There no vandal foot has trod,
And the pirate hordes that wander
Shall never profane the sacred sod
Of those beautiful isles out yonder.
Never a spell shall blight our vines,
Nor Sirius blaze above us,
But you and I shall drink our wines
And sing to the loved that love us.
So come with me where Fortune smiles
And the gods invite devotion,—
Oh, come with me to the Happy Isles
In the haze of that far-off ocean!
Should painter attach to a fair human head
The thick, turgid neck of a stallion,
Or depict a spruce lass with the tail of a bass,
I am sure you would guy the rapscallion.
Believe me, dear Pisos, that just such a freak
Is the crude and preposterous poem
Which merely abounds in a torrent of sounds,
With no depth of reason below ’em.
’T is all very well to give license to art,—
The wisdom of license defend I;
But the line should be drawn at the fripperish spawn
Of a mere cacoethes scribendi.
It is too much the fashion to strain at effects,—
Yes, that’s what’s the matter with Hannah!
Our popular taste, by the tyros debased,
Paints each barnyard a grove of Diana!
Should a patron require you to paint a marine,
Would you work in some trees with their barks on?
When his strict orders are for a Japanese jar,
Would you give him a pitcher like Clarkson?
Now, this is my moral: Compose what you may,
And Fame will be ever far distant
Unless you combine with a simple design
A treatment in toto consistent.
O Postumus, my Postumus, the years are gliding past,
And piety will never check the wrinkles coming fast,
The ravages of time old age’s swift advance has made,
And death, which unimpeded comes to bear us to the shade.
Old friend, although the tearless Pluto you may strive
And seek each year with thrice one hundred bullocks to appease,
Who keeps the thrice-huge Geryon and Tityus his slaves,
Imprisoned fast forevermore with cold and sombre waves,
Yet must that flood so terrible be sailed by mortals
Whether perchance we may be kings and live in royal hall,
Or lowly peasants struggling long with poverty and dearth,
Still must we cross who live upon the favors of the earth.
And all in vain from bloody war and contest we are
And from the waves that hoarsely break upon the Adrian Sea;
For our frail bodies all in vain our helpless terror grows
In gloomy autumn seasons, when the baneful south wind blows.
Alas! the black Cocytus, wandering to the world below,
That languid river to behold we of this earth must go;
To see the grim Danaides, that miserable race,
And Sisyphus of AEolus, condemned to endless chase.