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THE FOURTH PASTORAL, OR DAPHNE.
To the Memory of Mrs. Tempest.
LYCIDAS. THYRSIS, the music of that murmuring spring Is not so mournful as the strains you sing; Nor rivers winding through the vales below, So sweetly warble, or so smoothly flow. Now sleeping flocks on their soft fleeces lie, The moon, serene in glory, mounts the sky, While silent birds forget their tuneful lays; O sing of Daphne's fate, and Daphne's praise !
THYRSIS. Behold the groves that shine with silver frost, Their beauty wither'd, and their verdure lost. Here shall I try the sweet Alexis' strain, That call'd the listening Dryads to the plain? Thames heard the numbers as he flow'd along, And bade his willows learn the moving song.
LYCIDAS. So may kind rains their vital moisture yield, And swell the future harvest of the field. Begin; this charge the dying Daphne gave, And said, ' Ye shepherds sing around my grave!" Sing, while beside the shaded tomb I mourn, And with fresh bays her rural shrine adorn.
THYRSIS. Ye gentle muses, leave your crystal spring, Let nymphs and sylvans cypress garlands bring; Ye weeping loves, the stream with myrtles hide, And break your bows as when Adonis dy'd;
And with your golden darts, now useless grown,
'Tis done, and nature's various charms decay:
For her the flocks refuse their verdant food,
No grateful dews descend from evening skies,
No more the mounting larks, while Daphne sings,
Her fate is whisper'd by the gentle breeze,
The silver flood, so lately calm, appears
But see! where Daphne wondering mounts on high,
A sacred Eclogue, in Imitation of Virgil's Pollio.
In reading several passages of the prophet Isaiah,
which foretel the coming of Christ, and the felicities attending it, I could not but observe a remarkable parity between many of the thoughts, and those in the Pollio of Virgil. This will not seem surprising, when we reflect, that the eclogue was taken from a Sibyline prophecy on the same subject. One may judge that Virgil did not copy it line for line; but selected such ideas as best agreed with the nature of pastoral poetry, and disposed them in that manner which served most to beautify his piece. I have endeavoured the same in this imitation of him, though without ad. mitting any thing of my own; since it was written with this particular view, that the reader, by comparing the several thoughts, might see how far the images and descriptions of the prophet are superior to those of the poet. But as I fear I have prejudiced them by my management, I shall subjoin the passages of Isaiah, and those of Virgil, under the same disadvantage of a literal translation.
YE nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:
To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong. The mossy fountains and the sylvan shades, The dreams of Pindus and Aonian maids,
Delight no more--O thou my voice inspire
Rapt into future times, the bard begun:
IMITATIONS. Ver. 8. A Virgin shall conceive.--All crimes shall cease, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 6.
Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
• Now the virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn returns, now a new progeny is sent down from high heaven. By means thee, whatever reliques of our crimes remain, shall be wiped away, and free the world from perpetual fears. He shall govern the earth in peace, with tbe virtues of his Father.'
Isaiah, ch. vii, ver. 14. • Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son--Chap, ix. ver. 6,7. Unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given; the Prince of Peace: of the increase of his government, and of his peace, there shall be no end: upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order and to establish it, with judgement and with justice, for ever and ever.'
(a) Isa, xi. ver. 1. (b) Ch. xlv. ver. 8.