Ovid [Trans., Sir Samuel Garth]. Metamorphoses
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BOOK THE FIFTH
The Story of Perseus continu'd
5:1 While Perseus entertain'd with this report
5:2 His father Cepheus, and the list'ning court,
5:3 Within the palace walls was heard aloud
5:4 The roaring noise of some unruly crowd;
5:5 Not like the songs which chearful friends prepare
5:6 For nuptial days, but sounds that threaten'd war;
5:7 And all the pleasures of this happy feast,
5:8 To tumult turn'd, in wild disorder ceas'd:
5:9 So, when the sea is calm, we often find
5:10 A storm rais'd sudden by some furious wind.
5:11 Chief in the riot Phineus first appear'd,
5:12 The rash ringleader of this boist'rous herd,
5:13 And brandishing his brazen-pointed lance,
5:14 Behold, he said, an injur'd man advance,
5:15 Stung with resentment for his ravish'd wife,
5:16 Nor shall thy wings, o Perseus, save thy life;
5:17 Nor Jove himself; tho' we've been often told
5:18 Who got thee in the form of tempting gold.
5:19 His lance was aim'd, when Cepheus ran, and said,
5:20 Hold, brother, hold; what brutal rage has made
5:21 Your frantick mind so black a crime conceive?
5:22 Are these the thanks that you to Perseus give?
5:23 This the reward that to his worth you pay,
5:24 Whose timely valour sav'd Andromeda?
5:25 Nor was it he, if you would reason right,
5:26 That forc'd her from you, but the jealous spight
5:27 Of envious Nereids, and Jove's high decree;
5:28 And that devouring monster of the sea,
5:29 That ready with his jaws wide gaping stood
5:30 To eat my child, the fairest of my blood.
5:31 You lost her then, when she seem'd past relief,
5:32 And wish'd perhaps her death, to ease your grief
5:33 With my afflictions: not content to view
5:34 Andromeda in chains, unhelp'd by you,
5:35 Her spouse, and uncle; will you grieve that he
5:36 Expos'd his life the dying maid to free?
5:37 And shall you claim his merit? Had you thought
5:38 Her charms so great, you shou'd have bravely sought
5:39 That blessing on the rocks, where fix'd she lay:
5:40 But now let Perseus bear his prize away,
5:41 By service gain'd, by promis'd faith possess'd;
5:42 To him I owe it, that my age is bless'd
5:43 Still with a child: Nor think that I prefer
5:44 Perseus to thee, but to the loss of her.
5:45 Phineus on him, and Perseus, roul'd about
5:46 His eyes in silent rage, and seem'd to doubt
5:47 Which to destroy; 'till, resolute at length,
5:48 He threw his spear with the redoubled strength
5:49 His fury gave him, and at Perseus struck;
5:50 But missing Perseus, in his seat it stuck.
5:51 Who, springing nimbly up, return'd the dart,
5:52 And almost plung'd it in his rival's heart;
5:53 But he for safety to the altar ran,
5:54 Unfit protection for so vile a man;
5:55 Yet was the stroke not vain, as Rhaetus found,
5:56 Who in his brow receiv'd a mortal wound;
5:57 Headlong he tumbled, when his skull was broke,
5:58 From which his friends the fatal weapon took,
5:59 While he lay trembling, and his gushing blood
5:60 In crimson streams around the table flow'd.
5:61 But this provok'd th' unruly rabble worse,
5:62 They flung their darts, and some in loud discourse
5:63 To death young Perseus, and the monarch doom;
5:64 But Cepheus left before the guilty room,
5:65 With grief appealing to the Gods above,
5:66 Who laws of hospitality approve,
5:67 Who faith protect, and succour injur'd right,
5:68 That he was guiltless of this barb'rous fight.
5:69 Pallas her brother Perseus close attends,
5:70 And with her ample shield from harm defends,
5:71 Raising a sprightly courage in his heart:
5:72 But Indian Athis took the weaker part,
5:73 Born in the chrystal grottoes of the sea,
5:74 Limnate's son, a fenny nymph, and she
5:75 Daughter of Ganges; graceful was his mein,
5:76 His person lovely, and his age sixteen.
5:77 His habit made his native beauty more;
5:78 A purple mantle fring'd with gold he wore;
5:79 His neck well-turn'd with golden chains was grac'd,
5:80 His hair with myrrh perfum'd, was nicely dress'd.
5:81 Tho' with just aim he cou'd the javelin throw,
5:82 Yet with more skill he drew the bending bow;
5:83 And now was drawing it with artful hand,
5:84 When Perseus snatching up a flaming brand,
5:85 Whirl'd sudden at his face the burning wood,
5:86 Crush'd his eyes in, and quench'd the fire with blood;
5:87 Thro' the soft skin the splinter'd bones appear,
5:88 And spoil'd the face that lately was so fair.
5:89 When Lycabas his Athis thus beheld,
5:90 How was his heart with friendly horror fill'd!
5:91 A youth so noble, to his soul so dear,
5:92 To see his shapeless look, his dying groans to hear!
5:93 He snatch'd the bow the boy was us'd to bend,
5:94 And cry'd, With me, false traytor, dare contend;
5:95 Boast not a conquest o'er a child, but try
5:96 Thy strength with me, who all thy pow'rs defy;
5:97 Nor think so mean an act a victory.
5:98 While yet he spoke he flung the whizzing dart,
5:99 Which pierc'd the plaited robe, but miss'd his heart:
5:100 Perseus defy'd, upon him fiercely press'd
5:101 With sword, unsheath'd, and plung'd it in his breast;
5:102 His eyes o'erwhelm'd with night, he stumbling falls,
5:103 And with his latest breath on Athis calls;
5:104 Pleas'd that so near the lovely youth he lies,
5:105 He sinks his head upon his friend, and dies.
5:106 Next eager Phorbas, old Methion's son,
5:107 Came rushing forward with Amphimedon;
5:108 When the smooth pavement, slippery made with gore,
5:109 Trip'd up their feet, and flung 'em on the floor;
5:110 The sword of Perseus, who by chance was nigh,
5:111 Prevents their rise, and where they fall, they lye:
5:112 Full in his ribs Amphimedon he smote,
5:113 And then stuck fiery Phorbas in the throat.
5:114 Eurythus lifting up his ax, the blow
5:115 Was thus prevented by his nimble foe;
5:116 A golden cup he seizes, high embost,
5:117 And at his head the massy goblet tost:
5:118 It hits, and from his forehead bruis'd rebounds,
5:119 And blood, and brains he vomits from his wounds;
5:120 With his slain fellows on the floor he lies,
5:121 And death for ever shuts his swimming eyes.
5:122 Then Polydaemon fell, a Goddess-born;
5:123 Phlegias, and Elycen with locks unshorn
5:124 Next follow'd; next, the stroke of death he gave
5:125 To Clytus, Abanis, and Lycetus brave;
5:126 While o'er unnumber'd heaps of ghastly dead,
5:127 The Argive heroe's feet triumphant tread.
