Poems

The Judgement Of Hercules

While blooming Spring descends from genial skies,
By whose mild influence instant wonders rise;
From whose soft breath Elysian beauties flow;
The sweets of Hagley, or the pride of Stowe;
Will Lyttleton the rural landscape range,
Leave noisy fame, and not regret the change?
Pleased will he tread the garden's early scenes,
And learn a moral from the rising greens?
There, warm'd alike by Sol's enlivening power,
The weed, aspiring, emulates the flower;
The drooping flower, its fairer charms display'd,
Invites, from grateful hands, their generous aid:
Soon, if none check'd the invasive foe's designs,
The lively lustre of these scenes declines!

'Tis thus the spring of youth, the morn of life,
Rears in our minds the rival seeds of strife:
Then passion riots, reason then contends,
And on the conquest every bliss depends:
Life from the nice decision takes its hue,
And blest those judges who decide like you!
On worth like theirs shall every bliss attend,
The world their favourite, and the world their friend.

There are, who, blind to Thought's fatiguing ray,
As Fortune gives examples, urge their way;
Not Virtue's foes, though they her paths decline,
And scarce her friends, though with her friends they join;
In hers or Vice's casual road advance,
Thoughtless, the sinners or the saints of Chance!
Yet some more nobly scorn the vulgar voice,
With judgment fix, with zeal pursue their choice,
When ripen'd thought, when Reason, born to reign,
Checks the wild tumults of the youthful vein;
While passion's lawless tides, at their command,
Glide through more useful tracks, and bless the land.

Happiest of these is he whose matchless mind,
By learning strengthen'd, and by taste refined,
In Virtue's cause essay'd its earliest powers,
Chose Virtue's paths, and strew'd her paths with flowers.
The first alarm'd, if Freedom waves her wings,
The fittest to adorn each art she brings;
Loved by that prince whom every virtue fires,
Praised by that bard whom every Muse inspires;
Blest in the tuneful art, the social flame;
In all that wins, in all that merits, fame!

'Twas youth's perplexing stage his doubts inspired,
When great Alcides to a grove retired:
Through the lone windings of a devious glade,
Resign'd to thought, with lingering steps he stray'd;
Blest with a mind to taste sincerer joys,
Arm'd with a heart each false one to despise.
Dubious he stray'd, with wavering thoughts possest,
Alternate passions struggling shared his breast;
The various arts which human cares divide,
In deep attention all his mind employ'd;
Anxious, if Fame an equal bliss secured;
Or silent Ease with softer charms allured.
The sylvan choir, whose numbers sweetly flow'd,
The fount that murmur'd, and the flowers that blow'd;
The silver flood that in meanders led
His glittering streams along the enliven'd mead;
The soothing breeze, and all those beauties join'd,
Which, whilst they please, effeminate the mind;
In vain! while distant, on a summit raised,
The imperial towers of Fame attractive blazed.

While thus he traced through Fancy's puzzling maze
The separate sweets of pleasure and of praise,
Sudden the wind a fragrant gale convey'd,
And a new lustre gain'd upon the shade:
At once, before his wondering eyes were seen
Two female forms, of more than mortal mien:
Various their charms, and in their dress and face,
Each seem'd to vie with some peculiar grace.
This, whose attire less clogg'd with art appear'd,
The simple sweets of innocence endear'd;
Her sprightly bloom, her quick sagacious eye,
Show'd native merit mix'd with modesty:
Her air diffused a mild, yet awful ray,
Severely sweet, and innocently gay;
Such the chaste image of the martial maid,
In artless folds of virgin white array'd;
She let no borrow'd rose her cheeks adorn,
Her blushing cheeks, that shamed the purple morn:
Her charms nor had nor wanted artful foils,
Or studied gestures, or well-practised smiles:
She scorn'd the toys which render beauty less;
She proved the engaging chastity of dress;
And while she chose in native charms to shine,
Even thus she seem'd, nay, more than seem'd divine.
One modest emerald clasp'd the robe she wore,
And in her hand the imperial sword she bore.
Sublime her height, majestic was her pace,
And match'd the awful honours of her face.
The shrubs, the flowers, that deck'd the verdant ground,
Seem'd, where she trod, with rising lustre crown'd.
Still her approach with stronger influence warm'd;
She pleased while distant, but when near she charm'd.
So strikes the gazer's eye the silver gleam
That, glittering, quivers o'er a distant stream;
But from its banks we see new beauties rise,
And, in its crystal bosom, trace the skies.

