Poemata (William Cowper, trans.)
by John Milton
Previous Part     1  2
Home - Random Browse

1 Milton's Account of Manso, translated.

2 The Muses.

3 Cornelius Gallus, Roman eleist. See Virgil (Eclogue vi, 64-66, and x).

Maecenas. Roman patron of letters. See Horace (Odes, i,1),

4 Author of the Adone, a poem on the story of Venus and Adonis.

5 Herodotus, to whom The Life of Homer is attributed.

6 Chaucer, called Tityrus in Spencer's Pastorals.

7 The maidens who brought offerings to Delos. Loxo, descended from the ancient British hero, Corineus; Upis, a prophetess; and Hecaerge.

8 Admetus was King of Thessaly. Apollo was for a year his shepherd.

9 See Homer (Il. xi, 830-831) and Ovid (Met. ii, 630).

10 Mt. Oeta, between Thessaly and Aetolia.

11 See Ovid (Met. x, 87-I06), where the trees crowd the hear Orpheus sing.

12 Hermes.

13 The wreaths of victors, made from the laurel, which grew on Mt. Parnassus, sacred to the Muses, and the myrtle, sacred to Venus, a shrine to whom was at Paphos in Cyprus.

The Death of Damon.

The Argument.

Thyrsis and Damon, shepherds and neighbours, had always pursued the same studies, and had, from their earliest days, been united in the closest friendship. Thyrsis, while traveling for improve- ment, received intelligence of the death of Damon, and, after a time, returning and finding it true, deplores himself and his solitary condition, in this poem. By Damon is to be understood Charles Diodati, connected with the Italian city of Lucca by his Father's side, in other respects an Englishman; a youth of uncommon genius, erudition, and virtue.

