A1r A1v A2r

The
Obsequies
of
Demetrius Poliorcetes:


A Poem.

By Anne Francis, Author of A Poetical Translation of
Song of Solomon.

“Sunt lachrymae rerum, & mentem mortalia tangunt.—” Virg.
“Here tears of soft compassion flow, And minds are touch’d with human woe.”

London:
Printed for J. Dodsley, in Pall-Mall;
and sold by J. and C. Berry, and W. Chase and Co. Norwich;
and W. Page, at Holt.
1785MDCCLXXXV.

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Argument.

Demetrius See Plutarch’s Lives, INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that citedRange is unmatched.Vol. V. being taken prisoner by Seleucus, was
confined in the Castle of Chersonesus, in Syria: after
three years imprisonment, he died there.

His son Antigonus, understanding that his ashes were
conveying to Corinth for interment, went with a noble fleet
to the Isles of the Archipelagus to meet them; and caused
them to be deposited in an urn of massy gold.

All the cities, where they touched in their passage, sent
chaplets to adorn the urn; and deputed certain of the best
of their citizens, in deep mourning, to assist at the funeral
solemnity.

Antigonus, who appeared in tears, and covered with the
deepest mourning, moved the universal compassion of the numerous
spectators.

When A3v vi

When the fleet approached the harbour of Corinth, the
urn, covered with purple, and crowned with a royal diadem,
was placed on the poop of the admiral galley: an
armed guard of young men stood by; and the celebrated musician
Xenophantus began a mournful song in praise of the
deceased; to which the rowers, in sorrowful ejaculations,
made responses, their oars keeping time with the doleful cadences
of the music.

The A4r

The
Obsequies
of
Demetrius Poliorcetes.

From Syria’s realm and Chersonesus’ shore

The splendid fleet Demetrius’ ashes bore;

The brazen prows the swelling waves divide,

And the brisk eddies curl on ev’ry side;

Stroke following stroke the agile rowers ply,

From the sharp keels the deep-lash’d billows fly;

Behind the sterns the foaming surges play,

And the bright vestige marks the recent way.

3 Before A4v 8

Before the fleet the regal galley flew,

Her cordage gold, entwin’d with Tyrian blue;

Light danc’d her changeful streamers in the gales,

And lightly buoyant play’d her silken sails.

On the high poop the golden urn was plac’d,

The royal diadem the reliques grac’d;

Above the urn a purple awning spread

Its solemn umbrage o’er the sleeping dead:

The spacious concave wid’ning to the eye,

Inwrought with gems inimitably bright,

Vied with the splendors of the midnight sky

Bedropt with stars of variegated light.

Around the dead the votive garlands bloom,

And breathe afar an exquisite perfume:

Here blush’d the rose—in Lesbos’ isle it sprung,

Where tuneful Sappho all-enraptur’d sung;

From Cytherea’s rock the myrtle came,

The myrtle sacred to the Paphian Dame;

And Samos sent from her luxuriant dale

The jacinth blue, and lily of the vale:

While B1r 9

While the rich Candia bade her bays entwine

With orange-bloom, and flow’rets of the vine;

And here and there she gave the fruit to glow,

And bound the wreath with laurel twigs below.

These sacred chaplets from each destin’d shore

A length’ning train of sable mourners bore.

Now glows the west with gold and azure dight,

And all the hues of interchanging light;

Full on the broad expanse the radiance plays,

And swelling surges catch the varied rays.

On a steep rock an ancient castle stands, See the Notes at the end of the Poem. , The castle of Corinth, situate on a high, steep rock
above the city, is of difficult access: the country
about it abounds with corn, wine, and oil. From this castle
there is one of the finest prospects in the world; having the sea in
full view on the east and west, and a beautiful country north
and south.

Whose lofty site the wid’ning view commands;

From east to west extends the boundless main,

From north to south the vallies rich with grain,

Where spreading vines their purple clusters show,

And unctuous olives in profusion grow.

From hence the crowd th’ approaching gallies view,

Like silver sparkles on a ground of blue.

B Slow B1v 10

Slow from the steep descends the mingled throng,

Their heads with chaplets crown’d, their garments
white;

So pours the flock with gradual pace along,

Descending from Olympus’ airy height.

Now from the strand they view the neighb’ring deep,

Mark how the gallies o’er the billows fly;

Hear dying breezes thro’ the cordage creep,

And greet the dying breezes with a sigh.

The chosen vessel touch’d her native shore:

Hush’d were the winds—’twas silence all around,

Save where the waves with undulating roar

Lull’d the sad soul with melancholy sound.

’Twas then Antigonus, in sable vest,

The big round tears slow stealing from his eye,

Wip’d his wan cheek, and smote his throbbing breast,

In silent woe and hopeless misery!

