Page images
PDF
EPUB

222

Edwin, if right I read my song,
With slighted passion pac'd along
All in the moony light;
'Twas near an old enchanted court,
Where sportive fairies made resort
To revel out the night.

[blocks in formation]

The dauncing past, the board was laid,
And siker such a feast was made,
As heart and lip desire,
Withouten hands the dishes fly,
The glasses with a wish come nigh,
And with a wish retire.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

But certes sorely sunk with woe
Sir Topaz sees the elphin show,
His spirits in him die :
When Oberon cries, "A man is near,
A mortal passion, cleeped fear,
Hangs flagging in the sky."

With that Sir Topaz, hapless youth! In accents faltering, ay for ruth,

Entreats them pity graunt; For als he been a mister wight Betray'd by wandering in the night To tread the circled haunt;

"Ah, losel vile," at once they roar: "And little skill'd of fairie lore,

Thy cause to come, we know: Now has thy kestrel courage fell; And fairies, since a lie you tell,

Are free to work thee woe."

Then Will, who bears the whispy fire
To trail the swains among the mire,
The caitiff upward flung;
There, like a tortoise, in a shop
He dangled from the chamber-top,

Where whilome Edwin hung.

The revel now proceeds apace,
Deftly they frisk it o'er the place,

They sit, they drink, and eat; The time with frolic mirth beguile, And poor Sir Topaz hangs the while Till all the rout retreat.

By this the stars began to wink,
They shriek, they fly, the tapers sink,
And down y-drops the knight:
For never spell by fairie laid
With strong enchantment bound a glade,
Beyond the length of night.

Chill, dark, alone, adreed, he lay,
Till up the welkin rose the day,

Then deem'd the dole was o'er;
But wot ye well his harder lot?
His seely back the bunch had got
Which Edwin lost afore.

This tale a Sibyl-nurse ared; She softly strok'd my youngling head, And when the tale was done, "Thus some are born, my son," she cries, "With base impediments to rise,

And some are born with none.

"But virtue can itself advance To what the favorite fools of chance By fortune seem design'd;

Virtue can gain the odds of Fate, And from itself shake off the weight Upon th' unworthy mind."

A NIGHT-PIECE ON DEATH. By the blue taper's trembling light, No more I waste the wakeful night, Intent with endless view to pore The schoolmen and the sages o'er: Their books from wisdom widely stray, Or point at best the longest way. I'll seek a readier path, and go Where wisdom's surely taught below.

How deep yon azure dyes the sky! Where orbs of gold unnumber'd lie, While through their ranks in silver pride The nether crescent seems to glide. The slumbering breeze forgets to breathe, The lake is smooth and clear beneath, Where once again the spangled show Descends to meet our eyes below. The grounds, which on the right aspire, In dimness from the view retire: The left presents a place of graves, Whose wall the silent water laves. That steeple guides thy doubtful sight Among the livid gleams of night. There pass with melancholy state By all the solemn heaps of Fate, And think, as softly-sad you tread Above the venerable dead, Time was, like thee, they life possest, And time shall be, that thou shall rest.

Those with bending osier bound, That nameless heave the crumbled ground, Quick to the glancing thought disclose, Where toil and poverty repose.

The flat smooth stones that bear a name, The chisel's slender help to fame, (Which ere our set of friends decay Their frequent steps may wear away) A middle race of mortals own, Men, half ambitious, all unknown.

The marble tombs that rise on high,
Whose dead in vaulted arches lie,
Whose pillars swell with sculptur'd stones,
Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones,
These, all the poor remains of state,
Adorn the rich, or praise the great;
Who, while on Earth in fame they live,
Are senseless of the fame they give.
Ha! while I gaze, pale Cynthia fades,

The bursting earth unveils the shades!
All slow, and wan, and wrapp'd with shrouds,
They rise in visionary crowds,

And all with sober accent cry,

[merged small][ocr errors]

(Ye ravens, cease your croaking din,
Ye tolling clocks, no time resound
O'er the long lake and midnight ground!)
It sends a peal of hollow groans,
Thus speaking from among the bones.

