Henry Baker

(1698-1774 / England)

Medulla Poetarum Romanorum - VOL. I. (Hero - Hospitality)


Hero.
See General. Warrior.

But, by the Head entire, o'ertopping All,
Turnus himself with beauteous Form appears,
High in the Van, and graceful shines in Arms.
His crested Helmet with a triple Plume
Tow'ring, sustains Chimaera, from her Jaws
Breathing Ætnean Fires; the more the Fight
Kindles in Rage, and rolls with Tides of Blood:
The more she storms, and burns with baleful Flames.
With Horns erected, Io cast in Gold
(Illustrious Argument!) his Buckler grac'd,
An Heifer now, and all with Hair o'ergrown:
Argus her Watch: and Inachus her Sire,
Pouring his River from his graven Urn.--

Next, Aventinus drives his Chariot round
The Latian Plains, with Palms and Lawrels crown'd.
Proud of his Steeds, he smokes along the Field:
His Father's Hydra fills the ample Shield:
A hundred Serpents hiss about the Brims:
The Son of Hercules he justly seems,
By his broad Shoulders and gigantic Limbs.
For Arms his Men long Piles and Jav'lins bore,
And Poles with pointed Steel their Foes in Battle gore.
Himself on Foot, in savage Pomp appears,
A Lion's Hide he like his Father wears:
About his Shoulders hangs the shaggy Skin,
The Teeth, and gaping Jaws severely grin.
All rough, and with Herculean Terror drest,
He strides into the Hall, a horrid Guest.--

Pallas himself advances in the Midst,
Conspicuous in his Cloak, and painted Arms:
As when the Star by Venus most belov'd,
Bright Lucifer, just wash'd in Ocean's Waves,
Upraises in the Sky his sacred Head,
And dissipates the Shades.--

The Senior rises: with his homely Coat
His Body cloaths; and fastens to his Feet
The Tyrrhene Sandals: then th' Arcadian Sword
Girds to his Side, and Shoulders: on the Left
A Panther's Hide retorts: two trusty Dogs,
From the high Gate, attend their Master's Steps.--

Forthwith new Fire burns sparkling in his Eyes:
With dreadful Clank his shining Armour rings:
High on his Crest the bloody--colour'd Plumes
Tremble: and Lightning flashes from his Shield.--

Now Turnus, raging, arms him for the Fight;
In his Rutulian Corslet clad, and rough
With brazen Scales; he sheaths his Legs in Gold,
His Head yet bare: then buckles to his Side
His faithful Sword: from the high Fort runs down,
And shines all o'er in Gold: with martial Pride
Exulting, and in Hope prevents the Foe.--

Young Ornitus bestrode a Hunter Steed,
Swift for the Chace, and of Apulian Breed:
He at a Distance rode, in Arms unknown,
O'er his broad Back an Ox's Hide was thrown,
His Helm a Wolf's, whose gaping Jaws were spread
A Cov'ring for his Cheeks, and grinn'd around his Head.
He clench'd within his Hand an iron Prong,
And tow'r'd above the rest, conspicuous in the Throng.--

Sacred to Cybele, and once her Priest,
Chloreus, by Chance, all bright in Phrygian Arms,
At Distance shone, and spurr'd his foaming Steed:
The Steed rich Trappings cloth'd, compact with Scales
Of Brass, and Gold, like Feathers wrought: Himself
Gaudy in Purple, and Barbaric Dye,
Shot Lycian Arrows from a Cretan Bow.
The sounding Bow which from his Shoulders hung,
Glitter'd with Gold: and golden was the Helm
That deck'd his priestly Head: His saffron Cloak,
And linnen Folds, which rattled, as he mov'd,
With yellow Gold He in a Knot confin'd.
With Needle Work embroider'd were his Robes,
And Asian Cuisses, that his Thighs enclos'd.--

A Lion's Hide around his Loins he wore:
A well pois'd Jav'lin to the Field he bore
Headed with glitt'ring Steel; a pointed Dart,
And the best Weapon, an undaunted Heart.--

Achilles in his Car had scour'd the Plain,
And clear'd the Trojan Ranks.--
His white--main'd Steeds, that bow'd beneath the Yoke,
He chear'd to Courage, with a gentle Stroke:
Then urg'd his fiery Chariot on the Foe,
And shook his quiv'ring Lance, in act to throw.--


Homer.

