Henry Baker

(1698-1774 / England)

Medulla Poetarum Romanorum - Vol. Ii. (Magic - Man) - Poem by Henry Baker

Magic Power.
See Circe. Enchantress.

Charms ev'n from Heav'n can conjure down the Moon:
Circe with Charms Ulysses' Mates transform'd:
In Meadows the cold Snake with Charms is burst.

These Poisons, and these magic Simples, cull'd
In Pontus (many such in Pontus grow)
Sage Moeris gave me: Oft with These I've seen
Moeris into a Wolf himself transform,
And howling seek the Woods: oft raise up Ghosts
From Graves: and Crops to Fields not their's transfer.--

A wreath--horn'd Ram is brought, so far o'ergrown
With Years, his Years was to that Age unknown:
His craggy Throat she cuts, and lets out Life:
The little Blood scarce stains the wounding Knife.
The Carcass in the boiling Cauldron swims,
And Drugs are blended with the mangled Limbs:
Each Limb, now lessen'd by Degrees, appears,
He casts his Horns, and with his Horns his Years,
And soon a tender Bleating strikes their Ears.
While they admire, forth skips a frisking Lamb,
That bounds away, and wants to suck the Dam.--

The coldest Hearts Thessalian Numbers warm,
And ruthless Bosoms own the potent Charm:
In frozen Age they rouse perverse Desire,
And kindle into Lust the wintry Sire.
Where noxious Cups, and pois'nous Philters fail,
More potent Spells, and mystic Verse prevail.
No Draught so strong the Knots of Love prepare,
Cropt from her Younglings by the Parent Mare.
Ev'n those whom neither Ties of nuptial Love,
Nor Beauty's radiant Blandishments could move,
Melt, as the Thread runs on, and sighing, feel
The giddy Whirling of the magic Wheel.

Charm'd by the Hag's all powerful Command,
Eternal Motion stops her active Hand:
The glorious Sun forgets his Time to rise,
And pitchy Night pollutes the sable Skies:
No more Heav'n's rapid Circles roll away,
But universal Nature's at a Stay:
Great Jupiter, with Wonder, sees the Pole,
Urg'd onward by himself, refuse to roll.
Now, at a Word, the Rains pour down apace,
And bellying Clouds obscure the Sun's bright Face:
Surpriz'd again, from his celestial Tow'r,
Jove hears around unbidden Thunders roar:
Once more they speak, and shake their flowing Hair,
And strait the Storms are gone, the Heav'ns are fair.
In the still Calm they bid the Waves run high,
Or smooth the Deep, tho' Boreas shakes the Sky;
The stretching Canvas swell against the Wind:
This blows before, and that is fill'd behind.
Streams have run back at Murmurs of their Tongue,
And Torrents from the Rock, suspended, hung.--

Each deadly Kind, by Nature form'd to kill,
Fear the dire Hags, and execute their Will.
Lions, to them, their nobler Rage submit,
And fawning Tygers couch beneath their Feet.
For them the Snake forgoes her wintry Hold,
And on the hoary Frost untwines her Fold.
The mangled Viper they can re--unite,
Or with their poys'nous Breath the Serpent split.--

Magic the starry Lamps from Heav'n can tare,
And shoot them headlong, gleaming thro' the Air:
Can blot fair Cynthia's Countenance serene,
And poison with foul Spells the silver Queen:
Now, pale, the ghastly Goddess shrinks with Dread,
And now, black smoky Fires involve her Head:
As when Earth's envious interposing Shade,
Cuts off her beamy Brother from her Aid.
Held by the potent Charm, she strives in vain,
And labours with the long pursuing Pain:
Till down, and downward still, compell'd to come,
On hallow'd Herbs she sheds her fatal Foam.--

Maid Marriageable.

The Maid, now past an Infant, feels the Flames
Of sprightly Love, and innocently claims:
She hopes the nuptial State, but hopes with Fear:
And wishes, but her Wish is unsincere.--


Up to the Temple moves the beauteous Queen,
Dido, surrounded with a Troop of Guards:
As on Eurotas' Banks, or Cynthus' Top
Diana leads her Train: a thousand Nymphs
Enclose her round: Herself her Quiver bears
High on her Shoulder, and with stately Walk
O'er--looks them all: a secret Pleasure slides
Along Latona's Breast. Such Dido was,
So smiling thro' the Crowd she pass'd.--
Then in the Entrance of the Dome, beneath
The middle of the Temple's Arch, she sat,
Fenc'd round with Arms: and, on her Throne aloft
Leaning majestic, to her Subjects gave
Commands and Laws--

Their Queen, whom in her Chamber Dress detains,
Before her Gates the Punic Nobles wait:
Her Steed adorn'd with Purple, and with Gold,
Stands pawing, fierce, and champs the foaming Bit.
At length attended with a num'rous Guard,
She comes majestic: Her Sidonian Vest
Border'd with crimson Fringe: Her Quiver, Gold:
Her Tresses in a golden Knot confin'd:
A golden Buckle clasps her purple Robe.--

Mean while the Kings in long Procession move;
High in his Chariot, by four Horses drawn,
Latinus rides: twelve golden Rays inclose
His Temples round: illustrious Argument
Of his high Lineage, from the Sun deriv'd.
In his white Car, young Turnus next succeeds,
Shaking two Jav'lins of broad pointed Steel.
Then, from the opposite embattl'd Line,
Comes the great Father of the Roman Race,
Æneas, with his Shield's broad starry Orb
All bright, and blazing in celestial Arms:
Ascanius by his Side, the other Hope
Of mighty Rome.--

A Sword, all starr'd with Gems, and spangled o'er
With yellow Jaspers, at his Side he wore;
A Robe refulgent from his Shoulders flow'd,
That flaming deep with Tyrian Crimson glow'd:
The Work of Dido! whose unrivall'd Art,
With Flow'rs of Gold embroider'd ev'ry Part.--

See Infant.

