Henry James Pye

(20 February 1745 – 11 August 1813 / London, England)

The Thirteenth Olympic Ode Of Pindar - Poem by Henry James Pye

Whilst I rehearse the illustrious House's Praise,
Thrice Victor in Olympia's sportive war,
To friends and strangers open; let my lays
The fame of happy Corinth bear afar:
Which as a gate to Neptune's Isthmus stands,
Proud of her blooming youth and manly bands;
There, fair Eunomia, with her sister train
Blest Peace and Justice, hold their steady reign;
Who wealth and smiling ease on mortals shower,
From Themis' genial care drawing their natal hour.

But bloated insolence and fell disdain
Far from their peaceful seats they drive away.
Now lovely deeds inspire my sounding strain,
And honest boldness swells my rising lay;
When native worth the generous bosoms feel,
'Tis hard the shining virtues to conceal.
Corinth, on thee the blooming hours bestow
The envied wreaths from manly deeds that flow,
And teach thy dædal sons with careful heart,
First to explore the way of many a useful art.

Who bade the bullock sacred bleed
To Bacchus in the Dithyrambic Rite?
Who first with reins the generous steed
Directed in his rapid flight?
And bade the sculptur'd bird of Jove
The temple's massy roofs above,
For ever fix'd on either end,
His ornamental wings extend?
While the sweet Muse her silver sounds inspires,
And Mars with glorious flame the warriors bosom fires.

Olympia's honor'd Patron! potent Jove!
Whose sovereign mandates o'er the world extend,
O with propitious ear my strain approve,
And, to fair Corinth's virtuous sons a friend,
On Xenophon let gales propitious breathe,
And take with hand benign the victor wreath
He won: surpassing, when on Pisa's shore,
What mortal valor had perform'd before;
The Stadic Course re-echo'd his renown,
And with knit limbs he gain'd the Pentathletic Crown.

And twice conspicuous on the trophied Course
The Isthmian Parsley graced his Victor brow;
Nor Nemea's Cirque contemn'd the Hero's Force.—
And where the sacred waves of Alpheus flow
His father Thessalus the Olive wore
By swiftness gain'd, and since on Pythia's shore,
One sun beheld his might, 'mid wondering eyes
Obtain the Stadic, and Diaulic Prize;
And the same month, to grace his lovely brow,
The third triumphal Wreath did Attica bestow.

Seven times Hellotia crown'd his force,
And since on Isthmus sea-encircled plain,
Victors in Neptune's sacred course,
He and his Sire the Prize obtain.
The swelling joy, the sounding song,
Still follow as they go along;
What wreaths! what honors! too, they bore
From Pythia's, and from Nemea's shore!—
He who recounts their various crowns, as well
May number all the sands where ocean's billows swell.

Some medium though will every praise beseem,—
Which 'tis the first of wisdom still to know.—
While, with no alien voice, the much-lov'd theme
The fame of Corinth from my lips shall flow;
And I her Chiefs, and prudent Sires rehearse,
No sounds fallacious shall disgrace my verse:
There Sisyphus arose, whose wiles could shine
With matchless force and lustre near divine;
Medea there, whom Venus' flames inspire
The Grecian ship to save, and cheat her cruel sire.

When warr'd the Greeks on Phrygia's hostile strand,
On either side her sons embattled stood,
Though to bear Helen from the ill-fated land;
Her warriors with the Atridæ cross'd the flood;
Yet some, who those with vengeful spears repell'd
From Corinth's race their honor'd lineage held,
For Lycian Glaucus to the Achaian host
Trembling before his lance, would often boast
His sire's abode, and wealth, and wide domain,
Where fair Pirene's waves enrich the fertile plain.

Who by the silver fountain's side
Much labor found, and much affliction knew,
While winged Pegasus he tried
Medusa's offspring to subdue;
Till, sleeping on his native plains,
Minerva gave the golden reins;
‘Awake, Æolian King! awake!
‘This sacred gift with transport take;
‘Shew it to Neptune, potent God of steeds,
‘While at his hallow'd Shrine the votive bullock bleeds.’

The Ægis-bearing Maid Minerva spoke,
While midnight slumbers clos'd his heavy eyes;
Straight from the dull embrace of sleep he broke,
And seiz'd with eager hand the glittering prize:
Cæranus' son he sought, the neighbouring Seer,
And pour'd the wond'rous tidings in his ear;
That, as in awful Pallas' holy Fane,
Sleep o'er his temples spread her leaden reign,
Before him stood confess'd the warlike Maid,
And by his side at once the golden bridle laid.

The wondering Augur bade him straight obey
Each mystic mandate of the dream divine;
To Neptune first the votive bullock pay,
Then to equestrian Pallas rear a shrine:
Beyond his hopes the Gods with savoring will
The object of his wishes soon fulfil;
For brave Bellerophon, with joyful look,
The sacred present of the Immortals took;
Threw it with ease about his arching head,
And peaceful in his hand the ethereal courser led.

Now, shining in refulgent arms,
The winged Pegasus his limbs bestrode;
And, seeking war's severe alarms,
To Amazonia's plains he rode;
And, 'midst the chilling reign of frost,
O'ercame the Female Archer-Host.
His arms Chimæra's flames subdue;
The dauntless Solymi he slew.—
I pass the death his cruel fate decreed,
When Jove's eternal stalls receiv'd the immortal Steed.

While thus the shafts of harmony I throw,
Let me not aim too wide with erring hand;
The Muses now command the strain to flow
To Olygæthidæ's triumphant band;
Recount the early praise and young renown,
On Isthmus' and on Nemea's Cirque they won;
In verse concise stupendous deeds display,
And with an oath confirm the wonderous lay;
On either course alike their skill was fam'd,
For sixty Victor Wreaths the Herald's voice proclaim'd.

How oft their brows the Olympic Olive graced,
To Fame already have my numbers given;
What future crowns shall on their heads be placed,
Though we may hope, is only known to Heaven:
Yet if new strifes their genius bids them prove,
We trust the event to Mars, and mighty Jove.
Oft from Parnassus' heights the meed they bore
And Argos' fields, and Thebes' resounding shore;
And in Lycæan Jove's imperial Fane
Recorded stand their toils on fair Arcadia's plain.

Pellene's fields, and Sycion's coast;
Megara, and the Æacides' domain;
Eleusis's cirque, and, Freedom's boast,
Fair Marathon's triumphant plain;
Proud Ætna, and Eubœa green,
Have their victorious trophies seen.
Through Grecia's realms their large amount
Of wreaths, in vain the Muse would count.—
Assist, immortal Jove! my soaring lays,
And crown with honor'd ease my calm-revolving days.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 27, 2010

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