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Rush down upon them in a storm of war.
Razed are their works; the fatal sword cuts short
The springing life, while yet the half-formed foe
Lies hid in the frail orb's defenceless round.
War, fatal war, for these dire seeds arose ;
Bands breathing slaughter, men and birds in arms,
And grisly deaths in different forms. confused.
Far less the bloody fights which once engaged,
In mock sublime, the bold Mæonian bard,
When noisy war disturbed the marshy realms.
(Dreadful to see !) Here lay the mangled trunk
Of an expiring mouse, with hostile rushes gored ;
There a maimed frog in hoarser murmurs croaks.
With one leg lopped he creeps along the field,
Disabled to essay the active leap.
O little mortals, blind in fate! alas,
In an ill hour ye sought those hostile tents.
Now dawns the day that ye shall wish untouched
and offspring of th' offended fowl.
For with repeated wrongs provoked, the Cranes
Convene a council to consult
The fierce inhabitants of Strymon's flood,
Of lakey Mareotis, and the banks
Of distant Caister's well-watered meads,
Throng to the general Diet : with them came,
In league offensive and defensive joined,
The borderers of Scythia's frozen shores,
And the remotest Ister's mighty stream.
Slaughters and threatened wounds they meditate ;
Sharpen the talons, and their pinions plume;
And whet the fatal beak for future fight :
So great their thirst of blood, so mighty their revenge.
The spring now opens the campaign ; aloft
The brave confederated nations rise.
O'er distant tracts of lands and seas disjoined,
Borne on expanded wings, they steer their course.
And now they penetrate the clouds ; through storms
And northern snows now force their desperate way.
Air labours with th' unusual waste of plumes,
And the loud cackling fills the concave round.
The din of war no less disturbed the plains,
For there their country's cause provokes to arms
The active Pygmy troops, militiaed out,
In fronted brigades marshalled to the charge.
Two flanking wings secure th' embodied war,
And thick battalions scour the hostile ground.
Impatient for the charge they shake the dart,
And silent meet the horrid front of death,
Full in the centre stalks their haughty chief, Advancing onward; and above the rest, In shape and gesture proudly eminent, Stood like a giant;-half a yard in height. Most gloomy was his stare : his honest face Deep scars of hostile talons had intrenched : Nor less his manly breast, wide spread, declared True princely worth, fresh mark with cruel beaks. For he was born to wage against the Crane Eternal battles and immortal hate. And dearly he repaid the wounds they lent. When comet-like his dreadful blade he waved, Before its lightning flew the blasted foe, Or in a moment lost his power to fly. What heaps of slaughter has it made ! how oft Has th' unfletched infant fallen before its edge! Alas! how oft has widowed Strymon mourned Her husband's and her son's untimely fate ! And now From a black cloud, surcharged with war and foes, Loud shouts proceed, frightful to mortal ears, Which still increase reëchoing from the field. Till near advanced a mighty host of birds Appear, whose front, of hideous depth and length, Vexes the troubled air from pole to pole; While a disastrous darkness veils the camp. Now numberless; but to revisit soon, In thinner ranks and more contracted bands, Their native shores, in an ill hour forsook. Thus braved, the Pygmy loud requires the fight, And with impatience eyes the hovering storm. Long need he not, for soon the vengeful fowl Rush down precipitant with horrid shouts On the firm troops, collected in their might. Wild uproar rages ; dire is the noise Of conflict; scattered plumes fly all around. Spent with long toil the bold Strymonians rise, High soaring on main wing; then breathe awhile, And with redoubled rage the fight renew. Long time in equal scale the battle hung. A daring Crane, by the brave foe transfixed, Here furious raves and whirls in bloody orbs ; While feebly he attempts the last home push, He falls, he gathers up his claws, and dies. There a stabbed Pygmy, weltering in his blood, With thick and heavy groans sighs out his soul, Which curses as it goes the fatal beak : Thick patters with his little heels the ground.
Noisy confusion fills the frighted field,
Which blushes with the blood of prostrate chiefs ;
Fingers and claws, dismembered arms and wings,
And broken swords and beaks lie scattered round the plain.
Where the thick battle raged, the Pygmy king
Prodigious power had shown; around him rose
A rampart of the bodies of the slain.
Dauntless ʼmidst deaths he stood, like fate, unmoved,
Nor aught availed the united flap of wings
Or ported beaks; where'er he turned they fled.
And now the fortune of the day is lodged
In his right arm alone; when, sad to tell!
A formidable fowl, with outstretched wing,
Sudden from all his conquests snatched the prince,
(So willed the gods,) and bore amid the clouds.
Pendant he hung; glad clamours fill the sky,
While his sad people helpless mourn below
Their wriggling captive monarch, doomed to feast
The savage conqueror's insatiate maw.
Now its most frightful visage war puts on.
Th' infernal Crane, still soaring in his flight,
Tears with remorseless claws the wretched chief;
Impatient of the wound, he flings, he raves,
And beats the air, in dying pangs convulsed.
Such was the dreadful scene when fell Briareus,
Titanian, or earth-born, raging fierce,
Threw shaggy Pelion to the throne of heaven;
And struck th' almighty thunderer from his seat.
