Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HORACE: CHORUS AT THE END OF ACT 1, by PIERRE CORNEILLE



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HORACE: CHORUS AT THE END OF ACT 1, by            
First Line: Too weak are human eyes to pry
Last Line: Whose power all earthly powers obey.


Too weak are human eyes to pry
Into the shades of Destiny:
Fate spreads a curtain to our sight,
Through which a faint imperfect light,
Serves only to perplex our way,
As blinking meteors make us stray:
And what the juggling Priest foretells,
In his ambiguous oracles,
Deludes our judgments whilst he shrouds
Vain riddles in mysterious clouds.
Wisely did Providence deny
To human curiosity,
That only privilege to look
In Destiny's eternal Book;
For should we know our periods, then
We should do more or less than men.
Ah poor Camilla! how art thou
Exalted in thy fortune now!

Whom Fate so soon will headlong throw
Into a precipice of woe!
Betray'd by riddles, and love's charms,
Thou dream'st thyself in Curiace' arms,
Wrapt in chaste pleasures, when alas!
Thou only must cold Death embrace.
To virtue sure, 'twas an offence,
So to abuse thy innocence;
And to raise up thy hope so high,
Was an inhuman cruelty.
We to ourselves e'en in our fears
Are flattering interpreters,
And need to fraud when Death's so nigh,
To rock us in security.
What could the angry Powers move
In fair Camilla's virtuous Love?
Or what hath chaste Sabina done
To draw so dire a ruin on?
Vain men misled by vicious wills,
Commit those Heav'n-offending ills,
Which pull down vengeance from the sky
To punish proud mortality:
But what, ye Gods, can women do,
Soft women to provoke you so?

It is for Rome that they must be
Involv'd in Alba's destiny;
Proud Rome for prouder Empire tries,
And laid in blood, by blood must rise,
Alba must truckle, 'tis decreed,
That Rome may triumph, she must bleed:
Imperious Fate will bear the sway,
Whose power all earthly powers obey.





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