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I rave, then weep; I curse, and then complain;
Now swell to rage, now melt in tears again.
Not fiercer pangs distract the mournful dame,
Whose first-born infant feeds the funeral flame.
My scornful brother with a smile appears,
Insults my woes, and triumphs in my tears,
His hated image ever haunts my eyes;
“And why this grief? thy daughter lives," he cries.
Stung with my love, and furious with despair,
All torn my garments, and my bosom bare,
My woes, thy crimes, I to the world proclaim,
Such inconsistent things are love and shame!
'Tis thou art all my care and my delight,
My daily longing, and my dream by night:
O night more pleasing than the brightest day,
When fancy gives what absence takes away,
And, dress'd in all its visionary charms,
Restores my fair deserter to my arms!
Then round your neck in wanton wreaths I twine,
Then you, methinks, as fondly circle mine :
A thousand tender words I hear and speak;
A thousand melting kisses give and take :
Then fiercer joys I blush to mention these,
Yet, while I blush, confess how much they please.
But when, with day, the sweet delusions fly,
And all things wake to life and joy but I,
As if once more forsakeu, I complain,
And close my eyes to dream of you again :
Then frantic rise, and like some fury rove
Thro' lonely plains, and thro' the silent grove ;
As if the silent grove, and lonely plains,
That knew my pleasures, could relieve my pains.
I view the grotto, once the scene of love,
The rocks around, the hanging roofs above,
That charm'd me more, with native moss o'ergrown,
Than Phrygian marble, or the Parian stone:
I find the shades that veil'd our joys before;
But, Phaon gone, these shades delight no more.
Here the press'd herbs with bending tops betray
Where oft entwin'd in amorous folds we lay;
I kiss that earth which once was press'd by you,
And all with tears the withering herbs bedew.
For thee the fading trees appear to mourn,
And birds defer their songs till thy return :
Night shades the groves, and all in silence lie,
All but the mournful Philomel and I:
With mournful Philomel I join my strain,
Of Tereus she, of Phaon I complain.
A spring there is, whose silver waters show,
Clear as a glass, the shining sands below :
A Rowery lotos spreads its arms above,
Shades all the banks, and seems itself a grove ;
Eternal greens the mossy margin grace,
Watch'd by the silvan genius of the place.
Here as I lay, and swelld with tears the flood,
Before my sight a watery virgin stood :
She stood and cry'd, “ O you that love in vain !
Fly hence, and seek the fair Leucadian main ;
There stands a rock, from whose impending steep
Apollo's fane surveys the rolling deep ;
There injur'd lovers, leaping from above,
Their flames extinguish, and forget to love.
Deucalion once with hopeless fury burn'd,
In vain he lov'd, relentless Pyrrha scorn'd :
But when from hence he plung'd'into the main,
Deucalion scorn'd, and Pyrrha lov'd in vain.
Haste, Sappho, haste, from high Leucadia throw
Thy wretched weight, nor dread the deeps below !"
She spoke, and vanish'd with the voice-I rise,
And silent tears fall trickling from my eyes.
I go, ye nymphs ! those rocks and seas to prove ;
How much I fear, but ah, how much I love!
I go, ye nymphs! where furious love inspires;
Let female fears submit to female fires.
To rocks and seas I fly from Phaon's hate,
And hope from seas and rocks a milder fate.
Ye gentle gales, beneath my body blow,
And softly lay me on the waves below!
And thou, kind Love, my sinking limbs sustain,
? Spread thy soft wings, and waft me o'er the main, Nor let a lover's death the guiltless food profane!
On Phæbus' shrine my harp I'll then bestow,
And this inscription shall be plac'd below :
" Here she who sung, to him that did inspire,
Sappho to Phæbus consecrates her lyre;
What suits with Sappho, Phoebus, suits with thee;
The gift, the giver, and the god agree."
But why, alas ! relentless youth, ah why
To distant seas must tender Sappho fy?
Thy charms than those may far more powerful be,
And Phoebus' self is less a god to me.
Ah! canst thou doom me to the rocks and sea,
O far more faithless and more hard than they?
Ah! canst thou rather see this tender breast
Dash'd on these rocks than to thy bosom press'd ?
This breast which once, in vain ! you lik'd so well;
Where the Loves play'd,and where the Muses dwell.
Alas! the Muses now no more inspire ;
Untun'd my lute, and silent is my lyre;
My languid numbers have forgot to flow,
And fancy sinks beneath a weight of woe. i Ve Lesbian virgins, and ye Lesbian dames,
Themes of my verse, and objects of my flames,
No more your groves with my glad songs shall ring,
No more these hands shall touch the trembling string :
My Phaon's fled, and I those arts resign;
(Wretch that I am, to call that Phaon mine!)
Return, fair youth, return, and bring along
Joy to my soul, and vigour to my song:
Absent from thee, the poet's flame expires;
But ah! how fiercely burn the lover's fires ?
Gods! can no pray’rs, no sighs, no numbers move
Oue savage heart, or teach it how to love?
The winds my pray’rs, my sighs, my pumbers bear,
The flying winds have lost them all in air!
Oh when, alas! shall more auspicious gales
To these fond eyes restore thy welcome sails !
If you return-ah why these long delays?
Poor Sappho dies while careless Phaon stays.
O launch thy bark, nor fear the watery plain ;
Venus for thee shall smooth her native main.
o launch thy bark, secure of prosperous gales ;
Cupid for thee shall spread the swelling sails,
If you will fly-(yet ah! what cause can be,
Too cruel youth, that you should fly from me?)
If not from Phaon I must hope for ease,
Ah let me seek it from the raging seas :
To raging seas uppitied I'll remove,
And either cease to live or cease to love!
(Written in the Year 1709.)
PART I. Introduction. That it is as great a fault to judge'ill as
to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the public.That a true taste is as rare to be found as a true genius. That most men are born with some taste, but spoiled by false education.—Thé multitude of critics, and causes of them. That we are to study our own taste, and know the limits of it.-Nature the best guide of judgment.-Improved by art and 'rules, which are but methodized Nature.—Rules derived from the practice of the ancient poets. That therefore the ancients are necessary to be studied by a critic, particularly Homer and Virgil. Of licences, and the use of them by the ancients. Reverence due to the ancients, and praise of them.
hard to say if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But of the two less dangerous is the offence
To tire our patience than mislead our sense :
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss ;
A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verse makes many more in proses
Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
Ge just alike, yet each believes his own,
In poets as true genius is but rare,
True taste as seldom is the critic's share :
Both must alike from Heav'n derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as those to write,
Let such teach others who themselves excel,
And censure freely who have written well.
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
But are not critics to their judgment too ?
Yet if we look more closely, we shall find Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind : Nature affords at least a glimmering light; The lines, though touch'd but faintly, are drawn right: But as the slightest sketch, if justly trac'd, Is by ill-colouring but the more disgrac'd, So by false learning is good sense defac'd : Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools, And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools: In search of wit these lose their common sense, And then turn critics in their own defence : Each burns alike, who can or cannot write, Or with a rival's or an eunuch's spite. All fools have still an itching to deride, And fain would be upon the laughing side. If Mæyius scribble in Apollo's spite, There are who judge still worse than he can write. Some have at first for wits, then poets, past; Turn'd critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last. Some neither can for wits nor critics pass, As heavy mules are neither horse nor ass. Those half-learn'd witlings, numerous in our isle, As half-form'd insects on the banks of Nile; Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call, Their generation's so equivocal; To tell 'em would a hundred tongues require, Or one vain wit's, that might a hundred tire.