Rocks through mid air encountered fiery bolts,
Hurled to and fro with jaculation dire.
Winged with forked lightning the hoarse thunder flies
From Jove's red arm, thick on the rebel crew;
Till overthrown the giant carnage lay.
Involved in smoke, and hot with sulphurous wounds.
Their mightiest quelled, the fainting battle swerves,
With many an inroad torn; o'erpowered at length,
Disorder enters, and foul rout ensues.
Part fly outright, part suppliant fall before
Th’insulting victors pressing on the rear.
The vengeful bird, alas ! no quarter gives,
Bent on entire destruction of the race.
Thus the Pygmean empire, that had stood
Triumphant ’midst innumerable wars,
So glorious to herself, so fatal to the Crane,
Now saw her towering structures laid in dust,
Her throne subverted, and her name no more.
For earthly states have all determined periods,
Beyond whose date they're not to be prolonged.
So ended once proud Babylon's domain ;
Then Persia, next in power, so next in fate,
And Rome immortal, last and greatest, fell.
Now on Elysian plains the happy shades
Dwell undisturbed. Perspicuous in the throng
Rise the old heroes' more majestic forms.
If credit we may give to ancient tale,
Full oft has the belated peasant seen
The jocund elves, by shady grove, or fount,
Or forest lawn, their moonlight revels keep;
While, safe from dire alarm of Cranes, and lost
To former toil, on mirth and dance intent,
They mark fine ringlets in distinguished green;
Now by the name of Fairies better known.
THE BATTLE OF THE PYGMIES AND CRANES. TRANSLATED FROM THE PYGMÆO-GERANO-MACHIA OF ADDISON,
BY JAMES BEATTIE, LL.D. 1762.
THE Pygmy-people and the feathered train,
Mingling in mortal combat on the plain,
I sing. Ye muses, favour my designs,
Lead on my squadrons, and arrange the lines;
The flashing swords and fluttering wings display,
And long bills nibbling in the bloody fray;
Cranes darting with disdain on tiny foes,
Conflicting birds and men, and war's unnumbered woes.
The wars and woes of heroes six feet long
Have oft resounded in Pierian song.
Who has not heard of Colchos' golden fleece,
And Argo manned with all the flower of Greece ?
Of Thebes' fell brethren ; Theseus stern of face;
And Peleus' son, unrivalled in the race ;
Eneas, founder of the Roman line,
And William, glorious on the banks of Boyne ?
Who has not learned to weep at Pompey's woes,
And over Blackmore's epic page to doze ?
'Tis I, who dare attempt unusual strains,
Of hosts unsung, and unfrequented plains ;
The small shrill
trump, and chiefs of little size, And armies rushing down the darkened skies.
Where India reddens to the early dawn,
Winds a deep vale from vulgar eye withdrawn :
Bosomed in groves the lowly region lies,
And rocky mountains round the border rise.
Here, till the doom of fate its fall decreed,
The empire flourished of the Pygmy-breed;
Here Industry performed, and Genius planned,
And busy multitudes o’erspread the land.
But now to these lone bounds if pilgrim stray,
Tempting through craggy cliffs the desperate way,
He finds the puny mansion fallen to earth,
Its godlings mouldering on th' abandoned hearth ;
And starts, where small white bones are spread around,
“Or little footsteps lightly print the ground ;”
While the proud Crane her nest securely builds,
Chattering amid the desolated fields.
But different fates befell her hostile rage,
While reigned, invincible through many an age,
The dreaded Pigmy: roused by war’s alarms,
Forth rushed the madding mannikin to arms.
Fierce to the field of death the hero flies;
The faint Crane fluttering flaps the ground, and dies;
And by the victor borne, (o'erwhelming load!)
With bloody bill loose-dangling marks the road.
And oft the wily dwarf in ambush lay,
And often made the yellow young his prey;
With slaughtered victims heaped his board, and smiled,
avenge the parent's trespass on the child.
Oft, where his feathered foe had reared her nest,
And laid her eggs and household gods to rest,
Burning for blood, in terrible array,
The eighteen-inch militia burst their way;
All went to wreck ; the infant foeman fell,
When scarce his chirping bill had broke the shell.
Loud uproar hence, and rage of arms, arose,
And the fell rancour of encountering foes ;
Hence Dwarfs and Cranes one general havoc whelms,
And Death's grim visage scares the Pigmy-realms.
Not half so furious blazed the warlike fire
Of mice, high theme of the Mæonian lyre ;
When bold to battle marched th' accoutred frogs,
And the deep tumult thundered through the bogs.
Pierced by the javelin bulrush on the shore,
Here agonizing rolled the mouse in gore ;
And there the frog, (a scene full sad to see !)
Shorn of one leg, slow sprawled along on three ;
He vaults no more with vigorous hops on high,
But mourns in hoarsest croaks his destiny.
And now the day of woe drew on apace,
A day of woe to all the Pigmy-race,
When dwarfs were doomed (but penitence was vain)
To rue each broken egg and chicken slain.
For, roused to vengeance by repeated wrong,
From distant climes the long-billed legions throng: