Ovid [Trans., Sir Samuel Garth]. Metamorphoses
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BOOK THE FOURTH
The Story of Alcithoe and her Sisters
4:1 Yet still Alcithoe perverse remains,
4:2 And Bacchus still, and all his rites, disdains.
4:3 Too rash, and madly bold, she bids him prove
4:4 Himself a God, nor owns the son of Jove.
4:5 Her sisters too unanimous agree,
4:6 Faithful associates in impiety.
4:7 Be this a solemn feast, the priest had said;
4:8 Be, with each mistress, unemploy'd each maid.
4:9 With skins of beasts your tender limbs enclose,
4:10 And with an ivy-crown adorn your brows,
4:11 The leafy Thyrsus high in triumph bear,
4:12 And give your locks to wanton in the air.
4:13 These rites profan'd, the holy seer foreshow'd
4:14 A mourning people, and a vengeful God.
4:15 Matrons and pious wives obedience show,
4:16 Distaffs, and wooll, half spun, away they throw:
4:17 Then incense burn, and, Bacchus, thee adore,
4:18 Or lov'st thou Nyseus, or Lyaeus more?
4:19 O! doubly got, O! doubly born, they sung,
4:20 Thou mighty Bromius, hail, from light'ning sprung!
4:21 Hail, Thyon, Eleleus! each name is thine:
4:22 Or, listen parent of the genial vine!
4:23 Iachus! Evan! loudly they repeat,
4:24 And not one Grecian attribute forget,
4:25 Which to thy praise, great Deity, belong,
4:26 Stil'd justly Liber in the Roman song.
4:27 Eternity of youth is thine! enjoy
4:28 Years roul'd on years, yet still a blooming boy.
4:29 In Heav'n thou shin'st with a superior grace;
4:30 Conceal thy horns, and 'tis a virgin's face.
4:31 Thou taught'st the tawny Indian to obey,
4:32 And Ganges, smoothly flowing, own'd thy sway.
4:33 Lycurgus, Pentheus, equally profane,
4:34 By thy just vengeance equally were slain.
4:35 By thee the Tuscans, who conspir'd to keep
4:36 Thee captive, plung'd, and cut with finns the deep.
4:37 With painted reins, all-glitt'ring from afar,
4:38 The spotted lynxes proudly draw thy car.
4:39 Around, the Bacchae, and the satyrs throng;
4:40 Behind, Silenus, drunk, lags slow along:
4:41 On his dull ass he nods from side to side,
4:42 Forbears to fall, yet half forgets to ride.
4:43 Still at thy near approach, applauses loud
4:44 Are heard, with yellings of the female crowd.
4:45 Timbrels, and boxen pipes, with mingled cries,
4:46 Swell up in sounds confus'd, and rend the skies.
4:47 Come, Bacchus, come propitious, all implore,
4:48 And act thy sacred orgies o'er and o'er.
4:49 But Mineus' daughters, while these rites were pay'd,
4:50 At home, impertinently busie, stay'd.
4:51 Their wicked tasks they ply with various art,
4:52 And thro' the loom the sliding shuttle dart;
4:53 Or at the fire to comb the wooll they stand,
4:54 Or twirl the spindle with a dext'rous hand.
4:55 Guilty themselves, they force the guiltless in;
4:56 Their maids, who share the labour, share the sin.
4:57 At last one sister cries, who nimbly knew
4:58 To draw nice threads, and winde the finest clue,
4:59 While others idly rove, and Gods revere,
4:60 Their fancy'd Gods! they know not who, or where;
4:61 Let us, whom Pallas taught her better arts,
4:62 Still working, cheer with mirthful chat our hearts,
4:63 And to deceive the time, let me prevail
4:64 With each by turns to tell some antique tale.
4:65 She said: her sisters lik'd the humour well,
4:66 And smiling, bad her the first story tell.
4:67 But she a-while profoundly seem'd to muse,
4:68 Perplex'd amid variety to chuse:
4:69 And knew not, whether she should first relate
4:70 The poor Dircetis, and her wond'rous fate.
4:71 The Palestines believe it to a man,
4:72 And show the lake, in which her scales began.
4:73 Or if she rather should the daughter sing,
4:74 Who in the hoary verge of life took wing;
4:75 Who soar'd from Earth, and dwelt in tow'rs on high,
4:76 And now a dove she flits along the sky.
4:77 Or how lewd Nais, when her lust was cloy'd,
4:78 To fishes turn'd the youths, she had enjoy'd,
4:79 By pow'rful verse, and herbs; effect most strange!
4:80 At last the changer shar'd herself the change.
4:81 Or how the tree, which once white berries bore,
4:82 Still crimson bears, since stain'd with crimson gore.
4:83 The tree was new; she likes it, and begins
4:84 To tell the tale, and as she tells, she spins.
The Story of Pyramus and Thisbe
4:85 In Babylon, where first her queen, for state
4:86 Rais'd walls of brick magnificently great,
4:87 Liv'd Pyramus, and Thisbe, lovely pair!
4:88 He found no eastern youth his equal there,
4:89 And she beyond the fairest nymph was fair.
4:90 A closer neighbourhood was never known,
4:91 Tho' two the houses, yet the roof was one.
4:92 Acquaintance grew, th' acquaintance they improve
4:93 To friendship, friendship ripen'd into love:
4:94 Love had been crown'd, but impotently mad,
4:95 What parents could not hinder, they forbad.
4:96 For with fierce flames young Pyramus still burn'd,
4:97 And grateful Thisbe flames as fierce return'd.
4:98 Aloud in words their thoughts they dare not break,
4:99 But silent stand; and silent looks can speak.
4:100 The fire of love the more it is supprest,
4:101 The more it glows, and rages in the breast.
4:102 When the division-wall was built, a chink
4:103 Was left, the cement unobserv'd to shrink.
4:104 So slight the cranny, that it still had been
4:105 For centuries unclos'd, because unseen.
4:106 But oh! what thing so small, so secret lies,
4:107 Which scapes, if form'd for love, a lover's eyes?
4:108 Ev'n in this narrow chink they quickly found
4:109 A friendly passage for a trackless sound.
4:110 Safely they told their sorrows, and their joys,
4:111 In whisper'd murmurs, and a dying noise,
4:112 By turns to catch each other's breath they strove,
4:113 And suck'd in all the balmy breeze of love.
4:114 Oft as on diff'rent sides they stood, they cry'd,
4:115 Malicious wall, thus lovers to divide!
4:116 Suppose, thou should'st a-while to us give place
4:117 To lock, and fasten in a close embrace:
4:118 But if too much to grant so sweet a bliss,
4:119 Indulge at least the pleasure of a kiss.
4:120 We scorn ingratitude: to thee, we know,
4:121 This safe conveyance of our minds we owe.
4:122 Thus they their vain petition did renew
4:123 'Till night, and then they softly sigh'd adieu.
4:124 But first they strove to kiss, and that was all;
4:125 Their kisses dy'd untasted on the wall.
4:126 Soon as the morn had o'er the stars prevail'd,
4:127 And warm'd by Phoebus, flow'rs their dews exhal'd,
4:128 The lovers to their well-known place return,
4:129 Alike they suffer, and alike they mourn.
4:130 At last their parents they resolve to cheat
4:131 (If to deceive in love be call'd deceit),
4:132 To steal by night from home, and thence unknown
4:133 To seek the fields, and quit th' unfaithful town.
4:134 But, to prevent their wand'ring in the dark,
4:135 They both agree to fix upon a mark;
4:136 A mark, that could not their designs expose:
4:137 The tomb of Ninus was the mark they chose.
4:138 There they might rest secure beneath the shade,
4:139 Which boughs, with snowy fruit encumber'd, made:
4:140 A wide-spread mulberry its rise had took
4:141 Just on the margin of a gurgling brook.
4:142 Impatient for the friendly dusk they stay;
4:143 And chide the slowness of departing day;
4:144 In western seas down sunk at last the light,
4:145 From western seas up-rose the shades of night.