Behold B2r 11

Behold him pointing to the royal dead!

Quick and more quick his pungent sorrows flow!

Each duteous subject hangs the mournful head,

And drops the tear of sympathetic woe.

Conspicuous on the stern the minstrel stood,

(’Twas Xenophantus, of the pow’rful strain)—

So the bold Thracian charm’d the list’ning flood,

And drew down trees from Pelion to the main;

While wond’ring Argo saw the forest rise

From the blue plain, and shoot into the skies!—

And near him stands a soft melodious throng,

To whom the flute’s funereal notes belong;

Beneath the band, the martial troops display

The beamy corselet to the eye of day.

Skill’d in the clarion’s and the trumpet’s sound,

They know the tones to swell,

To pour the battle’s thunder round,

When discord shakes the quaking ground,

When war’s alarms

Call forth to arms,

And terror points where death and carnage dwell.

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The minstrel tries the funeral lay,

Each vocal pow’r he tries;

The gently yielding air gives way,

And the sad notes in slow succession rise;

Slow rise the mournful numbers from the main,

And each touch’d heart reverberates the strain.

The skilful rowers strike the sounding deep,

Revive th’ expiring notes;

Their well-tim’d oars responsive measures keep,

And on the blue expanse the trembling cadence floats.

Now soar the bolder numbers strong and clear,

Pour from the main, and strike the distant ear:

Higher mounts the strain and higher!

Varying modes the audience greet;

Still tones symphonious fill the tuneful choir,

Melodious breathing from the vocal fleet:

From ship to ship the harmony prevails,

And list’ning zephyrs pant upon the sails.

“Demetrius B3r 13

“Demetrius’ warlike deeds the minstrel sings,

His matchless prowess, his defeat of kings!

When four combin’d his uplift arm defy, Demetrius is said to have waged war against four kings
at one time; Ptolemæus, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Pyrrhus;
and to have conquered them all. Afterwards he was vanquished
by Seleucus, and ungenerously confined in the castle of Chersonesus
till the day of his death.

Unmov’d he sees the gathering host advance,

Bravely resolv’d to conquer or to die,

He spurs his fiery steed, and grasps his beamy lance.

Impetuous as the wind he scours the plain

Thro’ seas of blood, o’er mountains of the slain!

Swift as the fleeting vision of the night,

When Sol emergent darts his radiant beams,

Flies the approaches of the eastern light,

And wrapt in shade reseeks the realm of dreams;

So swift the glimm’ring host dissolves away,

Or swift as ev’ning light when Sol rolls down the day.”

The battle kindles as the numbers rise!

Loud sound the trumpets, and the clarions sound;

The shouting multitude alarms the skies,

And rocks, and seas, and distant hills rebound!

But softer notes repress the growing ire,

Soft breathe the flutes, and soft the vocal choir:

To B3v 14

To Lydian airs and love’s alarms,

And beauty’s gentle sway;

They win the ardent throng from arms,

And melt the soul away.

Demetrius brave the bard had sung,

The accents brighten’d on his tongue,

And kindled as they rose!

They saw him scour the sanguine field,

Elance the spear, the falchion wield,

Triumphant o’er his foes.

Now Beauty claims the raptur’d song—

“Sublime he moves, erect and strong,

Collected in his might:

Thus Phœbus, radiant God of day,

Darts from the east his fulgid ray,

And cheers the mortal fight.”

Vain was the limner’s boasted art

So fine a form to trace; Demetrius was so handsome, that the best painters of that
age could not, by the utmost efforts of skill, or the exuberant
sallies of imagination, delineate features so harmonious, so exquisitely
beautiful.

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No tints depict the feeling heart,

That gives the finish’d grace.

In vain he bade the tablet glow—

’Twas still a lifeless whole,

Devoid of all charms that flow

Diffusive from the soul.

How then shall devious verse essay

His beauties to define,

When languid colors die away

On each imperfect line?

But see—the muse expands the vent’rous wing,

Impulsive borne along!

Celestial airs, celestial numbers bring,

Ye vocal messengers of heav’nly song!—

While Phœbus swells the choir,

He sweeps the golden lyre!

I catch the mystic strain;

My ardent bosom blows;

Thro’ every throbbing vein

The inspiration flows!

“Sing B4v 16

Sing Demetrius young and fair,

Ever fair and ever young!

Sing his flowing auburn hair;

Sing the music of his tongue:

Sing his cheek’s unfading bloom;

Sing the lustre of his eye;

Sing his ruby mouth’s perfume,

Which sham’d the rose that blossom’d by:

Sing the radiance of his mind

(If the song can paint the soul)

How enlarg’d, vast, unconfin’d

It beam’d, and dignified the whole.

The raptur’d many own the picture true,

And all Demetrius flashes on their view!

