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But often in their journeys, as they fly,
On flints they tear their silken wings, or lie
Grovelling beneath their flowery load, and die.
Thus love of honey can an insect fire,
And in a fly such generous thoughts inspire.
Yet by repeopling their decaying state,
Though seven short springs conclude their vital date,
Their ancient stocks eternally remain,
And in an endless race their children's children reign.
No prostrate vassal of the East can more
With slavish fear his haughty prince adore;
His life unites 'em all; but, when he dies,
All in loud tumults and distractions rise;
They waste their honey and their combs deface,
And wild confusion reigns in every place.
Him all admire, all the great guardian own,
And crowd about his courts, and buzz about his throne.
Oft on their backs their weary prince they bear,
Oft in his cause, embattled in the air,
Pursue a glorious death, in wounds and war.
Some, from such instances as these, have taught, "The bees' extract is heavenly; for they thought The universe alive; and that a soul,
Diffused throughout the matter of the whole,
To all the vast unbounded frame was given,
And ran through earth, and air, and sea, and all the deep of
That this first kindled life in man and beast,
Life, that again flows into this at last.
That no compounded animal could die,
But when dissolved, the spirit mounted high,
Dwelt in a star, and settled in the sky."
Whene'er their balmy sweets you mean to seize,
And take the liquid labours of the bees,
Spurt draughts of water from your mouth, and drive
A loathsome cloud of smoke amidst their hive.
Twice in the year their flowery toils begin,
And twice they fetch their dewy harvest in;
Once, when the lovely Pleiades arise,
And add fresh lustre to the summer skies;
And once, when hastening from the watery sign,
They quit their station, and forbear to shine.
The bees are prone to rage, and often found To perish for revenge, and die upon the wound. Their venomed sting produces aching pains, And swells the flesh, and shoots among the veins. When first a cold hard winter's storms arrive, And threaten death or famine to their hive, If now their sinking state and low affairs Can move your pity, and provoke your cares, Fresh burning thyme before their cells convey, And cut their dry and husky wax away; For often lizards seize the luscious spoils, Or drones, that riot on another's toils: Oft broods of moths infest the hungry swarms, And oft the furious wasp their hive alarms With louder hums, and with unequal arms; Or else the spider at their entrance sets Her snares, and spins her bowels into nets.
When sickness reigns, (for they as well as we Feel all the effects of frail mortality,) By certain marks the new disease is seen, Their colour changes, and their looks are thin; Their funeral rites are formed, and every bee With grief attends the sad solemnity; The few diseased survivors hang before Their sickly cells, and droop about the door, Or slowly in their hives their limbs unfold, Shrunk up with hunger, and benumbed with cold; In drawling hums the feeble insects grieve, And doleful buzzes echo through the hive, Like winds that softly murmur through the trees, Like flames pent up, or like retiring seas. Now lay fresh honey near their empty rooms, In troughs of hollow reeds, whilst frying gums Cast round a fragrant mist of spicy fumes. Thus kindly tempt the famished swarm to eat, And gently reconcile 'em to their meat. Mix juice of galls, and wine, that grow in time Condensed by fire, and thicken to a slime; To these dried roses, thyme, and century join, And raisins, ripened on the Psythian vine.
Besides, there grows a flower in marshy ground, Its name Amellus, easy to be found;
A mighty spring works in its root, and cleaves
The sprouting stalk, and shows itself in leaves:
The flower itself is of a golden hue,
The leaves inclining to a darker blue;
The leaves shoot thick about the flower, and grow
Into a bush, and shade the turf below:
The plant in holy garlands often twines
The altars' posts, and beautifies the shrines
Its taste is sharp, in vales new-shorn it grows,
Where Mella's stream in watery mazes flows.
Take plenty of its roots, and boil 'em well
In wine, and heap 'em up before the cell.
But if the whole stock fail, and none survive;
To raise new people, and recruit the hive,
I'll here the great experiment declare,
That spread the Arcadian shepherd's name so far.
