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A sacred Eclogue, in Imitation of Virgil's Pollio.
ADVERTISEMENT. In reading several passages of the prophet Isaiah,
which foretel the coming of Christ, and the feli. cities' attending it, I could not but observe a remarkable parity between many of the thoughts, and those in the Pollio of Virgil. This will not seem surprising, when we reflect, that the eclogue was taken from a Sibyline prophecy on the same subject. One may judge that Virgil did not copy it line for line; but selected such ideas as best agreed with the nature of pastoral poetry, and disposed them in that manner which served most to beautify his piece. I have endeavoured the same in this imitation of him, though without ad. mitting any thing of my own; since it was written with this particular view, that the reader, by comparing the several thoughts, might see how far the images and descriptions of the prophet are superior to those of the poet. But as I fear I have prejudiced them by my management, I shall subjoin the passages of Isaiah, and those of Vir. gil, under the same disadvantage of a literal translation.
YE nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:
To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong. The mossy fountains and the sylvan shades, The dreams of Pindus and th' Aonian maids,
Deßght no more thou my voice inspire
Rapt into future times, the bard begun:
IMITATIONS. Ver. 8. A Virgin shall conceive--All crimes shall cease, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 6.
Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
• Now the virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn returns, now a new progeny is sent down from high heaven. By means of thee, whatever reliques of our crimes remain, shall be wiped away, and free the world from perpetual fears. He shall govern the earth in peace, with the virtues of his Father.'
Isaiah, ch. vii, ver. 14. Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son--Chap. ix. ver. 6,7. Unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given; the Prince of Peace: of the increase of his government, and of his peace, there shall be no end: upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order and to establish it, with judgement and with justice, for ever and ever.'
(a) Isa. xi. ver. 1. (6) Ch. xlv. ver. 8.
Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
IMITATIONS. Ver. 23. See nature hastes, &c.] Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 18.
At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu,
. For thee, O child, shall the earth, without being tilled, produce her early offerings; winding ivy, mixed with baccar, and colocassia with smiling acanthus. Thy cradle shall pour forth pleasing flowers about thee.'
Isaiah, ch. XXXV. ver. 1. The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.' Ch. lx. ver. 13. • The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of thy sanctuary.'
Ver. 29. Hark! a glad voice, &c.
Cara deûm soboles, magnum Jovis incrementum.Ecl. v, ver. 62.
Ipsi lætitiâ voces ad sidera jactant
(e) Ch. xxxv. ver. 2. W) Ch. xl. ver. 3, 4.
A God, a God! the vocal hills reply,
IMITATIONS. O come and receive the mighty honours: the time draws nigh, o beloved offspring of the gods! O great increase of Jove! The uncultivated moun. tains send shouts of joy to the stars; the very rocks sing in verse, the very shrubs cry out, A God, a God!
Isaiah, ch. xl. ver. 3, 4. • The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord! make straight in the desert a highway for our God! Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.' Ch. xliv. ver. 23. Break forth into singing, ye mountains; O forest, and every tree therein, for the Lord hath redeemed Israel.'
(8) Ch. xliii. ver. 18. Ch. xxxv. ver. 5, 6. (h) Ch. xxv. ver. 8. (i) Ch, xl. ver. 11.
Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs,
IMITATIONS. Ver. 67. The swain in barren deserts) Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 28.
Molli paulatim flavescet campus aristâ,
• The fields shall grow yellow with ripened ears, and the red grape shall hang upon the wild brambles, and the hard oaks shall distil honey like dew.'
Isaiah, ch. xxxv. ver. 7. • The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitations where dragons lay, shall be grass, and reeds, and rushes.' Ch. lv. ver. 13. • Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle-tree.'
(3) Ch, ix. ver. 6. (k) Ch. ii. ver. 4.