Ye Nymphs of Himera1 (for ye have shed Erewhile for Daphnis2 and for Hylas dead, And over Bion's long-lamented bier, The fruitless meed of many a sacred tear) Now, through the villas laved by Thames rehearse The woes of Thyrsis in Sicilian verse, What sighs he heav'd, and how with groans profound He made the woods and hollow rocks resound Young Damon dead; nor even ceased to pour His lonely sorrows at the midnight hour. 10 The green wheat twice had nodded in the ear, And golden harvest twice enrich'd the year, Since Damon's lips had gasp'd for vital air The last, last time, nor Thyrsis yet was there; For he, enamour'd of the Muse, remain'd In Tuscan Fiorenza long detain'd, But, stored at length with all he wish'd to learn, For his flock's sake now hasted to return, And when the shepherd had resumed his seat At the elm's root within his old retreat, 20 Then 'twas his lot, then, all his loss to know, And, from his burthen'd heart, he vented thus his woe. Go, seek your home, my lambs; my thoughts are due To other cares than those of feeding you. Alas! what Deities shall I suppose In heav'n or earth concern'd for human woes, Since, Oh my Damon! their severe decree So soon condemns me to regret of Thee! Depart'st thou thus, thy virtues unrepaid With fame and honour, like a vulgar shade? 30 Let him forbid it, whose bright rod controls, And sep'rates sordid from illustrious souls, Drive far the rabble, and to Thee assign A happier lot with spirits worthy thine! Go, seek your home, my lambs; my thoughts are due To other cares than those of feeding you. Whate'er befall, unless by cruel chance The wolf first give me a forbidding glance, Thou shalt not moulder undeplor'd, but long Thy praise shall dwell on ev'ry shepherd's tongue; 40 To Daphnis first they shall delight to pay, And, after Him, to thee the votive lay, While Pales3 shall the flocks and pastures love, Or Faunus to frequent the field or grove, At least if antient piety and truth With all the learned labours of thy youth May serve thee aught, or to have left behind A sorrowing friend, and of the tuneful kind. Go, seek your home, my lambs, my thoughts are due To other cares than those of feeding you. 50 Yes, Damon! such thy sure reward shall be, But ah, what doom awaits unhappy me? Who, now, my pains and perils shall divide, As thou wast wont, for ever at my side, Both when the rugged frost annoy'd our feet, And when the herbage all was parch'd with heat, Whether the grim wolf's ravage to prevent Or the huge lion's, arm'd with darts we went? Whose converse, now, shall calm my stormy day, With charming song who, now, beguile my way? 60 Go, seek your home, my lambs; my thoughts are due To other cares than those of feeding you. In whom shall I confide? Whose counsel find A balmy med'cine for my troubled mind? Or whose discourse with innocent delight Shall fill me now, and cheat the wint'ry night, While hisses on my hearth the pulpy pear, And black'ning chesnuts start and crackle there, While storms abroad the dreary meadows whelm, And the wind thunders thro' the neighb'ring elm? 70 Go, seek your home, my lambs; my thoughts are due To other cares than those of feeding you. Or who, when summer suns their summit reach, And Pan sleeps hidden by the shelt'ring beech, When shepherds disappear, Nymphs seek the sedge, And the stretch'd rustic snores beneath the hedge, Who then shall render me thy pleasant vein Of Attic wit, thy jests, thy smiles again? Go, seek your home, my lambs; my thoughts are due To other cares than those of feeding you. 80 Where glens and vales are thickest overgrown With tangled boughs, I wander now alone Till night descend, while blust'ring wind and show'r Beat on my temples through the shatter'd bow'r. Go, seek your home, my lambs; my thoughts are due To other cares than those of feeding you. Alas, what rampant weeds now shame my fields, And what a mildew'd crop the furrow yields! My rambling vines unwedded to the trees Bear shrivel'd grapes, my myrtles fail to please, 90 Nor please me more my flocks; they, slighted, turn Their unavailing looks on me, and mourn. Go, seek your home, my lambs; my thoughts are due To other cares than those of feeding you. Aegon invites me to the hazel grove, Amyntas, on the river's bank to rove, And young Alphesiboeus to a seat Where branching elms exclude the midday heat— "Here fountains spring-here mossy hillocks rise—" "Here Zephyr whispers and the stream replies—" 100 Thus each persuades, but deaf to ev'ry call I gain the thickets, and escape them all. Go, seek your home, my lambs; my thoughts are due To other cares than those of feeding you. Then Mopsus said (the same who reads so well The voice of birds, and what the stars foretell, For He by chance had noticed my return) What means thy sullen mood, this deep concern? Ah Thyrsis! thou art either crazed with love, Or some sinister influence from above, 110 Dull Saturn's influence oft the shepherd rue, His leaden shaft oblique has pierced thee through. Go, go, my lambs, unpastur'd as ye are, My thoughts are all now due to other care. The Nymphs amazed my melancholy see, And, Thyrsis! cry—what will become of thee? What would'st thou, Thyrsis? such should not appear The brow of youth, stern, gloomy, and severe, Brisk youth should laugh and love—ah shun the fate Of those twice wretched mopes who love too late! 120 Go, go, my lambs, unpastur'd as ye are, My thoughts are all now due to other care. Aegle with Hyas came, to sooth my pain, And Baucis' daughter, Dryope the vain,4 Fair Dryope, for voice and finger neat Known far and near, and for her self-conceit, Came Chloris too, whose cottage on the lands That skirt the Idumanian current stands; But all in vain they came, and but to see Kind words and comfortable lost on me. 130 Go, go, my lambs, unpastur'd as ye are, My thoughts are all now due to other care. Ah blest indiff'rence of the playful herd, None by his fellow chosen or preferr'd! No bonds of amity the flocks enthrall, But each associates and is pleased with all; So graze the dappled deer in num'rous droves, And all his kind alike the zebra loves' The same law governs where the billows roar And Proteus' shoals o'erspread the desert shore; 140 The sparrow, meanest of the feather'd race, His fit companion finds in ev'ry place, With whom he picks the grain that suits him best, Flits here and there, and late returns to rest, And whom if chance the falcon make his prey, Or Hedger with his well-aim'd arrow slay, For no such loss the gay survivor grieves' New love he seeks, and new delight receives. We only, an obdurate kind, rejoice, Scorning all others, in a single choice, 150 We scarce in thousands meet one kindred mind, And if the long-sought good at last we find, When least we fear it, Death our treasure steals, And gives our heart a wound that nothing heals. Go, go, my lambs, unpastur'd as ye are, My thoughts are all now due to other care. Ah, what delusion lured me from my flocks, To traverse Alpine snows, and rugged rocks! What need so great had I to visit Rome Now sunk in ruins, and herself a tomb? 160 Or, had she flourish'd still as when, of old For her sake Tityrus forsook his fold, What need so great had I t'incur a pause Of thy sweet intercourse for such a cause, For such a cause to place the roaring sea, Rocks, mountains, woods, between my friend and me? Else, I had grasp'd thy feeble hand, composed Thy decent limbs, thy drooping eye-lids closed, And, at the last, had said—Farewell—Ascend— Nor even in the skies forget thy friend. 