I see Anacreon smile and sing:
His silver tresses breathe perfume,
His cheek displays a second spring
Of roses, taught by wine to bloom.
Away, deceitful cares, away!
And let me listen to his lay.
I’LL sing of heroes and of kings,
In mighty numbers, mighty things.
Begin, my Muse! — but lo! the strings
To my great song rebellious prove;
The strings will sound of nought but love.
— I broke them all, and put on new;
— ’Tis this, or nothing, now will do.
“These, sure,” said I, “will me obey;
These, sure, heroic notes will play.”
Straight I began with thundering Jove
And all th’ immortal powers; but Love,
Love smil’d; and from my enfeebled lyre
Came gentle airs, such as inspire
Melting love and soft desire. —
Farewell then, heroes! farewell, kings!
And mighty numbers, mighty things!
Love tunes my heart just to my strings.
TO all that breathe the air of heaven
Some boon of strength has Nature given.
In forming the majestic bull,
She fenced with wreathed horns his skull;
A hoof of strength she lent the steed,
And winged the timorous hare with speed;
She gave the lion fangs of terror,
And o’er the ocean’s crystal mirror,
Taught the unnumbered scaly throng
To trace the liquid path along;
While for the umbrage of the grove
She plumed the warbling world of love.
To Man she gave, in that proud hour,
The boon of intellectual power;
Then what, O Woman, what for thee
Was left in Nature’s treasury?
She gave thee beauty—mightier far
Than all the pomp and power of war.
Nor steel, nor fire itself hath power
Like Woman in her conquering hour,
Be thou but fair, — mankind adore thee!
Smile, — and a world is weak before thee!
THOU whose soft and rosy hues
Mimic form and soul infuse,
Best of painters! come, portray
The lovely Maid, that’s far away.
Paint her jetty ringlets playing.
Silky locks, like tendrils straying;
And, if painting hath the skill
To make the spicy balm distil,
Let every little lock exhale
A sigh of perfume on the gale.
Where her tresses’ curly flow
Darkles o’er the brow of snow,
Let her forehead beam to light
Burnished as the ivory bright.
Let her eyebrows smoothly rise
In jetty arches o’er her eyes,
Each a crescent gently gliding,
Just commingling, just dividing.
But hast thou any sparkles warm
The lightning of her eyes to form?
Let them effuse the azure rays
That in Minerva’s glances blaze,
Mixed with the liquid light, that lies
In Cytherea’s languid eyes.
O’er her nose and cheek be shed
Flushing white and softened red;
Mingling tints, as when there glows
A charm may peep, a hue may beam,
And leave the rest to Fancy’s dream.
— Enough — ’tis she! ’tis all I seek;
It glows, it lives, it soon will speak
“LOVELY courier of the sky,
Whence and whither dost thou fly?
Scattering, as thy pinions play,
Liquid fragrance all the way.
Is it business? Is it love?
Tell me, tell me, gentle Dove.” —
“Soft Anacreon’s vows I bear,
Vows to Myrtale the fair;
Graced with all that charms the heart,
Blushing nature, smiling art,
Venus, courted by an ode,
On the Bard her Dove bestow’d.
Vested with a master’s right,
Now Anacreon rules my flight:
As the letters that you see,
Weighty charge consign’d to me:
Think not yet my service hard,
Joyless task without reward:
Smiling at my master’s gates,
Freedom my return awaits:
But the liberal grant in vain
Tempts me to be wild again.
Can a prudent Dove decline
Blissful bondage such as mine?
Over hills and fields to roam,
Fortune’s guest without a home;
Under leaves to hide one’s head,
Slightly shelter’d, coarsely fed;
Now my better lot bestows
Sweet repast, and soft repose;
Now the generous bowl I sip
As it leaves Anacreon’s lip;
Void of care, and free from dread
From his fingers snatch his bread,
Then with luscious plenty gay
Round his chambers dance and play;
Or, from vine as courage springs,
O’er his face expand my wings;
And, when feast and frolic tire,
Drop asleep upon his lyre.
This is all; be quick and go,
More than all thou can’st not know;
Let me now my pinions ply, —
I have chatter’d like a pye.”*
WHEN my thirsty soul I stoop,
Every sorrow’s lulled to sleep.
