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Best Famous Virgil Poems

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Written by Barry Tebb | Create an image from this poem


 At ten she came to me, three years ago,

There was ‘something between us’ even then;

Watching her write like Eliot every day,

Turn prose into haiku in ten minutes flat,

Write a poem in Greek three weeks from learning the alphabet;

Then translate it as ‘Sun on a tomb, gold place, small sacred horse’.
I never got over having her in the room, though Every day she was impossible in a new way, Stamping her foot like a naughty Enid Blyton child, Shouting "Poets don’t do arithmetic!" Or drawing caricatures of me in her book.
Then there were the ‘moments of vision’, her eyes Dissolving the blank walls and made-up faces, Genius painfully going through her paces, The skull she drew, the withered chrysanthemum And scarlet rose, ‘Descensus averno’, like Virgil, I supposed.
Now three years later, in nylons and tight skirt, She returns from grammar school to make a chaos of my room; Plaiting a rose in her hair, I remember the words of her poem - ‘For love is wrong/in word, in deed/But you will be mine’ And now her promise to come the last two days of term, "But not tell them", the diamond bomb exploding In her eyes, the key left ‘Accidentally’ on my desk And the faint surprise.

Written by Barry Tebb | Create an image from this poem


 ( I )

for ‘JC’ of the TLS

Nightmare of metropolitan amalgam

Grand Hotel and myself as a guest there

Lost with my room rifled, my belongings scattered,

Purse, diary and vital list of numbers gone – 

Vague sad memories of mam n’dad

Leeds 1942 back-to-back with shared outside lav.
Hosannas of sweet May mornings Whitsun glory of lilac blooming Sixty years on I run and run From death, from loss, from everyone.
Which are the paths I never ventured down, Or would they, too, be vain? O for the secret anima of Leeds girlhood A thousand times better than snide attacks in the TLS By ‘JC’.
**** you, Jock, you should be ashamed, Attacking Brenda Williams, who had a background Worse than yours, an alcoholic schizophrenic father And an Irish immigrant mother who died when Brenda was fifteen But still she managed to read Proust on her day off As a library girl, turned down by David Jenkins, ‘As rising star of the left’ for a place at Leeds To read theology started her as a protest poet Sitting out on the English lawn, mistaken for a snow sculpture In the depths of winter.
Her sit-in protest lasted seven months, Months, eight hours a day, her libellous verse scorching The academic groves of Leeds in sheets by the thousand, Mailed through the university's internal post.
She called The VC 'a mouse from the mountain'; Bishop of Durham to-be David Jenkins a wimp and worse and all in colourful verse And 'Guntrip's Ghost' went to every VC in England in a Single day.
When she sat on the English lawn Park Honan Flew paper aeroplanes with messages down and And when she was in Classics they took away her chair So she sat on the floor reading Virgil and the Chairman of the Department sent her an official Christmas card 'For six weeks on the university lawn, learning the Hebrew alphabet'.
And that was just the beginning: in Oxford Magdalen College School turned our son away for the Leeds protest so she Started again, in Magdalen Quad, sitting through Oxford's Worst ever winter and finally they arrested her on the Eve of the May Ball so she wrote 'Oxford from a Prison Cell' her most famous poem and her protest letter went in A single day to every MP and House of Lords Member and It was remembered years after and when nobody nominated Her for the Oxford Chair she took her own and sat there In the cold for almost a year, well-wishers pinning messages To the tree she sat under - "Tityre, tu patulae recubans Sub tegmine fagi" and twelve hundred and forty dons had "The Pain Clinic" in a single day and she was fourteen Times in the national press, a column in "The Guardian" And a whole page with a picture in the 'Times Higher' - "A Well Versed Protester" JC, if you call Myslexia’s editor a ‘kick-**** virago’ You’ve got to expect a few kicks back.
All this is but the dust We must shake from our feet Purple heather still with blossom In Haworth and I shall gather armfuls To toss them skywards and you, Madonna mia, I shall bed you there In blazing summer by High Wythens, Artist unbroken from the highest peak I raise my hands to heaven.
( II ) Sweet Anna, I do not know you from Eve But your zany zine in the post Is the best I’ve ever seen, inspiring this rant Against the cant of stuck-up cunts currying favour I name no name but if the Dutch cap fits Then wear it and share it.
Who thought at sixty one I’d have owned a watch Like this one, chased silver cased Quartz reflex Japanese movement And all for a fiver at the back of Leeds Market Where I wander in search of oil pastels Irish folk and cheap socks.
The TLS mocks our magazine With its sixties Cadillac pink Psychedelic cover and every page crimson Orange or mauve, revolutionary sonnets By Brenda Williams from her epic ‘Pain Clinic’ And my lacerating attacks on boring Bloodaxe Neil Ghastly and Anvil’s preciosity and all the Stuck-up ****-holes in their cubby-holes sending out Rejection slip by rote – LPW
Written by Victor Hugo | Create an image from this poem


