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VI.

SILENUS.

The Argument.

Two young shepherds, Chromis and Mnasylus, having been often promised a song by Silenus, chance to catch him asleep in this pastoral; where they bind him hand and foot, and then claim his promise. Silenus, finding they would be put off no longer, begins his song, in which he describes the formation of the universe, and the original of animals, according to the Epicurean philosophy; and then runs through the most surprising transformations which have happened in Nature since her birth. This pastoral was designed as a compliment to Syron the Epicurean, who instructed Virgil and Varus in the principles of that philosophy. Silenus acts as tutor, Chronis and Mnasylus as the two pupils.

I FIRST transferr'd to Rome Sicilian strains; Nor blush'd the Doric Muse to dwell on Mantuan plains.

But when I tried her tender voice, too young,
And fighting kings and bloody battles sung,
Apollo check'd my pride, and bade me feed
My fattening flocks, nor dare beyond the reed.
Admonish'd thus, while every pen prepares
To write thy praises, Varus, and thy wars,
My pastoral Muse her humble tribute brings;
And yet not wholly uninspired she sings:
For all who read, and, reading, not disdain
These rural poems, and their lowly strain,

The name of Varus oft inscribed shall see

In every grove, and every vocal tree;

And all the silvan reign shall sing of thee:
Thy name, to Phoebus and the Muses known,
Shall in the front of every page be shown;
For he, who sings thy praise, secures his own.
Proceed, my Muse!-Two Satyrs, on the ground,
Stretch'd at his ease, their sire Silenus found.
Dozed with the fumes, and heavy with his load,
They found him snoring in his dark abode,
And seized with youthful arms the drunken god.
His rosy wreath was dropp'd not long before,
Borne by the tide of wine, and floating on the floor.
His empty can, with ears half worn away,

Was hung on high, to boast the triumph of the day.
Invaded thus, for want of better bands,
His garland they unstring, and bind his hands;
For, by the fraudful god deluded long,
They now resolve to have their promised song.
Ægle came in, to make their party good-
The fairest Naïs of the neighbouring flood-
And, while he stares around with stupid eyes,
His brows with berries, and his temples, dyes.
He finds the fraud, and, with a smile, demands
On what design the boys had bound his hands.
'Loose me, (he cried) 'twas impudence to find
A sleeping god; 'tis sacrilege to bind.
To you the promised poem I will pay;
Thy nymph shall be rewarded in her way.'
He raised his voice; and soon a numerous throng
Of tripping Satyrs crowded to the song;
And silvan Fauns, and savage beasts, advanced;
And nodding forests to the numbers danced,

Not by Hæmonian hills the Thracian bard,
Nor awful Phoebus was on Pindus heard
With deeper silence or with more regard.
He sung the secret seeds of Nature's frame;
How seas, and earth, and air, and active flame,
Fell through the mighty void, and, in their fall,
Were blindly gather'd in this goodly ball.
The tender soil then, stiffening by degrees,
Shut from the bounded earth the bounding seas.
Then earth and ocean various forms disclose;
And a new sun to the new world arose ;
And mists, condensed to clouds, obscure the sky;
And clouds, dissolved, the thirsty ground supply.
The rising trees the lofty mountains grace:
The lofty mountains feed the savage race,
Yet few, and strangers, in the' unpeopled place.
From thence the birth of man the song pursued,
And how the world was lost, and how renew'd:
The reign of Saturn, and the golden age;
Prometheus' theft, and Jove's avenging rage;
The cries of Argonauts for Hylas drown'd,
With whose repeated name the shores resound;
Then mourns the madness of the Cretan
Happy for her if herds had never been!
What fury, wretched woman, seized thy breast?
The maids of Argos (though, with rage possess'd,
Their imitated lowings fill'd the grove)

queen:

Yet shunn'd the guilt of thy preposterous love, Nor sought the youthful husband of the herd, Though labouring yokes on their own necks they fear'd,

And felt for budding horns on their smooth foreheads rear'd.

Ah, wretched queen! you range the pathless wood,
While on a flowery bank he chews the cud,
Or sleeps in shades, or through the forest roves,
And roars with anguish for his absent loves.
'Ye nymphs, with toils his forest-walk surround,
And trace his wandering footsteps on the ground.
But, ah! perhaps my passion he disdains,
And courts the milky mothers of the plains.
We search the' ungrateful fugitive abroad,
While they at home sustain his happy load.'
He sung the lover's fraud; the longing maid,
With golden fruit, like all the sex, betray'd;
The sisters mourning for their brother's loss;
Their bodies hid in barks, and furr'd with moss;
How each a rising alder now appears,
And o'er the Po distils her gummy tears:
Then sung, how Gallus, by a Muse's hand,
Was led and welcomed to the sacred strand;
The senate rising to salute their guest;
And Linus thus their gratitude express'd:-
'Receive this present, by the Muses made,
The pipe on which the' Ascræan pastor play'd;
With which of old he charm'd the savage train,
And call'd the mountain ashes to the plain.
Sing thou, on this, thy Phoebus; and the wood
Where once his fane of Parian marble stood:
On this his ancient oracles rehearse,

And with new numbers grace the god of verse.'
Why should I sing the double Scylla's fate?
The first by love transform'd, the last by hate-
A beauteous maid above; but magic arts
With barking dogs deform'd her nether parts:
What vengeance on the passing fleet she pour'd,
The master frighted, and the mates devour'd.

Then ravish'd Philomel the song express'd;
The crime reveal'd; the sisters' cruel feast;
And how in fields the lapwing Tereus reigns,
The warbling nightingale in woods complains;
While Procne makes on chimney tops her moan,
And hovers o'er the palace once her own.
Whatever songs besides the Delphian god
Had taught the laurels, and the Spartan flood,
Silenus sung: the vales his voice rebound,
And carry to the skies the sacred sound.-
And now the setting sun had warn'd the swain
To call his counted cattle from the plain:

Yet still the' unwearied sire pursues the tuneful strain.

Till,unperceived, the heavens with stars were hung, And sudden night surprised the yet unfinish'd song.

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