Talk of monarchs! I am then
Richest, happiest, first of men;
50 Careless o’er my cup I sing,
Fancy makes me more than king;
Gives me wealthy Crœsus’ store, —
Ought I, can I, wish for more?
On my velvet couch reclining,
Ivy-leaves my brow entwining,
All my soul elate with glee, —
What are kings and crowns to me
Arm ye, arm ye, men of might,
Hasten to the sanguine fight;
But let me, my budding Vine!
Spill no other blood but thine.
Yonder brimming goblet see,
That alone shall vanquish me, —
Who think it better, wiser far,
To fall in banquet than in war.
OBSERVE, when mother Earth is dry,
She drinks the droppings of the sky;
And then the dewy cordial gives
To every thirsty plant that lives.
The vapours, which at evening sweep,
Are beverage to the swelling Deep;
And when the rosy sun appears,
He drinks the Ocean’s misty tears.
The Moon, too, quaffs her paly stream
Of lustre from the solar beam.
Then hence with all your sober thinking,
Since Nature’s holiest law is drinking;
I’ll make the laws of Nature mine,
And pledge the universe in wine.*
Nothing in Nature’s sober found,
But an eternal health goes round.
Fill up the bowl, then, fill it high,
Fill all the glasses there; for why
Should every creature drink but I?
Why, man of morals, tell me why?
YES, — loving is a painful thrill
And not to love more painful still;
But oh, it is the worst of pain
To love, and not be loved again!
Affection now has fled from earth,
Nor fire of genius, noble birth,
Nor heavenly virtue, can beguile
From beauty’s check one favouring smile.
Gold is the woman’s only theme,
Gold is the woman’s only dream.
Oh! never be that wretch forgiven —
Forgive him not, indignant heaven!
Whose grovelling eyes could first adore,
Whose heart could pant for sordid ore.
Since that devoted thirst began,
Man has forgot to feel for man;
The pulse of social life is dead,
And all its fonder feelings fled!
War too has sullied Nature’s charms,
For gold provokes the world to arms:
And oh! the worst of all its arts,
It rends asunder loving hearts.
’TWAS noon of night, and round the pole,
The sullen Bear was seen to roll;
And mortals, wearied with the day,
Were slumbering all their cares away;
An infant, at that dreary hour,
Came weeping to my silent bower,
And waked me with a piteous prayer,
To shield him from the midnight air.
“And who art thou,” I waking cry,
“That bid’st my blissful visions fly?”
“Ah, gentle sire,” — the infant said, —
“In pity take me to thy shed;
Nor fear deceit; a lonely child,
I wander o’er the gloomy wild.
Chill drops the rain, and not a ray
Illumes my drear and misty way.”
I heard the baby’s tale of woe;
I heard the bitter night-winds blow;
And, sighing for his piteous fate,
I trimm’d my lamp, and op’d the gate.
’Twas Love! the little wandering sprite,
His pinion sparkled through the night
I knew him by his bow and dart;
I knew him by my fluttering heart.
Fondly I take him in, and raise
The dying embers’ cheering blaze;
Press from his dark and clinging hair
The crystals of the freezing air,
And in my hand and bosom hold
His little fingers, thrilling cold.
And now the ember’s genial ray
Had warm’d his anxious fears away:
“I pray thee,” said the wanton child,
(My bosom trembled as he smil’d)
“I pray thee, let me try my bow,
For through the rain I’ve wandered so,
That much I fear, the midnight shower
Has injur’d its elastic power.” —
His fatal bow the urchin drew;
Swift from the string the arrow flew;
As swiftly flew as glancing flame,
And to mine inmost spirit came!
And “fare thee well,” — I heard him say,
As, laughing wild, he wing’d his way;
"Fare thee well, for now, I know,
The rain has not relaxed my bow;
It still can send a thrilling dart,
As thou shall own with, all thy heart!"
UNDERNEATH this myrtle shade,
On flowery beds supinely laid,
With odorous oils my head o’erflowing,
And around it roses growing,
What should I do but drink away
The heat and troubles of the day?