 ("Il semblait grelotter.") 
 {XXXVI., December, 1837.} 

 He seemed to shiver, for the wind was keen. 
 'Twas a poor statue underneath a mass 
 Of leafless branches, with a blackened back 
 And a green foot—an isolated Faun 
 In old deserted park, who, bending forward, 
 Half-merged himself in the entangled boughs, 
 Half in his marble settings. He was there, 
 Pensive, and bound to earth; and, as all things 
 Devoid of movement, he was there—forgotten. 
 Trees were around him, whipped by icy blasts— 
 Gigantic chestnuts, without leaf or bird, 
 And, like himself, grown old in that same place. 
 Through the dark network of their undergrowth, 
 Pallid his aspect; and the earth was brown. 
 Starless and moonless, a rough winter's night 
 Was letting down her lappets o'er the mist. 
 This—nothing more: old Faun, dull sky, dark wood. 
 Poor, helpless marble, how I've pitied it! 
 Less often man—the harder of the two. 
 So, then, without a word that might offend 
 His ear deformed—for well the marble hears 
 The voice of thought—I said to him: "You hail 
 From the gay amorous age. O Faun, what saw you 
 When you were happy? Were you of the Court? 
 "Speak to me, comely Faun, as you would speak 
 To tree, or zephyr, or untrodden grass. 
 Have you, O Greek, O mocker of old days, 
 Have you not sometimes with that oblique eye 
 Winked at the Farnese Hercules?—Alone, 
 Have you, O Faun, considerately turned 
 From side to side when counsel-seekers came, 
 And now advised as shepherd, now as satyr?— 
 Have you sometimes, upon this very bench, 
 Seen, at mid-day, Vincent de Paul instilling 
 Grace into Gondi?—Have you ever thrown 
 That searching glance on Louis with Fontange, 
 On Anne with Buckingham; and did they not 
 Start, with flushed cheeks, to hear your laugh ring forth 
 From corner of the wood?—Was your advice 
 As to the thyrsis or the ivy asked, 
 When, in grand ballet of fantastic form, 
 God Phoebus, or God Pan, and all his court, 
 Turned the fair head of the proud Montespan, 
 Calling her Amaryllis?—La Fontaine, 
 Flying the courtiers' ears of stone, came he, 
 Tears on his eyelids, to reveal to you 
 The sorrows of his nymphs of Vaux?—What said 
 Boileau to you—to you—O lettered Faun, 
 Who once with Virgil, in the Eclogue, held 
 That charming dialogue?—Say, have you seen 
 Young beauties sporting on the sward?—Have you 
 Been honored with a sight of Molière 
 In dreamy mood?—Has he perchance, at eve, 
 When here the thinker homeward went, has he, 
 Who—seeing souls all naked—could not fear 
 Your nudity, in his inquiring mind, 
 Confronted you with Man?" 
 Under the thickly-tangled branches, thus 
 Did I speak to him; he no answer gave. 
 I shook my head, and moved myself away; 
 Then, from the copses, and from secret caves 
 Hid in the wood, methought a ghostly voice 
 Came forth and woke an echo in my souls 
 As in the hollow of an amphora. 
 "Imprudent poet," thus it seemed to say, 
 "What dost thou here? Leave the forsaken Fauns 
 In peace beneath their trees! Dost thou not know, 
 Poet, that ever it is impious deemed, 
 In desert spots where drowsy shades repose— 
 Though love itself might prompt thee—to shake down 
 The moss that hangs from ruined centuries, 
 And, with the vain noise of throe ill-timed words, 
 To mar the recollections of the dead?" 
 Then to the gardens all enwrapped in mist 
 I hurried, dreaming of the vanished days, 
 And still behind me—hieroglyph obscure 
 Of antique alphabet—the lonely Faun 
 Held to his laughter, through the falling night. 
 I went my way; but yet—in saddened spirit 
 Pondering on all that had my vision crossed, 
 Leaves of old summers, fair ones of old time— 
 Through all, at distance, would my fancy see, 
 In the woods, statues; shadows in the past! 

