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If men with fleshy morsels must be fed,
And chaw with bloody teeth the breathing bread;
What else is this but to devour our guests,
And barbarously renew Cyclopean feasts!
We, by destroying life, our life sustain;
And gorge th' ungodly maw with meats obscene.
"Not so the golden age, who fed on fruit,
Nor durst with bloody meals their mouths pollute.
Then birds in airy space might safely move,
And timorous hares on heaths securely rove,
Nor needed fish the guileful hooks to fear,
For all was peaceful, and that peace sincere.
Whoever was the wretch (and curs'd be he)
That envy'd first our food's simplicity;
Th' essay of bloody feasts on brutes began,
And after forged the sword to murder man;
Had he the sharpen'd steel alone employ'd
On beasts of prey that other beasts destroy'd,
Or men invaded with their fangs and paws,
This had been justify'd by Nature's laws,
And self-defence: but who did feasts begin
Of flesh, he stretch'd necessity to sin.
To kill man-killers, man has lawful power;
But not th' extended licence, to devour.
"Ill habits gather by unseen degrees,
As brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas.
The sow, with her broad snout for rooting up
Th' intrusted seed, was judg'd to spoil the crop,
And intercept the sweating farmer's hope :
The covetous churl, of unforgiving kind,
Th' offender to the bloody priest resign'd:
Her hunger was no plea; for that she dy'd.
The goat came next in order, to be try'd:
The goat had cropt the tendrils of the vine:
In vengeance laity and clergy join,
Where one had lost his profit, one his wine.
Here was, at least, some shadow of offence:
The sheep was sacrific'd on no pretence,
But meek and unresisting innocence.
A patient, useful creature, born to bear
The warm and woolly fleece, that cloth'd her murderer,
And daily to give down the milk she bred,
A tribute for the grass on which she fed.
Living, both food and raiment she supplies,
And is of least advantage when she dies.
"How did the toiling ox his death deserve,
A downright simple drudge, and born to serve?
O tyrant! with what justice canst thou hope
The promise of the year, a plenteous crop;
Whenthou destroy'st thy labouring steer, who till'd,
And plow'd, with pains, thy else ungrateful field?
From his yet reeking neck to draw the yoke,
That neck with which the surly clods he broke;
And to the hatchet yield thy husbandman,
Who finish'd autumn, and the spring began!
Nor this alone! but Heaven itself to bribe,
We to the gods our impious acts ascribe:
First recompense with death their creatures toil,
Then call the bless'd above to share the spoil:
The fairest victim must the powers appease:
(So fatal 'tis sometimes too much to please!)
A purple fillet his broad brows adorns,
With flowery garlands crown'd, and gilded horns:
He hears the murderous prayer the priest prefers,
But understands not 'tis his doom he hears:
Beholds the meal betwixt his temples cast
(The fruit and product of his labours past);
And in the water views perhaps the knife
Uplifted, to deprive him of his life;
Then broken up alive, his entrails sees
Torn out, for priests t' inspect th' gods decrees.
"From whence, O mortal men, this gust of
Have you deriv'd, and interdicted food? [blood
Be taught by me this dire delight to shun,
Warn'd by my precepts, by my practice won:
And, when you eat the well-deserving beast,
Think, on the labourer of your field you feast!
"Now since the god inspires me to proceed,
Be that, whate'er inspiring power, obey'd.
For I will sing of mighty mysteries,
Of truths conceal'd before from human eyes,
Dark oracles unveil, and open all the skies.
Pleas'd as I am to walk along the sphere
Of shining stars, and travel with the year,
To leave the heavy Earth, and scale the height
Of Atlas, who supports the heavenly weight:
To look from upper light, and thence survey
Mistaken mortals wandering from the way,
And wanting wisdom, fearful for the state
Of future things, and trembling at their fate!
"Those I would teach; and by right reason
To think of death, as but an idle thing.
Why thus affrighted at an empty name,
A dream of darkness, and fictitious flame?
Vain themes of wit, which but in poems pass,
And fables of a world, that never was!
What feels the body when the soul expires,
By time corrupted, or consum'd by fires?
