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His sacred head a radiant zodiac crown'd,
With equal rays immortal Tully shone,
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 cars Beneath, in order ranged, the tuneful Nine (Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine.
With eyes on Fame, for ever fix'd, they sing;
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'd 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. 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 disgraced, 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 to instruct and please man
With studies pale, with midnight vigils blind;
The goddess heard, and bade the Muses raise
From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound
This band dismiss’d, behold another crowd
A troop came next, who crowns and armour word, And proud defiance in their looks they bore :
For thee,' they cried, “amidst alarms and strise,
For thee whole nations fill'd with flames and blood.
• Ambitious fools! the queen replied, and frown'd,
Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen: Plain was their dress, and modest was their mien. 'Great idol of mankind; we neither claim The praise of merit, nor aspire to fame! But, safe in deserts from the applause of men, Would die unheard-of as we lived unseen. 'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight Those acts of goodness which themselves requite. O let us still the secret joys partake, To follow virtue e'en for virtue's sake.'
* And live there men, who slight immortal Fame ? Who then with incense shall adore our name? But mortals ! know, 'tis still our greatest pride, To blaze those virtues which the good would hide Rise! Muses, rise! add all your tuneful breath; These must not sleep in darkness and in death.' She said : in air the trembling music floats, And on the winds triumphant swell the notes; So soft, though high, so loud, and yet so clear, E'en listening angels lean from heaven to hear; To farthest shores the ambrosial spirit flies, Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies.
Next these a youthful train their vows express'd, With feathers crown'd, with gay embroidery dress'd
Hither, they cried, 'direct your eyes, and see The men of pleasure, dress, and gallantry ; Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays; Sprightly our nights, polite are all our days;
Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care
The queen assents, the trumpet rends the skies, And at each blast a lady's honour dies.
Pleased with the same success, vast numbers press'd Around the shrine, and made the same request : What you,' she cried, unlearn'd in arts to please, Slaves to yourselves, and e'en fatigued with ease, Who lose a length of undeserving days, Would you usurp the lover's dear-bought praise ? To just contempt, ye vain pretenders, fall, The people's fable, and the scorn of all.' Straight the black clarion sends a horrid sound, Loud laughs burst out, and bitter scoffs fly round; Whispers are heard, with taunts reviling loud, And scornful hisses run through all the crowd.
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs done, Enslave their country, or usurp a throne; Or who their glory's dire foundation laid On sovereigns ruin'd, or on friends betray'd; Calm thinking villains, whom no faith could fix, Of crooked counsels and dark politics : Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne, And beg to make the immortal treasons known. The trumpet roars, long flaky flames expire, With sparks that seem'd to set the world on fire. At the dread sound, pale mortals stood aghast, And startled nature trembled with the blast.
This having heard and seen, some power unknowb Straight changed the scene, and snatch'd me from the Before my view appeard a structure fair, (throne ts site uncertain, if in earth or air: