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In ranks admir'd the Temple's outward face
The wall in lustre and effect like glass,
Which o'er each object casting various dies,
Enlarges some, and others multiplies.
Nor void of emblem was the mystic wall,
For thus romantic fame increases all.
The Temple shakes, the sounding gates unfold,
Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold,
Rais'd on a thousand pillars wreath'd around
With laurel-foliage, and with eagles crown'd:
Of bright transparent beryl were the walls,
The friezes gold, and gold the capitals:
As heav'n with stars, the roof with jewels glows,
And ever-living lamps depend in rows.
Full in the passage of each spacious gate
The sage historians in white garments wait:
Grav'd o'er their seats, the form of Time was found,
His scythe revers'd, and both his pinions bound.
But in the centre of the hallow'd choir,
Six pompous columns o'er the rest aspire;
Around the shrine itself of Fame they stand,
Hold the chief honours, and the fane command.
High on the first the mighty Homer shone;
Eternal adamant compos'd his throne:
Father of verse! in holy fillets drest,
His silver beard wav'd gently o'er his breast:
Though blind, a boldness in his looks appears;
In years he seem'd, but not impair'd by years.
The wars of Troy were round the pillar seen:
Here fierce Tydides wounds the Cyprian Queen;
Here Hector glorious from Patroclus' fall,
Here dragg'd in triumph round the Trojan wall.
Motion and life did every part inspire,
Bold was the work, and prov'd the master's fire;
A strong expression most he seem'd t' affect,
And here and there disclos'd a brave neglect.
A golden column next in rank appear'd, On which a shrine of purest gold was rear'd;
Finish'd the whole, and labour'd every part,
With patient touches of unwearied art:
The Mantuan there in sober triumph sate,
Compos'd his posture, and his look sedate:
On Homer still he fix'd a reverend eye,
Great without pride, in modest majesty.
In living sculpture on the sides were spread
The Latin wars, and haughty Turnus dead;
Eliza stretch'd upon the funeral pyre;
Eneas bending with his aged Sire;
Troy flam'd in burning gold; and o'er the throne
Arms and the Man in golden cyphers shone.
Four swans sustain a car of silver bright,
With heads advanc'd, and pinions stretch'd for flights
Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode,
And seem'd to labour with th' inspiring God.
Across the harp a careless hand he flings,
And boldly sinks into the sounding strings.
The figur'd games of Greece the column grace,
Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race.
The youths hang o'er their chariots as they run;
The fiery steeds seem starting from the stone:
The champions in distorted postures threat;
And all appear'd irregularly great.
Here happy Horace tun'd the Ausonian lyre
To sweeter sounds, and temper'd Pindar's fire;
Pleas'd with Alcaus' manly rage t' infuse
The softer spirit of the Sapphic Muse.
The polish'd pillar diff'rent sculptures grace;
A work outlasting monumental brass.
Here smiling Loves and Bacchanals appear,
The Julian star, and great Augustus here:
The Doves, that round the infant Poet spread
Myrtles and bays, hang hov'ring o'er his head.
Here, in a shrine that cast a dazzling light,
Sate, fix'd in thought, the mighty Stagyrite:
His sacred head a radiant zodiac crown'd,
And various animals his sides surround:
His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view
Superior worlds, and look all Nature through.
With equal rays immortal Tully shone;
The Roman rostra deck'd the Consul's throne:
Gath'ring his flowing robe, he seem'd to stand
In act to speak, and graceful stretch'd his hand.
Behind, Rome's Genius waits with civic crowns,
And the great Father of his country owns.
These massy columns in a circle rise,
O'er which a pompous dome invades the skies:
Scarce to the top I stretch'd my aching sight,
So large it spread, and swell'd to such a height.
Full in the midst proud Fame's imperial seat
With jewels blaz'd magnificently great :
The vivid emeralds there revive the eye,
The flaming rubies shew their sanguine dye,
Bright azure rays from lively sapphires stream,
And lucid amber casts a golden gleam.
With various-colour'd light the pavement shone,
And all on fire appear'd the glowing throne;
The dome's high arch reflects the mingled blaze,
And forms a rainbow of alternate rays.
