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O, write it not, my hand-the name appears
Already written-wash it out, my tears!
In vain lost Eloïsa weeps and prays,
Her heart still dictates, and her hand obeys.
Relentless walls! whose darksome round contains
Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains :
Ye rugged rocks! which holy knees have worn;
Ye grots and caverns shagg'd with horrid thorn!
Shrines! where their vigils pale-ey'd virgins keep;
And pitying saints, whose statues learn to weep!
Though cold like you, unmov'd and silent grown,
I have not yet forgot myself to stone.
All is not Heaven's while Abelard has part,
Still rebel Nature holds out half my heart;
Nor prayers nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain,
Nor tears, for ages taught to flow in vain.
Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
That well-known name awakens all my woes.
Oh, name for ever sad! for ever dear!
Still breath'd in sighs, still usher'd with a tear.
I tremble too, where'er my own I find,
Some dire misfortune follows close behind.
Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow,
Led through a sad variety of woe:
Now warm in love, now withering in my bloom,
Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!
There stern Religion quench'd th' unwilling flame,
There died the best of passions, love and fame.
Yet write, oh write me all, that I may join
Griefs to thy griefs, and echo sighs to thine.
Nor foes nor Fortune take this power away;
And is my Abelard less kind than they?
Tears still are mine, and those I need not spare,
Love but demands what else were shed in prayer;
No happier task these faded eyes pursue;
To read and weep is all they now can do.
Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief;
Ah, more than share it, give me all thy grief.
Heaven first taught letters for some wretch's aid,
Some banish'd lover, or some captive maid; [spires,
They live, they speak, they breathe what love in-
Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires,
The virgin's wish without her fears impart,
Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart,
Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul,
And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.
Thou know'st how guiltless first I met thy flame,
When Love approach'd me under Friendship's name;
My fancy form'd thee of angelic kind,
Some emanation of th' All-beauteous Mind.
Those smiling eyes, attempering every ray,
Shone sweetly lambent with celestial day.
Guiltless I gaz'd; Heaven listen'd while you sung;
And truths divine came mended from that tongue.
From lips like those what precept fail'd to move?
Too soon they taught me 'twas no sin to love:
Back through the paths of pleasing sense I ran,
Nor wish'd an angel whom I lov'd a man.
Dim and remote the joys of saints I see,
Nor envy them that Heaven I lose for thee.
How oft, when press'd to marriage, have I said,
Curse on all laws but those which love has made!
Love, free as air, at sight of human ties
Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.
Let wealth, let honor, wait the wedded dame,
August her deed, and sacred be her fame;
Before true passion all those views remove;
Fame, wealth, and honor! what are you to love?
The jealous god, when we profane his fires,
Those restless passions in revenge inspires,
And bids them make mistaken mortals groan,
Who seek in love for aught but love alone.
Should at my feet the world's great master fall,
Himself, his throne, his world, I'd scorn them all :
Not Cæsar's empress would I deign to prove;
No, make me mistress to the man I love.
If there be yet another name more free,
More fond than mistress, make me that to thee!
Oh, happy state! when souls each other draw,
When love is liberty, and Nature law:
All then is full, possessing and possess'd,
No craving void left aching in the breast:
Ev'n thought meets thought, ere from the lips it part,
And each warm wish springs mutual from the heart.
This sure is bliss (if bliss on Earth there be)
And once the lot of Abelard and me.
Alas, how chang'd! what sudden horrors rise!
A naked lover bound and bleeding lies!
Where, where was Eloïsa? her voice, her hand,
Her poniard had oppos'd the dire command.
Barbarian, stay! that bloody stroke restrain;
The crime was common, common be the pain.
I can no more; by shame, by rage suppress'd,
Let tears and burning blushes speak the rest.
Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
When victims at yon altar's foot we lay?
Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell?
As with cold lips I kiss'd the sacred veil,
The shrines all trembled and the lamps grew pale:
Heaven scarce believ'd the conquest it survey'd,
And saints with wonder heard the vows I made.
