Alexander Pope (16881744). Complete Poetical Works. 1903.
Written, according to Courthope, in. 1712.
In reading several passages of the prophet Isaiah, which foretell the coming of Christ, and the felicities attending it, I could not but observe a remarkable parity between many of the thoughts and those in the Pollio of Virgil. This will not seem surprising, when we reflect that the Eclogue was taken from a Sibylline prophecy on the same subject. One may judge that Virgil did not copy it line by line, but selected such ideas as best agreed with the nature of Pastoral Poetry, and disposed them in that manner which served most to beautify his piece. I have endeavoured the same in this imitation of him, though without admitting any thing of my own; since it was written with this particular view, that the reader, by comparing the several thoughts, might see how far the images and descriptions of the Prophet are superior to those of the Poet. But as I fear I have prejudiced them by my management, I shall subjoin the passages of Isaiah, and those of Virgil, under the same disadvantage of a literal translation.
Now the virgin returns, now the kingdom of Saturn returns, now a new progeny is sent down from high heaven. By means of thee, whatever relics of our crimes remain, shall be wiped away, and free the world from perpetual fears. He shall govern the earth in peace, with the virtues of his father.
Isaiah, ch. vii. ver. 14. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son. Chap. ix. ver. 6, 7. Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given the Prince of Peace: of the increase of his government, and of his peace, there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. [back]
For thee, O child, shall the earth, without being tilled, produce her early offerings; winding ivy, mixed with baccar, and colocasia with smiling acanthus. Thy cradle shall pour forth pleasing flowers about thee.
Isaiah, ch. xxxv. ver. 1. The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. Ch. lx. ver. 13. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together to beautify the place of my sanctuary. [back]
O come and receive the mighty honours: the time draws nigh, O beloved offspring of the Gods, O great increase of Jove! The uncultivated mountains send shouts of joy to the stars, the very rocks sing in verse, the very shrubs cry out, A God, a God.
Isaiah, chap. xl. ver. 3, 4. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a high way for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. Chap. xliv. ver. 23. Break forth into singing, ye mountains! O forest, and every tree therein! for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob. [back]
The fields shall grow yellow with ripened ears, and the red grape shall hang upon the wild brambles, and the hard oaks shall distil honey like dew.
Isaiah, chap xxxv. ver. 7. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty and land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.Chap. lv . ver. 13. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree. [back]
The goats shall bear to the fold their udders distneded with milk: nor shall the herds be afraid of the greatest lions. The serpent shall die, and the herb that conceals poison shall die.
Isaiah, chap. xi. ver. 6, &c. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. [back]