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Then fresh I'll paint the charming maid,
Content, if she my strain
Again my lyre shall lend its aid,
And dwell upon the theme it loves.
EPISTLE II. THE PLEASING CONSTRAINT."
In a snug little court as I stood ť other day,
And carolld the loitering minutes away ;
Came a brace of fair nymphs, with such beautiful faces,
That they yielded in number alone to the Graces :
Disputing they were, and that earnestly too,
When thus they address'd me as nearer they drew:
“So sweet is your voice, and your numbers so sweet,
Such sentiment join'd with such harmony meet;
Each note which you raise finds its way to our hearts,
Where Cupid engraves it wi' the point of his darts :
But oh! by these strains, which so deeply can pierce,
Inform us for whom you intended your verse :
'Tis for her, she affirms—I maintain 'tis for me
And we often pull caps in asserting our plea.”+
“Why, ladies," cried I, "you're both handsome, 'tis true,
But cease your dispute, I love neither of you ;
My life on another dear creature depends;
Her I hasten to visit :-so kiss and be friends."
" Oh ho !" said they, now you convince us quite clear,
For no pretty woman lives anywhere here-
That's plainly a sham. Now, to humour us both,
You shall swear you love neither; so come, take your oath."
I laughing replied, “ 'Tis tyrannical dealing
To make a man swear, when 'tis plain he's not willing."
“Why, friend, we've long sought thy fair person to seize ; And think you we'll take such excuses as these ? No, 'twas chance brought you hither, and here you shall stay;Help, Phædra ! to hold, or he'll sure get away."
*. This sufficiently explains itself. It has no names prefixed to it in the original, and is very literally translated.
† And we often pull caps, &c.] This is almost literally the Greek ex. pression : Και διά σε φιλονείκως και μέχρι τριχών συμπλεκόμεθα πολλάκις λλήλαις.
Thus spoken, to keep me between 'em they tried ; -
Twas a pleasing constraint, and I gladly complied.
If I struggled, 'twas to make 'em imprison me more,
And strove-but for shackles more tight than before;
But think not I'll tell how the minutes were spent ;
You may think what you please—but they both were content.
EPISTLE III. THE GARDEN OF PHYLLION.*
PHILOPLATANUS TO ANTHOCOME.
BLEST was my lot-ah ! sure 'twas bliss, my friend,
The day-by heavens ! the live-long day to spend
With Love and my Limona! Hence! in vain
Would mimic Fancy bring those scenes again;
In vain delighted memory tries to raise
My doubtful song, and aid my will to praise.
In vain! Nor fancy strikes, nor memory knows,
The little springs from whence those joys arose.
Yet come, coy Fancy, sympathetic maid !
Yes, I will ask, I will implore thy aid :
For I would tell my friend whate'er befell;
Whate'er I saw, whate'er I did, I'll tell.
But what I felt-sweet Venus ! there inspire
My lay, or wrap his soul in all thy fire.
Bright rose the morn, and bright remain'd the day;
The mead was spangled with the bloom of May:
We on the bank of a sweet stream were laid,
With blushing rose and lowly violets spread;
Fast by our side a spreading plane-tree grew,
And waved its head, that shone with morning dew.
The bank acclivous rose, and swell'd above-
The frizzled moss a pillow for my love.
Trees with their ripen'd stores, glow'd all around,
The loaded branches bow'd upon the ground;
* This is surely a most elegant descriptive pastoral, and hardly inferior to any of 'Theocritus. The images are all extremely natural and simple, though the expression is glowing and luxurious : they are selected from a variety of Greek authors, but chiefly from the Phædrus of Plato.—What intersertions there may be, have been before apologized for; but their detection shall be left to the sagacity or inquisition of the reader. The case is the same with the first Epistle, and indeed with most of them.
Sure the fair virgins of Pomona's train
In those glad orchards hold their fertile reign.
The fruit nectareous, and the scented bloom
Wafted on Zephyr's wing their rich perfume;
A leaf I bruised—what grateful scents arose !*
Ye gods! what odours did a leaf disclose.
Aloft each elm slow waved its dusky top,
The willing vine embraced the sturdy prop :
we stray'd the ripen'd grape to find,
Around our necks the clasping tendrils twined;
I with a smile would tell th' entangled fair,
I envied e'en the vines a lodging there;
Then twist them off
, and sooth with am'rous play
Her breasts, and kiss each rosy mark away.
Cautious Limona trod-her step was slow-
For much she fear’d the skulking fruits below;
Cautious—lest haply she, with slipp’ry tread,
Might tinge her snowy feet with vinous red.
Around with critic glance we view'd the store,
And oft rejected what we'd praised before ;
This would my love accept, and this refuse,
For varied plenty puzzled us to choose.
