« PreviousContinue »
O fill my rising song with sacred fire,
Ye tuneful Nine, ye fweet celestial quire !
From Helicon's imbow’ring height repair,
Attend my labours, and reward my pray’r.
The dreadful toils of raging Mars I write,
The springs of conteft, and the fields of fight;
How threat'ning Mice advanc'd with warlike gracey
And wag'd dire combats with the croaking race.
Not louder tumults fhook Olympus' tow'rs,
When earth-born giants dar'd immortal pow'rs.
These equal acts an equal glory claim,
And thus the Muse records the tale of fame.
Once on a time, fatigu'd and out of breath,
And just escap'd the stretching claws of death,
A gentle Mouse, whom cats pursu'd in vain,
Fled swift of-foot across the neighb'ring plain,
Hung o'er a brink, his eager thirst to cool,
And dipt his whiskers in the standing pool ;
When near a courteous Frog advanc'd his head
And from the waters, hoarse-resounding said,
What art thou, stranger? what the line you boast ?
What chance has cast thee panting on our coast ?
With stricteft truth let all thy words agree,
Nor let me find a faithless Mouse in thee.
If worthy, friendship, proffer'd friendship take,
And ent'ring view the pleasurable lake :
Range o'er my palace, in my bounty share,
And glad return from hospitable fare.
This filver realm extends beneath my sway,
And me, their monarch, all its Frogs obey.
Great Physignathus I, from Peleus' race,
Begot in fair Hydromede's embrace,
' Where by the nuptial bank that paints his side, The swift Eridanus delights to glide.
Thee too, thy form, thy strength, and port proclaim
A scepter'd King; a son of martial fame ;
Then trace thy line, and aid my guessing eyes.
Thus ceas'd the Frog, and thus the Mouse replies.
Known to the Gods, the men, the birds that fly
Thro' wild expanfes of the midway sky,
My name resounds; and if unknown to thee,
The foul of great Plycarpax lives in me.
Of brave Troxartas’ line, whose sleeky down
In love compress’d Lychomile the brown.
My mother she, and princess of the plains
Where-e'er her father Pternotractas reigns :
Born where a cabin lifts its airy Ined,
With figs, with nuts, with vary'd dainties fed.
But since our natures nought in common know,
From what foundation can a friendship grow?
These curling waters o'er thy palace roll;
But man's high food supports my princely soul.
In vain the circled loaves' attempt to lye
Conceal'd in flaskets from my curious eye.
In vain the tripe that boasts the whitest hue,
In vain the gilded bacon thuns my view,
In vain the cheeses, offspring of the paile,
Or honey'd cakes, which Gods themfelves regale.
And as in arts I shine, in arms I fight,
Mix'd with the bravest, and unknown to fight.
Tho' large to mine, the human form appear,
Not man himself can smite my soul with fear,
Sly to the bed with filent steps I go,
Attempt his finger, or attack his toe,
And fix indented wounds with dext'rous skill,
Sleeping he feels, and only seems to feel.
Yet have we foes which direful dangers cause,
Grim owls with talons arm’d, and cats with claws,
And that false trap, the den of filent fate,
Where Death his ambush plants around the bait :
All-dreaded these, and dreadful o'er the rest
The potent warriors of the tabby vest,
If to the dark we fly, the dark they trace,
And rend our heroes of the nibling race,
But me, nor stalks, nor watrish herbs delight,
Nor can the crimson radish charm my fight,
The lake-resounding Frogs selected fare,
Which not a Mouse of
taste can bear. As thus the downy prince his mind exprest, His answer thus the croaking king addreft.
Thy words luxuriant on thy dainties rove, And, stranger, we can boast of bounteous Jove : We sport in water, or we dance on land, And born amphibious, food from both command. But trust thyself where wonders ask thy view, And safely tempt those seas, I'll bear thee thro': Ascend my shoulders, firmly keep thy seat, And reach my marshy court, and feast in state.
He said, and bent his back; with nimble bound Leaps the light Mouse, and clasps his arms around, Then wond'ring floats, and sees with glad survey The winding banks resembling ports at sea. But when aloft the curling water rides, And wets with azure wave his downy fides,