Henry Baker Poems >>
Medulla Poetarum Romanorum - VOL. I. (Hunger - Imprecation)

See Famine.

The Morning came, the Night, and Slumbers past,
But still the furious Pangs of Hunger last:
The cank'rous Rage still gnaws with griping Pains,
Stings in his Throat, and in his Bowels reigns.
Strait he requires, impatient in Demand,
Provisions from the Air, the Seas, the Land:
But tho' Land, Air, and Sea, Provisions grant,
Starves at full Tables, and complains of Want.
What to a People might in Dole be paid,
Or victual Cities for a long Blockade,
Could not one wolfish Appetite asswage:
For glutting Nourishment increas'd it's Rage.
As Rivers pour'd from ev'ry distant Shore,
The Sea insatiate drinks, and thirsts for more:
Or as the Fire, which all Materials burns,
And wasted Forests into Ashes turns,
Grows more voracious as the more it preys,
Recruits dilate the Flame, and spread the Blaze:
So impious Erisichthon's Hunger raves,
Receives Refreshments, and Refreshments craves.
Food raises a Desire for Food, and Meat
Is but a new Provocative to eat:
He grows more empty, as the more supply'd,
And endless cramming but extends the Void.
Now Riches hoarded by paternal Care
Were sunk, the Glutton swallowing up the Heir.
Yet the devouring Flame no Stores abate,
Nor less his Hunger grew with his Estate.
One Daughter left, as left his keen Desire,
(A Daughter worthy of a better Sire
Her too he sold, spent Nature to sustain.

At last all Means, as all Provisions, fail'd;
For the Disease by Remedies prevail'd:
His Muscles with a furious Bite he tore,
Gorg'd his own tatter'd Flesh, and gulp'd his Gore:
Wounds were his Feast; his Life to Life a Prey:
Supporting Nature by it's own Decay.--


Scarce had Aurora left her orient Bed,
And rear'd above the Waves her radiant Head,
When pouring thro' the Gates, the Train appear,
Massylian Hunters with the steely Spear,
Sagacious Hounds, and Toils, and all the Sylvan War.

Soon as the Troop amid the Mountains came,
And storm'd the Coverts of the savage Game:
The Goats flew bounding o'er the craggy Brow,
From Rock to Rock, and sought the Fields below,
Here the fleet Stags chac'd down the tow'ring Steep,
In Clouds of Dust thro' the long Vallies sweep.--

There stood a Forest on a Mountain's Brow,
Which over--look'd the shaded Plains below.
The Heroes there arriv'd, some spread around
The Toils: some sought the Footsteps on the Ground:
Some from the Chains the faithful Dogs unbound.
Of Action eager, and intent in Thought,
The Chiefs an honourable Danger sought.

From hence the Boar was rous'd, and sprung amain,
Like Light'ning sudden, on the Warrior Train:
The Trees before him fall, he shakes the Ground,
The Forest echoes to the crackling Sound.
His Eye--Balls glare with Fire suffus'd with Blood:
His Neck shoots up a thick--set thorny Wood:
His bristled Back a Trench impal'd appears,
And stands erected, like a Field of Spears:
Froth fills his Chaps, he sends a grunting Sound,
And part he churns, and part be--foams the Ground:
Loud shout the Youth, and Clamours ring around.
All stood with their protended Spears prepar'd:
With broad Steel Heads the brandish'd Weapons glar'd.

The Beast impetuous, with his Tusks aside
Deals glancing Wounds; the fearful Dogs divide:
All spend their Mouths aloof, but none abide.
Echion threw the first, but miss'd his Mark,
And stuck his Boar--Spear on a Maple's Bark.
Then Jason:--and his Jav'lin seem'd to take,
But fail'd thro' over--force, and whiz'd above his Back.
Mopsus was next, and e'er he threw address'd
To Phoebus, thus: O Patron, help thy Priest!
If I adore, and ever have ador'd
Thy Pow'r Divine, thy present Aid afford,
That I may reach the Beast. The God allow'd
His Pray'r, and smiling, gave him what he cou'd:
He reach'd the Savage, but no Blood he drew:
Dian disarm'd the Jav'lin as it flew.

