« AnteriorContinuar »
Who, singing to the nymphs Adonis' praise,
Boasts thee the patron of his copious lays.
To thee alone the poet would entrust
His latest vows, to thee alone his dust;
And thou with punctual piety hast paid,
In labour'd brass, thy tribute to his shade.
Nor this contented thee-but lest the grave
Should aught absorb of theirs which thou couldst
All future ages thou hast deign’d to teach (save,
The life, lot, genius, character of each,
Eloquent as the Carian sage, who, true
To his great theme, the life of Homer drew.
I, therefore, though a stranger youth, who come
Chillid by rude blasts that freezemy northern home,
Thee dear to Clio, confident proclaim,
And thine, for Phæbus' sake, a deathless name. ?
Nor thou, so kind, wilt view with scornful eye
A muse scarce rear'd beneath our sullen sky,
Who fears not, indiscreet as she is young,
To seek in Latium hearers of her song.
We too, where Thames with its unsullied waves
The tresses of the blue hair'd Ocean laves,
Hear oft by night, or, slumbering, seem to hear,
O'er his wide stream, the swan's voice warbling
And we could boast a Tityrus of yore [clear;
Who trod, a welcome guest, your happy shore.
Yes—dreary as we own our northern clime, E'en we to Phoebus raise the polish'd rhyme, We too serve Phæbus; Phoebus has received (If legends old may claim to be believed)
No sordid gifts from us, the golden ear,
The burnish'd apple, ruddiest of the year,
The fragrant crocus, and, to grace his fane,
Fair damsels chosen from the druid train ;
Druids, our native bards in ancient time,
Who gods and heroes praised in hallow'd rhyme !
Hence, often as the maids of Greece surround
Apollo's shrine with hymns of festive sound,
They name the virgins who arrived of yore
With British offerings on the Delian shore,
Loxo, from giant Corineus sprung,
Upis, on whose blest lips the future hung,
And Hacaerge, with the golden hair, [bare.
All deck'd with Pictish hues, and all with bosoms
Thou, therefore, happy sage, whatever clime
Shall ring with Tasso's praise in after time,
Or with Marino's, shalt be known their friend,
And with an equal flight to fame ascend.
The world shall hear how Phoebus and the Nine
Were inmates once, and willing guests of thine.
Yet Phæbus, when of old constrain'd to roam
The earth, an exile from his heavenly home,
Enter'd, no willing guest, Admetus' door,
Though Hercules had ventured there before.
But gentle Chiron's cave was near, a scene
Of rural peace, clothed with perpetual green,
And thither, oft as respite he required
From rustic clamours loud, the god retired.
There, many a time, on Peneus' bank reclined
At some oak’s root, with ivy thick entwined,
Won by his hospitable friend's desire,
He soothed his pains of exile with the lyre.
Then shook the hills, then trembled Peneus' shore,
Nor Oeta felt his load of forest more;
The upland elms descended to the plain,
And soften'd lynxes wonder'd at that strain.
Well may we think, Oh, dear to all above !
Thy birth distinguish'd by the smile of Jove,
And that Apollo shed his kindliest power,
And Maia's son, on that propitious hour,
Since only minds so born can comprehend
A poet's worth, or yield that worth a friend.
Hence on thy yet unfaded cheek appears
The lingering freshness of thy greener years,
Hence in thy front and features we admire
Nature unwither'd and a mind entire.
O might so true a friend to me belong,
So skill’d to grace the votaries of song,
Should I recall hereafter into rhyme
The kings and heroes of my native clime,
Arthur the chief, who even now prepares,
In subterraneous being, future wars,
With all his martial knights, to be restored
Each to his seat around the federal board ;
And Oh, if spirit fail me not, disperse
Our Saxon plunderers in triumphant verse!
Then, after all, when, with the past content,
A life I finish, not in silence spent;
Should he, kind mourner, o'er my deathbed bend,
I shall but need to say—“ Be yet my friend!”
He, too, perhaps, shall bid the marble breathe
To honour me, and with the graceful wreath
Or of Parnassus or the Paphian isle
Shall bind my brows—but I shall rest the while.
Then also, if the fruits of faith endure,
And virtue's promised recompense be sure,
Born to those seats to which the blest aspire
By purity of soul and virtuous fire,
These rites, as fate permits, I shall survey
illumined by celestial day,
And, every cloud from my pure spirit driven,
Joy in the bright beatitude of heaven!
Thyrsis and Damon, shepherds and neighbours, had always pursued the same studies, and had, from their earliest days, been united in the closest friendship. Thyrsis, while travelling for improvement, received intelligence of the death of Damon, and, after a time, returning and finding it true, deplores himself, and his solitary condition, in this poem.
By Damon is to be understood Charles Deodati, connected with the Italian city of Lucca by his father's side, in other respects an Englishman; a youth of uncommon genius, erudition, and virtue.
YE Nymphs of Himera, (for ye have shed
Erewhile for Daphnis, and for Hylas dead,
And over Bion's long-lamented bier,
The fruitless meed of many a sacred tear)
Now through the villas laved by Thames rehearse
The woes of Thyrsis in Sicilian verse, [found
What sighs he heaved, and how with groans pro-
He made the woods and hollow rocks resound,
Young Damon dead; nor even ceased to pour
His lonely sorrows at the midnight hour.
wheat twice had nodded in the ear,
And golden harvest twice enrich'd the year,
Since Damon's lips had gasp'd for vital air
The last, last time, nor Thyrsis yet was there ;
For he, enamour'd of the muse, remain'd
In Tuscan Fiorenza long detain'd,
But, stored at length with all he wish'd to learn,
For his Rock's sake now hasted to return;
And when the shepherd had resumed his seat
At the elm's root, within his old retreat,
Then 'twas his lot, then all his loss to know,
And from his burthen'd heart he vented thus his woe:
“Go, seek your home, my lambs; my thoughts To other cares than those of feeding you. [are due Alas! what deities shall I suppose In heaven, or earth, concern'd for human woes, Since, Oh
Damon! their severe decree
So soon condemns me to regret of thee !
Depart'st thou thus, thy virtues unrepaid
With fame and honour, like a vulgar shade!
Let him forbid it whose bright rod controls,
And separates sordid from illustrious souls ;
Drive far the rabble, and to thee assign
A happier lot with spirits worthy thine !