Nor dies the spirit, but new life repeats
In other forms, and only changes seats.
"Ev'n I, who these mysterious truths declare,
Was once Euphorbus in the Trojan war;
My name and lineage I remember well,
And how in fight by Sparta's king I fell.
In Argive Juno's fane I late beheld [shield.
My buckler hung on high, and own'd my former
"Then death, so call'd, is but old matter dress'd'
In some new figure, and a vary'd vest:
Thus all things are but alter'd, nothing dies;
And here and there th' unbody'd spirit flies,
By time, or force, or sickness dispossest,
And lodges, where it lights, in man or beast;
Or hunts without, 'till ready limbs it find,
And actuates those according to their kind;
From tenement to tenement is toss'd;
The soul is still the same, the figure only lost:
And as the soften'd wax new seals receives,
This face assumes, and that impression leaves;
Now call'd by one, now by another name; [same:
The form is only chang'd, the wax is still the
So death, so call'd, can but the form deface,
Th' immortal soul flies out in empty space;
To seek her fortune in some other place.
"Then let not piety be put to flight,
To please the taste of glutton appetite;
But suffer inmate souls secure to dwell,
Lest from their seats your parents you expel;
With rabid hunger feed upon your kind,
Or from a beast dislodge a brother's mind.
"And since, like Tiphys, parting from the shore,
In ample seas I sail, and depths untry'd before,
This let me further add, that Nature knows
No stedfast station; but, or ebbs, or flows:
Ever in motion; she destroys her oid,
And casts new figures in another mould.
Ev'n times are in perpetual flux; and run,
Like rivers from their fountain, rolling on;
For Time, no more than streams, is at a stay:
The flying hour is ever on her way ;
And as the fountain still supplies her store,
The wave behind impels the wave before;
Thus in successive course the minutes run,
And urge their predecessor minutes on,
Still moving, ever new: for former things
Are set aside, like abdicated kings:
And every moment alters what is done,
And innovates some act till then unknown.
Darkness we see emerges into light,
And shining suns descend to sable night;
Ev'n Heaven itself receives another die,
When weary'd animals in slumbers lie
Of midnight ease; another, when the gray
Of morn preludes the splendour of the day.
The disk of Phoebus, when he climbs on high,
Appears at first but as a bloodshot eye;
And when bis chariot downward drives to bed,
His bail is with the same suffusion red;
But mounted high in his meridian race
All bright he shines, and with a better face:
For there, pure particles of ether flow,
Far from th' infection of the world below.
"Nor equal light th' unequal Moon adorns,
Or in her wexing, or her waning horns.
For every day she wanes, her face is less,
But, gathering into globe, she fattens at increase.
"Perceiv'st thou not the process of the year,
How the four seasons in four forms appear,
Resembling human life in every shape they wear?
Spring first, like infancy, shoots out her head,
With milky juice requiring to be fed :
Helpless, though fresh, and wanting to be led.
The green stem grows in stature and in size,
But only feeds with hope the farmer's eyes;
Then laughs the childish year with flowerets
And lavishly perfumes the fields around,
But no substantial nourishment receives,
Infirm the stalks, unsolid are the leaves.
"Proceeding onward whence the year began,
The Summer grows adult, and ripens into man.
This season, as in men, is most replete
With kindly moisture, and prolific heat.
"Autumn succeeds, a sober tepid age, Not froze with fear, nor boiling into rage; More than mature, and tending to decay, When our brown locks repine to mix with odious grey.
