Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

To feed the flames : the trees were unctuous fir,
And mountain-ash, the mother of the spear;
The mourner yew, and builder oak were there:
The beech, the swimming alder, and the plane,
Hard box, and linden of a softer grain,
And laurels, which the gods for conquering chiefs ordain.
How they were rank'd, shall rest untold by me,
With nameless Nymphs that lived in every tree;
Nor how the Dryads, or the woodland train,
Disherited, ran howling o'er the plain :
Nor how the birds to foreign seats repair'd,
Or beasts, that bolted out, and saw the forest bared :
Nor how the ground, now clear'd, with ghastly fright
Beheld the sudden sun, a stranger to the light.

The straw, as first I said, was laid below:
Of chips and sere-wood was the second row;
The third of greens, and timber newly felld;
The fourth high stage the fragrant odours held,
And pearls, and precious stones, and rich array,
In midst of which, embalm'd, the body lay.
The service sung, the maid with mourning eyes
The stubble fired ; the smouldering flames arise:
This office done, she sunk upon the ground;
But what she spoke, recover'd from her swound,
I want the wit in moving words to dress;
But by themselves the tender sex may guess.
While the devouring fire was burning fast,
Rich jewels in the flame the wealthy cast;
And some their shields, and some their lances threw,
And

gave their warrior's ghost a warrior's due.
Full bowls of wine, of honey, milk, and blood,
Were pour’d upon the pile of burning wood,
And hissing flames receive, and hungry lick the food.
Then thrice the mounted squadrons ride around
The fire, and Arcite's name they thrice resound :
Hail ! and farewell! they shouted thrice amain,
Thrice facing to the left, and thrice they turn'd again :
Still as they turn'd, they beat their clattering shields ;
The women mix their cries; and clamour fills the fields.
The warlike wakes continued all the night,
And funeral games were play'd at new returning light;
Who naked wrestled best, besmear'd with oil,
Or who with gauntlets gave or took the foil,

I will not tell you, nor would you attend ;
But briefly haste to my long story's end.
I

pass the rest; the year was fully mourn'd,
And Palamon long since to Thebes return’d:
When by the Grecians' general consent,
At Athens Theseus held his parliament:
Among the laws that pass’d, it was decreed,
That conquer'd Thebes from bondage should be freed;
Reserving homage to the Athenian throne,
To which the sovereign summon’d Palamon.
Unknowing of the cause, he took his way,
Mournful in mind, and still in black array.

The monarch mounts the throne, and, placed on high, Commands into the court the beauteous Emily: So call'd, she came; the senate rose, and paid Becoming reverence to the royal maid. And first, soft whispers through the assembly went: With silent wonder then they watch'd the event: All hush’d, the king arose with awful grace, Deep thought was in his breast, and counsel in his face, At length he sigh’d; and having first prepared The attentive audience, thus his will declared.

The Cause and Spring of motion, from above, Hung down on earth the golden chain of Love: Great was the effect, and high was his intent, When peace among the jarring seeds he sent. Fire, flood, and earth, and air, by this were bound, And Love, the common link, the new creation crown'd. The chain still holds ; for though the forms decay, Eternal matter never wears away: The same first Mover certain bounds has placed, How long those perishable forms shall last : Nor can they last beyond the time assign'd By that all-seeing and all-making mind : Shorten their hours they may; for will is free; But never pass the appointed destiny. So men oppress'd, when weary of their breath, Throw off the burden, and suborn their death. Then since those forms begin, and have their end, On some unalter'd cause they sure depend: Parts of the whole are we; but God the whole: Who gives us life, and animating soul. For nature cannot from a part derive That being, which the whole can only give:

