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Some think they could not pass the time away,
In fuch long narratives, and cool delay,
Amidst the raging tumult of the day.
But yet we hear fierce Diomed relate
The crime of bold Lycurgus, and his fate;
And Glaucus talks of brave Bellerophon,
Doom'd for a lawless paffion not his own;
Sets forth the hero's great exploits to view,
How the bold chief the dire Chimæra flew,
The Solymaan hoft, and Amazonian crew.
For those furprizing fictions are defign'd
With their sweet falfhoods to delight the mind;
The Bards expect no credit should be given
To the bare lye, though authoriz'd by heaven,
Which oft with confidence they vent abroad,
Beneath the needful fanction of a god.
'Twas thus the * roasted heifers of the fun
Spoke o'er the fire with accents not their own;
'Twas thus + Achilles' steed his filence broke,
And § Trojan fhips in human voices fpoke;
As wrought by heaven these wonders they relate,
All airy vifions of the ivory gate!
Speak things but once, if order be your care,
For more the cloy'd attention will not bear,
And tedious repetitions tire the ear.
In this we differ from the Grecian train,
Who tell Atrides' vifions o'er again.
Homer. Odyff. Lib. XII. v. 395. XVII. v. 426. § Virgil. Eneid. Lib. X. v. 228.
"Tis not enough with them we know the caufe
Why great Achilles from the war withdraws,
Unless the * weeping hero, on the fhore,
Tells his blue mother all we heard before.
So much on punctual niceties they stand,
That, when their kings dispatch some high command,
All, word for word, th' embassadors + rehearse
In the fame tenor of unvaried verfe.
Not fo did § Venulus from Arpi bring
The final answer of th' Ætolian king.
Let others labour on a vaft defign,
A lefs, but polifh'd with due care, be thine.
To change its structure, be your laft delight;
Thus spend the day, and exercise the night,
Inceffant in your toil. But if you choose
A larger field and subject for your Mufe;
If fcanty limits should the theme confine,
Learn with juft art to lengthen the defign
Beyond its native bounds; the roving mind
A thousand methods to this end may find;
Unnumber'd fictions may with truths be join'd.
Nature supplies a fund of matter still;
Then cull th' rich variety at will.
See! how the ‡ Bard calls down th' embattled Gods,
All rang'd in factions, from their bright abodes;
Hom. Iliad. Lib. I. v. 370. Ibid. Lib. IX. v. 264. Virg. Æneid. Lib. XI. v. 243. † All these particulars, to the end of this paragraph, are taken from Homer and Virgil.
Who, fir'd with mutual hate, their arms employ,
And in the field declare for Greece or Troy ;
Till Jove convenes a council to affwage
Their rifing fury, and suspend their rage;
Though the bleft Gods, remov'd from human eyes,
Live in immortal eafe within the diftant fkies.
And now th' infernal realm his theme he makes,
The reign of Pluto, the Tartarean lakes,
The Furies dreadful with their curling snakes.
He gathers omens from each bird that flies,
And figns from every wing that beats the skies.
He now describes a banquet, where the guest
Prolongs with narratives the royal feast.
Or at the glorious hero's tomb we read
Of games ordain'd in honour of the dead.
And oft for mercies in old times display'd,
To their own Gods their annual rites are paid.
For monstrous Python flain, their praises rife,
And lift the fame of Phoebus to the skies.
In hymns Alcides' labours they resound,
While Cacus lies extended on the ground,
Alternate fing the labours of his hands,
Enjoin'd by fierce Euryftheus' ftern commands:
The den of Cacus crowns the grateful strain,
Where the grim monfter breathes his flames in vain.
Mark how fometimes the Bard without control
Exerts his fire, and pours forth all his foul;
His lines fo daring, and his words so strong;
We see the subject figur'd in the fong:
When with the winds old* Ocean he deforms,
Or paints the rage and horrors of the storms;
Or drives on pointed rocks the bursting ships,
Toft on the Euxine, or Sicilian deeps.
Or fings the † plagues that blast the livid sky,
When beafts by herds, and men by nations die,
Or the fierce flames § that Ætna's jaws expire,
Her melted rocks, and deluges of fire,
When from her mouth the bursting vapour flies,
And, charg'd with ruin, thunders to the skies;
While drifts of fimoak in footy whirlwinds play,
And clouds of cinders ftain the golden day.
See! as the Poet founds the dire alarms,
Calls on the war, and fets the hofts in arms;
Squadrons on fquadrons driven, confus'dly die
Grim Mars in all his terrors ftrikes the eye;
More than defcription rifing to the fight,
Prefents the real horrors of the fight;
A new creation feems our praise to claim
(Hence Greece derives the facred || Poet's name ;)
The dreadful clang of clashing arms we hear;
The agonizing groan, the fruitlefs prayer,
And fhricks of fuppliants thicken on the ear.
Who, when he reads a ‡ city storm'd, forbears
To feel her woes, and fympathize in tears?
When o'er the palaces the flames afpire
From wall to wall, and wrap the domes in fire?
* Eneid. Lib. I. + Ibid. Lib. III. v. 137. § Ibid. | Α το ποιεῖν.
'The fire, with years and hoftile rage oppreft!
The starting infant, clinging to the breaft!
The trembling mother runs, with piercing cries,
Through friends and foes, and shrieking rends the skies.
Drag'd from the altar, the distracted fair
Beats her white breaft, and tears her golden hair.
Here in thick crowds the vanquish'd fly away,
There the proud victors heap the wealthy prey;
With rage relentless ravage their abodes,
Nor spare the facred temples of the Gods.
O'er the whole town they run with wild affright,
Tumultuous hafte, and violence of flight.
Why should I mention how our fouls afpire,
Loft in the raptures of the facred fire?
For ev'n the foul not always holds the fame,
But knows at different times a different frame.
Whether with rolling feafons fhe complies,
Turns with the fun, or changes with the fkies;
Or through long toil, remiffive of her fires,
Droops with the mortal frame her force inspires;
Or that our minds alternately appear
Now bright with joy, and now o'ercaft with care.
No!-but the Gods, th' immortal Gods fupply
The glorious fires; they speak the deity.
Then bleft is he who waits th' aufpicious nod,
The warmth divine, and prefence of the God;
Who his fufpended labours can restrain,
Till heaven's ferene indulgence fmiles again.
But ftrive, on no pretence, against your power,
Till time brings back the voluntary hour.