« ПредишнаНапред »
Myself, my daughters, dragg'd by hostile bands;
Our dignity exchang'd for servile banils :
All this the guids inay purpose, and fulfil;
And we with patience must endure their will." BOOK IX.
As thus Laodice her sorrow try'd
With sympathy to sooth; the maid reply'd : And now the king of men his army calls “Great queen! on whom the sov'reign pow'rs Back from the danger of th' impending walls; A gen'rous heart to feel another's woe; (bestov They quit the combat, and in order long Let still untouch'd through life your honours last, The field possess, a phalanx deep and strong. With happier days to come for sorrows past ! Rank following rank, the Theban squadrons | Yet strive not thus a hopeless wretch to cheer,
Whom sure conjecture leads the worst to fear. Still to the rampart, and the tow'rs above: Shall Diomed a pubiic cause forego, Creon himself, unwilling, quits the field, His faithful friends betray, and trust a foe Enragd, defeated, and constrain'd to yield: By treachery behold the host o'ertbrown, 'Gainst all his foes, his indignation burus, Renounce the public interest and his own? Bat first on Diomed its fury turns.
Shall kings and armies, in the balance laid, He call'd a vulgar warrior from the crowd, Avail not to out-weigh a single mail? A villain dark, and try'd in works of blood, One, whom his fury falsely did reprove Erembus nam'd, of huge gigantic size, [eyes; Por crimes unknown, whose only crime was lovedi. With cloudy features mark'd, and down-cast No, sure ere this he triumphs in the field; Cold and inactive still in combat found,
Your armies to his matchless valour yield: Nor wont to kindle at the trumpet's sound; And soon submitting to the fatal blow, But bold in villany when pow'r commands; This head must gratify a vanquish'd foe. A weapon fited for a tyrant's hands. (sword, If symbols e'er the secret fates explain, And thus the wrathful monarch: “Take this If visions do not always warn in vain, A sign, to all my servants, froin their lorel; If dreams do ever true prognostics prove, And hither bring the fair Etolian's head; And dreams, the sages say, descend from Jove, I, who command you, will reward the deed: My fate approaches : late at dead of night; Bat let not pity, or remorse, prevail;
My veins yet freeze with horrour and affright! Your own shall answer, if in aught you fail.” I thought that, all forsaken and alone,
He said ; the murth'rer, practis'd to obey, Pensive I wander'd far through ways unknown; The royal sword receiv'd, and took his way A gloomy twilight, neither night vor day, Straight to the palace, where the captive fair, Frown'd on my steps, and sadden'd all the way : Of hope bereft, and yielding to despair,
Long dreary vales I saw on ev'ry side, Lamenting sat. Their mutual griefs to blend, And caverns sinking deep, with entrance wide; The queen and all the royal maids attend. On ragged cliffs the blasted forests hung; And thus the queen : "Fair stranger! shall your Her baleful note the boding screech-owl sung. All hopes reject of comfort and relief? (grief At last, with many a weary step, I found Your woes I've measur'd, all your sorrows known; This melancholy country's outmost bound, And find them light when balanc'd with my own. An ocean vast: upon a cliff I stood, lo one sad day my valiant sire I mourn'd; And saw, beneath me far, the sable flood; My brother slain ; my native walls o'erturn'd; No islands rose the dull expanse to grace, Myself a captive, destin'd to fulfil,
And nought was seen, through all the boundless lo servile drudgery, a master's will;
[frown'd, Yet to a fall so low, the gods decreed
Cut low-brow'd clouds, which on the billows This envy'd beight of greatness to succeed. And, in a night of shade, the prospect drown'd. The pow’rs above, for purposes unknown, The winds, which scem'd around the cliffs to Oft raise the fall'n, and bring the lofty down;
blow, Elude the vigilance of all our care:
With doleful cadence, utter'd sounds of woe, Our surest hopes deceive, and mock despair. Wafting, from ev'ry cave and dreary den, Let no desponding thoughts your mind possess, The wail of infants mix'd with groans of men : To bapish bope, the med'cine of distress: Amaz'd, on ev'ry side my eyes I turn, For nine short days your freedom will restore, And see depending from the craggy bourn And break the bondage which you thus deplore. Wretches unnumber'd; some the mould'ring But I, alas! unhappy still, must mourn
(toil ; Joys once possess'd, which never can return; Some grasp'd the slipp'ry rock, with fruitless Four valiant sons, who perish'd on the plain Some hung suspended by the roots, which pass In this dire strife, a fifth on Oeta slain : Through cranuies of the cliffs, or wither'd grass. These shall return to bless my eyes no more; Still from the steep they plung'd into the main ; The grare's dark mansion kuow's not to restore, As from the eres descends the trickling rain. For time, which bids so oft the solar ray Amaz'd I turn'd, and strove in vain to fly ; Repeat, with light renew'd, th' ethereal way, Thickets oppos’d, and precipices high And from the soil, by heat and vernal winds, To stop my flight: and, from the airy steep, To second life the latent plant unbinds,
A tempest snatch'd, and hurld me to the deep. Again to flourish, nurs'd by wholesome dews, The sudden violence my slumber broke; Never to mortal man his life renews.