170 Go, go, my lambs, untended homeward fare, My thoughts are all now due to other care. Although well-pleas'd, ye tuneful Tuscan swains! My mind the mem'ry of your worth retains, Yet not your worth can teach me less to mourn My Damon lost—He too was Tuscan born, Born in your Lucca, city of renown, And Wit possess'd and Genius like your own. Oh how elate was I, when, stretch'd beside The murm'ring course of Arno's breezy tide, 180 Beneath the poplar-grove I pass'd my hours, Now cropping myrtles, and now vernal flow'rs, And hearing, as I lay at ease along, Your swains contending for the prize of song! I also dared attempt (and, as it seems Not much displeas'd attempting) various themes, For even I can presents boast from you, The shepherd's pipe and osier basket too, And Dati and Francini both have made My name familiar to the beechen shade, 190 And they are learn'd, and each in ev'ry place Renown'd for song, and both of Lydian Race. Go, go, my lambs, untended homeward fare, My thoughts are all now due to other care. While bright the dewy grass with moon-beams shone, And I stood hurdling in my kids alone, How often have I said (but thou had'st found Ere then thy dark cold lodgment under-ground) Now Damon sings, or springes sets for hares, Or wicker-work for various use prepares! 200 How oft, indulging Fancy, have I plann'd New scenes of pleasure, that I hop'd at hand, Call'd thee abroad as I was wont, and cried— What hoa, my friend—come, lay thy task aside— Haste, let us forth together, and beguile The heat beneath yon whisp'ring shades awhile, Or on the margin stray of Colne's5 clear flood, Or where Cassivelan's grey turrets stood! There thou shalt cull me simples, and shalt teach Thy friend the name and healing pow'rs of each, 210 From the tall blue-bell to the dwarfish weed, What the dry land and what the marshes breed, For all their kinds alike to thee are known, And the whole art of Galen6 is thy own. Ah, perish Galen's art, and wither'd be The useless herbs that gave not health to thee! Twelve evenings since, as in poetic dream I meditating sat some statelier theme, The reeds no sooner touch'd my lip, though new And unassay'd before, than wide they flew, 220 Bursting their waxen bands, nor could sustain The deep-ton'd music of the solemn strain; And I am vain perhaps, but will tell How proud a theme I choose—ye groves farewell! Go, go, my lambs, untended homeward fare, My thoughts are all now due to other care. Of Brutus, Dardan Chief, my song shall be,7 How with his barks he plough'd the British sea, First from Rutupia's tow'ring headland seen, And of his consort's reign, fair Imogen; 230 Of Brennus and Belinus, brothers bold,8 And of Arviragus, and how of old Our hardy sires th'Armorican controll'd, And the wife of Gorlois, who, surprised By Uther in her husband's form disguised, (Such was the force of Merlin's art) became Pregnant with Arthur of heroic fame.9 These themes I now revolve—and Oh—if Fate Proportion to these themes my lengthen'd date, Adieu my shepherd's-reed—yon pine-tree bough 240 Shall be thy future home, there dangle Thou Forgotten and disus'd, unless ere long Thou change thy Latin for a British song. A British?—even so—the pow'rs of Man Are bounded; little is the most he can, And it shall well suffice me, and shall be Fame and proud recompense enough for me, If Usa10 golden-hair'd my verse may learn, If Alain, bending o'er his chrystal urn, Swift-whirling Abra, Trent's o'ershadow'd stream, 250 Thames, lovelier far than all in my esteem Tamar's ore-tinctur'd flood, and, after these, The wave-worn shores of utmost Orcades Go, go, my lambs, untended homeward fare, My thoughts are all now due to other care. All this I kept in leaves of laurel-rind Enfolded safe, and for thy view design'd, This—and a gift from Manso's hand beside, (Manso, not least his native city's pride) Two cups, that radiant as their giver shone, 260 Adorn'd by sculpture with a double zone. The spring was graven there; here, slowly wind The Red-Sea shores with groves of spices lined; Her plumes of various hues amid the boughs The sacred, solitary Phoenix shows, And, watchful of the dawn, reverts her head To see Aurora11 leave her wat'ry bed. In other part, th'expansive vault above, And there too, even there, the God of love; With quiver arm'd he mounts, his torch displays 270 A vivid light, his gem-tip'd arrows blaze, Around, his bright and fiery eyes he rolls, Nor aims at vulgar minds or little souls Nor deigns one look below, but aiming high Sends every arrow to the lofty sky, Hence, forms divine, and minds immortal learn The pow'r of Cupid, and enamour'd burn. Thou also Damon (neither need I fear That hope delusive) thou art also there; For whither should simplicity like thine 280 Retire, where else such spotless virtue shine? Thou dwell'st not (thought profane) in shades below, Nor tears suit thee—cease then my tears to flow, Away with grief on Damon ill-bestow'd, Who, pure himself, has found a pure abode, Has pass'd the show'ry arch, henceforth resides With saints and heroes, and from flowing tides Quaffs copious immortality and joy With hallow'd lips. Oh! blest without alloy, And now enrich'd with all that faith can claim, 290 Look down entreated by whatever name, If Damon please thee most (that rural sound) Shall oft with ecchoes fill the groves around) Or if Diodatus, by which alone In those ethereal mansions thou art known. Thy blush was maiden, and thy youth the taste Of wedded bliss knew never, pure and chaste, The honours, therefore, by divine decree The lot of virgin worth are giv'n to thee; Thy brows encircled with a radiant band, 300 And the green palm-branch waving in thy hand Thou immortal Nuptials shalt rejoice And join with seraphs thy according voice, Where rapture reigns, and the ecstatic lyre Guides the blest orgies of the blazing quire.

