Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

The day beheld, and, sickening at the sight,
Veil'd her fair glories in the shades of night.
Affrighted Atlas, on the distant shore,
Trembled, and shook the heavens and gods he

bore.
Now from beneath Malea's airy height
Aloft she sprung, and steer'd to Thebes her flight;
With eager speed the well-known journey took,
Nor here regrets the hell she late forsook.
A hundred snakes her gloomy visage shade,
A hundred serpents guard her horrid head;
In her sunk eye-balls dreadful meteors glow;
Such rays from Phæbe's bloody circles flow,
When labouring with strong charms, she shoots

from high, A fiery gleam, and reddens all the sky, Blood stain's her cheeks, and from her mouth there

came

Blue streaming poisons, and a length of flame.
From every blast of her contagious breath,
Famine and drought proceed, and plagues and death.
A robe obscene was o'er her shoulders thrown,
A dress by Fates and Furies worn alone.
She toss'd her meagre arms: her better hand
In waving circles whirl'd a funeral brand :
A serpent from her left was seen to rear
His flaming crest, and lash the yielding air.

But when the Fury took her stand on high,
Where vast Cithæron's top salutes the sky
A hiss from all the snaky tire went round;
The dreadful signal all the rocks rebound,
And through the Achaian cities send the sound.
te, with high Parnassus, heard the voice;
Eurotus' banks remurmur'd to the noise ;
Again Leucothoe shook at these alarms,
And press'd Palæmon closer in her arms.
Headlong from thence the glowing Fury springs,
And o'er the Theban palace spreads her wings,

Once more invades the guilty dome, and shrouds
Its bright pavilions in a veil of clouds.
Straight with the rage of all their race possess’d,
Stung to the soul, the brothers start from rest,
And all their furies wake within their breast.
Their tortured minds repining envy tears,
And hate engender'd by suspicious fears ;
And sacred thirst of sway; and all the ties
Of nature broke; and royal perjuries;
And impotent desire to reign alone,
That scorns the dull reversion of a throne;
Each would the sweets of sovereign rule devour,
While discord waits

upon
divided

power.
As stubborn steers by brawny plowmen broke,
And join'd reluctant to the galling yoke,
Alike disdain with servile necks to bear.
The unwonted weight, or drag the crooked share,
But rend the reins, and bound a different way,
And all the furrows in confusion lay;
Such was the discord of the royal pair,
Whom fury drove precipitate to war.
In vain the chiefs contrived a specious way,
To govern Thebes by their alternate sway :
Unjust decree! while this enjoys the state,
That mourns in exile his unequal fate,
And the short monarch of a hasty year
Foresees with anguish his returning heir
Thus did the league their impious arms restrain,
But scarce subsisted to the second reign.

Yet then no proud aspiring piles were raised, No fretted roof with polish'd metals blazed ; No labour'd columns in long order placed, No Grecian stone the pompous arches grac'd; No nightly bands in glittering armour wait Before the sleepless tyrant's guarded gate; No chargers then were wrought in burnish'd gold, Nor silver vases took the forming mould ; Nor gems on bowls emboss'd were seen to shine Blaze on the brims, and sparkle in the wine.

Say, wretched rivals! what provokes your rage ?
Say, to what end your impious arms engage ?
Not all bright Phæbus views in early morn,
Or when his evening bcams the west adorn,
When the south glows with his meridian ray,
And the cold north receives a sainter day;
For crimes like these, not all those realms suffice,
Were all those realms the guilty victor's prize!

But Fortune now (the lots of empire thrown)
Decrees to proud Eteocles the crown:
What joys, oh tyranı! swellid thy soul that day,
When all were slaves thou couldot around survey,
Pleased to behold unbounded power thy own,
And singly fill a fear'd and envied throne !

