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At length with skill great Ennius struck the lyre,
Lucilius glow'd with all the Muse's fire;
Politer Horace blended strength with art,
And ere he chid, was master of the heart;
Ardent, impressive, eloquent, sublime,
Th’Aquinian brook'd no compromise with crime:
Nor with less lustre that stern satirist shone,
Whose moral thunders roll’d around the throne,
Whose vengeful bolts at Rome's oppressor hurl'd,
Alarm'd the tyrant, and amazed his world.
Late as I slumber'd in yon woodbine bower,
And Fancy ruled the visionary hour;
Methought, conducted by an unknown hand,
I roam’d delighted o'er Liguria's land ;
Beheld its forests spread before my eyes,
Its fanes, its palaces, its temples rise :
When lo, the sun-burnt Genius of the soil,
Ruddy his cheek, his arm inured to toil,
Before me walk'd, and to a gloomy shade,
O'ergrown with herbage wild, my steps convey'd;
Clear'd the rude path, and with his beechen spear
Show'd where a laurel, half conceal'd, grew near.
“ Behold that tree,” he cried, “ neglected pine, “ Hang its green bays, its drooping head decline; « The Muses bade it for their Persius bloom, “ O'ershade his hes, and adorn his tomb. “ Rapt Meditation oft by moonlight eve, “ To wander here, a world unloved would leave, “ Self-communing: here patient Grief would fly, “ And lift to heaven the tear-unsullied eye: “ Here stern Philosophy would muse alone, “ And Wisdom call’d this peaceful grove her own: “ Religion too would quit celestial bowers, “ In this fair spot to gather earthly flowers. “ But envious thorns, that none its worth might see,
Sprang from the ground to hide this beauteous tree; “ Haste then, O stranger, to this place draw nigh, “ To kill the brambles, lest the laurel die.” Straight, as he spake, methought an axe I seized, (For Fancy smiled, and with the work was pleased.) Already the rude wilderness was clear'd, And the green laurel full in view appear'd; When his dark wings retiring Morpheus spread, And the loved vision with my slumbers fled. Oft since that hour I've linger'd o'er thy page, O youth lamented, at too green an age !
And if the Muse, propitious, hear my strains,
Assist the labour, or reward the pains,
That laurel, Persius, which once bloom'd for thee,
Again shall flourish, and revive for me.
Nec fonte labra prolui Caballino :
Nec in bicipiti somniasse Parnasso
Memini, ut repente sic Poëta prodirem.
Heliconiadasque, pallidamque Pyrenen
Illis remitto, quorum imagines lambunt
Hederæ sequaces : ipse semipaganus
Ad sacra vatum carmen affero nostrum.
Quis expedivit psittaco suum gañge,
Picasque docuit nostra verba conari ?
Magister artis, ingeniique largitor
Venter, negatas artifex sequi voces.
Quod si dolosi spes refulserit nummi, .
Corvos poëtas, et poëtrias picas
Cantare credas Pegaseium melos.