4:146 The loving Thisbe ev'n prevents the hour,
4:147 With cautious silence she unlocks the door,
4:148 And veils her face, and marching thro' the gloom
4:149 Swiftly arrives at th' assignation-tomb.
4:150 For still the fearful sex can fearless prove;
4:151 Boldly they act, if spirited by love.
4:152 When lo! a lioness rush'd o'er the plain,
4:153 Grimly besmear'd with blood of oxen slain:
4:154 And what to the dire sight new horrors brought,
4:155 To slake her thirst the neighb'ring spring she sought.
4:156 Which, by the moon, when trembling Thisbe spies,
4:157 Wing'd with her fear, swift, as the wind, she flies;
4:158 And in a cave recovers from her fright,
4:159 But drop'd her veil, confounded in her flight.
4:160 When sated with repeated draughts, again
4:161 The queen of beasts scour'd back along the plain,
4:162 She found the veil, and mouthing it all o'er,
4:163 With bloody jaws the lifeless prey she tore.
4:164 The youth, who could not cheat his guards so soon,
4:165 Late came, and noted by the glimm'ring moon
4:166 Some savage feet, new printed on the ground,
4:167 His cheeks turn'd pale, his limbs no vigour found;
4:168 But when, advancing on, the veil he spied
4:169 Distain'd with blood, and ghastly torn, he cried,
4:170 One night shall death to two young lovers give,
4:171 But she deserv'd unnumber'd years to live!
4:172 'Tis I am guilty, I have thee betray'd,
4:173 Who came not early, as my charming maid.
4:174 Whatever slew thee, I the cause remain,
4:175 I nam'd, and fix'd the place where thou wast slain.
4:176 Ye lions from your neighb'ring dens repair,
4:177 Pity the wretch, this impious body tear!
4:178 But cowards thus for death can idly cry;
4:179 The brave still have it in their pow'r to die.
4:180 Then to th' appointed tree he hastes away,
4:181 The veil first gather'd, tho' all rent it lay:
4:182 The veil all rent yet still it self endears,
4:183 He kist, and kissing, wash'd it with his tears.
4:184 Tho' rich (he cry'd) with many a precious stain,
4:185 Still from my blood a deeper tincture gain.
4:186 Then in his breast his shining sword he drown'd,
4:187 And fell supine, extended on the ground.
4:188 As out again the blade lie dying drew,
4:189 Out spun the blood, and streaming upwards flew.
4:190 So if a conduit-pipe e'er burst you saw,
4:191 Swift spring the gushing waters thro' the flaw:
4:192 Then spouting in a bow, they rise on high,
4:193 And a new fountain plays amid the sky.
4:194 The berries, stain'd with blood, began to show
4:195 A dark complexion, and forgot their snow;
4:196 While fatten'd with the flowing gore, the root
4:197 Was doom'd for ever to a purple fruit.
4:198 Mean-time poor Thisbe fear'd, so long she stay'd,
4:199 Her lover might suspect a perjur'd maid.
4:200 Her fright scarce o'er, she strove the youth to find
4:201 With ardent eyes, which spoke an ardent mind.
4:202 Already in his arms, she hears him sigh
4:203 At her destruction, which was once so nigh.
4:204 The tomb, the tree, but not the fruit she knew,
4:205 The fruit she doubted for its alter'd hue.
4:206 Still as she doubts, her eyes a body found
4:207 Quiv'ring in death, and gasping on the ground.
4:208 She started back, the red her cheeks forsook,
4:209 And ev'ry nerve with thrilling horrors shook.
4:210 So trembles the smooth surface of the seas,
4:211 If brush'd o'er gently with a rising breeze.
4:212 But when her view her bleeding love confest,
4:213 She shriek'd, she tore her hair, she beat her breast.
4:214 She rais'd the body, and embrac'd it round,
4:215 And bath'd with tears unfeign'd the gaping wound.
4:216 Then her warm lips to the cold face apply'd,
4:217 And is it thus, ah! thus we meet, she cry'd!
4:218 My Pyramus! whence sprung thy cruel fate?
4:219 My Pyramus!-ah! speak, ere 'tis too late.
4:220 I, thy own Thisbe, but one word implore,
4:221 One word thy Thisbe never ask'd before.
4:222 At Thisbe's name, awak'd, he open'd wide
4:223 His dying eyes; with dying eyes he try'd
4:224 On her to dwell, but clos'd them slow, and dy'd.
4:225 The fatal cause was now at last explor'd,
4:226 Her veil she knew, and saw his sheathless sword:
4:227 From thy own hand thy ruin thou hast found,
4:228 She said, but love first taught that hand to wound,
4:229 Ev'n I for thee as bold a hand can show,
4:230 And love, which shall as true direct the blow.
4:231 I will against the woman's weakness strive,
4:232 And never thee, lamented youth, survive.
4:233 The world may say, I caus'd, alas! thy death,
4:234 But saw thee breathless, and resign'd my breath.
4:235 Fate, tho' it conquers, shall no triumph gain,
4:236 Fate, that divides us, still divides in vain.
4:237 Now, both our cruel parents, hear my pray'r;
4:238 My pray'r to offer for us both I dare;
4:239 Oh! see our ashes in one urn confin'd,
4:240 Whom love at first, and fate at last has join'd.
4:241 The bliss, you envy'd, is not our request;
4:242 Lovers, when dead, may sure together rest.
4:243 Thou, tree, where now one lifeless lump is laid,
4:244 Ere-long o'er two shalt cast a friendly shade.
4:245 Still let our loves from thee be understood,
4:246 Still witness in thy purple fruit our blood.
4:247 She spoke, and in her bosom plung'd the sword,
4:248 All warm and reeking from its slaughter'd lord.
4:249 The pray'r, which dying Thisbe had preferr'd,
4:250 Both Gods, and parents, with compassion heard.
4:251 The whiteness of the mulberry soon fled,
4:252 And rip'ning, sadden'd in a dusky red:
4:253 While both their parents their lost children mourn,
4:254 And mix their ashes in one golden urn.
4:255 Thus did the melancholy tale conclude,
4:256 And a short, silent interval ensu'd.
4:257 The next in birth unloos'd her artful tongue,
4:258 And drew attentive all the sister-throng.
The Story of Leucothoe and the Sun
4:259 The Sun, the source of light, by beauty's pow'r
4:260 Once am'rous grew; then hear the Sun's amour.
4:261 Venus, and Mars, with his far-piercing eyes
4:262 This God first spy'd; this God first all things spies.
4:263 Stung at the sight, and swift on mischief bent,
4:264 To haughty Juno's shapeless son he went:
4:265 The Goddess, and her God gallant betray'd,
4:266 And told the cuckold, where their pranks were play'd.
4:267 Poor Vulcan soon desir'd to hear no more,
4:268 He drop'd his hammer, and he shook all o'er:
4:269 Then courage takes, and full of vengeful ire
4:270 He heaves the bellows, and blows fierce the fire:
4:271 From liquid brass, tho' sure, yet subtile snares
4:272 He forms, and next a wond'rous net prepares,
4:273 Drawn with such curious art, so nicely sly,
4:274 Unseen the mashes cheat the searching eye.
4:275 Not half so thin their webs the spiders weave,
4:276 Which the most wary, buzzing prey deceive.
4:277 These chains, obedient to the touch, he spread
4:278 In secret foldings o'er the conscious bed:
4:279 The conscious bed again was quickly prest
4:280 By the fond pair, in lawless raptures blest.
4:281 Mars wonder'd at his Cytherea's charms,
4:282 More fast than ever lock'd within her arms.
4:283 While Vulcan th' iv'ry doors unbarr'd with care,
4:284 Then call'd the Gods to view the sportive pair:
4:285 The Gods throng'd in, and saw in open day,
4:286 Where Mars, and beauty's queen, all naked, lay.
4:287 O! shameful sight, if shameful that we name,
4:288 Which Gods with envy view'd, and could not blame;
4:289 But, for the pleasure, wish'd to bear the shame.
