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Ere Romulus and Remus had been suckled-
Antiquity appears to have begun
Long after thy primeval race was run.
Since first thy form was in this box extended,
We have, above ground, seen some strange mutations;
The Roman empire has begun and ended;
New works have risen-we have lost old nations,
And courtly kings have unto dust been humbled,
While not a fragment of thy flesh has crumbled.
Didst thou not hear the pother o'er thy head,
When the great Persian conqueror, Cambyses,
Marched armies o'er thy tomb with thundering tread,
O'erthrew Osiris, Orus, Apis, Isis,
And shook the Pyramids with fear and wonder,
When the gigantic Memnon fell asunder?
If the tomb's secrets may not be confessed,
The nature of thy private life unfold :-
A heart has throbb'd beneath that leathern breast,
And tears adown that dusky cheek have roll'd :—
Have children climb'd and kissed that face?
What was thy name and station, age and race?
Statue of flesh-immortal of the dead!
Imperishable type of evanescence?
Posthumous man, who quitt'st thy narrow bed,
And standest undecayed within our presence,
Thou wilt hear nothing till the judgment morning,
When the great trump shall thrill thee with its warning.
Why should this worthless tegument endure,
If its undying guest be lost forever?
O let us keep the soul embalmed and pure
In living virtue; that when both must sever,
Although corruption may our frame consume,
The immortal spirit in the skies may bloom.
TO A MUSQUITO.—Bryant.
Fair insect! that with threadlike wings spread out,
And blood-extracting bill, and filmy wing,
Dost murmur as thou slowly sail'st about,
In pitiless ears full many a plantive thing,
And tell how little our large veins should bleed,
Would we but yield them to thy bitter need.
Unwillingly, I own, and, what is worse,
Full angrily men hearken to thy plaint,
Thou gettest many a brush, and many a curse,
For saying thou art gaunt, and starved, and faint: Even the old beggar, while he asks for food, Would kill thee, hapless stranger, if he could.
I call thee stranger, for the town, I ween
Has not the honor of so proud a birth,
Thou com'st from Jersey meadows, fresh and green,
The offspring of the gods, though born on earth;
For Titan was thy sire, and fain was she
The ocean nymph that nursed thy infancy.
Beneath the rushes was thy cradle swung,
And when, at length, thy gauzy wings grew strong, Abroad to gentle airs their folds were flung,
Rose in the sky, and bore thee soft along;
The south wind breathed to waft thee on thy way,
And danced and shone beneath the billowy bay.
And calm, afar, the city spires arose,
Thence didst thou hear the distant hum of men, And as its grateful odors met thy nose,
Didst seem to smell thy native marsh again; Fair lay its crowded streets, and at the sight Thy tiny song grew shriller with delight.
At length thy pinions fluttered in Broadway-
Ah! there were fairy steps, and white necks kissed
By wanton airs, and eyes, whose killing ray
Shone thro' the snowy veils, like stars through mist; And fresh as morn, on many a cheek and chin, Bloomed the bright blood through the transparent skin. Oh! these were sights to touch an anchorite!
What do I hear thy slender voice complain?
Thou wailest, when I talk of beauty's light,
As if it brought the memory of pain:
Thou art a wayward being-well-come near,
And pour thy tale of sorrow in my ear.
What sayest thou-slanderer!-rouge makes thee sick?
And China bloom at best is sorry food?
And Rowland's Kalydor, if laid on thick,
Poisons the thirsty wretch that bores for blood?
Go! 'twas a just reward that met thy crime-
But shun the sacrilege another time.
That bloom was made to look at, not to touch,
To worship, not approach, that radiant white: And well might sudden vengeance light on such As dared like thee, most impiously to bite; Thou should'st have gazed at distance, and admired, Murmured thy admiration, and retired.
Thou'rt welcome to the town-but why come here
To bleed a brother poet, gaunt like thee,
Alas! the little blood I have is dear,
And thin will be the banquet drawn from me. Look round-the pale-eyed sisters in my cell, Thy old acquaintance, Song and Famine, dwell. Try some plump alderman, and suck the blood
Enriched by generous wine and costly meat;
On well-filled skins, sleek as thy native mud,
Fix thy light pump and press thy freckled feet:
Go to the men for whom, in ocean's halls,
The oyster breeds, and the green turtle sprawls.
There corks are drawn, and the red vintage flows-
To fill the swelling veins for thee, and now
The ruddy cheek, and now the rudier nose
Shall tempt thee, as thou flittest round the brow; And when the hour of sleep its quiet brings, No angry hand shall rise to brush thy wings.
The frost looked forth, one still clear night,
And he said, "Now I shall be out of sight,
So through the valley and over the height,
In silence, I'll take my way.
I will not go on like that blustering train,
The wind and the snow-the hail and the rain,
Who make so much bustle and noise in vain,
But I'll be as busy as they!"
Then he went to the mountain, and powdered its crest, He climbed up the trees, and their boughs he dressed With diamonds and pearls, and over the breast
Of the quivering lake, he spread
A coat of mail, that it need not fear
The downward point of many a spear,
That he hung on its margin far and near,
Where a rock could rear its head.
He went to the windows of those who slept,
And over each pane like a fairy crept,
Wherever he breathed, wherever he stepped,
By the light of the morn, were seen
Most beautiful things. There were flowers and trees, There were bevies of birds, and swarms of beesThere were cities, thrones, temples and towers, and
All pictured in silver sheen!
But he did one thing that was hardly fair;
He went to the cupboard, and finding there,
That all had forgotten for him to prepare,
"Now just to set them a thinking,
I'll bite this basket of fruit," said he,
This bloated pitcher I'll burst in three !
And the glass of water they've left for me,
Shall "tchick," to tell them I'm drinking!"
EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.—Cowper.
Dear Joseph-five and twenty years ago—
Alas! how time escapes!-'tis even so-
With frequent intercourse, and always sweet,
And always friendly, we were wont to cheat
A tedious hour-and now we never meet!
As some grave gentleman in Terence says,
('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days)
Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings--
Strange fluctuation of all human things!
True. Changes will befall, and friends may part,
But distance only cannot change the heart;
And, were I called to prove the assertion true,
One proof should serve a reference to you.
Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life,
Though nothing have occurred to kindle strife,
We find the friends we fancied we had won,
Though numerous once, reduced to few or none?
Can gold grow worthless, that has stood the touch ?
No; gold they seemed, but they were never such.
Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe,
Swinging the parlor door upon its hinge,
Dreading a negative, and overawed
Lest he should trespass, begged to go abroad.
Go fellow-whither ?-turning short about-
Nay. Stay at home-you're always going out.
'Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end-
For what?-An please you, sir, to see a friend-