Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

MESSIAH.

A sacred Eclogue, in Imitation of VirgiVs Pollio.

ADVERTISEMENT.

In reading several passages of the prophet Isaiah, which foretel the corning 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 wilt 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 admitting 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 1 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.

'\7"E nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:

To heavenly themes sublitner strains belong. The mossy fountains and the sylvan shades. The dreams of Pindus and th' Aoaiau maids.

Delight no more—O thou my voice inspire
Who touch'd Isaiah's hallow'd lips witii fire!

Rapt into future times, the bard begune
A Virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a .Son!
From Jesse's (<z) root behold a branch arise,
Whose saered flower with fragrance fills the skies:
Th' athereal spirit o'er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descends the mystic Dove.
Ye heavens! (6) from high the dewy nectar pour.
And in soft silence shed the kindly shower!
The sick (c) and weak the healing plant shall aid.
From storm a shelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail;
Returning justice (d) lift aloft her scale;

IMITATIONS. Vcr. 8. A Virgin shall conceive—All crimes shall cease, &c.] Virg. Eel. iv. ver. 6.

Jam reditet Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna, Jam nova progenies ccelo demittitur alto. Te duce, si qua maneant sceleris vestigia nostri, Irrita perpetua solvent formidine terras— Pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem. . * Now the virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn returns, now a new progeny is sent down from high heaven. By means of 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 the 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 end to establish it, with judgement and with justice, for ever and ever.'

(a) Isa. xi. ver. 1. (b) Ch. xlv. ver. 8.

(c) Ch. xxv. ver. 4. . (d) Ch. ix. ver. 7

Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-rob'd innocence from heaven descend*
Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn!
Oh spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born!
See, nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring;
See lofty Lebanon (e) his head advance,
See nodding forests on the mountains dance:
See spicy clouds from lowly Saron rise,
And Carmel's flowery top perfumes the skies!
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers;
Prepare the way! (f) a God, a God appears!

IMITATIONS. Ver. 23. See nature hastes, &c.] Virg. Eel. iv. ver. 18.

At tibi prima, pner, nullo munuscula cultn, Errantes hederas passim cum baccare tellus, Mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho— Ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores. 'For thee, O child, shall the earth, without being tilled, produce her early offerings; wmding ivy, mixed with baccar, and colocassia with smiling acanthus. Thy cradle shall pour forth pleasing flowers about thee.'

Isaiah, ch. xxxv. ver. 1. * The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.' Ch. Ix. ver. 13. 1 The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of thy sanctuary.' Ver. 29. Hark! a glad voice, &c. Virg. Eel. iv. ver. 46.

Aggredere d magnos (aderit jam tempus) honores, Cara denm soboles, magnum Jovis incrementum— Eel. V. ver. 62.

Ipsi laetitia voces ad sidera jactant
Intonsi montes, ipsee jam carmina rupes,
Ipsa sonant arbusta, Dens, Dens ille Menalca!
(e) Ch. xxxv. ver. S. (f) Ch. xl. ver. 3,4.

A God, a God! the vocal hills reply,

The rocks proclaim th' approaching Deity.

Lo, earth receives him from the bending skies f

Sink down, ye mountains} and ye valleys, rise!

With heads declin'd, ye cedars, homage pay;

Be smooth, ye rocks; ye rapid floods, give way!

The Saviour comes! by ancient bards foretold:

Hear him, ye deaf; and all ye blind, behold!

He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,

And on the sightless eye-ball pour the day:

'Tis he th' obstructed paths of sound shall clear,

And bid new music charm th' unfolding ear:

The dumb (g) shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,

And leap exulting, like the bounding roe.

No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear,

From every face he wipes off every tear.

In adamantine (h) chains shall death be bound,

And hell's grim tyrant feel th' eternal wound.

As the good* shepherd (,) tends his fleecy care,

Seeks freshest pasture, and the purest air;

IMITATIONS. • O come and receive the mighty honours: the time draws nigh, O beloved offspring of the gods! O great increase of Jove! The uncultivated mountains send shouts of joy to the stars; the very rocks sing in verse, the very shrubs cry out, A God, a God!'

Isaiah, ch. xl. ver. 3, 4. . The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord! make straight in the desert a highway for our God! Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.' Ch. xliv. ver. 23. 'Break forth into singing, ye mountains; O forest, and every tree therein, for the Lord hath redeemed Isracl.1

(g) Ch. xliii. ver, 18. Ch. xxxv. ver. 5, 6.

(A) Ch. xxv. ver. 8. (t) Ch. xl. ver. 11.

Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs.
By day o'ersees them, and by nigbt protects;
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hand, and in his bosom warms;
THus shall mankind his guardian care engage,
The promis'd father (J) of the future age.
No more shall nation (k) against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes,
Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover'd o'er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a plow-share end.
Then palaces shall rise; the joyful son (I)
Shall finish what his short-liv'd sire begun;
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield.
And the same hand that sow'd, shall reap the field.
The swain in barren deserts (m) with surprise
Sees lilies spring, and sndden verdure rise;

IMITATIONS.
Ver. 67. The swain in barren deserts] Virg. Eel.

lv. ver. 28.

Molli panlatim flavescet campus arista,
Incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva,
Et durae quercus sndabunt roscida mella.
'The fields shall grow yellow with ripened

cars, and the red grape ishall hang upon the wild

brambles, and the hard oaks shall distil honey like

dew.'

Isaiah, ch. xxxv. ver. 7. * The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitations where dragons lay, shall be grass, and reeds, and rushes.' Ch. lv. ver. 19. 'Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle-tree.'

(j) Ch. ix. ver. 6. (k) Ch. ii. ver. 4.

(I) Ch. lxv. ver. 21, 22. {m) Ch. xxxv. ver, 1,7.

« ZurückWeiter »