1 A river in Sicily.

2 Subject of Theocritus's Lament for Daphnis (Idyl i) in which Thyrsis is the mourning shepherd. Hylas was taken away by nymphs who admired his beauty and Bion is the subject of Moschus's Epitaph of Bion (Idyl iii).

3 Goddess who was protector of the flocks. Faunus is god of the plains and hills around Rome.

4 Characters in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

5 A river near St. Albans. Cassivellaunus was a British chieftan who opposed Caesar. See Gallic War (v, xi.)

6 Medicine. Diodati took medical training at Cambridge.

7 Milton's planned epic opened with the Dardanian (i.e. Trojan) fleet, under Brutus, approaching England.

8 Brennus and Belinus were kings of Brittany who, according to Spencer's Fairie Queen, "rasackt Greece" and conquered France and Germany. Arviragus led the Britons against Claudius.

9 See Malory's Morte d'Arthur.

10 A river in Oxford.

11 Goddess of the Dawn.

To Mr. John Rouse, Librarian of the University of Oxford,

An Ode1 on a Lost Volume of my Poems Which He Desired Me to Replace that He Might Add Them to My Other Works Deposited in the Library.

Strophe I

My two-fold Book! single in show But double in Contents, Neat, but not curiously adorn'd Which in his early youth, A poet gave, no lofty one in truth Although an earnest wooer of the Muse— Say, while in cool Ausonian2 shades Or British wilds he roam'd, Striking by turns his native lyre, By turns the Daunian lute 10 And stepp'd almost in air,—


Say, little book, what furtive hand Thee from thy fellow books convey'd, What time, at the repeated suit Of my most learned Friend, I sent thee forth an honour'd traveller From our great city to the source of Thames, Caerulean sire! Where rise the fountains and the raptures ring, Of the Aonian choir,3 20 Durable as yonder spheres, And through the endless lapse of years Secure to be admired?

