Stephen Duck, “To His Royal Highness The Duke of Cumberland, on His Birth-Day”

STEPHEN DUCK

 “To His Royal Highness The Duke of CUMBERLAND, on His Birth-Day”

 

Twelve times hath SOL his annual Race begun,
Since JOVE descended from his radiant Throne:
Around the pendent Globe, the God pursu’d
His circling March, and human Actions view’d;
But griev’d that Virtue droop’d her languid Head,                                                     5
While Vice from Clime to Clime contagious spread;
Back, to his native Seat, he sternly flies;
And sends and Edict thro’ the spacious Skies,
To call th’ Ethereal Pow’rs: Swift flew his Word;
Th’ Ethereal Pow’rs, as swift, attend their Lord.                                                        10
Upon Olympus’ Top the Synod met,
Where, high inthron’d the thund’ring Monarch sat;
And, with a Nod, that shook the Spheres, he swore,
The Minor Gods should visit Earth no more.                                                                                    What, must your earthly Sons, MINERVA cry’d,                                                         15
Explore their doubtful Way without a Guide?
If PALLAS must no more to Mortals go,
Let PALLAS beg a Substitute below,
Worthy to rule the World, whose noble Mind
May copy out the Gods to human Kind.                                                                      20
She lowly bow’d; and JOVE, consenting, smil’d;
Go, form, said he, this new-imagin’d Child:
Collect the best Materials, where you will;
And let us see, for once, MINERVA’S Skill.
He said; she hastens o’er the bright Abodes,                                                              25
Selecting each Perfection of the Gods:
From Mars she warlike Strength and Courage took;
But soften’d them with VENUS’ graceful Look:
To these she added HERMES’ Eloquence,                                                                                                   And crown’d it with her own superior Sense:                                                               30
Some of Apollo’s piercing Rays she stole;
And while the MUSES play’d, she she form’d a Soul.
When thus compos’d the bright Ingredients lay,
She nobly drest them in Eternal Clay;
Jove touch’d the Mass with enliv’ning Hand,                                                                 35
And vital Warmth inspir’d a CUMBERLAND.

 NOTES:

Title Duke of CUMBERLAND Prince William Augustus (1726-1765), third son of King George II, appointed as Duke in 1726. At an early age he became known for his astute physical courage and ability. He would later lead the decisive Battle of Culloden against the Jacobite rebels in January, 1746 (Encyclopedia Britannica).

1 SOL “The sun (personified)” (OED).

2 JOVE Latin name for Jupiter, the highest god of the ancient Romans; the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek tradition (Encyclopedia Britannica).

11 Olympus’ Top Known as Mount Olympus. The home of gods and goddesses in ancient mythology (Encyclopedia Britannica); Synod “An assembly, convention, or council of any kind” (OED).

15 MINERVA “A Roman goddess, regarded as the patron of handicrafts and the arts, and later also of wisdom and prowess in war, identified from an early period with the Greek Athene” (OED).

17 PALLAS An epithet for Athena, the goddess of war, handicraft, and practical reason. “Pallas” refers to her warrior side; according to legend, Pallas was a friend and sparring partner accidentally killed by Athena.

27 Mars “The god of war of the ancient Romans, ranking in importance next to Jupiter, and identified from an early period with the Greek god Ares” (OED).

28 VENUS Roman goddess of love and beauty (Encyclopedia Britannica).

29 HERMES “A deity, the son of Zeus and Maia, represented as the messenger of the gods, the god of science, commerce, eloquence, and many of the arts of life” (OED).

31 Apollo Roman god of beauty, music, and poetry (Encyclopedia Britannica).

 Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1738), pp. 97-98. [Google Books]

Edited by Christian Ferrey


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