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Some fresh engrav'd appear'd of wits renown'd; 35
I look'd again, nor could their trace be found.
Critics I saw, that other names deface,
And fix their own, with labour, in their place :
Their own, like others, soon their place resign'd,
Or disappear'd, and left the first behind.
Nor was the work impair'd by storms alone,
But felt the approaches of too warm a sun;
For fame, impatient of extremes, decays
Nor more by envy than excess of praise.
Yet part no injuries of heav'n could feel,
Like crystal faithful to the graving steel:
The rock's high summit, in the temple's shade,
Nor heat could melt, nor beating storm invade.
There names inscrib'd unnumber'd ages past,
From Time's first birth, with Time itself shall last;
These ever new, nor subject to decays,
Spread, and grow brighter with the length of days.
So Zembla's rocks (the beauteous work of Frost)
Rise white in air, and glitter o'er the coast;
Pale suns, unfelt, at distance roll away,
And on th' impassive ice the lightnings play;
Eternal snows the growing mass supply,
Till the bright mountains prop th' incumbent sky;
As Atlas fix'd, each hoary pile appears,
The gather'd winter of a thousand years.
On this foundation Fame's high temple stands;
Stupendous pile! not rear'd by mortal hands.
Whate'er proud Rome or artful Greece beheld,
. Or elder Babylon, its frame excell'd.
Four faces had the dome, and ev'ry face
Of various structure, but of equal grace:
Four brazen gates, on columns lifted high,
Salute the diff'rent quarters of the sky.
Here fabled chiefs in darker ages born,
Or worthies old, whom arms or arts adorn,
Who cities rais'd, or tam'd a monstrous race,
The walls in venerable order grace;
Heroes in animated marble frown,
And legislators seem to think in stone.
Westward, a sumptuous frontispiece appear'd, 75 On Doric pillars of white marble rear'd, Crown'd with an architrave of antique mould, And sculpture rising on the roughen'd gold. In shaggy spoils here Theseus was beheld. And Perseus dreadful with Minerva's shield: There great Alcides, stooping with his toil, Rests on his club, and holds th' Hesperian spoil : Here Orpheus sings; trees moving to the sound, Start from their roots, and form a shade around: Amphion there the loud creating lyre
Strikes, and beholds a sudden Thebes aspire!
Cytheron's echoes answer to his call,
And half the mountain rolls into a wall:
There might you see the length'ning spires ascend,
The domes swell up, the wid'ning arches bend,
The growing tow'rs like exhalations rise,
And the huge columns heave into the skies.
The eastern front was glorious to behold,
With di'mond flaming, and Barbaric gold.
There Ninus shone, who spread th' Assyrian fame,
And the great founder of the Persian name:
There in long robes the royal Magi stand,
Grave Zoroaster waves the circling wand;
The sage Chaldeans rob'd in white appear'd,
And Brachmans, deep in desert woods rever'd.
These stop'd the moon, and call'd th' unbody'd shades,
To midnight banquets in the glimm'ring glades;
Made visionary fabrics round them rise,
And airy spectres skim before their eyes;
Of talismans and sigils knew the pow'r,
And careful watch'd the planetary hour.
Superior, and alone, Confucius stood,
Who taught that useful science to be good.
But on the south, a long majestic race
Of Egypt's priests the gilded niches grace,
Who measur'd earth, describ'd the starry spheres,
And trac'd the long records of lunar years.
High on his car Sesostris struck my view,
Whom scepter'd slaves in golden harness drew:
His hand a bow and pointed jav'lin hold;
His giant limbs are arm'd in scales of gold.
Between the statues obelisks were plac'd,
And the learn❜d walls with hieroglyphics grac❜d.
Of Gothic structure was the northern side,
O'erwrought with ornaments of barb'rous pride. 120
There huge Colossus rose, with trophies crown'd,
And Runic characters were grav'd around:
There sat Zamolxis with erected eyes,
And Odin here in mimic trances dies.
The temple shakes, the sounding gates unfold, Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold,
There, on rude iron columns, smear'd with blood,
The horrid forms of Scythian heroes stood,
Druids and bards (their once loud harps unstrung,)
And youths that died to be by poets sung.
These and a thousand more of doubtful fame,
To whom old fables gave a lasting name,
In ranks adorn'd the temple's outward face;
The wall in lustre and effect like glass,
Which o'er each object casting various dyes,
Enlarges some, and others multiplies:
Nor void of emblem was the mystic wall
For thus romantic Fame increases all.
Rais'd on a thousand pillars, wreath'd around
With laurel foliage, and with eagles crown'd: 140
Of bright transparent beryl were the walls,
The friezes gold, and gold the capitals:
And heav'n with stars, the roof with jewels glows,
And ever-living lamps depend in rows.
Full in the passage of each spacious gate,
The sage historians in white garments wait;
Grav'd o'er their seats the form of Time was found,
His scythe revers'd, and both his pinions bound.
Within stood heroes, who, through loud alarms,
In bloody fields pursu'd renown in arms.
High on a throne, with trophies charg'd, I view'd
The youth that all things but himself subdu'd :
His feet on sceptres and tiaras trod,
And his horn'd head bely'd the Libyan god.
There Cæsar, grac'd with both Minervas, shone;
Cæsar, the world's great master, and his own;
Unmov'd, superior still in ev'ry state,
And scarce detested in his country's fate.
But chief were those who not for empire fought,
But with their toils their people's safety bought: 160
High o'er the rest Epaminondas stood;
Timoleon, glorious in his brother's blood;
Bold Scipio, saviour of the Roman state,
Great in his triumphs, in retirement great;