"Last, Winter creeps along with tardy pace, Sour is his front, and furrow'd is his face. His scalp if not dishonour'd quite of hair, The ragged fleece is thin, and thin is worse than "Ev'n our own bodies daily change receive, Some part of what was theirs before they leave; Nor are to-day what yesterday they were; Nor the whole same to morrow will appear. "Time was, when we were sow'd, and just began, From some few fruitful drops, the promise of a Then Nature's hand (fermented as it was) [man; Monided to shape the soft, coagulated mass; And when the little man was fully form'd, The breathless embryo with a spirit warm'd; But when the mother's throes begin to come, The creature, pent within the narrow room, Breaks his blind prison, pushing to repair His stifled breath, and draw the living air; Cast on the margin of the world he lies, A helpless babe, but by instinct he cries. He next essays to walk, but downward press'd On four feet imitates his brother beast:
By slow degrees he gathers from the ground
His legs, and to the rolling chair is bound;
Then walks alone; a horseman now become,
He rides a stick, and travels round the room:
In time he vaunts among his youthful peers,
Strong-bon'd, and strung with nerves, in pride
He runs with mettle his first merry stage,
Maintains the next, abated of his rage,
But manages his strength, and spares his age.
Heavy the third, and stiff, he sinks apace,
And, though 'tis down-hill all, but creeps along the
Now sapless on the verge of death he stands,
Contemplating his former feet and hands;
And, Milo-like, his slacken'd sinews sees,
And wither'd arms, once fit to cope with Hercules,
Unable now to shake, much less to tear, the trees.
"So Helen wept, when her too faithful glass
Reflected to her eyes the ruins of her face:
Wondering what charms her ravishers could spy,
To force her twice, or ev'n but once enjoy!
"Thy teeth, devouring Time, thine, envious Age,
On things below still exercise your rage:
With venom'd grinders you corrupt your meat,
And then, at lingering meals, the morsels eat.
"Nor those, which elements we call, abide,
Nor to this figure, nor to that, are ty'd;
For this eternal world is said of old
But four prolific principles to hold,
Four different bodies; two to Heaven ascend,
And other two down to the centre tend:
Fire first with wings expanded mounts on high,
Pure, void of weight, and dwells in upper sky;
Then air, because unclog'd in empty space,
Flies after fire, and claims the second place:
But weighty water, as her nature guides,
Lies on the lap of Earth, and mother Earth sub-
"All things are mixt with these, which all con-
And into these are all resolv'd again :
Earth rarifies to dew; expanded more
The subtil dew in air begins to soar;
Spreads as she flies, and weary of her name
Extenuates still, and changes into flame;
Thus having by degrees perfection won,
Restless they soon untwist the web they spun,
And fire begins to lose her radiant hue,
Mix'd with gross air, and air descends to dew;
And dew, condensing, does her form forego,
And sinks, a heavy lump of earth, below.
"Thus are their figures never at a stand, But chang'd by Nature's innovating hand; All things are alter'd, nothing is destroy'd, The shifted scene for some new show employ'd. "Then, to be born, is to begin to be Some other thing we were not formerly: And what we call to die, is not t' appear, Or be the thing that formerly we were. Those very elements, which we partake Alive, when dead some other bodies make: Translated grow, have sense, or can discourse; But death on deathless substance has no force. "That forms are chang'd I grant, that nothing Continue in the figure it began:
The golden age to silver was debas'd:
To copper that; our metal came at last.
"The face of places, and their forms, decay;
And that is solid earth, that once was sea:
Seas in their turn, retreating from the shore,
Make solid land what ocean was before;
And far from strands are shells of fishes found,
And rusty anchors fix'd on mountain ground;
And what were fields before, now wash'd and worn,
By falling floods from high, to valleys turn,
And crumbling still descend to level lands;
And lakes, and trembling bogs, are barren sands;
And the parch'd desert floats in streams unknown;
Wondering to drink of waters not her own.
Here Nature living fountains opes; and there
Seals up the wombs where living fountains were ;
Or earthquakes stop their ancient course, and bring
Diverted streams to feed a distant spring.
So Lycus, swallow'd up, is seen no more,
But far from thence knocks out another door.
Thus Erasinus dives; and blind in earth
Runs on, and gropes his way to second birth,
Starts up in Argos meads, and shakes his locks
Around the fields, and fattens all the flocks.
So Mysus by another way is led,
And, grown a river, now disdains his head:
Forgets his humble birth, his name forsakes,
And the proud title of Caïcus takes.
Large Amenane, impure with yellow sands,
Runs rapid often, and as often stands ;
And here he threats the drunken fields to drown,
And there his dugs deny to give their liquor down.
