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Between the statues obelisks were placed,
And the learn’d walls with hieroglyphics graced.
Of gothic structure was the northern side,
O’erwrought with ornaments of barbarous pride.
There huge colosses rose, with trophies crown'd,
And Runic characters were graved around :
There sat Zamolxis with erected eyes,
And Odin here in mimic trances dies.
There on rude iron columns, smear’d with blood,
The horrid forms of Scythian heroes stood,
Druids and bards, (their once loud harps unstrung)
And youths that died to be by poets sung.
These and a thousand more of doubtful fame,
To whom old fables gave a lasting name,
In ranks adorn’d the temple’s outward face;
The wall in lustre and effect like glass,
Which o'er each object casting various dyes,
Enlarges some, and others multiplies :
Nor void of emblem was the mystic wall,
For thus romantic Fame increases all.
The temple shakes, the sounding gates unfold, Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold, Raised on a thousand pillars, wreath'd around With laurel foliage, and with eagles crown’d: Of bright transparent beryl were the walls, The friezes gold, and gold the capitals : As heaven with stars, the roof with jewels glows, And ever-living lamps depend in rows. Full in the passage of each spacious gate, The sage historians in white garments wait; Graved o'er their seats the form of Time was found, His scythe reversed, and both his pinions bound. Within stood heroes, who through loud alarms In bloody fields pursued renown in arms.
High on a throne, with trophies charged, I viewd
The youth that all things but himself subdued;
His feet on sceptres and tiaras trod,
And his horn'd head belied the Libyan god.
There Cæsar, graced with both Minervas, shone;
Cæsar, the world's great master, and his own;
Unmoved, superior still in every state,
And scarce detested in his country's fate.
But chief were those who not for empire fought,
But with their toils their people's safety bought :
High o'er the rest Epaminondas stood ;
Timoleon, glorious in his brother's blood;
Bold Scipio, saviour of the Roman state,
Great in his triumphs, in retirement great ;
And wise Aurelius, in whose well-taught mind
With boundless power unbounded virtue join'd,
His own strict judge, and patron of mankind.
Much-suffering heroes next their honours claim,
Those of less noisy and less guilty fame,
Fair Virtue's silent train; supreme of these,
Here ever shines the godlike Socrates :
He whom ungrateful Athens could expel,
At all times just, but when he signed the shell:
Here his abode the martyr'd Phocion claims,
With Agis, not the last of Spartan names :
Unconquer'd Cato shows the wound he tore,
And Brutus his ill genius meets no more.
But in the centre of the hallow'd choir, Six pompous columns o'er the rest aspire; Around the shrine itself of Fame they stand, Hold the chief honours, and the fane command. High on the first the mighty Homer shone; Eternal adamant composed his throne; Father of verse! in holy fillets dress’d, His silver beard waved gently o'er his breast;
Though blind, a boldness in his looks appears ;
In years he seem'd, but not impair’d by years.
The wars of Troy were round the pillar seen:
Here fierce Tydides wounds the Cyprian queen ;
Here Hector, glorious from Patroclus' fall;
Here, dragg’d in triumph round the Trojan wall.
Motion and life did every part inspire,
Bold was the work, and proved the master's fire;
A strong expression most he seem'd to affect,
And here and there disclosed a brave neglect.
A golden column next in rank appear’d,
On which a shrine of purest gold was rear'd ;
Finish'd the whole, and labour'd every part,
With patient touches of unwearied art.
The Mantuan there in sober triumph sat,
Composed his posture, and his looks sedate;
On Homer still he fix'd a reverend eye,
Great without pride, in modest majesty.
In living sculpture on the sides were spread
The Latian wars, and haughty Turnus dead :
Eliza stretch'd upon the funeral pyre;
Æneas bending with his aged sire:
Troy flamed in burning gold, and o’er the throne
· Arms and the man' in golden ciphers shone.
Four swans sustain a car of silver bright, With heads advanced, and pinions stretch'd for
flight: Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode, And seem'd to labour with the inspiring god. Across the harp a careless hand he fings, And boldly sinks into the sounding strings. The figured games of Greece the column grace; Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race: The youths hang o'er their chariots as they run; The fiery steeds seem starting from the stone;
The champions in distorted postures threat;
And all appear’d irregularly great.
Here happy Horace tuned the’ Ausonian lyre
To sweeter sounds, and temper’d Pindar's fire ;
Pleased with Alcæus’ manly rage to' infuse
The softer spirit of the Sapphic Muse.
The polish'd pillar different sculptures grace,
A work outlasting monumental brass.
Here smiling loves and bacchanals appear,
The Julian star, and great Augustus here :-
The doves, that round the infant poet spread
Myrtles and bays, hang hovering o'er his head.
Here, in a shrine that cast a dazzling light, Sat fix'd in thought the mighty Stagirite ; His sacred head a radiant zodiac crown'd, And various animals bis sides surround; His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view Superior worlds, and look all nature through.
With equal rays immortal Tully shone; The Roman rostra deck'd the consul's throne: Gathering his flowing robe, he seem'd to stand In act to speak, and graceful stretch'd his hand, Behind, Rome's genius waits with civic crowns, And the great father of his country owns.
These massy columns in a circle rise, O’er which a pompous dome invades the skies : Scarce to the top I stretch'd my aching sight, So large it spread, and swell’d to such a height, Full in the midst proud Fame's imperial seat With jewels blazed, magnificently great; The vivid emeralds there revive the eye, The flaming rubies show their sanguine dye, Bright azure rays from lively sapphires stream, And lucid amber casts a golden gleam,
With various colour'd light the pavement shone,
And all on fire appear’d the glowing throne:
The dome's high arch reflects the mingled blaze,
And forms a rainbow of alternate rays.
When on the goddess first I cast my sight,
Scarce seem'd her stature of a cubit's height;
But swell’d to larger size, the more I gazed,
Till to the roof her towering front she raised.
With her, the temple every moment grew,
And ampler vistas open'd to my view :
Upward the columns shoot, the roofs ascend,
And arches widen, and long aisles extend.
Such was her form, as ancient bards have told;
Wings raise her arms, and wings her feet infold ;
A thousand busy tongues the goddess bears,
A thousand open eyes, and thousand listening ears.
Beneath, in order ranged, the tuneful Nine
(Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine;
With eyes on Fame for ever fix’d, they sing;
For Fame they raise the voice, and tune the string;
With Time's first birth began the heavenly lays,
And last, eternal, through the length of days.
· Around these wonders as I cast a look,
The trumpet sounded, and the temple shook,
And all the nations, summon'd at the call,
From different quarters fill the crowded hall,
Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard;
In various garbs promiscuous throngs appear’d:
Thick as the bees, that with the spring renew
Their flowery toils, and sip the fragrant dew,
When the wing'd colonies first tempt the sky,
O’er dusky fields and shaded waters fly,
Or, settling, seize the sweets the blossoms yield,
And a low murmur runs along the field.