5:128 But Phineus stands aloof, and dreads to feel
5:129 His rival's force, and flies his pointed steel:
5:130 Yet threw a dart from far; by chance it lights
5:131 On Idas, who for neither party fights;
5:132 But wounded, sternly thus to Phineus said,
5:133 Since of a neuter thou a foe hast made,
5:134 This I return thee, drawing from his side
5:135 The dart; which, as he strove to fling, he dy'd.
5:136 Odites fell by Clymenus's sword,
5:137 The Cephen court had not a greater lord.
5:138 Hypseus his blade does in Protenor sheath,
5:139 But brave Lyncides soon reveng'd his death.
5:140 Here too was old Emathion, one that fear'd
5:141 The Gods, and in the cause of Heav'n appear'd,
5:142 Who only wishing the success of right,
5:143 And, by his age, exempted from the fight,
5:144 Both sides alike condemns: This impious war
5:145 Cease, cease, he cries; these bloody broils forbear.
5:146 This scarce the sage with high concern had said,
5:147 When Chromis at a blow struck off his head,
5:148 Which dropping, on the royal altar roul'd,
5:149 Still staring on the crowd with aspect bold;
5:150 And still it seem'd their horrid strife to blame,
5:151 In life and death, his pious zeal the same;
5:152 While clinging to the horns, the trunk expires,
5:153 The sever'd head consumes amidst the fires.
5:154 Then Phineus, who from far his javelin threw,
5:155 Broteas and Ammon, twins and brothers, slew;
5:156 For knotted gauntlets matchless in the field;
5:157 But gauntlets must to swords and javelins yield.
5:158 Ampycus next, with hallow'd fillets bound,
5:159 As Ceres' priest, and with a mitre crown'd,
5:160 His spear transfix'd, and struck him to the ground.
5:161 O Iapetides, with pain I tell
5:162 How you, sweet lyrist, in the riot fell;
5:163 What worse than brutal rage his breast could fill,
5:164 Who did thy blood, o bard celestial! spill?
5:165 Kindly you press'd amid the princely throng,
5:166 To crown the feast, and give the nuptial song:
5:167 Discord abhorr'd the musick of thy lyre,
5:168 Whose notes did gentle peace so well inspire;
5:169 Thee, when fierce Pettalus far off espy'd,
5:170 Defenceless with thy harp, he scoffing cry'd,
5:171 Go; to the ghosts thy soothing lessons play;
5:172 We loath thy lyre, and scorn thy peaceful lay:
5:173 And, as again he fiercely bid him go,
5:174 He pierc'd his temples with a mortal blow.
5:175 His harp he held, tho' sinking on the ground,
5:176 Whose strings in death his trembling fingers found
5:177 By chance, and tun'd by chance a dying sound.
5:178 With grief Lycormas saw him fall, from far,
5:179 And, wresting from the door a massy bar,
5:180 Full in his poll lays on a load of knocks,
5:181 Which stun him, and he falls like a devoted ox.
5:182 Another bar Pelates would have snach'd,
5:183 But Corynthus his motions slily watch'd;
5:184 He darts his weapon from a private stand,
5:185 And rivets to the post his veiny hand:
5:186 When strait a missive spear transfix'd his side,
5:187 By Abas thrown, and as he hung, he dy'd.
5:188 Melaneus on the prince's side was slain;
5:189 And Dorylas, who own'd a fertile plain,
5:190 Of Nasamonia's fields the wealthy lord,
5:191 Whose crowded barns, could scarce contain their board.
5:192 A whizzing spear obliquely gave a blow,
5:193 Stuck in his groin, and pierc'd the nerves below;
5:194 His foe behld his eyes convulsive roul,
5:195 His ebbing veins, and his departing soul;
5:196 Then taunting said, Of all thy spacious plain,
5:197 This spot thy only property remains.
5:198 He left him thus; but had no sooner left,
5:199 Than Perseus in revenge his nostrils cleft;
5:200 From his friend's breast the murd'ring dart he drew,
5:201 And the same weapon at the murderer threw;
5:202 His head in halves the darted javelin cut,
5:203 And on each side the brain came issuing out.
5:204 Fortune his friend, in deaths around he deals,
5:205 And this his lance, and that his faulchion feels:
5:206 Now Clytius dies; and by a diff'rent wound,
5:207 The twin, his brother Clanis, bites the ground.
5:208 In his rent jaw the bearded weapon sticks,
5:209 And the steel'd dart does Clytius' thigh transfix.
5:210 With these Mendesian Celadon he slew:
5:211 And Astreus next, whose mother was a Jew,
5:212 His sire uncertain: then by Perseus fell
5:213 Aethion, who cou'd things to come foretell;
5:214 But now he knows not whence the javelin flies
5:215 That wounds his breast, nor by whose arm he dies.
5:216 The squire to Phineus next his valour try'd,
5:217 And fierce Agyrtes stain'd with paricide.
5:218 As these are slain, fresh numbers still appear,
5:219 And wage with Perseus an unequal war;
5:220 To rob him of his right, the maid he won,
5:221 By honour, promise, and desert his own.
5:222 With him, the father of the beauteous bride,
5:223 The mother, and the frighted virgin side;
5:224 With shrieks, and doleful cries they rend the air:
5:225 Their shrieks confounded with the din of war,
5:226 With dashing arms, and groanings of the slain,
5:227 They grieve unpitied, and unheard complain.
5:228 The floor with ruddy streams Bellona stains,
5:229 And Phineus a new war with double rage maintains.
5:230 Perseus begirt, from all around they pour
5:231 Their lances on him, a tempestuous show'r,
5:232 Aim'd all at him; a cloud of darts, and spears,
5:233 Or blind his eyes, or whistle round his ears.
5:234 Their numbers to resist, against the wall
5:235 He guards his back secure, and dares them all.
5:236 Here from the left Molpeus renews the fight,
5:237 And bold Ethemon presses on the right:
5:238 As when a hungry tyger near him hears
5:239 Two lowing herds, a-while he both forbears;
5:240 Nor can his hopes of this, or that renounce,
5:241 So strong he lusts to prey on both at once;
5:242 Thus Perseus now with that, or this is loth
5:243 To war distinct:, but fain would fall on both.
5:244 And first Chaonian Molpeus felt his blow,
5:245 And fled, and never after fac'd his foe;
5:246 Then fierce Ethemon, as he turn'd his back,
5:247 Hurried with fury, aiming at his neck,
5:248 His brandish'd sword against the marble struck
5:249 With all his might; the brittle weapon broke,
5:250 And in his throat the point rebounding stuck.
5:251 Too slight the wound for life to issue thence,
5:252 And yet too great for battel, or defence;
5:253 His arms extended in this piteous state,
5:254 For mercy he wou'd sue, but sues too late;
5:255 Perseus has in his bosom plung'd the sword,
5:256 And, ere he speaks, the wound prevents the word.
