The skilful Architect whose dædal hand
Contrives the far-resplendent dome to raise,
Bids the bright porch on shapely columns stand,
That rich with gold and polish'd marble, blaze.—
So we superbly pour along
In conscious dignity the opening Song.
To him Olympia's Wreath who wears,
Who guards the Thunderer's sacred Fane,
And every social blessing shares,
With Syracusa's happy train;
Each friendly voice shall notes of triumph blow,
And each unenvious hand, a votive Wreath bestow.

In this thrice-honor'd State by fortune placed
The happy son of Sostratus behold!
Nor is the Warrior, or the Seaman graced
Till Danger and till Toil their worth unfold.
But Fame's eternal Pæans wait
The virtuous labors of the brave and great.—
To thee, Agesias, shall belong
Those genuine Praises, which of old
Adrastus with no flattering tongue
On Amphiaraus, sacred Seer! bestow'd:
What time the fatal earth with yawning womb,
Him and his fiery steeds clos'd living in the tomb.

Now seven funeral pyres begun
To shed a lurid blaze around,
When Talaus' sorrowing son
Pour'd to the Theban host this mournful sound:
‘O how I languish to behold
‘The bravest of my warrior train,
‘Who Fate's eternal mysteries can unfold,
‘Or spread destruction o'er the embattled plain!
To him, the Syracusan Youth belong
Such praise, to whom I tune the Olympic Song.
No Son of Discord, I proclaim
His Worths, his Triumphs are the same:
And with an oath confirm the unerring strain,
Form'd by the favoring help of all Aonia's train.

Come then, O Phintis! to the shining Car
With speed, with speed, the rapid Coursers join;
That whirling o'er the purest paths afar
We reach his Ancestor's high-honor'd line.
Above the rest my Coursers know
When Pisa's Olive decks the Hero's brow,
To bear him o'er the sounding road
Where, far from dark oblivion's cell,
Bright Honor holds her high abode,
And Fame and Glory ever dwell.
Now wide the Gates of Harmony display,
For to Eurota's shores I guide the sounding Lay.

To fair Pitana sing, who whilom bore
Evadne, beauteous in her hair that flows.
Compress'd by Neptune on the silent shore,
With strictest care she hid her virgin throes;
But when the circling moons her pain
Maturely brought, she bade her female train,
To Æpytus' parental hands
With silent care the Child convey;
Phasana's turrets who commands,
Where Alpheus pours his silver-winding way:
On whose enamell'd banks she learn'd to prove,
In great Apollo's arms, the blushing Rites of Love.

As o'er Heaven's eternal field
Roll'd the hours in circling pace,
Time to Æpytus reveal'd
The produce of the stolen embrace;
Now to Pytho's sacred Shrine
Eager the anxious Monarch goes,
To listening Phœbus and the powers divine
The impious deed impatient to disclose.
Mean time her zone with purple texture graced
Beside the silver urn Evadne placed
Veil'd by the bow'ring grove from sight,
And gave the heaven-born child to light,
While on his birth the God with golden hair
Invokes the auspicious Fates, and chaste Lucina's care.

Not long, Iamus, on the lonely glade
Unnoticed, unprotected, didst thou lie:—
For by the Gods command, lo through the shade!
Two watchful Dragons dart with azure eye,
And from the Bees transparent hoard
Thy little breast with dulcet nurture stor'd.
And now by rocky Pytho taught
The wandering King, return'd again,
From all his train domestic sought
The fruit of fair Evadne's pain;
For shining Phœbus from his sacred Shrine
Proclaim'd Evadne's Love, and own'd the Boy divine.

And openly declar'd his future worth
Above mankind in mystic lore should shine,
And ne'er be wanting in the happy birth
Of glorious sons.—Thus spake the voice divine!
Five days were pass'd the mother's pain,
Unfound the Infant by the careful train.
Far from the reach of every eye,
Deep in the irriguous rushes laid,
While purple violets growing by,
With dewy leaves his body shade:
His mother's voice at length the place proclaim'd,
And from his fragrant couch the heavenly Infant named.