Strophe II

Now what God or Demigod For Britain's ancient Genius mov'd (If our afflicted land Have expiated at length the guilty sloth Of her degen'rate sons) Shall terminate our impious feuds, And discipline, with hallow'd voice, recall? 30 Recall the Muses too Driv'n from their antient seats In Albion, and well-nigh from Albion's shore, And with keen Phoebean shafts Piercing th'unseemly birds, Whose talons menace us Shall drive the harpy race from Helicon afar?


But thou, my book, though thou hast stray'd, Whether by treach'ry lost Or indolent neglect, thy bearer's fault, 40 From all thy kindred books, To some dark cell or cave forlorn, Where thou endur'st, perhaps, The chafing of some hard untutor'd hand, Be comforted— For lo! again the splendid hope appears That thou may'st yet escape The gulphs of Lethe, and on oary wings Mount to the everlasting courts of Jove,

Strophe III

Since Rouse desires thee, and complains 50 That, though by promise his, Thou yet appear'st not in thy place Among the literary noble stores Giv'n to his care, But, absent, leav'st his numbers incomplete. He, therefore, guardian vigilant Of that unperishing wealth, Calls thee to the interior shrine, his charge, Where he intends a richer treasure far Than Ion kept—(Ion, Erectheus' son4 60 Illustrious, of the fair Creusa born)— In the resplendent temple of his God, Tripods of gold and Delphic gifts divine.


Haste, then, to the pleasant groves, The Muses' fav'rite haunt; Resume thy station in Apollo's dome, Dearer to him Than Delos, or the fork'd Parnassian hill. Exulting go, Since now a splendid lot is also thine, 70 And thou art sought by my propitious friend; For There thou shalt be read With authors of exalted note, The ancient glorious Lights of Greece and Rome.


Ye, then my works, no longer vain And worthless deem'd by me! Whate'er this steril genius has produc'd Expect, at last, the rage of Envy spent, An unmolested happy home, Gift of kind Hermes and my watchful friend, 80 Where never flippant tongue profane Shall entrance find, And whence the coarse unletter'd multitude Shall babble far remote. Perhaps some future distant age Less tinged with prejudice and better taught Shall furnish minds of pow'r To judge more equally. Then, malice silenced in the tomb, Cooler heads and sounder hearts, 90 Thanks to Rouse, if aught of praise I merit, shall with candour weigh the claim.

1 This Ode consists of three strophes and the same of antistrophes, concluding with an epode. Although these units do not perfectly correspond in their number of verses or in divisions which are strictly parallel, nevertheless I have divided them in this fashion with a view to convenience or the reader, rather than conformity with the ancient rules of versification. In other respects a poem of this kind should, perhaps, more correctly be called monostrophic. The metres are in part regularly patterned and in part free. There are two Phaleucian verses which admit a spondee in the third foot, a practice often followed by Catullus in the second foot. [Milton's Note, translated—W.C.]

1 This Ode is rendered without rhyme, that it might more adequately represent the original, which, as Milton himself informs us, is of no certain measure. It may possibly for this reason disappoint the reader, though it cost the writer more labour than the translation of any other piece in the whole collection.—W.C.

2 Italian.

3 The Muses, who dwelt on Mount Helicon in Aonia.

4 See Euripides' Ion.

Paradisum Amissam, Lib. II 1

Quales aerii montis de vertice nubes Cum surgunt, et jam Boreae tumida ora quierunt, Caelum hilares abdit spissa caligine vultus, Nimbosumque nives aut imbres cogitat aether: Tum si jucundo tandem sol prodeat ore, 5 Et croceo montes et pascua lumine tingat, Gaudent omnia, aves mulcent concentibus agros, Balatuque ovium colles vallesque resultant.