Yet then, to those dread altars as I drew,
Not on the cross my eyes were fix'd, but you:
Not grace, or zeal, love only was my call;
And if I lose thy love, I lose my all.
Come! with thy looks, thy words, relieve my woe;
Those still at least are left thee to bestow.
Still on that breast enamour'd let me lie,
Still drink delicious poison from thy eye,
Pant on thy lip, and to thy heart be press'd;
Give all thou canst-and let me dream the rest.
Ah, no! instruct me other joys to prize,
With other beauties charm my partial eyes,
Full in my view set all the bright abode,
And make my soul quit Abelard for God.
Ah! think at least thy flock deserves thy care,
Plants of thy hand, and children of thy prayer.
From the false world in early youth they fled,
By thee to mountains, wilds, and deserts led.
You rais'd these hallow'd walls; the desert smil'd,
And Paradise was open'd in the wild.
No weeping orphan saw his father's stores
Our shrines irradiate, or emblaze the floors;
No silver saints, by dying misers given,
Here bribe the rage of ill-requited Heaven;
But such plain roofs as Piety could raise,
And only vocal with the Maker's praise,
In these lone walls, (their days eternal bound,)
These moss-grown domes with spiry turrets crown'd,
Where awful arches make a noon-day night,
And the dim windows shed a solemn light;
Thy eyes diffus'd a reconciling ray,
And gleams of glory brighten'd all the day.
But now no face divine contentment wears,
'Tis all blank sadness, or continual tears.
See how the force of others' prayers I try,
(O pious fraud of amorous charity!)
But why should I on others' prayers depend?
Come thou, my father, brother, husband, friend!
Ah, let thy handmaid, sister, daughter, move,
And all those tender names in one, thy love!
The darksome pines that o'er yon rocks reclin'd
Wave high, and murmur to the hollow wind,
The wandering streams that shine between the hills,
The grots that echo to the tinkling rills,
The dying gales that pant upon the trees,
The lakes that quiver to the curling breeze;
No more these scenes my meditation aid,
Or lull to rest the visionary maid:
But o'er the twilight groves and dusky caves,
Long-sounding aisles, and intermingled graves,
Black Melancholy sits, and round her throws
A death-like silence, and a dread repose;
Her gloomy presence saddens all the scene,
Shades every flower and darkens every green,
Deepens the murmur of the falling floods,
And breathes a browner horror on the woods.
Yet here for ever, ever must I stay;
Sad proof how well a lover can obey!
Death, only Death, can break the lasting chain;
And here, ev'n then, shall my cold dust remain;
Here all its frailties, all its flames resign,
And wait till 'tis no sin to mix with thine.
Far other dreams my erring soul employ,
Far other raptures of unholy joy:
When, at the close of each sad, sorrowing day,
Fancy restores what Vengeance snatch'd away,
Then Conscience sleeps, and leaving Nature free,
All my loose soul unbounded springs to thee.
O curst, dear horrors of all-conscious night!
How glowing guilt exalts the keen delight!
Provoking demons all restraint remove,
And stir within me every source of love.
I hear thee, view thee, gaze o'er all thy charms,
And round thy phantom glue my clasping arms.
I wake:-no more I hear, no more I view,
The phantom flies me, as unkind as you.
I call aloud; it hears not what I say:
I stretch my empty arms; it glides away.
To dream once more I close my willing eyes;
Ye soft illusions, dear deceits, arise!
Alas, no more! methinks we wandering go
Through dreary wastes, and weep each other's woe,
Where round some mouldering tower pale ivy creeps,
And low-brow'd rocks hang nodding o'er the deeps.
Sudden you mount, you beckon from the skies:
Clouds interpose, waves roar, and winds arise.
And wake to all the griefs I left behind.
Ah, wretch! believ'd the spouse of God in vain, I shriek, start up, the same sad prospect find, Confess'd within the slave of love and man. Assist me, Heaven! but whence arose that prayer? Sprung it from piety, or from despair? Ev'n here where frozen Chastity retires, Love finds an altar for forbidden fires.