 {XXXVII., April 12, 1840.} 

 My love flowed e'er for things with wings. 
 When boy I sought for forest fowl, 
 And caged them in rude rushes' mesh, 
 And fed them with my breakfast roll; 
 So that, though fragile were the door, 
 They rarely fled, and even then 
 Would flutter back at faintest call! 
 Man-grown, I charm for men. 


Written by Edna St Vincent Millay | Create an image from this poem

Invocation To The Muses

 Read by the poet at The Public Ceremonial of The Naional Institute 
of Arts and Letters at Carnegie Hall, New York, January 18th, 1941.
Great Muse, that from this hall absent for long Hast never been, Great Muse of Song, Colossal Muse of mighty Melody, Vocal Calliope, With thine august and contrapuntal brow And thy vast throat builded for Harmony, For the strict monumental pure design, And the melodic line: Be thou tonight with all beneath these rafters—be with me.
If I address thee in archaic style— Words obsolete, words obsolescent, It is that for a little while The heart must, oh indeed must from this angry and out-rageous present Itself withdraw Into some past in which most crooked Evil, Although quite certainly conceived and born, was not as yet the Law.
Archaic, or obsolescent at the least, Be thy grave speaking and the careful words of thy clear song, For the time wrongs us, and the words most common to our speech today Salute and welcome to the feast Conspicuous Evil— or against him all day long Cry out, telling of ugly deeds and most uncommon wrong.
Be thou tonight with all beneath these rafters—be with me But oh, be more with those who are not free.
Who, herded into prison camps all shame must suffer and all outrage see.
Where music is not played nor sung, Though the great voice be there, no sound from the dry throat across the thickened tongue Comes forth; nor has he heart for it.
Beauty in all things—no, we cannot hope for that; but some place set apart for it.
Here it may dwell; And with your aid, Melpomene And all thy sister-muses (for ye are, I think, daughters of Memory) Within the tortured mind as well.
Reaped are those fields with dragon's-teeth so lately sown; Many the heaped men dying there - so close, hip touches thigh; yet each man dies alone.
Music, what overtone For the soft ultimate sigh or the unheeded groan Hast thou—to make death decent, where men slip Down blood to death, no service of grieved heart or ritual lip Transferring what was recently a man and still is warm— Transferring his obedient limbs into the shallow grave where not again a friend shall greet him, Nor hatred do him harm .
Nor true love run to meet him? In the last hours of him who lies untended On a cold field at night, and sees the hard bright stars Above his upturned face, and says aloud "How strange .
my life is ended.
"— If in the past he loved great music much, and knew it well, Let not his lapsing mind be teased by well-beloved but ill- remembered bars — Let the full symphony across the blood-soaked field By him be heard, most pure in every part, The lonely horror of whose painful death is thus repealed, Who dies with quiet tears upon his upturned face, making to glow with softness the hard stars.
And bring to those who knew great poetry well Page after page that they have loved but have not learned by heart! We who in comfort to well-lighted shelves Can turn for all the poets ever wrote, Beseech you: Bear to those Who love high art no less than we ourselves, Those who lie wounded, those who in prison cast Strive to recall, to ease them, some great ode, and every stanza save the last.
Recall—oh, in the dark, restore them The unremembered lines; make bright the page before them! Page after page present to these, In prison concentrated, watched by barbs of bayonet and wire, Give ye to them their hearts' intense desire— The words of Shelley, Virgil, Sophocles.
And thou, O lovely and not sad, Euterpe, be thou in this hall tonight! Bid us remember all we ever had Of sweet and gay delight— We who are free, But cannot quite be glad, Thinking of huge, abrupt disaster brought Upon so many of our kind Who treasure as do we the vivid look on the unfrightened face, The careless happy stride from place to place, And the unbounded regions of untrammelled thought Open as interstellar space To the exploring and excited mind.
O Muses, O immortal Nine!— Or do ye languish? Can ye die? Must all go under?— How shall we heal without your help a world By these wild horses torn asunder? How shall we build anew? — How start again? How cure, how even moderate this pain Without you, and you strong? And if ye sleep, then waken! And if ye sicken and do plan to die, Do not that now! Hear us, in what sharp need we cry! For we have help nowhere If not in you! Pity can much, and so a mighty mind, but cannot all things do!— By you forsaken, We shall be scattered, we shall be overtaken! Oh, come! Renew in us the ancient wonder, The grace of life, its courage, and its joy! Weave us those garlands nothing can destroy! Come! with your radiant eyes! — with your throats of thunder!
Written by Robert Francis | Create an image from this poem