The waves I seem'd to touch, and straight awoke. These griefs are sure; but otbers still I fear; With sleep the vision filed; but, in my mind, A royal husband lost, and bondage near; Imprinted deep, its image left behind
For had the frightful scene which fancy drew, What holds us, and restrains our martial pow'rs;
And safely meditates a new surprise:
Or mirth disarms us, and the genial hoar; “Futurity, in dreams, we seek in vain ; No, let us rather, now when fortune calls, For oft, from thoughts disturb’d, such phan- With bold assault, attempt to mount the walls; toms rise,
Myself the first a chosen band shall lead,
“ Confed’rate kings : and thou, whose sov'reign Now to the tow'rs I haste, to view from far
band The danger or success of this day's war.
Sways the dread sceptre of supreme command ! Let Clymene with me the walls ascend;
Let vot Tydides now, with martial rage, The rest at home domestic cares attend.” In measures hot and rash, the host engage.
She ended thus; and from her seat arose ; To sober reason, still let passion yield, The royal maid attends her, as she goes
Nor here, admit the ardour of the field: Towards the western gate; where full to view if Thebes could thus with cne assault be won, Exposod, the armies and the camp she knew, Her armies vanquish'd, and her wall o'erthrown; And now appear'd within the lofty gate, Could this one signal day reward our toil, By Creon sent, the messenger of fate.
So long endur'd, with victory and spoil :
No soldier in the ranks, no leader here,
But if for victory, a foul defeat,
Not, sav'd from shameful flight, a heartless band, A tyrant's rassal no remorse should feel.
Who, desp'rate of their state, would soon forego o Diomed! let this example prove,
Their last defences, and admit a toe;
Thrown from above each weapon heavier falls;
That thus the fruits of victory ne lose; And I the judge appointed to decree,
When, pent within their battlements and tow'rs, They all had perished to ransom thee."
In narrow space, we hold the Theban pow'rs: Cassandra thus; and for the blow prepar'd, For oftener, than by arms, are hosts o'erthrowa With both her hands, her shining neck she bar'd, Ey dearth and sickness, in a straitend town. And round her bead a purple garment roll'd, He who can only wield the sword and spear, With leaves of silver mark’d, and Aow'rs of gold. Knows less than half the instruments of war. Rais'd for the stroke, the glitt'ring falchion Heart-gnawing hunger, enemy to life, hung,
Wide-wasting pestilence, and civil strife, And swift descending, bore the head along. By want inflam'd, to all our weapons claim A tide of gore, diffus'd in purple streams, Superior force, and strike with surer aim: Dasbes the wall, and o'er the pavement swims, With these, whoever arm'd to combat goes, Frone to the ground the headless trunk reclines, Instructed how to turn them on his foes, Aud life, in long convulsive throbs, resigns. Sball see them soon laid prostrate on the ground,
Now on the open plain before the walls, His aims accomplish'd, and his wishes crown'd. The king of men the chiefs to council calls. Our warriors, therefore, let us straight recall, And Diomed, with secret griefs oppress'd, Nor, by assault, attempt to force the wall; Impatient, thus the public ear address'd: But with a rampart, to the gates oppos'd, “ Confed'rate kings and thon, whose sov'reign Besiege, in narrow space, oar foes enclos’d. hand
The hero thus; and, eager to reply, Sways the dread sceptre of supreme command ! Tydides rose; when on a turret bigla
Crema appeard ; Cassandra's head, display'd Supine npon the earth the hero falls, 7. Upon a lance's point, he held, and said: Mix'd with the smoke and ruin of the walls. ** Ye Argive warriors ! view this sign; and know, Ry disappointment chaf’d, and fierce from pain, That Creon never fails to quit a fue.