He perfect, stable; but imperfect we,
Subject to change, and different in degree;
Plants, beasts, and man; and, as our organs are,
We more or less of his perfection share.
But by a long descent, the ethereal fire
Corrupts; and forms, the mortal part, expire:
As he withdraws his virtue, so they pass,
And the same matter makes another mass :
This law the Omniscient Power was pleased to give,
That every kind should by succession live:
That individuals die, his will ordains ;
The propagated species still remains.
The monarch oak, the patriarch of the trees,
Shoots rising up, and spreads by slow degrees ;
Three centuries he grows, and three he stays,
Supreme in state, and in three more decays;
So wears the paving pebble in the street,
And towns and towers their fatal periods meet:
So rivers, rapid once, now naked lie,
Forsaken of their springs; and leave their channels dry
So man, at first a drop, dilates with heat,
Then, form'd, the little heart begins to beat;
Secret he feeds, unknowing in the cell ;
At length, for hatching ripe, he breaks the shell,
And struggles into breath, and cries for aid ;
Then, helpless, in his mother's lap is laid.
He creeps, he walks, and issuing into man,
Grudges their life, from whence his own began ;
Reckless of laws, affects to rule alone,
Anxious to reign, and restless on the throne:
First vegetive, then feels, and reasons last;
Rich of three souls, and lives all three to waste.
Some thus ; but thousands more in flower of age:
For few arrive to run the latter stage.
Sunk in the first, in battle some are slain,
And others, whelm'd beneath the stormy main.
What makes all this, but Jupiter the king,
At whose command we perish, and we spring ?
Then 'tis our best, since thus ordained to die,
To make a virtue of necessity;
Take what he gives, since to rebel is vain ;
The bad grows better, which we well sustain ;
And could we choose the time, and choose aright,
'Tis best to die, our honour at the height.

When we have done our ancestors no shame,
But served our friends, and well secured our fame;
Then should we wish our happy life to close,
And leave no more for fortune to dispose:
So should we make our death a glad relief
From future shame, from sickness, and from grief :
Enjoying while we live the present hour,
And dying in our excellence and flower.
Then round our death-bed every friend should ruri,
And joyous of our conquest early won:
While the malicious world with envious tears
Should grudge our happy end, and wish it theirs.
Since then our Arcite is with honour dead,
Why should we mourn, that he so soon is freed,
Or call untimely, what the gods decreed?
With grief as just, a friend may be deplored,
From a foul prison to free air restored.
Ought he to thank his kinsman or his wife,
Could tears recall him into wretched life?
Their sorrow hurts themselves; on him is lost ;
And worse than both, offends his happy ghost.
What then remains, but, after past annoy,
To take the good vicissitude of joy?
To thank the gracious gods for what they give,
Possess our souls, and while we live, to live?
Ordain we then two sorrows to combine,
And in one point the extremes of grief to join ;
That thence resulting joy may be renew'd,
As jarring notes in harmony conclude.
Then I
propose

that Palamon shall be
In marriage join'd with beauteous Emily;
For which already I have gain'd the assent
Of my free people in full parliament.
Long love to her has borne the faithful knight,
And well deserved, had Fortune done him right:
"Tis time to mend her fault; since Emily
By Arcite's death from former vows is free:
If

you, fair sister, ratify the accord, And take him for your husband and your lord, 'Tis no dishonour to confer your grace On one descended from a royal race: And were he less, yet years of service past From grateful souls exact reward at last;

A A

Pity is Heaven's and your’s ; nor can she find
A throne so soft as in a woman's mind.
He said ;-she blush'd ; and as o'eraw'd by might,
Seem'd to give Theseus, what she gave the knight.
Then turning to the Theban thus he said ;
Small arguments are needful to persuade
Your temper to comply with my command ;
And speaking thus, he gave Emilia’s hand.
Smiled Venus, to behold her own true knight
Obtain the conquest, though he lost the fight,
And bless'd with nuptial bliss the sweet laborious night.
Eros, and Anteros, on either side,
One fired the bridegroom, and one warm'd the bride ;
And long-attending Hymen, from above,
Shower'd on the bed the whole Idalian grove.
All of a tenor was their after-life,
No day discolour'd with domestic strife;
No jealousy, but mutual truth believed,
Secure repose, and kindness undeceived.
Thus Heaven, beyond the compass of his thought,
Sent him the blessing he so dearly bought.

So may the Queen of Love long duty bless,
And all true lovers find the same success.

THE COCK AND THE FOX;

OR, THE TALE OF THE NUN'S PRIEST.
THERE lived, as authors tell, in days of yore,
A widow somewhat old, and very poor:
Deep in a cell her cottage lonely stood,
Well thatch'd, and under covert of a wood.
This dowager, on whom my tale I found,
Since last she laid her husband in the ground,
A simple sober life, in patience, led,
And had but just enough to buy her bread;
But h’uswifing the little Heaven had lent,
She duly paid a groat for quarter rent;
And pinch'd her belly, with her daughters two,
To bring the year about with much ado.

« EdellinenJatka »