Page images
PDF
EPUB

Nor thou persist, I pray thee, still to Night The sacred Nine, and to imagine vain And useless Powers, by whom inspired, thyself Art skilful to associate verse with airs Harmonious, and to give the human voice A thousand modulations, heir by right Indisputable of Arion's fame. Now say, what wonder is it, if a fon Of thine delight in verse, if, so conjoin'd In close affinity, we sympathize In social arts and kindred studies sweet? Such distribution of himself to us Was Phæbus' choice ; thou hast thy gift, and I Mine also, and between us we receive, Father and son, the whole inspiring God.

No! howsoe'er the semblance thou assume Of hate, thou hatest not the gentle Muse, My Father! for thou never badest me tread The beaten path, and broad, that leads right on To opulence, nor didst condemn thy son To the insipid clamours of the bar, To laws voluminous, and ill observed; But, wishing to enrich me more, to fill My mind with treasure, ledst me far away From city din to deep retreats, to banks And streams Aonian, and, with free consent, Didst place me happy at Apollo's side. I speak not now, on more important themes Intent, of common benefits, and such As nature bids, but of thy larger gifts, My Father! who, when I had open'd once The stores of Roman rhetoric, and learn'd

The full toned language of the eloquent Greeks,
Whose lofty music graced the lips of Jove.
Thyself didst counsel me to add the flowers
That Gallia boasts, those too, with which the smooth
Italian his degenerate speech adorns,
That witnesses his mixture with the Goth;
And Palestine's prophetic songs divine.
To sum the whole, whate'er the heaven contains,
The earth beneath it, and the air between,
The rivers and the restless deep, may

all
Prove intellectual gain to me, my wish
Concurring with thy will; science herself,
All cloud removed, inclines her beauteous head,
And offers me the lip, if, dull of heart,
I shrink not, and decline her gracious boon.

Go now, and gather dross, ye sordid minds, That covet it; what could

my

Father more? What more could Jove himself, unless he gave His own abode, the heaven in which he reigns ? More eligible gifts than these were not Apollo's to his son, had they been safe As they were insecure, who made the boy The world's vice-luminary, bade him rule The radiant chariot of the day, and bind To his young brows his own all-dazzling wreath. I therefore, although last and least, my place Among the learned in the laurel grove Will hold, and where the conqueror's ivy twines, Henceforth exempt from the unletter'd throng Profane, nor even to be seen by such. Away then, sleepless Care, Complaint, away, And, Envy, with thy“ jealous leer malign!”

Nor let the monster Calumny shoot forth
Her venom'd tongue at me.

Detested foes!
Ye all are impotent against my peace,
For I am privileged, and bear my

breast Safe, and too high, for your viperean wound.

But thou! my Father, since to render thanks Equivalent, and to requite by deeds Thy liberality, exceeds my power, Suffice it, that I thus record thy gifts, And bear them treasured in a grateful mind! Ye, too, the favourite pastime of my youth, My voluntary numbers, if ye dare To hope longevity, and to survive Your master's funeral, not soon absorb'd In the oblivious Lethæan gulf, Shall to futurity perhaps convey This theme, and by these praises of my fire Improve the Fathers of a distant age!

453

TO SALSILLUS, A ROMAN POET,

MUCH INDISPOSED,

The original is written in a measure called Scazon, which fignifies limping, and the measure is so denominated, because, though in other respects Iambic, it terminates with a Spondee, and has, consequently, a more tardy movement.

The reader will immediately see that this property of the Latin verse cannot be imitated in English.

[ocr errors]

Y halting Muse, that dragg'st by choice

along

Thy Now, slow step, in melancholy song, And likest that pace, expreslive of thy cares, Not less than Deiopeia's sprightlier airs, When in the dance she beats with measured tread Heaven's floor, in front of Juno's golden bed; Salute Salsillus, who to verse divine Prefers, with partial love, such lays as mine. Thus writes that Milton, then, who, wafted o'er From his own nest on Albion's stormy shore, Where Eurus, fiercest of the Æolian band, Sweeps with ungovern'd rage the blasted land, Of late to more serene Ausonia came To view her cities of illustrious name, To

prove, himself a witness of the truth, How wise her elders, and how learn'd her youth. Much good, Salsillus! and a body free From all disease, that Milton asks for thee,

a

;

Who now endureft the languor and the pains
That bile inflicts, diffused through all thy veins
Relentless malady, not moved to spare
By thy sweet Roman voice and Lesbian air !

Health, Hebe's sister, sent us from the skies, And thou, Apollo, whom all sickness flies, Pythius, or Pæan, or what name divine Soe'er thou choose, haste, heal a priest of thine ! Ye groves of Faunus, and

ye

hills that melt With vinous dews, where meek Evander dwelt! If aught salubrious in

your
confines

grow, Strive which shall soonest heal your poet's woe, That, render'd to the Muse he loves, again He may

enchant the meadows with his strain. Numa, reclined in everlasting ease Amid the shade of dark embowering trees, Viewing with eyes of unabated fire His loved Ægeria, shall that strain admire : So soothed, the tumid Tiber shall revere The tombs of kings, nor desolate the year, Shall curb his waters with a friendly rein, And guide them harmless, till they meet the main.

« PreviousContinue »