« PreviousContinue »
And sweetness temper'd, virtue's pureft light
Illumining the countenance divine,
Yet could not footh remorfelefs fate, nor teach
Malignant fortune to revere the good,
Which oft with anguish rends the spotless heart,
And oft affociates wisdom with despair.
In courteous phrase began the chief humane.
Exalted fair, who thus adorn'ft the night,
Forbear to blame the vigilance of war,
And to the laws of rigid Mars impute,
That I thus long unwilling have delay'd
Before the great Leonidas to place
This your apparent dignity and worth.
He fpake, and gently to the lofty tent
Of Sparta's king the lovely stranger guides.
At Agis' fummons with a mantle broad
His mighty limbs Leonidas infolds,
And quits his couch. In wonder he furveys
Th' illuftrious virgin, whom his prefence aw'd:
Her eye fubmiffive to the ground inclin'd
With veneration of the godlike man.
But foon his voice her anxious dread dispell'd,
Benevolent and hofpitable thus.
Thy form alone, thus amiable and great,
Thy mind delineates, and from all commands
Supreme regard. Relate, thou noble dame,
By what relentlefs destiny compell'd,
Thy tender feet the paths of darkness tread.
Rehearfe th' afflictions, whence thy virtue mourns.
On her wan cheek a sudden blush arose,
Like day's first dawn upon the twilight pale,
And, wrapt in grief, these words a passage broke:
If to be most unhappy, and to know,
That hope is irrecoverably fled;
If to be great and wretched may deferve
Commiferation from the good; behold,
Thou glorious leader of unconquer'd bands,
Behold defcended from Darius' loins
Th' afflicted Ariana, and my pray'r
Accept with pity, nor my tears difdain!
Firft, that I lov'd the best of human race,
By nature's hand with ev'ry virtue form'd,
Heroic, wife, adorn'd with ev'ry art;
Of fhame unconfcious does my heart reveal.
This day, in Grecian arms confpicuous clad,
He fought, he fell. A paffion long conceal'd
For me alas! within my brother's arms
His dying breath refigning, he disclos'd.
-Oh I will stay my forrows! will forbid
My eyes to ftream before thee, and my heart,
Thus full of anguish, will from fighs restrain !
For why should thy humanity be griev'd
With my distress, and learn from me to mourn
The lot of nature, doom'd to care and pain!
Hear then, O king, and grant my fole request,
To feek his body in the heaps of flain.
Thus to the Spartan fu'd the regal maid,
Refembling Ceres in majestic woe,
When, fupplicant at Jove's refplendent throne,
From dreary Pluto, and th' infernal gloom,
Her lov'd and loft Proferpina fhe fought:
Fix'd on the weeping queen
Laconia's chief thefe tender thoughts recall'd.
Such are thy forrows, O for ever dear!
Who now at Lacedæmon doft deplore
My everlasting abfence! then inclin'd
His head, and figh'd; nor yet forgot to charge-
His friend, the gentle Agis, through the ftraits-
The Perfian princess to attend and aid.
With careful fteps they feek her lover's corse.
The Greeks remember'd, where by fate reprefs'd,
His arm firft ceas'd to mow their legions down,
And from beneath a mafs of Perfian flain
Soon drew the hero, by his armour known.
To Agis' high pavilion they resort.
Now, Ariana, what tranfcending pangs
Thy foul involv'd? What horror clasp'd thy heart!
But love grew mightiest, and her beauteous limbs
On the cold breast of Teribazus threw
The grief-distracted maid. The clotted gore
Deform'd her fnowy bofom. O'er his wounds
Loofe flow'd her hair, and bubbling from her eyes, Impetuous forrow lav'd the purple clay.
When forth in groans her lamentations broke :
O torn for ever from my weeping eyes!
Thou, who defpairing to obtain her heart,
Who then most lov'd thee, didft untimely yield
Thy life to fate's inevitable dart
For her, who now in agony unfolds
Her tender bofom, and repeats her vows
To thy deaf ear, who fondly to her own
Now clafps thy breast infenfible and cold.
Alas! do those unmoving, ghaftly orbs
Perceive my gushing anguifh! Does that heart,
Which death's inanimating hand hath chill'd,
Share in my fuff'rings, and return my sighs!
-Oh! bitter unfurmountable diftrefs!
Lo! on thy breast is Ariana bow'd,
Hangs o'er thy face, unites her cheek to thine
Not now to liften with enchanted ears
To thy perfuafive eloquence, no more
Charm'd with the wisdom of thy copious mind!
She could no more. Invincible defpair
Supprefs'd her utt'rance.
Fix'd on the folemn fepulcher, unmov'd
O'er fome dead hero, whom his country lov'd,.
Bends down the head with imitated woe :
So paus'd the princefs o'er the breathless clay,
Intranc'd in forrow. On the dreary wound,
Where Dithyrambus' fword was deepest plung'd,
Mute for a space, and motionless she gaz'd.
Then with a look unchang'd, nor trembling hand
Drew forth a poniard, which her garment veil'd,
And, fheathing in her heart th' abhorred steel,
On her flain lover, filent finks in death.