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Here Industry performed, and Genius planned,
And busy multitudes o'erspread the land.
But now to these lone bounds if pilgrim stray,
Tempting through craggy cliffs the desperate way,
He finds the puny mansion fallen to earth,
Its godlings mouldering on th' abandoned hearth;
And starts, where small white bones are spread around,
"Or little footsteps lightly print the ground;"
While the proud Crane her nest securely builds,
Chattering amid the desolated fields.
But different fates befell her hostile rage, While reigned, invincible through many an age, The dreaded Pigmy: roused by war's alarms, Forth rushed the madding mannikin to arms. Fierce to the field of death the hero flies;
The faint Crane fluttering flaps the ground, and dies;
And by the victor borne, (o'erwhelming load!)
With bloody bill loose-dangling marks the road.
And oft the wily dwarf in ambush lay,
And often made the yellow young his prey;
With slaughtered victims heaped his board, and smiled,
Tavenge the parent's trespass on the child.
Oft, where his feathered foe had reared her nest,
And laid her eggs and household gods to rest,
Burning for blood, in terrible array,
The eighteen-inch militia burst their way;
All went to wreck; the infant foeman fell,
When scarce his chirping bill had broke the shell.
Loud uproar hence, and rage of arms, arose,
And the fell rancour of encountering foes;
Hence Dwarfs and Cranes one general havoc whelms,
And Death's grim visage scares the Pigmy-realms.
Not half so furious blazed the warlike fire
Of mice, high theme of the Mæonian lyre ;
When bold to battle marched th' accoutred frogs,
And the deep tumult thundered through the bogs.
Pierced by the javelin bulrush on the shore,
Here agonizing rolled the mouse in gore;
And there the frog, (a scene full sad to see!)
Shorn of one leg, slow sprawled along on three;
He vaults no more with vigorous hops on high,
But mourns in hoarsest croaks his destiny.
And now the day of woe drew on apace,
A day of woe to all the Pigmy-race,
When dwarfs were doomed (but penitence was vain)
To rue each broken egg and chicken slain.
For, roused to vengeance by repeated wrong,
From distant climes the long-billed legions throng:
From Strymon's lake, Cäyster's plashy meads,
And fens of Scythia, green with rustling reeds,
From where the Danube winds through many a land,
And Mareotis laves th' Egyptian strand,
To rendezvous they waft on eager wing,
And wait assembled the returning spring.
Meanwhile they trim their plumes for length of flight,
Whet their keen beaks and twisting claws, for fight;
Each Crane the Pigmy-power in thought o'erturns,
And every bosom for the battle burns.
When genial gales the frozen air unbind, The screaming legions wheel, and mount the wind; Far in the sky they form their long array, And land and ocean stretched immense survey Deep, deep beneath; and, triumphing in pride, With clouds and winds commixed, innumerous ride: 'Tis wild obstreperous clangour all, and heaven Whirls, in tempestuous undulation driven.
Nor less th' alarm that shook the world below,
Where marched in pomp of war th' embattled foe;
Where mannikins with haughty step advance,
And grasp the shield, and couch the quivering lance:
To right and left the lengthening lines they form,
And ranked in deep array await the storm.
High in the midst the chieftain-dwarf was seen,
Of giant stature and imperial mien:
Full twenty inches tall he strode along,
And viewed with lofty eye the wondering throng;
And while with many a scar his visage frowned,
Bared his broad bosom, rough with many a wound
Of beaks and claws, disclosing to their sight
The glorious meed of high heroic might.
For with insatiate vengeance he pursued,
And never-ending hate, the feathery brood.
Unhappy they, confiding in the length
Of horny beak or talon's crooked strength,
Who durst abide his rage; the blade descends,
And from the panting trunk the pinion rends:
Laid low in dust the pinion waves no more,
The trunk disfigured stiffens in its gore.
What hosts of heroes fell beneath his force!
What heaps of chicken carnage marked his course?
How oft, O Strymon, thy lone banks along,
Did wailing Echo waft the funeral song!
And now from far the mingling clamours rise, Loud and more loud rebounding through the skies. From skirt to skirt of heaven, with stormy sway, A cloud rolls on and darkens all the day.
Near and more near descends the dreadful shade,
And now in battailous array displayed,
On sounding wings, and screaming in their ire,
The Cranes rush onward and the fight require.
The Pigmy-warriors eye with fearless glare
The host thick swarming o'er the burdened air;
Thick swarming now, but to their native land
Doomed to return a scanty straggling band.-
When sudden, darting down the depth of heaven,
Fierce on th' expecting foe the Cranes are driven:
The kindling frenzy every bosom warms,
The region echoes to the crash of arms:
Loose feathers from th' encountering armies fly,
And in careering whirlwinds mount the sky.
To breathe from toil upsprings the panting Crane,
Then with fresh vigour downward darts again.
Success in equal balance hovering hangs.
