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SAPPHO TO PHAON.
SAY, lovely youth, that dost
my heart command, Can Phaon's eyes forget his Sappho's hand? Must then her name the wretched writer prove, To thy remembrance lost, as to thy love? Ask not the cause that I new numbers choose, The Lute neglected, and the Lyric muse;
gedy which Ovid is said to have produced, and of which Quintilian speaks so highly, than it is in her epistle to Jason, one may venture to declare, that the Romans would not yet have been vindicated from their inferiority to the Greeks in tragic Poesy. It may be added, that some of Drayton's Heroical Epistles deserve praise, particularly that of Lord Surrey to Geraldine, Lady Jane Grey to Lord Guilford Dudley, Jane Shore to Edward the Fourth. Lord Hervey took the subject of Roxana to Usbeck from the incomparable Persian Letters of the President Montesquieu; the beauty of which writer is his expressive brevity; which Lord Hervey has lengthened to an unnatural degree, especially as Roxana is supposed to write just after she has swallowed a deadly poison, and during its violent operations.
The Italians have a writer of Heroical Epistles, Antonio Bruni; some of his subjects are, The Hebrew Mother to Titus Vespasian, Erminia to Tancred, Radamistus to Zenobia, Semiramis to Ninus, Catharine to Henry the Eighth. They were printed at Venice 1636, with prints from designs of Guido and Dominichino.
Flendus amor meus est; elegeïa flebile carmen :
Non facit ad lacrymas barbitos ulla meas. Uror, ut, indomitis ignem exercentibus Euris, Fertilis accensis messibus ardet ager. Arva Phaon celebrat diversa Typhoïdos Ætnæ : Me calor Ætnæo non minor igne coquit. Nec mihi, dispositis quæ jungam carmina nervis, Proveniunt; vacuæ carmina mentis opus. Nec me Pyrrhiades Methymniadesve puellæ, Nec me Lesbiadum cætera turba juvant. Vilis Anactorie, vilis mihi candida Cydno : Non oculis grata est Atthis, ut ante, meis: Atque aliæ centum, quas non sine crimine amavi. Improbe, multarum quod fuit, unus habes. Est in te facies, sunt apti lusibus anni.
O facies oculis insidiosa meis !
Sume fidem et pharetram; fies manifestus Apollo: Accedant capiti cornua; Bacchus eris.
Et Phoebus Daphnen, et Gnosida Bacchus amavit;
Love taught my tears in sadder notes to flow,
I burn, I burn, as when through ripen'd corn
By driving winds the spreading flames are born! 10
While I consume with more than Etna's fires!
All other loves are lost in only thine.
Ver. 12. A childish false thought!
Ver. 17. No more] This allusion to her infamous passion is very indelicate indeed!
Ver. 26. Not Bacchus' self] These lines were evidently copied in the famous epigram of Lumine Acon dextro, &c. made on Louis de Maguiron, the favourite of Henry the Third of France, and the beautiful Princess of Eboli, who was deprived of the sight of one of her eyes:
Blande puer, lumen quod habes, concede sorori;
Nec norat lyricos illa, vel illa, modos.
Sum brevis; at nomen, quod terras impleat omnes,
Candida si non sum, placuit Cepheïa Perseo
Si, nisi quæ facie poterit te digna videri,
Nulla futura tua est; nulla futura tua est.
At, me cum legeres, etiam formosa videbar;
Cantabam, memini (meminerunt omnia amantes)
Hæc quoque laudabas; omnique a parte placebam:
Nymphs that in verse no more could rival me,
And the wide world resounds with Sappho's praise.