"Anigros once did wholesome draughts afford,
But now his deadly waters are abhorr'd:
Since, hurt by Hercules, as Fame resounds,
The Centaurs in his current wash'd their wounds,
The streams of Hypanis are sweet no more,
But brackish lose their taste they had before.
Antissa, Pharos, Tyre, in seas were pent,
Once isles, but now increase the continent;
While the Leucadian coast, main-land before,
By rushing seas is sever'd from the shore.
So Zancle to th' Italian earth was ty'd,
And men once walk'd where ships at anchor ride;
Till Neptune overlook'd the narrow way,
And in disdain pour'd in the conquering sea.
"Two cities that adorn'd th' Achaian ground, Buris and Helice, no more are found,
But, whelm'd beneath a lake, are sunk and drown'd;
And boatsmen through the crystal water show,
To wondering passengers, the walls below.
"Near Træzen stands a hill, expos'd in air
To winter winds, of leafy shadows bare:
This once was level ground: but (strange to tell)
Th' included vapours, that in caverns dwell,
Labouring with colic pangs, and close confin'd,
In vain sought issue from the rumbling wind:
Yet still they heav'd for vent, and heaving still
Enlarg'd the concave, and shot up the hill;
As breath extends a bladder, or the skins
Of goats are blown t'enclose the hoarded wines:
The mountain yet retains a mountain's face,
And gather'd rubbish heals the hollow space.
"Of many wonders, which I heard or knew, Retrenching most, I will relate but few: What, are not springs with qualities oppos'd Endued at seasons, and at seasons lost? Thrice in a day thine, Ammon, change their form, Cold at high noon, at morn and evening warm: Thine, Athaman, will kindle wood, if thrown On the pil'd earth, and in the waning Moon. The Thracians have a stream, if any try The taste, his harden'd bowels petrify; Whate'er it touches it converts to stones, And makes a marble pavement where it runs.
"Grathis, and Sibaris her sister flood, That slide through our Calabrian neighbour wood, With gold and amber die the shining hair, And thither youth resort; (for who would not be fair?)
"But stranger virtues yet in streams we find,
Some change not only bodies, but the mind:
Who has not heard of Salmacis obscene,
Whose waters into women soften men ?
Of Ethiopian lakes, which turn the brain
To madness, or in heavy sleep constrain?
Clytorean streams the love of wine expel,
(Such is the virtue of th' abstemious well)
Whether the colder nymph that rules the flood
Extinguishes, and balks the drunken god;
Or that Melampus (so have some assur'd)
When the mad Protides with charms he cur'd,
And powerful herbs, both charms and simples cast
Into the sober spring, where still their virtues last.
"Unlike effects Lyncestis will produce;
Who drinks his waters, though with moderate use,
Reels as with wine, and sees with double sight:
His heels too heavy, and his head too light.
Ladon, once Pheneos, an Arcadian stream,
(Ambiguous in th' effects, as in the name)
By day is wholesome beverage; but is thought
By night infected, and a deadly draught.
"Thus running rivers, and the standing lake,
Now of these virtues, now of those partake:
Time was (and all things Time and Fate obey)
When fast Ortygia floated on the sea;
Such were Cyanean isles, when Typhis steer'd
Betwixt their straits, and their collision fear'd;
They swam where now they sit; and firmly join'd
Secure of rooting up, resist the wind.
Nor Etna vomiting sulphureous fire
Will ever belch; for sulphur will expire
(The veins exhausted of the liquid store); [more.
Time was she cast no flames; in time will cast no
"For whether Earth's an animal, and air
Imbibes, her lungs with coolness to repair,
And what she sucks remits; she still requires
Inlets for air, and outlets for her fires;
When tortur'd with convulsive fits she shakes,
That motion chokes the vent, till other vent she
Or when the winds in hollow caves are clos'd,
And subtil spirits find that way oppos'd,
They toss up flints in air; the flints that hide
The seeds of fire, thus toss'd in air, collide,
Kindling the sulphur, till, the fuel spent,
The cave is cool'd, and the fierce winds relent.