I ought to grieve, but cannot what I ought;
I mourn the lover, not lament the fault;
I view my crime, but kindle at the view,
Repent old pleasures, and solicit new;
Now turn'd to Heaven, I weep my past offence,
Now think of thee, and curse my innocence.
Of all affliction taught a lover yet,
"Tis sure the hardest science to forget!
How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense,
And love th' offender, yet detest th' offence?
How the dear object from the crime remove,
Or how distinguish penitence from love?
Unequal task! a passion to resign,
For hearts so touch'd, so pierc'd, so lost as mine!
Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,
How often must it love, how often hate!
How often hope, despair, resent, regret,
Conceal, disdain,-do all things but forget!
But let Heaven seize it, all at once 'tis fir'd:
Not touch'd, but rapt; not waken'd, but inspir'd!
Oh, come, oh, teach me Nature to subdue,
Renounce my love, my life, myself and you.
Fill my fond heart with God alone, for he
Alone can rival, can succeed to thee.
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot;
The world forgetting, by the world forgot!
Eternal sun-shine of the spotless mind!
Each prayer accepted, and each wish resign'd;
Labor and rest that equal periods keep;
"Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;"
Desires compos'd, affections ever even;
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heaven.
Grace shines around her with serenest beams,
And whispering angels prompt her golden dreams.
For her th' unfading rose of Eden blooms,
And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes;
For her the spouse prepares the bridal ring;
For her white virgins hymenals sing:
To sounds of heavenly harps she dies away,
And melts in visions of eternal day.
For thee the Fates, severely kind, ordain A cool suspense from pleasure and from pain; Thy life a long dead calm of fix'd repose: No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows. Still as the sea, ere winds were taught to blow, Or moving spirit bade the waters flow; Soft as the slumbers of a saint forgiven, And mild as opening gleams of promis'd Heaven. Come, Abelard! for what hast thou to dread? The torch of Venus burns not for the dead. Nature stands check'd; Religion disapproves; Ev'n thou art cold-yet Eloïsa loves. Ah, hopeless, lasting flames! like those that burn To light the dead, and warm th' unfruitful urn. What scenes appear where'er I turn my view! The dear ideas, where I fly, pursue, Rise in the grove, before the altar rise, Stain all my soul, and wanton in my eyes. I waste the matin lamp in sighs for thee, Thy image steals between my God and me; Thy voice I seem in every hymn to hear, With every bead I drop too soft a tear. When from the censer clouds of fragrance roll, And swelling organs lift the rising soul, One thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight, Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight: In seas of flame my plunging soul is drown'd, While altars blaze, and angels tremble round.
While prostrate here in humble grief I lie, Kind, virtuous drops just gathering in my eye, While, praying, trembling, in the dust I roll, And dawning grace is opening on my soul: Come, if thou dar'st, all charming as thou art! Oppose thyself to Heaven; dispute my heart; Come, with one glance of those deluding eyes, Blot out each bright idea of the skies; Take back that grace, those sorrows, and those tears: Take back my fruitless penitence and prayers: Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode; Assist the fiends, and tear me from my God!
No, fly me, fly me, far as pole from pole! Rise Alps between us! and whole oceans roll! Ah, come not, write not, think not once of me, Nor share one pang of all I felt for thee.
Thy oaths I quit, thy memory resign!
Forget, renounce me, hate whate'er was mine.
Fair eyes, and tempting looks, (which yet I view!)
Long lov'd, ador'd ideas, all adieu!
O Grace serene! O Virtue heavenly fair!
Divine oblivion of low-thoughted Care!
Fresh-blooming Hope, gay daughter of the sky!
And Faith, our early immortality!
Enter, each mild, each amicable guest;
Receive and wrap me in eternal rest!
See in her cell sad Eloisa spread,
Propt on some tomb, a neighbor of the dead.
In each low wind methinks a spirit calls,
And more than Echoes talk along the walls.
Here, as I watch'd the dying lamp around,
From yonder shrine I heard a hollow sound.
