Henry Baker Poems >>
Medulla Poetarum Romanorum - VOL. II. (Storm - Summer)

Storm at Land.
See Tempest.

Oft have I seen, when now the Farmer brought
The Reaper to his yellow Fields, and bound
His Sheaves with brittle Straw, the warring Winds
All rise at once, and from the Roots uprend
His full--ear'd Corn, and whirl it high in Air.
With such a Gust an Hurricane would drive
Light flying Stubble.--Oft too Floods immense
Of Waters gush from Heav'n: and gather'd Clouds
Brew the black Storm aloft, with dusky Show'rs:
The rushing Sky descends, and with vast Rain
Drowns the rich Crop, and Labours of the Plough.
The hollow Dykes are fill'd: with roaring Noise
The foaming Rivers swell: and in the Friths
Toss'd by the Winds the wintry Ocean boils.
Great Jove himself, amidst the Night of Clouds,
Hurls with his red Right--hand the forky Fire:
Earth trembles: Savage Beasts to Covert fly:
And Mortals Hearts, o'er all the World, with Dread
Sink shudd'ring, and appall'd.--

--With redoubled Force
The Winds condense the Tempest: Woods roar loud
With struggling Blasts: and Rivers lash their Shores.--

Like Boreas in his Race, when rushing forth,
He sweeps the Skies, and clears the cloudy North:
The waving Harvest bends beneath his Blast,
The Forest shakes, the Groves their Honours cast:
He flies aloft, and with impetuous Roar,
Pursues the foaming Surges to the Shore.--

So, when the Winds in airy Conflict rise,
Here South and West charge dreadful in the Skies,
There louder Eurus, to the Battle born,
Mounts the swift Coursers of the purple Morn:
Beneath the Whirlwind roar the bending Woods:
With his huge Trident Neptune strikes the Floods,
Foams, Storms, and tempesting the Deeps around,
Bares the broad Bosom of the dark Profound.--

--Black with rushing Rain
A Tempest rag'd enormous, and the Hills
And Fields with Thunder shook: o'er all the Sky
A Shower with Water dark, and thickned Winds,
Turbid descends.--


Storm at Sea. Shipwreck.

Now got from Shore, a Breeze began to blow,
The Sailors ship their Oars, and cease to Row:
Then hoist their Yards a--trip, and all their Sails
Let fall, to court the Winds, and catch the Gales.
The Vessel scarce half Way, at most no more,
By this had run, far off from either Shore,
When, in the Night, the foaming Billows rise,
And the fierce East--Wind blusters thro' the Skies.--

At this, the Master soon began to cry,
Strike, strike the Topsail: let the Main--sheet fly,
And furl your Sails:--the Winds repel the Sound,
And in the Speaker's Mouth the Speech is drown'd.
Yet of their own accord, as Danger taught,
Each in his Way, officiously they wrought:
Some stow their Oars, or stop the leaky Sides:
Another bolder yet, the Yard bestrides,
And folds the Sails: A fourth with Labour laves
Th' intruding Seas, and Waves ejects on Waves.

In this Confusion while their Work they ply,
The Winds augment the Winter of the Sky,
And wage intestine War: the suff'ring Seas
Are toss'd and mingl'd, as their Tyrants please.
The Master would command, but in despair
Of Safety, stands amaz'd with stupid Care:
Nor what to bid, or what forbid he knows,
Th' ungovern'd Tempest to such Fury grows:
Vain is his Force, and vainer is his Skill,
With such a Concourse comes the Flood of Ill.
The Cries of Men are mixt with rattling Shrowds:
Seas dash on Seas, and Clouds encounter Clouds:
At once from East to West, from Pole to Pole,
The forky Lightnings flash, the roaring Thunders roll.--

Now Waves on Waves ascending from on high,
Seas mix with Clouds, and dash against the Sky:
Now from the Bottom yellow Sands they lave:
Now black: alike in Colour shews the Wave:
Now white with Froth appear the flatted Seas:
The Vessel shifts, and changes, as they please.
As on a Mountain--Top, she rides on high,
And from the Clouds beholds the nether Sky:
Then sinking with the Wave on which she rose,
Down to the Bottom of the Deep she goes:
Whence, as from Hell's Abyss, they lift their Sight,
And, distant far, see Heav'n's superior Light.--

The lashing Billows make a loud Report,
And beat her Sides, as batt'ring Rams a Fort:
Or as chaff'd Lions, with redoubled Rage,
Rush with a Roar, and pointed Spears engage:
So Seas by Winds impell'd, with added Pow'r,
Assault the Sides, and o'er the Hatches tow'r.--

