O D E ,
TO TWO YOUNG LADIES,
ON THEIR RETURN FROM ITALY.
Nunc itaque et versus, et cætera ludicra pono
Quid verum, atque decens curo et rogo, et omnis in hoc sum.
RANSPORTED, now, I wake the lyre,
My blooming Girls the lay inspire,
And rapture swells my breast ;
Joy sparkles in Sophia's eyes,
To her lov'd sire, his Emma flies,
And smooths his cares to rest.
O, welcome from Italia's shore !
And are we met to part no more !
How could I ever part ?
Lock'd in this fond and wish'd embrace,
While the glad tear bedews my face,
I press you to my heart.
How oft your footsteps I pursue,
Dwell on each beauteous scene with you,
By fancy borne along ;
And oft for you, I sigh in vain,
For you, I turn my careless strain
To smooth descriptive song.
How sweet to breathe Hesperia's gales,
From myrtle's fan'd, and rose-clad vales,
And every blossom'd spray ;
To view her vivid azure skies,
And see her moon refulgent rise,
Bright as our orb of Day !
By musing o'er yon classic plains,
The eye, another optic* gains,
From Taste's prime sources won ;
Thus from primeval splendour, bright,
Bologna's spar imbibes its light,
And radiance from the Sun.
There Titian's tints enchant the eye,
Form'd of those rays that paint the sky,
Which Time can ne'er efface ;
And Raffael's Art transcends his fame,
Whose fancy bids an Angel's frame
Beam with congenial grace.
Again, Parnassus rears its head,
Its antient lustre round it spread,
Displays bold Raffael's fire ;
With sounds divine the valley rings,
Each Muse responsive sweetly sings,
While Phbus sweeps the lyre.
The summit, Homer, Maro gain,
With ravish'd ears imbibe the strain,
And catch the inspiring lay ;
But Tasso, and his tuneful throng,
Beneath, scarce hear the distant song,
That melts in air away.
What glorious vision charms the sight !
Coreggio** pours celestial light,
Attendant Angels shine ;
Inspir'd, he paints a Saviour's mien,
Exstatic Faith glows o'er the scene,
And burns with love divine.
But who with Angelo can vie,
His rears his wondrou's dome on high,
Pois'd in the etherial clime ;
His daring pencil boasts the art,
To awe the eye, to rule the heart,
And paint the true Sublime.
What magic charm o'er prostrate Rome,
Of Science, Empire, Arts the tomb,
A classic lustre throws ;
Endears the spot where Tully spoke,
Where Brutus dealt the patriot stroke,
From whence his glory rose !
Hark ! sportive Horace tunes his lyre,
Where cold Soracte's cliffs aspire,
And sings of love and wine ;
Where Tiber rolls his rapid stream,
Maro revolves his lofty theme,
And forms the polish'd line.
There, Sculpture boasts creative skill,
The living bust obeys her will,
Gives beauty's winning grace ;
The drap'ry floats in every gale,
Pellucid as the pendent veil,
That plays o'er Emma's face.
See, Venus tries love's surest wile,
"Softly to speak, and sweetlysmile,"
And drops her magic zone ;
The modest air, and charms divine,
She breathes into her sacred shrine,
And animates the stone.
Tho' splendid ruin round you lies,
The proud Pantheon time defies,
Nor yields to Nature's law ;
Rome's mighty Genius rear'd the dome,
To give man's conquer'd Gods a home,
And strike the world with awe.
Alas ! no energy remains,
Where superstition spreads her chains,
To aid despotic power ;
The Monk recites his doleful dreams,
In Jove's high fane, as the Owl screams,
And haunts the time-shook tower.
But Freedom's glorious reign is o'er,
She guards the village-cot no more,
Where hard-tax'd slaves repine ;
For Kings and Priests the harvest grows,
The orange blooms, the olive flows,
And bursts the purple vine.
But lo ! outstretch'd her vengeful hand,
On Gallia's shore ; in every land
She'll crush despotic sway ;
In the mad whirlwind tho' she rise,
The dark tornado shakes the skies,
Then pours the blaze of day.
Thro' towns entomb'd you pensive tread,
And mourn their antient splendour fled,
Their antient ruins trace ;
Earthquake, and Heaven's destructive flame,
Left nothing but an empty name,
To mark the hapless race.
How boils Vesuvio's fiery stream !