"When men my scythe and darts supply,
How great a king of fears am I!
They view me like the last of things;
They make, and then they draw, my strings.
Fools! if you less provok'd your fears,
No more my spectre-form appears.
Death's but a path that must be trod,
If man would ever pass to God;

A port of calms, a state to ease
From the rough rage of swelling seas."
Why then thy flowing sable stoles,
Deep pendent cypress, mourning poles,
Loose scarfs to fall athwart thy weeds,
Long palls, drawn hearses, cover'd steeds,
And plumes of black, that, as they tread,
Nod o'er the escutcheons of the dead?

Nor can the parted body know, Nor wants the soul these forms of woe; As men who long in prison dwell, With lamps that glimmer round the cell, Whene'er their suffering years are run, Spring forth to greet the glittering Sun: Such joy, though far transcending sense, Have pious souls at parting hence. On Earth, and in the body plac'd, A few, and evil years, they waste; But when their chains are cast aside, See the glad scene unfolding wide, Clap the glad wing, and tower away, And mingle with the blaze of day.

THE HERMIT.

FAR in a wild, unknown to public view,
From youth to age a reverend hermit grew;
The moss his bed, the cave his humble cell,
His food the fruits, his drink the crystal well:
Remote from men, with God he pass'd the days,
Prayer all his business, all his pleasure praise.

A life so sacred, such serene repose,
Seem'd Heaven itself, till one suggestion rose ;
That Vice should triumph, Virtue, Vice obey,
This sprung some doubt of Providence's sway:
His hopes no more a certain prospect boast,
And all the tenor of his soul is lost:
So when a smooth expanse receives imprest
Calm Nature's image on its watery breast,
Down bend the banks, the trees depending grow,
And skies beneath with answering colors glow:
But if a stone the gentle sea divide,

Swift ruffling circles curl on every side,
And glimmering fragments of a broken Sun,
Banks, trees, and skies, in thick disorder run.

[ocr errors]

To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight, To find if books, or swains, report it right, (For yet by swains alone the world he knew, Whose feet came wandering o'er the nightly dew) He quits his cell; the pilgrim-staff he bore, And fix'd the scallop in his hat before; Then with the Sun a rising journey went, Sedate to think, and watching each event.

The morn was wasted in the pathless grass, And long and lonesome was the wild to pass; But when the southern Sun had warm'd the day, A youth came posting o'er a crossing way; His raiment decent, his complexion fair, And soft in graceful ringlets wav'd his hair. Then near approaching, "Father, hail!" he cried, And hail, my son," the reverend sire replied; Words follow'd words, from question answer flow'd, And talk of various kind deceiv'd the road; Till each with other pleas'd, and loth to part, While in their age they differ, join in heart. Thus stands an aged elm in ivy bound, Thus youthful ivy clasps an elm around.

Now sunk the Sun; the closing hour of day Came onward, mantled o'er with sober grey; Nature in silence bid the world repose; When near the road a stately palace rose: There by the Moon through ranks of trees they pass, Whose verdure crown'd their sloping sides of grass. It chanc'd the noble master of the dome

Still made his house the wandering stranger's home:
Yet still the kindness, from a thirst of praise,
Prov'd the vain flourish of expensive ease.
The pair arrive: the liv'ried servants wait;
Their lord receives them at the pompous gate.
The table groans with costly piles of food,
And all is more than hospitably good.
Then led to rest, the day's long toil they drown,
Deep sunk in sleep, and silk, and heaps of down.

At length 'tis morn, and at the dawn of day, Along the wide canals the zephyrs play: Fresh o'er the gay parterres the breezes creep, And shake the neighboring wood to banish sleep. Up rise the guests, obedient to the call: An early banquet deck'd the splendid hall; Rich luscious wine a golden goblet grac'd, Which the kind master forc'd the guests to taste. Then, pleas'd and thankful, from the porch they go; And, but the landlord, none had cause of woe: His cup was vanish'd; for in secret guise The younger guest purloin'd the glittering prize.

As one who spies a serpent in his way, Glistening and basking in the summer ray, Disorder'd stops to shun the danger near, Then walks with faintness on, and looks with fear; So seem'd the sire; when far upon the road, The shining spoil his wily partner show'd. He stopp'd with silence, walk'd with trembling heart, And much he wish'd, but durst not ask to part: Murmuring he lifts his eyes, and thinks it hard, That generous actions meet a base reward.

