Author ofA Poetical Translation of
Song of Solomon.
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.
Demetrius See Plutarch’s Lives, 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 vi 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 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 8 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 9 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.
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 11 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.B2 The 12 B2v 12
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’ 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 14 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.15 B4r 15
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 16 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 17 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 18 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 19 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 20 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.
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- 22 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.