Or whether sulphur, catching fire, feeds on
Its unctuous parts, till, all the matter gone,
The flames no more ascend; for earth supplies
The fat that feeds them; and when earth denies
That food, by length of time consum'd, the fire,
Famish'd for want of fuel, must expire.
"A race of men there are, as Fame has told,
Who shivering suffer Hyperborean cold,
Till, nine times bathing in Minerva's lake,
Soft feathers to defend their naked sides they take.
"Tis said, the Scythian wives (believe who will)
Transform themselves to birds by magic skill;
Smear'd over with an oil of wondrous might,
That adds new pinions to their airy flight.
"But this by sure experiment we know,
That living creatures from corruption grow:
Hide in a hollow pit a slaughter'd steer,
Bees from his putrid bowels will appear;
Who, like their parents, haunt the fields, and bring | Seeks the Sun's city, and his sacred church,
Their honey-harvest home, and hope another
The warlike steed is multiply'd, we find,
To wasps and hornets of the warrior kind.
Cat from a crab his crooked claws, and hide
The rest in earth, a scorpion thence will glide
And shoot his sting, his tail in circles toss'd
Refers the limbs his backward father lost.
And worms, that stretch on leaves their filthy loom,
Crawl from their bags and butterflies become.
Ev'n slime begets the frog's loquacious race:
Short of their feet at first, in little space
With arms and legs endued, long leaps they take,
Rais'd on their hinder part, and swim the lake,
And waves repel: for Nature gives their kind,
To that intent, a length of legs behind.
"The cubs of bears a living lump appear,
When whelp'd, and no determin'd figure wear.
The mother licks them into shape, and gives
As much of form as she herself receives.
"The grubs from their sexangular abode Crawl out unfinish'd, like the maggot's brood: Trunks without limbs; till Time at leisure brings The thighs they wanted, and their tardy wings. "The bird who draws the car of Juno, vain Of her crown'd head, and of her starry train; And he that bears th' artillery of Jove, The strong-pounc'd eagle, and the billing dove: And all the feather'd kind, who could suppose (But that from sight, the surest sense, he knows) They from th' included yolk, not ambient white arose ?
"There are who think the marrow of a man, Which in the spine, while he was living, ran; When dead, the pith corrupted, will become A snake, and hiss within the hollow tomb. "All these receive their birth from other things; But from himself the phenix only springs: Self-born, begotten by the parent flame
In which he burn'd, another and the same:
Who not by corn or herbs his life sustains,
But the sweet essence of amomum drains:
And watches the rich gums Arabia bears,
While yet in tender dew they drop their tears.
He (his five centuries of life fulfill'd)
His nest on oaken boughs begins to build,
Or trembling tops of palm: and first he draws
The plan with his broad bill and crooked claws,
Nature's artificers; on this the pile
Is form'd, and rises round; then with the spoil
Of cassia, cynamon, and stems of nard,
(For softness strew'd beneath) his funeral bed is
Funeral and bridal both; and all around [rear'd:
The borders with corruptless myrrh are crown'd:
On this incumbent; till etherial flame
First catches, then consumes, the costly frame;
Consumes him too, as on the pile he lies:
He liv'd on odours, and in odours dies.
"An infant phenix from the former springs,
His father's heir, and from his tender wings
Shakes off his parent dust, his method he pursues,
And the same lease of life on the same terms
When grown to manhood he begins his reign,
And with stiff pinions can his flight sustain,
He lightens of its load the tree that bore
His father's royal sepulchre before,
And his own cradle: this with pious care
Plac'd on his back, he cuts the buxom air,
And decently lays down his burthen in the porch.
"A wonder more amazing would we find?
Th' hyena shows it, of a double kind,
Varying the sexes in alternate years,
In one begets, and in another bears.
The thin cameleon, fed with air, receives
The colour of the thing to which he cleaves.
"India, when conquer'd, on the conquering god
For planted vines the sharp-ey'd lynx bestow'd,
Whose urine, shed before it touches earth,
Congeals in air, and gives to gems their birth.
So coral, soft and white in ocean's bed,
Comes harden'd up in air, and glows with red.
