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"TWAS on a lofty vase's side, Where China's gayest art had dy'd

The azure flowers, that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,

The pensive Selima, reclin'd,
Gaz'd on the lake below.

Her conscious tail her joy declar'd;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,

The velvet of her

Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purr'd applause.

[2] Mr. Walpole, after the death of Mr. Gray, placed the China vase in question on a pedestal at Strawberry-Hill, with the first four lines of the Ode for its inscription.

Twas on this Vase's lofty side, &c.

Still had she gaz'd; but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide, [3]
The Genii of the stream:

Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Thro' richest purple to the view
Betray'd a golden gleam.

The hapless Nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first, and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,

She stretch'd, in vain, to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What Cat's averse to fish?

Presumptuous Maid! with looks intent
Again she stretch'd, again she bent,

Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smil'd)
The slipp'ry verge her feet beguil'd,
She tumbled headlong in.

[3] Var.-Two beauteous forms.

First edition in Dodsley's Misc.


Eight times emerging from the flood
She mew'd to ev'ry watʼry God,

Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirr’d:
Nor cruel Toм, nor SUSAN heard.
A Fav'rite has no friend!

From hence, ye Beauties, undeceiv'd, Know, one false step is ne'er retriev'd,

And be with caution bold.

Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize,
Nor all that glisters gold.

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̔́Ανθρωπος' ἱκανὴ πρόφασις εἰς τὸ δυςτυχείν.


[This was the first English production of Mr. Gray that appeared in print, and was published in folio, by Dodsley, in 1747. About the same time, at Mr. Walpole's request, Mr. Gray sat for his picture to Echart; in which, on a paper which he held in his hand, Mr. Walpole wrote the title of this Ode; and to intimate his own high and just opinion of it, as a first production, he added this line of Lucan by way of motto: Nec licuit populis parvum te, Nile, videre. Pharsalia, lib. x. l. 296.]

YE distant spires, ye antique towers,

That crown the wat❜ry glade,

Where grateful Science still adores
Her HENRY's holy shade (e);
ye, that from the stately brow
Of WINDSOR's heights th' expanse below
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along
His silver-winding way:

(a) King Henry the Sixth, founder of the College,

Ah, happy hills! ah, pleasing shade!
Ah, fields belov'd in vain!

Where once my careless childhood stray'd, A stranger yet to pain!

I feel the gales that from ye blow
A momentary bliss bestow,

As waving fresh their gladsome wing,
My weary soul they seem to sooth,
And, redolent of joy and youth (f),
To breathe a second spring.

Say, Father THAMES, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race
Disporting on thy margent green

The paths of pleasure trace;
Who foremost now delight to cleave,
With pliant arm, thy glassy wave?

The captive linnet which enthral?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,
Or urge the flying ball?

(f) And, redolent of joy and youth.

And bees their honey redolent of spring.

Dryden's Fable on the Pythag. System.

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