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And wise Aurelius, in whose well-taught mind
With boundless pow'r unbounded virtue join'd,
His own strict judge, and patron of mankind.
Much-suff'ring heroes next their honours claim,
Those of less noisy and less guilty fame,
Fair Virtue's silent train: supreme of these
Here ever shines the god-like Socrates;
He whom ungrateful Athens could expel,
At all times just, but when he sign'd the shell:
Here his abode the martyr'd Phocion claims,
With Agis, not the last of Spartan names :
Unconquer'd Cato shows the wound he tore,
And Brutus his ill genius meets no more.
But in the centre of the hallow'd choir,
Six pompous columns o'er the rest aspire ;
Around the shrine itself of Fame they stand,
Hold the chief honours, and the fane command.
High on the first the mighty Homer shone,
Eternal adamant compos'd his throne;
Father of verse! in holy fillets drest,
His silver beard wav'd gently o'er his breast;
Though blind, a boldness in his looks appears;
In years he seem'd, but not impair'd by years.
The wars of Troy were round the pillars seen :
Here fierce Tydides wounds the Cyprian queen:
Here Hector glorious from Patroclus' fall;
Here dragg'd in triumph round the Trojan wall.
Motion and life did ev'ry part inspire,
- Bold was the work, and prov'd the master's fire;
A strong expression most he seem'd t' affect,
And here and there disclos'd a brave neglect.
A golden column next in rank appear'd,
On which a shrine of purest gold was rear'd;
Finish'd the whole, and labour'd ev'ry part,
With patient touches of unwearied art:
The Mantuan there in sober triumph sate,
Compos'd his posture, and his look sedate;
On Homer still he fixʼd a rev'rend eye,
Great without pride, in modest majesty.
In living sculpture on the sides were spread
The Latian wars, and haughty Turnus dead;
Eliza stretch'd upon the fun'ral pyre;
Eneas bending with his aged sire;
Troy fiam'd in burning gold, and o'er the throne
Arms and the man in golden cyphers shone.
Four swans sustain a car of silver bright, With heads advanc'd, and pinions stretch'd for flight: Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode, And seem'd to labour with th' inspiring god. Across the harp a careless hand he flings, And boldly sinks into the sounding strings. The figur'd games of Greece the column grace, Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race.
The youths hang o'er their chariots as they run;
The fiery steeds seem starting from the stone;
The champions in distorted postures threat,
And all appear'd irregularly great.
Here happy Horace tun'd th' Ausonian lyre
To sweeter sounds, and temper'd Pindar's fire;
Pleas'd with Alcaus' manly rage t' infuse
The softer spirit of the Sapphic muse.
The polish'd pillar diff'rent sculptures grace,
A work outlasting monumental brass.
Here smiling Loves and Bacchanals appear,
The Julian star, and great Augustus here :
The doves that round the infant poet spread
Myrtles and bays, hang hov'ring o'er his head.
Here, in a shrine that cast a dazzling light,
Sate fix'd in thought the mighty Stagirite;
His sacred head a radiant zodiac crown'd,
And various animals his sides surround;
His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view
Superior worlds, and look all Nature through.
With equal rays immortal Tully shone,
The Roman rostra deck'd the consul's throne:
Gath'ring his royal robe, he seem'd to stand
In act to speak, and graceful stretch'd his hand.
Behind, Rome's genius waits with civic crowns,
And the great father of his country owns.
columns in a circle rise,
These massy O'er which a pompous dome invades the skies; 245 Scarce to the top I stretch'd my aching sight, So large it spread, and swell'd to such a height : Full in the midst proud Fame's imperial seat With jewels blaz'd, magnificently great; The vivid em'ralds there revive the eye, The flaming rubies show their sanguine dye, Bright azure rays from lively sapphires stream, And lucid amber casts a golden gleam. With various colour'd light the pavement shone, And all on fire appear'd the glowing throne; The dome's high arch reflects the mingled blaze, And forms a rainbow of alternate rays. When on the Goddess first I cast my sight, Scarce seem'd her stature of a cubit's height; But swell'd to larger size, the more I gaz'd, Till to the roof her tow'ring front she rais'd. With her, the temple ev'ry moment grew, And ampler vistas open'd to my view: Upward the columns shoot, the roofs ascend, And arches widen, and long isles extend. Such was her form, as ancient bards have told, Wings raise her arms, and wings her feet infold; A thousand busy tongues the goddess bears, A thousand open eyes, and thousand list'ning ears.
Beneath, in order rang'd, the tuneful Nine
(Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine;
With eyes on Fame for ever fix'd, they sing;
For Fame they raise the voice, and tune the string;
With Time's first birth began the heav'nly lays,
And last, eternal, through the length of days.
Around these wonders as I cast a look,
The trumpet sounded, and the temple shook,
And all the nations summon'd at the call,
From diff'rent quarters fill the crowded hall:
Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard;
In various garbs promiscuous throngs appear'd; 281
Thick as the bees, that with the spring renew
Their flow'ry toils, and sip the fragrant dew,
When the wing'd colonies first tempt the sky,
O'er dusky fields and shaded waters fly,
Or settling, seize the sweets the blossoms yield,
And a low murmur runs along the field.
Millions of suppliant crowds the shrine attend,
And all degrees before the Goddess bend;
The poor, the rich, the valiant, and the sage,
And boasting youth, and narrative old age.
Their pleas were diff'rent, their request the same:
For good and bad alike are fond of Fame.
Some she disgrac'd, and some with honours crown'd;
Unlike successes equal merits found.