Come, sister, come!" (it said, or seem'd to say) "Thy place is here, sad sister, come away! Once like thyself, I trembled, wept, and pray'd, Love's victim then, though now a sainted maid : But all is calm in this eternal sleep:
Here Grief forgets to groan, and Love to weep; Ev'n Superstition loses every fear;
For God, not man, absolves our frailties here."
I come! I come! prepare your roseate bowers, Celestial palms, and ever-blooming flowers. Thither, where sinners may have rest, I go, Where flames refin'd in breasts seraphic glow; Thou, Abelard! the last sad office pay, And smooth my passage to the realms of day; See my lips tremble, and my eyeballs roll, Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul! Ah, no-in sacred vestments may'st thou stand, The hallow'd taper trembling in thy hand, Present the cross before my lifted eye, Teach me at once, and learn of me to die. Ah, then thy once-lov'd Eloïsa see! It will be then no crime to gaze on me. See from my cheek the transient roses fly! See the last sparkle languish in my eye! Till every motion, pulse, and breath be o'er; And ev'n my Abelard be lov'd no more. O Death all eloquent! you only prove What dust we dote on, when 'tis man we love. Then too, when Fate shall thy fair frame destroy (That cause of all my guilt, and all my joy,) In trance ecstatic may thy pangs be drown'd, Bright clouds descend, and angels watch thee round. From opening skies may streaming glories shine, And saints embrace thee with a love like mine! May one kind grave unite each hapless name, And graft my love immortal on thy fame! Then, ages hence, when all my woes are o'er, When this rebellious heart shall beat no more; If ever chance two wandering lovers brings To Paraclete's white walls and silver springs, O'er the pale marble shall they join their heads, And drink the falling tears each other sheds; Then sadly say, with mutual pity mov'd, "O, may we never love as these have lov'd !" From the full choir, when loud hosannas rise, And swell the pomp of dreadful sacrifice, Amid that scene if some relenting eye Glance on the stone where our cold relics lie, Devotion's self shall steal a thought from Heaven, One human tear shall drop, and be forgiven. And sure if Fate some future bard shall join In sad similitude of griefs to mine, Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore, And image charms he must behold no more:
Such, if there be, who loves so long, so well;
Let him our sad, our tender story tell!
The well-sung woes will soothe my pensive ghost;
He best can paint them who shall feel them most!
Written in the Year 1711.
The hint of the following piece was taken from Chaucer's House of Fame. The design is in a manner entirely altered, the descriptions and most of the particular thoughts my own; yet I could not suffer it to be printed without this acknowledgment. The reader, who would compare this with Chaucer, may begin with his third book of Fame, there being nothing in the two first books that answers to their title.
The poem is introduced in the manner of the Provençal poets, whose works were for the most part visions, or pieces of imagination, and constantly descriptive. From these, Petrarch and Chaucer frequently borrowed the idea of their poems. See the Trionfi of the former, and the Dream, Flower and the Leaf, &c. of the latter. author of this therefore chose the same sort of exordium.
IN that soft season, when descending showers
Call forth the greens, and wake the rising flowers;
When opening buds salute the welcome day,
And earth relenting feels the genial ray;
As balmy sleep had charm'd my cares to rest,
And love itself was banish'd from my breast,
(What time the morn mysterious visions brings,
While purer slumbers spread their golden wings,)
A train of phantoms in wild order rose,
And join'd, this intellectual scene compose.
I stood, methought, betwixt earth, seas, and skies;
The whole creation open to my eyes:
In air self-balanc'd hung the globe below,
Where mountains rise, and circling oceans flow;
Here naked rocks, and empty wastes, were seen;
There towering cities, and the forests green:
Here sailing ships delight the wandering eyes!
There trees and intermingled temples rise:
Now a clear sun the shining scene displays;
The transient landscape now in clouds decays.
O'er the wide prospect as I gaz'd around,
Sudden I heard a wild promiscuous sound,
Like broken thunders that at distance roar,
Or billows murmuring on the hollow shore:
Then gazing up, a glorious pile beheld,
Whose towering summit ambient clouds conceal'd.
