Ovid [Trans., Sir Samuel Garth]. Metamorphoses
Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library
Table of Contents for this work | | All on-line databases | Etext Center Homepage |
BOOK THE TENTH
The Story of Orpheus and Eurydice
10:1 Thence, in his saffron robe, for distant Thrace,
10:2 Hymen departs, thro' air's unmeasur'd space;
10:3 By Orpheus call'd, the nuptial Pow'r attends,
10:4 But with ill-omen'd augury descends;
10:5 Nor chearful look'd the God, nor prosp'rous spoke,
10:6 Nor blaz'd his torch, but wept in hissing smoke.
10:7 In vain they whirl it round, in vain they shake,
10:8 No rapid motion can its flames awake.
10:9 With dread these inauspicious signs were view'd,
10:10 And soon a more disastrous end ensu'd;
10:11 For as the bride, amid the Naiad train,
10:12 Ran joyful, sporting o'er the flow'ry plain,
10:13 A venom'd viper bit her as she pass'd;
10:14 Instant she fell, and sudden breath'd her last.
10:15 When long his loss the Thracian had deplor'd,
10:16 Not by superior Pow'rs to be restor'd;
10:17 Inflam'd by love, and urg'd by deep despair,
10:18 He leaves the realms of light, and upper air;
10:19 Daring to tread the dark Tenarian road,
10:20 And tempt the shades in their obscure abode;
10:21 Thro' gliding spectres of th' interr'd to go,
10:22 And phantom people of the world below:
10:23 Persephone he seeks, and him who reigns
10:24 O'er ghosts, and Hell's uncomfortable plains.
10:25 Arriv'd, he, tuning to his voice his strings,
10:26 Thus to the king and queen of shadows sings.
10:27 Ye Pow'rs, who under Earth your realms extend,
10:28 To whom all mortals must one day descend;
10:29 If here 'tis granted sacred truth to tell:
10:30 I come not curious to explore your Hell;
10:31 Nor come to boast (by vain ambition fir'd)
10:32 How Cerberus at my approach retir'd.
10:33 My wife alone I seek; for her lov'd sake
10:34 These terrors I support, this journey take.
10:35 She, luckless wandring, or by fate mis-led,
10:36 Chanc'd on a lurking viper's crest to tread;
10:37 The vengeful beast, enflam'd with fury, starts,
10:38 And thro' her heel his deathful venom darts.
10:39 Thus was she snatch'd untimely to her tomb;
10:40 Her growing years cut short, and springing bloom.
10:41 Long I my loss endeavour'd to sustain,
10:42 And strongly strove, but strove, alas, in vain:
10:43 At length I yielded, won by mighty love;
10:44 Well known is that omnipotence above!
10:45 But here, I doubt, his unfelt influence fails;
10:46 And yet a hope within my heart prevails.
10:47 That here, ev'n here, he has been known of old;
10:48 At least if truth be by tradition told;
10:49 If fame of former rapes belief may find,
10:50 You both by love, and love alone, were join'd.
10:51 Now, by the horrors which these realms surround;
10:52 By the vast chaos of these depths profound;
10:53 By the sad silence which eternal reigns
10:54 O'er all the waste of these wide-stretching plains;
10:55 Let me again Eurydice receive,
10:56 Let Fate her quick-spun thread of life re-weave.
10:57 All our possessions are but loans from you,
10:58 And soon, or late, you must be paid your due;
10:59 Hither we haste to human-kind's last seat,
10:60 Your endless empire, and our sure retreat.
10:61 She too, when ripen'd years she shall attain,
10:62 Must, of avoidless right, be yours again:
10:63 I but the transient use of that require,
10:64 Which soon, too soon, I must resign entire.
10:65 But if the destinies refuse my vow,
10:66 And no remission of her doom allow;
10:67 Know, I'm determin'd to return no more;
10:68 So both retain, or both to life restore.
10:69 Thus, while the bard melodiously complains,
10:70 And to his lyre accords his vocal strains,
10:71 The very bloodless shades attention keep,
10:72 And silent, seem compassionate to weep;
10:73 Ev'n Tantalus his flood unthirsty views,
10:74 Nor flies the stream, nor he the stream pursues;
10:75 Ixion's wond'ring wheel its whirl suspends,
10:76 And the voracious vulture, charm'd, attends;
10:77 No more the Belides their toil bemoan,
10:78 And Sisiphus reclin'd, sits list'ning on his stone.
10:79 Then first ('tis said) by sacred verse subdu'd,
10:80 The Furies felt their cheeks with tears bedew'd:
10:81 Nor could the rigid king, or queen of Hell,
10:82 Th' impulse of pity in their hearts repell.
10:83 Now, from a troop of shades that last arriv'd,
10:84 Eurydice was call'd, and stood reviv'd:
10:85 Slow she advanc'd, and halting seem to feel
10:86 The fatal wound, yet painful in her heel.
10:87 Thus he obtains the suit so much desir'd,
10:88 On strict observance of the terms requir'd:
10:89 For if, before he reach the realms of air,
10:90 He backward cast his eyes to view the fair,
10:91 The forfeit grant, that instant, void is made,
10:92 And she for ever left a lifeless shade.
10:93 Now thro' the noiseless throng their way they bend,
10:94 And both with pain the rugged road ascend;
10:95 Dark was the path, and difficult, and steep,
10:96 And thick with vapours from the smoaky deep.
10:97 They well-nigh now had pass'd the bounds of night,
10:98 And just approach'd the margin of the light,
10:99 When he, mistrusting lest her steps might stray,
10:100 And gladsome of the glympse of dawning day,
10:101 His longing eyes, impatient, backward cast
10:102 To catch a lover's look, but look'd his last;
10:103 For, instant dying, she again descends,
10:104 While he to empty air his arms extends.
10:105 Again she dy'd, nor yet her lord reprov'd;
10:106 What could she say, but that too well he lov'd?
10:107 One last farewell she spoke, which scarce he heard;
10:108 So soon she drop'd, so sudden disappear'd.
10:109 All stunn'd he stood, when thus his wife he view'd
10:110 By second Fate, and double death subdu'd:
10:111 Not more amazement by that wretch was shown,
10:112 Whom Cerberus beholding, turn'd to stone;
10:113 Nor Olenus cou'd more astonish'd look,
10:114 When on himself Lethaea's fault he took,
10:115 His beauteous wife, who too secure had dar'd
10:116 Her face to vye with Goddesses compar'd:
10:117 Once join'd by love, they stand united still,
10:118 Turn'd to contiguous rocks on Ida's hill.
10:119 Now to repass the Styx in vain he tries,
10:120 Charon averse, his pressing suit denies.
10:121 Sev'n days entire, along th' infernal shores,
10:122 Disconsolate, the bard Eurydice deplores;
10:123 Defil'd with filth his robe, with tears his cheeks,
10:124 No sustenance but grief, and cares, he seeks:
10:125 Of rigid Fate incessant he complains,
10:126 And Hell's inexorable Gods arraigns.
10:127 This ended, to high Rhodope he hastes,
10:128 And Haemus' mountain, bleak with northern blasts.
10:129 And now his yearly race the circling sun
10:130 Had thrice compleat thro' wat'ry Pisces run,
10:131 Since Orpheus fled the face of womankind,
10:132 And all soft union with the sex declin'd.
10:133 Whether his ill success this change had bred,
10:134 Or binding vows made to his former bed;
10:135 Whate'er the cause, in vain the nymphs contest,
10:136 With rival eyes to warm his frozen breast:
10:137 For ev'ry nymph with love his lays inspir'd,
10:138 But ev'ry nymph repuls'd, with grief retir'd.
10:139 A hill there was, and on that hill a mead,
10:140 With verdure thick, but destitute of shade.
10:141 Where, now, the Muse's son no sooner sings,
10:142 No sooner strikes his sweet resounding strings.
10:143 But distant groves the flying sounds receive,
10:144 And list'ning trees their rooted stations leave;
10:145 Themselves transplanting, all around they grow,
10:146 And various shades their various kinds bestow.
10:147 Here, tall Chaonian oaks their branches spread,
10:148 While weeping poplars there erect their head.