Unable now the rampart to regain, "This bloody trophy mark; and if it brings He turn'd, and saw his native bands afar, Grief and despair to any of the kings,
By fear restrain'd, and ling'ring in the war. La bim revenge it on the man who broke
From Creon straight and Thebes, his anger His faith, and dar'd my fury to provoke.”
turns, He ended thus. Tydides, as he heard, And 'gainst his friends, with equal fury, burns ; ; With rage distracted, and despair, appear'd. As wiren, from snows dissolr'd or sudden rains, # Long on the tow'r he fix'd his burning eyes; A torrent swells and roars along the plains ;
The rest were mute with wonder and surprise ; If, rising to oppose its angry tide, i But, to the counsel turning, thus at last :
In full career, it meets a mountain's siile; If any favour claim my merits past;
In foaming eddies, backwards to its source, : 1 II by a present benefit, ye'd bind
It wheels, and rages with inverted course: To future services a grateful mind;
So turn'd at once, the fury, in his breast, ** Let what I arge in council, now prerail,
Against Ulysses, thus itself exprest : 27 With hostile arms yon rampart tu assail: “ Author accurs'd, and source of all my roes!
Else, with my native bands, alone I'll try Friend more pernicious than the worst of foes! The combat, fix'd to conquer or to die."
Uy thy suggestions from my purpose sway'd, The hero thus, Ulysses thus exprest
1 slew Cassandra, and myself betray'd ; The prudent dictates of his generous breast : Hence, lodg'd within this tortar'd breast, remains 1 * Prioces ! shall dire contention still preside A fury, to inflict eternal pains. lialt car councils, and the kings diride?
I need not follow, with vindictive spear, Sure, of the various ills that can distress A traitor absent, while a worse is near: L'ated armies and prevent success,
Crcon but acted what you well foreknew,
And then on Creon and myself succeed:
The rest, on various parts, their forces show, And such I'll offer with determin'd hands."
Thus as he spoke, Ulysses pond'ring stood, If he prevails, to victory he leads;
Whether by art to sooth bis furious mood, And safe bebind him all the host succeeds: Or, with a sudden hand, his lance to throw, If love forbids and all-decreeing fate,
Preventing, ere it fell, the threaten'd blow, The field is open, and a safe retreat."
But, gliding from above, the martial maid Ulysses thus. The princes all assent; [went, Between them stood, in majesty display'd; Straight from the council through the host they Her radiant eyes with indignation burra, Review'd its order, and in front dispos’d On Diomed their piercing light she turn'd; The slingers; and the rear with bowmen closd; And frowning thus: “ Thy frantic rage restrain ; Arining the rest with all that could avail, Else by dread Styx I swear, nor swear in vain,
The tox'rs and battlements to sap or scale. That proof shall teach you whether mortal miglit 1
Tydides first bis martial squadrons leads; This arm invincible can match in fight.
Is 't not enough that he whose hoary hairs
To shelter crowd, and dive into the shade; And, from your faith by fond affection sway'd, ins Such and so thick the winged weapons fiew, The kings, the army, and yourself betray'd?
And many warriors wounded, many slew. Yet, still unawd, from such atrocious deeds,
The chief who say'd alike the host and thee. With wide destruction through the host to roll, Had Thebes prevaild, and one decisive hour To mix its order ard confound the whole. The victory had fix'd beyond thy pow'r;
Intrepid still th' Etolian chief proceeds; These limbs, ere now, had captive fetters worn, And still Ulysses follows as he leads.
