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Her, Bacchus, Ceres, Venus, all approve,
And, with his blushing mother, gentle love.
Hence to such bards we grant the copious use
Of banquets, and the vine's delicious juice.
But they who demigods and heroes praise,
And feats perform'd in Jove's more youthful days,
Who now the counsels of high heaven explore,
Now shades that echo the Cerberean roar,
Simply let these, like him of Samos, live,
Let herbs to them a bloodless banquet give;
In beechen goblets let their beverage shine,
Cool from the crystal spring, their sober wine!
Their youth should pass in innocence secure
From stain licentious, and in manners pure,
Pure as the priest, when robed in white he stands,
The fresh lustration ready in his hands.
Thus Linus lived, and thus, as poets write,
Tiresias, wiser for his loss of sight;
Thus exiled Chalcas, thus the Bard of Thrace,
Melodious Tamar of the savage race ;
Thus train'd by temperance, Homer led, of yore,
His chief of Ithaca from shore to shore,
Through magic Circe's monster-peopled reign,
And shoals insidious with the syren train ; [dwell,
And through the realms where grizzly spectres
Whose tribes he fetter'd in a gory spell;
For these are sacred bards, and from above
Drink large infusions from the mind of Jove.
Wouldst thou (perhaps ’tis hardly worth thine
Wouldst thou be told my occupation here ? [ear)
The promised King of peace employs my pen,
The eternal covenant made for guilty men,
The new-born Deity with infant cries
Filling the sordid hovel where he lies;
The hymning angels, and the herald star,
That led the wise, who sought him from afar,
And idols on their own unhallow'd shore
Dash'd, at his birth, to be revered no more.
This theme on reeds of Albion I rehearse:
The dawn of that blest day inspired the verse ;
Verse that, reserved in secret, shall attend
Thy candid voice, my critic, and my friend!
As yet a stranger to the gentle fires
That Amathusia's smiling queen inspires,
Not seldom I derided Cupid's darts,
And scorn’d his claim to rule all human hearts.
Go, child,” I said, “transfix the timorous dove!
An easy conquest suits an infant love;
Enslave the sparrow, for such prize shall be
Sufficient triumph to a chief like thee!
Why aim thy idle arms at human kind?
Thy shafts prevail not 'gainst the noble mind.”
The Cyprian heard, and, kindling into ire, (None kindles sooner) burn'd with double fire.
It was the spring, and newly risen day Peep'd o'er the hamlets on the first of May;
My eyes, too tender for the blaze of light,
Still sought the shelter of retiring night,
When love approach'd, in painted plumes array'd,
The insidious god his rattling darts betray'd,
Nor less his infant features, and the sly,
Sweet intimations of his threatening eye.
Such the Sigeian boy is seen above,
Filling the goblet for imperial Jove; [charms,
Such he, on whom the nymphs bestow'd their
Hylas, who perish'd in a naiad's arms.
Angry he seem'd, yet graceful in his ire,
And added threats not destitute of fire.
“My power,” he said, “ by others' pain alone,
'Twere best to learn; now learn it by thy own!
With those that feel
power attest! And in thy anguish be my sway confest ! I vanquish'd Phæbus, though returning vain From his new triumph o'er the Python slain, And, when he thinks on Daphne, even he Will yield the prize of archery to me. A dart less true the Parthian horseman sped, Behind him kill'd, and conquer'd as he fled : Less true the expert Cydonian, and less true The youth whose shaft his latent Procris slew. Vanquish'd by me see huge Orion bend, By me Alcides, and Alcides' friend. At me should Jove himself a bolt design, His bosom first should bleed transfix'd by mine. But all thy doubts this shaft will best explain, Nor shall it reach thee with a trivial pain.'
Thy muse, vain youth! shall not thy peace ensure, Nor Phoebus' serpent yield thy wound a cure.”
He spoke, and, waving a bright shaft in air, Sought the warm bosom of the Cyprian fair.
That thus a child should bluster in my ear, Provoked
laughter more than moved my fear. I shunn'd not, therefore, public haunts, but stray'd Careless in city or suburban shade, And, passing and repassing nymphs that moved With grace divine, beheld where'er I roved. Bright shone the vernal day with double blaze As beauty gave new force to Phoebus' rays. By no grave scruples check’d, I freely eyed The dangerous show, rash youth my only guide, And
many a fair unknown Met full, unable to control my own. But one I mark'd (then peace forsook my breast), One-Oh how far superior to the rest! What lovely features ! such the Cyprian queen Herself might wish, and Juno wish her mien. The very nymph was she, whom, when I dared His arrows, love had even then prepared ! Nor was himself remote, nor unsupplied With torch well trimm'd and quiver at his side; Now to her lips he clung, her eyelids now, Then settled on her cheeks, or on her brow; And with a thousand wounds from every part Pierced and transpierced my undefended heart. A fever, new to me, of fierce desire Now seized my soul, and I was all on fire;
But she, the while, whom only I adore,
Was gone, and vanish’d, to appear no more.
In silent sadness I pursue my way;
I pause, I turn, proceed, yet wish to stay,
And, while I follow her in thought, bemoan
With tears my soul's delight so quickly flown.
When Jove had hurld him to the Lemnian coast,
So Vulcan sorrow'd for Olympus lost,
And so Oeclides, sinking into night,
From the deep gulf look'd up to distant light.
Wretch that I am, what hopes for me remain,
Who cannot cease to love, yet love in vain ?
Oh could I once, once more behold the fair,
Speak to her, tell her of the pangs I bear ;
Perhaps she is not adamant; would show,
Perhaps, some pity at my tale of woe.
Oh inauspicious flame—'tis mine to prove
A matchless instance of disastrous love.
Ah, spare me, gentle power !—If such thou be,
Let not thy deeds and nature disagree.
Spare me, and I will worship at no shrine
With vow and sacrifice save only thine.
Now I revere thy fires, thy bow, thy darts :
Now own thee sovereign of all human hearts.
Remove! no-grant me still this raging woe!
Sweet is the wretchedness that lovers know :
But pierce hereafter (should I chance to see
One destined mine) at once both her and me.
Such were the trophies that, in earlier days, By vanity seduced, I toil'd to raise ;