The Planks (their pitchy Cov'ring wash'd away)
Now yield: and now a yawning Breach display:
The roaring Waters, with a hostile Tide,
Rush thro' the Ruins of her gaping Side.--
Mean time the Sky descends in Sheets of Rain:
You'd think all Heav'n were pouring on the Main:
One rising, falling one, the Heav'ns and Sea
Meet at their Confines in the middle Way.
The Sails are drunk with Show'rs, and drop with Rain;
Sweet Waters mingle with the briny Main.
No Star appears to lend it's friendly Light;
Darkness and Tempest make a double Night.
But flashing Fires disclose the Deep by turns,
And while the Lightnings blaze, the Water burns.--

The bounding Billows now her Deck possess'd:
And as some Soldier, braver than the rest,
Who oft to scale a City's Wall essays,
At last succeeds, and fir'd with Hopes of Praise,
Amongst a thousand gains the Wall alone:
So, while the rolling Waves come raging on,
The Hero Tenth, high tow'ring o'er her Sides,
Claims all the Vessel, and in triumph rides.
Waves urg'd by Waves the Bark without assail,
Waves too are got within.--
The frighted Crew all tremble and look pale:
As in a City, whose surrounding Wall,
Part of the Foe is batt'ring to it's fall,
While part, a Passage forc'd, with Sword in Hand,
Destruction threaten, and within command.--
Art fails, and Courage falls: no Succour near:
As many Waves, as many Deaths appear.
One weeps and wails, despairing of Relief:
One stupid stands, his Fears congeal his Grief:
One loud laments his miserable State,
And calls those happy whom their Fun'rals wait.
This Wretch with Pray'rs and Vows the Gods adores,
Uplifts his useless Hands,--
And Aid from Heav'n, from Heav'n unseen, implores:
That on his Friends at home his Thoughts bestows,
His Parents, Brethren, and his dearer Spouse:
His House, his Children, fill Another's Mind;
And each deplores what He shall leave behind.--

The giddy Ship ran round: The Tempest tore
Her Mast, and over--board the Rudder bore.
One Billow mounts, and with a scornful Brow,
Proud of her Conquest gain'd, insults the Waves below;
Nor lighter falls, than if some Gyant tore
Pindus and Athos with the Freight they bore,
And toss'd on Seas: press'd with the pond'rous Blow,
Down sinks the Ship within th' Abyss below:
Down with the Vessel sink into the Main
The Many, never more to rise again.
Some few on scatter'd Planks, with fruitless Care,
Lay hold, and swim, but while they swim, despair.--

--Out rush the Winds,
Thronging, where way they find: with giddy Whirls
Scour o'er the Lands, and then with Fury fall
Upon the Sea: East, South, and stormy West,
Together, from it's lowest Caverns rouse
The Deep: and roll vast Billows to the Shore.
Cracking of Cordage, and the Cries of Men
Succeed: by sudden Clouds the Heavens and Day
Are ravish'd from the Trojans Eyes: Dun Night
Lies hovering o'er the Sea: loud Thunder rocks
The Poles: the Sky with nimble Lightning glares:
And ev'ry Object threatens present Death.--

--The Tempest from the North,
Loud roaring, struck across the Sails, and toss'd
The Billows to the Stars: the Oars are stav'd:
The Prow inclines, and on the Surges lays
It's Side: a Mountain--heap of Waves succeeds.

From Prow to Stern a mighty Billow strikes
Full o'er the Ship: the Master, swept from Deck,
Rolls headlong: her the circling Eddy thrice
Works round, and swallows in the rapid Gulf.--

Now from the Sight of Land our Gallies move,
With only Seas around, and Skies above:
When o'er our Heads descends a Burst of Rain,
And Night with sable Clouds involves the Main:
The ruffling Winds the foamy Billows raise:
The scatter'd Fleet is driven several Ways:
The Face of Heav'n is ravish'd from our Eyes,
And in redoubled Peals the roaring Thunder flies.
Cast from our Coast, we wander in the dark:
No Stars to guide, no point of Land to mark.
No Difference to the Pilot did appear
'Twixt Night and Day: nor knew he how to steer.
Three star--less Nights the doubtful Navy strays,
We know not whither, and three sunless Days.
The fourth renews the Light, and from our Shrowds
We view a rising Land, like distant Clouds:
The Mountain Tops confirm the pleasing Sight,
And curling Smoke ascending from their Height.
The Canvas falls: their Oars the Sailors ply:
From their strong Strokes the whirling Waters fly.--


Suicide.
See Despair. Lover desponding.

Now to the inmost Court fierce Dido flies,
And rolls with ghastly Looks her glaring Eyes:
Tho' pale, and shiv'ring, at her purpos'd Doom,
And ev'ry dreadful Thought of Death to come,
Yet many a crimson Flush, with various Grace,
Glows on her Cheek, and kindles in her Face.

Furious she mounts the Pyre, and draws the Sword,
The fatal Present of the Dardan Lord:
For no such End bestow'd. The conscious Bed,
And Robes she view'd, and Tears in Silence shed:
Stood still, and paus'd a Moment:--Then she cast
Her Body on the Couch, and spoke her last.