“Here may the bunches tasteless, immature,
Unheeded learn to blush, and swell secure ;
In richer garb yon turgid clusters stand,
And glowing purple tempts the plund'ring hand.”
“Then reach 'em down,” she said, "for you can reach,
And cull, with daintiest hand, the best of each."
Pleased I obey'd, and gave my love—whilst she
Return'd sweet thanks, and pick'd the best for me:
'Twas pleasing sure—yet I refused her suit,
But kiss'd the liberal hand that held the fruit.
Hard by the ever-jovial harvest train
Hail the glad season of Pomona's reign;
With rustic song around her fane they stand,
And lisping children join the choral band :
They busily intent now strive to aid,
Now first they're taught th' hereditary trade :
'Tis theirs to class the fruits in order due,
For pliant rush tu search the meadow through: * A leaf I bruised, &c.] Nothing can be more rural, and at the same time more forcible, than this image; where the universal fragrance of the spot is not expatiated on, but marked at once by this simple specimen.
To mark if chance unbruised a wind-fall drop,
Or teach the infant vine to know its
And haply too some aged sire is there,
To check disputes, and give to each his share ;
With feeble voice their little work he cheers,
Smiles at their toil, and half forgets his years.
“ Here let the pippin, fretted o'er with gold,
In fostring straw defy the winter's cold;
The hardier russet here will safely keep,
And dusky rennet with its crimson cheek;
But mind, my boys, the mellow pear to place
In soft enclosure, with divided space ;
And mindful moșt how lies the purple plum,
Nor soil, with heedless touch, its native bloom."
Intent they listen’d to th' instructing lord ;
But most intent to glean their own reward.
Now turn, my loved Limona, turn and view How changed the scene ! how elegantly new ! Mark how yon vintager enjoys his toil ; Glows with flush red, and Bacchanalian smile : His slipp'ry sandals burst the luscious vine, And splash alternate in the new-born wine. Not far the lab'ring train, whose care supplies The trodden press, and bids fresh plenty rise. The teeming boughs that bend beneath their freight One busy peasant eases of the weight; One climbs to where th' aspiring summits shoot ; Beneath, a hoary sire receives the fruit.
Pleased we admired the jovial bustling throng, Blest e'en in toil !—but we admired not long. For calmer joys we left the busy scene, And sought the thicket and the stream again ; For sacred was the fount, and all the grove Was hallow'd kept, and dedicate to love. Soon gentle breezes, freshen'd from the wave, Our temples fann'd, and whisper'd us to lave. The stream itself seem'd murm’ring at our feet Sweet invitation from the noonday heat. We bathed—and while we swam, so clear it flow'da That every limb the crystal mirror show'd. But my love's bosom oft deceived my eye, Resembling those fair fruits that glided by ;
For when I thought her swelling breast to clasp,
An apple met my disappointed grasp.
Delightful was the stream itself-I swear,
By those glad nymphs who make the founts their care,
It was delightful :-but more pleasing still,
When sweet Limona sported in the rill :
For her soft blush such sweet reflection gave,
It tinged with rosy hues the pallid wave.
Thus, thus delicious was the murm'ring spring,
Nor less delicious the cool zephyr's wing;
Which mild alla.y'd the sun's meridian power,
And swept the fragrant scent from every flower;
A scent, that feasted my transported sense,
Like that, Limona's sweet perfumes dispense:
But still, my love, superior thine, I swear-
At least thy partial lover thinks they are.
Near where we sat, full many a gladd’ning sound,
Beside the rustling breeze, was heard around :
The little grasshopper essay'd its song,
As if 'twould emulate the feather'd throng:
Still lisp'd it uniform-yet now and then
It something chirp'd, and skipp'd upon the green.
Aloft the sprightly warblers fill’d the grove ;
Sweet native melody! sweet notes of love !
While nightingales their artless strains essay'd,
The air, methought, felt cooler in the glade :
A thousand feather'd throats the chorus join'd,
And held harmonious converse with mankind.
Still in mine eye the sprightly songsters play,
Sport on the wing, or twitter on the spray;
On foot alternate rest their little limbs,
Or cool their pinions in the gliding streams ;
Surprise the worm, or sip the brook aloof,
Or watch the spider weave his subtle woof.
We the meantime discoursed in whispers low,
Lest haply speech disturb the rural show.
Listen.--Another pleasure I display, That help'd delightfully the time away. * For when I thought, &c.] This allusion seems forced : but the ancients had an apple which came from Cydon, a town of Crete, and was called Cydonian, that, from its size and beautiful colour, might be said to resemble a woman's breast : and the allusion is frequent in the old poets. In the eighteenth of these Epistles, too, we meet with the kúčuviov jēlov.