While thus they pass, the Sun his glory shrouds, The changing skies hang out their sable clouds; A sound in air presag'd approaching rain, And beasts to covert scud across the plain. Warn'd by the signs, the wandering pair retreat, To seek for shelter at a neighboring seat. "Twas built with turrets on a rising ground, And strong, and large, and unimprov'd around; Its owner's temper, timorous and severe, Unkind and griping, caus'd a desert there.

As near the miser's heavy doors they drew, Fierce rising gusts with sudden fury blew; The nimble lightning mix'd with showers began, And o'er their heads loud rolling thunders ran. Here long they knock, but knock or call in vain, Driven by the wind, and batter'd by the rain. At length some pity warm'd the master's breast, (Twas then his threshold first receiv'd a guest); Slow creaking turns the door with jealous care, And half he welcomes in the shivering pair; One frugal fagot lights the naked walls, And Nature's fervor through their limbs recalls: Bread of the coarsest sort, with eager wine, |(Each hardly granted) serv'd them both to dine; And when the tempest first appear'd to cease, A ready warning bid them part in peace.

With still remark the pondering hermit view'd, In one so rich, a life so poor and rude;

"And why should such," within himself he cried,

Lock the lost wealth a thousand want beside ?" But what new marks of wonder soon take place, In every settling feature of his face;

[ocr errors]

When from his vest the young companion bore
That cup, the generous landlord own'd before,
And paid profusely with the precious bowl
The stinted kindness of this churlish soul.

But now the clouds in airy tumult fly!
The Sun emerging opes an azure sky;
A fresher green the smelling leaves display,
And, glittering as they tremble, cheer the day:
The weather courts them from the poor retreat,
And the glad master boits the wary gate.

While hence they walk, the pilgrim's bosom | For this, commission'd, I forsook the sky,

wrought

Nay, cease to kneel-thy fellow-servant I.

"Then know the truth of government divine, And let these scruples be no longer thine.

With all the travel of uncertain thought;
His partner's acts without their cause appear,
"Twas there a vice, and seem'd a madness here:
Detesting that, and pitying this, he goes,
Lost and confounded with the various shows.

Though loud at first the pilgrim's passion grew, Sudden he gaz'd, and wist not what to do; Surprise in secret chains his words suspends, And in a calm his settling temper ends. But silence here the beauteous angel broke (The voice of music ravish'd as he spoke.)

"Thy prayer, thy praise, thy life to vice unknown, In sweet memorial rise before the throne: These charms, success in our bright region find, And force an angel down, to calm thy mind;

Now Night's dim shades again involve the sky, Again the wanderers want a place to lie, Again they search, and find a lodging nigh, The soil improv'd around, the mansion neat, And neither poorly low, nor idly great: It seem'd to speak its master's turn of mind, Content, and not to praise, but virtue kind.

Hither the walkers turn with weary feet, Then bless the mansion, and the master greet: Their greeting fair, bestow'd with modest guise, The courteous master hears, and thus replies:

"Without a vain, without a grudging heart, To him who gives us all, I yield a part; From him you come, for him accept it here, A frank and sober, more than costly cheer." He spoke, and bid the welcome table spread, Then talk of virtue till the time of bed, When the grave household round his hall repair, Warn'd by a bell, and close the hours with prayer. At length the world, renew'd by calm repose, Was strong for toil, the dappled Morn arose; Before the pilgrims part, the younger crept Near the clos'd cradle where an infant slept, And writh'd his neck: the landlord's little pride, O strange return! grew black, and gasp'd, and died. Horror of horrors! what! his only son!

How look'd our hermit when the fact was done; Not Hell, though Hell's black jaws in sunder part, And breathe blue fire, could more assault his heart.

Confus'd, and struck with silence at the deed, He flies, but trembling, fails to fly with speed. His steps the youth pursues; the country lay Perplex'd with roads, a servant show'd the way: A river cross'd the path; the passage o'er Was nice to find; the servant trod before; Long arms of oaks an open bridge supplied, And deep the waves beneath the bending glide. The youth, who seem'd to watch a time to sin, Approach'd the careless guide, and thrust him in; Plunging he falls, and rising lifts his head, Then flashing turns, and sinks among the dead.