5:257 The crowds encreasing, and his friends distress'd,
5:258 Himself by warring multitudes oppress'd:
5:259 Since thus unequally you fight, 'tis time,
5:260 He cry'd, to punish your presumptuous crime;
5:261 Beware, my friends; his friends were soon prepar'd,
5:262 Their sight averting, high the head he rear'd,
5:263 And Gorgon on his foes severely star'd.
5:264 Vain shift! says Thescelus, with aspect bold,
5:265 Thee, and thy bugbear monster, I behold
5:266 With scorn; he lifts his arm, but ere he threw
5:267 The dart, the heroe to a statue grew.
5:268 In the same posture still the marble stands,
5:269 And holds the warrior's weapons in its hands.
5:270 Amphyx, whom yet this wonder can't alarm,
5:271 Heaves at Lyncides' breast his impious arm;
5:272 But, while thus daringly he presses on,
5:273 His weapon and his arm are turn'd to stone.
5:274 Next Nileus, he who vainly said he ow'd
5:275 His origin to Nile's prolifick flood;
5:276 Who on his shield seven silver rivers bore,
5:277 His birth to witness by the arms he wore;
5:278 Full of his sev'n-fold father, thus express'd
5:279 His boast to Perseus, and his pride confess'd:
5:280 See whence we sprung; let this thy comfort be
5:281 In thy sure death, that thou didst die by me.
5:282 While yet he spoke, the dying accents hung
5:283 In sounds imperfect on his marble tongue;
5:284 Tho' chang'd to stone, his lips he seem'd to stretch,
5:285 And thro' th' insensate rock wou'd force a speech.
5:286 This Eryx saw, but seeing wou'd not own;
5:287 The mischief by your selves, he cries, is done,
5:288 'Tis your cold courage turns your hearts to stone.
5:289 Come, follow me; fall on the stripling boy,
5:290 Kill him, and you his magick arms destroy.
5:291 Then rushing on, his arm to strike he rear'd,
5:292 And marbled o'er his varied frame appear'd.
5:293 These for affronting Pallas were chastis'd,
5:294 And justly met the death they had despis'd.
5:295 But brave Aconteus, Perseus' friend, by chance
5:296 Look'd back, and met the Gorgon's fatal glance:
5:297 A statue now become, he ghastly stares,
5:298 And still the foe to mortal combat dares.
5:299 Astyages the living likeness knew,
5:300 On the dead stone with vengeful fury flew;
5:301 But impotent his rage, the jarring blade
5:302 No print upon the solid marble made:
5:303 Again, as with redoubled might he struck,
5:304 Himself astonish'd in the quarry stuck.
5:305 The vulgar deaths 'twere tedious to rehearse,
5:306 And fates below the dignity of verse;
5:307 Their safety in their flight two hundred found,
5:308 Two hundred, by Medusa's head were ston'd.
5:309 Fierce Phineus now repents the wrongful fight,
5:310 And views his varied friends, a dreadful sight;
5:311 He knows their faces, for their help he sues,
5:312 And thinks, not hearing him, that they refuse:
5:313 By name he begs their succour, one by one,
5:314 Then doubts their life, and feels the friendly stone.
5:315 Struck with remorse, and conscious of his pride,
5:316 Convict of sin, he turn'd his eyes aside;
5:317 With suppliant mein to Perseus thus he prays,
5:318 Hence with the head, as far as winds and seas
5:319 Can bear thee; hence, o quit the Cephen shore,
5:320 And never curse us with Medusa more,
5:321 That horrid head, which stiffens into stone
5:322 Those impious men who, daring death, look on.
5:323 I warr'd not with thee out of hate or strife,
5:324 My honest cause was to defend my wife,
5:325 First pledg'd to me; what crime cou'd I suppose,
5:326 To arm my friends, and vindicate my spouse?
5:327 But vain, too late I see, was our design;
5:328 Mine was the title, but the merit thine.
5:329 Contending made me guilty, I confess;
5:330 But penitence shou'd make that guilt the less:
5:331 'Twas thine to conquer by Minerva's pow'r;
5:332 Favour'd of Heav'n, thy mercy I implore;
5:333 For life I sue; the rest to thee I yield;
5:334 In pity, from my sight remove the shield.
5:335 He suing said; nor durst revert his eyes
5:336 On the grim head: and Perseus thus replies:
5:337 Coward, what is in me to grant, I will,
5:338 Nor blood, unworthy of my valour spill:
5:339 Fear not to perish by my vengeful sword,
5:340 From that secure; 'tis all the Fates afford.
5:341 Where I now see thee, thou shalt still be seen,
5:342 A lasting monument to please our queen;
5:343 There still shall thy betroth'd behold her spouse,
5:344 And find his image in her father's house.
5:345 This said; where Phineus turn'd to shun the shield
5:346 Full in his face the staring head he held;
5:347 As here and there he strove to turn aside,
5:348 The wonder wrought, the man was petrify'd:
5:349 All marble was his frame, his humid eyes
5:350 Drop'd tears, which hung upon the stone like ice.
5:351 In suppliant posture, with uplifted hands,
5:352 And fearful look, the guilty statue stands.
5:353 Hence Perseus to his native city hies,
5:354 Victorious, and rewarded with his prize.
5:355 Conquest, o'er Praetus the usurper, won,
5:356 He re-instates his grandsire in the throne.
5:357 Praetus, his brother dispossess'd by might,
5:358 His realm enjoy'd, and still detain'd his right:
5:359 But Perseus pull'd the haughty tyrant down,
5:360 And to the rightful king restor'd the throne.
5:361 Weak was th' usurper, as his cause was wrong;
5:362 Where Gorgon's head appears, what arms are strong?
5:363 When Perseus to his host the monster held,
5:364 They soon were statues, and their king expell'd.
5:365 Thence, to Seriphus with the head he sails,
5:366 Whose prince his story treats as idle tales:
5:367 Lord of a little isle, he scorns to seem
5:368 Too credulous, but laughs at that, and him.
5:369 Yet did he not so much suspect the truth,
5:370 As out of pride, or envy, hate the youth.
5:371 The Argive prince, at his contempt enrag'd,
5:372 To force his faith by fatal proof engag'd.
5:373 Friends, shut your eyes, he cries; his shield he takes,
5:374 And to the king expos'd Medusa's snakes.
5:375 The monarch felt the pow'r he wou'd not own,
5:376 And stood convict of folly in the stone.
Minerva's Interview with the Muses
5:377 Thus far Minerva was content to rove
5:378 With Perseus, offspring of her father Jove:
5:379 Now, hid in clouds, Seriphus she forsook;
5:380 And to the Theban tow'rs her journey took.
5:381 Cythnos and Gyaros lying to the right,
5:382 She pass'd unheeded in her eager flight;
5:383 And chusing first on Helicon to rest,
5:384 The virgin Muses in these words address'd:
5:385 Me, the strange tidings of a new-found spring,
5:386 Ye learned sisters, to this mountain bring.
