Page images

Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-rob'd innocence from heaven descend.
Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn!
Oh spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born!
See, nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring:
See lofty Lebanon (e) his head advance,
See nodding forests on the mountains dance:
See spicy clouds from lowly Saron rise,
And Carmel's flowery top perfumes the skies!
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers;
Prepare the way! (f) a God, a God appears!


Ver. 23. See nature hastes, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 18.

At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu,
Errantes hederas passim cum baccare tellus,
Mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho...
Ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores.

For thee, O child, shall the earth, without being tilled, produce her early offerings; winding ivy, mixed with baccar, and colocassia with smiling acanthus. Thy cradle shall pour forth pleasing flowers about thee.'

Isaiah, ch. xxxv. ver. 1.The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.' Ch. Ix. ver. 13. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of thy sanctuary.'

Ver. 29. Hark! a glad voice, &c.

Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 46.

Aggredere ô magnos (aderit jam tempus) honores, Cara deûm soboles, magnum Jovis incrementum--Ecl. v. ver. 62.

Ipsi lætitiâ voces ad sidera jactant

Intonsi montes, ipsæ jam carmina rupes,
Ipsa sonant arbusta, Deus, Deus ille Menalca!
(e) Ch. xxxv. ver. 2. (f) Ch. xl. ver. 3, 4.

A God, a God! the vocal hills reply,
The rocks proclaim th' approaching Deity.
Lo, earth receives him from the bending skies!
Sink down, ye mountains; and ye valleys, rise!
With heads declin'd, ye cedars, homage pay;
Be smooth, ye rocks; ye rapid floods, give way!
The Saviour comes! by ancient bards foretold:
Hear him, ye deaf; and all ye blind, behold!
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eye-ball pour the day:
'Tis he th' obstructed paths of sound shall clear,
And bid new music charm th' unfolding ear:
The dumb (g) shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting, like the bounding roe.

No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear,
From every face he wipes off every tear.
In adamantine (h) chains shall death be bound,
And hell's grim tyrant feel th' eternal wound.
As the good shepherd (i) tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pasture, and the purest air;


'O come and receive the mighty honours: the time draws nigh, O beloved offspring of the gods! O great increase of Jove! The uncultivated mountains send shouts of joy to the stars; the very rocks sing in verse, the very shrubs cry out, A God, a God!'

Isaiah, ch. xl. ver. 3, 4. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord! make straight in the desert a highway for our God! Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crocked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.' Ch. xliv. ver. 23. Break forth into singing, ye mountains; O forest, therein, for the Lord hath redeemed Israel.' (g) Ch. xliii. ver. 18. (h) Ch. xxv. ver. 8.

and every tree

Ch. xxxv. ver. 5, 6.
(i) Ch. xl. ver. 11.

Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs,
By day o'ersees them, and by night protects;
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,

Feeds from his hand, and in his bosom warms;
Thus shall mankind his guardian care engage,
The promis'd father (j) of the future age.

No more shall nation (k) against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes,
Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover'd o'er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a plow-share end.
Then palaces shall rise; the joyful son (1)
Shall finish what his short-liv'd sire begun;
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield,
And the same hand that sow'd, shall reap the field.
The swain in barren deserts (m) with surprise
Sees lilies spring, and sudden verdure rise;


Ver. 67. The swain in barren deserts] Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 28.

Molli paulatim flavescet campus aristâ,

Incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva,
Et duræ quercus sudabunt roscida mella.

The fields shall grow yellow with ripened ears, and the red grape shall hang upon the wild brambles, and the hard oaks shall distil honey like dew.'

Isaiah, ch. xxxv. ver. 7. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water in the habitations where dragons lay, shall be grass, and reeds, and rushes.' Ch. lv. ver. 13. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle-tree.'

(j) Ch. ix. ver. 6.
(4) Ch. lxv. ver. 21, 22.

(k) Ch. ii. ver. 4.
(m) Ch. xxxv. ver. 1, 7.

And starts, amidst the thirsty wilds to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear.
On rifted rocks, the dragon's late abodes,
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods.
Waste sandy valleys (n); once perplex'd with thorn,
The spiry fir and shapely box adorn:

To leafless shrubs the flowery palms succeed,
And odorous myrtle to the noisome weed.

The lambs(o) with wolves shall graze the verdant mead,
And boys in flowery bands the tiger lead.

The steer and lion at one crib shall meet,
And harmless serpents (p) lick the pilgrim's feet.
The smiling infant in his hand shall take
The crested basilisk and speckled snake,
Pleas'd, the green lustre of the scales survey,
And with their forky tongue shall innocently play.


Ver. 77. The lambs with wolves, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 21.

Ipsæ lacte domum referent distenta capella
Ubera, nec magnos metuent armenta leones----
Occidet et serpens, et fallax herba veneni

The goats shall bear to the fold their udders distended with milk; nor shall the herds be afraid of the greatest lions. The serpent shall die, and the herb that conceals poison shall die.'

Isaiah, ch. xi. ver. 6, &c. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the den of the cockatrice.'

(n) Ch. xli. ver. 19. and ch. lv. ver. 13.

(0) Ch. xi. ver. 6, 7, 8. (p) Ch. lxv. ver. 25. C

Rise, crown'd with light, imperial Salem (q), rise!
Exalt thy towery head, and lift thy eyes!
See a long race (r) thy spacious courts adorn;
See future sons, and daughters yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on every side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies!
See barbarous nations (s) at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend;
See thy bright altars throng'd with prostrate kings,
And heap'd with products of Sabean (t) springs!
For thee Idume's spicy forests blow,

And seeds of gold in Ophir's mountains glow.
See heaven its sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a flood of day!
No more the rising sun (u) shall gild the morn,
Nor evening Cynthia fill her silver horn;
But lost, dissolv'd in thy superior rays,
One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze
O'erflow thy courts: the Light himself shall shine
Reveal'd, and God's eternal day be thine!

The seas (v) shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away;
But fix'd his word, his saving power remains;
Thy realm for ever lasts, thy own Messiah reigns!

Ver. 85. Rise, crown'd with light, imperial Salem, rise!] The thoughts of Isaiah, which compose the latter part of the poem, are wonderfully elevated, and much above those general exclamations of Virgil, which make the loftiest parts of his Pollio. Magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo! -toto surget gens aurea mundo! ---Incipient magni procedere menses!

Aspice, venturo lætentur ut omnia sæclo! &c. The reader needs only to turn to the passages of Isaiah, here cited.

(y) Ch. Ix. ver. 1.
(s) Ch Ix. ver. 3.
(u) Ch. Ix. ver. 19, 20.

(r) Ch. lx. ver. 4.

(t) Ch. lx. ver. 6.

(v) Ch. li. ver. 6. and ch. liv. ver. 10.

« PreviousContinue »