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O'er Idalia's velvet green
The rosy-crowned Loves are seen
On Cytherea's day
With antic Sport, and blue-eyed Pleasures,
Now in circling troops they meet:
Slow melting strains their Queen's approach declare: Where'er she turns, the Graces homage pay. With arms sublime, that float upon the air,
In gliding state she wins her easy way: O'er her warm cheek, and rising bosom, move The bloom of young Desire and purple light of Love.
Man's feeble race what ills await!
Labour, and Penury, the racks of Pain,
Disease, and Sorrow's weeping train,
And Death, sad refuge from the storms of Fate!
The fond complaint, my song, disprove,
And justify the laws of Jove.
Say, has he giv'n in vain the heav'nly muse?
Ver. 42. Man's feeble race what ills await] To compensate the real and imaginary ills of life, the muse was given to mankind by the same Providence that sends the day, by its cheerful presence, to dispel the gloom and terrors of the night.
Her spectres wan, and birds of boding cry,
Till down the eastern cliffs afar
Hyperion's march they spy, and glitt'ring shafts of war.
In climes beyond the solar road,
Where shaggy forms o'er ice-built mountains roam, The muse has broke the twilight gloom
To cheer the shiv'ring native's dull abode.
And oft, bencath the od'rous shade
Of Chili's boundless forests laid,
She deigns to hear the savage youth repeat,
In loose numbers wildly sweet,
Their feather-cinctur'd chiefs, and dusky loves.
Glory pursue, and gen'rous shame,
Th' unconquerable Mind, and Freedom's holy flame.
Woods, that wave o'er Delphi's steep, Isles, that crown th' Ægean deep,
Ver. 54. In climes beyond the solar road] Extensive influence of poetic genius over the remotest and most uncivilized nations : its connection with liberty, and the virtues that naturally attend on it. [See the Erse, Norwegian, and Welsh fragments, the Lapland and American songs, &c.]
"Extra anni solisque vias-"
"Tutta lontana dal camin del sole."
Fields, that cool Ilissus laves,
Or where Mæander's amber waves
How do your tuneful echoes languish,
Left their Parnassus for the Latian plains.
When Latium had her lofty spirit lost,
They sought, oh Albion! next thy sea-encircled coast.
Far from the sun and summer gale,
Ver. 66. Woods, that wave o'er Delphi's steep] Progress of Poetry from Greece to Italy, and from Italy to England. Chaucer was not unacquainted with the writings of Dante or of Petrarch. The Earl of Surry and Sir Thomas Wyatt had travelled in Italy, and formed their taste there. Spenser imitated the Italian writers; Milton improved on them but this. school expired soon after the Restoration, and a new one arose on the French model, which has subsisted ever since.
GRAY has been long dead, the Poets of the present day rather imitate the Italian and early English Poets than the French.
Ver. 84. In thy green lap was Nature's Darling laid] “Nature's darling," SHAKSPEARE.
What time, where lucid Avon stray'd,
To him the mighty mother did unveil Her awful face: the dauntless child Stretch'd forth his little arms and smil'd.
"This pencil take (she said), whose colours clear Richly paint the vernal year:
Thine too these golden keys, immortal Boy!
This can unlock the gates of joy;
Of horror that, and thrilling fears,
Or ope the sacred source of sympathetic tears."
Nor second He, that rode sublime
Upon the seraph wings of Ecstasy,
He pass'd the flaming bounds of place and time:
The living throne, the sapphire blaze,
Where angels tremble while they gaze,
Clos'd his eyes in endless night.
Behold, where Dryden's less presumptuous car
Wide o'er the fields of glory bear
Two coursers of etherial race,
With necks in thunder cloath'd, and long-resound
Ver. 95. Nor second He, that rode sublime] Ver. 99. The living throne, the sapphire blaze] "For the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. And above the firmament, that was over their heads, was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone. This was the appearance of the glory of the Lord." EZEK. I. 20, 26, 28.
Ver. 106. With necks in thunder cloath'd] "Hast thou cloathed his neck with thunder?" JOB.-This verse and the foregoing
Hark, his hands the lyre explore!
Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.
Oh! lyre divine, what daring spirit
Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way
Beneath the Good how far--but far above the Great.
are meant to express the stately march and sounding energy of Dryden's rhymes.
Ver. 111. But ah! 'tis heard no more] We have had in our language no other odes of the sublime kind than that of Dryden on St. Cecilia's Day; for Cowley, who had merit, yet wanted judgment, style, and harmony, for such a task. That of Pope is not worthy of so great a man. Mr. Mason indeed, of late days, has touched the true chords, and with a masterly hand, in some of his choruses; above all in the last of Carac
"Hark! heard ye not yon footstep dread?" &c.
Ver. 115. That the Theban eagle bear] Aids #gos ögvxa Jelov. OLYMP. II. 159. Pindar compares himself to that bird, and his enemies to ravens that croak and clamour in vain below, while it pursues its flight, regardless of their noise.