5:387 If all be true that Fame's wide rumours tell,
5:388 'Twas Pegasus discover'd first your well;
5:389 Whose piercing hoof gave the soft earth a blow,
5:390 Which broke the surface where these waters flow.
5:391 I saw that horse by miracle obtain
5:392 Life, from the blood of dire Medusa slain;
5:393 And now, this equal prodigy to view,
5:394 From distant isles to fam'd Boeotia flew.
5:395 The Muse Urania said, Whatever cause
5:396 So great a Goddess to this mansion draws;
5:397 Our shades are happy with so bright a guest,
5:398 You, Queen, are welcome, and we Muses blest.
5:399 What Fame has publish'd of our spring is true,
5:400 Thanks for our spring to Pegasus are due.
5:401 Then, with becoming courtesy, she led
5:402 The curious stranger to their fountain's head;
5:403 Who long survey'd, with wonder, and delight,
5:404 Their sacred water, charming to the sight;
5:405 Their ancient groves, dark grottos, shady bow'rs,
5:406 And smiling plains adorn'd with various flow'rs.
5:407 O happy Muses! she with rapture cry'd,
5:408 Who, safe from cares, on this fair hill reside;
5:409 Blest in your seat, and free your selves to please
5:410 With joys of study, and with glorious ease.
The Fate of Pyreneus
5:411 Then one replies: O Goddess, fit to guide
5:412 Our humble works, and in our choir preside,
5:413 Who sure wou'd wisely to these fields repair,
5:414 To taste our pleasures, and our labours share,
5:415 Were not your virtue, and superior mind
5:416 To higher arts, and nobler deeds inclin'd;
5:417 Justly you praise our works, and pleasing seat,
5:418 Which all might envy in this soft retreat,
5:419 Were we secur'd from dangers, and from harms;
5:420 But maids are frighten'd with the least alarms,
5:421 And none are safe in this licentious time;
5:422 Still fierce Pyreneus, and his daring crime,
5:423 With lasting horror strikes my feeble sight,
5:424 Nor is my mind recover'd from the fright.
5:425 With Thracian arms this bold usurper gain'd
5:426 Daulis, and Phocis, where he proudly reign'd:
5:427 It happen'd once, as thro' his lands we went,
5:428 For the bright temple of Parnassus bent,
5:429 He met us there, and in his artful mind
5:430 Hiding the faithless action he design'd,
5:431 Confer'd on us (whom, oh! too well he knew)
5:432 All honours that to Goddesses are due.
5:433 Stop, stop, ye Muses, 'tis your friend who calls,
5:434 The tyrant said; behold the rain that falls
5:435 On ev'ry side, and that ill-boding sky,
5:436 Whose lowring face portends more storms are nigh.
5:437 Pray make my house your own, and void of fear,
5:438 While this bad weather lasts, take shelter here.
5:439 Gods have made meaner places their resort,
5:440 And, for a cottage, left their shining court.
5:441 Oblig'd to stop, by the united force
5:442 Of pouring rains, and complaisant discourse,
5:443 His courteous invitation we obey,
5:444 And in his hall resolve a-while to stay.
5:445 Soon it clear'd up; the clouds began to fly,
5:446 The driving north refin'd the show'ry sky;
5:447 Then to pursue our journey we began:
5:448 But the false traitor to his portal ran,
5:449 Stopt our escape, the door securely barr'd,
5:450 And to our honour, violence prepar'd.
5:451 But we, transform'd to birds, avoid his snare,
5:452 On pinions rising in the yielding air.
5:453 But he, by lust and indignation fir'd,
5:454 Up to his highest tow'r with speed retir'd,
5:455 And cries, In vain you from my arms withdrew,
5:456 The way you go your lover will pursue.
5:457 Then, in a flying posture wildly plac'd,
5:458 And daring from that height himself to cast,
5:459 The wretch fell headlong, and the ground bestrew'd
5:460 With broken bones, and stains of guilty blood.
The Story of the Pierides
5:461 The Muse yet spoke; when they began to hear
5:462 A noise of wings that flutter'd in the air;
5:463 And strait a voice, from some high-spreading bough,
5:464 Seem'd to salute the company below.
5:465 The Goddess wonder'd, and inquir'd from whence
5:466 That tongue was heard, that spoke so plainly sense
5:467 (It seem'd to her a human voice to be,
5:468 But prov'd a bird's; for in a shady tree
5:469 Nine magpies perch'd lament their alter'd state,
5:470 And, what they hear, are skilful to repeat).
5:471 The sister to the wondring Goddess said,
5:472 These, foil'd by us, by us were thus repaid.
5:473 These did Evippe of Paeonia bring
5:474 With nine hard labour-pangs to Pella's king.
5:475 The foolish virgins of their number proud,
5:476 And puff'd with praises of the senseless crowd,
5:477 Thro' all Achaia, and th' Aemonian plains
5:478 Defy'd us thus, to match their artless strains;
5:479 No more, ye Thespian girls, your notes repeat,
5:480 Nor with false harmony the vulgar cheat;
5:481 In voice or skill, if you with us will vye,
5:482 As many we, in voice or skill will try.
5:483 Surrender you to us, if we excell,
5:484 Fam'd Aganippe, and Medusa's well.
5:485 The conquest yours, your prize from us shall be
5:486 The Aemathian plains to snowy Paeone;
5:487 The nymphs our judges. To dispute the field,
5:488 We thought a shame; but greater shame to yield.
5:489 On seats of living stone the sisters sit,
5:490 And by the rivers swear to judge aright.
The Song of the Pierides
5:491 Then rises one of the presumptuous throng,
5:492 Steps rudely forth, and first begins the song;
5:493 With vain address describes the giants' wars,
5:494 And to the Gods their fabled acts prefers.
5:495 She sings, from Earth's dark womb how Typhon rose,
5:496 And struck with mortal fear his heav'nly foes.
5:497 How the Gods fled to Egypt's slimy soil,
5:498 And hid their heads beneath the banks of Nile:
5:499 How Typhon, from the conquer'd skies, pursu'd
5:500 Their routed godheads to the sev'n-mouth'd flood;
5:501 Forc'd every God, his fury to escape,
5:502 Some beastly form to take, or earthly shape.
5:503 Jove (so she sung) was chang'd into a ram,
5:504 From whence the horns of Libyan Ammon came.
5:505 Bacchus a goat, Apollo was a crow,
5:506 Phaebe a cat; die wife of Jove a cow,
5:507 Whose hue was whiter than the falling snow.
5:508 Mercury to a nasty Ibis turn'd,
5:509 The change obscene, afraid of Typhon, mourn'd;
5:510 While Venus from a fish protection craves,
5:511 And once more plunges in her native waves.
5:512 She sung, and to her harp her voice apply'd;
5:513 Then us again to match her they defy'd.
5:514 But our poor song, perhaps, for you to hear,
5:515 Nor leisure serves, nor is it worth your ear.