How bees from blood of slaughtered bulls have fled,
And swarms amidst the red corruption bred.
For where the Egyptians yearly see their bounds Refreshed with floods, and sail about their grounds, Where Persia borders, and the rolling Nile Drives swiftly down the swarthy Indians' soil, Till into seven it multiplies its stream, And fattens Egypt with a fruitful slime: In this last practice all their hope remains, And long experience justifies their pains.
First then a close contracted space of ground,
With straitened walls and low-built roof, they found;
A narrow shelving light is next assigned
To all the quarters, one to every wind;
Through these the glancing rays obliquely pierce :
Hither they lead a bull that's young
When two years' growth of horn he proudly shows,
And shakes the comely terrors of his brows:
His nose and mouth, the avenues of breath,
They muzzle up, and beat his limbs to death;
With violence to life and stifling pain
He flings and spurns, and tries to snort in vain,
Loud heavy mows fall thick on every side,
Till his bruised bowels burst within the hide;
When dead, they leave him rotting on the ground,
With branches, thyme and cassia, strowed around.
All this is done, when first the western breeze
Becalms the year, and smooths the troubled seas;
Before the chattering swallow builds her nest,
Or fields in spring's embroidery are drest.
Meanwhile the tainted juice ferments within,
And quickens as it works: and now are seen
A wondrous swarm, that o'er the carcass crawls,
Of shapeless, rude, unfinished animals.
No legs at first the insect's weight sustain,
At length it moves its new-made limbs with pain;
Now strikes the air with quivering wings, and tries
To lift its body up, and learns to rise;
Now bending thighs and gilded wings it wears
Full grown, and all the bee at length appears;
side the fruitful carcass pours
Its swarming brood, as thick as summer showers,
Or flights of arrows from the Parthian bows,
When twanging strings first shoot 'em on the foes.
Thus have I sung the nature of the bee.
While Cæsar, towering to divinity,
The frighted Indians with his thunder awed,
And claimed their homage, and commenced a god;
I flourished all the while in arts of peace,
Retired and sheltered in inglorious ease;
I who before the songs of shepherds made,
When gay and young my rural lays I played,
And set my Tityrus beneath his shade.
A SONG FOR ST. CECILIA'S DAY,
CECILIA, whose exalted hymns
With joy and wonder fill the blest,
In choirs of warbling seraphims,
Known and distinguished from the rest,
1 The success of Alexander's Feast made it fashionable for succeeding poets to try their hand at a musical ode; but they mistook the matter, when they thought it enough to contend with Mr. Dryden.-It was reserved for one or two of our days to give us a true idea of lyric poetry in English.
Attend, harmonious saint, and see
Thy vocal sons of harmony;
Attend, harmonious saint, and hear our prayers;
Enliven all our earthly airs,
And, as thou sing'st thy God, teach us to sing of thee:
Tune every string and every tongue,
Be thou the muse and subject of our song.
Let all Cecilia's praise proclaim,
Employ the echo in her name.
Hark how the flutes and trumpets raise,
At bright Cecilia's name, their lays;
The organ labours in her praise.
Cecilia's name does all our numbers grace,
From every voice the tuneful accents fly,
In soaring trebles now it rises high,
And now it sinks, and dwells upon the base.
Cecilia's name through all the notes we sing,
The work of every skilful tongue,
The sound of every trembling string,
The sound and triumph of our song.
For ever consecrate the day,
To music and Cecilia;
Music, the greatest good that mortals know,
And all of heaven we have below.
Music can noble hints impart,
Engender fury, kindle love;
With unsuspected eloquence can move,
And manage all the man with secret art.
When Orpheus strikes the trembling lyre,
The streams stand still, the stones admire;
The listening savages advance,
The wolf and lamb around him trip,
The bears in awkward measures leap,
And tigers mingle in the dance.
The moving woods attended, as he played,
And Rhodope was left without a shade.
Music religious heats inspires,
It wakes the soul, and lifts it high,