Ovid [Trans., Sir Samuel Garth]. Metamorphoses
Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library
Table of Contents for this work | | All on-line databases | Etext Center Homepage |
BOOK THE SEVENTH
The Story of Medea and Jason
7:1 The Argonauts now stemm'd the foaming tide,
7:2 And to Arcadia's shore their course apply'd;
7:3 Where sightless Phineus spent his age in grief,
7:4 But Boreas' sons engage in his relief;
7:5 And those unwelcome guests, the odious race
7:6 Of Harpyes, from the monarch's table chase.
7:7 With Jason then they greater toils sustain,
7:8 And Phasis' slimy banks at last they gain,
7:9 Here boldly they demand the golden prize
7:10 Of Scythia's king, who sternly thus replies:
7:11 That mighty labours they must first o'ercome,
7:12 Or sail their Argo thence unfreighted home.
7:13 Meanwhile Medea, seiz'd with fierce desire,
7:14 By reason strives to quench the raging fire;
7:15 But strives in vain!-Some God (she said) withstands,
7:16 And reason's baffl'd council countermands.
7:17 What unseen Pow'r does this disorder move?
7:18 'Tis love,-at least 'tis like, what men call love.
7:19 Else wherefore shou'd the king's commands appear
7:20 To me too hard?-But so indeed they are.
7:21 Why shou'd I for a stranger fear, lest he
7:22 Shou'd perish, whom I did but lately see?
7:23 His death, or safety, what are they to me?
7:24 Wretch, from thy virgin-breast this flame expel,
7:25 And soon-Oh cou'd I, all wou'd then be well!
7:26 But love, resistless love, my soul invades;
7:27 Discretion this, affection that perswades.
7:28 I see the right, and I approve it too,
7:29 Condemn the wrong-and yet the wrong pursue.
7:30 Why, royal maid, shou'dst thou desire to wed
7:31 A wanderer, and court a foreign bed?
7:32 Thy native land, tho' barb'rous, can present
7:33 A bridegroom worth a royal bride's content:
7:34 And whether this advent'rer lives, or dies,
7:35 In Fate, and Fortune's fickle pleasure lies.
7:36 Yet may be live! for to the Pow'rs above,
7:37 A virgin, led by no impulse of love,
7:38 So just a suit may, for the guiltless, move.
7:39 Whom wou'd not Jason's valour, youth and blood
7:40 Invite? or cou'd these merits be withstood,
7:41 At least his charming person must encline
7:42 The hardest heart-I'm sure 'tis so with mine!
7:43 Yet, if I help him not, the flaming breath
7:44 Of bulls, and earth-born foes, must be his death.
7:45 Or, should he through these dangers force his way,
7:46 At last he must be made the dragon's prey.
7:47 If no remorse for such distress I feel,
7:48 I am a tigress, and my breast is steel.
7:49 Why do I scruple then to see him slain,
7:50 And with the tragick scene my eyes prophane?
7:51 My magick's art employ, not to asswage
7:52 The Salvages, but to enflame their rage?
7:53 His earth-born foes to fiercer fury move,
7:54 And accessary to his murder prove?
7:55 The Gods forbid-But pray'rs are idle breath,
7:56 When action only can prevent his death.
7:57 Shall I betray my father, and the state,
7:58 To intercept a rambling hero's fate;
7:59 Who may sail off next hour, and sav'd from harms
7:60 By my assistance, bless another's arms?
7:61 Whilst I, not only of my hopes bereft,
7:62 But to unpity'd punishment am left.
7:63 If he is false, let the ingrateful bleed!
7:64 But no such symptom in his looks I read.
7:65 Nature wou'd ne'er have lavish'd so much grace
7:66 Upon his person, if his soul were base.
7:67 Besides, he first shall plight his faith, and swear
7:68 By all the Gods; what therefore can'st thou fear?
7:69 Medea haste, from danger set him free,
7:70 Jason shall thy eternal debtor be.
7:71 And thou, his queen, with sov'raign state enstall'd,
7:72 By Graecian dames the Kind Preserver call'd.
7:73 Hence idle dreams, by love-sick fancy bred!
7:74 Wilt thou, Medea, by vain wishes led,
7:75 To sister, brother, father bid adieu?
7:76 Forsake thy country's Gods, and country too?
