« AnteriorContinuar »
The hook she bore instead of Cynthia's spear,
To lop the growth of the luxuriant year,
To decent form the lawless shoots to bring,
And teach th' obedient branches where to spring.
Now the cleft rind inserted graffs receives,
And yields an offspring more than nature gives;
Now sliding streams the thirsty plants renew,
And feed their fibres with reviving dew.
These cares alone her virgin breast employ,
Averse from Venus and the nuptial joy.
Her private orchards, wall'd on ev'ry side,
To lawless sylvans all access deny'd.
How oft the Satyrs and the wanton Fawns,
Who haunt the forests, or frequent the lawns,
The God whose ensign scares the birds of prey1,
And old Silenus, youthful in decay,
Employ'd their wiles, and unavailing care,
To pass the fences, and surprise the fair.
Like these, Vertumnus own'd his faithful flame,
Like these, rejected by the scornful dame.
To gain her sight a thousand forms he wears,
And first a reaper from the field appears,
Sweating he walks, while loads of golden grain
O'ercharge the shoulders of the seeming swain.
Oft o'er his back a crooked scythe is laid,
And wreathes of hay his sun-burnt temples shade:
Oft in his harden'd hand a goad he bears,
Like one who late unyok'd the sweating steers.
Sometimes his pruning-hook corrects the vines,
And the loose stragglers to their ranks confines.
Now gath'ring what the bounteous year allows,
He pulls ripe apples from the bending boughs.
A soldier now, he with his sword appears;
A fisher next, his trembling angle bears;
Each shape he varies, and each art he tries,
On her bright charms to feast his longing eyes.
A female form at last Vertumnus wears,
With all the marks of rev'rend age appears,
His temples thinly spread with silver hairs;
Propp'd on his staff, and stooping as he goes,
A painted mitre shades his furrow'd brows.
The God in this decrepit form array'd,
The gardens enter'd, and the fruit survey'd,
And "Happy you!" (he thus address'd the maid)
"Whose charms as far all other nymphs out-shine,
"As other gardens are excell'd by thine!"
Then kiss'd the fair; (his kisses warmer grow
Than such as women on their sex bestow.)
Then plac'd beside her on the flow'ry ground,
Beheld the trees with autumn's bounty crown'd.
An Elm was near, to whose embraces led,
The curling vine her swelling clusters spread:
He view'd her twining branches with delight,
And prais'd the beauty of the pleasing sight.
"Yet this tall elm, but for his vine" (he said)
"Had stood. neglected, and a barren shade;
And this fair vine, but that her arms surround
Her marry'd elm, had crept along the ground.
Ah beauteous maid, let this example move
Your mind, averse from all the joys of love.
Deign to be lov'd, and ev'ry heart subdue!
What nymph could e'er attract such crowds as you?
Not she whose beauty urg'd the Centaurs' arms,
Ulysses' Queen, nor Helen's fatal charms.
Ev'n now, when silent scorn is all they gain,
(Far more than e'er can by yourself be guess'd)
Fix on Vertumnus, and reject the rest.
For his firm faith I dare engage my own;
Scarce to himself, himself is better known.
To distant lands Vertumnus never roves;
Like you contented with his native groves;
Nor at first sight, like most, admires the fair;
For you he lives; and you alone shall share
His last affection, as his early care.
Besides, he's lovely far above the rest,
With youth immortal, and with beauty blest.
Add, that he varies ev'ry shape with ease,
And tries all forms that may Pomona please.
But what should most excite a mutual flame,
Your rural cares, and pleasures are the same:
To him your orchard's early fruits are due,
(A pleasing off'ring when 'tis made by you)
He values these; but yet (alas) complains,
That still the best and dearest gift remains.
Not the fair fruit that on yon' branches glows
With that ripe red th' autumnal sun bestows;
Nor tasteful herbs that in these gardens rise,
Which the kind soil with milky sap supplies;
You, only you, can move the God's desire:
Oh crown so constant and so pure a fire!
Let soft compassion touch your gentle mind;
Think, 'tis Vertumnus begs you to be kind!
So may no frost, when early buds appear,
Destroy the promise of the youthful year;
Nor winds, when first your florid orchard blows,
Shake the light blossoms from their blasted boughs!"
This when the various God had urg'd in vain,
He straight assum'd his native form again;
Such, and so bright an aspect now he bears,
As when thro' clouds th' emerging sun appears,
And thence exerting his refulgent ray,
Dispels the darkness, and reveals the day.
Force he prepar'd, but check'd the rash design;
For when, appearing in a form divine,
The Nymph surveys him, and beholds the grace
Of charming features, and a youthful face,
In her soft breast consenting passions move,
And the warm maid confess'd a mutual love.
IMITATIONS OF ENGLISH POETS.
Done by the Author in his Youth.