Wild, sparkling rage inflames the father's eyes, He bursts the bands of fear, and madly cries,

64

Detested wretch!"-But scarce his speech began, When the strange partner seem'd no longer man : His youthful face grew more serenely sweet; His robe turn'd white, and flow'd upon his feet; Fair rounds of radiant points invest his hair; Celestial odors breathe through purpled air; And wings, whose colors glitter'd on the day, Wide at his back their gradual plumes display. The form ethereal burst upon his sight, And moves in all the majesty of light.

"The Maker justly claims that world he made, In this the right of Providence is laid; Its sacred majesty through all depends On using second means to work his ends: "Tis thus, withdrawn in state from human eye, The power exerts his attributes on high, Your actions uses, nor controls your will, And bids the doubting sons of men be still.

"What strange events can strike with more surprise,

Than those which lately struck thy wondering eyes?
Yet, taught by these, confess th' Almighty just,
And where you can't unriddle, learn to trust!

"The great, vain man, who far'd on costly food,
Whose life was too luxurious to be good;
Who made his ivory stands with goblets shine,
And fore'd his guests to morning draughts of wine,
Has, with the cup, the graceless custom lost,
And still he welcomes, but with less of cost.

"The mean, suspicious wretch, whose bolted door Ne'er mov'd in duty to the wandering poor; With him I left the cup, to teach his mind That Heaven can bless, if mortals will be kind. Conscious of wanting worth, he views the bowl, And feels compassion touch his grateful soul. Thus artists melt the sullen ore of lead, With heaping coals of fire upon his head; In the kind warmth the metal learns to glow, And loose from dross the silver runs below.

"Long had our pious friend in virtue trod, But now the child half-wean'd his heart from

God;
(Child of his age) for him be liv'd in pain,
And measur'd back his steps to Earth again.
To what excesses had his dotage run?
But God, to save the father, took the son.
To all but thee, in fits he seem'd to go,
(And 'twas my ministry to deal the blow,)
The poor fond parent, humbled in the dust,
Now owns in tears the punishment was just.

"But now had all his fortune felt a wrack,
Had that false servant sped in safety back;
This night his treasur'd heaps he meant to steal,
And what a fund of charity would fail!
Thus Heaven instructs thy mind: this trial o'er,
Depart in peace, resign, and sin no more."

On sounding pinions here the youth withdrew, The sage stood wondering as the seraph flew. Thus look'd Elisha when, to mount on high, His master took the chariot of the sky; The fiery pomp ascending left to view; The prophet gaz'd, and wish'd to follow too.

The bending hermit here a prayer begun, "Lord! as in Heaven, on Earth thy will be done:" Then gladly turning sought his ancient place, And pass'd a life of piety and peace.

HESIOD:

OR,

THE RISE OF WOMAN.

WHAT ancient times (those times we fancy wise)
Have left on long record of woman's rise,
What morals teach it, and what fables hide,
What author wrote it, how that author died,
All these I sing. In Greece they fram'd the tale
(In Greece 'twas thought a woman might be frail);
Ye modern beauties! where the poet drew
His softest pencil, think he dreamt of you;
And, warn'd by him, ye wanton pens, beware
How Heaven's concern'd to vindicate the fair.
The case was Hesiod's; he the fable writ;
Some think with meaning, some with idle wit:
Perhaps 'tis either, as the ladies please;
I wave the contest, and commence the lays.

In days of yore (no matter where or when,
'Twas ere the low creation swarm'd with men)
That one Prometheus, sprung of heavenly birth,
(Our author's song can witness) liv'd on Earth:
He carv'd the turf to mould a manly frame,
And stole from Jove his animating flame.
The sly contrivance o'er Olympus ran,
When thus the monarch of the stars began:

"O vers'd in arts! whose daring thoughts aspire, To kindle clay with never-dying fire! Enjoy thy glory past, that gift was thine; The next thy creature meets, be fairly mine: And such a gift, a vengeance so design'd, As suits the counsel of a god to find; A pleasing bosom-cheat, a specious ill, Which felt the curse, yet covets still to feel." He said, and Vulcan straight the sire commands, To temper mortar with ethereal hands; In such a shape to mould a rising fair, As virgin goddesses are proud to wear; To make her eyes with diamond-water shine, And form her organs for a voice divine. "Twas thus the sire ordain'd: the power obey'd; And work'd, and wonder'd at the work he made; The fairest, softest, sweetest frame beneath, Now made to seem, now more than seem to breathe.