5:516 That causeless doubt remove, O Muse rehearse,
5:517 The Goddess cry'd, your ever-grateful verse.
5:518 Beneath a chequer'd shade she takes her seat,
5:519 And bids the sister her whole song repeat.
5:520 The sister thus: Calliope we chose
5:521 For the performance. The sweet virgin rose,
5:522 With ivy crown'd she tunes her golden strings,
5:523 And to her harp this composition sings.
The Song of the Muses
5:524 First Ceres taught the lab'ring hind to plow
5:525 The pregnant Earth, and quickning seed to sow.
5:526 She first for Man did wholsome food provide,
5:527 And with just laws the wicked world supply'd:
5:528 All good from her deriv'd, to her belong
5:529 The grateful tributes of the Muse's song.
5:530 Her more than worthy of our verse we deem,
5:531 Oh! were our verse more worthy of the theme.
5:532 Jove on the giant fair Trinacria hurl'd,
5:533 And with one bolt reveng'd his starry world.
5:534 Beneath her burning hills Tiphaeus lies,
5:535 And, strugling always, strives in vain to rise.
5:536 Down does Pelorus his right hand suppress
5:537 Tow'rd Latium, on the left Pachyne weighs.
5:538 His legs are under Lilybaeum spread,
5:539 And Aetna presses hard his horrid head.
5:540 On his broad back he there extended lies,
5:541 And vomits clouds of ashes to the skies.
5:542 Oft lab'ring with his load, at last he tires,
5:543 And spews out in revenge a flood of fires.
5:544 Mountains he struggles to o'erwhelm, and towns;
5:545 Earth's inmost bowels quake, and Nature groans.
5:546 His terrors reach the direful king of Hell;
5:547 He fears his throws will to the day reveal
5:548 The realms of night, and fright his trembling ghosts.
5:549 This to prevent, he quits the Stygian coasts,
5:550 In his black carr, by sooty horses drawn,
5:551 Fair Sicily he seeks, and dreads the dawn.
5:552 Around her plains he casts his eager eyes,
5:553 And ev'ry mountain to the bottom tries.
5:554 But when, in all the careful search, he saw
5:555 No cause of fear, no ill-suspected flaw;
5:556 Secure from harm, and wand'ring on at will,
5:557 Venus beheld him from her flow'ry hill:
5:558 When strait the dame her little Cupid prest
5:559 With secret rapture to her snowy breast,
5:560 And in these words the flutt'ring boy addrest.
5:561 O thou, my arms, my glory, and my pow'r,
5:562 My son, whom men, and deathless Gods adore;
5:563 Bend thy sure bow, whose arrows never miss'd,
5:564 No longer let Hell's king thy sway resist;
5:565 Take him, while stragling from his dark abodes
5:566 He coasts the kingdoms of superior Gods.
5:567 If sovereign Jove, if Gods who rule the waves,
5:568 And Neptune, who rules them, have been thy slaves;
5:569 Shall Hell be free? The tyrant strike, my son,
5:570 Enlarge thy mother's empire, and thy own.
5:571 Let not our Heav'n be made the mock of Hell,
5:572 But Pluto to confess thy pow'r compel.
5:573 Our rule is slighted in our native skies,
5:574 See Pallas, see Diana too defies
5:575 Thy darts, which Ceres' daughter wou'd despise.
5:576 She too our empire treats with aukward scorn;
5:577 Such insolence no longer's to be born.
5:578 Revenge our slighted reign, and with thy dart
5:579 Transfix the virgin's to the uncle's heart.
5:580 She said; and from his quiver strait he drew
5:581 A dart that surely wou'd the business do.
5:582 She guides his hand, she makes her touch the test,
5:583 And of a thousand arrows chose the best:
5:584 No feather better pois'd, a sharper head
5:585 None had, and sooner none, and surer sped.
5:586 He bends his bow, he draws it to his ear,
5:587 Thro' Pluto's heart it drives, and fixes there.
The Rape of Proserpine
5:588 Near Enna's walls a spacious lake is spread,
5:589 Fam'd for the sweetly-singing swans it bred;
5:590 Pergusa is its name: and never more
5:591 Were heard, or sweeter on Cayster's shore.
5:592 Woods crown the lake; and Phoebus ne'er invades
5:593 The tufted fences, or offends the shades:
5:594 Fresh fragrant breezes fan the verdant bow'rs,
5:595 And the moist ground smiles with enamel'd flow'rs
5:596 The chearful birds their airy carols sing,
5:597 And the whole year is one eternal spring.
5:598 Here, while young Proserpine, among the maids,
5:599 Diverts herself in these delicious shades;
5:600 While like a child with busy speed and care
5:601 She gathers lillies here, and vi'lets there;
5:602 While first to fill her little lap she strives,
5:603 Hell's grizly monarch at the shade arrives;
5:604 Sees her thus sporting on the flow'ry green,
5:605 And loves the blooming maid, as soon as seen.
5:606 His urgent flame impatient of delay,
5:607 Swift as his thought he seiz'd the beauteous prey,
5:608 And bore her in his sooty carr away.
5:609 The frighted Goddess to her mother cries,
5:610 But all in vain, for now far off she flies;
5:611 Far she behind her leaves her virgin train;
5:612 To them too cries, and cries to them in vain,
5:613 And, while with passion she repeats her call,
5:614 The vi'lets from her lap, and lillies fall:
5:615 She misses 'em, poor heart! and makes new moan;
5:616 Her lillies, ah! are lost, her vi'lets gone.
5:617 O'er hills, the ravisher, and vallies speeds,
5:618 By name encouraging his foamy steeds;
5:619 He rattles o'er their necks the rusty reins,
5:620 And ruffles with the stroke their shaggy manes.
5:621 O'er lakes he whirls his flying wheels, and comes
5:622 To the Palici breathing sulph'rous fumes.
5:623 And thence to where the Bacchiads of renown
5:624 Between unequal havens built their town;
5:625 Where Arethusa, round th' imprison'd sea,
5:626 Extends her crooked coast to Cyane;
5:627 The nymph who gave the neighb'ring lake a name,
5:628 Of all Sicilian nymphs the first in fame,
5:629 She from the waves advanc'd her beauteous head,
5:630 The Goddess knew, and thus to Pluto said:
5:631 Farther thou shalt not with the virgin run;
5:632 Ceres unwilling, canst thou be her son?
5:633 The maid shou'd be by sweet perswasion won.
5:634 Force suits not with the softness of the fair;
5:635 For, if great things with small I may compare,
5:636 Me Anapis once lov'd; a milder course
5:637 He took, and won me by his words, not force.
5:638 Then, stretching out her arms, she stopt his way;
5:639 But he, impatient of the shortest stay,
5:640 Throws to his dreadful steeds the slacken'd rein,
5:641 And strikes his iron sceptre thro' the main;
5:642 The depths profound thro' yielding waves he cleaves,
5:643 And to Hell's center a free passage leaves;
5:644 Down sinks his chariot, and his realms of night
5:645 The God soon reaches with a rapid flight.
