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Where Persia borders, and the rolling Nile
Drives swiftly down the swarthy Indians soil,
Till into seven it multiplies its stream,
And fattens Egypt with a fruitful slime:
In this last practice all their hope remains,
And long experience justifies their pains.
First then a close contracted space of ground, With straiten'd walls and low-built roof they found; A narrow shelving light is next assign'd
To all the quarters, one to every wind;
Through these the glancing rays obliquely pierce:
Hither they lead a bull that's young and fierce.
When two years growth of horn he proudly shows,
And shakes the comely terrors of his brows:
His nose and mouth, the avenues of breath,
They muzzle up, and beat his limbs to death;
With violence to life and stifling pain
He flings and spurns, and tries to snort in vain,
Loud heavy mows fall thick on ev'ry side,
Till his bruis'd bowels burst within the hide.
When dead, they leave him rotting on the ground,
With branches, thyme, and cassia, strew'd around.
All this is done when first the western breeze
Becalms the year, and smooths the troubled seas;
Before the chattering swallow builds her nest,
Or fields in spring's embroidery are drest,
Mean while the tainted juice ferments within,
And quickens as it works: and now are seen
A wondrous swarm, that o'er the carcass crawls,
Of shapeless, rude, unfinish'd animals.
No legs at first the insect's weight sustain,
At length it moves its new-made limbs with pain;
Now strikes the air with quiv'ring wings, and tries
To lift its body up, and learns to rise;
Now bending thighs and gilded wings it wears
Full grown, and all the bee at length appears;
From every side the fruitful carcass pours
Its swarming brood, as thick as summer show'rs,
Or flights of arrows from the Parthian bows,
When twanging strings first shoot them on the foes.
Thus have I sung the nature of the bee;
While Cæsar, tow'ring to divinity,
The frighted Indians with his thunder aw'd,
And claim'd their homage, and commenc'd a god;
I flourish'd all the while in arts of peace,
Retir'd and shelter'd in inglorious ease:
I who before the songs of shepherds made,
When gay and young my rural lays I play'd
And set my Tityrus beneath his shade.
CECILIA, whose exalted hymns
With joy and wonder fill the blest,
In choirs of warbling seraphims,
Known and distinguish'd from the rest,
Attend, harmonious saint, and see
Thy vocal sons of harmony;
Attend, harmonious saint, and hear our pray'rs;
Enliven all our earthly airs,
And, as thou singst thy God, teach us to sing of thee:
Tune ev'ry string and ev'ry tongue,
Be thou the muse and subject of our song.
Let all Cecilia's praise proclaim,
Employ the echo in her name.
Hark how the flutes and trumpets raise,
At bright Cecilia's name, their lays;
The organ labours in her praise.
Cecilia's name does all our numbers grace,
From ev'ry voice the tuneful accents fly,
In soaring trebles now it rises high,
And now it sinks, and dwells upon the base.
Cecilia's name through all the notes we sing,
The work of ev'ry skilful tongue,
The sound of ev'ry trembling string,
The sound and triumph of our song.
For ever consecrate the day,
To music and Cecilia;
Music, the greatest good that mortals know, And all of heav'n we have below.
Music can noble hints impart,
Engender fury, kindle love;
With unsuspected eloquence can move,
And manage all the man with secret art.
When Orpheus strikes the trembling lyre,
The streams stand still, the stones admire;
The list ning savages advance,
The wolf and lamb around him trip,
The bears in awkward measures leap,
And tigers mingle in the dance.
The moving woods attended as he play'd,
And Rhodope was left without a shade.
Music religious heats inspires,
It wakes the soul, and lifts it high,
And wings it with sublime desires,
And fits it to bespeak the Deity.
Th' Almighty listens to a tuneful tongue,
And seems well pleas'd and courted with a song.
Soft moving sounds and heav'nly airs
Give force to ev'ry word, and recommend our pray'rs.
When time itself shall be no more,
And all things in confusion hurl'd,
Music shall then exert its pow'r,
And sound survive the ruins of the world:
Then saints and angels shall agree
In one eternal jubilee:
All heav'n shall echo with their hymns divine
And God himself with pleasure see
The whole creation in a chorus join.
Consecrate the place and day,
To music and Cecilia.
Let no rough winds approach, nor dare
Invade the hallow'd bounds,
Nor rudely shake the tuneful air,
Nor spoil the fleeting sounds.
Nor mournful sigh nor groan be heard,
But gladness dwell on ev'ry tongue;
Whilst all, with voice and strings prepar'd,
Keep up the loud harmonious song,
And imitate the blest above,
In joy, and harmony, and love.
TO MR. HENRY SACHEVERELL,
SINCE, dearest Harry, you will needs request
A short account of all the muse-possest,
That, down from Chaucer's days to Dryden's times,
Have spent their noble rage in British rhymes;
Without more preface, writ in formal length,
To speak the undertaker's want of strength,
I'll try to make their sev'ral beauties known,
And show their verses worth, though not my own.
Long had our dull forefathers slept supine,
Nor felt the raptures of the tuneful nine;
Till Chaucer first, a merry bard, arose,
And many a story told in rhyme and prose.
But age has rusted what the poet writ,
Worn out his language, and obscur'd his wit:
In vain he jests in his unpolish'd strain,
And tries to make his readers laugh in vain.
Old Spenser next, warm'd with poetic rage,
In ancient tales amus'd a barb'rous age;
An age that yet uncultivate and rude,
Where'er the poet's fancy led, pursu'd
Through pathless fields and unfrequented floods,
To dens of dragons and enchanted woods.
But now the mystic tale, that pleas'd of yore,
Can charm an understanding age no more;