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ON THE PLEASURES ARISING FROM VICISSITUDE.
Left unfinished by Mr. Gray. With additions by Mr. Mason, distinguished by inverted commas.
Now the golden morn aloft
Waves her dew-bespangled wing,
With vermeil cheek and whisper soft
She woos the tardy spring:
Till April starts, and calls around
The sleeping fragrance from the ground;
And lightly o'er the living scene
Scatters his freshest, tenderest green.
New-born flocks, in rustic dance,
Frisking ply their feeble feet;
Forgetful of their wintry trance,
The birds his presence greet;
But chief, the sky-lark warbles high
His trembling thrilling ecstasy;
And, lessening from the dazzled sight,
Melts into air and liquid light.
Rise, my soul! on wings of fire,
Rise the rapturous choir among;
Hark! 'tis nature strikes the lyre,
And leads the general song:
"Warm let the lyric transport flow,
"Warm as the ray that bids it glow;
And animates the vernal grove
"With health, with harmony, and love."
Yesterday the sullen year
Saw the snowy whirlwind fly;
Mute was the music of the air,
The herd stood drooping by:
Their raptures now, that wildly flow,
No yesterday nor morrow know;
'Tis man alone that joy descries
With forward and reverted eyes.
Smiles on past misfortune's brow
Soft reflection's hand can trace;
And o'er the cheek of sorrow throw
A melancholy grace;
While hope prolongs our happier hour
Or deepest shades, that dimly lour,
And blacken round our weary way,
Gilds with a gleam of distant day.
Still, where rosy pleasure leads,
See a kindred grief pursue;
Behind the steps that misery treads,
Approaching comfort view:
The hues of bliss more brightly glow,
Chastised by sabler tints of woe;
And blended form, with artful strife,
The strength and harmony of life.
See the wretch, that long has toss'd
On the thorny bed of pain,
At length repair his vigour lost,
And breathe and walk again:
The meanest floweret of the vale,
The simplest note that swells the gale,
The common sun, the air, the skies,
To him are opening paradise.
Humble quiet builds her cell,
Near the source whence pleasure flows; She eyes the clear crystalline well, And tastes it as it goes.
'While' far below the 'madding' crowd
'Rush headlong to the dangerous flood,'
Where broad and turbulent it sweeps,
'And' perish' in the boundless deeps.
Mark where indolence and pride,
'Sooth'd by flattery's tinkling sound,'
Go, softly rolling, side by side,
Their dull but daily round:
'To these, if Hebe's self should bring
The purest cup from pleasure's spring,
Say, can they taste the flavour high
Of sober, simple, genuine joy?
'Mark ambition's march sublime
Up to power's meridian height;
While pale-eyed envy sees him climb,
And sickens at the sight.
Phantoms of danger, death, and dread,
Float hourly round ambition's head;
While spleen, within his rival's breast,
Sits brooding on her scorpion nest.
'Happier he, the peasant, far,
From the pangs of passion free,
That breathes the keen yet wholesome air
Of rugged penury.
He, when his morning task is done,
Can slumber in the noontide sun;
And hie him home, at evening's close,
To sweet repast, and calm repose.
'He, unconscious whence the bliss,
Feels, and owns in carols rude,
That all the circling joys are his,
Of dear Vicissitude.
From toil he wins his spirits light,
From busy day the peaceful night;
Rich, from the very want of wealth,
In heaven's best treasures, peace and health.
TRANSLATION OF A PASSAGE
THEB. LIB. VI., VER. 704-724.
This translation, which Gray sent to West, consisted of about a hundred and ten lines. Mr. Mason selected twenty-seven lines, which he published, as Gray's first attempt in English verse.
THIRD in the labours of the disc came on,
With sturdy step and slow, Hippomedon;
Artful and strong he poised the well-known
By Phlegyas warn'd, and fir'd by Mnestheus' fate,
That to avoid, and this to emulate.
His vigorous arm he tried before he flung,
Braced all his nerves, and every sinew strung,
Then, with a tempest's whirl, and wary eye,
Pursued his cast, and hurl'd the orb on high;
The orb on high, tenacious of its course,
True to the mighty arm that gave it force,
Far overleaps all bound, and joys to see
Its ancient lord secure of victory.
The theatre's green height and woody wall
Tremble ere it precipitates its fall;