Cyane dissolves to a Fountain
5:646 But still does Cyane the rape bemoan,
5:647 And with the Goddess' wrongs laments her own;
5:648 For the stoln maid, and for her injur'd spring,
5:649 Time to her trouble no relief can bring.
5:650 In her sad heart a heavy load she bears,
5:651 'Till the dumb sorrow turns her all to tears.
5:652 Her mingling waters with that fountain pass,
5:653 Of which she late immortal Goddess was;
5:654 Her varied members to a fluid melt,
5:655 A pliant softness in her bones is felt;
5:656 Her wavy locks first drop away in dew,
5:657 And liquid next her slender fingers grew.
5:658 The body's change soon seizes its extreme,
5:659 Her legs dissolve, and feet flow off in stream.
5:660 Her arms, her back, her shoulders, and her side,
5:661 Her swelling breasts in little currents glide,
5:662 A silver liquor only now remains
5:663 Within the channel of her purple veins;
5:664 Nothing to fill love's grasp; her husband chaste
5:665 Bathes in that bosom he before embrac'd.
A Boy transform'd to an Eft
5:666 Thus, while thro' all the Earth, and all the main,
5:667 Her daughter mournful Ceres sought in vain;
5:668 Aurora, when with dewy looks she rose,
5:669 Nor burnish'd Vesper found her in repose,
5:670 At Aetna's flaming mouth two pitchy pines
5:671 To light her in her search at length she tines.
5:672 Restless, with these, thro' frosty night she goes,
5:673 Nor fears the cutting winds, nor heeds the snows;
5:674 And, when the morning-star the day renews,
5:675 From east to west her absent child pursues.
5:676 Thirsty at last by long fatigue she grows,
5:677 But meets no spring, no riv'let near her flows.
5:678 Then looking round, a lowly cottage spies,
5:679 Smoaking among the trees, and thither hies.
5:680 The Goddess knocking at the little door,
5:681 'Twas open'd by a woman old and poor,
5:682 Who, when she begg'd for water, gave her ale
5:683 Brew'd long, but well preserv'd from being stale.
5:684 The Goddess drank; a chuffy lad was by,
5:685 Who saw the liquor with a grutching eye,
5:686 And grinning cries, She's greedy more than dry.
5:687 Ceres, offended at his foul grimace,
5:688 Flung what she had not drunk into his face,
5:689 The sprinklings speckle where they hit the skin,
5:690 And a long tail does from his body spin;
5:691 His arms are turn'd to legs, and lest his size
5:692 Shou'd make him mischievous, and he might rise
5:693 Against mankind, diminutives his frame,
5:694 Less than a lizzard, but in shape the same.
5:695 Amaz'd the dame the wondrous sight beheld,
5:696 And weeps, and fain wou'd touch her quondam child.
5:697 Yet her approach th' affrighted vermin shuns,
5:698 And fast into the greatest crevice runs.
5:699 A name they gave him, which the spots exprest,
5:700 That rose like stars, and varied all his breast.
5:701 What lands, what seas the Goddess wander'd o'er,
5:702 Were long to tell; for there remain'd no more.
5:703 Searching all round, her fruitless toil she mourns,
5:704 And with regret to Sicily returns.
5:705 At length, where Cyane now flows, she came,
5:706 Who cou'd have told her, were she still the same
5:707 As when she saw her daughter sink to Hell;
5:708 But what she knows she wants a tongue to tell.
5:709 Yet this plain signal manifestly gave,
5:710 The virgin's girdle floating on a wave,
5:711 As late she dropt it from her slender waste,
5:712 When with her uncle thro' the deep she past.
5:713 Ceres the token by her grief confest,
5:714 And tore her golden hair, and beat her breast.
5:715 She knows not on what land her curse shou'd fall,
5:716 But, as ingrate, alike upbraids them all,
5:717 Unworthy of her gifts; Trinacria most,
5:718 Where the last steps she found of what she lost.
5:719 The plough for this the vengeful Goddess broke,
5:720 And with one death the ox, and owner struck,
5:721 In vain the fallow fields the peasant tills,
5:722 The seed, corrupted ere 'tis sown, she kills.
5:723 The fruitful soil, that once such harvests bore,
5:724 Now mocks the farmer's care, and teems no more.
5:725 And the rich grain which fills the furrow'd glade,
5:726 Rots in the seed, or shrivels in the blade;
5:727 Or too much sun burns up, or too much rain
5:728 Drowns, or black blights destroy the blasted plain;
5:729 Or greedy birds the new-sown seed devour,
5:730 Or darnel, thistles, and a crop impure
5:731 Of knotted grass along the acres stand,
5:732 And spread their thriving roots thro' all the land.
5:733 Then from the waves soft Arethusa rears
5:734 Her head, and back she flings her dropping hairs.
5:735 O mother of the maid, whom thou so far
5:736 Hast sought, of whom thou canst no tidings hear;
5:737 O thou, she cry'd, who art to life a friend,
5:738 Cease here thy search, and let thy labour end.
5:739 Thy faithful Sicily's a guiltless clime,
5:740 And shou'd not suffer for another's crime;
5:741 She neither knew, nor cou'd prevent the deed;
5:742 Nor think that for my country thus I plead;
5:743 My country's Pisa, I'm an alien here,
5:744 Yet these abodes to Elis I prefer,
5:745 No clime to me so sweet, no place so dear.
5:746 These springs I Arethusa now possess,
5:747 And this my seat, o gracious Goddess, bless:
5:748 This island why I love, and why I crost
5:749 Such spacious seas to reach Ortygia's coast,
5:750 To you I shall impart, when, void of care,
5:751 Your heart's at ease, and you're more fit to hear;
5:752 When on your brow no pressing sorrow sits,
5:753 For gay content alone such tales admits.
5:754 When thro' Earth's caverns I a-while have roul'd
5:755 My waves, I rise, and here again behold
5:756 The long-lost stars; and, as I late did glide
5:757 Near Styx, Proserpina there I espy'd.
5:758 Fear still with grief might in her face be seen;
5:759 She still her rape laments; yet, made a queen,
5:760 Beneath those gloomy shades her sceptre sways,
5:761 And ev'n th' infernal king her will obeys.
5:762 This heard, the Goddess like a statue stood,
5:763 Stupid with grief; and in that musing mood
5:764 Continu'd long; new cares a-while supprest
5:765 The reigning of her immortal breast.
5:766 At last to Jove her daughter's sire she flies,
5:767 And with her chariot cuts the chrystal skies;
5:768 She comes in clouds, and with dishevel'd hair,
5:769 Standing before his throne, prefers her pray'r.
5:770 King of the Gods, defend my blood and thine,
5:771 And use it not the worse for being mine.
5:772 If I no more am gracious in thy sight,
5:773 Be just, o Jove, and do thy daughter right.