The mighty Bard, in lasting Numbers sings,
Ilium's long Wars: the King of Fifty Kings:
Brave Hector's Brand, the bloody dreadful Field,
And Troy secure behind the Hero's Shield.
He sings Ulysses, and his wandring Years
In Time and Glory equal to his Wars:
He sings how twice he conq'ring plow'd the Main,
While Scylla roar'd, and Neptune rag'd in vain,
And how at home he fix'd his tott'ring Throne,
Redeem'd his Honour, and secur'd his Son:
Usurping Woers felt his thund'ring Sword,
And willing Nations knew their native Lord.

His Subjects these: from whose abundant Spring
Succeeding Poets draw the Songs they sing:
From him they take, from adorn their Themes,
And into little Channels cut his Streams:
Rich in his Store.--


Hope.

When from this wicked World the Gods withdrew,
HOPE stay'd behind, nor hence amongst 'em flew.
She cheers the shackl'd Slave that digs the Mine,
And cries, Sweet Liberty will soon be thine.
Thro' her, tho' wreck'd, where not a Shore he spies,
Amidst the Waves his Arms the Sailor plies.
Physicians often give the Patient o'er,
But Hope still stays, tho' Death be at the Door.
Prisoners, condemn'd, in Dungeons hope Reprieve,
Nor ev'n on the Cross does Hope the Wretched leave.--

Death long ago had ta'n my Grief away,
But flatt'ring Hope still urges on Delay,
And says to Morrow'll bring a better Day.
Hope chears the Peasant when he turns the Soil,
And promises a Harvest from his Toil.
Hope bids the artful Fowler Springes lay,
And still assures him of the wish'd--for Prey.
The patient Angler stretching out his Reed,
Hopes on the cover'd Hook to catch the finny Breed.
The Slave in Hopes of Liberty remains,
And sings, tho' on his Legs he hears the rattling Chains.--

How void of Reason are our Hopes and Fears!--


Horse.

--High his Neck,
His Head acute, his Belly thin, his Back
Fleshy, and round: his Chest with swelling Knots
Luxuriant: (best for Colour is the Bay,
And dappled: worst the Sorrel, and the White
Then, if the Clank of distant Arms is heard,
He paws, impatient, quickens his sharp Ears,
And quivers ev'ry Joint, and snorting curbs
The Smoke and Fire which in his Nostrils roll.
His full thick Mane on his Right Shoulder plays:
A double spinal Bone his Chine divides:
His sounding Hoof with solid Horn upturns
The crumbling Mould, and rings against the Ground.--

First be the Steed accustom'd to behold
The Warrior's Arms, and Courage: to endure
The Trumpet, and the rumbling Chariot's Noise,
And hear the Bridles rattle in the Stalls:
Then more and more to love the soothing Sound
Of the clap'd Chest, and proudly to rejoyce
In the fond Praises of the busy Groom.
Thus, when first sever'd from the suckling Dam,
Let him be exercis'd, and taught to bear
Soft pliant Headstalls: in his weaker Age
Yet trembling, nor experienc'd from his Years.
But when another Summer to the Third
Is added: Let him now begin to wheel
In artful Rings: with sounding Hoofs to form
His Steps: to manage his alternate Feet
Sinuous and flexile: and to paw, and bound
With seeming Labour: Then to dare the Winds
In Fleetness: and, as if unrein'd, to fly
O'er the wide Plain, nor press th' unprinted Sand.
A Steed thus train'd, or in the spacious Cirque
Will sweat, and labour round the Eleïan Goal,
And from his Mouth throw Flakes of bloody Foam:
Or more obsequious draw the Belgic Car.--

First daring Ericthonius to the Car
Four Horses join'd, and rode on rapid Wheels:
The Lapithae first, mounting on their Backs,
Added the Reins: And taught them, under Arms,
Graceful to form the Steps, to wheel, and turn,
Insult the Ground, and proudly pace the Plain.--

So, loose with broken Reins, the sprightly Steed
Flies from his Stall, and gains the open Field:
Or to the Pastures, and the female Herd
He bends his Course: or to the wonted Stream,
To bathe his Limbs: He neighs, and bounds from Earth,
Luxuriant, prancing, with his Chest erect,
And Head high toss'd in Air: his waving Mane
Flows on his Neck, and o'er his Shoulders plays.--


Hospitality.
See Banquet. Munificence.

