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But that the first in Greek,a conqu’ring language, fung,
And the last wrote but in an island tongue.
Wit, thought, invention, in them both do flow,
As torrents tumbling from the mountains go.
Tho' the great Roman lyric do maintain
That none can equal Pindar's (train,
Cowley with words as full and thoughts as high
As ever Pindar did, does fly;
Of kings and heroes he as boldly fings,
And fies above the clouds, yet never wets his wings.
III. As fire aspiring, as the sca profound, Nothing in Nature can his fancy bound; As swift as lightning in its course, And as resistless in his force. Whilst other poets, like bees who range the field 25 To gather what the flow’rs will yield, Glean matter with much toil and pain, To bring forth verses in an humble strain, He fees about him round, Posless'd at once of all that can be found : To his illuminated eye All things created open lie; That all his thoughts fo clear and so perspicuous be, That whatsoever he describes we fee; Our souls are with his passions fir'd,
35 And he who does but read him is inspir'd.
Pindar to Thebes, where first he drew his breath,
Tho' for his fake his race was fav'd from death
By th’ Macedonian youth, did not more honour
Than Cowley does his friends and country too. 40
Had Horace liv'd his wit to understand, [land;
He ne'er had England thought a rude inhospitable
Rome might have blush'd, and Athens been asham'd,
To hear a remote Britain nam’d,
Who for his parts does match, if not exceed, 45
The greatest men that they did either breed.
If he had Aourish'd when Augustus sway'd,
Whose peaceful sceptre the whole world obey'd,
Account of him Mecænas would have made,
And from the country Made
Him into the cabinet have ta'en
To divert Cæsar's cares and charm his pain ;
For nothing can such balm infuse
Into a wearied mind, as does a noble Muse.
It is not now as 'twas in former days,
When all the streets of Rome were strow'd with bays
To receive Petrarch, who thro' arches rode,
Triumphal arches! honour'd as a demi-god,
Not for towns conquer'd, or for battles won,
But vict'ries which were more his own;
For victories of Wit, and victories of Art,
In which blind undiscerning Fortune had no part.
Tho' Cowley ne'er sueh honours did attain,
As long as Petrarch's Cowley's name Mall reign;
'Tis but his dross that's in the grave,
His mem'ry Fame from death fhall save;
His bays shall flourish, and be ever green,
When those of conqu’rors are not to be seen. 68
Nec tibi mors ipfa superftes erit.
AMONGST THE ANCIENT POETS.
BY THE HON. SIR JOHN DENHAM.
Old Chaucer, like the morning star,
To us discovers day from far;
His light those mists and clouds dissoly’d,
Which our dark nation long involv'd;
But he descending to the shades,
Darkness again the
Next (like Aurora) Spenser rose,
Whose purple blush the day foreshows;
The other three, with his own fires,
Phæbus, the poets' god, inspires ;
By Shakespeare, Johnson, Fletcher's lines,
Our stage's lustre Rome's out hines :
These posts near our princes sleep,
And in one grave their mansion keep;
They lir'd to see fo many days,
Till Time had blasted all their bays;
But curfed be the fatal hour
That pluck'd the fairelt, sweetest, flow'r
That in the Muses' garden grew,
And amongst wither'd laurels threw.
Time, which made them their fame outlive,
To Cowley scarce did ripeness give.
Old mother Wit and Nature gave
Shakespeare and Fletcher all they have :
In Spenser and in Johnson, Art
Of lower Nature got the start;
But both in him so equal are,
None knows which bears the happiest share.
To him no author was unknown,
Yet what he wrote was all his own ;
He melted not the ancient gold,
Nor, with Ben. Johnson, did make bold
To plunder all the Roman stores
Of poets and of orators.
Horace's wit and Virgil's ftate
He did not steal, but emulate,
And when he would like them appear,
Their garb, but not their clothes, did wear :
He not from Rome alone, but Greece,
Like Jafon, brought the Golden Fleece :
To him that language (tho'to none
Of th' others) as his own was known.
On a stiff gale (as Flaccus sings)
The Theban swan extends his wings,
When thro' th'ethereal clouds he Alies :
To the same pitch our swan doth rise;
Old Pindar's flights by him are reach'd,
When on that gale his wings are stretch'd;
His fancy and his judgment such,
Each to the other seem's too much,