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Under the warlike Corbulo, by you
Mark'd for their leader: these, by ties confirm'd
Of old respect and gratitude, are yours.
Surely the Masians too, and those of Egypt,
Have not forgot your sire: the eye of Rome,
And the Prætorian camp, have long revered,
With custom'd awe, the daughter, sister, wife,
And mother of their Cæsars.
Ha! by Juno, On this base
It bears a noble semblance.
My great revenge shall rise; or say we sound
The trump of Liberty; there will not want,
Even in the servile senate, ears to own
Her spirit-stirring voice; Soranus there,
And Cassius; Vetus too, and Thrasea,
Minds of the antique cast, rough, stubborn souls,
That struggle with the yoke. Howshall the spark
Unquenchable, that glows within their breasts,
Blaze into freedom, when the idle herd
(Slaves from the womb, created but to stare,
And bellow in the Circus) yet will start,
And shake them at the name of liberty,
Stung by a senseless word, a vain tradition,
As there were magic in it? Wrinkled beldams
Teach it their grandchildren, as somewhat rare
That anciently appear'd, but when, extends
Beyond their chronicle-oh! 'tis a cause
To arm the hand of childhood, and rebrace
The slacken'd sinews of time-wearied age.
Yes, we may meet, ungrateful boy, we may! Again the buried genius of old Rome Shall from the dust uprear his reverend head, Roused by the shout of millions: there before His high tribunal thou and I appear. Let majesty sit on thy awful brow, And lighten from thy eye: around thee call The gilded swarm that wantons in the sunshine Of thy full favour; Seneca be there In gorgeous phrase of labour'd eloquence To dress thy plea, and Burrhus strengthen it With his plain soldier's oath, and honest seeming. Against thee, liberty and Agrippina: The world, the prize; and fair befall the victors. But soft! why do I waste the fruitless hours In threats unexecuted? Haste thee, fly These hated walls that seem to mock my shame And cast me forth in duty to their lord.
'Tis time to go, the sun is high advanced, And, ere mid-day, Nero will come to Baiæ.
My thought aches at him: not the basilisk
More deadly to the sight than is to me
The cool injurious eye of frozen kindness.
I will not meet its poison. Let him feel
Before he sees me.
Why then stays my sovereign,
Yes, I will begone, But not to Antium-all shall be confess'd, Whate'er the frivolous tongue of giddy fame Has spread among the crowd; things, that but whisper'd,
Have arched the hearer's brow, and rivetted
His eyes in fearful ecstasy: no matter
What: so't be strange, and dreadful.-Sorceries,
Assassinations, poisonings-the deeper
My guilt, the blacker his ingratitude.
And you, ye manes of ambition's victims,
Enshrined Claudius, with the pitied ghosts
Of the Syllani, doom'd to early death,
(Ye unavailing horrors, fruitless crimes!)
If from the realms of night my voice ye hear,
In lieu of penitence, and vain remorse,
Accept my vengeance. Though by me ye bled,
He was the cause. My love, my fears for him,
Dried the soft springs of pity in my heart,
And froze them up with deadly cruelty.
Yet if your injured shades demand my fate,
If murder cries for murder, blood for blood,
Let me not fall alone; but crush his pride,
And sink the traitor in his mother's ruin.
Thus far we're safe. Thanks to the rosy queen
Of amorous thefts: and had her wanton son
Lent us his wings, we could not have beguiled
With more elusive speed the dazzled sight
Of wakeful jealousy. Be gay securely:
Dispel, my fair, with smiles, the timorous cloud
That hangs on thy clear brow. So Helen look'd,
So her white neck reclined, so was she borne
By the young Trojan to his gilded bark
With fond reluctance, yielding modesty,
And oft reverted eye, as if she knew not
Whether she fear'd, or wish'd to be pursued.
ADDRESSED TO MR. WEST, FROM GENOA.
HORRIDOS tractus, Boreæque linquens
Regna Taurini fera, molliorem
Advehor brumam, Genuæque amantes
Supposed to have been written about 1742, when the Author returned to Cambridge.
HAIL, horrors, hail! ye ever gloomy bowers,
Ye gothic fanes, and antiquated towers,
Where rushy Camus' slowly winding flood
Perpetual draws his humid train of mud:
Glad I revisit thy neglected reign,
Oh take me to thy peaceful shade again.
But chiefly thee, whose influence breathed from
Augments the native darkness of the sky;
Ah, Ignorance! soft salutary power!
Prostrate with filial reverence I adore.
Thrice hath Hyperion roll'd his annual race,
Since weeping I forsook thy fond embrace.
Oh say, successful dost thou still oppose
Thy leaden ægis 'gainst our ancient foes?
Still stretch, tenacious of thy right divine,
The massy sceptre o'er the slumbering line?
And dews Lethean through the land dispense
To steep in slumbers each benighted sense?
If any spark of wit's delusive ray
Break out, and flash a momentary day,