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Her hunger was no plea ; for that she dy'd.
The goat came next in order, to be try'd :
The goat had cropt the tendrils of the vine :
In vengeance laity and clergy join,
Where one had lost his profit, one his wine.
Here was, at least, some fhadow of offence :
The sheep was facrific'd on no pretence,
But meek and unresisting innocence.
A patient, useful creature, born to bear
The warm and woolly fleece, that cloath'd her murderer,
And daily to give down the milk she bred,
A tribute for the grass on which she fed.
Living, both food and raiment the supplies,
And is of least advantage when she dies.
How did the toiling ox his death deserve,
A downright simple drudge, and born to serve ?
O tyrant! with what justice canst thou hope
The promise of the year, a plenteous crop ;
When thou destroy'st thy lab’ring steer, who till’d,
And plow'd, with pains, thy else ungrateful field ?
From his yet reeking neck to draw the yoke,
That neck with which the surly clods he broke;
And to the hatchet yield thy husbandman,
Who finish'd autumn, and the spring began!
Nor this alone! but heav'n itself to bribe,
We to the Gods our impious acts ascribe :
First recompense with death their creature's toil,
Then call'd the bless'd above to share the spoil :
The faireft victim must the pow'rs appcase :
(So fatal 'tis sometimes too much to please !)
A purple fillet his broad brows adorns,
With Aow'ry garlands crown'd, and gilded horns :
He hears the murd'rous pray'r the priest prefers,
But understands not, 'cis his doom he hears :
Beholds the meal betwixt his temples cast,
(The fruit and product of his labours past ;)
And in the water views perhaps the knife
Uplifted, to deprive him of his life;
Then broken up alive, his entrails sees
Torn out, for priests t'inspect the God's decrees.
From whence, O mortal men, this gust of blood Have
you deriv'd, and interdicted food ?
Be taught by me this dire delight to fhun,
Warn’d by my precepts, by my practice won :
And when you eat the well-deserving beast,
Think, on the lab'rer of
Now since the God inspires me to proceed,
Be that, whate'er inspiring Pow'r, obey’d.
For I will fing of mighty mysteries,
Of truths conceal'd before from human eyes,
Dark oracles unveil, and open all the skies.
Pleas'd as I am to walk along the sphere
Of shining itars, and travel with the year,
To leave the heavy earth, and scale the height
Of Atlas, who supports the heav'nly weight :
To look from upper light, and thence survey
Miftaken mortals wand'ring from the way,
And wanting wisdom, fearful for the state
Of future things, and trembling at their fate!
Those I would teach ; and by right reason bring
To think of death, as but an idle thing.
Why thus affrighted at an empty name,
A dream of darkness, and fictitious flame?
Vain themes of wit, which but in poems pass,
And fables of a world, that never was !
What feels the body when the soul expires,
By time corrupted, or consum'd by fires ?
Nor dies the spirit, but new life repeats
In other forms, and only changes seats.
Ev'n l, who these mysterious truths declare,
Was once Euphorbus in the Trojan war;
My name and lineage I remember well,
And how in fight by Sparta's king I fell.
In Argive Juno's fane I late beheld
My buckler hung on high, and own'd my former shield.
Then death, so call'd, is but old matter dress'd
In some new figure, and a vary'd veft :
Thus all things are but alter’d, nothing dies ;
And here and there th' un body'd spirit flies,
By time, or force, or fickness dispoffeft,
And lodges, where it lights, in man or beaft;
Or hunts without, till ready limbs it find,
And actuates those according to their kind ;
From tenement to tenement is toss'd;
The soul is still the same, the figure only lost :
And as the soften'd wax new seals receives,
This face assumes, and that impression leaves ;
Now callid by one, now by another name ;
The form is only chang'd, the wax is still the same :
So death, so call’d, can but the form deface,
Th’immortal foul Aies out in empty space ;
To seek her fortune in some other place.
Then let not piety be put to flight,
To please the taste of glutton appetite;
But suffer inmate souls secure to dwell,
Left from their seats your parents you expel ;
With rabid hunger feed upon your kind,
Or from a beast dislodge a brother's mind.
And fince, like Tiphys, parting from the shore,
In ample seas I fail, and depths untry'd before,
This let me further add, that nature knows
No ftedfast ftation, but, or ebbs, or flows :
Ever in motion ; the destroys her old,
And casts new figures in another mold.
Ev'n times are in perpetual flux; and run,
Like rivers from their fountain, rolling on ;
For time, no more than streams, is at a ftay:
The flying hour is ever on her way ;
And as the fountain still supplies her store,
The wave behind impels the wave before ;
Thus in succeflive course the minutes run,
And urge their predeceffor minutes on,
Still moving, ever new : for former things
Are set aside, like abdicated kings :
And every moment alters what is done,
And innovates some act till then unknown.
Darkness we see emerges into light,
And shining suns descend to fable night;
Ev'n heav'n itself receives another die,
When weary'd animals in flumbers lie
Of midnight ease; another, when the grey
Of morn preludes the splendour of the day.
The dik of Phæbus, when he climbs on high,
Appears at first but as a bloodshot eye ;
And when his chariot downward drives to bed,
His ball is with the same fuffufion red ;
But mounted high in his meridian race
All bright he shines, and with a better face :
For there, pure particles of æther flow,
Far from th' infection of the world below.
Nor equal light th' unequal moon adorns,
Or in her wexing, or her waning horns.
For ev'ry day she wanes, her face is less,
But, gath'ring into globe, the fattens at increase.
Perceiv'it thou not the process of the year,
How the four seasons in four forms appear,
Resembling human life in ev'ry shape they wear?
Spring first, like infancy, shoots out her head,
With milky juice requiring to be fed :
Helpless, tho’ fresh, and wanting to be led.
Item grows in ftature and in size,
But only feeds with hope the farmer's eyes ;
Then laughs the childish year with flow'rets crown'd,
And lavishly perfumes the fields around,
But no fubftantial nourishment receives,
Infirm the stalks, unsolid are the leaves.
Proceeding onward whence the year began,
The summer grows adult, and ripens into man.
This season, as in men, is most repleat
With kindly moisture, and prolifick heat.
Autumn succeeds, a sober tepid age,
Not froze with fear, nor boiling into rage ;
More than mature, and tending to decay,
When our brown locks repine to mix with odious grey.
Laft, winter creeps along with tardy pace,
Sour is his front, and furrow'd is his face.
His scalp if not difhonour'd quite of hair,
The ragged fleece is thin, and thin is worse than bare,
Ev'n our own bodies daily change receive,
Some part of what was theirs before they leave ;
Nor are to-day what yefterday they were';
Nor the whole fame to-morrow will appear.
Time was, when we were sow'd, and just began,
From some few fruitful drops, the promise of a man ;
Then Nature's hand (fermented as it was)
Moulded to shape the soft, coagulated mass ;
And when the little man was fully form’d
The breathless embrio with a spirit warm'd ;
But when the mother's throes begin to come,
The creature, pent within the narrow room,
Breaks his blind prison, pushing to repair
His ftifled breath, and draw the living air ;
Caft on the margin of the world he lies,
A helpless babe, but by instinct he cries.
He next effays to walk, but downward press'd
On four feet imitates his brother beast :
By flow degrees he gathers from the ground
His legs, and to the rolling chair is bound;
Then walks alone; a horseman now become,
He rides a stick, and travels round the room :