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An everlasting foe, with watchful eye Lies mightly brooding o'er a chinky gap, Protending her fell claws, to thoughtless mice Sure ruin; so her disembowell'd web Arachne in a hall or kitchen spreads, Obvious to vagrant flies; she secret stands Within her woven cell ; the humming prey, , Regardless of their fate, rush on the toils Inextricable, nor will aught avail Their arts or arms, or shapes of lovely hue: The wasp insidious and the buzzing drone, And butterfly, proud of expanded wings Distinct with gold, entangled in her snares, Useless resistance make : with eager strides She towering flies to her expected spoils; Then, with envenom'd jaws the vital blood Drinks of reluctant foes, and to her cave Their bulky carcasses triumphant drags. So pass my days; but when nocturnal shades This world envelope, and the inclement air Persuades men to repel benumming frosts With pleasant wines, and crackling blaze of wood; Me, lonely sitting, nor the glimmering light Of make-weight candle, nor the joyous talk Of loving friend delights: distress'd, forlorn, Amidst the horrors of the tedious night Darkling I sigh, and feed with dismal thoughts My anxious mind; or sometimes mournful verse Indite, and sing of groves and myrtle shades, Or desperate lady near a purling stream, Or lover pendent on a willow-tree. Mean-while, I labour with eternal drought, And restless wish, and rave; my parched throat Finds no relief, nor heavy eyes repose; But if a slumber haply does invade My weary limbs, my fancy's still awake, Thoughtful of drink, and eager, in a dream Tipples imaginary pots of ale In vain: awake, I find the settled thirst Still gnawing, and the pleasant phantom curse.
. Thus do I live, from pleasure quite debarr'd,
A LETTER FROM ITALY, -
Salve, magna parens frugum, Saturnia tellus,
- Virg. Georg. ii.
WHILE you, my Lord, the rural shades admire,
And proudly swoln with a whole winter's snows, Distributes wealth and plenty where he flows. Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng, I look for streams immortaliz'd in song, That lost in silence and oblivion lie, (Dumb are their fountains and their channels dry) Yet run for ever by the Muses' skill, And in the smooth description murmur still. Sometimes to gentle Tiber I retire, And the fam'd river's empty shores admire, That, destitute of strength, derives its course From thrifty urns and an unfruitful source, Yet sung so often in poetic lays, With scorn the Danube and the Nile surveys; So high the deathless Muse exalts her theme ! Such was the Boyne, a poor inglorious stream, That in Hibernian vales obscurely stray'd, And, unobserv'd, in wild meanders play'd, Till by your lines and Nassau's sword renown'd, Its rising billows through the world resound, Where'er the hero's godlike acts can pierce, Or where the fame of an immortal verse. Oh could the Muse my ravish'd breast inspire With warmth like your's, and raise an equal fire, Unnumber'd beauties in my verse should shine, And Virgil's Italy should yield to mine! See how the golden groves around me smile! That shun the coast of Britain's stormy isle; Or when transplanted, and preserv'd with care, Curse the cold clime, and starve in northern air. Here kindly warmth their mounting juice ferments To nobler tastes and more exalted scents; Ev’n the rough rocks with tender myrtle bloom, And trodden weeds send out a rich perfume. Bear me, some god, to Baia's gentle seats, Or cover me in Umbria's green retreats, Where western gales eternally reside, And all the Seasons lavish all their pride; Blossoms, and fruits, and flowers, together rise, And the whole year in gay confusion lies,
Immortal glories in my mind revive, And in my soul a thousand passions strive, When Rome's exalted beauties I descry Magnificent in piles of ruin lie. An amphitheatre's amazing height Here fills my eye with terror and delight, That on its public shows unpeopled Rome, And held, uncrowded, nations in its womb: Here pillars, rough with sculpture, pierce the skies; And here the proud triumphal arches rise, Where the old Romans' deathless acts display'd Their base degenerate progeny upbraid t Whole rivers here forsake the fields below, And wondering at their height through airy channels flow. Still to new scenes my wandering Muse retires, And the dumb show of breathing rocks admires, Where the smooth chissel all its force has shown, And soften’d into flesh the rugged stone. In solemn silence, a majestic band, Heroes, and gods, and Roman consuls, stand; Stern tyrants, whom their cruelties renown, And emperors in Parian marble frown; While the bright dames, to whom they humbly sued, Still show the charms that their proud hearts subdued. Fain would I Raphael's godlike art rehearse, And show the immortal labours in my verse, Where from the mingled strength of shade and light A new creation rises to my sight; Such heavenly figures from his pencil flow, So warm with life his blended colours glow, From theme to theme with secret pleasure tost, Amidst the soft variety I'm lost. Here pleasing airs my ravish'd soul confound With circling notes and labyrinths of sound; Here domes and temples rise in distant views, And op'ning palaces invite my Muse. How has kind Heav'n adorn'd the happy land, And scatter'd blessings with a wasteful hand;