But the vile vulgar, ever discontent,
Their growing fears in secret murmurs vent;
Still prone to change, though still the slaves of state,
And sure the monarch whom they have, to hate :
New lords they madly make, then tamely bear,
And softly curse the tyrants whom they fear.
And one of those who groan beneath the sway
Of kings imposed, and grudgingly obey,
(Whom envy to the great, and vulgar spite
With scandal arm'd, the ignoble mind's delight,)
Exclaim'd-'0 Thebes ! for thee what fates remain !
What woes attend this inauspicious reign!
Must we, alas! our doubtful necks prepare,
Each haughty master's yoke by turns to bear,
And still to change whom changed we still must

fear ?
These now control a wretched people's fate,
These can divide, and these reverse the state:
E'en fortune rules no more :-O servile land,
Where exil'd tyrants still by turns command.
Thou sire of gods and men, imperial Jove !
Is this the eternal doom decreed above?
On thy own offspring hast thou fix'd this fate,
From the first birth of our unhappy state;

6

When banish'd Cadmus, wandering o'er the main,
For lost Europa search'd the world in vain,
And, fated in Bæotian fields to found
A rising empire on a foreign ground,
First raised our walls on that ill-omen'd plain,
Where earth-born brothers were by brothers slain ?
What lofty looks the unrivalld monarch bears!
How all the tyrant in his face appears!
What sudden fury clouds his scornful brow!
Gods! how his eyes with threatening ardour glow!
Can this imperious lord forget to reign,
Quit-all his state, descend, and serve again?
Yet who, before, more popularly bow'd ?
Who more propitious to the suppliant crowd?
Patient of right, familiar in the throne ?
What wonder then ? he was not then alone.
O wretched we, a wild submissive train,
Fortune's tame fools, and slaves in every reign !

As when two winds with rival force contend,
This way and that, the wavering sails they bend,
While freezing Boreas and black Eurus blow,
Now here, now there, the reeling vessel throw:
Thus on each side, alas! our tottering state
Feels all the fury of resistless fate;
And doubtful still, and still distracted stands,
While that prince threatens, and while this com-

mands.' And now the almighty father of the god Convenes a council in the bless'd abodes : Far in the bright recesses of the skies, High o'er the rolling heavens, a mansion lies, Whence, far below, the gods at once survey The realms of rising and declining day, And all the extended space of earth, and air, and sea. Full in the midst, and on a starry throne, The majesty of heaven superior shone: Serene he look'd, and gave an awful nod, And all the trembling spheres confess'd the god.

At Jove's assent, the deities around
In solemn state the consistory crown'd.
Next a long order of inferior powers
Ascend from hills, and plains, and shady bowers;
Those from whose urns the rolling rivers flow;
And those that give the wandering winds to blow;
Here all their rage, and e'en their murmurs cease,
And sacred silence reigns, and universal peace.
A shining synod of majestic gods
Gilds with new lustre the divine abodes;
Heaven seems improved with a superior ray,
And the bright arch reflects a double day.
The monarch then his solemn silence broke,
The still creation listen'd while he spoke;
Each sacred accent bears eternal weight,
And each irrevocable word is fate.

"How long shall man the wrath of heaven defy,
And force unwilling vengeance from the sky !
Oh race confederate into crimes, that prove
Triumphant o'er the eluded rage of Jove !
This wearied arm can scarce the bolt sustain,
And unregarded thunder rolls in vain ;
The o'erlabour'd Cyclop from his task retires;
The Æolian forge exhausted of its fires.
For this I suffer'd Phæbus' steeds to stray,
And the mad ruler to misguide the day,
When the wide earth to heaps of ashes turn'd
And heaven itself the wandering chariot burn'd.
For this, my brother of the watery reign,
Released the impetuous sluices of the main :
But flames consumed, and billows raged in vain.
Two races now, allied to Jove, offend :
To punish these, see Jove himself descend.
The Theban kings their line from Cadmus trace,
From godlike Perseus those of Argive race.
Unhappy Cadmus' fate who does not know,
And the long series of succeeding wo?
How oft the Furies, from the deeps of night,
Arose, and mix'd with men in mortal fight :

« ZurückWeiter »