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An essay by Alexander Pope

No. 378 [from The Spectator]

Title:     No. 378 [from The Spectator]
Author: Alexander Pope [More Titles by Pope]

No. 378
Wednesday, May 14, 1712. Pope.

'Aggredere, O magnos, aderit jam tempus, honores.'


I will make no Apology for entertaining the Reader with the following Poem, which is written by a great Genius, a Friend of mine, in the Country, who is not ashamd to employ his Wit in the Praise of his Maker. [1]


A sacred Eclogue, compos'd of several Passages of Isaiah the Prophet.

Written in Imitation of Virgil's POLLIO.

Ye Nymphs of Solyma! begin the Song:
To heav'nly Themes sublimer Strains belong.
The Mossy Fountains, and the Sylvan Shades,
The Dreams of Pindus and th' Aonian Maids,
Delight no more--O Thou my Voice inspire,
Who touch'd Isaiah's [hallow'd [2]] Lips with Fire!
Rapt into future Times, the Bard begun;
A Virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a Son!

[Isaiah, Cap. II. v. 1.]
From Jesse's Root behold a Branch arise,
Whose sacred Flow'r with Fragrance fills the Skies.
Th' AEthereal Spirit o'er its Leaves shall move,
And on its Top descends the Mystick Dove.

[Cap. 45. v. 8.]
Ye Heav'ns! from high the dewy Nectar pour,
And in soft Silence shed the kindly Show'r!

[Cap. 25. v. 4.]
The Sick and Weak, the healing Plant shall aid,
From Storms a Shelter, and from Heat a Shade.
All Crimes shall cease, and ancient Fraud shall fail;

[Cap. 9. v. 7.]
Returning Justice lift aloft her Scale;
Peace o'er the World her Olive Wand extend,
And white-rob'd Innocence from Heav'n descend.
Swift fly the Years, and rise th' expected Morn!
Oh spring to Light, Auspicious Babe, be born!
See Nature hastes her earliest Wreaths to bring,
With all the Incense of the breathing Spring:

[Cap. 35. v. 2.]
See lofty Lebanon his Head advance,
See nodding Forests on the Mountains dance,
See spicy Clouds from lowly Sharon rise,
And Carmels flow'ry Top perfumes the Skies!

[Cap. 40. v. 3, 4.]
Hark! a glad Voice the lonely Desart chears;
Prepare the Way! a God, a God appears:
A God! a God! the vocal Hills reply,
The Rocks proclaim th' approaching Deity.
Lo Earth receives him from the bending Skies!
Sink down ye Mountains, and ye Vallies rise!
With Heads declin'd, ye Cedars, Homage pay!
Be smooth ye Rocks, ye rapid Floods give way!
The SAVIOUR comes! by ancient Bards foretold;

[Cap. 42. v. 18.]
Hear him, ye Deaf, and all ye Blind behold!

[Cap. 35. v. 5, 6.]
He from thick Films shall purge the visual Ray,
And on the sightless Eye-ball pour the Day.
'Tis he th' obstructed Paths of Sound shall clear,
And bid new Musick charm th' unfolding Ear,
The Dumb shall sing, the Lame his Crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding Roe;
[No Sigh, no Murmur the wide World shall hear,
From ev'ry Face he wipes off ev'ry Tear.

[Cap. 25. v. 8.]
In Adamantine Chains shall Death be bound,
And Hell's grim Tyrant feel th' eternal Wound. [3]]

