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On sounding wings, and screaming in their ire, The cranes rush onward, and the fight require.
The pygmy warriors eye with fearless glare, The host thick swarming o'er the burthen'd air; Thick swarming now, but to their native land Doom'd to return a scanty straggling band.. When sudden, darting down the depth of heaven, Fierce on th' expecting foe the cranes are driven. The kindling phrensy every bosom warms, The region echoes to the crash of arms: Loose feathers from the encountering armies fly; And in careering whirlwinds mount the sky. To breathe from toil up springs the panting crane, Then with fresh vigour downwards darts again. Success in equal balance hovering hangs. Here, on the sharp spear, mad with mortal pangs, The bird transfix'd in bloody vortex whirls, Yet fierce in death the threatening talon curls ; There, while the life-blood bubbles from his wound, With little feet the pygmy beats the ground; Deep from his breast the short, short sob he draws, And dying curses the keen-pointed claws,
Trembles the thundering field, thick cover'd o'er
With falchions, mangled wings, and streaming gore,
And pigmy arms, and beaks of ample size,
And here a claw, and there a finger lies.
Encompass'd round with heaps of slaughter'd foes,
All grim in blood the pigmy champion glows.
And on th' assailing host impetuous springs,
Careless of nibbling bills, and flapping wings;
And midst the tumult wheresoe'er he turns,
The battle with redoubled fury burns;
From every side th' avenging cranes amain
Throng, to o'erwhelm this terror of the plain.
When suddenly (for such the will of Jove)
A fowl enormous, sousing from above,
The gallant chieftain cluteh'd, and, soaring high,
(Sad chance of battle!) bore him up the sky.
The cranes pursue, and clustering in a ring,
Chatter triumphant round the captive king.
But ah! what
When, now to cranes a prey, on talons hung,
High in the clouds they saw their helpless lord,
His wriggling form still lessening as he soar'do
Lo yet again with unabated rage
In mortal strife the mingling hosts engage.
The crane with darted bill assaults the foe,
Hovering; then wheels aloft to scape the blow :
The dwarf in anguish aims the vengeful wound;
But whirls in empty air the falchion round.
Such was the scene, when midst the loud alarms.
Sublime th' eternal Thunderer rose in arms.
When Briareus, by mad ambition driven,
Heaved Pelion huge, and hurl'd it high at heaven.
Jove roll'd redoubling thunders from on high,
Mountains and bolts encounter'd in the sky;
Till one stupendous ruin whelm'd the crew,
Their vast limbs weltering wide in brimstone blue.
But now at length the pygmy legions yield,
And wing'd with terror fly the fatal field.
They raise a weak and melapcholy wail,
All in distraction scattering o'er the vale.
Prone on their routed rear the cranes descend ;
Their bills bite furious, and their talons rend:
With unrelenting ire they urge the chace,
Sworn to exterminate the hated race.
'Twas thus the Pygmy Name, once great in war,
For spoils of conquer'd cranes renown'd afar,
Perish'd. For, by the dread decree of Heaven,
Short is the date to earthly grandeur given,
And vain are all attempts to roam beyond
Where Fate has fix'd the everlasting bound.
Fallen are the trophies of Assyrian power,
And Persia's proud dominion is no more ;
Yea, though to both superior far in fame,
Thine empire, Latium, is an empty name.
And now with lofty chiefs of ancient time,
The pygmy heroes roam th’ Elysian clime.
Or, if belief to matron-tales be due,
Full oft, in the belated shepherd's view,
Their frísking forms, in gentle green array'd,
Gambol secure amid the moonlight glade.
Secure, for no alarming cranes molest,
And all their woes in long oblivion rest :
Down the deep dale, and narrow winding way,
They foot it featly, ranged in ringlets gay:
'Tis joy and frolic all, where'er they rove,
And Fairy-people is the name they love.
Yes, yes, I graht the sons of earth
Are doom'd to trouble from their birth.
We all of sorrow have our share;
But say, is yours without compare?
Look round the world; perhaps you'll find
Each individual of our kind
Press'd with an equal load of ill,
Equal at least. Look further still,
And own your lamentable case
Is little short of happiness.
In yonder hut that stands alone
Attend to Famine's feeble moan ;
Or view the couch where Sickness lies,
Mark his pale cheek, and languid eyes,
His frame by strong convulsion torn,
His struggling sighs, and looks forlorn.