— Mortalis in unum
Quodque caput, vultu mutabilis, albus an ater.
Horace, Epistles 2.2
, ll. 188-9.
1 TORN from the fruitful spot on which I grew,
2 Me innocent unnumber'd pains pursue;
3 Pains more afflicting, as from man they flow,
4 From parent man! for birth to man I owe.
5 Sometimes on spikes of steel my nerves they rend,
6 Sometimes asunder split from end to end;[Page 315]
7 In boiling cauldrons now immers'd I lie,
8 Now doom'd the rage of drying fires to try:
9 There while in double torment scorch'd and drown'd,
10 Fast tied I writhe the rigid stake around.
11 Last their fierce hate its utmost effort tries
12 With all Barbarian pomp of sacrifice.
13 The purple fillet round my temples wreathes,
14 From every part the scented unguent breathes;
15 O'er my white locks the sacred flower is spread
16 Whilst on the fatal block is plac'd my head.
17 Yet with fix'd constancy I bear my doom;
18 And constancy at last will overcome.
19 From all my tryals I return at length,
20 My worth increas'd, my beauty, and my strength.
21 The suffering martyr thus in torment dies,
22 In sainted state more glorious to arise.
23 And now I re-assume my native state,
24 My torturers now beneath their burden sweat,
25 Slaves in their turn to me, and think it pride
26 If on their subject necks I deign to ride.
27 Yet still my filial duty I retain,
28 Unchang'd by honours, as unmov'd by pain.
29 Still to mankind a friend, I daily shed
30 My warmest blessings on his parent head;
31 Around him still with fond embraces twine,
32 As round the elm her tendrils curls the vine.
33 Nor quit him e'er till he to rest repairs,
34 And every morn renew my constant cares.
35 Ready alike on rich and poor to wait;
36 I suit myself to every different state.
37 With priest in whitish dress array'd I shine,
38 Emblem of purity and truth divine.
39 His solemn face the doctor owes to me,
40 His solemn face, to which he owes his fee.
41 At bench, or bar, I add a dignity
42 To th' upright sentence, or rhetorick plea;
43 Hence without me no judge explains the laws,
44 Nor coifed council pleads the puzzling cause:
45 In fullest floods my bounty showers on them
46 Profuse, descending to the garment's hem.
47 Gorgeous in silken garb I grace the beau;
48 And all around ambrosial fragrance throw;
49 Nor less decorous, tho' with dust o'erspread,
50 When to the camp the valiant warriors lead,
51 Gorgonian terrors to each mien I add,
52 And still their weakest part with care I shade.