4:290 Each Deity, with laughter tir'd, departs,
4:291 Yet all still laugh'd at Vulcan in their hearts.
4:292 Thro' Heav'n the news of this surprizal run,
4:293 But Venus did not thus forget the Sun.
4:294 He, who stol'n transports idly had betray'd,
4:295 By a betrayer was in kind repay'd.
4:296 What now avails, great God, thy piercing blaze,
4:297 That youth, and beauty, and those golden rays?
4:298 Thou, who can'st warm this universe alone,
4:299 Feel'st now a warmth more pow'rful than thy own:
4:300 And those bright eyes, which all things should survey,
4:301 Know not from fair Leucothoe to stray.
4:302 The lamp of light, for human good design'd,
4:303 Is to one virgin niggardly confin'd.
4:304 Sometimes too early rise thy eastern beams,
4:305 Sometimes too late they set in western streams:
4:306 'Tis then her beauty thy swift course delays,
4:307 And gives to winter skies long summer days.
4:308 Now in thy face thy love-sick mind appears,
4:309 And spreads thro' impious nations empty fears:
4:310 For when thy beamless head is wrapt in night,
4:311 Poor mortals tremble in despair of light.
4:312 'Tis not the moon, that o'er thee casts a veil
4:313 'Tis love alone, which makes thy looks so pale.
4:314 Leucothoe is grown thy only care,
4:315 Not Phaeton's fair mother now is fair.
4:316 The youthful Rhodos moves no tender thought,
4:317 And beauteous Porsa is at last forgot.
4:318 Fond Clytie, scorn'd, yet lov'd, and sought thy bed,
4:319 Ev'n then thy heart for other virgins bled.
4:320 Leucothoe has all thy soul possest,
4:321 And chas'd each rival passion from thy breast.
4:322 To this bright nymph Eurynome gave birth
4:323 In the blest confines of the spicy Earth.
4:324 Excelling others, she herself beheld
4:325 By her own blooming daughter far excell'd.
4:326 The sire was Orchamus, whose vast command,
4:327 The sev'nth from Belus, rul'd the Persian Land.
4:328 Deep in cool vales, beneath th' Hesperian sky,
4:329 For the Sun's fiery steeds the pastures lye.
4:330 Ambrosia there they eat, and thence they gain
4:331 New vigour, and their daily toils sustain.
4:332 While thus on heav'nly food the coursers fed,
4:333 And night, around, her gloomy empire spread,
4:334 The God assum'd the mother's shape and air,
4:335 And pass'd, unheeded, to his darling fair.
4:336 Close by a lamp, with maids encompass'd round,
4:337 The royal spinster, full employ'd, he found:
4:338 Then cry'd, A-while from work, my daughter, rest;
4:339 And, like a mother, scarce her lips he prest.
4:340 Servants retire!-nor secrets dare to hear,
4:341 Intrusted only to a daughter's ear.
4:342 They swift obey'd: not one, suspicious, thought
4:343 The secret, which their mistress would be taught.
4:344 Then he: since now no witnesses are near,
4:345 Behold! the God, who guides the various year!
4:346 The world's vast eye, of light the source serene,
4:347 Who all things sees, by whom are all things seen.
4:348 Believe me, nymph! (for I the truth have show'd)
4:349 Thy charms have pow'r to charm so great a God.
4:350 Confus'd, she heard him his soft passion tell,
4:351 And on the floor, untwirl'd, the spindle fell:
4:352 Still from the sweet confusion some new grace
4:353 Blush'd out by stealth, and languish'd in her face.
4:354 The lover, now inflam'd, himself put on,
4:355 And out at once the God, all-radiant, shone.
4:356 The virgin startled at his alter'd form,
4:357 Too weak to bear a God's impetuous storm:
4:358 No more against the dazling youth she strove,
4:359 But silent yielded, and indulg'd his love.
4:360 This Clytie knew, and knew she was undone,
4:361 Whose soul was fix'd, and doated on the Sun.
4:362 She rag'd to think on her neglected charms,
4:363 And Phoebus, panting in another's arms.
4:364 With envious madness fir'd, she flies in haste,
4:365 And tells the king, his daughter was unchaste.
4:366 The king, incens'd to hear his honour stain'd,
4:367 No more the father nor the man retain'd.
4:368 In vain she stretch'd her arms, and turn'd her eyes
4:369 To her lov'd God, th' enlightner of the skies.
4:370 In vain she own'd it was a crime, yet still
4:371 It was a crime not acted by her will.
4:372 The brutal sire stood deaf to ev'ry pray'r,
4:373 And deep in Earth entomb'd alive the fair.
4:374 What Phoebus could do, was by Phoebus done:
4:375 Full on her grave with pointed beams he shone:
4:376 To pointed beams the gaping Earth gave way;
4:377 Had the nymph eyes, her eyes had seen the day,
4:378 But lifeless now, yet lovely still, she lay.
4:379 Not more the God wept, when the world was fir'd,
4:380 And in the wreck his blooming boy expir'd.
4:381 The vital flame he strives to light again,
4:382 And warm the frozen blood in ev'ry vein:
4:383 But since resistless Fates deny'd that pow'r,
4:384 On the cold nymph he rain'd a nectar show'r.
4:385 Ah! undeserving thus (he said) to die,
4:386 Yet still in odours thou shalt reach the sky.
4:387 The body soon dissolv'd, and all around
4:388 Perfum'd with heav'nly fragrancies the ground,
4:389 A sacrifice for Gods up-rose from thence,
4:390 A sweet, delightful tree of frankincense.
The Transformation of Clytie
4:391 Tho' guilty Clytie thus the sun betray'd,
4:392 By too much passion she was guilty made.
4:393 Excess of love begot excess of grief,
4:394 Grief fondly bad her hence to hope relief.
4:395 But angry Phoebus hears, unmov'd, her sighs,
4:396 And scornful from her loath'd embraces flies.
4:397 All day, all night, in trackless wilds, alone
4:398 She pin'd, and taught the list'ning rocks her moan.
4:399 On the bare earth she lies, her bosom bare,
4:400 Loose her attire, dishevel'd is her hair.
4:401 Nine times the morn unbarr'd the gates of light,
4:402 As oft were spread th' alternate shades of night,
4:403 So long no sustenance the mourner knew,
4:404 Unless she drunk her tears, or suck'd the dew.
4:405 She turn'd about, but rose not from the ground,
4:406 Turn'd to the Sun, still as he roul'd his round:
4:407 On his bright face hung her desiring eyes,
4:408 'Till fix'd to Earth, she strove in vain to rise.
4:409 Her looks their paleness in a flow'r retain'd,
4:410 But here, and there, some purple streaks they gain'd.
4:411 Still the lov'd object the fond leafs pursue,
4:412 Still move their root, the moving Sun to view,
4:413 And in the Heliotrope the nymph is true.
4:414 The sisters heard these wonders with surprise,
4:415 But part receiv'd them as romantick lies;
4:416 And pertly rally'd, that they could not see
4:417 In Pow'rs divine so vast an energy.
4:418 Part own'd, true Gods such miracles might do,
4:419 But own'd not Bacchus, one among the true.
4:420 At last a common, just request they make,
4:421 And beg Alcithoe her turn to take.
4:422 I will (she said) and please you, if I can.
4:423 Then shot her shuttle swift, and thus began.
4:424 The fate of Daphnis is a fate too known,
4:425 Whom an enamour'd nymph transform'd to stone,
4:426 Because she fear'd another nymph might see
4:427 The lovely youth, and love as much as she:
4:428 So strange the madness is of jealousie!
4:429 Nor shall I tell, what changes Scython made,
4:430 And how he walk'd a man, or tripp'd a maid.
4:431 You too would peevish frown, and patience want
4:432 To hear, how Celmis grew an adamant.
4:433 He once was dear to Jove, and saw of old
4:434 Jove, when a child; but what he saw, he told.
