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sixth century of our era. He was educated in Greece, where he spent the first years of his life, and married a Sicilian lady of Greek extraction, by name Elpis: these serve to explain the fact of his Philhellenism referred to in the text. After having filled the highest office of state himself and having lived to see his sons Patricius and Hypatius Consuls also, he was sent to a prison in Pavia, for having stood up against the usurpations of Theodoric. He appears to have lived only six months in the prison, and then to have been cruelly executed: but the greater part of those six months he must have spent both wisely and well in the elegant prose and ingenious verse of "The consolations of Philosophy." In the second volume of this edition, King Alfred's prose Boethius will be given in full to the reader: the present work concerns the poetry. John Bunyan, we may remember, as well as the holy Paul, severally have put a prison to the like good uses: but Boethius has been censured, and with some reason, for not adding (what Alfred every where supplies) the consolations of religion to those of philosophy. His metres, 26 in number, are varied and ingenious: they have been systematized by Theodore Pulman; but it would here be out of place to descant upon them: our text is Alfred, not Boethius.


CARMINA qui quondam studio florente peregi,- -Flebilis, heu, mæstos cogor inire modos.

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Sorrowing tearfully,
Saddest of men,

Can I sing cheerfully,
As I could then?

Many a verity

In those glad times
Of my prosperity

Taught I in rhymes;
Now from forgetfulness

Wanders my tongue,

Wasting in fretfulness
Metres unsung.

Worldliness brought me here
Foolishly blind,

Riches have wrought me here
Sadness of mind;

When I rely on them

Lo! they depart,—

Bitterly, fie on them!

Rend they my heart.

Why did your songs to me,
World-loving men,

Say joy belongs to me

Ever as then?

Why did ye lyingly

Think such a thing,

Seeing how flyingly

Wealth may take wing?

The original is the opening poem of Boethius; whereof very little is here adopted by Alfred; but it is almost entirely an independent poem. This may fairly be regarded as a picture of Alfred's own mind in the dark times of his adversity. He reviews past glories,-hints at a confession of some of those early sins of worldliness and arrogance whereof Asser has spoken,-rebukes flatterers, and lies down alongside of Boethius in his dungeon, with that sympathy which a brotherhood in grief alone can give.

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ALAS! in how grim

A gulf of despair,

Dreary and dim

For sorrow and care,

My mind toils along

When the waves of the world

Stormy and strong

Against it are hurl'd.

When in such strife

My mind will forget

Its light and its life

In worldly regret,

And through the night

Of this world doth grope

Lost to the light

Of heavenly hope.

Thus it hath now

Befallen my mind

I know no more how

God's goodness to find,

But groan in my grief

Troubled and tost,

Needing relief

For the world I have lost.

Here also we have almost all Alfred; it is in fact an expansion of the two first lines of Boethius as given above, and not a trans

lation of the whole ode; which is of much more considerable length. Like the former morsel, it recals the days when our deserted king sang his sorrows to his lonely harp in the neat herd's hut, or on the marsh of Æthelingay.

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O THOU, that art Maker of heaven and earth,
Who steerest the stars and hast given them birth,
For ever Thou reignest upon Thy high throne,
And turnest all swiftly the heavenly zone.

Thou, by Thy strong holiness, drivest from far
In the way that Thou willest each worshipping star;
And, through thy great power, the sun from the night
Drags darkness away by the might of her light.

The moon, at Thy word, with his pale-shining rays
Softens and shadows the stars as they blaze,
And even the Sun of her brightness bereaves
Whenever upon her too closely he cleaves.

So also the Morning and Evening Star
Thou makest to follow the Sun from afar,
To keep in her pathway each year evermore,
And go as she goeth in guidance before.

Behold too, O Father, Thou workest aright
To summer hot day-times of long-living light,
To winter all wondrously orderest wise

Short seasons of sunshine with frost on the skies.

Thou givest the trees a south-westerly breeze,
Whose leaves the swart storm in its fury did seize
By winds flying forth from the east and the north
And scattered and shattered all over the earth.

On earth and in heaven each creature and kind
Hears Thy behest with might and with mind,
But Man and Man only, who oftenest still
Wickedly worketh against Thy wise will.

For ever Almighty One, Maker and Lord,

On us, wretched earthworms, Thy pity be pour'd; Why wilt Thou that welfare to sinners should wend,

But lettest weird ill the unguilty ones rend?

Evil men sit, each on earth's highest seat,
Trampling the holy ones under their feet;
Why good should go crookedly no man can say,
And bright deeds in crowds should lie hidden away.

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