« PreviousContinue »
No wars were known, no females heard to rage, And poets tell us, 'twas a golden age.
When woman came, those ills the box confined Burst furious out, and poison'd all the wind; From point to point, from pole to pole they flew, Spread as they went, and in the progress grew: The nymphs regretting left the mortal race, And altering Nature wore a sickly face: New terms of folly rose, new states of care; New plagues, to suffer, and to please, the fair! The days of whining, and of wild intrigues, Commenced, or finish'd, with the breach of leagues; The mean designs of well-dissembled love; The sordid matches never join'd above; Abroad the labour, and at home the noise, (Man's double sufferings for domestic joys) The curse of jealousy; expense and strife; Divorce, the public brand of shameful life; The rival's sword; the qualm that takes the fair; Disdain for passion, passion in despairThese, and a thousand yet unnamed, we find; Ah, fear the thousand, yet unnamed behind!
Thus on Parnassus tuneful Hesiod sung, The mountain echo'd, and the valley rung, The sacred groves a fix'd attention show, The crystal Helicon forbore to flow, The sky grew bright, and (if his verse be true) The Muses came to give the laurel too. But what avail'd the verdant prize of wit, If Love swore vengeance for the tales he writ? Ye fair, offended, hear your friend relate What heavy judgment proved the writer's fate; Though when it happen'd, no relation clears, "Tis thought in five, or five and twenty years,
Where, dark and silent, with a twisted shade The neighbouring woods a native arbour made, There oft a tender pair, for amorous play Retiring, toy'd the ravish'd hours away; A Locrian youth, the gentle Troilus he; A fair Milesian, kind Evanthe she: But swelling nature, in a fatal hour, Betray'd the secrets of the conscious bower; The dire disgrace her brothers count their own, And track her steps, to make its author known.
It chanced one evening, 'twas the lover's day, Conceal'd in brakes the jealous kindred lay; When Hesiod, wandering, mused along the plain, And fix'd his seat where love had fix'd the scene: A strong suspicion straight possess'd their mind, (For poets ever were a gentle kind) But when Evanthe near the passage stood, Flung back a doubtful look, and shot the wood. 'Now take (at once they cry) thy due reward,'— And, urged with erring rage, assault the bard. His corpse the sea received. The dolphins bore (Twas all the gods would do) the corpse to shore. Methinks I view the dead with pitying eyes, And see the dreams of ancient wisdom rise; I see the Muses round the body cry, But hear a Cupid loudly laughing by; He wheels his arrow with insulting hand, And thus inscribes the moral on the sand: ‹ Here Hesiod lies: ye future bards, beware How far your moral tales incense the fair. Unloved, unloving, 'twas his fate to bleed; Without his quiver, Cupid caused the deed: He judged this turn of malice justly due, And Hesiod died for joys he never knew.'
FAR in a wild, unknown to public view,
A life so sacred, such serene repose,
So when a smooth expanse receives impress'd
To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight, To find if books, or swains, report it right, (For yet by swains alone the world he knew, Whose feet came wandering o'er the nightly dew) He quits his cell; the pilgrim-staff he bore, And fix'd the scallop in his hat before; Then with the sun a rising journey went, Sedate to think, and watching each event.
The morn was wasted in the pathless grass, And long and lonesome was the wild to pass; But when the southern sun had warm'd the day, A youth came posting o'er a crossing way; His raiment decent, his complexion fair,
And soft in graceful ringlets waved his hair. Then near approaching, Father, hail!' he cried And, Hail! my son,' the reverend sire replied. Words follow'd words, from question answer
And talk of various kind deceived the road;
Now sunk the sun; the closing hour of day
Whose verdure crown'd their sloping sides of grass.
Fresh o'er the gay parterres the breezes creep,
While thus they pass, the sun his glory shrouds, The changing skies hang out their sable clouds; A sound in air presaged approaching rain, And beasts to covert scud across the plain. Warn'd by the signs, the wandering pair retreat, To seek for shelter at a neighbouring seat. "Twas built with turrets, on a rising ground, And strong, and large, and unimproved around; Its owner's temper, timorous and severe, Unkind and griping, caused a desert there.
As near the miser's heavy doors they drew, Fierce rising gusts with sudden fury blew ; The nimble lightning mix'd with showers began, And o'er their heads loud rolling thunders ran.