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The husbandmen with high-rais'd banks secure
Their greedy hopes, and this he can endure;
But if with bays and dams they strive to force
Bis channel to a new or narrow course,
No longer then within his banks he dwells,
First a torrent, then a deluge, swells ;
Stronger and fiercer by restraint, he roars,
And knows no bound, but makes his power his
ON Mr. ABRAHAM COWLEY's DEATH, And Burial amongst the ancient Poets.
OHP Chaucer, like the morning star,
To us discovers day from far ;
His light those mists and clouds dissolv’d,
Which our dark nation long involv’d ;
But he descending to the shades,
Darkness again the age invades.
Next (like Aurora) Spenser rose,
Whose purple blush the day foreshows;
The other three with his own fires
Phoebus, the poet's god, inspires; -
By Shakspeare's, Jonson's, Fletcher's lines
Our stage's lustre Rome's outshines;
These poets near our princes sleep,
And in one grave their mansion keep.
They liv'd to see so many days,
Till time had blasted all their bays:
IBut cursed be the fatal hour
That pluck'd the fairest, sweetest flower
That in the Muses' garden grew,
And amongst wither'd laurels threw :
Time, which made them their fame outlive,
To Cowley scarce did ripeness give.
Old mother Wit, and Nature, gave
Shakspeare and Fletcher, all they have ;
In Spenser, and in Jonson, Art
Of slower Nature got the start;
But both in him so equal are, None knows which bears the happier share. To him no author was unknown, Yet what he wrote was all his own: He melted not the ancient gold, Nor, with Ben Jonson, did make bold To plunder all the Roman stores Of poets and of orators. Horace's wit and Virgil's state He did not steal, but emulate ; And when he would like them appear, Their garb but not their clothes did wear. He not from Rome alone, but Greece, Like Jason, brought the Golden Fleece, To him that language (though to none Of the others) as his own was known. On a stiff gale (as Flaccus sings) The Theban swan extends his wings, When through the ethereal clouds he flies; To the same pitch our swan doth rise. Old Pindar's flights by him are reach'd, When on that gale his wings are stretch'd, His fancy and his judgment such, Each to the other seem'd too much ; His severe judgment (giving law) His modest fancy kept in awe; As rigid husbands jealous are, When they believe their wives too fair. His English streams so pure did flow, As all, that saw and tasted, know : But for his Latin vein, so clear, Strong, full, and high, it doth appear, That were immortal Virgil here, Him for his judge he would not fear. Of that great portraiture so true A copy, pencil never drew. My Muse her song had ended here, But both their genii straight appear: Joy and amazement her did strike; Two twins she never saw so like.
'Twas taught by wise Pythagoras
One soul might through more bodies pass:
Seeing such transmigration there,
She thought it not a fable here.
Such a resemblance of all parts,
Life, death, age, fortune, nature, arts,
Then lights her torch at theirs, to tell
And show the world this parallel:
Fix’d and contemplative their looks,
Still turning over Nature's books;
Their works chaste, moral, and divine,
Where profit and delight combine;
They, gilding dirt, in noble verse
Rustic philosophy rehearse.
When heroes, gods, or godlike kings,
They praise, on their exalted wings
To the celestial orbs they climb,
And with the harmonious spheres keep time.
Nor did ther actions fall behind
Their words, but with like candour shin'd ;
Each drew fair characters, yet none
Of these they feign'd excels their own.
Both by two generous princes lov’d,
Who knew, and judg’d what they approv'd :
Yet having each the same desire,
Both from the busy throng retire.
Their bodies, to their minds resign'd,
Car'd not to propagate their kind :
Yet though both fell before their hour,
Time on their offspring hath no power:
Nor fire nor fate their bays shall blast,
Nor death's dark veil their day o'ercast.
To Sir Richard Fanshaw, upon his Translation of
Such is our pride, our folly, or our fate,
That few but such as cannot write, translate:
But what in them is want of art or voice,
In thee is either modesty or choice.
While this great piece, restor'd by thee, doth stand
Free from the blemish of an artless hand,
Secure of fame thou justly dost esteem
Less honour to create than to redeem.
Nor ought a genius less than his that writ
Attempt translation; for transplanted wit
All the defects of air and soil doth share,
And colder brains like colder climates are:
In vain they toil, since nothing can beget
A vital spirit but a vital heat.
That servile path thou nobly dost decline
Of tracing word by word, and line by line: s
Those are the labour'd births of slavish brains, *
Not the effect of poetry but pains;
Cheap vulgar arts, whose narrowness affords
No flight for thoughts, but poorly sticks at words.
A new and nobler way thou dost pursue
To make translations and translators too :
They but preserve the ashes, thou the flame,
True to his sense, but truer to his fame:
Fording his current, where thou find'st it low
Lett'st in thine own, to make it rise and flow,
Wisely restoring whatsoever grace
It lost by change of times, or tongues, or place.
Norfetter'd to his numbers and his times,
Betray'st his music to unhappy rhymes.
Nor are the nerves of his compacted strength
Stretch'd and dissolv’d into unsinew'd length:
Yet, after all, (lest we should think it thine)
Thy spirit to his circle dost confine.
New names, new dressings, and the modern cast,
Some scenes, some persons alter'd, and out-fac’d
The world, it were thy work; for we have known
Some thank'd and prais'd for what was less their own.
That master's hand which to the life can trace
The airs, the lines, and features of the face,
May with a free and bolder stroke express *
A varied posture or a flattering dress:
He could have made those like who made the rest,
But that he knew his own design was best.
MoRPHEUS. the humble god, that dwells
In cottages and smoky cells,
Hates gilded roofs, and beds of down;
And, though he fears no prince's frown,
Flees from the circle of a crown.
Come, I say, thou pow'rful god,
And thy leaden charming rod,
I)ipp'd in the Lethean lake,
O'er his wakeful temples shake,
Lest he should sleep, and never wake.
Nature, alas ! why art thou so
Obliged to thy greatest foe 2
Sleep, that is thy best repast,
Yet of death it bears a taste,
And both are the same thing at last.