1 ON Tiber's banks, Tiber, whose waters glide
2 In slow meanders down to Gaigra's side;
3 And circling all the horrid mountain round,
4 Rushes impetuous to the deep profound;
5 Rolls o'er the ragged rocks with hideous yell;
6 Collects its waves beneath the earth's vast shell:
7 There for a while in loud confusion hurl'd,
8 It crumbles mountains down and shakes the world.
9 Till borne upon the pinions of the air,
10 Through the rent earth the bursting waves appear;
11 Fiercely propell'd the whiten'd billows rise,
12 Break from the cavern and ascend the skies:
13 Then lost and conquer'd by superior force,
14 Through hot Arabia holds its rapid course.
15 On Tiber's banks where scarlet jass'mines bloom,
16 And purple aloes shed a rich perfume:
17 Where, when the sun is melting in his heat,
18 The reeking tygers find a cool retreat;
19 Bask in the sedges, lose the sultry beam,
20 And wanton with their shadows in the stream,[Page 62]
21 On Tiber's banks, by sacred priests rever'd,
22 Where in the days of old a god appear'd:
23 'Twas in the dead of night, at Chalma's feast,
24 The tribe of Alra slept around the priest.
25 He spoke; as evening thunders bursting near,
26 His horrid accents broke upon the ear;
27 Attend, Alraddas, with your sacred priest!
28 This day the sun is rising in the east;
29 The sun, which shall illumine all the earth,
30 Now, now isrising, in a mortal birth.
31 He vanish'd like a vapour of the night,
32 And sunk away in a faint blaze of light.
33 Swift from the branches of the holy oak,
34 Horror, confusion, fear, and torment broke:
35 And still when Midnight trims her mazy lamp,
36 They take their way thro' Tiber's wat'ry swamp.
37 On Tiber's banks, close rank'd, a warring train,
38 Stretch'd to the distant edge of Galca's plain:
39 So when arriv'd at Gaigra's highest steep,
40 We view the wide expansion of the deep;
41 See in the gilding of her wat'ry robe,
42 The quick declension of the circling globe;
43 From the blue sea a chain of mountains rise,
44 Blended at once with water and with skes:
45 Beyond our sight in vast extension curl'd,
46 The check of waves, the guardians of the world. [Page 63]
47 Strong were the warriors, as the ghost of Cawn,
48 Who threw the Hill-of-archers, to the lawn:
49 When the soft earth at his appearance fled;
50 And rising billows play'd around his head:
51 When a strong tempest rising from the main,
52 Dash'd the full clouds, unbroken on the plain.
53 Nicou, immortal in the sacred song,
54 Held the red sword of war, and led the strong;
55 From his own tribe the sable warriors came,
56 Well try'd in battle, and well known in fame.
57 Nicou, descended from the god of war,
58 Who liv'd coeval with the morning star:
59 Narada was his name; who cannot tell,
60 How all the world thro' great Narada fell!
61 Vichon, the god who rul'd above the skies,
62 Look'd on Narada, but with envious eyes:
63 The warrior dar'd him, ridicul'd his might,
64 Bent his white bow, and summon'd him to fight.
65 Vichon, disdainful, bade his lightnings fly,
66 And scatter'd burning arrows in the sky;
67 Threw down a star the armour of his feet,
68 To burn the air with supernat'ral heat;
69 Bid a loud tempest roar beneath the ground;
70 Lifted the sea, and all the earth was drown'd.
71 Narada still escap'd; a sacred tree
72 Lifted him up, and bore him thro' the sea. [Page 64]
73 The waters still ascending fierce and high,
74 He tower'd into the chambers of the sky:
75 There Vichon sat; his armour on his bed,
76 He thought Narada with the mighty dead.
77 Before his seat the heavenly warrior stands,
78 The lightning quiv'ring in his yellow hands.
79 The god astonish'd dropt; hurl'd from the shore,
80 He drop'd to torments, and to rise no more.
81 Head-long he falls; 'tis his own arms compel,
82 Condemn'd in ever-burning fires to dwell.
83 From this Narada, mighty Nicou sprung;
84 The mighty Nicou, furious, wild and young.
85 Who led th'em battled archers to the field,
86 And bore a thunderbolt upon his shield:
87 That shield his glorious father died to gain,
88 When the white warriors fled along the plain:
89 When the full sails could not provoke the flood,
90 Till Nicou came, and swell'd the seas with blood.
91 Slow at the end of his robust array,
92 The mighty warrior pensive took his way:
93 Against the son of Nair, the young Rorest,
94 Once the companion of his youthful breast.
95 Strong were the passions of the son of Nair,
96 Strong, as the tempest of the evening air.
97 Insatiate in desire; fierce as the boar;
98 Firm in resolve as Cannie's rocky shore. [Page 65]
99 Long had the gods endeavour'd to destroy,
100 All Nicou's friendship, happiness, and joy:
101 They sought in vain, 'till Vicat, Vichon's son,
102 Never in feats of wickedness outdone,
103 Saw Nica, sister to the mountain king,
104 Drest beautiful, with all the flowers of spring:
105 He saw and scatter'd poison in her eyes;
106 From limb to limb, in varied forms he flies;
107 Dwelt on her crimson lip, and added grace
108 To every glossy feature of her face.
109 Rorest was fir'd with passion at the sight,
110 Friendship and honour, sunk to Vicat's right:
111 He saw, he lov'd, and burning with desire,
112 Bore the soft maid from brother, sister, sire.
113 Pining with sorrow, Nica faded, died,
114 Like a fair aloe in its morning pride.
115 This brought the warrior to the bloody mead,
116 And sent to young Rorest the threat'ning reed.
117 He drew his army forth: Oh! Need I tell!
118 That Nicou conquer'd, and the lover fell:
119 His breathless army mantled all the plain;
120 And Death sat smiling on the heaps of slain.
121 The battle ended, with his reeking dart,
122 The pensive Nicou pierc'd his beating heart:
123 And to his mourning valiant warriors cry'd,
124 I, and my sister's ghost are satisfy'd.