"All changing species should my song recite, Before 1 ceas'd, would change the day to night. Nations and empires flourish and decay, By turns command, and in their turns obey; Time softens hardy people, time again Hardens to war a soft, unwarlike train. Thus Troy, for ten long years, her foes withstood, And daily bleeding bore th' expense of blood: Now for thick streets it shows an empty space, Or, only fill'd with tombs of her own perish'd race, Herself becomes the sepulchre of what she was. Mycene, Sparta, Thebes of mighty fame, Are vanish'd out of substance into name, And Dardan Rome, that just begins to rise, On Tiber's banks, in time shall mate the skies; Widening her bounds, and working on her way, Ev'n now she meditates imperial sway: Yet this is change, but she by changing thrives, Like moons new born, and in her cradle strives To fill her infant horns; an hour shall come When the round world shall be contain❜d in Rome. "For thus old saws foretel, and Helenus Anchises' drooping son enliven'd thus, When Ilium now was in a sinking state, And he was doubtful of his future fate:
'O goddess-born, with thy hard fortune strive,
Troy never can be lost, and thou alive.
Thy passage thou shalt free through fire and sword,
And Troy in foreign lands shall be restor❜d.
In happier fields a rising town 1 see,
Greater than what e'er was, or is, or e'er shall be:
And Heaven yet owes the world a race deriv'd
Sages and chiefs, of other lineage born,
The city shall extend, extended shall adorn :
But from lulus he must draw his birth,
By whom thy Rome shall rule the conquer'd Earth:
Whom Heaven will lend mankind on Earth to reign,
And late require the precious pledge again.'
This Helenus to great Æneas told,
Which I retain, e'er since in other mold
My soul was cloth'd; and now rejoice to view
My country's walls rebuilt, and Troy reviv'd
Rais'd by the fall: decreed by loss to gain;
Enslav'd but to be free, and conquer'd but to reign.
"Tis time my hard-mouth'd coursers to control,
Apt to run riot, and transgress the goal:
And therefore I conclude, whatever lies
In earth, or flits in air, or fills the skies,
All suffer change, and we, that are of soul
And body mix'd, are members of the whole.
Then when our sires, or grandsires shall forsake
The forms of men, and brutal figures take,
Thus hous'd, securely let their spirits rest,
Nor violate thy father in the beast,
Thy friend, thy brother, any of thy kin;
If none of these, yet there's a man within:
O spare to make a Thyestean meal
T'enclose his body, and his soul expel.
"Ill customs by degrees to habits rise,
Ill habits soon become exalted vice:
What more advance can mortals make in sin
So near perfection, who with blood begin?
Deaf to the calf, that lies beneath the knife,
and from her butcher begs her life:
Deaf to the harmless kid, that, ere he dies,
All methods to procure thy mercy tries,
And imitates in vain thy children's cries.
Where will he stop, who feeds with household
Then eats the poultry which before he fed?
Let plough thy steers; that when they lose their
To Nature, not to thee, they may impute their
Let goats for food their loaded udders lend,
And sheep from winter-cold thy sides defend;
But neither springes, nets, nor snares employ,
And be no more ingenious to destroy.
Free as in air, let birds on Earth remain,
Nor let insidious glue their wings constrain;
Nor opening hounds the trembling stag affright,
Nor purple feathers intercept his flight:
Nor hooks conceal'd in baits for fish prepare,
Nor lines to heave them twinkling up in air.
"Take not away the life you cannot give :
For all things have an equal right to live.
Kill noxious creatures, where 'tis sin to save;
This only just prerogative we have:
But nourish life with vegetable food,
And shun the sacrilegious taste of blood."
These precepts by the Samian sage were taught,
Which godlike Numa to the Sabines brought,
And thence transferr'd to Rome, by gift his own:
A willing people, and an offer'd throne.
O happy monarch, sent by Heaven to bless
A savage nation with soft arts of peace,
To teach religion, rapine to restrain,
Give laws to lust, and sacrifice ordain:
Himself a saint, a goddess was his bride,
And all the Muses o'er his acts preside."