10:149 The foodful Esculus here shoots his leaves,
10:150 That turf soft lime-tree, this, fat beach receives;
10:151 Here, brittle hazels, lawrels here advance,
10:152 And there tough ash to form the heroe's lance;
10:153 Here silver firs with knotless trunks ascend,
10:154 There, scarlet oaks beneath their acorns bend.
10:155 That spot admits the hospitable plane,
10:156 On this, the maple grows with clouded grain;
10:157 Here, watry willows are with Lotus seen;
10:158 There, tamarisk, and box for ever green.
10:159 With double hue here mirtles grace the ground,
10:160 And laurestines, with purple berries crown'd.
10:161 With pliant feet, now, ivies this way wind,
10:162 Vines yonder rise, and elms with vines entwin'd.
10:163 Wild Ornus now, the pitch-tree next takes root,
10:164 And Arbutus adorn'd with blushing fruit.
10:165 Then easy-bending palms, the victor's prize,
10:166 And pines erect with bristly tops arise.
10:167 For Rhea grateful still the pine remains,
10:168 For Atys still some favour she retains;
10:169 He once in human shape her breast had warm'd,
10:170 And now is cherish'd, to a tree transform'd.
The Fable of Cyparissus
10:171 Amid the throng of this promiscuous wood,
10:172 With pointed top, the taper cypress stood;
10:173 A tree, which once a youth, and heav'nly fair,
10:174 Was of that deity the darling care,
10:175 Whose hand adapts, with equal skill, the strings
10:176 To bows with which he kills, and harps to which he sings.
10:177 For heretofore, a mighty stag was bred,
10:178 Which on the fertile fields of Caea fed;
10:179 In shape and size he all his kind excell'd,
10:180 And to Carthaean nymphs was sacred held.
10:181 His beamy head, with branches high display'd,
10:182 Afforded to itself an ample shade;
10:183 His horns were gilt, and his smooth neck was grac'd
10:184 With silver collars thick with gems enchas'd:
10:185 A silver boss upon his forehead hung,
10:186 And brazen pendants in his ear-rings rung.
10:187 Frequenting houses, he familiar grew,
10:188 And learnt by custom, Nature to subdue;
10:189 'Till by degrees, of fear, and wildness, broke,
10:190 Ev'n stranger hands his proffer'd neck might stroak.
10:191 Much was the beast by Caea's youth caress'd,
10:192 But thou, sweet Cyparissus, lov'dst him best:
10:193 By thee, to pastures fresh, he oft was led,
10:194 By thee oft water'd at the fountain's head:
10:195 His horns with garlands, now, by thee were ty'd,
10:196 And, now, thou on his back wou'dst wanton ride;
10:197 Now here, now there wou'dst bound along the plains,
10:198 Ruling his tender mouth with purple reins.
10:199 'Twas when the summer sun, at noon of day,
10:200 Thro' glowing Cancer shot his burning ray,
10:201 'Twas then, the fav'rite stag, in cool retreat,
10:202 Had sought a shelter from the scorching heat;
10:203 Along the grass his weary limbs he laid,
10:204 Inhaling freshness from the breezy shade:
10:205 When Cyparissus with his pointed dart,
10:206 Unknowing, pierc'd him to the panting heart.
10:207 But when the youth, surpriz'd, his error found,
10:208 And saw him dying of the cruel wound,
10:209 Himself he would have slain thro' desp'rate grief:
10:210 What said not Phoebus, that might yield relief!
10:211 To cease his mourning, he the boy desir'd,
10:212 Or mourn no more than such a loss requir'd.
10:213 But he, incessant griev'd: at length address'd
10:214 To the superior Pow'rs a last request;
10:215 Praying, in expiation of his crime,
10:216 Thenceforth to mourn to all succeeding time.
10:217 And now, of blood exhausted he appears,
10:218 Drain'd by a torrent of continual tears;
10:219 The fleshy colour in his body fades,
10:220 And a green tincture all his limbs invades;
10:221 From his fair head, where curling locks late hung,
10:222 A horrid bush with bristled branches sprung,
10:223 Which stiffning by degrees, its stem extends,
10:224 'Till to the starry skies the spire ascends.
10:225 Apollo sad look'd on, and sighing, cry'd,
10:226 Then, be for ever, what thy pray'r imply'd:
10:227 Bemoan'd by me, in others grief excite;
10:228 And still preside at ev'ry fun'ral rite.
10:229 Thus the sweet artist in a wondrous shade
10:230 Of verdant trees, which harmony had made,
10:231 Encircled sate, with his own triumphs crown'd,
10:232 Of listning birds, and savages around.
10:233 Again the trembling strings he dext'rous tries,
10:234 Again from discord makes soft musick rise.
10:235 Then tunes his voice: O Muse, from whom I sprung,
10:236 Jove be my theme, and thou inspire my song.
10:237 To Jove my grateful voice I oft have rais'd,
10:238 Oft his almighty pow'r with pleasure prais'd.
10:239 I sung the giants in a solemn strain,
10:240 Blasted, and thunder-struck on Phlegra's plain.
10:241 Now be my lyre in softer accents mov'd,
10:242 To sing of blooming boys by Gods belov'd;
10:243 And to relate what virgins, void of shame,
10:244 Have suffer'd vengeance for a lawless flame.
10:245 The King of Gods once felt the burning joy,
10:246 And sigh'd for lovely Ganimede of Troy:
10:247 Long was he puzzled to assume a shape
10:248 Most fit, and expeditious for the rape;
10:249 A bird's was proper, yet he scorns to wear
10:250 Any but that which might his thunder bear.
10:251 Down with his masquerading wings he flies,
10:252 And bears the little Trojan to the skies;
10:253 Where now, in robes of heav'nly purple drest,
10:254 He serves the nectar at th' Almighty's feast,
10:255 To slighted Juno an unwelcome guest.
Hyacinthus transform'd into a Flower
10:256 Phoebus for thee too, Hyacinth, design'd
10:257 A place among the Gods, had Fate been kind:
10:258 Yet this he gave; as oft as wintry rains
10:259 Are past, and vernal breezes sooth the plains,
10:260 From the green turf a purple flow'r you rise,
10:261 And with your fragrant breath perfume the skies.
10:262 You when alive were Phoebus' darling boy;
10:263 In you he plac'd his Heav'n, and fix'd his joy:
10:264 Their God the Delphic priests consult in vain;
10:265 Eurotas now he loves, and Sparta's plain:
10:266 His hands the use of bow and harp forget,
10:267 And hold the dogs, or bear the corded net;
10:268 O'er hanging cliffs swift he pursues the game;
10:269 Each hour his pleasure, each augments his flame.
10:270 The mid-day sun now shone with equal light
10:271 Between the past, and the succeeding night;
10:272 They strip, then, smooth'd with suppling oyl, essay
10:273 To pitch the rounded quoit, their wonted play:
10:274 A well-pois'd disk first hasty Phoebus threw,
10:275 It cleft the air, and whistled as it flew;
10:276 It reach'd the mark, a most surprizing length;
10:277 Which spoke an equal share of art, and strength.
10:278 Scarce was it fall'n, when with too eager hand
10:279 Young Hyacinth ran to snatch it from the sand;
10:280 But the curst orb, which met a stony soil,
10:281 Flew in his face with violent recoil.
10:282 Both faint, both pale, and breathless now appear,
10:283 The boy with pain, the am'rous God with fear.
10:284 He ran, and rais'd him bleeding from the ground,
10:285 Chafes his cold limbs, and wipes the fatal wound:
10:286 Then herbs of noblest juice in vain applies;
10:287 The wound is mortal, and his skill defies.
10:288 As in a water'd garden's blooming walk,
10:289 When some rude hand has bruis'd its tender stalk,
10:290 A fading lilly droops its languid head,
10:291 And bends to earth, its life, and beauty fled:
10:292 So Hyacinth, with head reclin'd, decays,
10:293 And, sickning, now no more his charms displays.
10:294 O thou art gone, my boy, Apollo cry'd,
10:295 Defrauded of thy youth in all its pride!