When on the Goddess first I cast my sight,
Scarce seem'd her stature of a cubit's height;
But swell'd to larger size the more I gaz'd,
Till to the roof her towering front she raised:
With her the Temple every moment grew,
And ampler vistas open'd to my view:
Upward the columns shoot, the roofs ascend,
And arches widen, and long aisles extend.
Such was her form as ancient Bards have told,
Wings raise her arms, and wings her feet infold;
A thousand busy tongues the Goddess bears,
And thousand open eyes, and thousand list'ning ears.
Beneath, in order rang'd, the tuneful Nine
(Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine:
With eyes on Fame for ever fix'd, they sing;
For Fame they raise the voice, and tune the string:
With Time's first birth began the heavenly lays,
And last eternal, through the length of days.
Around these wonders as I cast a look, The trumpet sounded, and the Temple shook And all the nations, summon'd at the call, From diff'rent quarters fill the crowded hall: Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard; In various garbs promiscuous throngs appear'd; Thick as the bees, that with the spring renew Their flowery toils, and sip the fragrant dew, When the wing'd colonies first tempt the sky, O'er dusky fields and shaded waters fly, Or settling, seize the sweets the blossoms yield, And a low murmur runs along the field. Millions of suppliant crowds the shrine attend, And all degrees before the Goddess bend: The poor, the rich, the valiant, and the sage, And boasting youth, and narrative old age, Their pleas were diff'rent, their request the same; For good and bad alike are fond of Fame.
Some she disgrac'd, and some with honours crown'd;
Unlike successes equal merits found.
Thus her blind sister, fickle Fortune, reigns,
And undiscerning scatters crowns and chains.
First at the shrine the learned world appear,
And to the goddess thus prefer their prayer:
Long have we sought t' instruct and please mankind,
With studies pale, and midnight vigils blind;
But thank'd by few, rewarded yet by none,
We here appeal to thy superior throne:
On Wit and Learning the just prize bestow;
For Fame is all we must expect below.
The Goddess heard, and bid the Muses raise
The Golden Trumpet of eternal praise :
From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound
That fills the circuit of the world around;
Not all at once, as thunder breaks the cloud,
The notes at first were rather sweet than loud:
By just degrees they every moment rise,
Fill the wide earth, and gain upon the skies.
At every breath were balmy odours shed,
Which still grew sweeter as they wider spread;
Less fragrant scents th' unfolding rose exhales,
Or spices breathing in Arabian gales.
Next these, the good and just, an awful train,
Thus on their knees address the sacred fane:
Since living virtue is with envy curs'd,
And the best men are treated like the worst,
Do thou, just Goddess, call our merits forth,
And give each deed th' exact intrinsic worth.
Not with bare justice shall your act be crown'd,
(Said Fame) but high above desert renown'd:
Let fuller notes th' applauding world amaze,
And the loud clarion labour in your praise.
This band dismiss'd, behold another crowd
Prefer the same request, and lowly bow'd;
The constant tenor of whose well-spent days
No less deserv'd a just return of praise.
But straight the direful Trump of Slander sounds;
Thro' the big dome the doubling thunder bounds:
Loud as the burst of cannon rends the skies,
The dire report through ev'ry region flies,
In ev'ry ear incessant rumours rung,
And gath'ring scandals grew on ev'ry tongue.
From the black Trumpet's rusty concave broke
Sulphureous flames, and clouds of rolling smoke;
The pois'nous vapour blots the purple skies,
And withers all before it as it flies.
A troop came next, who crowns and armour wore, And proud defiance in their looks they bore: For thee (they cry'd) amidst alarms and strife, We sail'd in tempests down the stream of life; For thee whole nations fill'd with flames and blood, And swam to empire through the purple flood. Those ills we dar'd, thy inspiration own; What virtue seem'd, was done for thee alone. Ambitious fools! (the Queen replied and frown'd) Be all your acts in dark oblivion drown'd; There sleep forgot, with mighty tyrants gone, Your statues moulder'd, and your names unknown!