As Vulcan ends, the cheerful queen of charms Clasp'd the new-panting creature in her arms: From that embrace a fine complexion spread, Where mingled whiteness glow'd with softer red. Then in a kiss she breath'd her various arts, Of trifling prettily with wounded hearts; A mind for love, but still a changing mind: The lisp affected, and the glance design'd; The sweet confusing blush, the secret wink, The gentle swimming walk, the courteous sink; The stare for strangeness fit, for scorn the frown; For decent yielding, looks declining down; The practis'd languish, where well-feign'd desire Would own its melting in a mutual fire; Gay smiles to comfort: April showers to move; And all the nature, all the art of love.

Gold scepter'd Juno next exalts the fair; Her touch endows her with imperious air, Self-valuing fancy, highly-crested pride, Strong sovereign will, and some desire to chide ; For which, an eloquence, that aims to vex, With native troops of anger, arms the sex. Minerva, skilful goddess, train'd the maid To twirl the spindle by the twisting thread;

To fix the loom, instruct the reeds to part,
Cross the long weft, and close the web with art:
An useful gift; but what profuse expense,
What world of fashions, took its rise from hence!

Young Hermes next, a close contriving god, Her brows encircled with his serpent rod; Then plots and fair excuses fill'd her brain, The views of breaking amorous vows for gain; The price of favors; the designing arts That aim at riches in contempt of hearts; And, for a comfort in the marriage life, The little pilfering temper of a wife.

Full on the fair his beams Apollo flung,
And fond persuasion tipp'd her easy tongue;
He gave her words, where oily flattery lays
The pleasing colors of the art of praise;
And wit, to scandal exquisitely prone,
Which frets another's spleen to cure its own.

Those sacred Virgins whom the bards revere Tun'd all her voice, and shed a sweetness there, To make her sense with double charms abound, Or make her lively nonsense please by sound.

To dress the maid, the decent Graces brought A robe in all the dyes of beauty wrought, And plac'd their boxes o'er a rich brocade, Where pictur'd Loves on every cover play'd; Then spread those implements that Vulcan's art Had fram'd to merit Cytherea's heart; The wire to curl, the close indented comb To call the locks, that lightly wander, home; And chief, the mirror, where the ravish'd maid Beholds and loves her own reflected shade.

Fair Flora lent her stores; the purpled Hours Confin'd her tresses with a wreath of flowers; Within the wreath arose a radiant crown; A veil pellucid hung depending down; Back roll'd her azure veil with serpent fold, The purfled border deck'd the floor with gold. Her robe (which closely by the girdle brac'd Reveal'd the beauties of a slender waist) Flow'd to the feet, to copy Venus' air, When Venus' statues have a robe to wear.

The new-sprung creature, finish'd thus for harms Adjusts her habit, practises her charms, With blushes glows, or shines with lively smiles, Confirms her will, or recollects her wiles: Then, conscious of her worth, with easy pace Glides by the glass, and turning views her face. A finer flax than what they wrought before, Through Time's deep cave, the sister Fates explore, Then fix the loom, their fingers nimbly weave, And thus their toil prophetic songs deceive.

"Flow from the rock, my flax! and swiftly flow Pursue thy thread; the spindle runs below. A creature fond and changing, fair and vain, The creature woman, rises now to reign. New beauty blooms, a beauty form'd to fly; New love begins, a love produc'd to die; New parts distress the troubled scenes of life, The fondling mistress, and the ruling wife.

"Men born to labor, all with pains provide;
Women have time to sacrifice to pride:
They want the care of man, their want they know,
And dress to please with heart-alluring show;
The show prevailing, for the sway contend,
And make a servant where they meet a friend.

"Thus in a thousand wax-erected forts
A loitering race the painful bee supports;
From sun to sun, from bank to bank he flies,
With honey loads his bag, with wax his thighs;

« EelmineJätka »