4:435 Crocus, and Smilax may be turn'd to flow'rs,
4:436 And the Curetes spring from bounteous show'rs;
4:437 I pass a hundred legends stale, as these,
4:438 And with sweet novelty your taste will please.
The Story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus
4:439 How Salmacis, with weak enfeebling streams
4:440 Softens the body, and unnerves the limbs,
4:441 And what the secret cause, shall here be shown;
4:442 The cause is secret, but th' effect is known.
4:443 The Naids nurst an infant heretofore,
4:444 That Cytherea once to Hermes bore:
4:445 From both th' illustrious authors of his race
4:446 The child was nam'd, nor was it hard to trace
4:447 Both the bright parents thro' the infant's face.
4:448 When fifteen years in Ida's cool retreat
4:449 The boy had told, he left his native seat,
4:450 And sought fresh fountains in a foreign soil:
4:451 The pleasure lessen'd the attending toil,
4:452 With eager steps the Lycian fields he crost,
4:453 A river here he view'd so lovely bright,
4:454 It shew'd the bottom in a fairer light,
4:455 Nor kept a sand conceal'd from human sight.
4:456 The stream produc'd nor slimy ooze, nor weeds,
4:457 Nor miry rushes, nor the spiky reeds;
4:458 But dealt enriching moisture all around,
4:459 The fruitful banks with chearful verdure crown'd,
4:460 And kept the spring eternal on the ground.
4:461 A nymph presides, not practis'd in the chace,
4:462 Nor skilful at the bow, nor at the race;
4:463 Of all the blue-ey'd daughters of the main,
4:464 The only stranger to Diana's train:
4:465 Her sisters often, as 'tis said, wou'd cry,
4:466 "Fie Salmacis: what, always idle! fie.
4:467 Or take thy quiver, or thy arrows seize,
4:468 And mix the toils of hunting with thy ease."
4:469 Nor quiver she nor arrows e'er wou'd seize,
4:470 Nor mix the toils of hunting with her ease.
4:471 But oft would bathe her in the chrystal tide,
4:472 Oft with a comb her dewy locks divide;
4:473 Now in the limpid streams she views her face,
4:474 And drest her image in the floating glass:
4:475 On beds of leaves she now repos'd her limbs,
4:476 Now gather'd flow'rs that grew about her streams,
4:477 And then by chance was gathering, as he stood
4:478 To view the boy, and long'd for what she view'd.
4:479 Fain wou'd she meet the youth with hasty feet,
4:480 She fain wou'd meet him, but refus'd to meet
4:481 Before her looks were set with nicest care,
4:482 And well deserv'd to be reputed fair.
4:483 "Bright youth," she cries, "whom all thy features prove
4:484 A God, and, if a God, the God of love;
4:485 But if a mortal, blest thy nurse's breast,
4:486 Blest are thy parents, and thy sisters blest:
4:487 But oh how blest! how more than blest thy bride,
4:488 Ally'd in bliss, if any yet ally'd.
4:489 If so, let mine the stoln enjoyments be;
4:490 If not, behold a willing bride in me."
4:491 The boy knew nought of love, and toucht with shame,
4:492 He strove, and blusht, but still the blush became:
4:493 In rising blushes still fresh beauties rose;
4:494 The sunny side of fruit such blushes shows,
4:495 And such the moon, when all her silver white
4:496 Turns in eclipses to a ruddy light.
4:497 The nymph still begs, if not a nobler bliss,
4:498 A cold salute at least, a sister's kiss:
4:499 And now prepares to take the lovely boy
4:500 Between her arms. He, innocently coy,
4:501 Replies, "Or leave me to my self alone,
4:502 You rude uncivil nymph, or I'll be gone."
4:503 "Fair stranger then," says she, "it shall be so";
4:504 And, for she fear'd his threats, she feign'd to go:
4:505 But hid within a covert's neighbouring green,
4:506 She kept him still in sight, herself unseen.
4:507 The boy now fancies all the danger o'er,
4:508 And innocently sports about the shore,
4:509 Playful and wanton to the stream he trips,
4:510 And dips his foot, and shivers as he dips.
4:511 The coolness pleas'd him, and with eager haste
4:512 His airy garments on the banks he cast;
4:513 His godlike features, and his heav'nly hue,
4:514 And all his beauties were expos'd to view.
4:515 His naked limbs the nymph with rapture spies,
4:516 While hotter passions in her bosom rise,
4:517 Flush in her cheeks, and sparkle in her eyes.
4:518 She longs, she burns to clasp him in her arms,
4:519 And looks, and sighs, and kindles at his charms.
4:520 Now all undrest upon the banks he stood,
4:521 And clapt his sides, and leapt into the flood:
4:522 His lovely limbs the silver waves divide,
4:523 His limbs appear more lovely through the tide;
4:524 As lillies shut within a chrystal case,
4:525 Receive a glossy lustre from the glass.
4:526 He's mine, he's all my own, the Naid cries,
4:527 And flings off all, and after him she flies.
4:528 And now she fastens on him as he swims,
4:529 And holds him close, and wraps about his limbs.
4:530 The more the boy resisted, and was coy,
4:531 The more she clipt, and kist the strugling boy.
4:532 So when the wrigling snake is snatcht on high
4:533 In Eagle's claws, and hisses in the sky,
4:534 Around the foe his twirling tail he flings,
4:535 And twists her legs, and wriths about her wings.
4:536 The restless boy still obstinately strove
4:537 To free himself, and still refus'd her love.
4:538 Amidst his limbs she kept her limbs intwin'd,
4:539 "And why, coy youth," she cries, "why thus unkind!
4:540 Oh may the Gods thus keep us ever join'd!
4:541 Oh may we never, never part again!"
4:542 So pray'd the nymph, nor did she pray in vain:
4:543 For now she finds him, as his limbs she prest,
4:544 Grow nearer still, and nearer to her breast;
4:545 'Till, piercing each the other's flesh, they run
4:546 Together, and incorporate in one:
4:547 Last in one face are both their faces join'd,
4:548 As when the stock and grafted twig combin'd
4:549 Shoot up the same, and wear a common rind:
4:550 Both bodies in a single body mix,
4:551 A single body with a double sex.
4:552 The boy, thus lost in woman, now survey'd
4:553 The river's guilty stream, and thus he pray'd.
4:554 (He pray'd, but wonder'd at his softer tone,
4:555 Surpriz'd to hear a voice but half his own.)
4:556 You parent-Gods, whose heav'nly names I bear,
4:557 Hear your Hermaphrodite, and grant my pray'r;
4:558 Oh grant, that whomsoe'er these streams contain,
4:559 If man he enter'd, he may rise again
4:560 Supple, unsinew'd, and but half a man!
4:561 The heav'nly parents answer'd from on high,
4:562 Their two-shap'd son, the double votary
4:563 Then gave a secret virtue to the flood,
4:564 And ting'd its source to make his wishes good.
Alcithoe and her Sisters transform'd to Bats
4:565 But Mineus' daughters still their tasks pursue,
4:566 To wickedness most obstinately true:
4:567 At Bacchus still they laugh, when all around,
4:568 Unseen, the timbrels hoarse were heard to sound.
4:569 Saffron and myrrh their fragrant odours shed,
4:570 And now the present deity they dread.
4:571 Strange to relate! Here ivy first was seen,
4:572 Along the distaff crept the wond'rous green.
4:573 Then sudden-springing vines began to bloom,
4:574 And the soft tendrils curl'd around the loom:
4:575 While purple clusters, dangling from on high,
4:576 Ting'd the wrought purple with a second die.
4:577 Now from the skies was shot a doubtful light,
4:578 The day declining to the bounds of night.
4:579 The fabrick's firm foundations shake all o'er,
4:580 False tigers rage, and figur'd lions roar.
4:581 Torches, aloft, seem blazing in the air,
4:582 And angry flashes of red light'nings glare.
4:583 To dark recesses, the dire sight to shun,
4:584 Swift the pale sisters in confusion run.
