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Back to the skies with shame he shall be driven,
Gash'd with dishonest wounds, the scorn of heaven:
Or far, oh! far, from steep Olympus thrown,
Low in the dark Tartarean gulf shall groan,
With burning chains fixed to the brazen floors,
And lock'd by hell's inexorable doors;
As deep beneath the infernal center hurl'd,
As from that center to the ethereal world.
Let him who tempts me dread those dire abodes;
And know, the Almighty is the god of gods.
League all your forces then, ye powers above,
Join all, and try the omnipotence of Jove:
Let down our golden, everlasting chain,
Whose strong embrace holds heaven, and earth, and main:
Strive all, of mortal, and immortal birth,
To drag, by this, the Thunderer down to earth
Ye strive in vain! If I but stretch this hand,
I heave the gods, the ocean, and the land;
I fix the chain to great Olympus' height,
And the vast world hangs trembling in my sight!
For such I reign, unbounded and above;
And such are men and gods compared to Jove."
Th' Almighty spoke, nor durst the powers reply,
A reverend horror silenced all the sky:
Trembling they stood before their sovereign's look ;
At length his best beloved, the power of wisdom spoke:
"Oh, first and greatest! god by gods adored! We own thy might, our father and our lord! But, ah! permit to pity human state;
If not to help, at least lament their fate.
From fields forbidden we submiss refrain,
With arms unaiding mourn our Argives slain;
Yet grant my counsels still their breasts may move.
Or all must perish in the wrath of Jove."
The cloud-compelling god her suit approved,
And smiled superior on his best beloved:
Then called his coursers, and his chariot took;
The steadfast firmament beneath them shock:
Rapt by th' ethereal steeds the chariot roll'd;
Brass were their hoofs, their curling manes of gold.
Of heaven's undrossy gold the god's array,
Refulgent, flash'd intolerable day.
High on the throne he snines: his coursers fly
Between th' extended earth and starry sky,
But when to Ida's topmost height he came,
(Fair nurse of fountains and of savage game,)
Where, o'er her pointed summits proudly raised,
His fane breathed odors, and his altars blazed:
There from his radiant car the sacred sire
Of gods and men released the steeds of fire;
Blue ambient mists th' immortal steeds embraced;
High on the cloudy point his seat he placed;
Thence his broad eye the subject world surveys,
The town, and tents, and navigable seas.
Now had the Grecians snatch'd a short repast,
And buckled on their shining arms with haste.
Troy roused as soon; for on this dreadful day
The fate of fathers, wives, and infants lay.
The gates unfolding pour forth all their train;
Squadrons on squadrons cloud the dusky plain:
Men, steeds, and chariots shake the trembling ground:
The tumult thickens, and the skies resound.
And now with shouts the shocking armies closed,
To lances, lances, shields to shields opposed;
Host against host with shadowy legions drew,
The sounding darts in iron tempests flew;
Victors and vanquish'd join promiscuous cries,
Triumphant shouts and dying groans arise:
With streaming blood the slippery fields are dyed,
And slaughtered heroes swell the dreadful tide.
Long as the morning beams increasing bright,
O'er heaven's clear azure spread the sacred light:
Commutual death the fate of war confounds,
Each adverse battle gored with equal wounds.
But when the sun the height of heaven ascends,
The sire of gods his golden scales suspends
With equal hand: in these explored the fate
Of Greece and Troy, and poised the mighty weight.
Press'd with its load, the Grecian balance lies
Low sunk on earth, the Trojan strikes the skies.
Then Jove from Ida's top his horror spreads;
The clouds burst dreadful o'er the Grecian heads:
Thick lightnings flash; the muttering thunder rolls,
Their strength he withers, and unmans their souls.
Before his wrath the trembling hosts retire;
The gods in terror, and the skies on fire.
In the eighth book of the Odyssey, Homer alludes to his condition, if not to himself, in the person of Demodocus. The picture is by no means a sad one, nor is the immortal bard made to feel his blindness a disgrace, or to regret his loss of sight, by the neglect of his friends. The most distinguishing honors are paid him by the king and his courtiers.
Be there Demodocus the bard of fame,
Taught by the gods to please, when high he sings
The vocal lay, responsive to the strings.
In entertaining Ulysses, the royal guest of Alcinoüs, the blind bard is deemed indispensable :
The herald now arrives, and guides along
The sacred master of celestial song:
Dear to the muse! who gave his days to flow
With mighty blessings, mixed with mighty wo;
With clouds of darkness quench'd his visual ray,
But gave him skill to raise the lofty lay.
High on a radiant throne sublime in state,
Encircled by huge multitudes, he sate:
With silver shone the throne: his lyre well strung
To rapturous sounds, at hand Pontinus hung:
Before his seat a polish'd table shines,
And a full goblet foams with generous wines;
His food a herald bore: and now they fed;
And now the rage of craving hunger fled.
Then fired by all the muse, aloud he sings
The mighty deeds of demigods and kings.
The bard a herald guides: the gazing throng
Pay low obeisance as he moves along :
Beneath a sculptured arch he sits enthroned,
Then peers encircling form an awful round.
Then from the chine, Ulysses carves with art
Delicious food, an honorary part:
"This let the master of the lyre receive,
A pledge of love! 't is all a wretch can give.
Lives there a man beneath the spacious skies
Who sacred honors to the bard denies?
The muse the bard inspires, exalts his mind:
The muse indulgent loves th' harmonious kind."
The herald to his hand the charge conveys,
Not fond of flattery, nor unpleased with praise.
When now the rage of hunger was allay'd,
Thus to the lyrist wise Ulysses said:
"Oh, more than man! thy soul the muse inspires,
Or Phoebus animates with all his fires:
For who by Phoebus uninform'd, could know
The woe of Greece, and sing so well the woe?
Just to the tale, as present at the fray,
Or taught the labors of the dreadful day :
The song recalls past horrors to my eyes,
And bids proud Ilion from her ashes rise.
Once more harmonious strike the sounding string,
The Epæn fabric framed by Pallas, sing:
How stern Ulysses, furious to destroy,
With latent heroes sack'd imperial Troy.
If faithful thou record the tale of fame,
The god himself inspires thy breast with flame;
And mine shall be the task henceforth to raise
In every land thy monument of praise."
OSSIAN, THE CELTIC BARD.
Ir is to us a source of no small satisfaction, as it must be to every blind person who has a philanthropic zeal for the honor and elevation of his order, to find so many characters laboring under the same privation, in every period of man's history, who have walked triumphantly the path of fame. Of all the antique literature that has withstood the ravages of time, and at the present day enriches the commonwealth of letters, there is none more justly claiming our admiration, than the poems of this illustrious Celtic bard. As the meteor shoots through blackest night, and pours its glaring light over torrents wild, rocky cliff, and ocean surge, so do the works of this, and the Grecian poet, shine forth with transcendent luster through all succeeding ages.
But as the venerable Ossian flourished in an age when traditional songs supplied the place of written history, we can learn nothing of his long and eventful life, save the few particulars we gather from his poems. So little do we know of him, that even the era of his life has long been a subject of dispute. But from the incidents which the poet mentions, identical in Roman and other authentic histories, we think it