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To waste (1) the hour of action in dispute,
And calmly plan how freedom's boughs should shoot (2),
When your invader's axe was at the root.
For in that hour were France (3) my native land,
I would have followed with quick heart and hand
Napoleon, Nero, nay, no matter whom,
To snatch my country from that damning doom (4).
True he was false-despotic-all you please-
Had trampled down (8) man's holiest liberties,
Had, by a genius form'd for nobler things,
Than lie within the grasp (6) of vulgar kings
But raised the hopes of men—as eaglets fly
With tortoises aloft into the sky
To dash them down (7) again more shatteringly (8),
All this I own, but still * * * * * * * * * * * *
My birthday!” What a different sound
That word had in my youthful ears !
And how, each time the day comes round,
Less and less white its mark appears !
(1) To waste, perdre.
(2) To shoot, en parlant des plantes , signifie pousser.
(3) Were France, si la France eût été.
(4) Damning doom , horrible destinée.
(5) To trample down, fouler aux pieds.
(6) Within the grasp , à la portée.
(7) To dash down, écraser.
(8) More shatteringly, d'une manière plus destructive.
When first our scanty years (1) are told,
It seems like pastime to grow old;
And, as youth counts the shining links (2),
That time around him binds so fast,
Pleas'd with the task he little thinks
How hard that chain will press at last.
Vain was the man, and false as vain,
Who said, “ Were he ordain’d to run
“ His long career of life again,
“ He would do all that he had done.
Ah, 'tis not thus the voice that dwells (3)
In sober birthdays (4) speaks to me;
Far otherwise-of time it tells,
Lavish'd (5) unwisely, carelessly-
Of counsel mock'd-of talents, made
Haply (6) for high and pure designs,
But oft, like Israel's incense (7), laid
Upon unholy, earth'y shrines-
All this it tells, and, could I trace
The imperfect picture o'er again (8),
With power to add, retouch, efface
The lights and shades, the joy and pain,
(1) Scanty years, peu d'années.
(2) The shining links, les anneaux brillants.
(5) To dwell, rester, demeurer.
(4) Sober birthdays , l'âge mûr.
(5) Lavished, prodigué, dépensé follement.
(6) Haply, pour perhaps, peut-être.
(7) Israel's incense, l'encens des Juifs.
(8) O'er again , de nouveau.
How little of the past would stay!
How quickly all should melt away!
THE GOLDEN IDOL, OR THE PIOUS GOLDSMITH (1).
I have seen this anecdote somewhere in prose , but not having
recollected it till the first part of the book was printed off, I have attempted to recite it in verse.
A certain Rajah, as we're told,
Wanted a Krisbnu (2) of pure gold,
Idol of virtues manifold,
But doubted much obtaining it.
For e'en as now, in times of old,
The age, by poets styled, of gold,
Trusting the metal to the mould
Was easier than regaining it.
So pondering long on measures best
To put the goldsmiths to the test,
His mind was long deprived of rest
Ere he could well mature one.
At length a plan so well arranged ,
The precious ore could not be changed,
(1) Goldsmith, orfèvre, de gold, or, et smith, fèvre, fabre, ouvrier, qui frappe.
(2) Krishnu ou Krexno, idole des Bramines ou Brachmanes, prêtres indiens,
No particle could be estranged,
The scheme (1) was such a sure one.
The Rajah his conditions told
To all the goldsmiths young and old,
That he to one would trust the gold
On two or three conditions.
“ Not,” added he," that I suspect
Duplicity or e'en neglect;
But sland'rous tongues will thus be check’d,
'Twill banish all suspicions.
“ The terms are these, they're far from hard;
You'll be lock'd up and under guard;
Such trifles none will sure regard
Who wish to live in story.
You'll also, when your work you quit,
At noon, your clothes to guards remit;
'Tis all to which you need submit
To gain immortal glory.
Now whether lack (2) of pious zeal,
Which worldly men are slow to feel,
Or interest, main spring and wheel
Of smiths since days of Vulcan,
Did operate on old and young,
'Tis said that no one found a tongue,'
Nor asked to be extolled or sung,
Tho' highly as Mogul can.
(1) Scheme, plan; prononcez squime. (2) Lack, manque.
At length howe'er the spirit moved
A youth who glory, int'rest loved,
And having in his mind revolv’d,
Thought they might be united.
“ Great prince ! ” said he, “ be mine the task;
Glory, not interest I ask;
These egotists have dropp'd the mask.
The Rajah was delighted.
The gold was weighed, the model shown,
The youth lock'd up to work alone,
That is with guards, from morn till noon;
'Twas all the time required.
Then home return’d to fabricate
A brazen Krishnu, size and weight
The same as that he made the state,
Against the day (1) desired.
He work'd with ardour morn and night;
Each piece was so exact to sight,
That which the false or which the right,
'Twould puzzle to discover.
For having fillid, with pond'rous lead ,
The tête divine like mortal head
Of brass, that it might serve instead
Of gold, was gilded over.
The work complete, the Rajah vowed
Some great reward should be allowed;
(1) Against the day, pour le jour, avant le jour.