Слике страница

A nobler object than this fabric was,
Rome never saw: nor of so vast a space :
For, rich with spoils of many a conquer'd land,
All arts and artists Theseus could command:
Who sold for hire, or wrought for better fame,
The master-painters, and the carvers, came.
So rose within the compass of the year
An age's work, a glorious theatre.
Then o'er its eastern gate was rais'd, above,
A temple, sacred to the queen of love;

An altar stood below; on either hand

A priest with roses crown'd, who held a myrtle wand.
The dome of Mars was on the gate oppos'd,
And on the north a turret was enclos'd,
Within the wall, of alabaster white,
And crimson coral, for the queen of night,
Who takes in sylvan sports her chaste delight.
Within these oratories might you see
Rich carvings, portraitures, and imagery:
Where every figure to the life express'd
The godhead's power to whom it was address'd.
In Venus' temple on the sides were seen
The broken slumbers of enamour'd men,
Prayers, that even spoke, and pity seem'd to call,
And issuing sighs, that smok'd along the wall,
Complaints, and hot desires, the lover's Hell, [fell:
And scalding tears, that wore a channel where they
And all around were nuptial bonds, the ties
Of love's assurance, and a train of lies,
That, made in lust, conclude in perjuries.
Beauty, and Youth, and Wealth, and Luxury,
And sprightly Hope, and short-enduring Joy;

And sorceries to raise th' infernal powers,
And sigils, fram'd in planetary hours:
Expense, and Afterthought, and idle Care,
And Doubts of motley hue, and dark Despair;
Suspicions, and fantastical Surmise,


And Jealousy suffus'd, with jaundice in her eyes,
Discolouring all she view'd, in tawny dress'd,
Down-look'd, and with a cuckoo on her fist.
Oppos'd to her, on t' other side advance
The costly feast, the carol, and the dance,
Minstrels, and music, poetry, and play,
And balls by nights, and tournaments by day.
All these were painted on the wall, and more:
With acts and monuments of times before:
And others added by prophetic doom,
And lovers yet unborn, and loves to come :
For there th' Idalian mount, and Citheron,
The court of Venus was in colours drawn:
Before the palace-gate, in careless dress,
And loose array, sat portress Idleness:
There, by the fount, Narcissus pin'd alone:
There Samson was; with wiser Solomon,
And all the mighty names by love undone.
Medea's charms were there, Circean feasts,
With bowls that turn'd enamour'd youth to beasts.
Here might be seen, that beauty, wealth, and wit,
And prowess, to the power of love submit:
The spreading snare for all mankind is laid;
And lovers all betray, and are betray'd.

The goddess' self some noble hand had wrought;
Smiling she seem'd, and full of pleasing thought:
From ocean as she first began to rise,

And smooth'd the ruffled seas and clear'd the skies,

She trod the brine, all bare below the breast,
And the green waves but ill conceal'd the rest;
A lute she held; and on her head was seen
A wreath of roses red, and myrtles green;
Her turtles fann'd the buxom air above;
And, by his mother, stood an infant Love,
With wings unfledg'd; his eyes were banded o'er;
His hands a bow, his back a quiver bore,
Supply'd with arrows bright and keen, a deadly store.
But in the dome of mighty Mars the red
With different figures all the sides were spread;
This temple, less in form, with equal grace,
Was imitative of the first in Thrace:
For that cold region was the lov'd abode,
And sovereign mansion of the warrior god.
The landscape was a forest wide and bare;
Where neither beast, nor human kind repair;
The fowl, that scent afar, the borders fly,
And shun the bitter blast, and wheel about the sky.
A cake of scurf lies baking on the ground,
And prickly stubs, instead of trees, are found;
Or woods with knots and knares deform'd and old;
Headless the most, and hideous to behold:
A rattling tempest through the branches went,
That stripp'd them bare, and one sole way they bent.
Heaven froze above, severe, the clouds congeal,
And through the crystal vault appear'd the standing


Such was the face without; a mountain stood
Threatening from high, and overlook'd the wood:
Beneath the lowering brow, and on a bent,
The temple stood of Mars armipotent:

The frame of burnish'd steel, that cast a glare
From far, and seem'd to thaw the freezing air.
A straight long entry to the temple led,

Blind with high walls, and Horrour over head:
Thence issued such a blast, and hollow roar,
As threaten'd from the hinge to heave the door;
In through that door, a northern light there shone ;
'Twas all it had, for windows there were none;
The gate was adamant, eternal frame ! [came,
Which, hew'd by Mars himself, from Indian quarries
The labour of a god; and all along

Tough iron plates were clench'd to make it strong.
A tun about was every pillar there;

A polish'd mirror shone not half so clear.

There saw I how the secret felon wrought,
And Treason labouring in the traitor's thought:
And midwife Time the ripen'd plot to murder

There the red Anger dar'd the pallid Fear;
Next stood Hypocrisy, with holy leer,
Soft smiling, and demurely looking down,
But hid the dagger underneath the gown:
Th' assassinating wife, the household fiend,
And, far the blackest there, the traitor-friend.
On t' other side there stood Destruction bare,
Unpunished Rapine, and a waste of war.
Contest, with sharpen'd knives, in cloisters drawn,
And all with blood bespread the holy lawn.

Loud menaces were heard, and foul Disgrace,
And bawling Infamy, in language base :
Till sense was lost in sound, and Silence fled the


The slayer of himself yet saw I there,

The gore congeal'd was clotted in his hair :

With eyes half clos'd, and gaping mouth he lay, And grim, as when he breath'd his sudden soul


In midst of all the dome, Misfortune sate,
And gloomy Discontent, and fell Debate,
And Madness laughing in his ireful mood;
And arm'd Complaint on Theft; and cries of Blood.
There was the murder'd corpse, in covert laid,
And violent Death in thousand shapes display'd;
The city to the soldiers' rage resign'd;
Successless wars, and Poverty behind;
Ships burnt in fight, or forc'd on rocky shores,
And the rash hunter strangled by the boars :
The new-born babe by nurses overlaid;
And the cook caught within the raging fire he madc.
All ills of Mars's nature, flame and steel;
The gasping charioteer, beneath the wheel
Of his own car; the ruin'd house, that falls
And intercepts her lord betwixt the walls:
The whole division, that to Mars pertains,
All trades of death, that deal in steel for gains,
Were there: the butcher, armourer, and smith,
Who forges sharpen'd faulchions, or the scythe.
The scarlet Conquest on a tower was plac'd,
With shouts, and soldiers' acclamations grac'd:
A pointed sword hung threatening o'er his head,
Sustain'd but by a slender twine of thread.
There saw I Mars's ides, the Capitol,
The seer in vain foretelling Cæsar's fall;
The last triumvirs, and the wars they move,
And Antony, who lost the world for love.
These, and a thousand more, the fane adorn ;
Their fates were painted ere the men were born,

« ПретходнаНастави »