Here, on the sharp spear, mad with mortal pangs,
The bird transfixed in bloody vortex whirls,
Yet fierce in death the threatening talon curls:
There, while the life-blood bubbles from his wound,
With little feet the Pigmy beats the ground;
Deep from his breast the short, short sob he draws.
And dying curses the keen-pointed claws.
Trembles the thundering field, thick covered o'er
With falchions, mangled wings, and streaming gore,
And Pigmy-arms, and beaks of ample size,
And here a claw and there a finger lies.
Encompassed round with heaps of slaughtered foes, All grim in blood the Pigmy-champion glows. And on th' assailing host impetuous springs, Careless of nibbling bills and flapping wings; And midst the tumult wheresoe'er he turns, The battle with redoubled fury burns; From every side th' avenging Cranes amain Throng, to o'erwhelm this terror of the plain. When suddenly (for such the will of Jove) A fowl enormous, sousing from above, The gallant chieftain clutched, and, soaring high. (Sad chance of battle!) bore him up the sky. The Cranes pursue, and clustering in a ring, Chatter triumphant round the captive king. But ah! what pangs each Pigmy-bosom wrung, When, now to Cranes a prey, on talons hung, High in the clouds they saw their helpless lord, His wriggling form still lessening as he soared. Lo! yet again, with unabated rage, In mortal strife the mingling hosts engage.
The Crane with darted bill assaults the foe, Hovering; then wheels aloft to 'scape the blow: The Dwarf in anguish aims the vengeful wound; But whirls in empty air the falchion round.
Such was the scene, when midst the loud alarms Sublime th' eternal Thunderer rose in arms; When Briareus, by mad ambition driven, Heaved Pelion huge, and hurled it high at heaven. Jove rolled redoubling thunders from on high, Mountains and bolts encountered in the sky; Till one stupendous ruin whelmed the crew, Their vast limbs weltering wide in brimstone blue. But now at length the Pygmy legions yield, And winged with terror fly the fatal field. They raise a weak and melancholy wail, All in distraction scattering o'er the vale. Prone on their routed rear the Cranes descend; Their bills bite furious, and their talons rend: With unrelenting ire they urge the chase, Sworn to exterminate the hated race.
'Twas thus the Pygmy name, once great in war,
For spoils of conquered Cranes renowned afar,
Perished. For, by the dread decree of Heaven,
Short is the date to earthly grandeur given,
And vain are all attempts to roam beyond
Where fate has fixed the everlasting bound.
Fallen are the trophies of Assyrian power,
And Persia's proud dominion is no more;
Yea, though to both superior far in fame,
Thine empire, Latium, is an empty name.
And now, with lofty chiefs of ancient time,
The Pygmy heroes roam th' Elysian clime.
Or, if belief to matron-tales be due,
Full oft, in the belated shepherd's view,
Their frisking forms, in gentle green arrayed
Gambol secure amid the moonlight glade:
Secure, for no alarming Cranes molest,
And all their woes in long oblivion rest:
Down the deep vale and narrow winding way
They foot it featly, ranged in ringlets gay:
'Tis joy and frolic all, where'er they rove,
And Fairy-people is the name they love.
TRANSLATED BY MR. NICHOLAS AMHURST.
[The translator in a short preface says, "These lines (the Latin) are esteemed by the best judges to be the finest sketch of the Resurrection that any age or language has produced. Nor does their only excellence consist in being an accurate poem; but also in being an exact copy of the painter's original upon the altar in Magdalen College; but so much improved with all the strongest figures, and most lively embellishments of a poetical description, that the reader receives a double satisfaction in seeing the two sister arts so useful to each other, in borrowing mutual helps and mutual advantages.
"It is indeed," continues he, "wonderful to find, in the narrow compass of a few pages, all the most dreadful circumstances of that last terrible crisis of time. The poem is a beautiful and succinct epitome of all that has or can ever be said on that important subject; the very text which the ingenious Dr. Young has so largely and elegantly paraphrased in his excellent poem on the Last Day."]
THE pencil's glowing lines and vast command,
And mankind rising from the painter's hand,
The awful Judge arrayed in beamy light,
And spectres trembling at the dreadful sight,
To sing, O muse, the pious bard inspire,
And waken in his breast the sacred fire.
The hallowed field, a bare white wall of late,
Now clothed in gaudy colours, shines in state;
And lest some little interval confess
Its ancient simple form and homely dress,
The skilful artist laid o'er every part
The first foundation of his future art:
O'er the wide frame his ductile colours led,
And with strong primings all the wall o'erspread.
As ere yon spangling orbs were hung on high,
Lest one great blank should yawn through boundless sky,
Through the wide heavenly arch and trackless road
In azure volumes the pure Ether flowed;
The sun at length burns out intensely bright,
And the pale Crescent sheds her borrowed light;
With thick-sown stars the radiant pole is crowned,
Of milky glories a long track is found,
O'erflows and whitens all the heavens around.
So when the ground-work of the piece was laid;
Nor yet the painter had his art displayed,
1 Resurrectio delineata ad altare Coll. Magd. Oxon. Vol. i. p. 243