"Alexandreis" by Mrs. Anne Killigrew (c.1660-1685).
Ah that some pitying Muse would now inspire
My frozen style with a Poetique fire,
And Raptures worthy of his Matchless Fame,
Whose Deeds I sing, whose never fading Name
Long as the world shall fresh and deathless last,
No less to future Ages, then the past.
Great my presumption is, I must confess,
But if I thrive, my Glory's ne're the less;
Nor will it from his Conquests derogate
A Female Pen his Acts did celebrate.
If thou O Muse wilt thy assistance give,
Such as made Naso and great Maro live,
With him whom Melas fertile Banks did bear,
Live, though their Bodies dust and ashes are;
Whose Laurels were not fresher, than their Fame
Is now, and will for ever be the same.
If the like favour thou wilt grant to me,
O Queen of Verse, I'll not ungrateful be,
My choicest hours to thee I'll Dedicate,
'Tis thou shalt rule, 'tis thou shalt be my Fate.
But if Coy Goddess thou shalt this deny,
And from my humble suit disdaining fly,
I'll stoop and beg no more, since I know this,
Writing of him, I cannot write amiss:
His lofty Deeds will raise each feeble line,
And God-like Acts will make my Verse Divine.
'Twas at the time the golden Sun doth rise,
And with his Beams enlights the azure skies,
When lo a Troop in Silver Arms drew near,
The glorious Sun did nere so bright appear;
Dire Scarlet Plumes adorn'd their haughty Crests,
And crescent Shields did shade their shining Brests;
Down from their shoulders hung a Panthers Hide,
A Bow and Quiver ratled by their side;
Their hands a knotty well try'd Speare did bear,
Jocund they seem'd, and quite devoyd of fear.
These warlike Virgins were, that do reside
Near Thermodons smooth Banks and verdant side,
The Plains of Themiscyre their Birth do boast,
Thalestris now did head the beauteous Host;
She emulating that Illustrious Dame,
Who to the aid of Troy and Priam came,
And her who the Retulian Prince did aid,
Though dearly both for their Assistance paid.
But fear she scorn'd, nor the like fate did dread,
Her Host she often to the field had lead,
As oft in Triumph had return'd again,
Glory she only sought for all her pain.
This Martial Queen had heard how lowdly fame,
Eccho'd our Conquerors redoubted Name,
Her Soul his Conduct and his Courage fir'd,
To see the Hero she so much admir'd;
And to Hyrcania for this cause she went,
Where Alexander (wholly then intent
On Triumphs and such Military sport)
At Truce with War held both his Camp and Court.
And while before the Town she did attend
Her Messengers return, she saw ascend
A cloud of Dust, that cover'd all the skie,
And still at every pause there stroke her eye.
The interrupted Beams of Burnisht Gold,
As dust the Splendour hid, or did unfold;
Loud Neighings of the Steeds, and Trumpets sound
Fill'd all the Air, and eccho'd from the ground:
The gallant Greeks with a brisk March drew near,
And their great Chief did at their Head appear.
And now come up to th'Amazonian Band,
They made a Hault and a respectful Stand:
And both the Troops (with like amazement strook)
Did each on other with deep silence look.
Th'Heroick Queen (whose high pretence to War
Cancell'd the bashful Laws and nicer Bar
Of Modesty, which did her Sex restrain)
First boldly did advance before her Train,
And thus she spake. All but a God in Name,
And that a debt Time owes unto thy Fame.
This was the first Essay of this young Lady in Poetry, but finding the Task she had undertaken hard, she laid it by till Practice and more time should make her equal to so great a Work.