ODE ON TRUE GREATNESS.
1 LET who will climb the towery steep
2 Of sovereignty, with slippery strides,
3 Where, on the bosom of the deep
4 Below, the pitchy pinnace rides:
5 A death's head flag, unfurl'd to view,
6 Waves ghastly; and a sable crew
7 Gaze from the deck, and seem to wait,
8 Dash'd down the pointed rocks, the rash unfortunate.
9 Mine be the low and level way,
10 Amid the quiet vale to stray,[Page 92]
11 Safe in some sylvan lodge to dwell,
12 And lull'd by the clear stream that speeds
13 By shallow fords to rustling reeds,
14 And small lakes, fring'd with homely aspodel.
15 There sits the calm, the rural sage,
16 With nature's volume fair in view;
17 And meditates the shining page
18 Replete with wonders ever new:
19 While Wisdom points, on either hand,
20 Where plants, and herbs, and flowrets stand
21 In emerald groves, and shadowy glades,
22 In furzy moors, or musky-smelling meads.
23 Truth, in her liquid glass serene,
24 To him explains each moral scene:
25 Oft, in the downward skies, a train
26 Of tinsel insects he surveys,
27 Or glow-worm, with fallacious blaze,
28 Just emblem of court greatness, srail and vain.
29 Oft in his woodland walk he stops to mark
30 The spirited and youthful lark,
31 Warn'd by the dawning in the dappled east,
32 Lift his melodious flight thro' upper air;
33 Late the low tenant of the rushy nest
34 Now sings unrival'd in his radiant sphere.
35 The pondering hermit then sees Merit roam,
36 Above the nurslings of the courtly dome,
37 On Glory's sparkling wheels, rais'd from its humble dome.
38 First of the families of fame,
39 That Rome's imperial city grace,
40 From rural huts and hamlets came
41 The Fabian and Fabrician race;
42 With that firm judge that could contemn
43 And banish the proud diadem.
44 To Sabine fields she owes the vine,
45 Whose tendrils yet round Virtue's column twine;
46 Which braves Oppression's wintry breath,
47 And stands the icy touch of Death.
48 The leafless flock, that Fortune dooms
49 To wither, with returning spring
50 (While the glad flocks of Freedom sing)
51 Profuse of promis'd sweets, with double vigour blooms.
52 Hark! hark! 'tis Brutus' name I hear,
53 Join'd with his fair, heroic bride;
54 To Honour's hallow'd fane they steer
55 Along the favourable tide;
56 To her and Safety there to place
57 The tablet, vow'd to human race:
58 Blow, every kind and gentle gale
59 Of gratitude, and fan the swelling sail.
60 High on a fleecy couch reclin'd,
61 Of white and amber clouds combin'd,
62 Rome's genius lifts his august head;
63 Now slow descending nearer draws,
64 Hail'd with the popular applause,
65 And bids the solemn pageantry proceed.
66 Go, the triumphal ornaments display;
67 Ye sacred Salii lead the way:
68 Next led the order of Patrician blood,
69 In awful march a numerous train compose,
70 And follow'd by the jubilating crowd;
71 As Cybelé thro' Phrygian cities goes,
72 Majestic, and with golden turrets crown'd:
73 A hundred gods her gorgeous car surround,
74 A thousand tongues acclaim; the clanging cymbals sound.