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See, a long 26 race thy spacious courts adorn;
See future sons, and daughters yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on every side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies !
See barbarous 27 nations at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend;
See thy bright altars throng'd with prostrate kings,
And heap'd with products of Sabean 28 springs ! 29
For thee Idume's spicy forests blow,
And seeds of gold in Ophir's mountains glow.
See heaven its sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a flood of day.
No more the rising 30 sun shall gild the morn,
Nor evening Cynthia fill her silver horn;
But lost, dissolved in thy superior rays,
One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze
O’erflow thy courts: the Light himself shall shine
Reveal'd, and God's eternal day be thine!
The31 seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away;
But fix'd his word, his saving power remains :
Thy realm for ever lasts, thy own MESSIAH reigns !
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1711.
[It was afterwards subjected to frequent revision, and not published until 1714. Steele, to whom the MS. had been submitted, writes to Pope, Nov. 12, 1712, “I have read over your Temple of Fame twice, and cannot find any. thing amiss of weight enough to call a fault, but see in it a thousand thousand beauties. Mr. Addison shall see it to-morrow.” Pope, in reply, expressed his great anxiety that his friend should “freely mark or dash out ;' and he said his own diffidence of the piece was such that he had suffered it to lie by him for two years. The poem is in Pope's loftiest style, and abounds in noble passages, especially the concluding twenty lines, which possess a fine personal and biographical interest. Chaucer took the hint of some of his pieces from the poets,
“Whose rhetoric sweet
Enlumined all Italy of poetry." But in his House of Fame, he appears as an original, fired with what Warton calls“ Gothic imagination,” bold conceptions, and quaint and striking imagery, sometimes running into wildness and extravagance. Pope has taken comparatively little from his great prototype-not more than Shakspeare took from the early novels and translations on which he grafted some of his greatest dramas. The following is an advertisement prefixed by Pope to the poem :
“ The hint of the following piece was taken from Chaucer's House of Fame. The design is in a manner entirely altered, the descriptions and most of the particular thoughts my own: yet I could not suffer it to be printed without this acknowledgment. The reader who would compare this with Chaucer, may begin with his third book of Fame, there being nothing in the two first books that answers to their title. Wherever any hint is taken from him, the passage itself is set down in the marginal notes"]:
IN that soft season 1, when descending showers
Call forth the greens, and wake the rising flowers;
1 This poem is introduced in the manner of the Provençal poets, whose works were for the most part visions, or pieces of imagination, and constantly descriptive. From these, Petrarch and Chaucer frequently borrow the idea of their poems.
See the Trionfi of the former, and the Dream, Flower, and the Leaf, &c., of the latter. The author of this therefore, chose the same sort of exordium.
When opening buds salute the welcome day,
And earth relenting feels the genial ray;
As balmy sleep had charm'd my cares to rest,
And love itself was banish'd from my breast,
(What time the morn mysterious visions brings,
While purer slumbers spread their golden wings),
A train of phantoms in wild order rose,
And, join'd, this intellectual scene compose.
I stood, methought, betwixt earth, seas, and skies : 2
The whole creation open to my eyes :
In air self-balanced hung the globe below,
Where mountains rise, and circling oceans flow;
Here naked rocks and empty wastes were seen,
There towery cities, and the forests green :
Here sailing ships delight the wandering eyes ;
There trees, and intermingled temples rise :
Now a clear sun the shining scene displays,
The transient landscape now in clouds decays.
O'er the wide prospect as I gazed around,
Sudden I heard a wild promiscuous sound,
Like broken thunders that at distance roar,
Or billows murmuring on the hollow shore :
Then gazing up, a glorious pile beheld,
Whose towering summit ambient clouds conceal'd,
High on a rock of ice the structure lay,3
Steep its ascent, and slippery was the way:
2 These verses are hinted from the following of Chaucer, book 2:
“ Tho' beheld I fields and plains,
Now hills, and now mountains,
Now valeis, and now forestes,
And now unneath great bestes,
Now rivers, now citees,
Now towns, now great trees,
Now shippes sayling in the sees.” 3 Chaucer's third book of Fame:
“ It stood upon so high a rock,
Higher standeth none in Spayne-
What manner stone this rock was,
For it was like a lymed glass,
But that it shone full more clere;
But what of congeled matere
The wondrous rock like Parian marble shone,
And seem'd, to distant sight, of solid stone.
Inscriptions here of various names I view'd,4
The greater part by hostile time subdued ;
Yet wide was spread their fame in ages past,
And poets once had promised they should last.
Some fresh engraved appear'd of wits renown'd;
I look'd again, nor could their trace be found.
Critics I saw that other names deface,
And fix their own, with labour, in their place :
Their own, like others, soon their place resign'd,
Or disappear'd, and left the first behind.
Nor was the work impair'd by storms alone,5
But felt the approaches of too warm a sun;
For Fame, impatient of extremes, decays
Not more by envy than excess of praise.
Yet part no injuries of heaven could feel,
Like crystal faithful to the graving steel :
It was, I niste readily;
But at the last espied I,
And found that it was every dele,
A rock of ise, and not of stele.”
“ Tho'saw I all the hilly grave
With famous folkes names fele,
That had been in much wele,
And her fames wide y-blow;
But well unneth might I know,
Any leters for to rede
Their names by, for out of drede
They weren almost oft-thawen so,
That of the letters one or two
Were molte away of every name,
So unfamous was wox her fame;
But men said, what may ever last.”
5 “ Tho'gan I in myne harte cast,
That they were molte away for heate
And not away with stormes beate."
6 “ For on that other side I sey
Of that hill which northward ley,
How it was written full of names
Of folke, that had afore great fames
Of old time, and yet they were
As fresh as men had written hem there
The rock's high summit, in the temple's shade,
Nor heat could melt, nor beating storm invade.
Their names inscribed unnumber'd ages past
From Time's first birth, with Time itself shall last;
These ever new, nor subject to decays,
Spread, and grow brighter with the length of days.
So Zembla's rocks (the beauteous work of frost)
Rise white in air, and glitter o'er the coast;
Pale suns, unfelt, at distance roll away,
And on the impassive ice the lightnings play;
Eternal snows the growing mass supply,
Till the bright mountains prop the incumbent sky:
As Atlas fix'd, each hoary pile appears,
The gather'd winter of a thousand years.
On this foundation Fame's high temple stands ;
Stupendous pile! not rear'd by mortal hands.
Whate'er proud Rome or artful Greece beheld,
Or elder Babylon, its frame excell'd.
Four faces had the dome, and every face?
Of various structure, but of equal grace:
Four brazen gates, on columns lifted high,
Salute the different quarters of the sky,
Here fabled chiefs in darker ages born,
Or worthies old, whom arms or arts adorn,
Who cities raised, or tamed a monstrous race,
The walls in venerable order grace :
Heroes in animated marble frown,
And legislators seem to think in stone.
The self day, or that houre
That I on hem gan to poure;
But well I wiste what it made;
It was conserved with the shade
(All the writing that I sye)
Of the castle that stood on high,
And stood eke in so cold a place,
That heate might not it deface.” 7 The temple is described to be square: the four fronts with open gates facing the different quarters of the world, as an intimation that all nations of the earth may alike be received into it. The western front is of Grecian architecture. The Doric order was peculiarly sacred to heroes and worthies. Those whose statues are after mentioned, were the first names of old Greece in arms and arts.