1 Translation of a simile in Paradise Lost, "As when, from mountaintops, the dusky clouds Ascending, &c.—"(ii. 488)—W.C.



Fair Lady, whose harmonious name the Rheno Through all his grassy vale delights to hear, Base were, indeed, the wretch, who could forbear To love a spirit elegant as thine, That manifests a sweetness all divine, 5 Nor knows a thousand winning acts to spare, And graces, which Love's bow and arrows are, Temp'ring thy virtues to a softer shine. When gracefully thou speak'st, or singest gay Such strains as might the senseless forest move, 10 Ah then—turn each his eyes and ears away, Who feels himself unworthy of thy love! Grace can alone preserve him, e'er the dart Of fond desire yet reach his inmost heart.


As on a hill-top rude, when closing day Imbrowns the scene, some past'ral maiden fair Waters a lovely foreign plant with care, That scarcely can its tender bud display Borne from its native genial airs away, 5 So, on my tongue these accents new and rare Are flow'rs exotic, which Love waters there, While thus, o sweetly scornful! I essay Thy praise in verse to British ears unknown, And Thames exchange for Arno's fair domain; 10 So Love has will'd, and oftimes Love has shown That what He wills he never wills in vain. Oh that this hard and steril breast might be To Him who plants from heav'n, a soil as free.

III Canzone.

They mock my toil—the nymphs and am'rous swains— And whence this fond attempt to write, they cry, Love-songs in language that thou little know'st? How dar'st thou risque to sing these foreign strains? Say truly. Find'st not oft thy purpose cross'd, 5 And that thy fairest flow'rs, Here, fade and die? Then with pretence of admiration high— Thee other shores expect, and other tides, Rivers on whose grassy sides Her deathless laurel-leaf with which to bind 10 Thy flowing locks, already Fame provides; Why then this burthen, better far declin'd? Speak, Canzone! for me.—The Fair One said who guides My willing heart, and all my Fancy's flights, "This is the language in which Love delights." 15

IV To Charles Diodati.

Charles—and I say it wond'ring—thou must know That I who once assum'd a scornful air, And scoff'd at love, am fallen in his snare (Full many an upright man has fallen so) Yet think me not thus dazzled by the flow 5 Of golden locks, or damask cheek; more rare The heart-felt beauties of my foreign fair; A mien majestic, with dark brows, that show The tranquil lustre of a lofty mind; Words exquisite, of idioms more than one, 10 And song, whose fascinating pow'r might bind, And from her sphere draw down the lab'ring Moon, With such fire-darting eyes, that should I fill My ears with wax, she would enchant me still.


Lady! It cannot be, but that thine eyes Must be my sun, such radiance they display And strike me ev'n as Phoebus him, whose way Through torrid Libya's sandy desert lies. Meantime, on that side steamy vapours rise 5 Where most I suffer. Of what kind are they, New as to me they are, I cannot say, But deem them, in the Lover's language—sighs. Some, though with pain, my bosom close conceals, Which, if in part escaping thence, they tend 10 To soften thine, they coldness soon congeals. While others to my tearful eyes ascend, Whence my sad nights in show'rs are ever drown'd, 'Till my Aurora comes, her brow with roses bound.


Enamour'd, artless, young, on foreign ground, Uncertain whither from myself to fly, To thee, dear Lady, with an humble sigh Let me devote my heart, which I have found By certain proofs not few, intrepid, sound, 5 Good, and addicted to conceptions high: When tempests shake the world, and fire the sky, It rests in adamant self-wrapt around, As safe from envy, and from outrage rude, From hopes and fears, that vulgar minds abuse, 10 As fond of genius, and fix'd fortitude, Of the resounding lyre, and every Muse. Weak you will find it in one only part, Now pierc'd by Love's immedicable dart.

1 It has ever been thought difficult for an author to speak gracefully of himself, especially in commendation; but Milton, who was gifted with powers to overcome difficulties, of every kind, is eminently happy in this particular. He has spoken frequently of himself both in verse and prose, and he continually shows that he thought highly of his own endowments; but if he praises himself, he does it with that dignified frankness and simplicity of conscious truth, which renders even egotism respectable and delightful: whether he describes the fervent and tender emotions of his juvenile fancy, or delineates his situation in the decline of life, when he had to struggle with calamity and peril, the more insight he affords us into his own sentiments and feelings, the more reason we find both to love, and revere him.—W.C.

