« הקודםהמשך »
So do it, therefore, and adieu:
For I will die for love of you.-
Let wanton wives by death be scar'd :
But, to my comfort, I’m prepard.
THE sceptics think, 'twas long ago,
Since gods came down incognito:
To see who were their friends or foes,
And how our actions fell or rose :
That since they gave things their beginning,
And set this whirligig a spinning;
Supine they in their Heaven remain,
Exempt from passion, and from pain.
And frankly leave us human elves,
To cut and shuffle for ourselves:
To stand or walk, to rise or tumble,
As matter, and as motion jumble.
The poets now, and painters hold
This thesis both absurd and bold:
And your good-natur'd gods, they say,
Descend some twice or thrice a-day:
Else all these things we toil so hard in,
Would not avail one single farthing:
For, when the hero we rehearse,
To grace his actions and our verse;
"Tis not by dint of human thought,
That to his Latium he is brought;
Iris descends by Fate's commands,
To guide his steps through foreign lands:
And Amphitrite clears the way
From rocks and quicksands in the sea.
And if you see him in a sketch
(Though drawn by Paulo or Carache),
He shews not half his force and strength,
Strutting in armour, and at length:
That he may take his proper figure,
The piece must yet be four yards bigger:
The nymphs conduct him to the field;
One holds his sword, and one his shield:
Mars, standing by, asserts his quarrel;
And Fame flies after with a laurel.
These points, I say, of speculation
(As 'twere to save or sink the nation)
Men idly-learned will dispute,
Assert, object, confirm, refute:
Each mighty angry, mighty right,
With equal arms sustains the fight;
Till now no umpire can agree 'em :
So both draw off and sing Te Deum.
Is it in equilibrio,
If deities descend or no?
Then let the affirmative prevail,
As requisite to form my tale:
For by all parties 'tis confest,
That those opinions are the best,
Which in their nature most conduce
To present ends, and private use.
Two gods came therefore from above,
One Mercury, the other Jove:
The humour was (it seems) to know,
If all the favours they bestow,
Could from our own perverseness ease us;
And if our wish enjoy'd would please us.
Discoursing largely on this theme,
O'er hills and dales their godships came;
Till, wellnigh tir’d and almost night,
They thought it proper to alight.
Note here, that it as true as odd is,
That in disguise a god or goddess
Exerts no supernatural powers;
But acts on maxims much like ours.
They spied at last a country farm,
Where all was snug, and clean, and warm;
For woods before and hills behind
Secur'd it both from rain and wind :
Large oxen in the fields were lowing:
Good grain was sow'd; good fruit was growing:
Of last year's corn in barns great store;
Fat turkeys gobbling at the door:
And wealth (in short) with peace consented
That people here should live contented:
But did they in effect do so?
Have patience, friend, and thou shalt know.
The honest farmer and his wife,
To years declin’d from prime of life,
Had struggled with the marriage noose,
As almost every couple does:
Sometimes, my plague! sometimes, my darling!
Kissing to-day, to-morrow snarling;
Jointly submitting to endure
That evil, which admits no cure.
Our gods the outward gates unbarr'd:
Our farmer met ’em in the yard;
Thought they were folks that lost their way,
And ask’d them civilly to stay:
Told 'em, for supper, or for bed
They might go on, and be worse sped.
So said, so done: the gods consent:
All three into the parlour went:
They compliment; they sit; they chat;
Fight o'er the wars; reform the state:
A thousand knotty points they clear,
Till supper and my wife appear.
Jove made his leg, and kiss'd the dame:
Obsequious Hermes did the same.
Jove kiss'd the farmer's wife, you say
He did—but in an honest way: -
Oh! not with half that warmth and life,
With which he kiss'd Amphitryon's wife.
Well then, things handsomely were serv’d:
My mistress for the strangers carv’d.
How strong the beer, how good the meat,
How loud they laugh'd, how much they eat,
In epic sumptuous would appear:
Yet shall be pass'd in silence here:
For I should grieve to have it said,
That, by a fine description led,
I made my episode too long, -
Or tir'd my friend, to grace my song.
The grace-cup serv'd, the cloth away,
Jove thought it time to show his play:
Landlord and landlady, he cried,
Folly and jesting laid aside,
That ye thus hospitably live,
And strangers with good cheer receive,
Is mighty grateful to your betters,
And makes e'en gods themselves your debtors.
To give this thesis plainer proof,
You have to-night beneath your roof
A pair of gods (nay, never wonder):
This youth can fly, and I can thunder.
I'm Jupiter, and he Mercurius,
My page, my son indeed, but spurious.
Form then three wishes, you and madam;
And sure, as you already had 'em,
The things desir'd in half an hour
Shall all be here, and in your power.
Thank ye, great gods, the woman says:
Oh! may your altars ever blaze 1
A ladle for our silver dish
Is what I want, is what I wish,_
A ladle ! cries the man, a ladle !
Odzooks, Corisca, you have pray’d ill;
What should be great, you turn to farce;
I wish the ladle in your a-.