Page images
PDF
EPUB

Still, where rosy pleasure leads,

See a kindred grief pursue;
Behind the steps that misery treads,

Approaching comfort view:
The hues of bliss more brightly glow,
Chastis'd by sabler tints of woe;
And blended form, with artful strife,
The strength and harmony of life.

See the wretch, that long has toss'd

On the thorny bed of pain,
At length repair bis vigour lost,

And breathe and walk again:
The meavest floweret of the vale,
The simplest note that swells the gale,
The common sun, the air, the skies,
To him are opening paradise.

Humble quiet builds her cell,

Near the source whence pleasure flows; She eyes the clear crystalline well,

And tastes it as it goes. • While' far below the 'madding' crowd * Rush beadlong to the dangerous flood,' Where broad and turbulent it sweeps, And' perish in the boundless deeps.

6

[ocr errors]

Mark where indolence, and pride,

*Sooth’d by flattery's tinkling sound, Go, softly rolling, side by side,

Their dull but daily round:

E

To these, if Hebe's self should bring
The purest cup from pleasure's spring,
Say, can they taste the flavour high
Of sober, simple, genuine joy?

[ocr errors]

‘Mark ambition's march sublime

Up to power's meridian height;
While pale-eyed envy sees him climb,

And sickens at the sight.
Phantoms of danger, death, and dread,
Float hourly round ambition's head;
While spleen, within his rival's breast,
Sits brooding on her scorpion nest.

6

Happier he, the peasant, far,

From the pangs of passion free,
That breathes the keen yet wholesome air

Of rugged penury.
He, when his morning task is done,
Can slumber in the noontide sun;
And hie bim home, at evening's close,
To sweet repast, and calm repose.

• He, unconscious whence the bliss,

Feels, and owns in carols rude,
That all the circling joys are his,

Of dear Vicissitude.
From toil he wins his spirits light,
From busy day the peaceful night;
Rich, from the very want of wealth,
In heaven's best treasures, peace and health.'

TRANSLATION

OF

A PASSAGE FROM STATIUS.

THEB. LIB. VI. VER. 704–724.

This translation, which Gray sent to West, consisted of about

a hundred and ten lines. Mr. Mason selected twenty-seven lines, which he published, as Gray's first attempt in English

verse.

Third in the labours of the disc came on,
With sturdy step and slow, Hippomedon ;
Artful and strong he pois’d the well-known weight,
By Phlegyas warn’d, and fired by Mnestheus' fate,
That to avoid, and this to emulate.
His vigorous arm he tried before he flung,
Braced all his nerves, and every sinew strung,
Then, with a tempest's whirl, and wary eye,
Pursued his cast, and huri'd the orb on high ;
The orb on high tenacious of its course,
True to the mighty arm that gave it force
Far overleaps all bound, and joys to see
Its ancient lord secure of victory.

The theatre's green height and woody wall
Tremble ere it precipitates its fall;
The ponderous mass sinks in the cleaving ground,
While vales and woods and echoing hills rebound.
As when from Ætna's smoking summit broke,
The eyeless Cyclops heav'd the craggy rock;
Where Ocean frets beneath the dashing oar,
Avd parting surges round the vessel roar;
'Twas there he aim'd the meditated harm,
And scarce Ulysses scap'd his giant arm.
A tiger's pride the victor bore away,
With native spots and artful labour gay,
A shining border round the margin rollid,
And calnı'd the terrors of his claws in gold.

Cambridge,
May 8, 1736.

FRAGMENT OF A TRAGEDY,

DESIGNED BY MR. GRAY,

ON THE SUBJECT OF

THE DEATH OF AGRIPPINA.

“ The Britannicus of Mr. Racine, I know, was one of Mr.

Gray's most favourite plays; and the admirable manner in which I have heard him say he saw it represented at Paris, seems to have led bim to choose the death of Agrippina for his first and only effort in the drama. The execution of it also, as far as it goes, is so very much in Racine's taste, that I suspect, if that great poet had been born an Englishman, he would have written precisely in the same style and manner, However, as there is at present in this nation a general prejudice against declamatory plays, I agree with a learned friend, who perused the manuscript, that this fragment will be little relished by the many; yet the admirable strokes of nature and character with which it abounds, and the majesty of its diction, prevent me from withholding from the few, who I expect will relish it, so great a curiosity (to call it nothing more) as part of a tragedy written by Mr. Gray. These persons well know, that till style and sentiment be a little more regarded, mere action and passion will never secure reputation to the author, whatever they may do to the actor. It is the business of the one, to strut and fret his hour upon the stage;' and if he frets and struts enough, he is sure to

« PreviousContinue »