10:296 Thou, once my joy, art all my sorrow now;
10:297 And to my guilty hand my grief I owe.
10:298 Yet from my self I might the fault remove,
10:299 Unless to sport, and play, a fault should prove,
10:300 Unless it too were call'd a fault to love.
10:301 Oh cou'd I for thee, or but with thee, dye!
10:302 But cruel Fates to me that pow'r deny.
10:303 Yet on my tongue thou shalt for ever dwell;
10:304 Thy name my lyre shall sound, my verse shall tell;
10:305 And to a flow'r transform'd, unheard-of yet,
10:306 Stamp'd on thy leaves my cries thou shalt repeat.
10:307 The time shall come, prophetick I foreknow,
10:308 When, joyn'd to thee, a mighty chief shall grow,
10:309 And with my plaints his name thy leaf shall show.
10:310 While Phoebus thus the laws of Fate reveal'd,
10:311 Behold, the blood which stain'd the verdant field,
10:312 Is blood no longer; but a flow'r full blown,
10:313 Far brighter than the Tyrian scarlet shone.
10:314 A lilly's form it took; its purple hue
10:315 Was all that made a diff'rence to the view,
10:316 Nor stop'd he here; the God upon its leaves
10:317 The sad expression of his sorrow weaves;
10:318 And to this hour the mournful purple wears
10:319 Ai, Ai, inscrib'd in funeral characters.
10:320 Nor are the Spartans, who so much are fam'd
10:321 For virtue, of their Hyacinth asham'd;
10:322 But still with pompous woe, and solemn state,
10:323 The Hyacinthian feasts they yearly celebrate
The Transformations of the Cerastae and Propoetides
10:324 Enquire of Amathus, whose wealthy ground
10:325 With veins of every metal does abound,
10:326 If she to her Propoetides wou'd show,
10:327 The honour Sparta does to him allow?
10:328 Nor more, she'd say, such wretches wou'd we grace,
10:329 Than those whose crooked horns deform'd their face,
10:330 From thence Cerastae call'd, an impious race:
10:331 Before whose gates a rev'rend altar stood,
10:332 To Jove inscrib'd, the hospitable God:
10:333 This had some stranger seen with gore besmear'd,
10:334 The blood of lambs, and bulls it had appear'd:
10:335 Their slaughter'd guests it was; nor flock nor herd.
10:336 Venus these barb'rous sacrifices view'd
10:337 With just abhorrence, and with wrath pursu'd:
10:338 At first, to punish such nefarious crimes,
10:339 Their towns she meant to leave, her once-lov'd climes:
10:340 But why, said she, for their offence shou'd I
10:341 My dear delightful plains, and cities fly?
10:342 No, let the impious people, who have sinn'd,
10:343 A punishment in death, or exile, find:
10:344 If death, or exile too severe be thought,
10:345 Let them in some vile shape bemoan their fault.
10:346 While next her mind a proper form employs,
10:347 Admonish'd by their horns, she fix'd her choice.
10:348 Their former crest remains upon their heads,
10:349 And their strong limbs an ox's shape invades.
10:350 The blasphemous Propoetides deny'd
10:351 Worship of Venus, and her pow'r defy'd:
10:352 But soon that pow'r they felt, the first that sold
10:353 Their lewd embraces to the world for gold.
10:354 Unknowing how to blush, and shameless grown,
10:355 A small transition changes them to stone.
The Story of Pygmalion and the Statue
10:356 Pygmalion loathing their lascivious life,
10:357 Abhorr'd all womankind, but most a wife:
10:358 So single chose to live, and shunn'd to wed,
10:359 Well pleas'd to want a consort of his bed.
10:360 Yet fearing idleness, the nurse of ill,
10:361 In sculpture exercis'd his happy skill;
10:362 And carv'd in iv'ry such a maid, so fair,
10:363 As Nature could not with his art compare,
10:364 Were she to work; but in her own defence
10:365 Must take her pattern here, and copy hence.
10:366 Pleas'd with his idol, he commends, admires,
10:367 Adores; and last, the thing ador'd, desires.
10:368 A very virgin in her face was seen,
10:369 And had she mov'd, a living maid had been:
10:370 One wou'd have thought she cou'd have stirr'd, but strove
10:371 With modesty, and was asham'd to move.
10:372 Art hid with art, so well perform'd the cheat,
10:373 It caught the carver with his own deceit:
10:374 He knows 'tis madness, yet he must adore,
10:375 And still the more he knows it, loves the more:
10:376 The flesh, or what so seems, he touches oft,
10:377 Which feels so smooth, that he believes it soft.
10:378 Fir'd with this thought, at once he strain'd the breast,
10:379 And on the lips a burning kiss impress'd.
10:380 'Tis true, the harden'd breast resists the gripe,
10:381 And the cold lips return a kiss unripe:
10:382 But when, retiring back, he look'd again,
10:383 To think it iv'ry, was a thought too mean:
10:384 So wou'd believe she kiss'd, and courting more,
10:385 Again embrac'd her naked body o'er;
10:386 And straining hard the statue, was afraid
10:387 His hands had made a dint, and hurt his maid:
10:388 Explor'd her limb by limb, and fear'd to find
10:389 So rude a gripe had left a livid mark behind:
10:390 With flatt'ry now he seeks her mind to move,
10:391 And now with gifts (the pow'rful bribes of love),
10:392 He furnishes her closet first; and fills
10:393 The crowded shelves with rarities of shells;
10:394 Adds orient pearls, which from the conchs he drew,
10:395 And all the sparkling stones of various hue:
10:396 And parrots, imitating human tongue,
10:397 And singing-birds in silver cages hung:
10:398 And ev'ry fragrant flow'r, and od'rous green,
10:399 Were sorted well, with lumps of amber laid between:
10:400 Rich fashionable robes her person deck,
10:401 Pendants her ears, and pearls adorn her neck:
10:402 Her taper'd fingers too with rings are grac'd,
10:403 And an embroider'd zone surrounds her slender waste.
10:404 Thus like a queen array'd, so richly dress'd,
10:405 Beauteous she shew'd, but naked shew'd the best.
10:406 Then, from the floor, he rais'd a royal bed,
10:407 With cov'rings of Sydonian purple spread:
10:408 The solemn rites perform'd, he calls her bride,
10:409 With blandishments invites her to his side;
10:410 And as she were with vital sense possess'd,
10:411 Her head did on a plumy pillow rest.
10:412 The feast of Venus came, a solemn day,
10:413 To which the Cypriots due devotion pay;
10:414 With gilded horns the milk-white heifers led,
10:415 Slaughter'd before the sacred altars, bled.
10:416 Pygmalion off'ring, first approach'd the shrine,
10:417 And then with pray'rs implor'd the Pow'rs divine:
10:418 Almighty Gods, if all we mortals want,
10:419 If all we can require, be yours to grant;
10:420 Make this fair statue mine, he wou'd have said,
10:421 But chang'd his words for shame; and only pray'd,
10:422 Give me the likeness of my iv'ry maid.
10:423 The golden Goddess, present at the pray'r,
10:424 Well knew he meant th' inanimated fair,
10:425 And gave the sign of granting his desire;
10:426 For thrice in chearful flames ascends the fire.
10:427 The youth, returning to his mistress, hies,
10:428 And impudent in hope, with ardent eyes,
10:429 And beating breast, by the dear statue lies.
10:430 He kisses her white lips, renews the bliss,
10:431 And looks, and thinks they redden at the kiss;
10:432 He thought them warm before: nor longer stays,
10:433 But next his hand on her hard bosom lays:
10:434 Hard as it was, beginning to relent,
10:435 It seem'd, the breast beneath his fingers bent;
10:436 He felt again, his fingers made a print;
10:437 'Twas flesh, but flesh so firm, it rose against the dint:
10:438 The pleasing task he fails not to renew;
10:439 Soft, and more soft at ev'ry touch it grew;
10:440 Like pliant wax, when chasing hands reduce
10:441 The former mass to form, and frame for use.
10:442 He would believe, but yet is still in pain,
10:443 And tries his argument of sense again,
10:444 Presses the pulse, and feels the leaping vein.