High on a rock of ice the structure lay.
Steep its ascent, and slippery was the way;
The wondrous rock like Parian marble shone,
And seem'd, to distant sight, of solid stone.
Inscriptions here of various names I view'd,
The greater part by hostile time subdued;
Yet wide was spread their fame in ages past,
And poets once had promis'd they should last.
Some fresh engrav'd appear'd of wits renown'd;
I look'd again, nor could their trace be found.
Critics I saw, that other names deface,
And fix their own, with labor, in their place:
Their own, like others, soon their place resign'd,
Or disappear'd, and left the first behind.
Nor was the work impair'd by storms alone,
But felt the approaches of too warm a sun;
For Fame, impatient of extremes, decays
Not more by Envy, than excess of Praise.
Yet part no injuries of Heaven could feel,
Like crystal faithful to the graving steel:
The rock's high summit, in the temple's shade,
Nor heat could melt, nor beating storm invade.
Their names inscrib'd unnumber'd ages past
From Time's first birth, with Time itself shall last;
These ever new, nor subject to decays,
Spread and grow brighter with the length of days.
So Zembla's rocks (the beauteous work of frost)
Rise white in air, and glitter o'er the coast;
Pale suns, unfelt, at distance roll away,
And on th' impassive ice the lightnings play;
Eternal snows the growing mass supply,
Of talismans and sigils knew the power,
And careful watch'd the planetary hour.
Superior, and alone, Confucius stood,
Who taught that useful science, to be good.
But on the south, a long majestic race
Of Egypt's priests the gilded niches grace,
Who measur'd Earth, describ'd the starry spheres,
And trac'd the long records of lunar years.
High on his car Sesostris struck my view,
Whom sceptred slaves in golden harness drew:
His hands a bow and pointed javelin hold;
His giant limbs are arm'd in scales of gold.
Between the statues obelisks were plac'd,
And the learn'd walls with hieroglyphics grac❜d.
Of Gothic structure was the northern side,
O'erwrought with ornaments of barbarous pride.
There huge Colosses rose, with trophies crown'd,
And Runic characters were grav'd around.
There sat Zamolxis with erected eyes,
And Odin here in mimic trances dies.
There on rude iron columns, smear'd with blood,
Till the bright mountains prop th' incumbent sky; The horrid forms of Scythian heroes stood,
As Atlas fix'd, each hoary pile appears,
The gather'd winter of a thousand years.
On this foundation Fame's high temple stands;
Stupendous pile! not rear'd by mortal hands.
Whate'er proud Rome or artful Greece beheld,
Or elder Babylon, its frame excell'd.
Four faces had the dome, and every face
Of various structure, but of equal grace!
Four brazen gates, on columns lifted high,
Salute the different quarters of the sky.
Here fabled chiefs in darker ages born,
Or worthies old, whom arms or arts adorn,
Who cities rais'd, or tam'd a monstrous race,
The walls in venerable order grace:
Heroes in animated marble frown,
And legislators seem to think in stone.
Westward, a sumptuous frontispiece appear'd,
On Doric pillars of white marble rear'd,
Crown'd with an architrave of antique mould,
And sculpture rising on the roughen'd gold.
In shaggy spoils here Theseus was beheld,
And Perseus dreadful with Minerva's shield:
There great Alcides, stooping with his toil,
Rests on his club, and holds th' Hesperian spoil:
Here Orpheus sings; trees moving to the sound
Start from their roots, and form a shade around:
Amphion there the loud creating lyre
Strikes, and behold a sudden Thebes aspire!
Cytheron's echoes answer to his call,
And half the mountain rolls into a wall:
There might you see the lengthening spires ascend,
The dome swell up, the widening arches bend,
The growing towers like exhalations rise,
And the huge columns heave into the skies.
The eastern front was glorious to behold,
With diamond flaming, and Barbaric gold.
