A Collection of English Poems, 1660-1800

By Ronald S. Crane | Go to book overview

WILLIAM COLLINS
(1721-1739-1759)

Persian Eclogues1

THE PREFACE

IT is with the Writings of Mankind, in some Measure, as with their Complexions or their Dress, each Nation hath a Peculiarity in all these, to distinguish it from the rest of the World.

The Gravity of the Spaniard, and the Levity of the Frenchman, are as evident in all their Productions as in their Persons themselves; and the Stile of my Countrymen is as naturally Strong and Nervous, as that of an Arabian or Persian is rich and figurative.

There is an Elegancy and Wildness of Thought which recommends all their Compositions; and our Genius's are as much too cold for the Entertainment of such Sentiments, as our Climate is for their Fruits and Spices. If any of these Beauties are to be found in the following Eclogues, I hope my Reader will consider them as an Argument of their being Original. I received them at the Hands of a Merchant, who had made it his Business to enrich himself with the Learning, as well as the Silks and Carpets of the Persians. The little Information I could gather concerning their Author, was, That his Name was Mahamed, and that he was a Native of Tauris.

It was in that City that he died of a Distemper fatal in those Parts, whilst he was engag'd in celebrating the Victories of his favourite Monarch, the great Abbas. As to the Eclogues themselves, they give a very just View of the Miseries, and Inconveniences, as well as the Felicities that attend one of the finest Countries in the East.

The Time of the Writing them was probably in the Beginning of Sha Sultan Hosseyn's Reign, the Successor of Sefi or Solyman the Second.

Whatever Defects, as, I doubt not, there will be many, fall under the Reader's Observation, I hope his Candour will incline him to make the following Reflections:

That the Works of Orientals contain many Peculiarities, and that thro' Defect of Language few European Translators can do them Justice.


Eclogue the Second
Hassan; or, the Camel driver

Scene, the desart
Time, mid-day

IN SILENT Horror o'er the Desart-Waste
The Driver Hassan with his Camels past.
One Cruise of Water on his Back he bore,
And his light Scrip contain'd a scanty Store:
A Fan of painted Feathers in his Hand, 5

____________________
1
Published in January, 1742. Text of first edition.

-727-

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