With other charms the rival vision glow'd,
And from her dress her tinsel beauties flow'd.
A fluttering robe her pamper'd shape conceal'd,
And seem'd to shade the charms it best reveal'd:
Its form contrived her faulty size to grace,
Its hue, to give fresh lustre to her face.
Her plaited hair, disguised, with brilliants glared;
Her cheeks the ruby's neighbouring lustre shared;
The gaudy topaz lent its gay supplies,
And every gem that strikes less curious eyes;
Exposed her breast, with foreign sweets perfumed,
And round her brow a roseate garland bloom'd.
Soft smiling, blushing lips conceal'd her wiles;
Yet, ah! the blushes artful as the smiles.
Oft, gazing on her shade, the enraptured fair
Decreed the substance well deserved her care;
Her thoughts, to others' charms malignly blind,
Center'd in that, and were to that confined;
And if on others' eyes a glance were thrown,
'Twas but to watch the influence of her own:
Much like her guardian, fair Cythera's queen,
When for her warrior she refines her mien;
Or when, to bless her Delian favourite's arms,
The radiant fair invigorates her charms:
Much like her pupil, Egypt's sportive dame,
Her dress expressive, and her air the same,
When her gay bark o'er silver Cydnus roll'd,
And all the emblazon'd streamers waved in gold.
Such shone the vision, nor forbore to move
The fond contagious airs of lawless love;
Each wanton eye deluding glances fired,
And amorous dimples on each cheek conspired.
Lifeless her gait, and slow; with seeming pain
She dragg'd her loitering limbs along the plain,
Yet made some faint efforts, and first approach'd the swain.
So glaring draughts, with tawdry lustre bright,
Spring to the view, and rush upon the sight;
More slowly charms a Raphael's chaster air,
Waits the calm search, and pays the searcher's care.

Wrapp'd in a pleased suspense, the youth survey'd
The various charms of each attractive maid:
Alternate each he view'd, and each admired,
And found, alternate, varying flames inspired:
Quick o'er their forms his eyes with pleasure ran,
When she, who first approach'd him, first began:-

'Hither, dear boy, direct thy wandering eyes;
'Tis here the lovely Vale of Pleasure lies:
Debate no more, to me thy life resign;
Each sweet which Nature can diffuse is mine:
For me the nymph diversifies her power,
Springs in a tree, or blossoms in a flower;
To please my ear, she tunes the linnet's strains;
To please my eye, with lilies paints the plains;
To form my couch, in mossy beds she grows;
To gratify my smell, perfumes the rose;
Reveals the fair, the fertile scene you see,
And swells the vegetable world for me.

'Let the gull'd fool the toils of war pursue,
Where bleed the many to enrich the few
Where Chance from Courage claims the boasted prize;
Where, though she give, your country oft denies.
Industrious thou shalt Cupid's wars maintain,
And ever gently fight his soft campaign;
His darts alone shalt wield, his wounds endure,
Yet only suffer, to enjoy the cure.
Yield but to me-a choir of nymphs shall rise,
And fire thy breast, and bless thy ravish'd eyes:
Their beauteous cheeks a fairer rose shall wear,
A brighter lily on their necks appear;
Where fondly thou thy favour'd head shalt rest,
Soft as the down that swells the cygnet's nest;
While Philomel in each soft voice complains,
And gently lulls thee with mellifluous strains;
Whils



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