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POWERS OF GENIUS.
OBSERVE the man in whom these powers
combine, Rous'd and excited by some great design; Where'er he darts his intellectual ray, Obstructions vanish, mountains melt away; The prospect clears, and in the darkest night, The torch of Genius sheds its searching light.
Her voice of thunder like Prospero's rod, Bids fairy people tremble at her nod, She bids them leave the silent depths of sleep, And with their pinions overshade the deep; 10 Her forces follow at her magic call, She guides their footsteps, gives her rules to all.
What she designs her nervous arm performs;
What bard is that, whose beard all hoary white,
* Sir William Jones in his treatise on oriental poetry, affixed to his life of Nadir Shah, mentions this poet and his wonderful work. It is entitled “ Shah Nameh," it is a series of epic poems, a poetical record of the annals of Persia, and is said to contain sixty thousand couplets. Mahmud Gazni, sultan of Zablestan imposed this task upon Ferdasi,
Hail to thy spirit, which thro' lengthening time Preserv'd its vigour, and its song sublime,
and after he had underwent the toil of thirty years to complete his work, the miserly emperor excited his indignation by his scant and pitiful reward.... In disdain the injured bard retired from his court, and sought the protection of the generous caliph of Bagdat. The merits of this poem of Ferdusi are said to be very great. In testimony I subjoin the words of Sir William Jones who has read it, and from whose decision few would wish to appeal...." As to the great epic poem of Ferdusi, which was composed in the tenth century, it would require a very long treatise, to explain all its beauties with a minute exactness. The whole collection of that poet's works is called “SHAH. NAMA,” and contains the history of Persia, from the earliest times to the invasion of the Arabs, in a series of very noble poems; the longest and most regular of which is an heroic poem, of one great and interesting action, namely, the delivery of Persia by Cyrus, from the oppres. sions of Afrasiax, king of the Transoxan Tartary, who being assisted by the emperors of India and China, together with all the dæmons, giants and enchanters of Asia, had carried his conquests very far, and become exceedingly formidable to the Persians. This poem is longer than the Iliad; the characters in it are various and striking; the figures bold and animated, and the diction every where sonorous, yet noble; polished, yet full of fire. A great profusion of learning has been thrown away by some cri. tics, in comparing Homer with the heroic poets who have succeeded him; but it requires very little judgment to see,
Which rous'd and animated with its breath Scenes which lay buried in the caves of death ; Which form'd, and finished its stupendous plan, Fame says the greatest ever form’d by man.
Great Bacon's* soul first led the daring way; Then Newton's system call’d the world to day;
that no succeeding poet, whatever, can with propriety be compared with Homer. That great father of the Grecian poetry and literature, had a genius too fruitful and comprehensive to let any of the striking parts of Nature escape his observation; and the poets who have followed him have done little more, than transcribe his images and give a new dress to his thoughts. Whatever elegance and refinement therefore, may have been introduced into the works of the moderns, the spirit and invention of Homer have ever continued without a rival: For which reason I am far from pretending to assert that the poet of Persia, is equal to that of Greece, but there is certainly a very great resemblance between the works of those extraordi. nary men. Both drew their images from Nature herself, without catching them only by reflection, and painting in the manner of the modern poets, the likeness of a likeness; and both possessed in an eminent degree, that rich and creative invention which is the very soul of poetry."
* It is well known in the literary world, that the dis. coveries of Newton, excepting those which belong to pure mathematics, were derived from those outlines drawn by the bold hand of Bacon. Newton has exhibited a perfect
Hurl'd from his throne, the ruthless king of night,
The soul oft needs excitements to impel
50 O hear that voice* from Athens' falling walls Which pleads, denounces, on his country calls,
and accurate system, but he had the example and direc. tions of Bacon. “ It would nevertheless (says Dr. Gerard) be a question of very difficult solution, which of the two possessed the greatest genius; Newton's inquiries concerning bodies the most subtle or the most remote, seem to demand an acuteness and compass of invention, which we might pronounce adequate to all the investigations of Ba. con, though his discoveries in mathematics, perfectly original, were not extant to give a sanction to the judgment."