10:445 Convinc'd, o'erjoy'd, his studied thanks, and praise,
10:446 To her, who made the miracle, he pays:
10:447 Then lips to lips he join'd; now freed from fear,
10:448 He found the savour of the kiss sincere:
10:449 At this the waken'd image op'd her eyes,
10:450 And view'd at once the light, and lover with surprize.
10:451 The Goddess, present at the match she made,
10:452 So bless'd the bed, such fruitfulness convey'd,
10:453 That ere ten months had sharpen'd either horn,
10:454 To crown their bliss, a lovely boy was born;
10:455 Paphos his name, who grown to manhood, wall'd
10:456 The city Paphos, from the founder call'd.
The Story of of Cinyras and Myrrha
10:457 Nor him alone produc'd the fruitful queen;
10:458 But Cinyras, who like his sire had been
10:459 A happy prince, had he not been a sire.
10:460 Daughters, and fathers, from my song retire;
10:461 I sing of horror; and could I prevail,
10:462 You shou'd not hear, or not believe my tale.
10:463 Yet if the pleasure of my song be such,
10:464 That you will hear, and credit me too much,
10:465 Attentive listen to the last event,
10:466 And, with the sin, believe the punishment:
10:467 Since Nature cou'd behold so dire a crime,
10:468 I gratulate at least my native clime,
10:469 That such a land, which such a monster bore,
10:470 So far is distant from our Thracian shore.
10:471 Let Araby extol her happy coast,
10:472 Her cinamon, and sweet Amomum boast,
10:473 Her fragrant flow'rs, her trees with precious tears,
10:474 Her second harvests, and her double years;
10:475 How can the land be call'd so bless'd, that Myrrha bears?
10:476 Nor all her od'rous tears can cleanse her crime;
10:477 Her Plant alone deforms the happy clime:
10:478 Cupid denies to have inflam'd thy heart,
10:479 Disowns thy love, and vindicates his dart:
10:480 Some Fury gave thee those infernal pains,
10:481 And shot her venom'd vipers in thy veins.
10:482 To hate thy sire, had merited a curse;
10:483 But such an impious love deserv'd a worse.
10:484 The neighb'ring monarchs, by thy beauty led,
10:485 Contend in crowds, ambitious of thy bed:
10:486 The world is at thy choice; except but one,
10:487 Except but him, thou canst not chuse, alone.
10:488 She knew it too, the miserable maid,
10:489 Ere impious love her better thoughts betray'd,
10:490 And thus within her secret soul she said:
10:491 Ah Myrrha! whither wou'd thy wishes tend?
10:492 Ye Gods, ye sacred laws, my soul defend
10:493 From such a crime as all mankind detest,
10:494 And never lodg'd before in human breast!
10:495 But is it sin? Or makes my mind alone
10:496 Th' imagin'd sin? For Nature makes it none.
10:497 What tyrant then these envious laws began,
10:498 Made not for any other beast, but Man!
10:499 The father-bull his daughter may bestride,
10:500 The horse may make his mother-mare a bride;
10:501 What piety forbids the lusty ram,
10:502 Or more salacious goat, to rut their dam?
10:503 The hen is free to wed the chick she bore,
10:504 And make a husband, whom she hatch'd before.
10:505 All creatures else are of a happier kind,
10:506 Whom nor ill-natur'd laws from pleasure bind,
10:507 Nor thoughts of sin disturb their peace of mind.
10:508 But Man a slave of his own making lives;
10:509 The fool denies himself what Nature gives:
10:510 Too-busie senates, with an over-care,
10:511 To make us better than our kind can bear,
10:512 Have dash'd a spice of envy in the laws,
10:513 And straining up too high, have spoil'd the cause.
10:514 Yet some wise nations break their cruel chains,
10:515 And own no laws, but those which love ordains;
10:516 Where happy daughters with their sires are join'd,
10:517 And piety is doubly paid in kind.
10:518 O that I had been born in such a clime,
10:519 Not here, where 'tis the country makes the crime!
10:520 But whither wou'd my impious fancy stray?
10:521 Hence hopes, and ye forbidden thoughts away!
10:522 His worth deserves to kindle my desires,
10:523 But with the love, that daughters bear to sires.
10:524 Then had not Cinyras my father been,
10:525 What hinder'd Myrrha's hopes to be his queen?
10:526 But the perverseness of my fate is such,
10:527 That he's not mine, because he's mine too much:
10:528 Our kindred-blood debars a better tie;
10:529 He might be nearer, were he not so nigh.
10:530 Eyes, and their objects, never must unite;
10:531 Some distance is requir'd to help the sight:
10:532 Fain wou'd I travel to some foreign shore,
10:533 Never to see my native country more,
10:534 So might I to my self my self restore;
10:535 So might my mind these impious thoughts remove,
10:536 And ceasing to behold, might cease to love.
10:537 But stay I must, to feed my famish'd sight,
10:538 To talk, to kiss, and more, if more I might:
10:539 More, impious maid! What more canst thou design?
10:540 To make a monstrous mixture in thy line,
10:541 And break all statutes human and divine!
10:542 Can'st thou be call'd (to save thy wretched life)
10:543 Thy mother's rival, and thy father's wife?
10:544 Confound so many sacred names in one,
10:545 Thy brother's mother! Sister to thy son!
10:546 And fear'st thou not to see th' infernal bands,
10:547 Their heads with snakes; with torches arm'd their hands
10:548 Full at thy face th' avenging brands to bear,
10:549 And shake the serpents from their hissing hair;
10:550 But thou in time th' increasing ill controul,
10:551 Nor first debauch the body by the soul;
10:552 Secure the sacred quiet of thy mind,
10:553 And keep the sanctions Nature has design'd.
10:554 Suppose I shou'd attempt, th' attempt were vain,
10:555 No thoughts like mine, his sinless soul profane;
10:556 Observant of the right: and o that he
10:557 Cou'd cure my madness, or be mad like me!
10:558 Thus she: but Cinyras, who daily sees
10:559 A crowd of noble suitors at his knees,
10:560 Among so many, knew not whom to chuse,
10:561 Irresolute to grant, or to refuse.
10:562 But having told their names, enquir'd of her
10:563 Who pleas'd her best, and whom she would prefer.
10:564 The blushing maid stood silent with surprize,
10:565 And on her father fix'd her ardent eyes,
10:566 And looking sigh'd, and as she sigh'd, began
10:567 Round tears to shed, that scalded as they ran.
10:568 The tender sire, who saw her blush, and cry,
10:569 Ascrib'd it all to maiden modesty,
10:570 And dry'd the falling drops, and yet more kind,
10:571 He stroak'd her cheeks, and holy kisses join'd.
10:572 She felt a secret venom fire her blood,
10:573 And found more pleasure, than a daughter shou'd;
10:574 And, ask'd again what lover of the crew
10:575 She lik'd the best, she answer'd, One like you.
10:576 Mistaking what she meant, her pious will
10:577 He prais'd, and bid her so continue still:
10:578 The word of pious heard, she blush'd with shame
10:579 Of secret guilt, and cou'd not bear the name.
10:580 'Twas now the mid of night, when slumbers close
10:581 Our eyes, and sooth our cares with soft repose;
10:582 But no repose cou'd wretched Myrrha find,
10:583 Her body rouling, as she roul'd her mind:
10:584 Mad with desire, she ruminates her sin,
10:585 And wishes all her wishes o'er again:
10:586 Now she despairs, and now resolves to try;
10:587 Wou'd not, and wou'd again, she knows not why;
10:588 Stops, and returns; makes, and retracts the vow;
10:589 Fain wou'd begin, but understands not how.
10:590 As when a pine is hew'd upon the plains,
10:591 And the last mortal stroke alone remains,
10:592 Lab'ring in pangs of death, and threatning all,
10:593 This way, and that she nods, consid'ring where to fall:
10:594 So Myrrha's mind, impell'd on either side,
10:595 Takes ev'ry bent, but cannot long abide;
10:596 Irresolute on which she shou'd relie,
10:597 At last, unfix'd in all, is only fix'd to die.
