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HOMER'S BATTLE OF THE FROGS AND MICE.
WHEN rosy-finger'd morn had ting'd the clouds, Around their monarch-mouse the nation crowds; Slow rose the sovereign, heav'd his anxious breast, And thus, the council fill'd with rage, address'd.
For lost Psycarpax much my soul endures,
'Tis mine the private grief, the public, yours.
Three warlike sons adorn'd my nuptial bed,
Three sons, alas! before their father dead!
Our eldest perish'd by the ravening cat,
As near my court the prince unheedful sat.
Our next, an engine fraught with danger drew,
The portal gap'd, the bait was hung in view,
Dire arts assist the trap, the fates decoy,
And men unpitying kill'd my gallant boy.
The last, his country's hope, his parents' pride,
Plung'd in the lake by Physignathus, died.
Rouse all the war, my friends! avenge the deed
And bleed that monarch, and his nation bleed.
His words in every breast inspir'd alarms,
And careful Mars supplied their host with arms.
In verdant hulls despoil'd of all their beans,
The buskin'd warriors stalk'd along the plains:
Quills aptly bound, their bracing corselet made,
Fac'd with the plunder of a cat they flay'd;
The lamp's round boss affords their ample shield;
Large shells of nuts their covering helmet yield;
And o'er the region with reflected rays,
Tall groves of needles for their lances blaze.
Dreadful in arms the marching mice appear;
The wondering frogs perceive the tumult near,
Forsake the waters, thickening form a ring,
And ask and hearken, whence the noises spring.
When near the crowd, disclos'd to public view,
The valiant chief Embasichytros drew:
The sacred herald's sceptre grac'd his hand,
And thus his words express'd his king's command.
Ye frogs! the mice, with vengeance fir'd, advance,
And deck'd in armour shake the shining lance:
Their hapless prince by Physignathus slain,
Extends incumbent on the watery plain.
Then arm your host, the doubtful battle try;
Lead forth those frogs that have the soul to die.
The chief retires, the crowd the challenge hear,
And proudly-swelling yet perplex'd appear:
Much they resent, yet much their monarch blame
Who rising, spoke to clear his tainted fame.
O friends, I never forc'd the mouse to death,
Nor saw the gasping of his latest breath.
He, vain of youth, our art of swimming tried,
And venturous, in the lake the wanton died.
To vengeance now by false appearance led,
They point their anger at my guiltless head.
But wage the rising war by deep device,
And turn its fury on the crafty mice.
Your king directs the way; my thoughts elate
With hopes of conquest, form designs of fate.
Where high the banks their verdant surface heave,
And the steep sides confine the sleeping wave,
There, near the margin, clad in armour bright,
Sustain the first impetuous shocks of fight:
Then, where the dancing feather joins the crest,
Let each brave frog his obvious mouse arrest;
Each strongly grasping, headlong plunge a foe,
Till countless circles whirl the lake below;
Down sink the mice in yielding waters drown'd;
Loud flash the waters; and the shores resound:
The frogs triumphant tread the conquer'd plain,
And raise their glorious trophies of the slain
He spake no more: his prudent scheme imparts
Redoubling ardour to the boldest hearts.
Green was the suit his arming heroes chose,
Around their legs the greaves of mallows close;
Green were the beets about their shoulders laid,
And green the colewort, which the target made;
Form'd of the varied shells the waters yield,
Their glossy helmets glisten'd o'er the field;
And tapering sea-reeds for the polish'd spear,
With upright order pierc'd the ambient air.
Thus dress'd for war, they take th' appointed height,
Poize the long arms, and urge the promis'd fight.
But now, where Jove's irradiate spires arise,
With stars surrounded in ethereal skies,
(A solemn council call'd) the brazen gates
Unbar; the gods assume their golden seats:
The sire superior leans, and points to show
What wondrous combats mortals wage below:
How strong, how large, the numerous heroes stride;
What length of lance they shake with warlike pride;
What eager fire, their rapid march reveals ;
So the fierce Centaurs ravag'd o'er the dales;
And so confirm'd, the daring Titans rose,
Heap'd hills on hills, and bid the gods be foes.
This seen, the power his sacred visage rears,
He casts a pitying smile on worldly cares,
And asks what heavenly guardians take the list,
Or who the mice, or who the frogs assist?
Then thus to Pallas. If my daughter's mind
Have join'd the mice, why stays she still behind?
Drawn forth by savoury steams they wind their way,
And sure attendance round thine altar pay,
Where while the victims gratify their taste,
They sport to please the goddess of the feast.
Thus spake the ruler of the spacious skies;
But thus, resolv'd, the blue-ey'd maid replies.
In vain, my father! all their dangers plead;
To such, thy Pallas never grants her aid.
My flowery wreaths they petulantly spoil,
And rob my crystal lamps of feeding oil,
Ills following ills: but what afflicts me more,
My veil, that idle race profanely tore.
The web was curious, wrought with art divine ;
Relentless wretches! all the work was mine;
Along the loom the purple warp I spread,
Cast the light shoot, and cross'd the silver thread.
In this their teeth a thousand breaches tear;
The thousand breaches skilful hands repair;
For which vile earthly duns thy daughter grieve:
The gods, that use no coin, have none to give ; ·
And learning's goddess never less can owe:
Neglected learning gains no wealth below
Nor let the frogs to win my succour sue,
Those clamorous fools have lost my favour too.
For late, when all the conflict ceas'd at night,
When my stretch'd sinews work'd with eager fight;
When spent with glorious toil, I left the field,
And sunk for slumber on my swelling shield;
Lo from the deep, repelling sweet repose,
With noisy croakings half the nation rose :
Devoid of rest, with aching brows 1 lay,
Till cocks proclaim'd the crimson dawn of day.
Let all, like me, from either host forbear,
Nor tempt the flying furies of the spear;
Let heavenly blood, or what for blood may flow,