As the gently circling hours
Still their fostering influence shed,
And opening Manhood's roseate flowers
Kindly crown'd his blooming head;
Descending then to Alpheus' shores,
While round his head the night-winds blow,
He calls the God who rules where Ocean roars,
And Phœbus dreadful with his silver bow:
Desiring public Fame, and fair Renown,
Might with their verdant Wreaths his Temples crown.—
Soon each paternal voice divine
Own'd him as sprung from Heavenly Line;
‘Rise, Son, and this propitious sound pursue,
‘Till Pisa's crowded plains rise to thy raptur'd view.’

The Hero straight the voice obey'd; and now
Cronius, thy cliffs and rocky heights they scale;
There the kind Gods the twofold Art bestow
Of Augury, that never knew to fail;
There, many a dreadful labor done,
At length when great Alcmena's Son
Arriv'd, and bade the awful Shrine
Sacred to potent Jove arise,
And first began those Rites divine,
Where Courage wins the Olympic Prize;
He rais'd the crouded Fane's prophetic fame,
Whilst Grecia's shouting Sons Iamus' Worth proclaim.

Hence endless Fame, and happy Fortunes wait
On the Iamidæ's exulting race.—
Those who in Virtue's rugged ways are great
The most conspicuous paths of life shall grace,
Still glorious deeds the Hero speak
Though Envy burst her venom'd cheek,
And teach her offspring to despise
The Man, on Pisa's trophied plain
Whose Coursers know the Olympic Prize
In the twelve-turn'd Course to gain.—
Grateful, Agesias! to the powers divine
Were all the fervent vows of thy maternal line.

Who beneath the sacred shade
Which Cyllene's mountains shed,
Honors due for ever paid
To Hermes' venerable head;
To him who cleaves the yielding skies,
The Herald of the ethereal train,
Who in the Olympic strife appoints the prize,
And guards Arcadia's happy-peopled plain.
He and his thundering Sire to thee decreed,
O son of Sostratus! the glorious meed.—

A sudden thought I raptur'd feel,
Which, as the whetstone points the steel,
Brightens my sense, and bids me warbling raise
To the soft-breathing flute, the kindred notes of praise.

From fair Arcadia too my line I bring,
From Stymphalus the bright Metopa came,
Mother of warlike Thebes, whose silver spring
I drink, and votive songs of triumph frame.
Bid your compeers now Æneas raise
Their voices to Parthenian Juno's praise;
Then shall be known if we avoid
The long-borne Adage of Disgrace
Which ancient Malice has employ'd
To stigmatise Bœotia's race;
To thee the secrets of the Muse belong,
And well thou know'st to guide the far-resounding song.

To Syracusa's and Ortygia's praise,
Tell them aloud to swell the exulting strain;
Whose plains with blameless sceptre Hiero sways,
Performing sacred Rites to Ceres' Fane,
To her lov'd Daughter, Pluto's Love,
And him the King of Gods, Ætnean Jove.
Him the sounding Lyre, and Song,
Know, and honor as their friend;
Ne'er may time that rolls along
To his blessings give an end,
Still may he, Fortune's friend, with chearful voice
In bold Agesias' worth, and votive hymns rejoice.

Stymphalus' maternal walls,
And Aracadia's fleecy glades
Leaving:—here his fortune calls
To Sicilia's fragrant shades;
Either country claims him now;—
When the midnight tempests roar,
And raging loud the stormy whirlwinds blow,
Two anchors best the shatter'd vessel moor.
On each may Heaven it's guardian care bestow!—
And thou who rul'st where Ocean's torrents flow,
Amphitrite's honor'd mate,
Through the rocks and shoals of Fate
Propitious guide Agesias' bark along,
And grace with livelier flowers my rapture-breathing Song.

More verses by Henry James Pye