To infamy condemn'd, and hostile scorn; They reach'd the wall. Tydides, with a bound, Wbile fair Cassandra, with her virgin charms, Twice stroke in vain to mount it from the ground. A prize decreed, bad blest some rival's arms. Twice Aled the foe; as, to the boist'rous sway Did not the worth of mighty Tydeus plead, Of some proud billow, mariners give way ; Approv'd when living, and rever'd when dead, Which, rous'd by tempests, 'gainst a vessel Por favour to his guilty son, and stand bends
A rampart to oppose my vengeful hand; Its force, and mounting o'er the deck ascends : You soon had found bow mad it is to wage Again he rose: the third attempt prevail'd ; War with the gods, and ternpt immortal rage. But, crumbling in bis grasp, the rampart faild: This Thebes shall' know, ere to the ocean's For thunder there its fury had imprest,
streams And loos'd a shatter'd fragment from the rest. The Sun agaiu withdraws his setting beams;
For now the gods consent, in vengeance just, And Theseus thus addrese'd his martial train:
Descending, on the town his warrivis pours?
With those who conquer now an equal fame."
Against some mole impel the stormy tide,
Wave heap'd on wave, the stormy deluge tow'rs, If you forgive me, straight our pow'rs recall And o'er it, with resistless sury, pours : Who shun the fight, while I attempt the wall. Such seem'd the fight, the Theban host o'er. Some present gud inspires me; for I feel
thrown, My heart exulting knock the plated steel : The wall deserts, and mingles with the town. In brisker rounds the vital spirit Ries,
Creon in vain the desp'rate rout withstands And ev'ry limb with double force supplies." With sharp reproaches and vindictive hands; Tydides thus. Ulysses thus again:
His rage they shun not, nor his threat'nings " Shall Heav'n forgive offences, man retain;
hear, Though born to err, by jarring passions tost? From stunning clamours deaf,and blind from fear. The best, in good, no steadiness can boast : And thus the monarch with uplifted eyes, No malice therefore in my heart shall live; And both bis hands extended to the skies. To sin is human; human to forgive.
“ Ye pow'rs supreme, whose unresisted sway But do not now your single force oppose
The fates of men and mortal things obey ! To lofty ramparts and an host of foes;
Against your counsels, vain it is to strive, Let me at least, attending at your side,
Which only ruin nations or retrieve. Partake the danger, and the toil divide:
Here in your sight, with patience I resign For see our pow'rs advancing to the storm ! That envy'd royalty which once was mine; Pallas excites them in a mortal form,
Renounce the cares, that wait upon a crown, Let us, to mount the rampart, straight proceed ; And make my last attention all my own. They of themselves will follow as we lead.” Seven virgin daughters in my house remain,
Ulysses thus ; and, springing froun the ground, Who must not live to swell a victor's train; Both chiefs at once ascend the lofty mound. Nor shall my wretched queen, in triumph borne, Before him each his shining buckler bears Be lifted to the eye of public scorn : 'Gaiust flying darts, and thick portended spears. One common fate our miseries shall end, Now, on the bulwark's level lop, they stand, And, with the dust of Thebes, our ashes blend." And charge on ev'ry side the hostile band :
His fix'd decree the monarch thus exprest; There many warriors in close right they slew, One half the fates confirm'd, deny'd the rest : And many headlong from the rampart threw. For now surrounded by the hostile crowd Pallas her fav’rite
champions still inspires, (fires. His captive queen, an humble suppliunt, stood.
No less proclaims you, spare a wretched queen;
And now the martial goddess with delight, Let her the first your just resentment feel;
IN THE MANYER OF SPENSER.
Yet all in rain. No sacrifice recalls
“ Certes,” quoth I, “ the critics are the cause The parted gbost from Pluto's gloomy walls. Of this and many other mischiefs more; Too long, alas! bas lawless fury rul'd,
Who tie the Muses to such rigid laws, To reason deaf, by no reflection cool'd :
That all their songs are frivolous and poor. While I unhappy, by its dictates sway'd,
They cannut now, as oft they did before, My guardian murder'd, and the host betray'd. Ere pow'rful prejudice had clipt their wings, No victim, therefore, to my rage Pll pay;
Nature's domain with boundless flight explore, Nor ever follow as it points the way.”