4:585 Their arms were lost in pinions, as they fled,
4:586 And subtle films each slender limb o'er-spread.
4:587 Their alter'd forms their senses soon reveal'd;
4:588 Their forms, how alter'd, darkness still conceal'd.
4:589 Close to the roof each, wond'ring, upwards springs,
4:590 Born on unknown, transparent, plumeless wings.
4:591 They strove for words; their little bodies found
4:592 No words, but murmur'd in a fainting sound.
4:593 In towns, not woods, the sooty bats delight,
4:594 And, never, 'till the dusk, begin their flight;
4:595 'Till Vesper rises with his ev'ning flame;
4:596 From whom the Romans have deriv'd their name.
The Transformation of Ino and Melicerta to Sea-Gods
4:597 The pow'r of Bacchus now o'er Thebes had flown:
4:598 With awful rev'rence soon the God they own.
4:599 Proud Ino, all around the wonder tells,
4:600 And on her nephew deity still dwells.
4:601 Of num'rous sisters, she alone yet knew
4:602 No grief, but grief, which she from sisters drew.
4:603 Imperial Juno saw her with disdain,
4:604 Vain in her offspring, in her consort vain,
4:605 Who rul'd the trembling Thebans with a nod,
4:606 But saw her vainest in her foster-God.
4:607 Could then (she cry'd) a bastard-boy have pow'r
4:608 To make a mother her own son devour?
4:609 Could he the Tuscan crew to fishes change,
4:610 And now three sisters damn to forms so strange?
4:611 Yet shall the wife of Jove find no relief?
4:612 Shall she, still unreveng'd, disclose her grief?
4:613 Have I the mighty freedom to complain?
4:614 Is that my pow'r? is that to ease my pain?
4:615 A foe has taught me vengeance; and who ought
4:616 To scorn that vengeance, which a foe has taught?
4:617 What sure destruction frantick rage can throw,
4:618 The gaping wounds of slaughter'd Pentheus show.
4:619 Why should not Ino, fir'd with madness, stray,
4:620 Like her mad sisters her own kindred slay?
4:621 Why, she not follow, where they lead the way?
4:622 Down a steep, yawning cave, where yews display'd
4:623 In arches meet, and lend a baleful shade,
4:624 Thro' silent labyrinths a passage lies
4:625 To mournful regions, and infernal skies.
4:626 Here Styx exhales its noisome clouds, and here,
4:627 The fun'ral rites once paid, all souls appear.
4:628 Stiff cold, and horror with a ghastly face
4:629 And staring eyes, infest the dreary place.
4:630 Ghosts, new-arriv'd, and strangers to these plains,
4:631 Know not the palace, where grim Pluto reigns.
4:632 They journey doubtful, nor the road can tell,
4:633 Which leads to the metropolis of Hell.
4:634 A thousand avenues those tow'rs command,
4:635 A thousand gates for ever open stand.
4:636 As all the rivers, disembogu'd, find room
4:637 For all their waters in old Ocean's womb:
4:638 So this vast city worlds of shades receives,
4:639 And space for millions still of worlds she leaves.
4:640 Th' unbody'd spectres freely rove, and show
4:641 Whate'er they lov'd on Earth, they love below.
4:642 The lawyers still, or right, or wrong, support,
4:643 The courtiers smoothly glide to Pluto's court.
4:644 Still airy heroes thoughts of glory fire,
4:645 Still the dead poet strings his deathless lyre,
4:646 And lovers still with fancy'd darts expire.
4:647 The Queen of Heaven, to gratify her hate,
4:648 And sooth immortal wrath, forgets her state.
4:649 Down from the realms of day, to realms of night,
4:650 The Goddess swift precipitates her flight.
4:651 At Hell arriv'd, the noise Hell's porter heard,
4:652 Th' enormous dog his triple head up-rear'd:
4:653 Thrice from three grizly throats he howl'd profound,
4:654 Then suppliant couch'd, and stretch'd along the ground.
4:655 The trembling threshold, which Saturnia prest,
4:656 The weight of such divinity confest.
4:657 Before a lofty, adamantine gate,
4:658 Which clos'd a tow'r of brass, the Furies sate:
4:659 Mis-shapen forms, tremendous to the sight,
4:660 Th' implacable foul daughters of the night.
4:661 A sounding whip each bloody sister shakes,
4:662 Or from her tresses combs the curling snakes.
4:663 But now great Juno's majesty was known;
4:664 Thro' the thick gloom, all heav'nly bright, she shone:
4:665 The hideous monsters their obedience show'd,
4:666 And rising from their seats, submissive bow'd.
4:667 This is the place of woe, here groan the dead;
4:668 Huge Tityus o'er nine acres here is spread.
4:669 Fruitful for pain th' immortal liver breeds,
4:670 Still grows, and still th' insatiate vulture feeds.
4:671 Poor Tantalus to taste the water tries,
4:672 But from his lips the faithless water flies:
4:673 Then thinks the bending tree he can command,
4:674 The tree starts backwards, and eludes his hand.
4:675 The labour too of Sisyphus is vain,
4:676 Up the steep mount he heaves the stone with pain,
4:677 Down from the summet rouls the stone again.
4:678 The Belides their leaky vessels still
4:679 Are ever filling, and yet never fill:
4:680 Doom'd to this punishment for blood they shed,
4:681 For bridegrooms slaughter'd in the bridal bed.
4:682 Stretch'd on the rolling wheel Ixion lies;
4:683 Himself he follows, and himself he flies.
4:684 Ixion, tortur'd, Juno sternly ey'd,
4:685 Then turn'd, and toiling Sisyphus espy'd:
4:686 And why (she said) so wretched is the fate
4:687 Of him, whose brother proudly reigns in state?
4:688 Yet still my altars unador'd have been
4:689 By Athamas, and his presumptuous queen.
4:690 What caus'd her hate, the Goddess thus confest,
4:691 What caus'd her journey now was more than guest.
4:692 That hate, relentless, its revenge did want,
4:693 And that revenge the Furies soon could grant:
4:694 They could the glory of proud Thebes efface,
4:695 And hide in ruin the Cadmean race.
4:696 For this she largely promises, entreats,
4:697 And to intreaties adds imperial threats.
4:698 Then fell Tisiphone with rage was stung,
4:699 And from her mouth th' untwisted serpents flung.
4:700 To gain this trifling boon, there is no need
4:701 (She cry'd) in formal speeches to proceed.
4:702 Whatever thou command'st to do, is done;
4:703 Believe it finish'd, tho' not yet begun.
4:704 But from these melancholly seats repair
4:705 To happier mansions, and to purer air.
4:706 She spoke: the Goddess, darting upwards, flies,
4:707 And joyous re-ascends her native skies:
4:708 Nor enter'd there, till 'round her Iris threw
4:709 Ambrosial sweets, and pour'd celestial dew.
4:710 The faithful Fury, guiltless of delays,
4:711 With cruel haste the dire command obeys.
4:712 Girt in a bloody gown, a torch she shakes,
4:713 And round her neck twines speckled wreaths of snakes.
4:714 Fear, and dismay, and agonizing pain,
4:715 With frantick rage, compleat her loveless train.
4:716 To Thebes her flight she sped, and Hell forsook;
4:717 At her approach the Theban turrets shook:
4:718 The sun shrunk back, thick clouds the day o'er-cast,
4:719 And springing greens were wither'd as she past.
4:720 Now, dismal yellings heard, strange spectres seen,
4:721 Confound as much the monarch as the queen.
4:722 In vain to quit the palace they prepar'd,
4:723 Tisiphone was there, and kept the ward.
4:724 She wide extended her unfriendly arms,
4:725 And all the Fury lavish'd all her harms.
4:726 Part of her tresses loudly hiss, and part
4:727 Spread poyson, as their forky tongues they dart.
4:728 Then from her middle locks two snakes she drew,
4:729 Whose merit from superior mischief grew:
4:730 Th' envenom'd ruin, thrown with spiteful care,
4:731 Clung to the bosoms of the hapless pair.