[Cap. 30. v. xx.]
As the good Shepherd tends his fleecy Care,
Seeks freshest Pastures and the purest Air,
Explores the lost, the wand'ring Sheep directs,
By day o'ersees them, and by night protects;
The tender Lambs he raises in his Arms,
Feeds from his Hand, and in his Bosom warms:
Mankind shall thus his Guardian Care engage,
The promis'd Father of the future Age. [4]
No more shall Nation against Nation rise, [5]
No ardent Warriors meet with hateful Eyes,
Nor Fields with gleaming Steel be coverd o'er,
The Brazen Trumpets kindle Rage no more;
But useless Lances into Scythes shall bend,
And the broad Falchion in a Plow-share end.
Then Palaces shall rise; the joyful Son [6]
Shall finish what his short-liv'd Sire begun;
Their Vines a Shadow to their Race shall yield,
And the same Hand that sow'd shall reap the Field.
The Swain in barren Desarts with Surprize [7]
Sees Lillies spring, and sudden Verdure rise;
And Starts, amidst the thirsty Wilds, to hear,
New Falls of Water murmuring in his Ear:
On rifted Rocks, the Dragon's late Abodes,
The green Reed trembles, and the Bulrush nods.
Waste sandy Vallies, once perplexd with Thorn, [8]
The spiry Fir and shapely Box adorn:
To leafless Shrubs the flow'ring Palms succeed,
And od'rous Myrtle to the noisome Weed.
The Lambs with Wolves shall graze the verdant Mead [9]
And Boys in flow'ry Bands the Tyger lead;
The Steer and Lion at one Crib shall meet,
And harmless Serpents Lick the Pilgrim's Feet.
The smiling Infant in his Hand shall take
The crested Basilisk and speckled Snake;
Pleas'd, the green Lustre of the Scales survey,
And with their forky Tongue and pointless Sting shall
Rise, crown'd with Light, imperial Salem rise! [10]
Exalt thy tow'ry Head, and lift thy Eyes!
See, a long Race thy spacious Courts adorn; [11]
See future Sons and Daughters yet unborn
In crowding Ranks on ev'ry side arise,
Demanding Life, impatient for the Skies!
See barb'rous Nations at thy Gates attend, [12]
Walk in thy Light, and in thy Temple bend.
See thy bright Altars throng'd with prostrate Kings,
And heap'd with Products of Sabaean Springs! [13]
For thee Idume's spicy Forests blow;
And seeds of Gold in Ophir's Mountains glow.
See Heav'n its sparkling Portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a Flood of Day!
No more the rising Sun shall gild the Morn, [14]
Nor Evening Cynthia fill her silver Horn,
But lost, dissolv'd in thy superior Rays;
One Tide of Glory, one unclouded Blaze
O'erflow thy Courts: The LIGHT HIMSELF shall shine
Reveal'd; and God's eternal Day be thine!
The Seas shall waste, the Skies in Smoke decay; [15]
Rocks fall to Dust, and Mountains melt away;
But fix'd His Word, His saving Pow'r remains:
Thy Realm for ever lasts! thy own Messiah reigns.


[Footnote 1: Thus far Steele.]

[Footnote 2: [hollow'd]]

[Footnote 3:

[Before him Death, the grisly Tyrant, flies;
He wipes the Tears for ever from our Eyes.]

This was an alteration which Steele had suggested, and in which young Pope had acquiesced. Steele wrote:

I have turned to every verse and chapter, and think you have preserved the sublime, heavenly spirit throughout the whole, especially at "Hark a glad voice," and "The lamb with wolves shall graze." There is but one line which I think is below the original:

He wipes the tears for ever from our eyes.

You have expressed it with a good and pious but not so exalted and poetical a spirit as the prophet: The Lord God shall wipe away tears from off all faces. If you agree with me in this, alter it by way of paraphrase or otherwise, that when it comes into a volume it may be amended.]

[Footnote 4: Cap. 9. v. 6.]

[Footnote 5: Cap. 2. v. 4.]

[Footnote 6: Cap. 65. v. 21, 22.]

[Footnote 7: Cap 35. v. 1, 7.]

[Footnote 8: Cap. 41. v. 19. and Cap. 55. v. 13.]

[Footnote 9: Cap. 11. v. 6, 7, 8.]

[Footnote 10: Cap. 60. v. 1.]

[Footnote 11: Cap. 60. v. 4.]

[Footnote 12: Cap. 60. v. 3.]

[Footnote 13: Cap. 60. v. 6.]

[Footnote 14: Cap. 60. v. 19, 20.]

[Footnote 15: Cap. 51. v. 6. and Cap. 64. v. 10.]

[The end]
Alexander Pope's essay: No. 378 [from The Spectator]