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adapted to the-subject in question. The supplicating song at the beginning of the fifth stanza, is pathetic and poetical, especially when he conjures the powers below in beautiful trochaics;
By the heroes' armed shades,
These images are picturesque and appropriated; and these are such notes as might
Draw iron tears down Pluto's cheek,
But the numbers that conclude this stanza, are of so burlesque and ridiculous a kind, and have so much the air of a drinking song at a county election, that one is amazed and concerned to find them in a serious ode, and in an ode of a writer eminently skilled, in general, in accommodating his sounds to his sentiments.
* Milton's 11 Penseroso.
Thus song could prevail
O'er death and o'er hell, .
Tho' fate had fast bound her
With Styx nine times round her,
One would imagine that John Dennis, or some hero of the Dunciad, had been here attempting to travesty this description of the restoration of Eurydice to life. It is observable, that this is the very measure Addison thought was proper to use in the comic character of Sir Trusty; by the introduction of which he has so strangely debased and degraded his elegant opera of Rosamond:
How unhappy is he 'i •
That is ty'd to a she,
For of us pretty fellows
Our wives are so jealous,
These numbers, therefore, according to Addison's ear, conveyed a low and ludicrous idea, instead
* Act I. Scene II. See also, Scene IV. Act I. A song
of being expressive of triumph and exultation, the images here intended to be impressed by Pope.
Virgil is again imitated throughout the sixth stanza, which describes the behaviour of Orpheus on the second loss of Eurydice. I wish Pope had inserted that striking circumstance, so strongly imagined, of a certain melancholy murmur, or rather dismal shriek, that was heard all around the lakes of Avernus, the moment Orpheus looked back on his wife;
«—Terque fragor stagnis auditus Avernis.*
And as prosopopeias are a great beauty in lyric poetry, surely he should not have omitted those natural and pathetic exclamations of Eurydice, the moment she was snatched back, and which she uttered as she was gradually sinking to the shades, especially where she movingly takes her last adieu;
: . . .: 'r; i . '". Jamque vale! — —»•
1 * CJeorgic. iv. 493.
And adds, that she is now surrounded with a vast darkness, "feror ingenti circumdata nocte;" and in vain stretching out her feeble arms towards him,
Invalidasque tibi tendens, heu! non tua, palmas.*
This lively and pathetic attitude would have made a striking picture under the hands of Pope. The reader, I presume, feels the effect of the judicious placing in the verse,. heu! non tua, and of its repetition after tibi. The places in which Orpheus, according to Pope, made his lamentations, are not so wild, so savage, and dismal, as those mentioned by Virgil: to introduce him "beside the falls of fountains," conveys not such an image of desolation and despair, as the caverns on the banks of Strymon and Tanais, the Hyperborean deserts, and the Riphaean solitudes. And to say of Hebrus, only, that it "rolls in meanders," is flat and frigid, and does not heighten the melancholy of the place. There is an antithesis in the succeeding lines, "he glows amid
-.TP IT' » Ver, W.
Rhodope's snows," which I hope the poet did not intend, as it would be a trivial and puerile conceit. The death of Orpheus is expressed with a beautiful brevity and abruptness, suitable to the nature of the ode:
Hark! Haemus resounds with the Bacchanals cries,
Ah! see he dies!
Instead of sung, Virgil says vocabat, which is more natural and tender; and Virgil adds a very moving epithet, that he called miseram Eurydicen. I am sensible Pope never intended an exact translation of the passages of the Georgics here alleged: I only hint, that, in my humble judgment, he has omitted some of the most striking incidents in the story. I have lately seen a manuscript ode, entitled, "On the Use and Abuse of Poetry," in which Orpheus is considered in another and a higher light, according to ancient mythology, as the first legislator and civilizer of mankind. I shall here insert a stanza of it, containing part of what relates to this subject.