Ye dear, dear Relicks of the Man I lov'd,
While Fate consented, and the Gods approv'd,
Relieve my Woes, this Rage of Love controul,
Take my last Breath, and catch my parting Soul.
My fatal Course is finish'd, and I go
A Ghost majestic to the Realms below:
Happy! thrice happy! if the Dardan Band
Had never touch'd upon the Lybian Land.
Then pressing with her Lips the Trojan Bed,
Shall I then die, and unreveng'd? (she said,)
Yet die I will:--and thus, and thus, I go--
Thus--fly with Pleasure, to the Shades below.

Mean time, the sad Attendants as she spoke,
Beheld her strike, and sink beneath the Stroke.
At once her snowy Hands were purpled o'er,
And the bright Faulchion smoak'd with streaming Gore.--

With sudden Shrieks the Palace rings around:
The long, long Cries, from Street to Street resound:
Nothing is heard but Groans and Women's Cries,
And loud Laments re--echo thro' the Skies.--

A Rock there stood, whose Side the beating Waves
Had long consum'd, and hollow'd into Caves:
The Head shot forwards in a bending Steep,
And cast a dreadful Covert o'er the Deep.
The wretched Ino, on Destruction bent,
Climb'd up the Cliff: such Strength her Fury lent:
Thence with her guiltless Boy, who wept in vain,
At one bold Spring she plung'd into the Main.--

He who could often, and alone, withstand
The Foe, the Fire, and Jove's own partial Hand,
Now cannot his un--master'd Grief sustain,
But yields to Rage, to Madness, and Disdain.
Then snatching out his Faulchion, Thou, said He,
Art mine:--or lays Ulysses claim to Thee?
O often try'd, and ever trusty Sword,
Now do thy last kind Office to thy Lord:
'Tis Ajax who requests thy Aid, to show,
None but himself, himself could overthrow.
He said, and with so good a Will to die,
Did to his Breast the fatal Point apply,
It found his Heart: a Way till then unknown,
Where never Weapon enter'd, but his own.
No Hands could force it thence, so fixt it stood,
Till out it rush'd, expell'd by Streams of spouting Blood.--

My gallant Friends! whom our hard Fates decree,
This Night, this short Night only, to be free:
Think what remains to do, but think with Haste,
E'er the brief Hour of Liberty be past.
Perhaps, reduc'd to this so hard Extream,
Too short, to some, the Date of Life may seem:
Yet know, brave Youths! that none untimely fall,
Whom Death obeys, and comes but when they call.
'Tis true, the neighb'ring Danger waits us nigh:
We meet but that from which we cannot fly:
Yet think not with inferior Praise we die.
Dark and uncertain is Man's fatal Doom:
If Years, or only Moments, are to come,
All is but Dying: he who gives an Hour,
Or he that gives an Age, gives all that's in his Pow'r.
Sooner or late, all Mortals know the Grave,
But to chuse Death distinguishes the Brave.
Behold where, waiting round, yon hostile Band,
Our Fellow--Citizens, our Lives demand.
Prevent we then their cruel Hands, and bleed:--
Tis but to do what is too sure decreed,
And where our Fate would drag us on, to lead.

Is there a gen'rous Youth, Vulteius cry'd,
Whose worthy Sword may pierce your Leader's Side?
He said: and at the Word, from ev'ry Part,
An hundred pointed Weapons reach'd his Heart.
Dying he prais'd 'em all, but him the chief,
Whose eager Duty brought the first Relief:
Deep in his Breast he plung'd the deadly Blade,
And with a grateful Stroke the friendly Gift repaid.

At once all rush, at once to Death they fly,
And on each others Swords alternate dye.--


Summer.
See Seasons. Year.

In Heav'n's high Arch, and on the utmost Line
Of Summer's Progress, Cancer seats his Sign:
There stretches out the greatest Length of Day,
And then declines, and makes it soon decay:
But all the Time, which, as he bears the Light,
He takes from Day, he still returns to Night.
Then Corn grows yellow on the fruitful Soil,
And lusty Reapers bear their Arms for Toil:
Then Seas grow warm, the Flood forbears to roar,
And Billows languish on the quiet Shore.
Then Mars goes forth, nor is the Scythian Coast
From Roman Arms defended by her Frost.

Thus lies the World, when with exalted Ray,
I' th' Summer Solstice, Phoebus bears the Day
Thro' Cancer's Sign, and drives the highest Way.--

The Sun is in the Lion mounted high:
The Syrian Star
Barks from afar,
And with his sulty Breath infects the Sky.
The Shepherd drives his fainting Flock,
Beneath the Covert of a Rock,
And seeks refreshing Riv'lets nigh:
The Sylvans to their Shades retire,
Those very Shades and Streams new Shades and Streams require:
And want a cooling Breeze of Wind to fan the raging Fire.--

Fields Corn produce, when Syrius' Star appears,
And annual Harvests wave their yellow Ears.-