In this more than kingly state,
Love himself shall on me wait.
Fill to me, Love; nay, fill it up:
And mingled cast into the cup
Wit, and mirth, and noble fires,
Vigorous health, and gay desires.
The wheel of life no less will stay
In a smooth than rugged way:
51 Since it equally doth flee,
Let the motion pleasant be.
Why do we precious ointments shower?
Nobler wines why do we pour?
Beauteous flowers why do we spread
Upon the monuments of the dead?
Nothing they but dust can show,
Or bones that hasten to be so.
Crown me with roses whilst I live, —
Now your wines and ointments give;
After death I nothing crave,
Let me alive my pleasures have!
All are Stoics in the grave.
BUDS of roses, virgin flowers,
Culled from Cupid’s balmy bowers,
In the bowl of Bacchus steep,
Till with crimson drops they weep.
Twine the rose, the garland twine,
Every leaf distilling wine;
Drink and smile, and learn to think,
That we were born to smile and drink.
Rose! thou art the sweetest flower,
That ever drank the amber shower;
Rose! thou art the fondest child
Of dimpled Spring, the wood-nymph wild!
Even the Gods, who walk the sky,
Are amorous of thy scented sigh.
Cupid, too, in Paphian shades,
His hair with rosy fillets braids,
When with the blushing sister Graces,
The wanton, winding dance he traces. —
Then bring me, showers of roses bring,
And shed them o’er me while I sing;
Or, while, great Bacchus, round thy shrine,
Wreathing my brow with rose and vine,
I lead some bright nymph through the dance,
Commingling soul with every glance.
OFT am I by the women told,
“Poor Anacreon! thou grow’st old;
Look! how thy hairs are falling all;
Poor Anacreon, how they fall!” —
Whether I grow old or no,
By the effects I do not know;
But this I know, without being told,
’Tis time to live, if I grow old;
’Tis time short pleasures now to take,
Of little life the best to make,
And manage wisely the last stake.
BEHOLD the young, the rosy Spring,
Gives to the breeze her scented wing;
While virgin Graces, warm with May,
Fling roses o’er her dewy way.
The murmuring billows of the deep
Have languished into silent sleep.
And mark! the flitting sea-birds lave
Their plumes in the reflecting wave;
While cranes from hoary winter fly,
To flutter in a kinder sky.
Now the genial star of day
Dissolves the murky clouds away;
And cultured field and winding stream
Are freshly glittering in his beam.
Now the earth prolific swells
With leafy buds and flowery bells;
Gemming shoots the olive twine,
Clusters bright festoon the vine;
All along the branches creeping,
Through the velvet foliage peeping,
Little infant fruits we see
Nursing into luxury.
HAPPY insect! what can be
In happiness compared to thee?
Fed with nourishment divine,
The dewy morning’s gentle wine!
Nature waits upon thee still,
And thy verdant cup does fill;
’Tis filled wherever thou dost tread,
Nature’s self’s thy Ganymede.
Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing;
Happier than the happiest king!
All the fields which thou dost see,
All the plants belong to thee;
All that summer hours produce;
Fertile made with early juice,
Man for thee does sow and plough;
Farmer he, and landlord thou!
Thou dost innocently joy;
Nor does thy luxury destroy;
The shepherd gladly heareth thee,
More harmonious than he.
Thee country-hinds with gladness hear,
Prophet of the ripen’d year!
Thee Phœbus loves, and does inspire ;
Phœbus is himself thy sire.
To thee, of all things upon earth,
Life’s no longer than thy mirth.
Happy insect, happy, thou
Dost neither age nor winter know;
But, when thou’st drunk, and danc’d and sung
Thy fill, the flowery leaves among,
(Voluptuous and wise withal,
Epicurean animal!) —
Sated with thy summer feast,
Thou retir’st to endless rest.
IF thou canst number o’er to me
Every leaf on every tree,
Or count the ceaseless waves that roar
Against the billow-beaten shore,
Thou sufficient skill hast proved,
Thou shalt count the names I’ve loved
At Athens first, Minerva’s town,
Full five-and-thirty write me down;
But oh! at Corinth, rich and fair,
What hosts of loved ones I had there!
