Page images





He looks if poor Palemon yet survives.
“Ah wherefore, trusting to unequal art,
Didst thou, incautious, from the wreck depart?
Alas! these rocks all human skill defy-
Who strikes them once, beyond relief must die;
And now, sore wounded, thou perhaps art tost
On these or in some oozy cavern lost!"
Thus thought Arion, anxious gazing round
In vain; his eyes no more Palemon found.
The demons of destruction hover nigh,
And thick their mortal shafts commissioned fly;
And now a breaking surge, with forceful sway,
Two, next Arion, furious tears away:
Hurled on the crags, behold they gasp, they bleed,
And, groaning, cling upon th' elusive weed !
Another billow bursts in boundless roar;
Arion sinks! and memory views no more:
Ha! total night and horror here preside;
My stunned ear tingles to the whizzing tide;
It is the funeral knell! and gliding near
Methinks the phantoms of the dead appear!
But lo! emerging from the watery grave,
Again they float incumbent on the wave;
Again the dismal prospect opens round-
The wreck, the shore, the dying, and the drowned!
And see! enfeebled by repeated shocks,
Those two, who scramble on th' adjacent rocks,
Their faithless hold no longer can retain;
They sink o'erwhelmed, and never rise again.

Two with Arion yet the mast upbore,
That now above the ridges reached the shore.
Still trembling to descend, they downward gaze,
With horror pale, and torpid with amaze:
The floods recoil! the ground appears below!
And life's faint embers now rekindling glow.
Awhile they wait th' exhausted waves' retreat,
Then climb slow up the beach with hands and feet.
O Heaven! delivered by Whose sovereign hand,
Still on the brink of hell they shuddering stand,
Receive the languid incense they bestow,
That, damp with death, appears not yet to glow !




125 130


To Thee each soul the warm oblation pays
With trembling ardour of unequal praise.
In every heart dismay with wonder strives,
And Hope the sickened spark of life revives;
Her magic powers their exiled health restore,
Till horror and despair are felt no more.

A troop of Grecians who inhabit nigh,
And oft these perils of the deep descry,
Roused by the blustering tempest of the night,
Anxious had climbed Colonna's neighbouring height,
When, gazing downward on th' adjacent flood,
Full to their view the scene of ruin stood-
The surf with mangled bodies strewed around,
And those yet breathing on the sea-washed ground.
Though lost to science and the nobler arts,
Yet nature's lore informed their feeling hearts;
Straight down the vale with hastening steps they hied,
Th’ unhappy sufferers to assist, and guide.








Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
Or by the lazy Scheld or wandering Po,
Or onward, where the rude Carinthian boor
Against the houseless stranger shuts the door,
Or where Campania's plain forsaken lies,
A weary waste expanding to the skies-
Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see,
My heart, untravelled, fondly turns to thee,
Still to my brother turns, with ceaseless pain,
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain.

Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend,
And round his dwelling guardian saints attend.
Blest be that spot where cheerful guests retire
To pause from toil and trim their ev'ning fire;
Blest that abode where want and pain repair,




And every stranger finds a ready chair;
Blest be those feasts with simple plenty crowned,
Where all the ruddy family around
Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail,
Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale,
Or press the bashful stranger to his food,
And learn the luxury, of doing good.

But me, not destined such delights to share,
My prime of life in wand'ring spent, and care,
Impelled with steps unceasing to pursue

25 Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view, That, like the circle bounding earth and skies, Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies, My fortune leads to traverse realms alone, And find no spot of all the world my own.

30 Even now, where Alpine solitudes ascend, I sit me down a pensive hour to spend, And, placed on high above the storm's career, Look downward where an hundred realms appear: Lakes, forests, cities, plains extending wide,

35 The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride.

When thus Creation's charms around combine,
Amidst the store should thankless pride repine?
Say, should the philosophic mind disdain
That good which makes each humbler bosom vain? 40
Let school-taught pride dissemble all it can,
These little things are great to little man,
And wiser he whose sympathetic mind
Exults in all the good of all mankind.
Ye glittring towns with wealth and splendour crowned, 45
Ye fields where summer spreads profusion round,
Ye lakes whose vessels catch the busy gale,
Ye bending swains that dress the flow'ry vale,
For me your tributary stores combine:
Creation's heir, the world, the world is mine!

As some lone miser, visiting his store,
Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts it o'er,
Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill,
Yet still he sighs, for hoards are wanting still:
Thus to my breast alternate passions rise,

55 Pleased with each good that Heaven to man supplies;

50 60




Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall,
To see the hoard of human bliss so small,
And oft I wish amidst the scene to find
Some spot to real happiness consigned,
Where my worn soul, each wand'ring hope at rest,
May gather bliss to see my fellows blest.

But where to find that happiest spot below,
Who can direct, when all pretend to know?
The shudd'ring tenant of the frigid zone
Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own,
Extols the treasures of his stormy seas,
And his long nights of revelry and ease;
The naked negro, panting at the line,
Boasts of his golden sands and palmy wine,
Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave,
And thanks his gods for all the good they gave.
Such is the patriot's boast, where'er we roam:
His first, best country ever is at home.
And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare,
And estimate the blessings which they share,
Though patriots flatter, still shall wisdom find
An equal portion dealt to all mankind,
As different good, by Art or Nature given
To different nations, makes their blessings even.

Nature, a mother kind alike to all,
Still grants her bliss at Labour's earnest call:
With food as well the peasant is supplied
On Idra's cliffs as Arno's shelvy side,
And, though the rocky-crested summits frown,
These rocks by custom turn to beds of down.
From Art more various are the blessings sent,
Wealth, commerce, honour, liberty, content;
Yet these each other's power so strong contest,
That either seems destructive of the rest:
Where wealth and freedom reign contentment fails,
And honour sinks where commerce long prevails.
Hence every state, to one loved blessing prone,
Conforms and models life to that alone;
Each to the favourite happiness attends,
And spurns the plan that aims at other ends,
Till, carried to excess in each domain,







This favourite good begets peculiar pain.

But let us try these truths with closer eyes,
And trace them through the prospect as it lies;
Here, for a while, my proper cares resigned,
Here let me sit in sorrow for mankind,
Like yon neglected shrub at random cast,
That shades the steep, and sighs at every blast.
Far to the right, where Apennine ascends,

Bright as the summer Italy extends;
Its uplands, sloping, deck the mountain's side,
Woods over woods in gay theatric pride,
While oft some temple's mould'ring tops between
With venerable grandeur mark the scene.

Could Nature's bounty satisfy the breast,
The sons of Italy were surely blest:
Whatever fruits in different climes were found,
That proudly rise or humbly court the ground,
Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear,

Whose bright succession decks the varied year,
Whatever sweets salute the northern sky
With vernal lives, that blossom but to die,
These, here disporting, own the kindred soil,
Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil,
While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand
To winnow fragrance round the smiling land.

But small the bliss that sense alone bestows,
And sensual bliss is all the nation knows.
In florid beauty groves and fields appear;

Man seems the only growth that dwindles here.
Contrasted faults through all his manners reign:
Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain;
Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue;
And ev'n in penance planning sins anew.

130 All evils here contaminate the mind That opulence departed leaves behind; For wealth was theirs; not far removed the date When Commerce proudly flourished through the state: At her command the palace learnt to rise,

135 Again the long-fallen column sought the skies, The canvas glowed, beyond ev'n nature warm, The pregnant quarry teemed with human form;


« PreviousContinue »