Henry Baker

(1698-1774 / England)

Medulla Poetarum Romanorum - Vol. I. (Guilt - Happiness) - Poem by Henry Baker

See Conscience Evil.

The lovely Huntress, rising from the Grass,
With down--cast Eyes, and with a blushing Face,
By Shame confounded, and by Fear dismay'd,
Flew from the Covert of the conscious Shade;
And (such the wild Confusion of her Mind,)
Had almost left her Bow and Shafts behind.
How plainly in the Look doth Guilt appear!
Slowly she mov'd, and loiter'd in the Rear:
Nor lightly trip'd, nor by the Goddess ran,
As once she us'd, the foremost of the Train.
Her Cheeks were flush'd, and sullen was her Mein,
That sure the Virgin Goddess (had she been
Aught but a Virgin) must the Guilt have seen.
The Nymphs, 'tis said, perceiv'd it.--

The wretched Maid rejoyc'd the News to hear,
But clog'd with Guilt, her Joy was unsincere:
So various, so discordant is the Mind,
That in our Will a diff'rent Will we find.

Thus far her Courage held, but here forsakes:
Her faint Knees knock at every Step she makes.
The nearer to her Crime, the more within
She feels Remorse and Horror of her Sin:
Repents too late her criminal Desire,
And wishes, that unknown she could retire.--

--The Matrons, on the Shore,
Fly diverse, struck with Fear: and skulking seek
The Woods, and Caves: Their Enterprize they loath,
And conscious shun the Light.--

Now wretched Œdipus , depriv'd of Sight,
Led a long Death in everlasting Night:
But tho' he dwells where not a chearful Ray
Can pierce the Darkness, and abhors the Day,
The clear, reflecting Mind, presents his Sin,
In frightful Views, and makes it Day within:
Returning Thoughts in endless Circles roll,
And thousand Furies haunt his guilty Soul.--

Not all bright Phoebus views in early Morn,
Or when his Ev'ning Beams the West adorn,
When the South glows with his Meridian Ray,
And the cold North receives a fainter Day:
For Crimes like these, not all those Realms suffice,
Were all those Realms the guilty Victor's Prize!--

Gyant. Cyclops.

The Cyclops, who defy'd th' Etherial Throne,
And thought no Thunder louder than his own:
The Terror of the Woods, and wilder far,
Than Wolves in Plains, or Bears in Forests are:
Th' inhuman Host, who made his bloody Feasts
On mangled Members of his butcher'd Guests;
Yet felt the Force of Love, and fierce Desire,
And burnt for me with unrelenting Fire:
Forgot his Caverns, and his woolly Care,
Assum'd the Softness of a Lover's Air,
And comb'd, with Teeth of Rakes, his rugged Hair.
Now with a crooked Scythe his Beard he sleeks,
And mows the stubborn Stubble of his Cheeks:
Now, in the Chrystal Stream he looks, to try
His softest Looks, and lay his Fierceness by.
His Cruelty and Thirst of Blood are lost,
And Ships securely come or leave the Coast.--

--He sat; his Flocks, unled,
Their Shepherd follow'd, and securely fed.
A Pine so burly, and of Length so vast,
That sailing Ships requir'd it for a Mast,
He weilded for a Staff, his Steps to guide:
But laid it by, his Whistle while he try'd:
A hundred Reeds, of a prodigious Growth,
Scarce made a Pipe proportion'd to his Mouth:
Which, when he gave it Wind, the Rocks around,
And watry Plains, the dreadful Hiss resound.--

--My frighted Friends,
Unmindful, left me in the Cyclop's Cave.
Dark is th' interior Grot, and vast: the Walls
On all Sides furr'd with mouldy Damps, and hung
With Clots of ropy Gore, and human Limbs,
His dire Repast. Himself of mighty Height,
Erects his Head, and stalking strikes the Stars.
Dire to the Sight, by no Address, or Speech
To be accosted. On the Flesh he feeds
Of mortal Men, and swills the vital Blood.
Him did I see snatch up with horrid Grasp,
As in his Den, and stretch'd at Length he lay,
Two of our Number, in each Hand a Man:
I saw him, when with huge tempestuous Sway,
He dash'd, and broke them on the Groundsil Edge:
The Pavement swam in Blood: the Walls around
Were spatter'd o'er with Brains. I saw him chew
The Gobbets, dropping with black ropy Gore,
Still warm with Life, and trembling in his Teeth,
As sensible of Pain.--

The Giant gorg'd with Flesh, and Wine, and Blood,
With Neck reclin'd, lay, snoring in his Den:
Belching raw Gobbets from his Maw, o'ercharg'd
With purple Wine, and cruddled Gore confus'd,
We, having first invok'd the mighty Gods,
And taking each his Post allotted, round
Inclose him All: and to the single Eye,
That in his frowning grisly Forehead glar'd,
Wide as a Grecian Shield, or Phoebus' Lamp,
A forky Staff we dextrously apply'd:
Which, in the spacious Socket turning round,
Scoop'd out the big round Jelly from it's Orb:--

--Such, and as huge,
An hundred Cyclops more these winding Coasts
Inhabit round, and o'er the Mountains rove.