4:732 The hapless pair soon with wild thoughts were fir'd,
4:733 And madness, by a thousand ways inspir'd.
4:734 'Tis true, th' unwounded body still was sound,
4:735 But 'twas the soul which felt the deadly wound.
4:736 Nor did th' unsated monster here give o'er,
4:737 But dealt of plagues a fresh, unnumber'd store.
4:738 Each baneful juice too well she understood,
4:739 Foam, churn'd by Cerberus, and Hydra's blood.
4:740 Hot hemlock, and cold aconite she chose,
4:741 Delighted in variety of woes.
4:742 Whatever can untune th' harmonious soul,
4:743 And its mild, reas'ning faculties controul,
4:744 Give false ideas, raise desires profane,
4:745 And whirl in eddies the tumultuous brain,
4:746 Mix'd with curs'd art, she direfully around
4:747 Thro' all their nerves diffus'd the sad compound.
4:748 Then toss'd her torch in circles still the same,
4:749 Improv'd their rage, and added flame to flame.
4:750 The grinning Fury her own conquest spy'd,
4:751 And to her rueful shades return'd with pride,
4:752 And threw th' exhausted, useless snakes aside.
4:753 Now Athamas cries out, his reason fled,
4:754 Here, fellow-hunters, let the toils be spread.
4:755 I saw a lioness, in quest of food,
4:756 With her two young, run roaring in this wood.
4:757 Again the fancy'd savages were seen,
4:758 As thro' his palace still he chac'd his queen;
4:759 Then tore Learchus from her breast: the child
4:760 Stretch'd little arms, and on its father smil'd:
4:761 A father now no more, who now begun
4:762 Around his head to whirl his giddy son,
4:763 And, quite insensible to Nature's call,
4:764 The helpless infant flung against the wall.
4:765 The same mad poyson in the mother wrought,
4:766 Young Melicerta in her arms she caught,
4:767 And with disorder'd tresses, howling, flies,
4:768 O! Bacchus, Evoe, Bacchus! loud she cries.
4:769 The name of Bacchus Juno laugh'd to hear,
4:770 And said, Thy foster-God has cost thee dear.
4:771 A rock there stood, whose side the beating waves
4:772 Had long consum'd, and hollow'd into caves.
4:773 The head shot forwards in a bending steep,
4:774 And cast a dreadful covert o'er the deep.
4:775 The wretched Ino, on destruction bent,
4:776 Climb'd up the cliff; such strength her fury lent:
4:777 Thence with her guiltless boy, who wept in vain,
4:778 At one bold spring she plung'd into the main.
4:779 Her neice's fate touch'd Cytherea's breast,
4:780 And in soft sounds she Neptune thus addrest:
4:781 Great God of waters, whose extended sway
4:782 Is next to his, whom Heav'n and Earth obey:
4:783 Let not the suit of Venus thee displease,
4:784 Pity the floaters on th' Ionian seas.
4:785 Encrease thy Subject-Gods, nor yet disdain
4:786 To add my kindred to that glorious train.
4:787 If from the sea I may such honours claim,
4:788 If 'tis desert, that from the sea I came,
4:789 As Grecian poets artfully have sung,
4:790 And in the name confest, from whence I sprung.
4:791 Pleas'd Neptune nodded his assent, and free
4:792 Both soon became from frail mortality.
4:793 He gave them form, and majesty divine,
4:794 And bad them glide along the foamy brine.
4:795 For Melicerta is Palaemon known,
4:796 And Ino once, Leucothoe is grown.
The Transformation of the Theban Matrons
4:797 The Theban matrons their lov'd queen pursu'd,
4:798 And tracing to the rock, her footsteps view'd.
4:799 Too certain of her fate, they rend the skies
4:800 With piteous shrieks, and lamentable cries.
4:801 All beat their breasts, and Juno all upbraid,
4:802 Who still remember'd a deluded maid:
4:803 Who, still revengeful for one stol'n embrace,
4:804 Thus wreak'd her hate on the Cadmean race.
4:805 This Juno heard: And shall such elfs, she cry'd,
4:806 Dispute my justice, or my pow'r deride?
4:807 You too shall feel my wrath not idly spent;
4:808 A Goddess never for insults was meant.
4:809 She, who lov'd most, and who most lov'd had been,
4:810 Said, Not the waves shall part me from my queen.
4:811 She strove to plunge into the roaring flood;
4:812 Fix'd to the stone, a stone her self she stood.
4:813 This, on her breast would fain her blows repeat,
4:814 Her stiffen'd hands refus'd her breast to beat.
4:815 That, stretch'd her arms unto the seas; in vain
4:816 Her arms she labour'd to unstretch again.
4:817 To tear her comely locks another try'd,
4:818 Both comely locks, and fingers petryfi'd.
4:819 Part thus; but Juno with a softer mind
4:820 Part doom'd to mix among the feather'd kind.
4:821 Transform'd, the name of Theban birds they keep,
4:822 And skim the surface of that fatal deep.
Cadmus and his Queen transform'd to Serpents
4:823 Mean-time, the wretched Cadmus mourns, nor knows,
4:824 That they who mortal fell, immortal rose.
4:825 With a long series of new ills opprest,
4:826 He droops, and all the man forsakes his breast.
4:827 Strange prodigies confound his frighted eyes;
4:828 From the fair city, which he rais'd, he flies:
4:829 As if misfortune not pursu'd his race,
4:830 But only hung o'er that devoted place.
4:831 Resolv'd by sea to seek some distant land,
4:832 At last he safely gain'd th' Illyrian strand.
4:833 Chearless himself, his consort still he chears,
4:834 Hoary, and loaden'd both with woes and years.
4:835 Then to recount past sorrows they begin,
4:836 And trace them to the gloomy origin.
4:837 That serpent sure was hallow'd, Cadmus cry'd,
4:838 Which once my spear transfix'd with foolish pride;
4:839 When the big teeth, a seed before unknown,
4:840 By me along the wond'ring glebe were sown,
4:841 And sprouting armies by themselves o'erthrown.
4:842 If thence the wrath of Heav'n on me is bent,
4:843 May Heav'n conclude it with one sad event;
4:844 To an extended serpent change the man:
4:845 And while he spoke, the wish'd-for change began.
4:846 His skin with sea-green spots was vary'd 'round,
4:847 And on his belly prone he prest the ground.
4:848 He glitter'd soon with many a golden scale,
4:849 And his shrunk legs clos'd in a spiry tail.
4:850 Arms yet remain'd, remaining arms he spread
4:851 To his lov'd wife, and human tears yet shed.
4:852 Come, my Harmonia, come, thy face recline
4:853 Down to my face; still touch, what still is mine.
4:854 O! let these hands, while hands, be gently prest,
4:855 While yet the serpent has not all possest.
4:856 More he had spoke, but strove to speak in vain,
4:857 The forky tongue refus'd to tell his pain,
4:858 And learn'd in hissings only to complain.
4:859 Then shriek'd Harmonia, Stay, my Cadmus, stay,
4:860 Glide not in such a monstrous shape away!
4:861 Destruction, like impetuous waves, rouls on.
4:862 Where are thy feet, thy legs, thy shoulders gone?
4:863 Chang'd is thy visage, chang'd is all thy frame;
4:864 Cadmus is only Cadmus now in name.
4:865 Ye Gods, my Cadmus to himself restore,
4:866 Or me like him transform; I ask no more.
4:867 The husband-serpent show'd he still had thought,
4:868 With wonted fondness an embrace he sought;
4:869 Play'd 'round her neck in many a harmless twist,
4:870 And lick'd that bosom, which, a man, he kist.
4:871 The lookers-on (for lookers-on there were)
4:872 Shock'd at the sight, half-dy'd away with fear.
4:873 The transformation was again renew'd,
4:874 And, like the husband, chang'd the wife they view'd.
4:875 Both, serpents now, with fold involv'd in fold,
4:876 To the next covert amicably roul'd.