10:598 On that sad thought she rests, resolv'd on death,
10:599 She rises, and prepares to choak her breath:
10:600 Then while about the beam her zone she ties,
10:601 Dear Cinyras farewell, she softly cries;
10:602 For thee I die, and only wish to be
10:603 Not hated, when thou know'st die I for thee:
10:604 Pardon the crime, in pity to the cause:
10:605 This said, about her neck the noose she draws.
10:606 The nurse, who lay without, her faithful guard,
10:607 Though not the words, the murmurs over-heard;
10:608 And sighs, and hollow sounds: surpriz'd with fright,
10:609 She starts, and leaves her bed, and springs a light;
10:610 Unlocks the door, and entring out of breath,
10:611 The dying saw, and instruments of death;
10:612 She shrieks, she cuts the zone with trembling haste,
10:613 And in her arms her fainting charge embrac'd:
10:614 Next (for she now had leisure for her tears),
10:615 She weeping ask'd, in these her blooming years,
10:616 What unforeseen misfortune caus'd her care,
10:617 To loath her life, and languish in despair!
10:618 The maid, with down-cast eyes, and mute with grief
10:619 For death unfinish'd, and ill-tim'd relief,
10:620 Stood sullen to her suit: the beldame press'd
10:621 The more to know, and bar'd her wither'd breast,
10:622 Adjur'd her by the kindly food she drew
10:623 From those dry founts, her secret ill to shew.
10:624 Sad Myrrha sigh'd, and turn'd her eyes aside:
10:625 The nurse still urg'd, and wou'd not be deny'd:
10:626 Nor only promis'd secresie, but pray'd
10:627 She might have leave to give her offer'd aid.
10:628 Good-will, she said, my want of strength supplies,
10:629 And diligence shall give what age denies:
10:630 If strong desires thy mind to fury move,
10:631 With charms and med'cines I can cure thy love:
10:632 If envious eyes their hurtuful rays have cast,
10:633 More pow'rful verse shall free thee from the blast:
10:634 If Heav'n offended sends thee this disease,
10:635 Offended Heav'n with pray'rs we can appease.
10:636 What then remains, that can these cares procure?
10:637 Thy house is flourishing, thy fortune sure:
10:638 Thy careful mother yet in health survives,
10:639 And, to thy comfort, thy kind father lives.
10:640 The virgin started at her father's name,
10:641 And sigh'd profoundly, conscious of the shame
10:642 Nor yet the nurse her impious love divin'd,
10:643 But yet surmis'd that love disturb'd her mind:
10:644 Thus thinking, she pursu'd her point, and laid,
10:645 And lull'd within her lap the mourning maid;
10:646 Then softly sooth'd her thus; I guess your grief:
10:647 You love, my child; your love shall find relief.
10:648 My long-experienc'd age shall be your guide;
10:649 Rely on that, and lay distrust aside.
10:650 No breath of air shall on the secret blow,
10:651 Nor shall (what most you fear) your father know.
10:652 Struck once again, as with a thunder-clap,
10:653 The guilty virgin bounded from her lap,
10:654 And threw her body prostrate on the bed.
10:655 And, to conceal her blushes, hid her head;
10:656 There silent lay, and warn'd her with her hand
10:657 To go: but she receiv'd not the command;
10:658 Remaining still importunate to know:
10:659 Then Myrrha thus: Or ask no more, or go;
10:660 I pr'ythee go, or staying spare my shame;
10:661 What thou would'st hear, is impious ev'n to name.
10:662 At this, on high the beldame holds her hands,
10:663 And trembling both with age, and terror stands;
10:664 Adjures, and falling at her feet intreats,
10:665 Sooths her with blandishments, and frights with threats,
10:666 To tell the crime intended, or disclose
10:667 What part of it she knew, if she no farther knows.
10:668 And last, if conscious to her counsel made,
10:669 Confirms anew the promise of her aid.
10:670 Now Myrrha rais'd her head; but soon oppress'd
10:671 With shame, reclin'd it on her nurse's breast;
10:672 Bath'd it with tears, and strove to have confess'd:
10:673 Twice she began, and stopp'd; again she try'd;
10:674 The falt'ring tongue its office still deny'd.
10:675 At last her veil before her face she spread,
10:676 And drew a long preluding sigh, and said,
10:677 O happy mother, in thy marriage-bed!
10:678 Then groan'd, and ceas'd. The good old woman shook,
10:679 Stiff were her eyes, and ghastly was her look:
10:680 Her hoary hair upright with horror stood,
10:681 Made (to her grief) more knowing than she wou'd.
10:682 Much she reproach'd, and many things she said,
10:683 To cure the madness of th' unhappy maid,
10:684 In vain: for Myrrha stood convict of ill;
10:685 Her reason vanquish'd, but unchang'd her will:
10:686 Perverse of mind, unable to reply;
10:687 She stood resolv'd, or to possess, or die.
10:688 At length the fondness of a nurse prevail'd
10:689 Against her better sense, and virtue fail'd:
10:690 Enjoy, my child, since such is thy desire,
10:691 Thy love, she said; she durst not say, thy sire:
10:692 Live, though unhappy, live on any terms;
10:693 Then with a second oath her faith confirms.
10:694 The solemn feast of Ceres now was near,
10:695 When long white linnen stoles the matrons wear;
10:696 Rank'd in procession walk the pious train,
10:697 Off'ring first-fruits, and spikes of yellow grain:
10:698 For nine long nights the nuptial-bed they shun,
10:699 And sanctifying harvest, lie alone.
10:700 Mix'd with the crowd, the queen forsook her lord,
10:701 And Ceres' pow'r with secret rites ador'd:
10:702 The royal couch, now vacant for a time,
10:703 The crafty crone, officious in her crime,
10:704 The first occasion took: the king she found
10:705 Easie with wine, and deep in pleasures drown'd,
10:706 Prepar'd for love: the beldame blew the flame,
10:707 Confess'd the passion, but conceal'd the name.
10:708 Her form she prais'd; the monarch ask'd her years;
10:709 And she reply'd, The same thy Myrrha bears.
10:710 Wine, and commended beauty fir'd his thought;
10:711 Impatient, he commands her to be brought.
10:712 Pleas'd with her charge perform'd, she hies her home,
10:713 And gratulates the nymph, the task was overcome.
10:714 Myrrha was joy'd the welcome news to hear;
10:715 But clog'd with guilt, the joy was unsincere:
10:716 So various, so discordant is the mind,
10:717 That in our will a diff'rent will we find.
10:718 Ill she presag'd, and yet pursu'd her lust;
10:719 For guilty pleasures give a double gust.
10:720 'Twas depth of night: Arctophylax had driv'n
10:721 His lazy wain half round the northern Heav'n,
10:722 When Myrrha hasten'd to the crime desir'd:
10:723 The moon beheld her first, and first retir'd:
10:724 The stars amaz'd, ran backward from the sight,
10:725 And (shrunk within their sockets) lost their light.
10:726 Icarius first withdraws his holy flame:
10:727 The virgin sign, in Heav'n the second name,
10:728 Slides down the belt, and from her station flies,
10:729 And night with sable clouds involves the skies.
10:730 Bold Myrrha still pursues her black intent;
10:731 She stumbled thrice (an omen of th' event);
10:732 Thrice shriek'd the fun'ral owl, yet on she went,
10:733 Secure of shame, because secure of sight;
10:734 Ev'n bashful sins are impudent by night.
10:735 Link'd hand in hand, th' accomplice, and the dame,
10:736 Their way exploring, to the chamber came:
10:737 The door was ope; they blindly grope their way,
10:738 Where dark in bed th' expecting monarch lay.
10:739 Thus far her courage held, but here forsakes;
10:740 Her faint knees knock at ev'ry step she makes.
10:741 The nearer to her crime, the more within
10:742 She feels remorse, and horror of her sin;
10:743 Repents too late her criminal desire,
10:744 And wishes, that unknown she could retire.
10:745 Her lingring thus, the nurse (who fear'd delay
10:746 The fatal secret might at length betray)
10:747 Pull'd forward, to compleat the work begun,
10:748 And said to Cinyras, Receive thy own.