He scarce had spoke: when on the Mountains Top
Himself we saw, th' enormous Polypheme,
Shepherd among his Flocks, with Bulk immense
Moving along, and seeking the known Shores.
An Eyeless Monster, hideous, vast, deform!
A Pine's huge Trunk directs his Hand, and firms
His Steps: his woolly Sheep attend his Walk.
Soon as he reach'd the Ocean's Waves profound,
He rins'd his empty Socket from the Blood,
Gnashing his Teeth with Groans: then stalk'd along
Thro' the mid Ocean, while the topmost Wave
Scarce reaches his tall Sides.--We trembling speed our Flight
And silent cut the Cords, and sweep the Sea,
With struggling Oars: He heard Us in our Course,
And with his outstretch'd Arms around him grop'd:
But finding Nought within his Reach, He rais'd
Such hideous Yells, that all the Ocean shook.
Ev'n Italy tho' many a League remote
In distant Ecchoes answer'd; Ætna roar'd,
Thro' all it's inmost winding Caverns roar'd.
Rous'd by the Noise, the whole Cyclopean Race
Rush from the Woods, and Mountains, to the Port,
And fill the Shore.--We see th' Ætnean Brood
(Dreadful Assembly!) stand, and sternly roll
Their Eyes in vain, and rear their tow'ring Heads
To Heav'n: as when upon a Mountain's Top
Aërial Oaks, or Cypress Cones stand high,
The Thicket of Diana, or of Jove.--

Gyant's War.

--The Rebel Brethren rise,
In desp'rate League combin'd, to storm the Skies:
On Pelion, thrice, to heave they all essay'd
Ossa, and thrice on Ossa's tow'ring Head
To roll Olympus up with all its Shade.
Thrice hurl'd th' Omnipotent his Thunder round,
And dash'd the pil'd up Mountains to the Ground.--

--Ægeon, when with Heav'n he strove,
Stood opposite in Arms to mighty Jove:
Mov'd all his hundred Hands, provok'd the War,
Defy'd the forky Lightning from afar.
At fifty Mouths his flaming Breath expires,
And Flash for Flash returns, and Fires for Fires:
In his Right Hand as many Swords he wields,
And takes the Thunder on as many Shields.--

Nor in less Danger were the Realms above:
To seize the Throne of Jove the Gyants move:
Hills pil'd on Hills, on Mountains Mountains lie,
And form their mad Approaches to the Sky.
Then He, th' Almighty Father, with a Frown,
Hurl'd the red Bolt, and smote Olympus down:
The Structure totter'd at the mighty Stroke,
And Ossa's lofty Top from Pelion broke:
They too, who durst attempt to storm the Sky,
Struck down, with all their ruin'd Mountains, lie.--

She sings, from Earth's dark Womb how Typhon rose,
And struck with mortal Fear his heav'nly Foes.
How the Gods fled to Egypt's slimy Soil,
And hid their Heads beneath the Banks of Nile:
How Typhon, from the conquer'd Skies, pursu'd
Their routed Godheads to the seven--mouth'd Flood:
Forc'd ev'ry God, his Fury to escape,
Some beastly Form to take, or earthly Shape.
Jove, (so she sung,) was chang'd into a Ram,
From whence the Horns of Lybian Ammon came:
Bacchus a Goat, Apollo was a Crow,
Phoebe a Cat, the Wife of Jove a Cow,
Whose Hue was whiter than the falling Snow.
Venus a Fish became, and Mercury
Conceal'd within an Ibis' Form did lie.--

Huge limb'd Typhoeus, whose gigantic Pride
Attack'd the Skies, and ev'ry God defy'd,
Now, with Sicilia's dreadful Weight opprest,
Moves, but with mighty Pains, his heaving Breast:
He struggles oft, and oft attempts to rise,
But on his right Arm vast Pelorus lies:
On's left Pachinus: Lilibaeum's spread
O'er his huge Thighs, and Ætna keeps his Head.
On his broad Back he there extended lies,
And vomits Flames and Ashes to the Skies.
Oft, with strong Throws the Monster strives t' abate
His Load of Towns, and the vast Mountain's Weight:
Then the Earth shakes.--