A creature of a more exalted Kind
Was wanting yet, and then was Man design'd:
Conscious of Thought, of more capacious Breast,
For Empire form'd, and fit to rule the rest.
Whether with Particles of heav'nly Fire
The God of Nature did his Soul inspire,
Or Earth, but new divided from the Sky,
And, pliant still, retain'd th' Ætherial Energy.

Whilst all the mute Creation downwards bend
Their Sight, and to their earthy Mother tend,
Man looks aloft: and with erected Eyes
Beholds his own hereditary Skies.--

Time was, when we were sow'd, and just began;
Meerly the Hope, and Promise of a Man:
Then Nature's Hand (fermented as it was)
Moulded to Shape the soft coagulated Mass.
In Time the little Man is fully form'd,
The breathless Embrio with a Spirit warm'd:
And when the Mother's Throws begin to come,
The Creature, pent within the narrow Womb,
Breaks his blind Prison: pushing to repair
His stifled Breath, and draw the living Air,
Cast on the Margin of the World he lies,
An helpless Baby, and by Instinct cries.
He next essays to walk, but downward press'd,
On four Feet imitates his Brother Beast:
By slow Degrees he gathers from the Ground
His Legs, and to the Rolling--Chair is bound:
Then walks alone:--a Horseman now become,
He rides a Stick, and travels round the Room.
In time he vaunts among his youthful Peers,
Strong--bon'd, and strung with Nerves, in Pride of Years:
He runs with Mettle his first merry Stage:
Maintains the next, abated of his Rage,
But manages his Strength, and spares his Age.
Heavy the third, and stiff, he sinks apace,
And tho' 'tis down--hill all, but creeps along the Race.
Now sapless on the Verge of Death he stands,
Contemplating his former Feet and Hands:
And Milo--like, his slacken'd Sinews sees,
And wither'd Arms, once fit to cope with Hercules,
Unable now to shake, much less to tare the Trees.--

The Brutes, whom Nature did in Sport create,
Unknowing of themselves, and of their Fate,
By secret Instinct still erect their Eyes
To Parent Heaven.--
Who then can doubt that Man, the glorious Pride
Of All, is nearer to the Skies ally'd?
Nature in him an active Soul hath wrought,
Hath giv'n him Language, and the Pow'r of Thought:
In him the God descends, well pleas'd to find
An Image there of his Almighty Mind.--

The Brutes, of every kind, dwell on the Earth:
Or hang in Air: or thro' the Waters glide:
Nor ought but Rest, or Food, or Joys of Sense,
Are their Pursuit.--Since, therefore, Speech, to them,
And Reason was deny'd, Man was produc'd,
To overlook and Rule: Language he has
Expressive of his Mind: and various Arts
To practise, or invent, a Genius fit.

Man o'er the Globe extends his regal Sway:
The Soil, by him subdu'd, is forc'd to bear
Of Fruits, and Grain, a large and rich Encrease.
Wild Beasts are tam'd, and tutor'd for his Use,
And o'er the Seas his Vessels plow their Way.
He too, alone erect, stands nobly forth,
And to the Stars lifts up his starlike Eyes:
Beholds the Heav'ns, and Jove himself explores:
Nor superficially the Gods to know
Is he content: deeply he searches Heav'n,
And seeks his Origin among the Stars.--

What signifies to Man that he from Heav'n
His Soul derives, that with erected Front
He walks sublime, and views the starry Skies,
If, like the Brutes irrational, he acts?--

Man (Upright.)
See Virtue.

That upright Man, who's steady to his Trust,
Inflexible to Ill, and obstinately just:
The Fury of the Populace defies,
And dares the Tyrant's threatning Frowns despise.
Not the rough Whirlwind that deforms
Adria's black Gulf, and vexes it with Storms,
The stubborn Virtue of his Soul can move,
Nor even the red Arm of thundring Jove.
Should the whole Frame of Nature round him break,
In Ruin and Confusion hurl'd,
He unconcern'd, would hear the mighty Crack,
And stand secure amidst a falling World.--

The tow'ring Summit of Olympus knows,
Nor raging Hurricanes, nor hoary Snows;
But high, in the superior Skies, is seen,
Above the Clouds, eternally serene:
While, at it's steady Foot, the rushing Rain,
And rattling Thunders spend their Force in vain:
So, the just Man, disdaining all controul,
In perfect Peace preserves his steady Soul:
Always himself, Nought can his Virtue move,
Nor is he sway'd by Hatred, or by Love.--

From Virtue's Laws who never parts
Dear Friend, may safely go
Without the Moorish Lance or Bow,
Or Quiver stor'd with poison'd Darts,
The Womb of Woe!
Whether thro' Lybia's scorching Land
To journey he provides,
By savage Caucus' rocky Sides,
Or where the Stream, o'er golden Sand,
Of Indus glides.--

Who's good?--The Man, that in his Country's Cause,
Stands up for all her Liberties and Laws.--
Be a good Soldier, an upright Trustee;
An Arbitrator from Corruption free;
Or if a Witness in a doubtful Cause,
Where a brib'd Judge means to elude the Laws,
Tho' Phalaris's brazen Bull were there,
And he would dictate what he'd have you swear,
Stick firmly to the Truth, and bravely chuse
To guard your Honour, tho' your Life You lose.
Die, rather than let Virtue be betray'd:
Virtue the noblest Cause for which we're made.
Improperly we measure Life by Breath:
Those do not truly live, who merit Death.—

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Poem Submitted: Friday, October 1, 2010

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