4:877 There curl'd they lie, or wave along the green,
4:878 Fearless see men, by men are fearless seen,
4:879 Still mild, and conscious what they once have been.
The Story of Perseus
4:880 Yet tho' this harsh, inglorious fate they found,
4:881 Each in the deathless grandson liv'd renown'd.
4:882 Thro' conquer'd India Bacchus nobly rode,
4:883 And Greece with temples hail'd the conqu'ring God.
4:884 In Argos only proud Acrisius reign'd,
4:885 Who all the consecrated rites profan'd.
4:886 Audacious wretch! thus Bacchus to deny,
4:887 And the great Thunderer's great son defie!
4:888 Nor him alone: thy daughter vainly strove,
4:889 Brave Perseus of celestial stem to prove,
4:890 And her self pregnant by a golden Jove.
4:891 Yet this was true, and truth in time prevails;
4:892 Acrisius now his unbelief bewails.
4:893 His former thought, an impious thought he found,
4:894 And both the heroe, and the God were own'd.
4:895 He saw, already one in Heav'n was plac'd,
4:896 And one with more than mortal triumphs grac'd,
4:897 The victor Perseus with the Gorgon-head,
4:898 O'er Libyan sands his airy journey sped.
4:899 The gory drops distill'd, as swift he flew,
4:900 And from each drop envenom'd serpents grew,
4:901 The mischiefs brooded on the barren plains,
4:902 And still th' unhappy fruitfulness remains.
Atlas transform'd to a Mountain
4:903 Thence Perseus, like a cloud, by storms was driv'n,
4:904 Thro' all th' expanse beneath the cope of Heaven.
4:905 The jarring winds unable to controul,
4:906 He saw the southern, and the northern pole:
4:907 And eastward thrice, and westward thrice was whirl'd,
4:908 And from the skies survey'd the nether world.
4:909 But when grey ev'ning show'd the verge of night,
4:910 He fear'd in darkness to pursue his flight.
4:911 He pois'd his pinions, and forgot to soar,
4:912 And sinking, clos'd them on th' Hesperian shore:
4:913 Then beg'd to rest, 'till Lucifer begun
4:914 To wake the morn, the morn to wake the sun.
4:915 Here Atlas reign'd, of more than human size,
4:916 And in his kingdom the world's limit lies.
4:917 Here Titan bids his weary'd coursers sleep,
4:918 And cools the burning axle in the deep.
4:919 The mighty monarch, uncontrol'd, alone,
4:920 His sceptre sways: no neighb'ring states are known.
4:921 A thousand flocks on shady mountains fed,
4:922 A thousand herds o'er grassy plains were spread.
4:923 Here wond'rous trees their shining stores unfold,
4:924 Their shining stores too wond'rous to be told,
4:925 Their leafs, their branches, and their apples, gold.
4:926 Then Perseus the gigantick prince addrest,
4:927 Humbly implor'd a hospitable rest.
4:928 If bold exploits thy admiration fire,
4:929 He said, I fancy, mine thou wilt admire.
4:930 Or if the glory of a race can move,
4:931 Not mean my glory, for I spring from Jove.
4:932 At this confession Atlas ghastly star'd,
4:933 Mindful of what an oracle declar'd,
4:934 That the dark womb of Time conceal'd a day,
4:935 Which should, disclos'd, the bloomy gold betray:
4:936 All should at once be ravish'd from his eyes,
4:937 And Jove's own progeny enjoy the prize.
4:938 For this, the fruit he loftily immur'd,
4:939 And a fierce dragon the strait pass secur'd.
4:940 For this, all strangers he forbad to land,
4:941 And drove them from th' inhospitable strand.
4:942 To Perseus then: Fly quickly, fly this coast,
4:943 Nor falsly dare thy acts and race to boast.
4:944 In vain the heroe for one night entreats,
4:945 Threat'ning he storms, and next adds force to threats.
4:946 By strength not Perseus could himself defend,
4:947 For who in strength with Atlas could contend?
4:948 But since short rest to me thou wilt not give,
4:949 A gift of endless rest from me receive,
4:950 He said, and backward turn'd, no more conceal'd
4:951 The present, and Medusa's head reveal'd.
4:952 Soon the high Atlas a high mountain stood,
4:953 His locks, and beard became a leafy wood.
4:954 His hands, and shoulders, into ridges went,
4:955 The summit-head still crown'd the steep ascent.
4:956 His bones a solid, rocky hardness gain'd:
4:957 He, thus immensely grown (as fate ordain'd),
4:958 The stars, the Heav'ns, and all the Gods sustain'd.
Andromeda rescu'd from the Sea Monster
4:959 Now Aeolus had with strong chains confin'd,
4:960 And deep imprison'd e'vry blust'ring wind,
4:961 The rising Phospher with a purple light
4:962 Did sluggish mortals to new toils invite.
4:963 His feet again the valiant Perseus plumes,
4:964 And his keen sabre in his hand resumes:
4:965 Then nobly spurns the ground, and upwards springs,
4:966 And cuts the liquid air with sounding wings.
4:967 O'er various seas, and various lands he past,
4:968 'Till Aethiopia's shore appear'd at last.
4:969 Andromeda was there, doom'd to attone
4:970 By her own ruin follies not her own:
4:971 And if injustice in a God can be,
4:972 Such was the Libyan God's unjust decree.
4:973 Chain'd to a rock she stood; young Perseus stay'd
4:974 His rapid flight, to view the beauteous maid.
4:975 So sweet her frame, so exquisitely fine,
4:976 She seem'd a statue by a hand divine,
4:977 Had not the wind her waving tresses show'd,
4:978 And down her cheeks the melting sorrows flow'd.
4:979 Her faultless form the heroe's bosom fires;
4:980 The more he looks, the more he still admires.
4:981 Th' admirer almost had forgot to fly,
4:982 And swift descended, flutt'ring from on high.
4:983 O! Virgin, worthy no such chains to prove,
4:984 But pleasing chains in the soft folds of love;
4:985 Thy country, and thy name (he said) disclose,
4:986 And give a true rehearsal of thy woes.
4:987 A quick reply her bashfulness refus'd,
4:988 To the free converse of a man unus'd.
4:989 Her rising blushes had concealment found
4:990 From her spread hands, but that her hands were bound.
4:991 She acted to her full extent of pow'r,
4:992 And bath'd her face with a fresh, silent show'r.
4:993 But by degrees in innocence grown bold,
4:994 Her name, her country, and her birth she told:
4:995 And how she suffer'd for her mother's pride,
4:996 Who with the Nereids once in beauty vy'd.
4:997 Part yet untold, the seas began to roar,
4:998 And mounting billows tumbled to the shore.
4:999 Above the waves a monster rais'd his head,
4:1000 His body o'er the deep was widely spread:
4:1001 Onward he flounc'd; aloud the virgin cries;
4:1002 Each parent to her shrieks in shrieks replies:
4:1003 But she had deepest cause to rend the skies.
4:1004 Weeping, to her they cling; no sign appears
4:1005 Of help, they only lend their helpless tears.
4:1006 Too long you vent your sorrows, Perseus said,
4:1007 Short is the hour, and swift the time of aid,
4:1008 In me the son of thund'ring Jove behold,
4:1009 Got in a kindly show'r of fruitful gold.
4:1010 Medusa's snaky head is now my prey,
4:1011 And thro' the clouds I boldly wing my way.
4:1012 If such desert be worthy of esteem,
4:1013 And, if your daughter I from death redeem,
4:1014 Shall she be mine? Shall it not then be thought,
4:1015 A bride, so lovely, was too cheaply bought?
4:1016 For her my arms I willingly employ,
4:1017 If I may beauties, which I save, enjoy.
4:1018 The parents eagerly the terms embrace:
4:1019 For who would slight such terms in such a case?
4:1020 Nor her alone they promise, but beside,
4:1021 The dowry of a kingdom with the bride.
4:1022 As well-rigg'd gallies, which slaves, sweating, row,
4:1023 With their sharp beaks the whiten'd ocean plough;
4:1024 So when the monster mov'd, still at his back
4:1025 The furrow'd waters left a foamy track.