Here Jove with Hermes came: but in Disguise
Of mortal Men conceal'd their Deities:
One laid aside his Thunder, one his Rod,
And many toilsom Steps together trod.
For Harbour at a thousand Doors they knock'd:
Not one of all the thousand but was lock'd.
At last an hospitable Cot they found,
Whose humble Roof, not far above the Ground,
Was thatch'd with Weeds and Straw together bound.
There Baucis and Philemon liv'd, and there,
Of equal Years, grown old together, were.

From lofty Roofs the Gods repuls'd before,
Now, stooping, enter'd thro' the little Door:
The Man (their hearty Welcome first express'd,)
A common Settle drew for either Guest,
Inviting each his weary Limbs to rest.
But e'er they sat, officious Baucis lays
Two Cushions stuft with Straw, the Seat to raise:
Coarse, but the best she had: then rakes the Load
Of Ashes from the Hearth, and spreads abroad
The living Coals; and, lest they should expire,
With Leaves, and Bark, she feeds the feeble Fire:
It smoaks: she puffs it with her trembling Breath,
Till in a chearful Blaze the Flames burst forth:
Brushwood, and Chips she adds, to strengthen these,
And over all some Boughs of rotten Trees.

The Fire thus form'd, she hangs her little Pot:
Then picks, and cuts the Sprouts, her Husband got
From his own Ground, a small well water'd Spot.
High o'er the Hearth a Chine of Bacon hung:
Good old Philemon seiz'd it with a Prong:
And from the sooty Raftor drew it down,
Then cut a Slice: but scarce enough for one.
This in the smoking Pot was plung'd to boil,
While they with pleasing Chat the Time beguile.

A Beam there was, on which a beechen Pail
Hung by the Handle, on a driven Nail:
This, fill'd with Water gently warm'd, they set
Before their Guests: in this they bath'd their Feet.
A Mattress stuff'd with Moss lay on the Bed;
Sallow the Feet, the Borders, and the Sted;
And of a Piece the homely Coverlid:
The Cloaths were old and coarse: yet such as these
They us'd alone, at Feasts, on Holidays.

The palsy'd Housewife, tucking up her Gown,
The Table sets: th' invited Gods lye down.
The Trivet Table of a Foot was lame,
A Blot which prudent Baucis overcame:
Thrusting beneath the limping Leg a Shred,
The tott'ring Board she on a Level rear'd:
Then rubb'd it o'er with newly gather'd Mint,
A wholsome Herb, that breath'd a grateful Scent.
First on the Board, Minerva's Gift, were seen
The party--colour'd Olives, black, and green:
Autumnal Cornels next, in order serv'd,
In Lees of Wine well pickled, and preserv'd:
Endive, and Radishes, Eggs roasted rare,
And Cheese--Curd newly press'd:--all plac'd on earthen Ware.
A Pitcher of the same, with Figures wrought,
And beechen Bowls, were to the Side--board brought,
Varnish'd with Wax they were, and lin'd within.--

And now the smoking Mess was serv'd to Board,
And with new Wine again the Pitcher stor'd:
Then came the second Course, like that before,
Plumbs, Apples, Nuts, and of their Winter Store
Dry Figs, and Grapes, and wrinkled Dates were set
In Canisters, t' enlarge the little Treat:
All these a milk white Honey--comb surround,
Which, in the midst, the rural Banquet crown'd.
But the kind Hosts their Entertainment grace,
With hearty Welcome, and an open Face:
In all they did, you might discern with Ease,
Sincere Good--will, and a Desire to please.

Mean time the beechen Bowls went round, and still,
Tho' often empty'd, were observ'd to fill:
Devotion seiz'd the Pair, to see the Feast
With Wine, and of no common Grape, increas'd:
And up they held their Hands, and fell to Pray'r,
Excusing, as they could, their homely Fare.
One single Goose the pious Pair had got,
And 'twas the Guardian of their little Cot:
This to the Gods they vow'd a Sacrifice,
And strove to catch; but swift away it flies,
And dodges long, (for their old Age too fast,)
Then of the Gods Protection seeks at last.
Its Death the Gods forbid: and thus declare;--
You're not mistaken, Gods indeed we are.
The wicked Race around shall quickly feel
Due Punishment: be you secure from Ill;
Your Cottage quit, and follow where we lead,
And haste away to yonder Mountain's Head,
The good old Pair obey:--Slow Steps each takes,
Prop'd on their Staves. But when the hilly Height
They'd almost gain'd, within an Arrow's Flight,
Back to the Place they left they turn their Eyes;
Lost in a Lake the floated Level lies:
A watry Desart covers all the Plains,
Their Cot alone, as in an Isle, remains.

