The Works of Charles Lamb in Four Volumes, Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about The Works of Charles Lamb in Four Volumes, Volume 4.

TRANSLATIONS.

FROM THE LATIN OF VINCENT BOURNE.

* * * * *

I.

THE BALLAD SINGERS.

  Where seven fair Streets to one tall Column[1] draw,
  Two Nymphs have ta’en their stand, in hats of straw;
  Their yellower necks huge beads of amber grace,
  And by their trade they’re of the Sirens’ race: 
  With cloak loose-pinn’d on each, that has been red,
  But long with dust and dirt discolored
  Belies its hue; in mud behind, before,
  From heel to middle leg becrusted o’er. 
  One a small infant at the breast does bear;
  And one in her right hand her tuneful ware,
  Which she would vend.  Their station scarce is taken,
  When youths and maids flock round.  His stall forsaken,
  Forth comes a Son of Crispin, leathern-capt,
  Prepared to buy a ballad, if one apt
  To move his fancy offers.  Crispin’s sons
  Have, from uncounted time, with ale and buns,
  Cherish’d the gift of Song, which sorrow quells;
  And, working single in their low-rooft cells,
  Oft cheat the tedium of a winter’s night
  With anthems warbled in the Muses’ spight.—­
  Who now hath caught the alarm? the Servant Maid,
  Hath heard a buzz at distance; and, afraid
  To miss a note, with elbows red comes out. 
  Leaving his forge to cool, Pyracmon stout
  Thrusts in his unwash’d visage. He stands by,
  Who the hard trade of Porterage does ply
  With stooping shoulders.  What cares he? he sees
  The assembled ring, nor heeds his tottering knees,
  But pricks his ears up with the hopes of song. 
  So, while the Bard of Rhodope his wrong
  Bewail’d to Proserpine on Thracian strings,
  The tasks of gloomy Orcus lost their stings,
  And stone-vext Sysiphus forgets his load. 
  Hither and thither from the sevenfold road
  Some cart or wagon crosses, which divides
  The close-wedged audience; but, as when the tides
  To ploughing ships give way, the ship being past,
  They reunite, so these unite as fast. 
  The older Songstress hitherto hath spent
  Her elocution in the argument
  Of their great Song in prose; to wit, the woes
  Which Maiden true to faithless Sailor owes—­
  Ah! “Wandering He!”—­which now in loftier verse
  Pathetic they alternately rehearse. 
  All gaping wait the event.  This Critic opes
  His right ear to the strain.  The other hopes
  To catch it better with his left.  Long trade
  It were to tell, how the deluded maid
  A victim fell.  And now right greedily
  All hands are stretching forth the songs to buy,
  That are so tragical; which She, and She,
  Deals out, and sings the while; nor can there be
  A breast so obdurate here, that will hold back

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Project Gutenberg
The Works of Charles Lamb in Four Volumes, Volume 4 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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