Sprung from the Earth, and Heaven's most furious Foes,
To storm the Skies when mighty Gyants rose,
And proudly sought the Gods that durst oppose:
Jove doubted his own Power, as from a--far,
He view'd the dreadful Order of the War:
When Nature's Frame inverted he beheld,
That Earth rose upward, and that All rebell'd:
That Hills on Hills up--rais'd their threat'ning Head,
And frighted Stars approaching Mountains fled:
When impious Armies, at a monstrous Birth,
Broke thro' the Bowels of the teeming Earth,
Tremendous Race! with disagreeing Forms,
Of all that's horrid mixt.--

Typho the Earth produc'd, what Time she strove
To conquer Heaven, and shake the Throne of Jove:
When the fierce Gyants, to their Mother Earth
In Bigness equal, at a wondrous Birth
Burst from her Womb.--But Thunder stop'd their Course,
And tumbling Mountains overwhelm'd their Force.
Typhoeus fell: Earth was too weak to save,
And War and He lay bury'd in one Grave.--


Believe not those who much possess
The only Lords of Happiness:
But rather such as rightly know
To use the Gifts the Gods bestow:
Who wantful Poverty can bear
And worse than Death Dishonour fear,
Who Life's last Drop would freely spend,
To save their Country, or their Friend.--

Happy, like the first Mortals happy he,
Whom the indulgent Gods allow,
With Oxen of his own to plow
Paternal Fields, exempt and free
From Business and the Gripes of Usury.--

Virtue, that scorns the People's Test,
Ne'er ranks among the truly Blest,
Phraates fix'd in Cyrus' Throne,
Ador'd like Persia's rising Sun:
From Cheats of Words, the Crowd she brings,
To form a real Estimate of Things:

To Him she gives, to Him alone,
The Laurel, and the lasting Throne,
Whose Eyes can unconcern'd behold,
The dazling Heaps of shining Gold.
Whose Mind does never Wealth pursue,
Nor backward turn to take a second View.--

Secure and free from Business of the State,
And more secure of what the Vulgar prate,
Here I enjoy my private Thoughts: nor care
What Rots for Sheep the Southern Winds prepare;
Survey the neighb'ring Fields, and not repine,
When I behold a larger Crop than mine.
To see a Beggar's Brat in Riches flow,
Adds not a Wrinkle to my even Brow:
Nor envious at the Sight, will I forbear
My plenteous Bowl, nor bate my bounteous Cheer.--


My Fortune might I form at Will,
My Canvas Zephyrs soft should fill
With gentle Breath, left ruder Gales
Crack the Main--Yard, or burst the Sails.
By Winds that temperately blow,
The Bark should pass secure and slow:
Nor scare me, leaning on her Side,
But smoothly cleave th' unruffled Tide.--

You're wrong, my Friend, the Life you guess
To be so, is not Happiness.
With Gems to see your Fingers shine;
On Beds of Tortoise--shell, so fine,
Your Limbs to lay; in Down to sink:
And out of golden Vessels drink:
To loll on Chairs of Tyrian Dye,
And feast on rich Variety:
To think your Granaries abound,
With Harvests reap'd from Lybian Ground:
My Friend, you're wrong, if you believe
Such Things true Happiness can give.

But, if the Soul, despising Fear,
Can all Events, unruffled, bear:
If it is neither vain, nor proud,
Nor courts the Favour of the Crowd:
If Passion Reason can asswage,
Nor ever rises into Rage:
Whoe'er attains this happy State,
Fortune commands, and smiles at Fate.--

Pleasantest Companion, this,
This in Life is Happiness:
Early an Estate to gain,
Left, not purchas'd by your Pain:
Grounds that pay the Tiller's Hire:
Hearths with ever during Fire:
Safe from Law t' enjoy your own:
Seldom view the busy Town:
Health, with mod'rate Vigour joyn'd:
True well grounded Peace of Mind:
Friends your Equals in Degree:
Prudent plain Simplicity:
Easy Converse Mirth afford:
Artless--Plenty fill the Board:
Temp'rate Joy your Ev'nings bless,
Free from Care and from Excess:
Short the Night by Sleep be made:
Chaste, not cheerless be the Bed:
Chuse to be but what you are:
Dying neither wish nor fear.--

--None happy should we call,
Before his Death, and closing Funeral.—

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Poem Submitted: Friday, October 1, 2010

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