Appendix: Cowper's translation of Andrew Marvell's "To Christina, Queen of Sweden," &c.

To Christina, Queen of Sweden, with Cromwell's Picture.1

Christina, maiden of heroic mien! Star of the North! of northern stars the queen! Behold, what wrinkles I have earn'd, and how The iron cask still chafes my vet'ran brow, While following fate's dark footsteps, I fulfill The dictates of a hardy people's will. But soften'd, in thy sight, my looks appear, Not to all Queens or Kings alike severe.

1 Written on Cromwell's behalf, this poem was originally attr. to Milton, hence Cowper's inclusion of it. It has since been recognized as the work of Marvell.

Appendix: Poems from the Latin Prose Works. Translated by various hands.

Epigram From "Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio" (I650). Translated by Joseph Washington (I692).

On Salmasius's "Hundreda."

Who taught Salmasius, the French chatt'ring Pye,1 To try at English, and "Hundreda"2 cry? The starving Rascal, flush'd with just a Hundred English Jacobusses,3 "Hundreda" blunder'd. An outlaw'd King's last stock.—a hundred more, Would make him pimp for th'Antichristian Whore;4 And in Rome's praise employ his poison'd Breath, Who once threatn'd to stink the Pope to death.

1 i.e. The Magpie. 2 Salmasius attempted to do certain English words in his Latin. a "Hundred" was a division of an English shire. 3 The Jacobus was a gold coin named for James I. 4 Salmasius attacked the Pope in "De Primatu Papae" in I645.

Epigrams from the "Defensio Secunda" (I654). Translated by Robert Fellowes (I878?).

On Salmasius.

Rejoice, ye herrings, and ye ocean fry, Who, in cold winter, shiver in the sea; The knight, Salmasius,1 pitying your hard lot, Bounteous intends your nakedness to clothe, And, lavish of his paper, is preparing Chartaceous jackets to invest you all, Jackets resplendent with his arms and fame, Exultingly parade the fishy mart, And sing his praise with checquered, livery, That well might serve to grace the letter'd store Of those who pick their noses and ne'er read.

1 A play on "Salmon."

[Lines Concerning Alexander More.]1

O Pontia, teeming with More's Gallic seed, You have been Mor'd2 enough, and no More need.

1 Wrongly attr. to Milton, who prefaced these lines with, "Ingenii, hoc distochon" [Some ingenious person wrote this distich]. Milton wrongly believed More to be the author of a libel against him.

2 It is impossible to give a literally exact rendering of this. I have played upon the name as well as I could in English.—R.F.

Appendix: Translation of a Letter to Thomas Young, Translated by Robert Fellows (I878?).

To My Tutor, Thomas Young.

Though I had determined, my excellent tutor, to write you an epistle in verse, yet I could not satisfy myself without sending also another in prose, for the emotions of my gratitude, which your services so justly inspire, are too expansive and too warm to be expressed in the confined limits of poetical metre; they demand the unconstrained freedom of prose, or rather the exuberant richness of Asiatic phraseology: thought it would far exceed my power accurately to describe how much I am obliged to you, even if I could drain dry all the sources of eloquence, or exhaust all the topics of discourse which Aristotle or the famed Parisian logician has collected. You complain with truth that my letters have been very few and very short; but I do not grieve at the omission of so pleasurable a duty, so much as I rejoice at having such a place in your regard as makes you anxious often to hear from me. I beseech you not to take it amiss, that I have not now written to you for more than three years; but with you usual benignity to impute it rather to circumstances than to inclination. For Heaven knows that I regard you as a parent, that I have always treated you with the utmost respect, and that I was unwilling to tease you with my compositions. And I was anxious that if my letters had nothing else to recommend them, they might be recommended by their rarity. And lastly, since the ardour of my regard makes me imagine that you are always present, that I hear your voice and contemplate your looks; and as thus... I charm away my grief by the illusion of your presence, I was afraid when I wrote to you the idea of your distant separation should forcibly rush upon my mind; and that the pain of your absence, which was almost soothed into quiescence, should revive and disperse the pleasurable dream. I long since received your desirable present of the Hebrew Bible. I wrote this at my lodgings in the city, not, as usual, surrounded by my books. If, therefore, there be anything in this letter which either fails to give pleasure, or which frustrates expectation, it shall be compensated by a more elaborate composition as soon as I return to the dwelling of the muses.1 —London, March 26, I625.