10:749 Thus saying, she deliver'd kind to kind,
10:750 Accurs'd, and their devoted bodies join'd.
10:751 The sire, unknowing of the crime, admits
10:752 His bowels, and prophanes the hallow'd sheets;
10:753 He found she trembled, but believ'd she strove
10:754 With maiden modesty against her love,
10:755 And sought with flatt'ring words vain fancies to remove.
10:756 Perhaps he said, My daughter, cease thy fears
10:757 (Because the title suited with her years);
10:758 And, Father, she might whisper him again,
10:759 That names might not be wanting to the sin.
10:760 Full of her sire, she left th' incestuous bed,
10:761 And carry'd in her womb the crime she bred.
10:762 Another, and another night she came;
10:763 For frequent sin had left no sense of shame:
10:764 'Till Cinyras desir'd to see her face,
10:765 Whose body he had held in close embrace,
10:766 And brought a taper; the revealer, light,
10:767 Expos'd both crime, and criminal to sight.
10:768 Grief, rage, amazement, could no speech afford,
10:769 But from the sheath he drew th' avenging sword:
10:770 The guilty fled: the benefit of night,
10:771 That favour'd first the sin, secur'd the flight.
10:772 Long wand'ring thro' the spacious fields, she bent
10:773 Her voyage to th' Arabian continent;
10:774 Then pass'd the region which Panchaea join'd,
10:775 And flying, left the palmy plains behind.
10:776 Nine times the moon had mew'd her horns; at length
10:777 With travel weary, unsupply'd with strength,
10:778 And with the burden of her womb oppress'd,
10:779 Sabaean fields afford her needful rest:
10:780 There, loathing life, and yet of death afraid,
10:781 In anguish of her spirit, thus she pray'd:
10:782 Ye Pow'rs, if any so propitious are
10:783 T' accept my penitence, and hear my pray'r;
10:784 Your judgments, I confess, are justly sent;
10:785 Great sins deserve as great a punishment:
10:786 Yet since my life the living will profane,
10:787 And since my death the happy dead will stain,
10:788 A middle state your mercy may bestow,
10:789 Betwixt the realms above, and those below:
10:790 Some other form to wretched Myrrha give,
10:791 Nor let her wholly die, nor wholly live.
10:792 The pray'rs of penitents are never vain;
10:793 At least she did her last request obtain:
10:794 For while she spoke, the ground began to rise,
10:795 And gather'd round her feet, her legs, and thighs;
10:796 Her toes in roots descend, and spreading wide,
10:797 A firm foundation for the trunk provide:
10:798 Her solid bones convert to solid wood,
10:799 To pith her marrow, and to sap her blood:
10:800 Her arms are boughs, her fingers change their kind,
10:801 Her tender skin is harden'd into rind.
10:802 And now the rising tree her womb invests,
10:803 Now shooting upwards still, invades her breasts,
10:804 And shades the neck; when weary with delay,
10:805 She sunk her head within, and met it half the way.
10:806 And tho' with outward shape she lost her sense,
10:807 With bitter tears she wept her last offence;
10:808 And still she weeps, nor sheds her tears in vain;
10:809 For still the precious drops her name retain.
10:810 Mean-time the mis-begotten infant grows,
10:811 And ripe for birth, distends with deadly throes
10:812 The swelling rind, with unavailing strife,
10:813 To leave the wooden womb, and pushes into life.
10:814 The mother-tree, as if oppress'd with pain,
10:815 Writhes here, and there, to break the bark, in vain;
10:816 And, like a lab'ring woman, wou'd have pray'd,
10:817 But wants a voice to call Lucina's aid:
10:818 The bending bole sends out a hollow sound,
10:819 And trickling tears fall thicker on the ground.
10:820 The mild Lucina came uncall'd, and stood
10:821 Beside the struggling boughs, and heard the groaning wood;
10:822 Then reach'd her midwife-hand to speed the throes,
10:823 And spoke the pow'rful spells, that babes to birth disclose.
10:824 The bark divides, the living load to free,
10:825 And safe delivers the convulsive tree.
10:826 The ready nymphs receive the crying child,
10:827 And wash him in the tears the parent plant distill'd.
10:828 They swath'd him with their scarfs; beneath him spread
10:829 The ground with herbs; with roses rais'd his head.
10:830 The lovely babe was born with ev'ry grace,
10:831 Ev'n envy must have prais'd so fair a face:
10:832 Such was his form, as painters when they show
10:833 Their utmost art, on naked loves bestow:
10:834 And that their arms no diff'rence might betray,
10:835 Give him a bow, or his from Cupid take away.
10:836 Time glides along with undiscover'd haste,
10:837 The future but a length behind the past;
10:838 So swift are years. The babe, whom just before
10:839 His grandsire got, and whom his sister bore;
10:840 The drop, the thing, which late the tree inclos'd,
10:841 And late the yawning bark to life expos'd;
10:842 A babe, a boy, a beauteous youth appears,
10:843 And lovelier than himself at riper years.
10:844 Now to the queen of love he gave desires,
10:845 And, with her pains, reveng'd his mother's fires.
The Story of Venus and Adonis
10:846 For Cytherea's lips while Cupid prest,
10:847 He with a heedless arrow raz'd her breast,
10:848 The Goddess felt it, and with fury stung,
10:849 The wanton mischief from her bosom flung:
10:850 Yet thought at first the danger slight, but found
10:851 The dart too faithful, and too deep the wound.
10:852 Fir'd with a mortal beauty, she disdains
10:853 To haunt th' Idalian mount, or Phrygian plains.
10:854 She seeks not Cnidos, nor her Paphian shrines,
10:855 Nor Amathus, that teems with brazen mines:
10:856 Ev'n Heav'n itself with all its sweets unsought,
10:857 Adonis far a sweeter Heav'n is thought.
10:858 On him she hangs, and fonds with ev'ry art,
10:859 And never, never knows from him to part.
10:860 She, whose soft limbs had only been display'd
10:861 On rosie beds beneath the myrtle shade,
10:862 Whose pleasing care was to improve each grace,
10:863 And add more charms to an unrival'd face,
10:864 Now buskin'd, like the virgin huntress, goes
10:865 Thro' woods, and pathless wilds, and mountain-snows
10:866 With her own tuneful voice she joys to cheer
10:867 The panting hounds, that chace the flying deer.
10:868 She runs the labyrinth of fearful hares,
10:869 But fearless beasts, and dang'rous prey forbears,
10:870 Hunts not the grinning wolf, or foamy boar,
10:871 And trembles at the lion's hungry roar.
10:872 Thee too, Adonis, with a lover's care
10:873 She warns, if warn'd thou wou'dst avoid the snare,
10:874 To furious animals advance not nigh,
10:875 Fly those that follow, follow those that fly;
10:876 'Tis chance alone must the survivors save,
10:877 Whene'er brave spirits will attempt the brave.
10:878 O! lovely youth! in harmless sports delight;
10:879 Provoke not beasts, which, arm'd by Nature, fight.
10:880 For me, if not thy self, vouchsafe to fear;
10:881 Let not thy thirst of glory cost me dear.
10:882 Boars know not bow to spare a blooming age;
10:883 No sparkling eyes can sooth the lion's rage.
10:884 Not all thy charms a savage breast can move,
10:885 Which have so deeply touch'd the queen of love.
10:886 When bristled boars from beaten thickets spring,
10:887 In grinded tusks a thunderbolt they bring.
10:888 The daring hunters lions rouz'd devour,
10:889 Vast is their fury, and as vast their pow'r:
10:890 Curst be their tawny race! If thou would'st hear
10:891 What kindled thus my hate, then lend an ear:
10:892 The wond'rous tale I will to thee unfold,
10:893 How the fell monsters rose from crimes of old.
10:894 But by long toils I faint: see! wide-display'd,
10:895 A grateful poplar courts us with a shade.
10:896 The grassy turf, beneath, so verdant shows,
10:897 We may secure delightfully repose.
10:898 With her Adonis here be Venus blest;
10:899 And swift at once the grass and him she prest.