And traffic freely in her precious things: The son of Tydeus thus; and to his tent,
Each bard now fears the rod, and trembles while From insults sate, the royal matron sent.
he sings. Himself again the course of conquest led “Though Shakespear, still disdaining narrow rules, Till Thebes was overthrown, and Creon bled. His bosom fill'd with Nature's sacred fire,
Broke all the cobweb limits fix'd by fools,
And left the world to blame him and admire;
Yet his reward few mortals would desire; A DREAM.
For, of his learned toil, the only meed
That ever I could find he did acquire,
Is that our dull, degenerate, age of lead, One erining, as by pleasant Forth I stray'd, Says that he wrote by chance, and that he scarco In pensive mood, and meditated still
could read." n poets' learned toil, with scorn repaid
“ I ween," qnoth he, “that poets are to blame By envy's bitter spite, and want of skill;
When they subinit to critics' tyranny: A cave I found, which open'd in a hill.
For learned wights there is no greater shame, The floor was sand, with various shells yblended,
Than blindly with their dictates to comply, Through wbich, in slow meanders, crept a rill;
Who ever taught the eagle how to fly, The roof, by Nature's cunning slight suspended : Whose wit did e'er his airy tract define ; Thither my steps I turn’d, and there my journey
When with free wing he claims his native sky, , ended.
Say, will he steer his course by rule and line ? Upon the ground my listless limbs I laid, Certes, he'd scorn the bound that would his flight Lullid by the murmur of the passing stream:
confine. Then sleep, soft stealing, did my eyes invade ; “Not that the Muses' art is void of rules: And waking thought soon ended in a dream.
Many there are, I wot, and stricter far, Transported to a region I did seem,
Than those which pedants dictate from the Which with Thessalian Tempe might compare;
schools, Of verdant shade compos'd, and wat’ry gleam: Who wage with wit and taste eternal war : Not ev'n Valdarno, thought so passing fair, For foggy ignorance their sight doth mar; Might match this pleasant land in all perfec- Nor can their low conception ever reach tions rare.
To what dame Nature, crown'd with many a One, like a hoary palmer, near a brook,
star, Under an arbour, seated did appear;
Explains to such as know her learned speech; A shepherd swain, attending, held a book, But few can comprehend the lessons she duth And seer'd to read therein that he mote hear.
teach. From curiosity I stepped near;
“ As many as the stars that gild the sky, But ere I reach'd the place where they did sit, As many as the flow’rs that paint the ground,
The whisp'ring breezes wafted to my ear In number like the insect tribes that fiy,
bound, For him he seem'd who sung Achilles' rage,
And say that this, and this alone, is right: In lofty numbers that shall never die,
Experience soon such rashoess would confound, And wise Ulysses' tedious pilgrimage,
And make its foliy obvious as the light; So long the sport of sharp adversity:
for such presumption sure becomes not mortal The praises of his merit, Fame on high,
wight. With her shrill trump, for ever loud doth sound; “ Therefore each bard should freely entertain
With him no bard, for excellence, can vie, The hints which pleasing fancy gives at will;
And you yourself in this bave done but ill ; The shepherd swain invited me to come
With many more, who have not comprehended Up to the arbour where they seated were;
That genius, crampt, will rarely mount the For Homer call'd me: much I feard the doom
hill, Which such a judge seem'd ready to declare.
Whose forked summit with the cloudsis blended : As I approach'd, with meikle dread and care,
Therefore, when next you write, let this defect be He thus address'd me: “Sir, the cause explain
mended. Why all your story here is told so bare? “But, like a friend, wbo candidly reproves Few circumstances mix'd of various grain; For faults and errours which he doth espy, Such, surely, much enrich and raise a poet's Each vice he freely marks; yet always loves strain.”
To mingle favour with severity, TOL. XVI.