Thoreau in Italy

 Lingo of birds was easier than lingo of peasants-
they were elusive, though, the birds, for excellent reasons.
He thought of Virgil, Virgil who wasn't there to chat with.
History he never forgave for letting Latin lapse into Italian, a renegade jabbering musical enough but not enough to call music So he conversed with stones, imperial and papal.
Even the preposterous popes he could condone a moment for the clean arrogance of their inscriptions.
He asked the Italians only to leave him in the past alone, but this was what they emphatically never did.
Being the present, they never ceased to celebrate it.
Something was always brushing him on the street, satyr or saint-impossible to say which the more foreign.
At home he was called touchy; here he knew he was.
Impossible to say.
The dazzling nude with sex lovingly displayed like carven fruit, the black robe sweeping a holy and unholy dust.
Always the flesh whether to lacerate of kiss- Conspiracy of fauns and clerics smiling back and forth at each other acquiescently through leaves.
Caught between wan monastic mountains wearing the tonsure and the all-siren, ever-dimpling sea, he saw (how could he fail?) at heart geography to blame.
So home to Concord where (as he might have known he would) he found the Italy he wanted to remember.
Why had he sailed if not for the savour of returning? An Italy distilled of all extreme, conflict, Collusion-an Italy without the Italians- in whose green context he could con again his Virgil.
In cedar he read cypress, in the wild apple, olive.
His hills would stand up favorably to the hills of Rome.
His arrowheads could hold their own with are Etruscan.
And Walden clearly was his Mediterranean whose infinite colors were his picture gallery.
How far his little boat transported him-how far.
He coughed discreetly and we likewise coughed; we waited and we heard him clear his throat.
How to be perfect prisoners of the past this was the thing but now he too is past.
Shall we go sit beside the Mississippi and watch the riffraft driftwood floating by?