10:900 Then sweetly smiling, with a raptur'd mind,
10:901 On his lov'd bosom she her head reclin'd,
10:902 And thus began; but mindful still of bliss,
10:903 Seal'd the soft accents with a softer kiss.
10:904 Perhaps thou may'st have heard a virgin's name,
10:905 Who still in swiftness swiftest youths o'ercame.
10:906 Wondrous! that female weakness should outdo
10:907 A manly strength; the wonder yet is true.
10:908 'Twas doubtful, if her triumphs in the field
10:909 Did to her form's triumphant glories yield;
10:910 Whether her face could with more ease decoy
10:911 A crowd of lovers, or her feet destroy.
10:912 For once Apollo she implor'd to show
10:913 If courteous Fates a consort would allow:
10:914 A consort brings thy ruin, he reply'd;
10:915 O! learn to want the pleasures of a bride!
10:916 Nor shalt thou want them to thy wretched cost,
10:917 And Atalanta living shall be lost.
10:918 With such a rueful Fate th' affrighted maid
10:919 Sought green recesses in the wood-land glade.
10:920 Nor sighing suiters her resolves could move,
10:921 She bad them show their speed, to show their love.
10:922 He only, who could conquer in the race,
10:923 Might hope the conquer'd virgin to embrace;
10:924 While he, whose tardy feet had lagg'd behind,
10:925 Was doom'd the sad reward of death to find.
10:926 Tho' great the prize, yet rigid the decree,
10:927 But blind with beauty, who can rigour see?
10:928 Ev'n on these laws the fair they rashly sought,
10:929 And danger in excess of love forgot.
10:930 There sat Hippomenes, prepar'd to blame
10:931 In lovers such extravagance of flame.
10:932 And must, he said, the blessing of a wife
10:933 Be dearly purchas'd by a risk of life?
10:934 But when he saw the wonders of her face,
10:935 And her limbs naked, springing to the race,
10:936 Her limbs, as exquisitely turn'd, as mine,
10:937 Or if a woman thou, might vie with thine,
10:938 With lifted hands, he cry'd, forgive the tongue
10:939 Which durst, ye youths, your well-tim'd courage wrong.
10:940 I knew not that the nymph, for whom you strove,
10:941 Deserv'd th' unbounded transports of your love.
10:942 He saw, admir'd, and thus her spotless frame
10:943 He prais'd, and praising, kindled his own flame.
10:944 A rival now to all the youths who run,
10:945 Envious, he fears they should not be undone.
10:946 But why (reflects he) idly thus is shown
10:947 The fate of others, yet untry'd my own?
10:948 The coward must not on love's aid depend;
10:949 The God was ever to the bold a friend.
10:950 Mean-time the virgin flies, or seems to fly,
10:951 Swift as a Scythian arrow cleaves the sky:
10:952 Still more and more the youth her charms admires.
10:953 The race itself t' exalt her charms conspires.
10:954 The golden pinions, which her feet adorn,
10:955 In wanton flutt'rings by the winds are born.
10:956 Down from her head, the long, fair tresses flow,
10:957 And sport with lovely negligence below.
10:958 The waving ribbands, which her buskins tie,
10:959 Her snowy skin with waving purple die;
10:960 As crimson veils in palaces display'd,
10:961 To the white marble lend a blushing shade.
10:962 Nor long he gaz'd, yet while he gaz'd, she gain'd
10:963 The goal, and the victorious wreath obtain'd.
10:964 The vanquish'd sigh, and, as the law decreed,
10:965 Pay the dire forfeit, and prepare to bleed.
10:966 Then rose Hippomenes, not yet afraid,
10:967 And fix'd his eyes full on the beauteous maid.
10:968 Where is (he cry'd) the mighty conquest won,
10:969 To distance those, who want the nerves to run?
10:970 Here prove superior strength, nor shall it be
10:971 Thy loss of glory, if excell'd by me.
10:972 High my descent, near Neptune I aspire,
10:973 For Neptune was grand-parent to my sire.
10:974 From that great God the fourth my self I trace,
10:975 Nor sink my virtues yet beneath my race.
10:976 Thou from Hippomenes, o'ercome, may'st claim
10:977 An envy'd triumph, and a deathless fame.
10:978 While thus the youth the virgin pow'r defies,
10:979 Silent she views him still with softer eyes.
10:980 Thoughts in her breast a doubtful strife begin,
10:981 If 'tis not happier now to lose, than win.
10:982 What God, a foe to beauty, would destroy
10:983 The promis'd ripeness of this blooming boy?
10:984 With his life's danger does he seek my bed?
10:985 Scarce am I half so greatly worth, she said.
10:986 Nor has his beauty mov'd my breast to love,
10:987 And yet, I own, such beauty well might move:
10:988 'Tis not his charms, 'tis pity would engage
10:989 My soul to spare the greenness of his age.
10:990 What, that heroick conrage fires his breast,
10:991 And shines thro' brave disdain of Fate confest?
10:992 What, that his patronage by close degrees
10:993 Springs from th' imperial ruler of the seas?
10:994 Then add the love, which bids him undertake
10:995 The race, and dare to perish for my sake.
10:996 Of bloody nuptials, heedless youth, beware!
10:997 Fly, timely fly from a too barb'rous fair.
10:998 At pleasure chuse; thy love will be repaid
10:999 By a less foolish, and more beauteous maid.
10:1000 But why this tenderness, before unknown?
10:1001 Why beats, and pants my breast for him alone?
10:1002 His eyes have seen his num'rous rivals yield;
10:1003 Let him too share the rigour of the field,
10:1004 Since, by their fates untaught, his own he courts,
10:1005 And thus with ruin insolently sports.
10:1006 Yet for what crime shall he his death receive?
10:1007 Is it a crime with me to wish to live?
10:1008 Shall his kind passion his destruction prove?
10:1009 Is this the fatal recompence of love?
10:1010 So fair a youth, destroy'd, would conquest shame,
10:1011 Aud nymphs eternally detest my fame.
10:1012 Still why should nymphs my guiltless fame upbraid?
10:1013 Did I the fond adventurer persuade?
10:1014 Alas! I wish thou would'st the course decline,
10:1015 Or that my swiftness was excell'd by thine.
10:1016 See! what a virgin's bloom adorns the boy!
10:1017 Why wilt thou run, and why thy self destroy?
10:1018 Hippomenes! O that I ne'er had been
10:1019 By those bright eyes unfortunately seen!
10:1020 Ah! tempt not thus a swift, untimely Fate;
10:1021 Thy life is worthy of the longest date.
10:1022 Were I less wretched, did the galling chain
10:1023 Of rigid Gods not my free choice restrain,
10:1024 By thee alone I could with joy be led
10:1025 To taste the raptures of a nuptial bed.
10:1026 Thus she disclos'd the woman's secret heart,
10:1027 Young, innocent, and new to Cupid's dart.
10:1028 Her thoughts, her words, her actions wildly rove,
10:1029 With love she burns, yet knows not that 'tis love.
10:1030 Her royal sire now with the murm'ring crowd
10:1031 Demands the race impatiently aloud.
10:1032 Hippomenes then with true fervour pray'd,
10:1033 My bold attempt let Venus kindly aid.
10:1034 By her sweet pow'r I felt this am'rous fire,
10:1035 Still may she succour, whom she did inspire.
10:1036 A soft, unenvious wind, with speedy care,
10:1037 Wafted to Heav'n the lover's tender pray'r.
10:1038 Pity, I own, soon gain'd the wish'd consent,
10:1039 And all th' assistance he implor'd I lent.
10:1040 The Cyprian lands, tho' rich, in richness yield
10:1041 To that, surnam'd the Tamasenian field.
10:1042 That field of old was added to my shrine,
10:1043 And its choice products consecrated mine.
10:1044 A tree there stands, full glorious to behold,
10:1045 Gold are the leafs, the crackling branches gold.
10:1046 It chanc'd, three apples in my hand I bore,
10:1047 Which newly from the tree I sportive tore;
10:1048 Seen by the youth alone, to him I brought
10:1049 The fruit, and when, and how to use it, taught.
10:1050 The signal sounding by the king's command,
10:1051 Both start at once, and sweep th' imprinted sand.
