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Before the chattering swallow builds her nest,
Or fields in spring's embroidery are drest.
Meanwhile the tainted juice ferments within,
And quickens, as it works: And now are see
A wond'rous swarm, that o'er the carcass crawls,
Of shapeless, rude, unfinish'd animals.
No legs at first the insect's weight sustain,
At length it moves its new-made limbs with pain;
Now strikes the air with quiv'ring wings, and tries
To lift its body up, and learns to rise;
Now bending thighs and gilded wings it wears
Full grown, and all the bee at length appears;
From every side the fruitful carcass pours
Its swarming brood, as thick as summer-show'rs,
Or flights of arrows from the Parthian bows,
When twanging strings first shoot 'em on the foes.
Thus have I sung the nature of the bee;
While Cæsar, tow'ring to divinity,
The frighted Indians with his thunder aw'd,
And claim'd their homage, and commenc'd a god,
I flourish'd all the while in arts of peace,
Retir'd and shelter'd in inglorious ease:
I who before the songs of shepherds made,
When gay and young my rural lays I play'd,
And set my Tityrus beneath his shade.
MILTON'S STILE IMITATED,1a
IN A TRANSLATION OF A STORY OUT OF THE THIRD ÆNEID.
Lost in the gloomy horror of the night.
We struck upon the coast where Ætna lies,
Horrid and waste, its entrails fraught with fire,
That now casts out dark fumes and pitchy clouds,
Vast showers of ashes hov'ring in the smoke;
Now belches molten stones and ruddy flame
Incenst, or tears up mountains by the roots,
Or slings a broken rock aloft in air.
The bottom works with smother'd fire involv'd
In pestilential vapours, stench and smoke.
'Tis said, that thunder-struck Enceladus
Groveling beneath th' incumbent mountain's weight,
Lyes stretch'd supine, eternal prey of flames;
And when he heaves against the burning load,
Reluctant, to invert his broiling limbs,
A sudden earthquake shoots through all the isle,
And Etna thunders dreadful under ground,
[1 These imitations of celebrated authors were favourite exercises with Pope, who was much more successful in them than his great rival. Hurd's "very imperfectly," is unquestionably just; but his "stiffness and rigour" of Milton's style will probably be classed with his estimate of Shakspeare in the first note on Cato.-G.]
a Milton's stile imitated. Very imperfectly. What we find, is the stiffness and rigour of Milton's stile, somewhat eased and suppled by the grace of Mr. Addison's, but without the numbers or the force of that great poet.
Then pours out smoke in wreathing curls convolv'd,
And shades the sun's bright orb, and blots out day.
Here in the shelter of the woods we lodg'd,
And frighted heard strange sounds and dismal yells,
Nor saw from whence they came; for all the night
A murky storm deep louring o'er our heads
Hung imminent, that with impervious gloom
Oppos'd itself to Cynthia's silver ray,
And shaded all beneath. But now the sun
With orient beams had chas'd the dewy night
From earth and heav'n; all nature stood disclos'd:
When looking on the neighb'ring woods we saw
The ghastly visage of a man unknown,
An uncouth feature, meagre, pale, and wild;
Affliction's foul and terrible dismay
Sate in his looks, his face impair'd and worn.
With marks of famine, speaking sore distress;
His locks were tangled, and his shaggy beard
Matted with filth; in all things else a Greek.
He first advanc'd in haste; but, when he saw
Trojans and Trojan arms, in mid career
Stopt short, he back recoil'd as one surpriz'd :
But soon recovering speed, he ran, he flew
Precipitant, and thus with piteous cries
Our ears assail'd: "By heav'n's eternal fires,
By ev'ry god that sits enthron'd on high,
By this good light, relieve a wretch forlorn,
And bear me hence to any distant shore,
So I may shun this savage race accurst.
'Tis true I fought among the Greeks that late
With sword and fire o'erturn'd Neptunian Troy,
And laid the labours of the gods in dust;
For which, if so the sad offence deserves,
Plung'd in the deep, for ever let me lie
Whelm'd under seas; if death must be my doom,
Let man inflict it, and I die well-pleas'd."
He ended here, and now profuse of tears
In suppliant mood fell prostrate at our feet:
We bade him speak from whence, and what he was,
And how by stress of fortune sunk thus low;
Anchises too with friendly aspect mild
Gave him his hand, sure pledge of amity;
When, thus encouraged, he began his tale.
I'm one, says he, of poor descent, my name Is Achæmenides, my country Greece, Ulysses' sad compeer, who whilst he fled The raging Cyclops, left me here behind Disconsolate, forlorn; within the cave He left me, giant Polypheme's dark cave; A dungeon wild and horrible, the walls. On all sides furr'd with mouldy damps, and hung With clots of ropy gore, and human limbs, His dire repast: himself of mighty size, Hoarse in his voice, and in his visage grim, Intractable, that riots on the flesh.
Of mortal men, and swills the vital blood.
Him did I see snatch up with horrid grasp
Two sprawling Greeks, in either hand a man;
I saw him when with huge tempestuous sway
He dasht and broke 'em on the grundsil edge;
The pavement swam in blood, the walls around
Were spatter'd o'er with brains. He lapt the blood,
And chew'd the tender flesh still warm with life,
That swell'd and heav'd itself amidst his teeth
As sensible of pain. Not less mean while
Our chief incens'd, and studious of revenge,
Plots his destruction, which he thus effects.
The giant, gorg'd with flesh, and wine, and blood,
Lay stretcht at length and snoring in his den,
Belching raw gobbets from his maw, o'er-charg'd
With purple wine and cruddled gore confused.
We gather'd round, and to his single eye,
The single eye that in his forehead glar'd
Like a full moon, or a broad burnish'd shield,
A forky staff we dext'rously apply'd,
Which, in the spacious socket turning round,
Scoopt out the big round gelly from its orb.
But let me not thus interpose delays;
Fly, mortals, fly this curst detested race:
A hundred of the same stupendous size,
A hundred Cyclops live among the hills,
Gigantick brotherhood, that stalk along
With horrid strides o'er the high mountains' tops,
Enormous in their gait; I oft have heard
Their voice and tread, oft seen 'em as they past,
Sculking and scowring down, half dead with fear.
Thrice has the moon wash'd all her orb in light,
Thrice travell'd o'er, in her obscure sojourn,
The realms of night inglorious, since I've liv'd
Amidst these woods, gleaning from thorns and shrubs
A wretched sustenance. As thus he spoke
We saw descending from a neighb'ring hill
Blind Polypheme; by weary steps and slow
The groping giant with a trunk of pine
Explor'd his way; around his woolly flocks
Attended grazing; to the well-known shore