1 i.e. Cambridge.

Appendix: Translations of the Italian Poems By George MacDonald (I876).


O lady fair, whose honoured name doth grace Green vale and noble ford of Rheno's stream— Of all worth void the man I surely deem Whom thy fair soul enamoureth not apace, When softly self-revealed in outer space 5 By actions sweet with which thy will doth teem, And gifts—Love's bow and shafts in their esteem Who tend the flowers one day shall crown thy race. When thou dost lightsome talk or gladsome sing,— A power to draw the hill-trees, rooted hard— 10 The doors of eyes and ears let that man keep, Who knows himself unworthy thy regard. Grace from above alone him help can bring, That passion in his heart strike not too deep.


As in the twilight brown, on hillside bare, Useth to go the little shepherd maid, Watering some strange fair plant, poorly displaced, Not thriving in unwonted soil and air, Far from its native springtime's genial care; 5 So on my ready tongue hath Love assayed Of a strange speech to wake new flower and blade, While I of thee, in scorn so debonair, Sing songs whose sense is to my people lost- Yield the fair Thames, and the fair Arno gain. 10 Love willed it so, and I, at others' cost, Already knew Love never willed in vain. Ill would slow mind, hard heart reward the toil Of him who plants from heaven so good a soil,

III. Canzone.

Ladies, and youths that in their favour bask, With mocking smiles come round me: Prithee, why, Why dost thou with an unknown language cope, Love-riming? Whence the courage for the task? Tell us—so never frustrate be thy hope, 5 And the best thoughts still to thy thinking fly! Thus mocking they: Thee other streams, they cry, Thee other shores, another sea demands, Upon whose verdant strands Are budding, every moment, for thy hair, 10 Immortal guerdon, leaves that will not die; An over-burden on thy back why bear?— Song,1 I will tell thee; thou for me reply: My lady saith-and her word is my heart— This is Love's mother-tongue, and fits his part. 15

1 Ital. "Canzone."

IV. To Charles Diodati.

Diodati—and I muse to tell the tale— This stubborn I, that Love was wont despise, And made a laughter of his snares, unwise, Am fallen, where honest feet will sometimes fail. Not golden tresses, not a cheek vermeil, 5 Bewitched me thus; but, in a new-world guise, A beauty that the heart beatifies; A mien where high-souled modesty I hail; Eyes softly splendent with a darkness dear; A speech that more than one tongue vassal hath; 10 A voice that in the middle hemisphere Might make the tired moon wander from her path; While from her eyes such potent flashes shoot, That to stop hard my ears would little boot.


Truly,1 my lady sweet, your blessed eyes— It cannot be but that they are my sun; As strong they smite me as he smites upon The man whose way o'er Libyan desert lies, The while a vapour hot doth me surprise, 5 From that side springing where my pain doth won; Perchance accustomed lovers—I am none, And know not—in their speech call such things sighs; A part shut in, itself, sore vexed, conceals, And shakes my bosom; part, undisciplined, 10 Breaks forth, and all about in ice congeals; But that which to mine eyes the way doth find, Makes all my nights in silent showers abound, Until my Dawn2 returns, with roses crowned.

1 Correcting MacDonald's "Certes" (Ital. "Per Certo"). 2 [Ital.] "Alba"-I suspect a hint at the lady's name.-G.M.


A modest youth, in love a simpleton, When to escape myself I seek and shift, Lady, I of my heart the humble gift Vow unto thee. In trials many a one, True, brave, it has been, firm to things begun, 5 By gracious, prudent, worthy thoughts uplift. When roars the great world, in the thunder-rift, Its own self, armour adamant, it will don, From chance and envy as securely barred, From hopes and fears that still the crowd abuse, 10 As inward gifts and high worth coveting, And the resounding lyre, and every Muse. There only wilt thou find it not so hard Where Love hath fixed his ever cureless sting.


Previous Part     1  2
Home - Random Browse