Wondring, with weeping Eyes, while they deplore
Their Neighbours Fate, and Country now no more:
Their little Shed, scarce large enough for two,
Seems, from the Ground increas'd, in Height and Bulk to grow.
A stately Temple shoots within the Skies:
The Crotchets of their Cot in Columns rise:
The Pavement polish'd Marble they behold:
The Gates with Sculpture grac'd, the Spires and Tiles of Gold.
Then thus the Sire of Gods, with Looks serene.
Speak thy Desire, Thou only just of Men:
And Thou, O Woman, only worthy found
To be with such a Man in Marriage bound.

Awhile they whisper: then, to Jove address'd,
Philemon thus prefers their joint Request:
We crave to serve before your sacred Shrine,
And offer at your Altars Rites divine:
And since not any Action of our Life,
Has been polluted with domestick Strife,
We beg one Hour of Death: that neither She
With Widow's Tears may live to bury me,
Nor weeping, I with widow'd Arms may bear,
My breathless Baucis to her Sepulcher.
The Gods confirm their Suit.--

--Come on then, gallant Guests,
Enter my Palace.--
Acquainted with Misfortune, I have learn'd
To pity and to succour the Distress'd.
This said, she leads Æneas to her Court,
And to the Gods a Festival proclaims.
Mean--while to all the Crew, on board his Ships
Which lay in Harbour, twenty Bulls she sends:
An hundred bristly Boars with spacious Chines:
An hundred fatted Lambs, with Ewes: and Wine,
Gift of the jolly God.
But with proud Pomp the inner Rooms of State
Are splendidly adorn'd: and Feasts prepar'd
In the mid--Court: the purple Carpets wrought
With Art: the Tables groan with massy Plate,
And brave Exploits of warlike Ancestors
Emboss'd in Gold.--

--Uponm the golden Couch,
Sumptuous with Tapestry, the Queen had plac'd
Herself, and in the Middle chose her Seat.

Now Prince Æneas, and the Trojan Youth,
Advance; and feast, on crimson Beds repos'd.
Th' Attendants wait with Water for the Hands,
Distribute Bread from Canisters, and hold
Soft Towels. Fifty Handmaids wait within,
Dispose the Banquet in long Order rang'd,
And burn rich Incense to the Houshold Gods.
An hundred Maids besides, as many Youths,
Of equal Age, attend: who pile the Boards
With Dishes, and the Cups and Goblets place.
Nor less the Tyrians crowd the joyful Court,
Invited on embroider'd Beds to feast.

The Banquet pausing, and the Meat remov'd,
Large massy Bowls they place, and crown the Wine.
Loud Noise succeeds: and thro' the ample Courts
They roll the Sound: in Sconces Tapers hang
Lighted from gilded Roofs: and Night retires,
O'erpower'd with blazing Flambeaus.--Here the Queen
Calls for a Goblet, rough with Gems, and Gold,
(Which Belus us'd, and all the Kings from him,)
And fills it up with Wine: then thro' the Court
Silence commands.--O Jove! (for Thou art said
To fix the Laws of Hospitality,)
Grant that this Day auspicious may be prov'd
To both the Colonies of Tyre and Troy,
And by our late Posterity be known.
May Bacchus God of Mirth, and Juno kind,
Be present here: and You my Tyrians join,
Well pleas'd, to celebrate the solemn Feast.

This said, she for Libation spills the Wine
Upon the Board: and first with gentle Touch
Salutes the Cup: which, hast'ning him, she gives
To Bitias: He with speed the frothy Bowl
Drinks off, and swills himself with the full Gold.
Then all the Lords.--

--The Tyrians loud acclaim
Redouble: and the Trojan Guests concur.--

When to the Seat they came, These Gates, he said,
Alcides enter'd: Him this Court receiv'd.
Dare to scorn Wealth, brave Guest: Presume thy self
Worthy to emulate a God: and come
Not supercilious to our little State.
He said; and underneath his homely Roof
Conducts the great Æneas: on spread Leaves,
And on a Lybian Bear's rough Hide repos'd.—

Submitted: Friday, October 01, 2010

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