Page images



Sacred Eclogue,

In Imitation of




N reading feveral paffages of the Prophet Isaiah, which foretell the coming of Chrift and the felicities attending it, I could not but observe a remarkable parity between many of the thoughts, and those in the Pollio of Virgil. This will not feem surprising, when we reflect, that the Eclogue was taken from a Sibylline prophecy on the fame fubject. One may judge that Virgil did not copy it line by line, but selected fuch ideas as beft agreed with the nature of paftoral poetry, and disposed them in that manner which served most to beautify his piece. I have endeavoured the fame in this imitation of him, though without admitting any thing of my own; fince it was written with this particular view, that the reader, by comparing the several thoughts, might fee how far the images and defcriptions of the Prophet are fuperior to thofe of the Poet. But as I fear I have prejudiced them by my management, I shall subjoin the paffages of Isaiah, and those of Virgil, under the fame difadvantage of a literal translation. P.





In Imitation of VIRGIL'S POLLIO,

E Nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:


To heav'nly themes fublimer strains belong. The moffy fountains, and the sylvan shades, The dreams of Pindus and th'Aonian maids, Delight no more---O thou my voice inspire Who touch'd Isaiah's hallow'd lips with fire! Rapt into future times, the Bard begun: A Virgin fhall conceive, a Virgin bear a Son!


VER. 8. A Virgin fhall conceive- All crimes fhall cease, etc.] VIRG. E. iv. 6.

Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna;
Jam nova progenies cælo demittitur alto.

Te duce, fi qua manent fceleris veftigia noftri,
Irrita perpetua folvent formidine terras -
Pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem.

"Now the Virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn re"turns, now a new progeny is fent down from high heaven. By means of thee, whatever reliques of our crimes remain, fhall "be wiped away, and free the world from perpetual fears. He «fhall govern the earth in peace, with the virtues of his Father. ISAIAH, Ch. vii. 14. Behold a Virgin fhall conceive and "bear a Son. --- Chap. ix. 6, 7. Unto us a Child is born, unto * us a Son is given; the Prince of Peace: of the increase of his VOL. I.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


From a Jeffe's root behold a branch arise,


Whose facred flow'r with fragrance fills the skies:
Th' Ætherial spirit o'er its leaves fhall move,
And on its top defcends the mystic Dove.
Ye' Heav'ns! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in foft filence fhed the kindly fhow'r!
The fick and weak the healing plant shall aid,
From storms a fhelter, and from heat a fhade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud fhall fail;
Returning Juftice lift aloft her scale;

[ocr errors]



government, and of his peace, there fhall be no end: Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order and to "stablish it, with judgment, and with juftice, for ever and "ever. P.


VER. 13. Ye Heav'ns! from high the dewy nectar pour, And in foft filence fhed the kindly fhow'r !] His Original fays, "Drop "down, ye heavens, from above, and let the fkies pour down " righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth "falvation, and let righteoufnefs fpring up together."---This is a very noble defcription of divine grace fhed abroad in the hearts of the faithful under the Gospel difpenfation. And the poet understood all its force, as appears from the two lines preceding thefe,--- Th' Ætherial Spirit, etc. The prophet defcribes this under the image of rain, which chiefly fits the first age of the Gofpel: The poet, under the idea of dew, which extends it to every age. And it was his purpose it should be fo understood, as appears from his expreffion of foft filence, which agrees with the common, not the extraordinary effufions of the Holy Spirit. The figurative term is wonderfully happy. He who would moralize the antient Mythology in the manner of Bacon, muft fay, that by the poetical netlar, is meant theological grace. VER. 17. ancient fraud.] i. e. the fraud of the Serpent a Ifai.xi. tr. Ch. xây. ỷ 8. Ch. xxv. $4, ‘Ch, ix. ở 7,

[ocr errors]

Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-rob'd Innocence from heav'n defcend.
Swift fly the years, and rife th'expected morn! 2 1
Oh spring to light, aufpicious Babe, be born!
See Nature haftes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incenfe of the breathing fpring:
See lofty Lebanon his head advance,
See nodding forests on the mountains dance:
See fpicy clouds from lowly Saron rife,
And Carmel's flow'ry top perfumes the skies!
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert chears;
Prepare the way! a God, a God

VER. 23. See Nature haftes, etc.]
VIRG. E. iv. y 18.


At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu,
Errantes hederas paffim cum baccare tellus,
Mixtaque ridenti colocafia fundet acantho -
Ipfa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores.

[ocr errors]



"For thee, O Child, fhall the earth, without being tilled, "produce her early offerings; winding ivy, mixed with Baccar, "and Colocafia with smiling Acanthus. Thy cradle shall pour "forth pleafing flowers about thee.

IsAIAH, Ch. xxXV, Ỷ I, "The wilderness and the folitary "place fhall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and bloffom as "the rofe." Ch. lx. 13. "The glory of Lebanon fhall come ✈ "unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, "to beautify the place of thy fanctuary. P.

VER. 29. Hark, a glad Voice, etc.]

VIRG. E. iv. ✯ 46.

Aggredere ô magnos, aderit jam tempus, honores,
Cara deûm foboles, magnum Jovis incrementum----

[ocr errors]

Ch. xxxv. 2.

Ch. xl. 3, 4.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »