Page images

While flow'ry dreams my foul employ ;
While turtle-wing'd the laughing hours
Lead hand in hand the festal pow'rs,
Lead Youth and Love, and harmless Joy.

Broke from the fetters of his native land,
Devoting shame and vengeance to her lords,
With louder impulse, and a threat'ning hand,
The Lesbian patriot fmites the founding chords:
Ye wretches, ye perfidious train,
Ye curft of Gods and freeborn men,

Ye murd'rers of the laws,

Tho' now you glory in your luft,

Tho' now you tread the feeble neck in duft,

Yettime and righteous JOVE will judge your dreadful caufe.

But lo, to SAPPHO's mournful airs
Defcends the radiant queen of love;
She smiles, and asks what fonder cares
Her fuppliant's plaintive measures move:
Why is my faithful maid distrest?
Who, SAPPHO, Wounds thy tender breast?

*ALCEUS of Mitylene, the capital of Lesbos, who fled from his native city to escape the oppreffion of those who had inflav'd it, and wrote against them in his exile those noble invectives which are fo much applauded by the ancient Critics.

[ocr errors]

Say, flies he?
Shuns he thy gifts?
Slights he thy forrows?

And bend him to thy haughtieft vow.

[ocr errors]

Soon he fhall pursue:
He too fhall give:

He shall grieve,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

But, O MELPOMENE, for whom
Awakes thy golden shell again?
What mortal breath fhall e'er prefume
To echo that unbounded strain?


Majestic in the frown of years,
Behold, the Man of Thebes appears:
For fome there are, whose mighty frame
The hand of JOVE at birth indow'd
With hopes that mock the gazing crowd;
As eagles drink the noontide flame.

While the dim raven beats his weary wings,
And clamours far below. - - - - Propitious Mufe,
While I fo late unlock thy hallow'd fprings,
And breathe whate'er thy ancient airs infuse,
To polish Albion's warlike ear
This long-loft melody to hear,

Thy sweetest arts imploy ;

As when the winds from shore to shore,
Thro' Greece thy lyre's perfuafive language bore,
Till towns, and ifles, and feas return'd the vocal joy.


But oft amid the Græcian throng,
The loofe-rob'd forms of wild defire
With lawless notes intun'd thy song,
To fhameful steps diffolv'd thy quire.
O fair, O chaste, be ftill with me
From fuch profaner discord free:
While I frequent thy tuneful shade,
No frantic fhouts of Thracian dames,
No fatyrs fierce with favage flames
Thy pleafing accents fhall invade.
Queen of the lyre, in thy retreat
The fairest flow'rs of Pindus glow;
The vine afpires to crown thy feat,
And myrtles round thy laurel grow.
Thy ftrings attune their varied ftrain
To every pleasure, every pain,
Which mortal tribes were born to prove,
And strait our paffions rife or fall,
As at the wind's imperious call
The ocean fwells, the billows move.

When midnight liftens o'er the flumb'ring earth, Let me, O Mufe, thy folemn whispers hear: When morning fends her fragrant breezes forth, With airy murmurs touch my opening ear.

And ever watchful at thy fide,
Let wifdom's awful fuffrage guide

The tenour of thy lay:

To her of old by JOVE was giv'n To judge the various deeds of earth and heav'n; 'Twas thine by gentle arts to win us to her sway.

Oft as from stricter hours refign'd
I quit the maze where science toils,
Do thou refresh my yielding mind
With all thy gay, delufive spoils.
But, O indulgent, come not nigh
The bufy fteps, the jealous eye
Of gainful care, and wealthy age,
Whose barren fouls thy joys difdain,
And hold as foes to reafon's reign
Whome'er thy lovely haunts ingage.

With me, when mirth's confenting band
Around fair friendship's genial board
Invite the heart-awakening hand,
With me falute the Teian chord.
Or if invok'd at softer hours,
O feek with me the happy bow'rs
That hear DIONE's gentle tongue;
To beauty link'd with virtue's train,
To love devoid of jealous pain,
There let the Sapphic lute be ftrung.

But when from envy and from death to claim
A hero bleeding for his native land;
Or when to nourish freedom's veftal flame,
I hear my GENIUS utter his command,
Nor Thebian voice, nor Lesbian lyre
From thee, O Mufe, do I require,

While my prophetic mind,
Conscious of pow'rs fhe never knew,
Aftonish'd grafps at things beyond her view,
Nor by another's fate hath felt her own confin'd.


« PreviousContinue »