Written by Robert Browning | Create an image from this poem

Pan and Luna

 Si credere dignum est.
--Virgil, Georgics, III, 390 Oh, worthy of belief I hold it was, Virgil, your legend in those strange three lines! No question, that adventure came to pass One black night in Arcadia: yes, the pines, Mountains and valleys mingling made one mass Of black with void black heaven: the earth's confines, The sky's embrace,--below, above, around, All hardened into black without a bound.
Fill up a swart stone chalice to the brim With fresh-squeezed yet fast-thickening poppy-juice: See how the sluggish jelly, late a-swim, Turns marble to the touch of who would loose The solid smooth, grown jet from rim to rim, By turning round the bowl! So night can fuse Earth with her all-comprising sky.
No less, Light, the least spark, shows air and emptiness.
And thus it proved when--diving into space, Stript of all vapor, from each web of mist, Utterly film-free--entered on her race The naked Moon, full-orbed antagonist Of night and dark, night's dowry: peak to base, Upstarted mountains, and each valley, kissed To sudden life, lay silver-bright: in air Flew she revealed, Maid-Moon with limbs all bare.
Still as she fled, each depth,--where refuge seemed-- Opening a lone pale chamber, left distinct Those limbs: mid still-retreating blue, she teemed Herself with whiteness,--virginal, uncinct By any halo save what finely gleamed To outline not disguise her: heavenwas linked In one accord with earth to quaff the joy, Drain beauty to the dregs without alloy.
Whereof she grew aware.
What help? When, lo, A succorable cloud with sleep lay dense: Some pinetree-top had caught it sailing slow, And tethered for a prize: in evidence Captive lay fleece on fleece of piled-up snow Drowsily patient: flake-heaped how or whence, The structure of that succorable cloud, What matter? Shamed she plunged into its shroud.
Orbed--so the woman-figure poets call Because of rounds on rounds--that apple-shaped Head which its hair binds close into a ball Each side the curving ears--that pure undraped Pout of the sister paps--that .
once for all, Say--her consummate circle thus escaped With its innumerous circlets, sank absorbed, Safe in the cloud--O naked Moon full-orbed! But what means this? The downy swathes combine, Conglobe, the smothery coy-caressing stuff Curdles about her! Vain each twist and twine Those lithe limbs try, encroached on by a fluff Fitting as close as fits the dented spine Its flexible ivory outside-flesh: enough! The plumy drifts contract, condense, constringe, Till she is swallowed by the feathery springe.
As when a pearl slips lost in the thin foam Churned on a sea-shore, and, o'er-frothed, conceits Herself safe-housed in Amphitrite's dome,-- If, through the bladdery wave-worked yeast, she meets What most she loathes and leaps from,--elf from gnome No gladlier,--finds that safest of retreats Bubble about a treacherous hand wide ope To grasp her--(divers who pick pearls so grope)-- So lay this Maid-Moon clasped around and caught By rough red Pan, the god of all that tract: He it was schemed the snare thus subtly wrought With simulated earth-breath,--wool-tufts packed Into a billowy wrappage.
Sheep far-sought For spotless shearings yield such: take the fact As learned Virgil gives it,--how the breed Whitens itself forever: yes, indeed! If one forefather ram, though pure as chalk From tinge on fleece, should still display a tongue Black 'neath the beast's moist palate, prompt men balk The propagating plague: he gets no young: They rather slay him,--sell his hide to calk Ships with, first steeped with pitch,--nor hands are wrung In sorrow for his fate: protected thus, The purity we loved is gained for us.
So did girl-Moon, by just her attribute Of unmatched modesty betrayed, lie trapped, Bruised to the breast of Pan, half god half brute, Raked by his bristly boar-sward while he lapped --Never say, kissed her! that were to pollute Love's language--which moreover proves unapt To tell how she recoiled--as who finds thorns Where she sought flowers--when, feeling, she touched--horns! Then--does the legend say?--first moon-eclipse Happened, first swooning-fit which puzzled sore The early sages? Is that why she dips Into the dark, a minute and no more, Only so long as serves her while she rips The cloud's womb through and, faultless as before, Pursues her way? No lesson for a maid Left she, a maid herself thus trapped, betrayed? Ha, Virgil? Tell the rest, you! "To the deep Of his domain the wildwood, Pan forthwith Called her, and so she followed"--in her sleep, Surely?--"by no means spurning him.
" The myth Explain who may! Let all else go, I keep --As of a ruin just a monolith-- Thus much, one verse of five words, each a boon: Arcadia, night, a cloud, Pan, and the moon.
Written by Sidney Lanier | Create an image from this poem