There Ninus shone, who spread th' Assyrian fame,
And the great founder of the Persian name:
There in long robes the royal Magi stand,
Grave Zoroaster waves the circling wand:
The sage Chaldeans rob'd in white appear'd,
And Brachmans, deep in desert woods rever'd.
These stopp'd the Moon, and call'd the unbodied
To midnight banquets in the glimmering glades;
Made visionary fabrics round them rise,
And airy spectres skim before their eyes;
Druids and bards (their once loud harps unstrung),
And youths that died to be by poets sung.
These and a thousand more of doubtful fame,
To whom old fables gave a lasting name,
In ranks adorn'd the temple's outward face;
The wall in lustre and effect like glass,
Which, o'er each object casting various dyes,
Enlarges some, and others multiplies:
Nor void of emblem was the mystic wall,
For thus romantic Fame increases all.
The temple shakes, the sounding gates unfold,
Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold:
Rais'd on a thousand pillars wreath'd around
With laurel-foliage, and with eagles crown'd:
Of bright transparent beryl were the walls,
The friezes gold, and gold the capitals:
As Heaven with stars, the roof with jewels glows,
And ever-living lamps depend in rows.
Full in the passage of each spacious gate,
The sage historians in white garments wait;
Grav'd o'er their seats the form of Time was found,
His scythe revers'd, and both his pinions bound.
Within stood heroes, who through loud alarms
In bloody fields pursued renown in arms.
High on a throne with trophies charg'd, I view'd
The youth that all things but himself subdued;
His feet on sceptres and tiaras trod,
And his horn'd head belied the Lybian god.
There Caesar, grac'd with both Minervas, shone;
Caesar, the world's great master, and his own;
Unmov'd, superior still in every state,
And scarce detested in his country's fate.
But chief were those, who not for empire fought,
But with their toils their people's safety bought:
High o'er the rest Epaminondas stood;
Timoleon, glorious in his brother's blood;
Bold Scipio, savior of the Roman state,
Great in his triumphs, in retirement great;
And wise Aurelius, in whose well-taught mind
With boundless power unbounded virtue join'd,
His own strict judge, and patron of mankind.
Much-suffering heroes next their honors claim,
Those of less noisy, and less guilty fame,
Fair Virtue's silent train: supreme of these
Here ever shines the godlike Socrates;
He whom ungrateful Athens could expel,
At all times just, but when he sign'd the shell
Here his abode the martyr'd Phocian claims,
With Agis, not the last of Spartan names:
Unconquer'd Cato shows the wound he tore,
And Brutus his ill genius meets no more.
But in the centre of the hallow'd choir,
Six pompous columns o'er the rest aspire;
Around the shrine itself of Fame they stand,
Hold the chief honors, and the fane command.
High on the first, the mighty Homer shone;
Eternal adamant compos'd his throne;
Father of verse! in holy fillets drest,
His silver beard wav'd gently o'er his breast;
Though blind, a boldness in his looks appears;
In years he seem'd, but not impair'd by years.
The wars of Troy were round the pillar seen:
Here fierce Tydides wounds the Cyprian queen;
Here Hector glorious from Patroclus' fall,
Here dragg'd in triumph round the Trojan wall.
Motion and life did every part inspire,
Bold was the work, and prov'd the master's fire;
A strong expression most he seem'd t' affect,
And here and there disclos'd a brave neglect.
A golden column next in rank appear'd,
On which a shrine of purest gold was rear'd ;
Finish'd the whole, and labor'd every part,
With patient touches of unwearied Art :
The Mantuan there in sober triumph sate,
Compos'd his posture, and his look sedate;
On Homer still he fix'd a reverent eye,
Great without pride, in modest majesty.
In living sculpture on the sides were spread
The Latian wars, and haughty Turnus dead;
Eliza stretch'd upon the funeral pyre,
Æneas bending with his aged sire:
Troy flam'd in burning gold, and o'er the throne
ARMS AND THE MAN in golden ciphers shone.
Four swans sustain a car of silver bright,
With heads advanc'd, and pinions stretch'd for flight:
Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode,
And seem'd to labor with th' inspiring god.