This chaf'd the Boar: his Nostrils Flames expire,
And his red Eye--Balls roll with living Fire.
Whirl'd from a Sling, or from an Engine thrown
Amid the Foes, so flies a mighty Stone
As flew the Beast. The left Wing put to Flight,
The Chiefs o'er--born, he rushes on the Right.
Empalamos and Pelagon he laid
In Dust, and would have kill'd, but for their Fellows Aid.
Onesimus far'd worse: prepar'd to fly,
The fatal Fang drove deep within his Thigh,
And cut the Nerves: the Nerves no more sustain
The Bulk: the Bulk unprop'd, falls headlong on the Plain.

Nestor had fail'd the Fall of Troy to see,
But leaning on his Lance, he vaulted on a Tree:
Then gathering up his Feet, look'd down with Fear,
And thought his monstrous Foe was still too near.
Against a Stump his Tusks the Monster grinds,
And in the sharpen'd Edge new Vigour finds:
Then, trusting to his Arms, young Othrys found,
And in his Hip struck deep a crooked Wound.

Now Leda's Twins, the future Stars, appear:
White were their Habits, white their Horses were:
Conspicuous both, and both in Act to throw,
Their trembling Lances brandish'd at the Foe:
Nor had they miss'd: but he to Thickets fled,
Conceal'd from aiming Spears, nor pervious to the Steed.

Now lovely Atalanta strain'd her Bow;
The well--sped Arrow left the twanging Yew,
And to the distant Mark unerring flew.
Beneath his Ear the fastned Arrow stood,
And from the Wound appear'd the trickling Blood.

With both his Hands the proud Ancaeus takes,
And flourishes his double--biting Ax:
Then, forward to his Fate, he fetch'd a Stride
Before the rest, and to his Fellows cry'd,
Give place, and mark the Diff'rence, if You can,
Between a Woman Warrior, and a Man:
The Boar is doom'd: nor tho' Diana lend
Her Aid, Diana can her Beast defend.
Thus boasted He; then stretch'd, on Tiptoe stood,
Secure to make his empty Promise good.
But the more wary Beast prevents the Blow,
And upward rips the Groin of his audacious Foe.
Ancaeus falls: His Bowels from the Wound
Rush out, and clotted Blood distains the Ground.

Two Spears from Meleager's Hand were sent,
With equal Force, but various in th' Event:
The first was fixt in Earth, the second stood
On the Boars bristled Back, and deeply drank his Blood.
Now while the tortur'd Savage turns around,
And flings about his Foam, impatient of the Wound,
The Wound's great Author close at Hand provokes
His Rage, and plies him with redoubled Strokes:
Wheels, as he Wheels: and with his pointed Dart
Explores the nearest Passage to his Heart.
Quick, and more quick he spins in giddy Gires,
Then falls, and in much Foam his Soul expires.
This Act, with Shouts Heav'n--high the friendly Band
Applaud, and strain in their's the Victor's Hand.
Then All approach the Slain with vast Surprize:
Admire on what a Breadth of Earth he lies:
And scarce secure, reach out their Spears afar,
And blood their Points, to prove their Partnership of War.--

Hunting the Hare.

As when a Hare the nimble Greyhound spies,
His Feet for Prey, she her's for Safety plies:
And now he strains, and now he forward bends,
Now to her Heels his lengthned Snout extends:
So near he bears, and hovers over the Prize,
He seems to seize her ev'ry Step she flies:
While she scarce knowing if She's caught or no,
Springs from his Mouth, and mocks the seizing Foe.--

See Amazon.

