ELEGY II. On*
ELEGY II. On** It is now a garden belonging to Marchese di Corré. the MAUSOLEUM of AUGUSTUS. To the Right Honourable George Bussy Villiers, Viscount Villiers. Written at ROME, 1756.
1 AMID these mould'ring walls, this marble round,
2 Where slept the Heroes of the Julian name,
3 Say, shall we linger still in thought profound,
4 And meditate the mournful paths to fame?
5 What tho' no cypress shades, in funeral rows,
6 No sculptur'd urns, the last records of Fate,
7 O'er the shrunk terrace wave their baleful boughs,
8 Or breathe in storied emblems of the great;
9 Yet not with heedless eye will we survey
10 The scene tho' chang'd, nor negligently tread;
11 These variegated walks, however gay,
12 Were once the silent mansions of the dead.
13 In every shrub, in every flow'ret's bloom
14 That paints with different hues yon smiling plain,
15 Some Hero's ashes issue from the tomb,
16 And live a vegetative life again.
17 For matter dies not, as the Sages say,
18 But shifts to other forms the pliant mass,
19 When the free spirit quits its cumb'rous clay,
20 And sees, beneath, the rolling Planets pass.
21 Perhaps, my Villiers, for I sing to Thee,
22 Perhaps, unknowing of the bloom it gives,
23 In yon fair scyon of Apollo's tree
24 The sacred dust of young Marcellus lives.
25 Pluck not the leaf — 'twere sacrilege to wound
26 Th' ideal memory of so sweet a shade;
27 In these sad seats an early grave he found,
* He is said to be the first person buried in this monument.the first rites to gloomy Dis convey'd.
† Quantus ille virum magnum Mavortis ad urbem Campus aget gemitus!thou Field of Mars, that oft hadst known
30 His youthful triumphs in the mimic war,
31 Thou heardst the heart-felt universal groan
32 When o'er thy bosom roll'd the funeral car.
‡thou Tuscan stream, where oft he glow'd
— Vel quae, Tyberine, videbis
Funera, cum tumulum praeterlabere recentem.
34 In sportive strugglings with th' opposing wave,
35 Fast by the recent tomb thy waters flow'd
36 While wept the wise, the virtuous, and the brave.
37 O lost too soon! — yet why lament a fate
38 By thousands envied, and by Heaven approv'd.
39 Rare is the boon to those of longer date
40 To live, to die, admir'd, esteem'd, belov'd.
41 Weak are our judgments, and our passions warm,
42 And slowly dawns the radiant morn of truth,
43 Our expectations hastily we form,
44 And much we pardon to ingenuous youth.
45 Too oft we satiate on th' applause we pay
46 To rising Merit, and resume the Crown;
47 Full many a blooming genius, snatch'd away,
48 Has fallen lamented who had liv'd unknown.
49 For hard the task, O Villiers, to sustain
50 Th' important burthen of an early fame;
51 Each added day some added worth to gain,
52 Prevent each wish, and answer every claim.
53 Be thou Marcellus, with a length of days!
54 But O remember, whatsoe'er thou art,
55 The most exalted breath of human praise
56 To please indeed must echo from the heart.
57 Tho' thou be brave, be virtuous, and be wise,
58 By all, like him, admir'd, esteem'd, belov'd,
59 'Tis from within alone true Fame can rise,
60 The only happy, is the Self-approv'd.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): ELEGY II. On the MAUSOLEUM of AUGUSTUS. To the Right Honourable George Bussy Villiers, Viscount Villiers. Written at ROME, 1756.
Author: William Whitehead
Themes: hopelessness; vanity of life; virtue; vice; fame
Genres: heroic couplet; elegy
References: DMI 27812
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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.
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