For beauteous nymphs it bears the sway,
None so beauteous sure as they!
52 Next, my lovely Lesbians tell,
Ionians, Carians, those that dwell
In far-famed Rhodes — you may, in all,
The trifling sum two thousand call.
What! think’st thou that I yet have done?
Resume thy tablets: — One by one,
I’ll count thee o’er my Syrian fair;
And Egypt too must claim a share;
And fertile Creta yet remains,
Where Love his empire still maintains
The dark-eyed nymphs, that shared my flame.
In Spain, in Afric, shall I name?
To sultry India’s farthest pole,
Whose dusky charms have fired my soul?
CUPID once upon a bed
Of roses laid his weary head;
Luckless urchin, not to see
Within the leaves a slumbering bee!
The bee awaked — with anger wild
The bee awaked, and stung the child.
Loud and piteous are his cries;
To Venus quick he runs, he flies;
“Oh mother! — I am wounded through—
I die with pain — what shall I do?
Stung by some little angry thing,
Some serpent on a tiny wing —
A bee it was — for once, I know,
I heard a peasant call it so.”
Thus he spoke, and she the while
Heard him with a soothing smile;
Then said: “My infant, if so much
Thou feel the little wild-bee’s touch,
How must the heart, ah, Cupid, be,
The hapless heart, that’s stung by thee?”
IF hoarded gold possessed the power
To lengthen life’s too fleeting hour,
And purchase from the hand of death
A little space, a moment’s breath,
How I would love the precious ore,
And every hour should swell my store;
That when Death came, with shadowy pinion,
To waft me to his black dominion,
I might, by bribes, my doom delay,
And bid him call another day. —
But since not all earth’s golden store
Can buy for us one bright hour more,
Why should we vainly mourn our fate,
Or sigh at life’s uncertain date?
Nor wealth nor grandeur can illume
The silent midnight of the tomb.
No — give to others hoarded treasures, —
Mine be the brilliant round of pleasures,
The goblet rich, the board of friends,
Whose social souls the goblet blends;
And mine, while yet I’ve life to live,
Those joys which love alone can give.
WHEN Spring adorns the dewy scene,
How sweet to walk the velvet green,
And hear the west-wind’s gentle sighs,
As o’er the gentle mead it flies!
How sweet to mark the pouting vine,
Ready to burst in tears of wine;
And with some maid, who breathes but love,
To walk, at noontide, through the grove,
Or sit in some cool, green recess, —
Oh, is not this true happiness?
FILL the bowl with rosy wine!
Around our temples roses twine!
And let us cheerfully awhile
Like the Wine and Roses, smile.
Crown’d with roses, we contemn
Gyges’ golden diadem.
To-day is ours; what do we fear?
To-day is ours; we have it here:
Let’s treat it kindly, that it may
Wish, at least, with us to stay.
Let’s banish business, banish sorrow;
To the gods belongs to-morrow.
SAD Niobe on Phrygian shore,
Was turned to marble by despair;
And hapless Progne learned to soar
On swallow’s wings, through liquid air.
But I would be a mirror,
So thou may’st pleased behold me;
Or robe, with close embraces
About thy limbs to fold me.
A crystal fount to lave thee;
Sweet oils thy hair to deck,
A zone to press thy bosom,
Or pearl to gem thy neck.
Or might I worship at thy feet,
A sandal for thy feet I’d be,
Ev’n to be trodden on were sweet,
If trodden on by thee.
TIMOCRATUS adorns this humble grave —
Mars spares the coward, but destroys the brave.
THEE too, Cleanor, strong desire laid low —
Desire, that wretched exiles only know,
Of thy loved native land. The tyrant sway
Of Winter had no force to make thee stay:
Thy fatal hour was come; and, tempest-sped,
The wild waves closed around thy cherish’d head.
NE’ER shall that man my comrade be,
Or drink a generous glass with me,
Who, o’er his bumpers, brags of scars,
Of noisy broils and mournful wars.
But welcome thou, congenial soul,
And share my purse and drain my bowl,
Who canst, in social knot, combine
The Muse, Good-humour, Love, and Wine.