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Stand forth, ye champions, who the gauntlet wield, Or you, the swiftest racers of the field!

Stand forth, ye wrestlers, who these pastimes grace!

I wield the gauntlet, and I run the race.
In such heroic games I yield to none,

Or yield to brave Laodamas alone:
Shall I with brave Laodamas contend?

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A friend is sacred, and I style him friend.
Ungen'rous were the man, and base of heart,
Who takes the kind, and pays th' ungrateful part;
Chiefly the man, in foreign realms confin'd,
Base to his friend, to his own int'rest blind:
All, all your heroes I this day defy;

Give me a man, that we our might may try.
Expert in ev'ry art, I boast the skill

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To give the feather'd arrow wings to kill;
Should a whole host at once discharge the bow,
My well-aim'd shaft with death prevents the foe:
Alone superior in the field of Troy,

Great Philoctetes taught the shaft to fly.
From all the sons of earth unrivall❜d praise

I justly claim; but yield to better days,

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To those fam'd days when great Alcides rose, 255 And Eurytus, who bade the gods be foes:

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(Vain Eurytus, whose art became his crime,
Swept from the earth he perish'd in his prime;
Sudden th' irremeable way he trod,
Who boldly durst defy the bowyer-god)

In fighting fields as far the spear I throw,

As flies an arrow from the well-drawn bow.
Sole in the race the contest I decline,
Stiff are my weary joints; and I resign,

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By storms and hunger worn: age well may fail, When storms and hunger both at once assail.

Abash'd, the numbers hear the godlike man,

Till great Alcinous mildly thus began:

Well hast thou spoke, and well thy gen'rous

tongue

With decent pride refutes a public wrong:

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Warm are thy words, but warm without offence; Fear only fools, secure in men of sense:

Thy worth is known. Then hear our country's claim,

And bear to heroes our heroic fame;

In distant realms our glorious deeds display, 275 Repeat them frequent in the genial day;

When bless'd with ease thy woes and wand'rings

end,

Teach them thy consort, bid thy sons attend;

How lov'd of Jove he crown'd our sires with praise,

How we, their offspring, dignify our race.

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Let other realms the deathful gauntlet wield, Or boast the glories of th' athletic field; We in the course unrivall'd speed display, Or through cærulean billows plough the way; To dress, to dance, to sing, our sole delight, 285 The feast or bath by day, and love by night! Rise then, ye skill'd in measures; let him bear Your fame to men that breathe a distant air, And faithful say, to you the pow'rs belong To race, to sail, to dance, to chaunt the song. 290 But, herald, to the palace swift repair,

And the soft lyre to grace our pastimes bear.

Swift at the word, obedient to the king,
The herald flies the tuneful lyre to bring.
Up rose nine seniors, chosen to survey
The future games, the judges of the day:
With instant care they mark a spacious round,
And level for the dance th' allotted ground:
The herald bears the lyre: intent to play,

The bard advancing meditates the lay:

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Skill'd in the dance, tall youths, a blooming band, Graceful before the heav'nly minstrel stand;

Light-bounding from the earth, at once they rise, Their feet half-viewless quiver in the skies: Ulysses gaz'd, astonish'd to survey

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The glancing splendours as their sandals play.
Meantime the bard, alternate to the strings,
The loves of Mars and Cytherea sings;
How the stern god, enamour'd with her charms,
Clasp'd the gay panting goddess in his arms, 310
By bribes seduc'd: and how the sun, whose eye,
Views the broad heav'ns, disclos'd the lawless joy..
Stung to the soul, indignant through the skies
To his black forge vindictive Vulcan flies:
Arriv'd, his sinewy arms incessant place
Th' eternal anvil on the massy base.
A wond'rous net he labours, to betray
The wanton lovers, as entwin'd they lay;
Indissolubly strong! Then instant bears.
To his immortal dome the finish'd snares.
Above, below, around, with art dispread,
The sure inclosure folds the genial bed;
Whose texture e'en the search of gods deceives,
Thin as the filmy threads the spider weaves.
Then, as withdrawing from the starry bow'rs, 325
He feigns a journey to the Lemnian shores,

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His fav'rite isle! Observant Mars descries
His wish'd recess, and to the goddess flies;
He glows, he burns: the fair-hair'd queen of love
Descends smooth-gliding from the courts of Jove,
Gay blooming in full charms: her hand he press'd
With eager joy, and with a sigh address'd:

Come, my belov'd! and taste the soft delights:
Come, to repose the genial bed invites:
Thy absent spouse, neglectful of thy charms, 335
Prefers his barb'rous Sintians to thy arms!

Then, nothing loath, th' enamour'd fair he led, And sunk transported on the conscious bed. Down rush'd the toils, inwrapping as they lay The careless lovers in their wanton play: In vain they strive, th' intangling snares deny (Inextricably firm) the pow'r to fly.

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Warn'd by the god who sheds the golden day,
Stern Vulcan homeward treads the starry way: 344
Arriv'd, he sees, he grieves, with rage he burns;
Full horrible he roars, his voice all heav'n returns:
O Jove, he cried, O all ye pow'rs above,
See the lewd dalliance of the queen of love!
Me, awkward me, she scorns; and yields her charms
To that fair letcher, the strong god of arms. 350

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