« PreviousContinue »
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 romautic Fame increases all.
The temple shakes, the sounding gates unfold,
Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold :
Rais'd 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;
Grav'd o'er their seats the form of Time was found,
His scythe revers'd, and both his pinions bound.
Within stood heroes, who through loud alarms
In bloody fields pursu'd renown in arms.
High on a throne with trophies charg'd, I view'd
The youth that all things but himself subdu'd ;
His feet on scéptres and tiaras trod,
And his horn'd head bely'd the Libyan god.
There Cæsar, grac'd with both Minervas shone;
Cæsar, the world's great master, and his own;
Unmov'd, 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 pow'r 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 wliom ungrateful Athens could expel, At all times just, but when he sign'd 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 Brnitus 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 compos'd his throne;
Father of verse ! in holy fillets drest,
His silver beard wav'd gentiy 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 prov'd the master's fire;
A strong expression most lie seem'd t'affect,
And here and there disclos'd a brave neglect.
A golden columo 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 unweàried art;
The Mantuan there in sober triumph sate,
Compos'd his posture, and his look sedate;
On Homer still he fix'd a reverent 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 flam'd 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 advanc'd, and pinions stretch'd for
fight: Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode, And seem'd to labour with th' inspiring god. Across the harp a careless hand he flings, And boldly sinks into the sounding strings. The figur'd games of Greece the column grace, Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race. The youths hang o'er their chariois 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 tuo'd th' Ausonian lyre
To sweeter sounds, and temper'd Pindar's fire :
Pleas'd with Alcæus' manly rage t'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, hung hovering o'er his head.
Here, in a shrine that cast a dazzling light,
Sat fix'd in thought the mighty Stagyrite;
His sacred head a radiant zodiac crown'd,.
And various animals his sides surround;
His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view
Superior worlds, and look all nature through.
With equal rays inmortal Tully shone,
The Roman rostra deck'd the cousul's throne:
Gathering his flowing robe, he seein'd to stand
Io 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 í stretch'd my aching sight,
So large it spread, and swelld to such a height.
Full in the midst proud Fame's imperial seat
With jewels blaz'd, 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 swellid to larger size the more I gaz'd,
Till to the roof her towering front she rais'd.
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,
And thousand open eyes, and thousand listening
ears. Beneath, in order rang'd, the tuneful Nine (Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine: With eyes on Fame for ever fix'd, they siug; For Fame they'raise their 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 diff'rent quarters fill the crowded hall:
Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heardi
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, sieze the sweets the blossoms yield,
And a low murmur runs along the field.
Millions of suppliant crowds the shrine attend,
And all degrees before the goddess bend;
The poor, the rich, the valiant, and the sage,
And boasting youth, and narrative old age.
Their pleas were different, their request the same;
For good and bad alike are fond of fame.
Some she disgrac'd, and some with honours crown'd;
Unlike successes equal merits found,
Thus her blind sister, fickle Fortune, reigns,
And undiscerning scatters crowns and chains.
First at the shrine the learned world appear, And to the goddess thus prefer their prayer: • Long have we sought t instruct and please mani
With studies pale, with midnight vigils blind ;
But thank'd by few, rewarded yet by none,
We here appeal to thy superior throne ;
On wit and learning the just prize bestow;
For fame is all we must expect below.'
The goddess heard, and bade the muses raise
The golden trumpet of eternal praise ;
From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound,
That fills the circuit of the world around;
Not all at once, as thunder breaks the cloud;
The notes at first were rather sweet than loud:
By just degrees they every moment rise,
Fill the wide earth, and gain upon the skies.
At every breath were balmy odours shed,
Which still grew sweeter, as they wider spread ;
Less fragrant scents th' unfolding rose exhales,
Or spices breathing in Arabian gales.