To John Milton, English Gentleman
Exalt Me, Clio,1 to the skies,
That I may form a starry crown,
Beyond what Helicon supplies
In laureate garlands of renown;
To nobler worth be brighter glory given,
And to a heavenly mind a recompense from heaven.
Time's wasteful hunger cannot prey
On everlasting high desert,
Nor can Oblivion steal away
Its record graven on the heart;
Lodge but an arrow, Virtue, on the bow
That binds my lyre, and death shall be a vanquished foe.
In Ocean's blazing flood enshrined.
Whose vassal tide around her swells,
Albion. from other realms disjoined,
The prowess of the world excels;
She teems with heroes that to glory rise,
With more than human force in our astonished eyes.
To Virtue, driven from other lands,
Their bosoms yield a safe retreat;
Her law alone their deed commands,
Her smiles they feel divinely sweet;
Confirm my record, Milton, generous youth!
And by true virtue prove thy virtue's praise a truth.
Zeuxis, all energy and flaine,
Set ardent forth in his career,
Urged to his task by Helen's fame,
Resounding ever in his ear;
To make his image to her beauty true,
From the collected fair each sovereign charm he drew.2
The bee, with subtlest skill endued,
Thus toils to earn her precious juice,
From all the flowery myriads strewed
O'er meadow and parterre profuse;
Confederate voices one sweet air compound,
And various chords consent in one harmonious sound.
An artist of celestial aim,
Thy genius, caught by moral grace,
With ardent emulation's flame
The steps of Virtue toiled to trace,
Observed in everv land who brightest shone,
And blending all their best, make perfect good thy own.
Front all in Florence born, or taught
Our country's sweetest accent there,
Whose works, with learned labor wrought,
Immortal honors justly share,
Then hast such treasure drawn of purest ore,
That not even Tuscan bards can boast a richer store.
Babel, confused, and with her towers
Unfinished spreading wide and plain,
Has served but to evince thy powers,
With all hot, tongues confused in vain,
Since not alone thy England's purest phrase,
But every polished realm thy various speech displays.
The secret things of heaven and earth,
By nature, too reserved. concealed
From other minds of highest worth,
To thee ate copiously revealed;
Thou knowest them clearly, and thy views attain
The utmost bounds prescribed to moral truth's domain.
Let Time no snore his wing display,
And boast his ruinous career,
For Virtue, rescued front his sway.
His injuries may cease to fear;
Since all events that claim remembrance find
A chronicle exact in thy capacious mind.
Give me, that I may praise thy song,
Thy lyre, by which alone I can,
Which, placing thee the stars among,
Already proves thee more than man;
And Thames shall seem Permessus,3 while his stream
Graced with a swan like thee. shall be my favorite theme.
I, who beside the Arno, strain
To match thy merit with my lays,
Learn, after many an effort vain,
To admure thee rather than to praise;
And that by mute astonishment alone,
Not by the fathering tongue, thy worth may best be shown.
--Signor Antonio Francini, Gentleman, of Florence.