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Fortune an adverse wayward course may run,
The trench is pass'd, and, favour'd by the night,
"Now," cries the first, "for deeds of blood prepare,
Watch thou, while many a dreaming chieftain dies:
Half the long night in childish games was pass'd,
In slaughter'd fold, the keepers lost in sleep,
Nor less the other's deadly vengeance came, But falls on feeble crowds without a name; His wound unconscious Fadus scarce can feel, Yet wakeful Rhæsus sees the threatening steel; His coward breast behind a jar he hides, And vainly in the weak defence confides; Full in his heart, the falchion search'd his veins, The reeking weapon bears alternate stains; Through wine and blood, commingling as they flow, One feeble spirit seeks the shades below. Now where Messapus dwelt they bend their way, Whose fires emit a faint and trembling ray; There, unconfined, behold each grazing steed, Unwatch'd, unheeded, on the herbage feed: Brave Nisus here arrests his comrade's arm, Too flush'd with carnage, and with conquest warm: "Hence let us haste, the dangerous path is pass'd; Full foes enough to-night have breathed their last: Soon will the day those eastern clouds adorn; Now let us speed, nor tempt the rising morn.'
With silver arms, with various art emboss'd, What bowls and mantles in confusion toss'd, They leave regardless! yet one glittering prize Attracts the younger hero's wandering eyes; The gilded harness Rhamnes' coursers felt, The gems which stud the monarch's golden belt: This from the pailid corse was quickly torn, Once by a line of former chieftains worn. Th' exulting boy the studded girdle wears, Messapus' helm his head in triumph bears; Then from the tents their cautious steps they bond, To seek the vale where safer paths extend.
Just at this hour, a band of Latian horse To Turnus' camp pursue their destined course: While the slow foot their tardy march delay, The knights, impatient, spur along the way: Three hundred mail-clad men, by Volscens led, To Turnus with their master's promise sped; Now they approach the trench, and view the walls, When, on the left, a light reflection falls;
The plunder'd helmet, through the waning night,
With brakes entangled, scarce a path between, Dreary and dark appears the sylvan scene: Euryalus his heavy spoils impede, The boughs aud winding turns his steps mislead; But Nisus scours along the forest's maze To where Latinus' steeds in safety graze, Then backward o'er the plain his eyes extend, On every side they seek his absent friend. "O God! my boy," he cries, of me bereft, In what impending perils art thou left!" Listening he runs-above the waving trees, Tumultuous voices swell the passing breeze; The war-cry rises, thundering hoofs around Wake the dark echoes of the trembling ground. Again he turns, of footsteps hears the noise; The sound elates, the sight his hope destroys: The hapless boy a ruffian train surround, While lengthening shades his weary way confound; Him with loud shouts the furious knights pursue, Struggling in vain, a captive to the crew. What can his friend 'gainst thronging numbers daro? Ah! must he rush his comrade's fate to share? What force, what aid, what stratagem essay, Back to redeem the Latian spoiler's prey? His life a votive ransom nobly give, Or die with him for whom he wish'd to live? Poising with strength his lifted lance on high, On Luna's orb he cast his frenzied eye :"Goddess serene, transcending every star! Queen of the sky, whose beams are seen afar! By night heaven owns thy sway, by day the grove, When, as chaste Dian, here thou deign'st to rove : If e'er myself, or sire, have sought to grace Thine altars with the produce of the chase, Speed, speed my dart to pierce yon vaunting crowd, To free my friend, and scatter far the proud. Thus having said, the hissing dart he flung; Through parted shades the hurtling weapon sung ; The thirsty point in Sulmo's entrails lay, Transfix'd his heart, and stretch'd him on the clay: He sobs, he dies, -the troop in wild amaze, Unconscious whence the death, with horror gaze. While pale they stare, through Tagus' temples riven, A second shaft with equal force is driven.
Fierce Volscens rolls around his lowering eyes:
But fiery Nisus stems the battle's tide, Revenge his leader and despair his guide: Volscens he seeks amidst the gathering host, Volscens must soon appease his comrade's ghost: Steel, flashing, pours on steel, foe crowds on foe; Rage nerves his arm, fate gleams in every blow; In vain beneath unnumber'd wounds he bleeds, Nor wounds, nor death, distracted Nisus heeds; In viewless circies wheel'd, his falchion flies, Nor quits the hero's grasp till Volscens dies; Deep in his throat its end the weapon found, The tyrant's soul fled groaning through the wound. Thus Nisus all his fond affection provedDying, revenged the fate of him he loved; Then on his bosom sought his wonted place, And death was heavenly in his friend's embraco.
Celestial pair! if aught my verse can claim, Wafted on Time's broad pinion, yours is fame! Ages on ages shall your fate admire, No future day shall see your names expire, While stands the Capitol, immortal dome ! And vanquish'd millions hail their empress, Rome.
TRANSLATION FROM THE MEDEA OF EURIPIDES
WHEN fierce conflicting passions urge
The breast where love is wont to glow,
Which rolls the tide of human woe?
The hope of praise, the dread of shame,
Can rouse the tortured breast no more;
But if affection gently thrills
The soul by purer dreams possess'd,
In love can soothe the aching breast:
Fair Venus! from thy native heaven,
'The sweetest boon the gods have given?
But never from thy golden bow
May I beneath the shaft expire!
From me be ever distant far!
May no distracting thoughts destroy
Which hover faithful hearts above!
May I with some fond lover sigh,
My native soil! beloved before,
Now dearer as my peaceful home,
A hapless banish'd wretch to roam!
May I resign this fleeting breath!
A doom to me far worse than death.
Have I not heard the exile's sigh?