She, Huntress like, had on her Shoulders hung
A light commodious Bow; and giv'n the Winds
To wanton in her Tresses: bare her Knee:
And in a Knot her flowing Folds confin'd.--

The Nymph nor spun, nor dress'd with artful Pride:
Her Vest was gather'd up, her Hair was ty'd:
Now in her Hand a slender Spear she bore,
Now a light Quiver on her Shoulders wore:
To chast Diana from her Youth inclin'd,
The sprightly Warriors of the Wood she join'd.--

--Fair Atalanta came,
Grace of the Woods: a Diamond Buckle bound
Her Vest behind, that else had flow'd upon the Ground.
A single Knot her lovely Locks confin'd:
The Ends, uncurl'd, lay open to the Wind.
An Iv'ry Quiver, o'er her Shoulders flung,
Contain'd her Darts, which rattled as it hung.
In her left Hand a curious Bow she held,
And, thus array'd, she issu'd to the Field.
Such was her Face, as in a Nymph display'd
A fair fierce Boy, or in a Boy betray'd
The blushing Beauties of a modest Maid.--

Her Arms were naked to th' admiring Eye,
And in the Wind her comely Tresses fly:
A furnish'd Quiver on her Shoulder hung,
A Bow was in her Hand, but now unstrung:
Her Cretan Vest, short gather'd from the Ground,
A double Girdle regularly bound.--


See Dissimulation. Looks.
I'm sick of Rome, and wish myself convey'd
Where freezing Seas obstruct the Merchant's Trade:
When Hypocrites read Lectures, and a Sot,
Because into a Preaching--Habit got,
Tho' surfeit--gorg'd, and reeking from the Stews,
Nothing but Abstinence for's Theme will chuse.
The Creatures too pretend to Learning:--Why?
Chrysippus' Statue decks their Library.
Who makes his Closet finest, is most read:
The Dolt that with an Aristotle's Head,
Carv'd to the Life, has once adorn'd his Shelf,
Streight sets up for a Stagyrite himself.--


When Telephus his youthful Charms,
His rosy Neck, and winding Arms,
With endless Rapture you recite,
And in that pleasing Name delight:
My Heart, inflam'd by jealous Heats,
With numberless Resentments beats:
From my pale Cheek the Colour flies,
And all the Man within me dies.
By Fits my swelling Grief appears
In rising Sighs, and falling Tears,
That shew too well the warm Desires,
The silent, slow, consuming Fires,
Which on my inmost Vitals prey,
And melt my very Soul away.--

Her Love believes the Tale: the Truth she fears
Of his new Passion, and gives Way to Tears:
But soon, she cries, Oh! wherefore do I so?
The Harlot will but triumph in my Woe.
My raging Wrongs now urge me to pursue
Some desp'rate Deed, by which the World shall view
How far Revenge and Woman's Rage can rise,
When weltring in her Blood the Harlot dies.--

Now my fond Heart with jealous Torments bled,
For fear my Wife had wrong'd her nuptial Bed:
Much I distrust her Charms and blooming Years,
But then her Virtue checks my rising Fears.
Yet I was absent long; Experience too
Taught me how far a Woman could be true.
Each doubtful Circumstance Suspicion bred,
For Lovers Sceptics are, and all Things dread.
I try to seek what I should grieve to find,
Resolve to bribe her, and with Presents blind.--

Great Love is soonest with Suspicion fir'd;
She swoon'd, and with the Tale almost expir'd.
Senseless some time she lay, then thus began:
Ah, hapless Woman I! Ah faithless Man!--
Transported with imaginary Blame,
She fears a Nothing, a mere empty Name:
But grieves as much, and is as jealous too,
As if the Crime were real, the Rival true.
Yet oft she doubts, and hopes she is deceiv'd,
And scarce forgives herself that she believ'd:
Resolves to see, and to suspend her Blame,
Till her own Eyes convince her of the Shame.--