5:774 In vain I sought her the wide world around,
5:775 And, when I most despair'd to find her, found.
5:776 But how can I the fatal finding boast,
5:777 By which I know she is for ever lost?
5:778 Without her father's aid, what other Pow'r
5:779 Can to my arms the ravish'd maid restore?
5:780 Let him restore her, I'll the crime forgive;
5:781 My child, tho' ravish'd, I'd with joy receive.
5:782 Pity, your daughter with a thief shou'd wed,
5:783 Tho' mine, you think, deserves no better bed.
5:784 Jove thus replies: It equally belongs
5:785 To both, to guard our common pledge from wrongs.
5:786 But if to things we proper names apply,
5:787 This hardly can be call'd an injury.
5:788 The theft is love; nor need we blush to own
5:789 The thief, if I can judge, to be our son.
5:790 Had you of his desert no other proof,
5:791 To be Jove's brother is methinks enough.
5:792 Nor was my throne by worth superior got,
5:793 Heav'n fell to me, as Hell to him, by lot:
5:794 If you are still resolv'd her loss to mourn,
5:795 And nothing less will serve than her return;
5:796 Upon these terms she may again be yours
5:797 (Th' irrevocable terms of fate, not ours),
5:798 Of Stygian food if she did never taste,
5:799 Hell's bounds may then, and only then, be past.
The Transformation of Ascalaphus into an Owl
5:800 The Goddess now, resolving to succeed,
5:801 Down to the gloomy shades descends with speed;
5:802 But adverse fate had otherwise decreed.
5:803 For, long before, her giddy thoughtless child
5:804 Had broke her fast, and all her projects spoil'd.
5:805 As in the garden's shady walk she stray'd,
5:806 A fair pomegranate charm'd the simple maid,
5:807 Hung in her way, and tempting her to taste,
5:808 She pluck'd the fruit, and took a short repast.
5:809 Seven times, a seed at once, she eat the food;
5:810 The fact Ascalaphus had only view'd;
5:811 Whom Acheron begot in Stygian shades
5:812 On Orphne, fam'd among Avernal maids;
5:813 He saw what past, and by discov'ring all,
5:814 Detain'd the ravish'd nymph in cruel thrall.
5:815 But now a queen, she with resentment heard,
5:816 And chang'd the vile informer to a bird.
5:817 In Phlegeton's black stream her hand she dips,
5:818 Sprinkles his head, and wets his babling lips.
5:819 Soon on his face, bedropt with magick dew,
5:820 A change appear'd, and gawdy feathers grew.
5:821 A crooked beak the place of nose supplies,
5:822 Rounder his head, and larger are his eyes.
5:823 His arms and body waste, but are supply'd
5:824 With yellow pinions flagging on each side.
5:825 His nails grow crooked, and are turn'd to claws,
5:826 And lazily along his heavy wings he draws.
5:827 Ill-omen'd in his form, the unlucky fowl,
5:828 Abhorr'd by men, and call'd a scrieching owl.
The Daughters of Achelous transform'd to Sirens
5:829 Justly this punishment was due to him,
5:830 And less had been too little for his crime;
5:831 But, o ye nymphs that from the flood descend,
5:832 What fault of yours the Gods cou'd so offend,
5:833 With wings and claws your beauteous forms to spoil,
5:834 Yet save your maiden face, and winning smile?
5:835 Were you not with her in Pergusa's bow'rs,
5:836 When Proserpine went forth to gather flow'rs?
5:837 Since Pluto in his carr the Goddess caught,
5:838 Have you not for her in each climate sought?
5:839 And when on land you long had search'd in vain,
5:840 You wish'd for wings to cross the pathless main;
5:841 That Earth and Sea might witness to your care:
5:842 The Gods were easy, and return'd your pray'r;
5:843 With golden wing o'er foamy waves you fled,
5:844 And to the sun your plumy glories spread.
5:845 But, lest the soft enchantment of your songs,
5:846 And the sweet musick of your flat'ring tongues
5:847 Shou'd quite be lost (as courteous fates ordain),
5:848 Your voice and virgin beauty still remain.
5:849 Jove some amends for Ceres lost to make,
5:850 Yet willing Pluto shou'd the joy partake,
5:851 Gives 'em of Proserpine an equal share,
5:852 Who, claim'd by both, with both divides the year.
5:853 The Goddess now in either empire sways,
5:854 Six moons in Hell, and six with Ceres stays.
5:855 Her peevish temper's chang'd; that sullen mind,
5:856 Which made ev'n Hell uneasy, now is kind,
5:857 Her voice refines, her mein more sweet appears,
5:858 Her forehead free from frowns, her eyes from tears,
5:859 As when, with golden light, the conqu'ring day
5:860 Thro' dusky exhalations clears a way.
5:861 Ceres her daughter's rape no longer mourn'd,
5:862 But back to Arethusa's spring return'd;
5:863 And sitting on the margin, bid her tell
5:864 From whence she came, and why a sacred well.
The Story of Arethusa
5:865 Still were the purling waters, and the maid
5:866 From the smooth surface rais'd her beauteous head,
5:867 Wipes off the drops that from her tresses ran,
5:868 And thus to tell Alpheus' loves began.
5:869 In Elis first I breath'd the living air,
5:870 The chase was all my pleasure, all my care.
5:871 None lov'd like me the forest to explore,
5:872 To pitch the toils, and drive the bristled boar.
5:873 Of fair, tho' masculine, I had the name,
5:874 But gladly wou'd to that have quitted claim:
5:875 It less my pride than indignation rais'd,
5:876 To hear the beauty I neglected, prais'd;
5:877 Such compliments I loath'd, such charms as these
5:878 I scorn'd, and thought it infamy to please.
5:879 Once, I remember, in the summer's heat,
5:880 Tir'd with the chase, I sought a cool retreat;
5:881 And, walking on, a silent current found,
5:882 Which gently glided o'er the grav'ly ground.
5:883 The chrystal water was so smooth, so clear,
5:884 My eye distinguish'd ev'ry pebble there.
5:885 So soft its motion, that I scarce perceiv'd
5:886 The running stream, or what I saw believ'd.
5:887 The hoary willow, and the poplar, made
5:888 Along the shelving bank a grateful shade.
5:889 In the cool rivulet my feet I dipt,
5:890 Then waded to the knee, and then I stript;
5:891 My robe I careless on an osier threw,
5:892 That near the place commodiously grew;
5:893 Nor long upon the border naked stood,
5:894 But plung'd with speed into the silver flood.
5:895 My arms a thousand ways I mov'd, and try'd
5:896 To quicken, if I cou'd, the lazy tide;
5:897 Where, while I play'd my swimming gambols o'er,
5:898 I heard a murm'ring voice, and frighted sprung to shore.
5:899 Oh! whither, Arethusa, dost thou fly?
5:900 From the brook's bottom did Alpheus cry;
5:901 Again, I heard him, in a hollow tone,
5:902 Oh! whither, Arethusa, dost thou run?
