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While Theban chiefs, and Pompey's mournful name,
Weary each eye, and tire us with their fame.
My bolder muse, unsung in ancient lays,
New battles ranges, and new camps surveys ;
In verse the trumpet's silver sound describes,
And, fatal to the Cranes, the Pygmy-tribes;
Dark through the air, while hovering nations flow,
And from the clouds descends the feathered foe.
Where happy India boasts a warmer ray,
And, smiling, blushes at the birth of day:
Embraced by rocks, a flowery vale is seen,
By few frequented, and for ever green,
Here, high in fame (till heaven that fame withstand)
The spreading Pygmy nations wide command;
By various arts a frugal life sustain,
While labouring millions throng each crowded plain.
But now their desert realms, as we descry,
Untilled their vales, their bowers unpeopled lie.
While bones of mighty dwarfs, and warriors slain,
Strike every eye, and whiten all the plain.
These realms are now by victor Cranes possessed ;
There safe they triumph in each airy nest.
Not thus they moaned their country's fate of old,
When subject-states their monarch's arm controlled.
The soldier then, whene'er the foe drew near,
Grasped hard his sword, and, dreadful, shook his spear :
Till gasping now, and breathless on the ground,
Deep in his breast he drives the deadly wound:
His shoulders scarce the ponderous spoil convey ;
Alive, his terror, and when dead, his prey.
Oft in the grove her curious mansions hung,
His rage o'erthrows and slays the crying young ;
The mother-bird, from far, beholds with pain
Her kingdoms rifled, and her infants slain;
Whose little lives their parent's guilt atone,
For crimes, alas ! expiring, not their own.
His breast no pity to their crimes will give,
Doomed by his sword to die before they live ;
E’er yet a form th' imperfect young enjoys ;
And in the egg the future foe destroys.
From this dire spring immortal discords rose,
Which wrought the sons of fame unnumber'd woes:
While warring troops disturb the earth and sky,
And birds and men, confused together, die.
Less tumults from less noble causes sprung,
The Grecian bard of old sublimely sung,
While thundering arms, and meeting hosts around,
Mix in one noise, and all the lakeconfound.
| Homer's Batrachomuomachia.
Here, scattered o'er the bloody plains, are laid
Expiring mice, by bulrush-spears destroyed ;
There, limping frogs, distained with generous gore,
In deep, hoarse plaints their absent limbs deplore:
Unactive now, forget their springing bound,
And hardly trail their sluggish weight along the ground.
Now the great morn her light began disclose;
That morn, which fatal to the Pygmies rose,
When they shall rue the rashness of their guilt,
And wish the young unslain, the egg unspilt.
For this the vengeful sires in war engage,
Burn with revenge, and call forth all their rage ;
Sad with regret, they summon from afar
Wide distant nations to the airy war:
What troops remote Strymonian waters breed,
And o'er Caister's flowery meadows feed, -
What hardy bands the Scythian lakes supply,
Or poured from Ister's banks obscure the sky,
Confederate join—with slaughter all around
Their bosoms swell, and absent seem to wound.
Each whet their talons, and their beaks prepare,
To gore the battle, and confuse the war ;
For speedy flight the sounding pinions drest;
Such thirst of vengeance heaves each warrior's breast.
Now spring arrived, the gathering troops on high
Cut the mid air, and sail along the sky;
Beneath their wings as they sublimely soar,
Wide empires stretch, and wider oceans roar.
Through the bleak north, as they their legions guide,
The day grows darker, and the clouds divide.
Fanned with the blast, and trembling as they fly,
A loud deep murmur runs along the sky.
Nor less on earth the Pygmy fury glows,
Whose chiefs for fight the martial troops dispose,
Direct the war,—and, as the foe draws near,
Each gripes his sword, and, eager, shakes his spear.
While closely wedged, and dreadful to the foe,
Their double battle hides the plain below.
And now the monarch of the Pygmy throng,
Advancing, stalks with ample strides along ;
Slowly he moves, majestically tall,
Towers o'er his subjects, and o’erlooks them all ;-
A giant Pygmy, whose high spirits swell,
Elated with the space of half an ell;
Stern was his visage,—for his face all o'er
Of savage claws the dire impressions bore ;
And seamed with ghastly wounds, his manly breast
Still owned the foe, and still the nails confessed.
Hence wrath, immortal wrath, his bosom fired,
To quell those nations that his fall conspired;
Who, joined in arms his fury to restrain,
Whet keen their claws, and plunge their beaks in vain.
Oft as his sword its edge in battle shows,
To lop a pinion, and retard his foes,
What heaps of dead, what mountains of the slain,
What slaughter reddens all the slippery plain!
While sighing o'er Strymonian lakes alone,
Sad widows languish, and sad orphans moan.
Now broken murmurs, sounding from afar,
Presage the approaches of the flying war ;
Black with the foe, the clouds they now descry
Cleaving the air, and marching through the sky.
Winged troops disclosing, as they wide unfold;
And what they heard aloft they now behold.
