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Oft o'er his back a crooked scythe is laid,
And wreaths of hay his sunburnt temples shade :
Oft in his harden'd hand a goad he bears,
Like one who late unyoked the sweating steers.
Sometimes his pruning-hook corrects the vines,
And the loose stragglers to their ranks confines.
Now gathering what the bounteous year allows,
He pulls ripe apples from the bending boughs.
A soldier now, he with his sword appears ;
A fisher next, his trembling angle bears ;
Each shape he varies, and each art he tries,
On her bright charms to feast his longing eyes.
A female form at last Vertumnus wears,
With all the marks of reverend age appears,
His temples thinly spread with silver hairs ;
Propp'd on his staff, and stooping as he goes,
A painted mitre shades his furrow'd brows.
The god in this decrepit form array'd, ...
The gardens enter'd, and the fruit survey'd ;
And, “ Happy you,” he thus address'd the maid,
“ Whose charms as far all other nymphs outshine,
As other gardens are excell'd by thine !"
Then kiss'd the fair ; (his kisses warmer grow
Than such as women on their sex bestow).
Then placed beside her on the flowery ground,
Beheld the trees with autumn's bounty crown'd.
An elm was near, to whose embraces led,
The curling vine her swelling clusters spread :
He view'd her twining branches with delight,
And praised the beauty of the pleasing sight.
“ Yet this tall elm, but for his vine, (he said,)
Had stood neglected, and a barren shade;
And this fair vine, but that her arms surround
Her married elm, had crept along the ground.
Ah, beauteous maid ! let this example move
Your mind, averse from all the joys of love.
Deign to be loved, and every beart subdue !
What nymph could e'er attract such crowds as you ?
Not she whose beauty urged the Centaur's arms,
Ulysses' queen, nor Helen's fatal charms.
Even now, when silent scorn is all thy gain,
A thousand court you, though they court in vain,
A thousand sylvans, demigods, and gods,
That haunt our mountains and our Alban woods.
But if you'll prosper, mark what I advise,
Whom age and long experience render wise,
And one whose tender care is far above
All that these lovers ever felt of love,
(Far more than e'er can by yourself be guess'd,)
Fix on Vertumnus, and reject the rest.
For his firm faith I dare engage my own ;
Scarce to himself, himself is better known.
To distant lands Vertumnus never roves ;
Like you, contented with his native groves;
Nor at first sight, like most, admires the fair ;
For you he lives; and you alone shall share
His last affection, as his early care.
Besides, he's lovely far above the rest,
With youth immortal, and with beauty bless'd.
Add, that he varies every shape with ease,
And tries all forms that may Pomona please.
But what should most excite a mutual flame,
Your rural cares and pleasures are the same.
To him your orchard's early fruits are due,
(A pleasing offering when 'tis made by you).
He values these; but yet, alas! complains,
That still the best and dearest gift remains.
Not the fair fruit that on yon branches glows
With that ripe red the autumnal sun bestows ;
Nor tasteful herbs that in these gardens rise,
Which the kind soil with milky sap supplies ;
You, only you, can move the god's desire :.
Oh crown so constant and so pure a fire !
Let soft compassion touch your gentle mind;
Think, 'tis Vertumnus begs you to be kind !
So may no frost, when early buds appear,
Destroy the promise of the youthful year ;
Nor winds, when first your florid orchard blows,
Shake the light blossoms from their blasted boughs!"
This when the various god had urged in vain,
He straight assumed his native form again ;
Such, and so bright an aspect now he bears,
As when through clouds th' emerging sun appears,
And thence exerting his refulgent ray,
Dispels the darkness, and reveals the day.
Force he prepared, but check’d the rash design;
For when, appearing in a form divine,
The nymph surveys him, and beholds the grace
Of charming features, and a youthful face,
In her soft breast consenting passions move,
And the warm maid confess'd a mutual love.
[In passionate ardour of sentiment and poetical beauty, this translation by Pope, though one of his earliest productions, is scarcely inferior to his Abelard and Eloisa; and if in the latter the poet has added a warmth of colouring not sanctioned by the original, he has in this epistle pruned the luxuriances of Ovid. We subjoin some notice of Sappho from Fawkes's brief memoir prefixed to his translation :-“Sappho was a native of Mitylene, in the island of Lesbos. Who was her father is uncertain, there being no less than eight persons who have contended for that honour; but it is universally acknowledged that Cleis was her mother. She flourished, according to Suidas, in the Forty-second Olympiad; according to Eusebius, in the Fortyfourth Olympiad, about six hundred years before Christ. She was contemporary with Pittacus, the famous tyrant of Mitylene, and the two celebrated poets Stesichorus and Alcæus. She married 'one Cercolas, a man of great wealth and power, in the island of Andros, by whom she had a daughter named Cleis. He leaving her a widow very young, she renounced all thoughts of a second marriage, but not the pleasures of love. But no one seems to have been the object of her admiration so much as the accomplished Phaon, a young man of Lesbos. She took a voyage into Sicily in pursuit of him, he having withdrawn himself thither on purpose to avoid her. It was on that island and on this occasion that she composed her hymn to Venus. Her poem was ineffectual for the procuring that happiness which she prayed for :