His filial piety was next the theme He was likewise remarked for filial piety.

“’Tis duty soften’d, gratitude extreme;

’Tis hallow’d love—love of the purest kind,

The fervent emanation of the mind!

That fond instinctive faculty of soul,

Which Nature prints upon the infant heart,

9 “That C1r 17

That warms, pervades, and animates the whole,

And bears thro’ life, the exemplary part.”

Thus sang the minstrel—and the heaving breast

Of young Antigonus his woes confess’d;

’Twas keen compunction touch’d the inward man, Stratonice, the daughter of Demetrius, was first married
to Seleucus, and afterwards, during that king’s life, to his son
Antiochus, with his approbation: but though she were in high
favour with both, yet it does not appear she took any measures to
effect the enlargement of her father. Nor are we told that even
Antigonus himself was urgent in this affair: wherefore it is
said, “’Twas keen compunction touch’d the inward man.”

And o’er the youthful train the sharp contagion ran.

For cool Reflection whisper’d to the mind,

Push’d Filial Duty from the group behind;

Bade mingled passions for a time give way,

And yield to Nature’s hand the gentle sway;

Brought past paternal tenderness to view;

And Reason stamp’d the lines her vivid pencil drew.

The mental conflict charm’d th’ observant throng,

Thro’ tranquil air their grateful plaudits rise:

So steals the breeze the halcyon stream along,

That all unruffled glitters to the skies:

Swift o’er the gallant youth their glances run,

And trace the father’s virtues in the son.

C To C1v 18

To Death the minstrel consecrates the lay;

Slow steals the dirge along the wat’ry way—

Sad and slow

Notes of woe

From turbid billows rise;

Again they fall—

’Tis silence all!

Nor broken murm’rings reach the troublous skies.

Here paus’d the bard—again his tuneful tongue

Rous’d torpid Sorrow from her poppied bed;

The grief-struck people on the measure hung,

Heav’d the deep sigh, and rear’d the languid head.

“He comes! he comes! grim Death severe!

He shakes, he shakes the ebon spear!

The monarch meets the dart,

It rankles in his heart:

He droops, he falls!

He groans, he cries,

He rolls his eyes

In torturing pain;

“For C2r 19

For aid he calls,

In vain! in vain! in vain!

Life’s powers decay;

He sinks away;

He dies! he dies! he dies!

In ashes here your vanquish’d monarch see!

’Tis all he is, and all the proud shall be.”

Their anguish now disdains controul,

Disdains a silent grief—

Forth from the agonizing soul

The frenzy breaks!—

’Tis vast! ’tis wild! ’tis strong!—

Thus the mad tempest shakes

The trembling pole!

And bursts, and roars conflicting clouds among.

Then Xenophantus snatch’d the breathing flute,

And pour’d a soft harmonious strain;

The tempest ceas’d—astonish’d Grief sat mute;

Till copious tears administer’d relief,

And a calm requiem lull’d the mournful train.

C2 With C2v 20

With solemn pace and slow

The regal urn they bear:

The minstrel wakes accordant strains of woe;

Responsive clarions rend the parting air!

Above, about, the mingled sound

With rapid motion flies;

Descending thro’ the vast profound

It mounts and shakes the skies!

The chosen youths, array’d in white,

With measur’d steps advance;

With cypress wreaths and flow’rets dight,

They lead the funeral dance;

Before the hallow’d urn they move along,

While the shrill flutes assist the sacred song.

Behind the martial bands prepare

To rouse the mightier strains of war:

The clarions sound, the louder trumpets blow,

And spread afar the length’ning peals of woe:

Demetrius dead! the artful measures cry;

Demetrius dead! sad Corinth’s walls reply.

C3r

Notes.

The castle of Corinth, situate on a high, steep rock
above the city, is of difficult access: the country
about it abounds with corn, wine, and oil. From this castle
there is one of the finest prospects in the world; having the sea in
full view on the east and west, and a beautiful country north
and south.
Demetrius is said to have waged war against four kings
at one time; Ptolemæus, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Pyrrhus;
and to have conquered them all. Afterwards he was vanquished
by Seleucus, and ungenerously confined in the castle of Chersonesus
till the day of his death.
Demetrius was so handsome, that the best painters of that
age could not, by the utmost efforts of skill, or the exuberant
sallies of imagination, delineate features so harmonious, so exquisitely
beautiful.
He was likewise remarked for filial piety. 8 (e) Strato- Stratonice, the daughter of Demetrius, was first married
to Seleucus, and afterwards, during that king’s life, to his son
Antiochus, with his approbation: but though she were in high
favour with both, yet it does not appear she took any measures to
effect the enlargement of her father. Nor are we told that even
Antigonus himself was urgent in this affair: wherefore it is
said, “’Twas keen compunction touch’d the inward man.”

Finis.