No furious Boar, whom Rage and Anger fire,
To rend the Dogs in his revengeful Ire:
No Lioness, whose Whelps receive the Breast,
No Viper, by unwary Footsteps prest:
Can equal Woman's Rage, by Fury led,
To find a Rival in her injur'd Bed.--

Soon as the Name of Aura Procris hears,
With Jealousy surpriz'd, and fainting Fears,
Her rosy Colour fled her lovely Face,
And Agonies like Death supply'd the Place:
Pale she appear'd, as are the falling Leaves,
When first the Vine the Winter Blast receives.
Of ripen'd Quinces such the yellow Hue,
Or, when unripe, we Cornel--Berries view.
Reviving from her Swoon, her Robes she tore:
Nor her own faultless Face to wound forbore.--


For him, ye Gods! for Crastinus, whose Spear
With impious Eagerness began the War,
Some more than common Punishment prepare:
Beyond the Grave long lasting Plagues ordain,
Surviving Sense, and never--ceasing Pain.--

--For Crimes like These,
So bold, and monstrous, may the righteous Gods
(If Heav'n has any Justice, that regards
Such Outrages) reward Thee, as thy Deeds
Deserve! who thus hast forc'd me to behold
The Murder of my Son, and with his Blood,
Barbarian! could'st pollute a Father's Sight.--

Thou Sun! who view'st at once the World below!
Thou Juno! Guardian of the nuptial Vow!
Thou Hecate! hearken from the dark Abodes:
Ye Furies! Fiends! and violated Gods!
All Powers invok'd with Dido's dying Breath,
Attend her Curses, and avenge her Death.
If so the Fates ordain, and Jove Commands
Th' ungrateful Wretch should find the Latian Lands:
Yet let a Race untam'd, and haughty Foes,
His peaceful Entrance with dire Arms oppose:
Oppress'd with Numbers in th' unequal Field,
His Men discourag'd, and himself expell'd,
Let him for Succour sue from Place to Place,
Torn from his Subjects, and his Son's Embrace.
First let him see his Friends in Battle slain,
And their untimely Fate lament in vain:
And when, at length, the cruel War shall cease,
On hard Conditions may he buy his Peace.
Nor let him then enjoy supreme Command,
But fall, untimely, by some hostile Hand:
And lye unbury'd on the barren Sand.
These are my Pray'rs, and this my dying Will,
And you, my Tyrians, every Curse fulfil:
Perpetual Hate, and mortal Wars proclaim,
Against the Prince, the People, and the Name:
These grateful Off'rings on my Grave bestow,
Nor League, nor Love, the hostile Nations know:
Now, and from hence, in every future Age,
When Rage excites your Arms, and Strength supplies the Rage:
Rise some Avenger of our Lybian Blood,
With Fire and Sword pursue the perjur'd Brood:
Our Arms, our Seas, our Shores oppos'd to theirs,
And the same Hate descend on all our Heirs.--

-- Tisiphone!
Oh hear, and aid the Vengeance I require,
If worthy Thee, and what Thou might'st inspire!
My Sons their old unhappy Sire despise,
Spoil'd of his Kingdom, and depriv'd of Eyes:
Guideless, I wander, unregarded mourn,
While these exalt their Scepters o'er my Urn:
These Sons, ye Gods! who with flagitious Pride,
Insult my Darkness, and my Groans deride.
Art thou a Father, unregarding Jove!
And sleeps thy Thunder in the Realms above?
Thou Fury then, some lasting Curse entail,
Which o'er their Children's Children shall prevail:
Place on their Heads that Crown distain'd with Gore,
Which these dire Hands from my slain Father tore:
Go, and a Parent's heavy Curses bear:
Break all the Bonds of Nature, and prepare
Their kindred Souls to mutual Hate and War!
Give them to dare, what I might wish to see,
Blind as I am, some glorious Villany!--

May Ghosts surround her with complaining Cries;
And the dire Owl scream at her from the Skies:
May She, of ev'ry Kind of Food bereft,
Rob Graves, and gnaw the Bones that Wolves have left!--