« PreviousContinue »
The industrious bees neglect their golden store!
No more the mounting larks, while Daphne sings, Shall, listening in mid-air, suspend their wings; No more the birds shall imitate her lays, Or, hush'd with wonder, hearken from the sprays: No more the streams their murmurs shall forbear, A sweeter music than their own to hear; But tell the reeds, and tell the vocal shore, Fair Daphne's dead, and music is no more!
Her fate is whisper'd by the gentle breeze,
Swell'd with new passion, and o'erflows with tears;
But see! where Daphne, wondering, mounts on high Above the clouds, above the starry sky! Eternal beauties grace the shining scene, Fields ever fresh, and groves for ever green! There, while you rest in amaranthine bowers, Or from those meads select unfading flowers, Behold us kindly, who your name implore, Daphne, our goddess, and our grief no more!
How all things listen while thy muse complains: Such silence waits on Philomela's strains, In some still evening, when the whispering breeze Pants on the leaves, and dies upon the trees. To thee, bright goddess, oft a lamb shall bleed, If teeming ewes increase my fleecy breed. While plants their shade, or flowers their odours give Thy name, thy honour, and thy praise shall live!
But see, Orion sheds unwholesome dews; Arise! the pines a noxious shade diffuse; Sharp Boreas blows, and nature feels decay, Time conquers all, and we must Time obey. Adieu, ye vales, ye mountains, streams, and groves, Adieu, ye shepherds' rural lays and loves; Adieu, my flocks; farewell, ye silvan crew; Daphne, farewell; and all the world adieu!
IN IMITATION OF
IN reading several passages of the prophet Isaiah, which foretell the coming of Christ 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 seem surprising, when we reflect that the eclogue was taken from a Sibylline prophecy on the same-subject. One may judge that Virgil did not copy it line by line, but selected such ideas as best agreed with the nature of pastoral poetry, and disposed them in that manner which served most to beautify his piece. I have endeavoured the same in this imitation of him, though without admitting anything of my own; since it was written with this particular view, that the reader, by comparing the several thoughts, might see how far the images and descriptions of the Prophet are superior to those of the Poet. But as I fear I have prejudiced them by my management, I subjoin the passages of Isaiah, and those of Virgil, under the same disadvantage of a literal translation.
"Now the Virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn returns, now a new progeny is sent down from high heaven. By means of thee, whatever reliques of our crimes remain shall be wiped away, and free the world from perpetual fears. He shall govern the earth in peace, with the virtues of his father."-VIRGIL, Ecl. iv.
"Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son."-Isaiah, ch. vii. "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; the Prince of Peace: of the increase of his government, and of his peace, there shall be no end. Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order and to establish it with judgment, and with justice, for ever and ever.”—Ch. ix.
"For thee, O Child, shall the earth, without being tilled, produce her early offerings; winding ivy, mixed with Baccar, and Colocasia, with smiling Acanthus. Thy cradle shall pour forth pleasing flowers about thee.”— Ecl. iv.
"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose."-Isaiah, ch. xxxv. "The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary.”—Ch. Ix.
“Oh come and receive the mighty honours; the time draws nigh, O beloved offspring of the Gods, O great increase of Jove! The uncultivated mountains send shouts of joy to the stars, the very rocks sing in verse, the very shrubs cry out, A God, a God!"-Ecl. iv.
"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord! make straight in the desert a high way for our God! Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.”—Isaiah,
ch. xl. "Break forth into singing, ye mountains! O forest, and every tree therein.! for the Lord hath redeemed Israel.”—Ch. iv.
“The fields shall grow yellow with ripened ears, and the red grape shall hang upon the wild brambles, and the hard oak shall distil honey like dew."
"The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the habitation where dragons lay shall be grass, and reeds, and rushes."-Isaiah, ch. xxxv. "Instead of the thorn shall come up the firtree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree.”—Ch. lv.
"The goats shall bear to the fold their udders distended with milk; nor shall the herds be afraid of the greatest lions. The serpent shall die, and the herb that conceals poison shall die."-Ecl. iv.
"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.-And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the den of the cockatrice."-Isaiah, ch. xi.
YE nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:
Rapt into future times, the bard begun :
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers;
Waste sandy valleys, once perplex'd with thorn,.
To leafless shrubs the flowering palms succeed,
And seeds of gold in Ophir's mountains glow.
1 The thoughts of Isaiah, which compose the latter part of the poem, are wonderfully elevated, and much above those general exclamation of Virgil, which make the loftiest parts of his Pollio.