[THESE Imitations, of which the precise date is unknown, besides proving the imitative powers of Pope as a boy show him to have been even at that period of his life the most facile of versifiers. There is considerable humour, and unfortunately not a little pruriency, in some of these productions. The imitation of Spenser, while hitting a blot of which it would be difficult to deny the presence in some passages of the noblest of English poets, is in spirit unworthy of even the most juvenile parodist. Thomson who in his Castle of Indolence considered that "the obsolete words, and a simplicity of diction in some of the lines, which borders on the ludicrous, were necessary to make the imitation more perfect,' can hardly be said either to have honoured Spenser's poetic name, or raised his own by that elaborate attempt at a reverential burlesque. Waller was one of the poets who exercised the greatest influence upon Pope's versification; yet the imitations are hardly successful, except as to the treatment of the subject in the lines on a Fan. Garden (Cowley) is a feeble attempt to reproduce the play of fancy, admirable even in its extravagance, of the most magnificent among the poets of the English Fantastic School. Weeping is perhaps slightly more successful in this direction. In the remaining Imitations Pope found both fairer and easier game. Rochester's triplets on Nothing are happily parodied in those on Silence, so far as in the first part of the former they anticipated the meaningless sonorousness of reflexions equal in value to the famous
'Nought is everything, and everything is nought'
but they miss the touch of genuine wit which redeems Rochester's lines towards the close. Dorset's queer mixture of French frivolity and Dutch coarseness is fairly reproduced in Artemisia and Phryne; though an imitation at least equally amusing exists from the hand of Fenton, who among the styles of other poets was so successful in appropriating that of Pope himself. The Happy Life of a Country Parson is in Swift's best vein, and might be easily mistaken for some of the Dean's own verse, differing from prose solely by the quality of being the best and easiest English verse ever written.]
WOMEN ben full of Ragerie,
Yet swinken not sans secresie.
Thilke Moral shall ye understond,
From Schoole-boy's Tale of fayre Irelond:
Which to the Fennes hath him betake,
To filch the gray Ducke fro the Lake.
Right then, there passen by the Way
His Aunt, and eke her Daughters tway.
Ducke in his Trowses hath he hent,
Not to be spied of Ladies gent.
"But ho! our Nephew," (crieth_one)
"Ho!" quoth another, "Cozen John;"
And stoppen, and lough, and callen out,-
This sely Clerk full low doth lout:
They asken that, and talken this,
"Lo here is Coz, and here is Miss."
But, as he glozeth with Speeches soote,
The Ducke sore tickleth his Erse-roote:
Fore-piece and buttons all-to-brest,
Forth thrust a white neck, and red crest.
"Te-he," cry'd Ladies; Clerke nought spake :
Miss star'd; and gray Ducke crieth Quake.
"O Moder, Moder," (quoth the daughter)
"Be thilke same thing Maids longer a'ter?
"Bette is to pyne on coals and chalke,
"Then trust on Mon, whose yerde can talke."
The short thick Sob, loud Scream, and shriller Squall:
How can ye, Mothers, vex your Children so?
Some play, some eat, some cack against the wall,
And as they crouchen low, for bread and butter call.
1[Geoffry Chaucer, born in 1328 died in 1400. The above imitates the style of some of the Canterbury Tales, of which however none is in the metre adopted by Pope, which is that of Chaucer's earlier poems, the Romaunt of the Rose
and the House of Fame.]
[Edmund Spenser, born in 1553, died in 1599. His Faerie Queene, of which Pope has ventured to parody some of the inferior passages, was published in instalments from the year 1590.]
And on the broken pavement, here and there,
Doth many a stinking sprat and herring lie;
A brandy and tobacco shop is near,
And hens, and dogs, and hogs are feeding by;
And here a sailor's jacket hangs to dry.
At ev'ry door are sun-burnt matrons seen,
Mending old nets to catch the scaly fry;
Now singing shrill, and scolding eft between ;
Scolds answer foul-mouth'd scolds; bad neighbourhood I ween.
The snappish cur, (the passengers' annoy)
Close at my heel with yelping treble flies;
The whimp'ring girl, and hoarser-screaming boy,
Join to the yelping treble shrilling cries;
The scolding Quean to louder notes doth rise,
And her full pipes those shrilling cries confound;
To her full pipes the grunting hog replies;
The grunting hogs alarm the neighbours round,
And curs, girls, boys, and scolds, in the deep bass are drown'd.
Hard by a Sty, beneath a roof of thatch,
Dwelt Obloquy, who in her early days
Baskets of fish at Billingsgate did watch,
Cod, whiting, oyster, mackrel, sprat, or plaice:
There learn'd she speech from tongues that never cease.
Slander beside her, like a Mag-pie, chatters,
With Envy, (spitting Cat) dread foe to peace;
Like a curs'd Cur, Malice before her clatters,
And vexing ev'ry wight, tears clothes and all to tatters.
Her dugs were mark'd by ev'ry Collier's hand,
Her mouth was black as bull-dogs at the stall:
She scratched, bit, and spar'd ne lace ne band,
And bitch and rogue her answer was to all;
Nay, e'en the parts of shame by name would call:
Yea, when she passed by or lane or nook,
Would greet the man who turn'd him to the Wall,
And by his hand obscene the porter took,
Nor ever did askance like modest Virgin look.
Such place hath Deptford, navy-building town,
Woolwich and Wapping smelling strong of pitch;
Such Lambeth, envy of each band and gown,
And Twick'nam such, which fairer scenes enrich,
Grots, statues, urns, and Jo-n's1 Dog and Bitch,
1 Old Mr. Johnston, the retired Scotch Secretary of State, who lived at Twickenham. Car ruthers.