Across the harp a careless hand he flings,
And boldly sinks into the sounding strings.
The figur'd games of Greece the column grace,
Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race.
The youths hang o'er their chariots as they run;
The fiery steeds seem starting from the stone;
The champions in distorted postures threat;
And all appear'd irregularly great.
Here happy Horace tun'd th' Ausonian lyre
To sweeter sounds, and temper'd Pindar's fire:
Pleas'd with Alcaus' manly rage to infuse
The softer spirit of the Sapphic Muse.
The polish'd pillar different sculptures grace;
A work outlasting monumental brass.
Here smiling Loves and Bacchanals appear,
The Julian star and great Augustus here.
The doves that round the infant poet spread
Myrtles, and bays, hung hovering o'er his head.
Here, in a shrine that cast a dazzling light,
Sate fix'd in thought the mighty Stagirite;
His sacred head a radiant zodiac crown'd,
And various animals his sides surround;
His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view
Superior worlds, and look all Nature through.
With equal rays immortal Tully shone,
The Roman rostra deck'd the consul's throne:
Gathering his flowing robe, he seem'd to stand
In act to speak, and graceful stretch'd his hand.
Behind, Rome's genius waits with civic crowns,
And the great father of his country owns.
These massy columns in a circle rise, O'er which a pompous dome invades the skies: Scarce to the top I stretch'd my aching sight, So large it spread, and swell'd to such a height. Full in the midst proud Fame's imperial seat With jewels blaz'd, magnificently great; The vivid emeralds there revive the eye, The flaming rubies show their sanguine dye, Bright azure rays from lively sapphires stream, And lucid amber casts a golden gleam. With various-color'd light the pavement shone, And all on fire appear'd the glowing throne; The dome's high arch reflects the mingled blaze, And forms a rainbow of alternate rays. When on the goddess first I cast my sight, Scarce seem'd her stature of a cubit's height; But swell'd to larger size, the more I gaz'd, Till to the roof her towering front she rais'd. With her, the temple every moment grew, And ampler vistas open'd to my view: Upward the columns shoot, the roofs ascend, And arches widen, and long aisles extend. Such was her form, as ancient bards have told, Wings raise her arms, and wings her feet infold; A thousand busy tongues the goddess bears, And thousand open eyes, and thousand listening
Beneath, in order rang'd, the tuneful Nine
(Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine:
With eyes on Fame for ever fix'd, they sing;
For Fame they raise their voice, and tune the string;
With Time's first birth began the heavenly lays,
And last, eternal, through the length of days.
Around these wonders as I cast a look,
The trumpet sounded, and the temple shook,
And all the nations, summon'd at the call,
From different quarters fill the crowded hall:
Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard;
In various garbs promiscuous throngs appear'd ;
Thick as the bees, that with the spring renew
Their flowery toils, and sip the fragrant dew,
When the wing'd colonies first tempt the sky,
O'er dusky fields and shaded waters fly,
Or, settling, seize the sweets the blossoms yield,
And a low murmur runs along the field.
Millions of suppliant crowds the shrine attend,
And all degrees before the goddess bend;
The poor, the rich, the valiant, and the sage,
And boasting youth, and narrative old-age.
Their pleas were different, their request the same;
For good and bad alike are fond of Fame.
Some she disgrac'd, and some with honors crown'd;
Unlike successes equal merits found.
Thus her blind sister, fickle Fortune, reigns,
And undiscerning scatters crowns and chains.
First at the shrine the learned world appear,
And to the goddess thus prefer their prayer.
'Long have we sought t'instruct and please mankind,
With studies pale, with midnight vigils blind;
But thank'd by few, rewarded yet by none,
We here appeal to thy superior throne:
On wit and learning the just prize bestow,
For Fame is all we must expect below."
The goddess heard, and bade the Muses raise
The golden trumpet of eternal Praise :
From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound,
That fills the circuit of the world around,
Not all at once, as thunder breaks the cloud;
The notes at first were rather sweet than loud :