5:903 Naked I flew, nor cou'd I stay to hide
5:904 My limbs, my robe was on the other side;
5:905 Alpheus follow'd fast, th' inflaming sight
5:906 Quicken'd his speed, and made his labour light;
5:907 He sees me ready for his eager arms,
5:908 And with a greedy glance devours my charms.
5:909 As trembling doves from pressing danger fly,
5:910 When the fierce hawk comes sousing from the sky;
5:911 And, as fierce hawks the trembling doves pursue,
5:912 From him I fled, and after me he flew.
5:913 First by Orchomenus I took my flight,
5:914 And soon had Psophis and Cyllene in sight;
5:915 Behind me then high Maenalus I lost,
5:916 And craggy Erimanthus scal'd with frost;
5:917 Elis was next; thus far the ground I trod
5:918 With nimble feet, before the distanc'd God.
5:919 But here I lagg'd, unable to sustain
5:920 The labour longer, and my flight maintain;
5:921 While he more strong, more patient of the toil,
5:922 And fir'd with hopes of beauty's speedy spoil,
5:923 Gain'd my lost ground, and by redoubled pace,
5:924 Now left between us but a narrow space.
5:925 Unweary'd I 'till now o'er hills, and plains,
5:926 O'er rocks, and rivers ran, and felt no pains:
5:927 The sun behind me, and the God I kept,
5:928 But, when I fastest shou'd have run, I stept.
5:929 Before my feet his shadow now appear'd;
5:930 As what I saw, or rather what I fear'd.
5:931 Yet there I could not be deceiv'd by fear,
5:932 Who felt his breath pant on my braided hair,
5:933 And heard his sounding tread, and knew him to be near.
5:934 Tir'd, and despairing, O celestial maid,
5:935 I'm caught, I cry'd, without thy heav'nly aid.
5:936 Help me, Diana, help a nymph forlorn,
5:937 Devoted to the woods, who long has worn
5:938 Thy livery, and long thy quiver born.
5:939 The Goddess heard; my pious pray'r prevail'd;
5:940 In muffling clouds my virgin head was veil'd,
5:941 The am'rous God, deluded of his hopes,
5:942 Searches the gloom, and thro' the darkness gropes;
5:943 Twice, where Diana did her servant hide
5:944 He came, and twice, O Arethusa! cry'd.
5:945 How shaken was my soul, how sunk my heart!
5:946 The terror seiz'd on ev'ry trembling part.
5:947 Thus when the wolf about the mountain prowls
5:948 For prey, the lambkin hears his horrid howls:
5:949 The tim'rous hare, the pack approaching nigh,
5:950 Thus hearkens to the hounds, and trembles at the cry;
5:951 Nor dares she stir, for fear her scented breath
5:952 Direct the dogs, and guide the threaten'd death.
5:953 Alpheus in the cloud no traces found
5:954 To mark my way, yet stays to guard the ground,
5:955 The God so near, a chilly sweat possest
5:956 My fainting limbs, at ev'ry pore exprest;
5:957 My strength distill'd in drops, my hair in dew,
5:958 My form was chang'd, and all my substance new.
5:959 Each motion was a stream, and my whole frame
5:960 Turn'd to a fount, which still preserves my name.
5:961 Resolv'd I shou'd not his embrace escape,
5:962 Again the God resumes his fluid shape;
5:963 To mix his streams with mine he fondly tries,
5:964 But still Diana his attempt denies.
5:965 She cleaves the ground; thro' caverns dark I run
5:966 A diff'rent current, while he keeps his own.
5:967 To dear Ortygia she conducts my way,
5:968 And here I first review the welcome day.
5:969 Here Arethusa stopt; then Ceres takes
5:970 Her golden carr, and yokes her fiery snakes;
5:971 With a just rein, along mid-heaven she flies
5:972 O'er Earth, and seas, and cuts the yielding skies.
5:973 She halts at Athens, dropping like a star,
5:974 And to Triptolemus resigns her carr.
5:975 Parent of seed, she gave him fruitful grain,
5:976 And bad him teach to till and plough the plain;
5:977 The seed to sow, as well in fallow fields,
5:978 As where the soil manur'd a richer harvest yields.
The Transformation of Lyncus
5:979 The youth o'er Europe and o'er Asia drives,
5:980 'Till at the court of Lyncus he arrives.
5:981 The tyrant Scythia's barb'rous empire sway'd;
5:982 And, when he saw Triptolemus, he said,
5:983 How cam'st thou, stranger, to our court, and why?
5:984 Thy country, and thy name? The youth did thus reply:
5:985 Triptolemus my name; my country's known
5:986 O'er all the world, Minerva's fav'rite town,
5:987 Athens, the first of cities in renown.
5:988 By land I neither walk'd, nor sail'd by sea,
5:989 But hither thro' the Aether made my way.
5:990 By me, the Goddess who the fields befriends,
5:991 These gifts, the greatest of all blessings, sends.
5:992 The grain she gives if in your soil you sow,
5:993 Thence wholsom food in golden crops shall grow.
5:994 Soon as the secret to the king was known,
5:995 He grudg'd the glory of the service done,
5:996 And wickedly resolv'd to make it all his own.
5:997 To hide his purpose, he invites his guest,
5:998 The friend of Ceres, to a royal feast,
5:999 And when sweet sleep his heavy eyes had seiz'd,
5:1000 The tyrant with his steel attempts his breast.
5:1001 Him strait a lynx's shape the Goddess gives,
5:1002 And home the youth her sacred dragons drives.
The Pierides transform'd to Magpies
5:1003 The chosen Muse here ends her sacred lays;
5:1004 The nymphs unanimous decree the bays,
5:1005 And give the Heliconian Goddesses the praise.
5:1006 Then, far from vain that we shou'd thus prevail,
5:1007 But much provok'd to hear the vanquish'd rail,
5:1008 Calliope resumes: Too long we've born
5:1009 Your daring taunts, and your affronting scorn;
5:1010 Your challenge justly merited a curse,
5:1011 And this unmanner'd railing makes it worse.
5:1012 Since you refuse us calmly to enjoy
5:1013 Our patience, next our passions we'll employ;
5:1014 The dictates of a mind enrag'd pursue,
5:1015 And, what our just resentment bids us, do.
5:1016 The railers laugh, our threats and wrath despise,
5:1017 And clap their hands, and make a scolding noise:
5:1018 But in the fact they're seiz'd; beneath their nails
5:1019 Feathers they feel, and on their faces scales;
5:1020 Their horny beaks at once each other scare,
5:1021 Their arms are plum'd, and on their backs they bear
5:1022 Py'd wings, and flutter in the fleeting air.
5:1023 Chatt'ring, the scandal of the woods they fly,
5:1024 And there continue still their clam'rous cry:
5:1025 The same their eloquence, as maids, or birds,
5:1026 Now only noise, and nothing then but words.