There thunder breaks, there lightnings gleam,
Thence burning rocks are hurl'd ;
Then see the sun volcanoes form,
Creating in projectile storm
This planetary world ! x
The snow-crown'd Alps with dread you scale,
(While the dark clouds beneath you sail)
Thro' changeful regions climb ;
Feel summer's glow, and winter's chill,
Quick as the turns of good and ill,
That mark our checquer'd time.
On genial wing the zephyrs bear,
Hesperia's fascinating air,
That lures to pleasure's toil ;
All ranks imbibe the fervid spell,
And in perturb'd emotions tell
The ferment of the soil.
Their words in rapid cadence start,
And melody enchants the heart,
Breathing each soft desire ;
Yet quick vibrations heat the brain,
And love, vindictive passions stain,
As sulphur tinges fire.
Not so the Swiss of sober state,
Of slow-pac'd tongue, dull cumbrous gait,
The sluggish blood scarce flows ;
No foreign taste his sense refines,
Where'er he roves, he fondly pines
For his paternal snows.
He sees exulting Freedom smile,
Where stands the peasant's deathful Pile§
Her throne she proudly rears ;
With vines and corn her mountains bloom,
While the rich plain of servile Rome
A dreary waste appears.
Thus, while my lovely Girls explore
The wonders of Italia's shore,
I tune the pensive lay ;
Taste's brilliant realm adventurous sing,
And borne aloft on Fancy's wing,
In dear delusion stray.
Sophia, come, to social ease,
To calm domestic joys which please
The breast that Virtue charms ;
Youth's flattering scene delighted view,
The Man to love, to honour true,
Enfolds you in his arms.
Retrace, with me, each pompous fane,
That decorates Hesperia's plain,
Her monuments sublime ;
Recall each splendid artist's name,
Their polish'd works, the boast of fame,
Snatch'd from the wrecks of Time.
My Emma come, in lively strain,
Still charm by wit's allusive vein
So pass this world of strife ;
A Sire, your playful fancy cheers,
Illumes the dreary vale of years,
And gilds the gloom of life.
The mind by Nature's hand array'd
Contemns the meretricious aid
That Sentiment supplies ;
'Tis but a rouge, by fashion's art,
To lay false colours on the heart,
And cheat a lover's eyes.
Then come, with youth's soft blushing grace,
That magic of the female face ;
Without it, beauty's vain ;
The forward glance, exotic stare,
Decisive tone, and mannish air,
Excite but cold disdain.
O come, in kindred joy combine,
Your smiling sisters round you twine,
You glad a mother's breast ;
Her darling girls she fondly bred,
Nurs'd on her knee, her bosom fed,
And lull'd their cries to rest.
She feels each anxious care o'erpaid,
Sees the fond wife, the tender maid,
Affection's balm impart ;
With all a mother's pride she glows,
As they by filial love disclose
A sympathetic heart.
Again the festive Board will shine ;
Come, raise the note to airs divine,
Let rapture wake the strings ;
Again I hear Sophia's voice,
And o'er the blue-ey'd maid rejoice,
While my sweet Emma sings.
N O T E S.
* The correct and elegant taste acquired by studying the Fine Arts, the Greeks forcibly and beautifully distinguished, by calling it alter occlus [sic] another eye.
Raffael's celebrated picture of Mount Parnassus.
** Madonna della Scodella.The Holy Family on their Flight to Egypt.
Dome of St. Peter's.
x "It seems evident therefore from whence, and by what means, the Planets, which have all of them a rotative motion as the Sun's, were formed, and by what impulsive power these have acquired their projective force which whirls them round their orbits with such unabating velocity, shot out by Volcanoes from the Sun to different distances, according to the ratio of their different diameters, and perhaps at different times. The Moon, our attendant, driven out probably from the Southern Pole of the Earth, by internal fires."
Conjectures on the System of the Universe, by the Earl of Orford.Annals of Agriculture, No. 61, 1788.
§ At Murat, Charles Duke of Burgundy was defeated by the Swiss and fell in the action. There is a chapel on the field of battle full of the bones of such of the Burgundian army as were slain on the spot. The modern inscription (by the celebrated Haller) ends with these energetic words,Cæsus, hoc monumentum fui reliquit.
Note: When a word is an anchor, there is a textual note or corrected erratum; when the mouse is over the word, the note will appear in the status window of your browser (almost always the lower left), if your browser is java-enabled. If you click, you come here.
This page is maintained at the University of Chicago by James Eason, who welcomes comments, criticism, and suggestions.