10:1052 So swiftly mov'd their feet, they might with ease,
10:1053 Scarce moisten'd, skim along the glassy seas;
10:1054 Or with a wondrous levity be born
10:1055 O'er yellow harvests of unbending corn.
10:1056 Now fav'ring peals resound from ev'ry part,
10:1057 Spirit the youth, and fire his fainting heart.
10:1058 Hippomenes! (they cry'd) thy life preserve,
10:1059 Intensely labour, and stretch ev'ry nerve.
10:1060 Base fear alone can baffle thy design,
10:1061 Shoot boldly onward, and the goal is thine.
10:1062 'Tis doubtful whether shouts, like these, convey'd
10:1063 More pleasures to the youth, or to the maid.
10:1064 When a long distance oft she could have gain'd,
10:1065 She check'd her swiftness, and her feet restrain'd:
10:1066 She sigh'd, and dwelt, and languish'd on his face,
10:1067 Then with unwilling speed pursu'd the race.
10:1068 O'er-spent with heat, his breath he faintly drew,
10:1069 Parch'd was his mouth, nor yet the goal in view,
10:1070 And the first apple on the plain he threw.
10:1071 The nymph stop'd sudden at th' unusual sight,
10:1072 Struck with the fruit so beautifully bright.
10:1073 Aside she starts, the wonder to behold,
10:1074 And eager stoops to catch the rouling gold.
10:1075 Th' observant youth past by, and scour'd along,
10:1076 While peals of joy rung from th' applauding throng.
10:1077 Unkindly she corrects the short delay,
10:1078 And to redeem the time fleets swift away,
10:1079 Swift, as the lightning, or the northern wind,
10:1080 And far she leaves the panting youth behind.
10:1081 Again he strives the flying nymph to hold
10:1082 With the temptation of the second gold:
10:1083 The bright temptation fruitlessly was tost,
10:1084 So soon, alas! she won the distance lost.
10:1085 Now but a little interval of space
10:1086 Remain'd for the decision of the race.
10:1087 Fair author of the precious gift, he said,
10:1088 Be thou, O Goddess, author of my aid!
10:1089 Then of the shining fruit the last he drew,
10:1090 And with his full-collected vigour threw:
10:1091 The virgin still the longer to detain,
10:1092 Threw not directly, but a-cross the plain.
10:1093 She seem'd a-while perplex'd in dubious thought,
10:1094 If the far-distant apple should be sought:
10:1095 I lur'd her backward mind to seize the bait,
10:1096 And to the massie gold gave double weight.
10:1097 My favour to my votary was show'd,
10:1098 Her speed I lessen'd, and encreas'd her load.
10:1099 But lest, tho' long, the rapid race be run,
10:1100 Before my longer, tedious tale is done,
10:1101 The youth the goal, and so the virgin won.
10:1102 Might I, Adonis, now not hope to see
10:1103 His grateful thanks pour'd out for victory?
10:1104 His pious incense on my altars laid?
10:1105 But he nor grateful thanks, nor incense paid.
10:1106 Enrag'd I vow'd, that with the youth the fair,
10:1107 For his contempt, should my keen vengeance share;
10:1108 That future lovers might my pow'r revere,
10:1109 And, from their sad examples, learn to fear.
10:1110 The silent fanes, the sanctify'd abodes,
10:1111 Of Cybele, great mother of the Gods,
10:1112 Rais'd by Echion in a lonely wood,
10:1113 And full of brown, religious horror stood.
10:1114 By a long painful journey faint, they chose!
10:1115 Their weary limbs here secret to repose.
10:1116 But soon my pow'r inflam'd the lustful boy,
10:1117 Careless of rest he sought untimely joy.
10:1118 A hallow'd gloomy cave, with moss o'er-grown,
10:1119 The temple join'd, of native pumice-stone,
10:1120 Where antique images by priests were kept.
10:1121 And wooden deities securely slept.
10:1122 Thither the rash Hippomenes retires,
10:1123 And gives a loose to all his wild desires,
10:1124 And the chaste cell pollutes with wanton fires.
10:1125 The sacred statues trembled with surprize,
10:1126 The tow'ry Goddess, blushing, veil'd her eyes;
10:1127 And the lewd pair to Stygian sounds had sent,
10:1128 But unrevengeful seem'd that punishment,
10:1129 A heavier doom such black prophaneness draws,
10:1130 Their taper figures turn to crooked paws.
10:1131 No more their necks the smoothness can retain,
10:1132 Now cover'd sudden with a yellow mane.
10:1133 Arms change to legs: each finds the hard'ning breast
10:1134 Of rage unknown, and wond'rous strength possest.
10:1135 Their alter'd looks with fury grim appear,
10:1136 And on the ground their brushing tails they hear.
10:1137 They haunt the woods: their voices, which before
10:1138 Were musically sweet, now hoarsly roar.
10:1139 Hence lions, dreadful to the lab'ring swains,
10:1140 Are tam'd by Cybele, and curb'd with reins,
10:1141 And humbly draw her car along the plains.
10:1142 But thou, Adonis, my delightful care,
10:1143 Of these, and beasts, as fierce as these, beware!
10:1144 The savage, which not shuns thee, timely shun,
10:1145 For by rash prowess should'st thou be undone,
10:1146 A double ruin is contain'd in one.
10:1147 Thus cautious Venus school'd her fav'rite boy;
10:1148 But youthful heat all cautions will destroy.
10:1149 His sprightly soul beyond grave counsels flies,
10:1150 While with yok'd swans the Goddess cuts the skies.
10:1151 His faithful hounds, led by the tainted wind,
10:1152 Lodg'd in thick coverts chanc'd a boar to find.
10:1153 The callow hero show'd a manly heart,
10:1154 And pierc'd the savage with a side-long dart.
10:1155 The flying savage, wounded, turn'd again,
10:1156 Wrench'd out the gory dart, and foam'd with pain.
10:1157 The trembling boy by flight his safety sought,
10:1158 And now recall'd the lore, which Venus taught;
10:1159 But now too late to fly the boar he strove,
10:1160 Who in the groin his tusks impetuous drove,
10:1161 On the discolour'd grass Adonis lay,
10:1162 The monster trampling o'er his beauteous prey.
10:1163 Fair Cytherea, Cyprus scarce in view,
10:1164 Heard from afar his groans, and own'd them true,
10:1165 And turn'd her snowy swans, and backward flew.
10:1166 But as she saw him gasp his latest breath,
10:1167 And quiv'ring agonize in pangs of death,
10:1168 Down with swift flight she plung'd, nor rage forbore,
10:1169 At once her garments, and her hair she tore.
10:1170 With cruel blows she beat her guiltless breast,
10:1171 The Fates upbraided, and her love confest.
10:1172 Nor shall they yet (she cry'd) the whole devour
10:1173 With uncontroul'd, inexorable pow'r:
10:1174 For thee, lost youth, my tears, and restless pain
10:1175 Shall in immortal monuments remain,
10:1176 With solemn pomp in annual rites return'd,
10:1177 Be thou for ever, my Adonis, mourn'd,
10:1178 Could Pluto's queen with jealous fury storm,
10:1179 And Menthe to a fragrant herb transform?
10:1180 Yet dares not Venus with a change surprise,
10:1181 And in a flow'r bid her fall'n heroe rise?
10:1182 Then on the blood sweet nectar she bestows,
10:1183 The scented blood in little bubbles rose:
10:1184 Little as rainy drops, which flutt'ring fly,
10:1185 Born by the winds, along a low'ring sky.
10:1186 Short time ensu'd, 'till where the blood was shed,
10:1187 A flow'r began to rear its purple head:
10:1188 Such, as on Punick apples is reveal'd,
10:1189 Or in the filmy rind but half conceal'd.
10:1190 Still here the Fate of lovely forms we see,
10:1191 So sudden fades the sweet Anemonie.
10:1192 The feeble stems, to stormy blasts a prey,
10:1193 Their sickly beauties droop, and pine away.
10:1194 The winds forbid the flow'rs to flourish long,
10:1195 Which owe to winds their names in Grecian song.