A PARAPHRASE FROM THE ÆNEID, LIB. IX
Nisus, the guardian of the portal stood,
Eager to gild his arms with hostile blood
Well skill'd in fight the quivering lance to wield,
Or pour his arrow, through th' embattled field:
From Ida ton' he left his sylvan cave,
And sought a foreign home, a distant grave.
To watch the movements of the Daunian host,
With him Euraylius sustains the post;
No lovelier mien adorn'd the ranks of Troy,
And beardiess bloom yet graced the gallant boy;
Though few the seasons of his youthful life,
As yet a novice in the martial strife,
'Twas his, with beauty, valour's gifts to share –
A soul heroic, as his form was fair:
These burn with one pure flame of generous love;
In peace, in war, united still they move
Friendship and glory form their joint reward;
And now combined they hold their nightly guard.
'What god,' exclaimed the first, 'instils this fire?
Or, in itself a god, what great desire?
My labouring soul, with anxious thought opress'd;
Abhors this station of inglorious rest;
The love of fame with this can ill accord
Be't mine to seek for glory with my sword.
Seest thou yon camp, with torches twinkling dim,
Where drunken slumbers wrap each lazy limb?
Where confidence and and ease the watch disdain,
And drowsy Silence holds her sable reign?
Then hear my thought:-In deep and sullen grief
Our troops and leaders mourn their absent chief:
Now could the gifts and promiised prize be thine
(The deed the danger, and the fame be mine),
Were this decreed, beneath yon rising mound,
Methinks, an easy path perchance were found;
Which past, I speed my way to Pallas' walls;
And lead Æneas from Evander's halls.'
With equal ardour fired, and warlike joy,
His glowing friend address'd the Dardan boy:-
'These deeds, my Nisus, shalt thou dare alone?
Must all the fame the peril, be thlne own?
Am I by thee despised, and left afar,
As one unfit to share the toils of war?
Not thus his son the great Opheltes taught;
Not thus my sire in Argive combats fought;
Not thus, when Ilion fell by heavenly hate,
I track'd Æneas through the walks of fate:
Thou know'st my deeds, my breast devoid of fear,
And hostile life-drops dim my gory spear.
Here is a soul with hope immortal burns,
And life, ignoble life, for glory spurns.
Fame, fame fs cheaply earn'd by fleeting breath:
The price of honour is the sleep of death.'
Then Nisus:-'Calm thy bosom's fond alarms:
Thy heart beats fiercely to the din of arms.
More dear thy worth and valour than my own,
I swear by him who fills Olympus' throne!
So may I triumph, as I speak the truth,
And clasp again the comrade of my youth!
But should I fall,– and he who dares advance
Through hostile legions must abide by chance,–
If some Rutulian arm, with adverse blow,
Should lay the friend, who ever loved thee, low,
Live thou, such beauties I would fain preserve,
Thy budding years a lengthen'd term deserve.
When humbled in the dust, let some one be,
Whose gentle eyes will shed one tear for me;
Whose manly arm may snatch me back by force
Or wealth redeem from foes my captive corse;
Or, if my destiny these last deny,
If in the spoiler's power my ashes lie,
Thy pious care may raise a simple tomb,
To mark thy love, and signalize my doom
Why should thy doting wretched mother weep
Her only boy, reclined in endless sleep?
Who, for thy sake, the tempest's fury dared,
Who, for thy sake, war's deadly peril shared;
Who braved what woman ne'er braved before,
And left her native for the Latian shore.'
'In vain you damp the ardour of my soul,'
Replied Euryalus; 'it scorns control!
Hence, let us haste! '- their brother guards arose,
Roused by their call, nor court again repose;
The pair, bouyed up on Hope's exulting wing,
Their stations leave, and speed to seek the king.
Now o'er the earth a solemn stillness ran,
And lull'd alike the cares of brute and man;
Save where the Dardan leaders rughtly hold
Alternate converse, and their plans unfold.
On one great point the council are agreed,
An insttant message to their prince decreed;
Each lean'd upon the lance he well could wield,
And poised with easy arm his ancient shield;
When Nisus and his friend their leave request
To offer something to their high behest.
With anxious trernors, yet unawed by fear,
The faithful pair before the throne appear:
Iulus greets them; at his kind command,
The elder first address'd the hoary band.
'With patience' (thus Hyctacides hegan
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"The Episode Of Nisus And Euryalus" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 10 Apr. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/15227/the-episode-of-nisus-and-euryalus>.