In solemn state above, and strict array,
A dreadful scene the hovering troops display;
Their spreading war extends along the skies,
And the fanned air before their pinions flies.
All heaven is crowded, and the darkening foe,
Hung in the clouds, obscures the camp below;
With gloomy horror shades the nether plain,
And millions, ne'er to view their native groves again.
The Pygmy troops beneath, in firm array,
looks the hanging foe survey;
Up to the clouds their vengeful eyes they turn,
Demand the fight, and for the combat burn;
When, lo! the Cranes, descending from on high,
Rush through the air, and dart along the sky;
Amidst his ranks they drive their plunging bands,
And give that battle which the foe demands.
Both hosts engage,—dire, deafening murmurs rise,
And clouds of feathers floating fill the skies.
The fainting birds, their vigour to repair,
Now leave the field, and skim aloft in air;
Their strength renewed, they shoot along the plain,
Mix in the fight, and urge the war again.
Each side an equal part of glory shares,
And conquest yet for neither host declares ;
Here, a brave warrior, wounded as he flies,
In circling eddies whirls around the skies :
Still as the foe his fruitless vengeance tires,
Collects his talons, and in rage expires.
There, gently streaming from the hero's veins,
A Pygmy's gore the purple field distains ;
Deep murmurs from his heaving heart resound;
Panting he falls, and beats the bleeding ground.
While shades of death o'erspread his swimming eyes, Curses the foe's inhuman claw, and dies.
And now the ghastly fields of death, all o'er Confused with noise, and warm with smoking gore, From every eye a soft compassion draw; Here shines a sword, there sprawls a trembling claw: While copious slaughter gluts the slippery plain With wings of birds, and limbs of mortals slain. The Pygmy chief, his falchion waving high, Wide wasting drops,—while millions round him die. Amidst ten thousand deaths secure he springs, Mocks their sharp beaks, and persecuting wings.
To stop his wasting sword, th' avenging foe In circling troops around the warrior flow. Dark o'er his helmet thronging legions spread ; And all the battle rages round his head. When, lo! a Crane, swift shooting from above, (Such was the will and dire decree of Jove !) Caught in his wounding talons, as he flies, Fast gripes the foe, and bears him through the skies. A cloud of birds the captive king surround, Clap their glad wings, and waft him from the ground: While bore aloft, and lessening as he soars, Each Pygmy views his lord, and each deplores ; But sigh in vain, their monarch's arm o'erpowered, Their monarch vanquished first, and then devoured.
But see, the war once more revives on high, Sounds through the air, and ranges o’er the sky. The Pygmy's sword around with vengeance drove; The Cranes disdain, and gore him from above, Then skim aloft, the sprawling chief with pain Shrinks from the wound, and waves
arm in vain.
Such was the war, when mountains tossed on high
Shook Jove's high throne, and laboured up the sky.
While heaven and earth a doubtful fight prepare,
And rocks and thunders mingle in the air ;
Till the winged bolt, all flaming from above,
Launched from the dreadful red right-hand of Jove,
Confounds the war: his falling rivals slain,
Gasp o'er the fields, and smoking hide the plain.
And now their vigour spent, their martial fire
Glowing in vain, the Pygmy troops retire :
Pale with despair, they leave the fatal field,
For pity raise their shrill low voice, and yield.
But fierce behind the Cranes pursue their
Dart from above, and rend the flying prey.
Through fields of death the mangled warriors chase,
And in one battle end the faithless race.
The Pygmy nation, thus so long renowned,
O'erspread with laurels, and with trophies crow
Resigns her fame,—for heaven and partial fate
To earth's great empires fix one certain date;
Assign the period to each nation's fame.
Thus rose and thus expired the Assyrian name.
Thus sunk (alike their glory and their doom)
Thy pride, 0 Persia! and thy grandeur, Rome!
Now, mixed with shades of mighty heroes slain,
The empty troops o'erspread th’ Elysian plain.
And if th' important story be allowed,
Confirmed by fame, each night the Fairy-crowd,
Unbodied forms, by wondering shepherds seen,
Skim through the gloom, and gambol o'er the green.
With schemes of war no more their bosoms glow,
Forget their labours, and their feathered foe;
But sportive now in wanton dances round,
With narrow tracks they mark the flowery ground :
A greener turf the verdant ring supplies,
And in the Fairy name the Pygmy dies.
I sing the Crane and Pygmy up in arms,
And brandished tucks oppose to pointed beaks.
Raise, muse, the fury of the feathered foe,
Lead the low cohorts to the dusty field,
And men and birds in rude encounter join.
Long hath a race of vulgar heroes shone
In the bright annals of recording bards;
Fit theme for song heroic only deemed. This translation occurs in a small anonymous volume entitled 'Miscellaneous Translations in prose and verse,' Lond. 1724, very well known to be the juvenile performance of Bishop Warburton. Dr. Parr republished it in 1789 in his ‘Tracts by Warburton and a Warburtonian,' with a short preface arraigning Bishop Hurd for not including those juvenile pieces in his edition of the prelate's works.