Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

rection. What his mind could supply at call, or gather in one excursion, was all that he sought, and all that he gave. The dilatory caution of Pope enabled him to condense his senti. ments, to multiply his images, and to accumulate all that study might produce or chance might supply. If the flights of Dryden, therefore, are higher, Pope continues longer on the wing. If of Dryden's fire the blaze is brighter, of Pope's the heat is more regular and constant. Dryden often surpasses expectation, and Pope never falls below it. Dryden is read with frequent astonishirent, and Pope with perpetual delight.

EXERCISE CXLIX.

ALEXANDER, usually called ALEXANDER THE Great, son of the celebrated Philip of Macedon, was born in the year 356 B.C. He mounted the throne of his father at the age of twenty, and, after bringing the Grecian states into complete submission, set out for the conquest of Asia. His career of conquest, in the East, was one continuous scene of carnage, till his own death, at Babylon, in June, 323 B.C., hastened on by drunken revelries, put an end to his in human course. Adulation, akin to that supposed in the following piece by Dryden, quite turned his head.

TIMO'THEUs was a famous musician of Thebes in Baotia. He was one of those honored with an invitation to the wedding of Alexander, His musical performance is said to have animated the monarch so intensely, that he started up in the midst of the company, and seized his arms.

In the ode which follows, Dryden reproduces this incident: representing the king as brought into complete captivity to the charms of music. The Timotheus, here introduced, is not to be confounded with another Timotheus, also a great musician, who was a Milesian, but who died some two or three years before the birth of Alexander.

Jove, or JU'PITER, was the supreme deity of the Romans; OLYM'PIA, or OLYM'PIAS, was the wife of Philip of Macedon, and the mother of Alexan. der; BACCHUS was tho god of wine, and a son of JUPITER.

DARI'US, surnamed CODOM'ANUS, was the reigning kiig of Persia at the time of Alexander's invasion.

Tha'is was a famous Athenian beauty who accompanied Alexander op his Eastern exhibition.

Cecilia is the name of a Saint whose anniversary is celebrated on the 22d of November. She is the chosen patroness of sacred music. She lived in the third century.

ALEXANDER'S ROYAL FEAST.

DRIDEN.

I.

'Twas at the royal feast, for Persia won

By Philip's warlike son:
Aloft in awful state
The godlike hero sat

On his imperial throne:

His valiant peers were placed around,
Their brows with roses and with myrtles bound;

(So should desert in arms be crowned.)
The lovely Thaïs, by his side,
Sat like a blooming Eastern bride,
In flower of youth and beauty's pride.

Happy, happy, happy pair!
None but the brave,
None but the brave,
None but the brave deserves the fair.

II.

Timotheus, placed on high

Amid the tuneful choir,

With flying fingers touched the lyre :
The trembling notes ascend the sky,

And heavenly joys inspire.
The song began from Jove,
Who left his blissful seats above,
(Such is the power of mighty love !)
A dragon's fiery form belied the god :
Sublime on radiant spheres he rode,

When he to fair Olympia pressed,
And stamped an image of himself, a sovereign of the world.
The listening crowd admire the lofty sound,

* See Exercise preceding.

A present deity! they shout around:
A present deity! the vaulted roofs rebound.

With ravished ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,

Affects to nod,
And seems to shake the spheres.

III.
The praise of Bacchus then the sweet musician sung, -
Of Bacchus-ever fair and ever young:

The jolly god in triumph comes ;
Sound the trumpets; beat the drums :

Flushed with a purple grace,

He shows his honest face:
Now give the hautboys* breath. He comes ! he comes !

Bacchus, ever fair and ever young,

Drinking joys did first ordain;
Bacchus' blessings are a treasure,
Drinking is the soldier's pleasure :

Rich the treasure,

Sweet the pleasure,
Sweet is pleasure after pain.

IV.

Soothed with the sound, the king grew vain;

Fought all his battles o'er again;
And thrice he routed all his foes; and thrice he slew the slain

The master saw the madness rise;
His glowing cheeks, his ardent eyes ;
And, while he Heaven and Earth defied,
Changed his hand, and checked his pride,

He chose a mournful Muse,

Soft pity to infuse:
He sung Darius, great and good,

By too severe a fate,

* Hautboy (hol boy), a musical wind instrument.

Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
Fallen from his high estate,

And weltering in his blood;
Deserted, at his utmost need,
By those his former bounty fed;
On the bare earth exposed he lies,

With not a friend to close his eyes.
With downcast looks the joyless victor sat,

Revolving in his altered soul

The various turps of Chance below;
And, now and then, a sigh he stole,

And tears began to flow.

V.
The mighty master smiled to see
That love was in the next degree;
'Twas but a kindred sound to move;
For pity melts the mind to love.

Softly sweet, in Lydian* measures,

Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures War, he sung, is toil and trouble; Honor but an empty bubble;

Never ending, still beginning, Fighting still, and still destroying :

If the world be worth thy winning, Think, oh, think it worth enjoying !

Lovely Thaïs sits beside thee,

Take the good the gods provide thee. The many rend the skies with loud applause; So Love was crowned, but Music won the cause.

The prince, unable to conceal his pain,

Gazed on the fair

Who caused his care,
And sighed and looked, sighed and looked,
Sighed and looked, and sighed again :

* The Lydians, a people of Asia Minor, were the most effeminate and luxurious of all the Asiatics. Lydian music was, accordingly, of the most effeminate character

At length, with love and wine at once oppi „ssed,
The vanquished victor sunk upon her breast.

VI.

Now strike the golden lyre again;
A louder yet, and yet a louder strain.
Break his bands of sleep asunder,
And rouse him like a rattling peal of thunder.

Hark! hark! the horrid sound

Has raised up his head,

As awaked from the dead,

And, amazed, he stares around.
Revenge! revenge! Timotheus cries,

See the Furies arise !
See the snakes that they rear!

How they hiss in their hair,
And the sparkles that flash from their eyes !

Behold a ghastly band,

Each a torch in his hand !
These are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain,

And unburied remain,
Inglorious on the plain :
Give the vengeance due

To the valiant crew.
Behold how they toss their torches on high !

How they point to the Persian abodes,
And glittering temples of their hostile gods !
The princes applaud, with a furious joy;
And the king seized a flambeau with zeal to destroy;

Thaïs led the way,

To light him to his prey,
And, like another Helen, fired another Troy !*

* Thaïs, who is said to have instigated Alexander while he was under the influence of wine, to set fire to the splendid palace of Persepolis, is here made true to her character in directing the mad purpose of the king; and the picture is made more vivid by comparing her to Helen, whose fatal beauty caused the downfall of ancient Troy.

« AnteriorContinuar »