Ode To The Johns Hopkins University

 How tall among her sisters, and how fair, --
How grave beyond her youth, yet debonair
As dawn, 'mid wrinkled Matres of old lands
Our youngest Alma Mater modest stands!
In four brief cycles round the punctual sun
Has she, old Learning's latest daughter, won
This grace, this stature, and this fruitful fame.
Howbeit she was born Unnoised as any stealing summer morn.
From far the sages saw, from far they came And ministered to her, Led by the soaring-genius'd Sylvester That, earlier, loosed the knot great Newton tied, And flung the door of Fame's locked temple wide.
As favorable fairies thronged of old and blessed The cradled princess with their several best, So, gifts and dowers meet To lay at Wisdom's feet, These liberal masters largely brought -- Dear diamonds of their long-compressed thought, Rich stones from out the labyrinthine cave Of research, pearls from Time's profoundest wave And many a jewel brave, of brilliant ray, Dug in the far obscure Cathay Of meditation deep -- With flowers, of such as keep Their fragrant tissues and their heavenly hues Fresh-bathed forever in eternal dews -- The violet with her low-drooped eye, For learned modesty, -- The student snow-drop, that doth hang and pore Upon the earth, like Science, evermore, And underneath the clod doth grope and grope, -- The astronomer heliotrope, That watches heaven with a constant eye, -- The daring crocus, unafraid to try (When Nature calls) the February snows, -- And patience' perfect rose.
Thus sped with helps of love and toil and thought, Thus forwarded of faith, with hope thus fraught, In four brief cycles round the stringent sun This youngest sister hath her stature won.
Nay, why regard The passing of the years? Nor made, nor marr'd, By help or hindrance of slow Time was she: O'er this fair growth Time had no mastery: So quick she bloomed, she seemed to bloom at birth, As Eve from Adam, or as he from earth.
Superb o'er slow increase of day on day, Complete as Pallas she began her way; Yet not from Jove's unwrinkled forehead sprung, But long-time dreamed, and out of trouble wrung, Fore-seen, wise-plann'd, pure child of thought and pain, Leapt our Minerva from a mortal brain.
And here, O finer Pallas, long remain, -- Sit on these Maryland hills, and fix thy reign, And frame a fairer Athens than of yore In these blest bounds of Baltimore, -- Here, where the climates meet That each may make the other's lack complete, -- Where Florida's soft Favonian airs beguile The nipping North, -- where nature's powers smile, -- Where Chesapeake holds frankly forth her hands Spread wide with invitation to all lands, -- Where now the eager people yearn to find The organizing hand that fast may bind Loose straws of aimless aspiration fain In sheaves of serviceable grain, -- Here, old and new in one, Through nobler cycles round a richer sun O'er-rule our modern ways, O blest Minerva of these larger days! Call here thy congress of the great, the wise, The hearing ears, the seeing eyes, -- Enrich us out of every farthest clime, -- Yea, make all ages native to our time, Till thou the freedom of the city grant To each most antique habitant Of Fame, -- Bring Shakespeare back, a man and not a name, -- Let every player that shall mimic us In audience see old godlike Aeschylus, -- Bring Homer, Dante, Plato, Socrates, -- Bring Virgil from the visionary seas Of old romance, -- bring Milton, no more blind, -- Bring large Lucretius, with unmaniac mind, -- Bring all gold hearts and high resolved wills To be with us about these happy hills, -- Bring old Renown To walk familiar citizen of the town, -- Bring Tolerance, that can kiss and disagree, -- Bring Virtue, Honor, Truth, and Loyalty, -- Bring Faith that sees with undissembling eyes, -- Bring all large Loves and heavenly Charities, -- Till man seem less a riddle unto man And fair Utopia less Utopian, And many peoples call from shore to shore, `The world has bloomed again, at Baltimore!'
Written by Virgil | Create an image from this poem

