her, Fancy's gilded clouds decay, And all its varying rainbows die away. Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires, The meteor drops, and in a flash expires. As one by one, at dread Medea's strain,' 635 The sickening stars fade off th' ethereal plain; As Argus' eyes, by Hermes' wand oppressed, Closed one by one to everlasting rest: 2 Thus at her felt approach, and secret might, Art after art goes out, and all is night. 640 See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled, Mountains of casuistry heaped o'er her head! Philosophy, that leaned on Heaven before, Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.
1 Cf. the incantations of Medea, as told by Gower. 2 See the story in Gayley, pp. 92-94.
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,
And universal darkness buries all.
FROM BOOK VI
The chief replied: "That post shall be my 560
Not that alone, but all the works of war. How would the sons of Troy, in arms renown'd,
And Troy's proud dames, whose garments sweep the ground,
Attaint the lustre of my former name,
571. The day when thou, imperial Troy! must bend,
And see thy warriors fall, thy glories end.
Embitters all thy woes by naming me.
The thoughts of glory past and present shame,
Thus having spoke, th' illustrious chief of Troy Stretch'd his fond arms to clasp the lovely boy. The babe clung crying to his nurse's breast, Scar'd at the dazzling helm and nodding crest. With secret pleasure each fond parent smil'd, And Hector hasted to relieve his child; The glittr'ing terrors from his brows unbound, And plac'd the beaming helmet on the ground. Then kiss'd the child, and, lifting high in air,
Thus to the gods preferr'd a father's pray'r: "O thou! whose glory fills th' ethereal throne,
And all ye deathless pow'rs! protect my son!
And say, 'This chief transcends his father's fame':
While pleas'd, amidst the gen'ral shouts of Troy,
His mother's conscious heart o'erflows with joy."
He spoke, and fondly gazing on her charms, Restor❜d the pleasing burthen to her arms; Soft on her fragrant breast the babe she laid, Hush'd to repose, and with a smile survey'd. The troubled pleasure soon chastis'd by fear, She mingled with the smile a tender tear. 621 The soften'd chief with kind compassion view'd,
And dried the falling drops, and thus pursued:
"Andromache! my soul's far better part, Why with untimely sorrows heaves thy heart?
No hostile hand can antedate my doom,
JOHN GAY (1685-1732)
THE HARE WITH MANY FRIENDS
Friendship, like love, is but a name,
A Hare, who, in a civil way, Complied with everything, like Gay, Was known by all the bestial train, Who haunt the wood, or graze the plain. Her care was, never to offend, And every creature was her friend.
As forth she went at early dawn, To taste the dew-besprinkled lawn, Behind she hears the hunter's cries, And from the deep-mouthed thunder flies. She starts, she stops, she pants for breath; She hears the near advance of death; She doubles, to mislead the hound, And measures back her mazy round: Till, fainting in the public way, Half dead with fear she gasping lay. What transport in her bosom grew, When first the Horse appeared in view! "Let me," says she, “your back ascend, And owe my safety to a friend. You know my feet betray my flight; To friendship every burden's light.' The Horse replied: "Poor honest Puss, It grieves my heart to see thee thus; Be comforted; relief is near, For all your friends are in the rear."
She next the stately Bull implored;
To leave you thus might seem unkind;
The Goat remarked her pulse was high,
She now the trotting Calf addressed, To save from death a friend distressed. "Shall I," says he, “of tender age, In this important care engage? Older and abler passed you by; How strong are those, how weak am I! Should I presume to bear you hence, Those friends of mine may take offence. Excuse me, then. You know my heart. But dearest friends, alas, must part! How shall we all lament! Adieu! For see, the hounds are just in view."
William, who high upon the yard
Rocked with the billow to and fro, Soon as her well-known voice he heard
All in the Downs1 the fleet was moored,
"Oh! where shall I my true love find? Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true, If my sweet William sails among the crew?'
"O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
My vows shall ever true remain; Let me kiss off that falling tear; We only part to meet again.
1 Cf. above, p. 260 b, note 2.
EDWARD YOUNG (1683-1765)
FROM THE COMPLAINT, OR NIGHT THOUGHTS
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august, How complicate, how wonderful, is man! How passing wonder He who made him such ! Who centred in our make such strange extremes, 70
From different natures marvellously mixed!
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!
And wondering at her own. How reason reels!
O, what a miracle to man is man! Triumphantly distressed! What joy! what dread!
Alternately transported and alarmed!
What can preserve my life? or what destroy? An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
Legions of angels can't confine me there.
By nature's law, what may be, may be now;
Than man's presumption on to-morrow's dawn?
Where is to-morrow? In another world.
Our mountain hopes, spin our eternal schemes,
Of human ills the last extreme beware;
1 as if 2 the Fates 3 Young's son-in-law, Mr. Temple, who had died two years before
Beware, Lorenzo,1 a slow sudden death.
Of man's miraculous mistakes this bears The palm, "That all men are about to live, Forever on the brink of being born." All pay themselves the compliment to think They one day shall not drivel: and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise;
At least, their own; their future selves applaud;
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead. Time lodg'd in their own hands is folly's vails; 2
That lodg'd in fate's to wisdom they consign. The thing they can't but purpose, they post
'Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,
And scarce in human wisdom to do more. 410 All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage: when young,
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,
1 probably the Duke of Wharton 2 folly's perquisite
LADY WINCHILSEA (1661-1720)
A NOCTURNAL REVERIE
In such a night, when every louder wind
In such a night, when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly vail the Heav'ns mysterious face; When in some river, overhung with green, The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen;
When freshen'd grass now bears itself upright,
And where the sleepy cowslip shelter'd grows;
And falling waters we distinctly hear;
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale;
1 the Countess of Salisbury
Whose stealing pace, and lengthen'd shade we fear,
Till torn up forage in his teeth we hear; When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine re-chew the cud;
Their shortliv'd jubilee the creatures keep, Which but endures whilst tyrant-man does sleep;
When a sedate content the spirit feels,
Joys in th' inferior world and thinks it like her
In such a night let me abroad remain