4:1026 Now to the rock he was advanc'd so nigh,
4:1027 Whirl'd from a sling a stone the space would fly.
4:1028 Then bounding, upwards the brave Perseus sprung,
4:1029 And in mid air on hov'ring pinions hung.
4:1030 His shadow quickly floated on the main;
4:1031 The monster could not his wild rage restrain,
4:1032 But at the floating shadow leap'd in vain.
4:1033 As when Jove's bird, a speckl'd serpent spies,
4:1034 Which in the shine of Phoebus basking lies,
4:1035 Unseen, he souses down, and bears away,
4:1036 Truss'd from behind, the vainly-hissing prey.
4:1037 To writh his neck the labour nought avails,
4:1038 Too deep th' imperial talons pierce his scales.
4:1039 Thus the wing'd heroe now descends, now soars,
4:1040 And at his pleasure the vast monster gores.
4:1041 Full in his back, swift stooping from above,
4:1042 The crooked sabre to its hilt he drove.
4:1043 The monster rag'd, impatient of the pain,
4:1044 First bounded high, and then sunk low again.
4:1045 Now, like a savage boar, when chaf'd with wounds,
4:1046 And bay'd with opening mouths of hungry hounds,
4:1047 He on the foe turns with collected might,
4:1048 Who still eludes him with an airy flight;
4:1049 And wheeling round, the scaly armour tries
4:1050 Of his thick sides; his thinner tall now plies:
4:1051 'Till from repeated strokes out gush'd a flood,
4:1052 And the waves redden'd with the streaming blood.
4:1053 At last the dropping wings, befoam'd all o'er,
4:1054 With flaggy heaviness their master bore:
4:1055 A rock he spy'd, whose humble head was low,
4:1056 Bare at an ebb, but cover'd at a flow.
4:1057 A ridgy hold, he, thither flying, gain'd,
4:1058 And with one hand his bending weight sustain'd;
4:1059 With th' other, vig'rous blows he dealt around,
4:1060 And the home-thrusts the expiring monster own'd.
4:1061 In deaf'ning shouts the glad applauses rise,
4:1062 And peal on peal runs ratling thro' the skies.
4:1063 The saviour-youth the royal pair confess,
4:1064 And with heav'd hands their daughter's bridegroom bless.
4:1065 The beauteous bride moves on, now loos'd from chains,
4:1066 The cause, and sweet reward of all the heroe's pains,
4:1067 Mean-time, on shore triumphant Perseus stood,
4:1068 And purg'd his hands, smear'd with the monster's blood:
4:1069 Then in the windings of a sandy bed
4:1070 Compos'd Medusa's execrable head.
4:1071 But to prevent the roughness, leafs he threw,
4:1072 And young, green twigs, which soft in waters grew,
4:1073 There soft, and full of sap; but here, when lay'd,
4:1074 Touch'd by the head, that softness soon decay'd.
4:1075 The wonted flexibility quite gone,
4:1076 The tender scyons harden'd into stone.
4:1077 Fresh, juicy twigs, surpriz'd, the Nereids brought,
4:1078 Fresh, juicy twigs the same contagion caught.
4:1079 The nymphs the petrifying seeds still keep,
4:1080 And propagate the wonder thro' the deep.
4:1081 The pliant sprays of coral yet declare
4:1082 Their stiff'ning Nature, when expos'd to air.
4:1083 Those sprays, which did, like bending osiers, move,
4:1084 Snatch'd from their element, obdurate prove,
4:1085 And shrubs beneath the waves, grow stones above.
4:1086 The great immortals grateful Perseus prais'd,
4:1087 And to three Pow'rs three turfy altars rais'd.
4:1088 To Hermes this; and that he did assign
4:1089 To Pallas: the mid honours, Jove, were thine,
4:1090 He hastes for Pallas a white cow to cull,
4:1091 A calf for Hermes, but for Jove a bull.
4:1092 Then seiz'd the prize of his victorious fight,
4:1093 Andromeda, and claim'd the nuptial rite.
4:1094 Andromeda alone he greatly sought,
4:1095 The dowry kingdom was not worth his thought.
4:1096 Pleas'd Hymen now his golden torch displays;
4:1097 With rich oblations fragrant altars blaze,
4:1098 Sweet wreaths of choicest flow'rs are hung on high,
4:1099 And cloudless pleasure smiles in ev'ry eye.
4:1100 The melting musick melting thoughts inspires,
4:1101 And warbling songsters aid the warbling lyres.
4:1102 The palace opens wide in pompous state,
4:1103 And by his peers surrounded, Cepheus sate.
4:1104 A feast was serv'd, fit for a king to give,
4:1105 And fit for God-like heroes to receive.
4:1106 The banquet ended, the gay, chearful bowl
4:1107 Mov'd round, and brighten'd, and enlarg'd each soul.
4:1108 Then Perseus ask'd, what customs there obtain'd,
4:1109 And by what laws the people were restrain'd.
4:1110 Which told; the teller a like freedom takes,
4:1111 And to the warrior his petition makes,
4:1112 To know, what arts had won Medusa's snakes.
The Story of Medusa's Head
4:1113 The heroe with his just request complies,
4:1114 Shows, how a vale beneath cold Atlas lies,
4:1115 Where, with aspiring mountains fenc'd around,
4:1116 He the two daughters of old Phorcus found.
4:1117 Fate had one common eye to both assign'd,
4:1118 Each saw by turns, and each by turns was blind.
4:1119 But while one strove to lend her sister sight,
4:1120 He stretch'd his hand, and stole their mutual light,
4:1121 And left both eyeless, both involv'd in night.
4:1122 Thro' devious wilds, and trackless woods he past,
4:1123 And at the Gorgon-seats arriv'd at last:
4:1124 But as he journey'd, pensive he survey'd,
4:1125 What wasteful havock dire Medusa made.
4:1126 Here, stood still breathing statues, men before;
4:1127 There, rampant lions seem'd in stone to roar.
4:1128 Nor did he, yet affrighted, quit the field,
4:1129 But in the mirror of his polish'd shield
4:1130 Reflected saw Medusa slumbers take,
4:1131 And not one serpent by good chance awake.
4:1132 Then backward an unerring blow he sped,
4:1133 And from her body lop'd at once her head.
4:1134 The gore prolifick prov'd; with sudden force
4:1135 Sprung Pegasus, and wing'd his airy course.
4:1136 The Heav'n-born warrior faithfully went on,
4:1137 And told the num'rous dangers which he run.
4:1138 What subject seas, what lands he had in view,
4:1139 And nigh what stars th' advent'rous heroe flew.
4:1140 At last he silent sate; the list'ning throng
4:1141 Sigh'd at the pause of his delightful tongue.
4:1142 Some beg'd to know, why this alone should wear,
4:1143 Of all the sisters, such destructive hair.
4:1144 Great Perseus then: With me you shall prevail,
4:1145 Worth the relation, to relate a tale.
4:1146 Medusa once had charms; to gain her love
4:1147 A rival crowd of envious lovers strove.
4:1148 They, who have seen her, own, they ne'er did trace
4:1149 More moving features in a sweeter face.
4:1150 Yet above all, her length of hair, they own,
4:1151 In golden ringlets wav'd, and graceful shone.
4:1152 Her Neptune saw, and with such beauties fir'd,
4:1153 Resolv'd to compass, what his soul desir'd.
4:1154 In chaste Minerva's fane, he, lustful, stay'd,
4:1155 And seiz'd, and rifled the young, blushing maid.
4:1156 The bashful Goddess turn'd her eyes away,
4:1157 Nor durst such bold impurity survey;
4:1158 But on the ravish'd virgin vengeance takes,
4:1159 Her shining hair is chang'd to hissing snakes.
4:1160 These in her Aegis Pallas joys to bear,
4:1161 The hissing snakes her foes more sure ensnare,
4:1162 Than they did lovers once, when shining hair.