The Aeneid
Written by Andrew Marvell | Create an image from this poem

Tom Mays Death

 As one put drunk into the Packet-boat,
Tom May was hurry'd hence and did not know't.
But was amaz'd on the Elysian side, And with an Eye uncertain, gazing wide, Could not determine in what place he was, For whence in Stevens ally Trees or Grass.
Nor where the Popes head, nor the Mitre lay, Signs by which still he found and lost his way.
At last while doubtfully he all compares, He saw near hand, as he imagin'd Ares.
Such did he seem for corpulence and port, But 'twas a man much of another sort; 'Twas Ben that in the dusky Laurel shade Amongst the Chorus of old Poets laid, Sounding of ancient Heroes, such as were The Subjects Safety, and the Rebel's Fear.
But how a double headed Vulture Eats, Brutus and Cassius the Peoples cheats.
But seeing May he varied streight his song, Gently to signifie that he was wrong.
Cups more then civil of Emilthian wine, I sing (said he) and the Pharsalian Sign, Where the Historian of the Common-wealth In his own Bowels sheath'd the conquering health.
By this May to himself and them was come, He found he was tranflated, and by whom.
Yet then with foot as stumbling as his tongue Prest for his place among the Learned throng.
But Ben, who knew not neither foe nor friend, Sworn Enemy to all that do pretend, Rose more then ever he was seen severe, Shook his gray locks, and his own Bayes did tear At this intrusion.
Then with Laurel wand, The awful Sign of his supream command.
At whose dread Whisk Virgil himself does quake, And Horace patiently its stroke does take, As he crowds in he whipt him ore the pate Like Pembroke at the Masque, and then did rate.
Far from these blessed shades tread back agen Most servil' wit, and Mercenary Pen.
Polydore, Lucan, Allan, Vandale, Goth, Malignant Poet and Historian both.
Go seek the novice Statesmen, and obtrude On them some Romane cast similitude, Tell them of Liberty, the Stories fine, Until you all grow Consuls in your wine.
Or thou Dictator of the glass bestow On him the Cato, this the Cicero.
Transferring old Rome hither in your talk, As Bethlem's House did to Loretto walk.
Foul Architect that hadst not Eye to see How ill the measures of these States agree.
And who by Romes example England lay, Those but to Lucan do continue May.
But the nor Ignorance nor seeming good Misled, but malice fixt and understood.
Because some one than thee more worthy weares The sacred Laurel, hence are all these teares? Must therefore all the World be set on flame, Because a Gazet writer mist his aim? And for a Tankard-bearing Muse must we As for the Basket Guelphs and Gibellines be? When the Sword glitters ore the Judges head, And fear has Coward Churchmen silenced, Then is the Poets time, 'tis then he drawes, And single fights forsaken Vertues cause.
He, when the wheel of Empire, whirleth back, And though the World disjointed Axel crack, Sings still of ancient Rights and better Times, Seeks wretched good, arraigns successful Crimes.
But thou base man first prostituted hast Our spotless knowledge and the studies chast.
Apostatizing from our Arts and us, To turn the Chronicler to Spartacus.
Yet wast thou taken hence with equal fate, Before thou couldst great Charles his death relate.
But what will deeper wound thy little mind, Hast left surviving Davenant still behind Who laughs to see in this thy death renew'd, Right Romane poverty and gratitude.
Poor Poet thou, and grateful Senate they, Who thy last Reckoning did so largely pay.
And with the publick gravity would come, When thou hadst drunk thy last to lead thee home.
If that can be thy home where Spencer lyes And reverend Chaucer, but their dust does rise Against thee, and expels thee from their side, As th' Eagles Plumes from other birds divide.
Nor here thy shade must dwell, Return, Return, Where Sulphrey Phlegeton does ever burn.
The Cerberus with all his Jawes shall gnash, Megera thee with all her Serpents lash.
Thou rivited unto Ixion's wheel Shalt break, and the perpetual Vulture feel.
'Tis just what Torments Poets ere did feign, Thou first Historically shouldst sustain.
Thus by irrevocable Sentence cast, May only Master of these Revels past.
And streight he vanisht in a Cloud of Pitch, Such as unto the Sabboth bears the Witch.
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem



THE reluctance which must naturally be felt by any one in
venturing to give to the world a book such as the present, where
the beauties of the great original must inevitably be diminished,
if not destroyed, in the process of passing through the
translator's hands, cannot but be felt in all its force when that
translator has not penetrated beyond the outer courts of the
poetic fane, and can have no hope of advancing further, or of
reaching its sanctuary.
But it is to me a subject of peculiar satisfaction that your kind permission to have your name inscribed upon this page serves to attain a twofold end--one direct and personal, and relating to the present day; the other reflected and historical, and belonging to times long gone by.
Of the first little need now be said, for the privilege is wholly mine, in making this dedication: as to the second, one word of explanation will suffice for those who have made the greatest poet of Germany, almost of the world, their study, and to whom the story of his life is not unknown.
All who have followed the career of GOETHE are familiar with the name and character of DALBERG, and also with the deep and lasting friendship that existed between them, from which SCHILLER too was not absent; recalling to the mind the days of old, when a Virgil and a Horace and a Maecenas sat side by side.
Remembering, then, the connection that, in a former century, was formed and riveted between your illustrious ancestor and him whom it is the object of these pages to represent, I deem it a happy augury that the link then established finds itself not wholly severed even now (although its strength may be immeasurably weakened in the comparison), inasmuch as this page brings them once more in contact, the one in the person of his own descendant, the other in that of the translator of his Poems.
Believe me, with great truth, Very faithfully yours, EDGAR A.
London, April, 1853.