Yet, after all, (lest we should think it thine)
Thy spirit to his circle dost confine.
New names, new dressings, and the modern cast,
Some scenes, some persons alter’d, and outfaced
The world, it were thy work; for we have known
Some thank’d and praised for what was less their own.
That master’s hand which to the life can trace
The airs, the lines, and features of the face, 40
May with a free and bolder stroke express
A varied posture, or a flatt’ring dress;
He could have made those like, who made the rest,
But that he knew his own design was best.
What mighty gale hath raised a flight so strong,
So high above all vulgar eyes, so long?
One single rapture scarce itself confines
Within the limits of four thousand lines:
And yet I hope to see this noble heat
Continue till it makes the piece complete,
That to the latter age it may descend,
And to the end of time its beams extend.
When poesy joins profit with delight,
Her images should be most exquisite; 10
Since man to that perfection cannot rise,
Of always virtuous, fortunate, and wise;
Therefore the patterns man should imitate
Above the life our masters should create.
Herein if we consult with Greece and Rome,
Greece (as in war) by Rome was overcome;
Though mighty raptures we in Homer find,
Yet, like himself, his characters were blind:
Virgil’s sublimed eyes not only gazed,
But his sublimed thoughts to heaven were raised. 20
Who reads the honours which he paid the gods
Would think he had beheld their bless’d abodes;
And that his hero might accomplish’d be,
From divine blood he draws his pedigree.
From that great judge your judgment takes its law,
And by the best original does draw
Bonduca’s honour, with those heroes Time 27
Had in oblivion wrapp’d, his saucy crime:
To them and to your nation you are just,
In raising up their glories from the dust;
And to Old England you that right have done,
To show no story nobler than her own.
A tablet stood of that abstersive tree,
Where Aethiop’s swarthy bird did build her nest;
Inlaid it was with Libyan ivory,
Drawn from the jaws of Afric’s prudent beast.
Two kings like Saul, much taller than the rest,
Their equal armies draw into the field;
Till one take th’other pris’ner they contest;
Courage and fortune must to conduct yield.
This game the Persian Magi did invent,
The force of Eastern wisdom to express; 10