7:77 My father's harsh, my brother but a child,
7:78 My sister rivals me, my country's wild;
7:79 And for its Gods, the greatest of 'em all
7:80 Inspires my breast, and I obey his call.
7:81 That great endearments I forsake, is true,
7:82 But greater far the hopes that I pursue:
7:83 The pride of having sav'd the youths of Greece
7:84 (Each life more precious than our golden fleece);
7:85 A nobler soil by me shall be possest,
7:86 I shall see towns with arts and manners blest;
7:87 And, what I prize above the world beside,
7:88 Enjoy my Jason-and when once his bride,
7:89 Be more than mortal, and to Gods ally'd.
7:90 They talk of hazards I must first sustain,
7:91 Of floating islands justling in the main;
7:92 Our tender barque expos'd to dreadful shocks
7:93 Of fierce Charybdis' gulf, and Scylla's rocks,
7:94 Where breaking waves in whirling eddies rowl,
7:95 And rav'nous dogs that in deep caverns howl:
7:96 Amidst these terrors, while I lye possest
7:97 Of him I love, and lean on Jason's breast,
7:98 In tempests unconcern'd I will appear,
7:99 Or, only for my husband's safety fear.
7:100 Didst thou say husband?-canst thou so deceive
7:101 Thy self, fond maid, and thy own cheat believe?
7:102 In vain thou striv'st to varnish o'er thy shame,
7:103 And grace thy guilt with wedlock's sacred name.
7:104 Pull off the coz'ning masque, and oh! in time
7:105 Discover and avoid the fatal crime.
7:106 She ceas'd-the Graces now, with kind surprize,
7:107 And virtue's lovely train, before her eyes
7:108 Present themselves, and vanquish'd Cupid flies.
7:109 She then retires to Hecate's shrine, that stood
7:110 Far in the covert of a shady wood:
7:111 She finds the fury of her flames asswag'd,
7:112 But, seeing Jason there, again they rag'd.
7:113 Blushes, and paleness did by turns invade
7:114 Her tender cheeks, and secret grief betray'd.
7:115 As fire, that sleeping under ashes lyes,
7:116 Fresh-blown, and rous'd, does up in blazes rise,
7:117 So flam'd the virgin's breast-
7:118 New kindled by her lover's sparkling eyes.
7:119 For chance, that day, had with uncommon grace
7:120 Adorn'd the lovely youth, and through his face
7:121 Display'd an air so pleasing as might charm
7:122 A Goddess, and a Vestal's bosom warm.
7:123 Her ravish'd eyes survey him o'er and o'er,
7:124 As some gay wonder never seen before;
7:125 Transported to the skies she seems to be,
7:126 And thinks she gazes on a deity.
7:127 But when he spoke, and prest her trembling hand,
7:128 And did with tender words her aid demand,
7:129 With vows, and oaths to make her soon his bride,
7:130 She wept a flood of tears, and thus reply'd:
7:131 I see my error, yet to ruin move,
7:132 Nor owe my fate to ignorance, but love:
7:133 Your life I'll guard, and only crave of you
7:134 To swear once more-and to your oath be true.
7:135 He swears by Hecate he would all fulfil,
7:136 And by her grandfather's prophetick skill,
7:137 By ev'ry thing that doubting love cou'd press,
7:138 His present danger, and desir'd success.
7:139 She credits him, and kindly does produce
7:140 Enchanted herbs, and teaches him their use:
7:141 Their mystick names, and virtues he admires,
7:142 And with his booty joyfully retires.
The Dragon's Teeth transform'd to Men
7:143 Impatient for the wonders of the day,
7:144 Aurora drives the loyt'ring stars away.
7:145 Now Mars's mount the pressing people fill,
7:146 The crowd below, the nobles crown the hill;
7:147 The king himself high-thron'd above the rest,
7:148 With iv'ry scepter, and in purple drest.
7:149 Forthwith the brass-hoof'd bulls are set at large,
7:150 Whose furious nostrils sulph'rous flame discharge:
7:151 The blasted herbage by their breath expires;
7:152 As forges rumble with excessive fires,
7:153 And furnaces with fiercer fury glow,
7:154 When water on the panting mass ye throw;
7:155 With such a noise, from their convulsive breast,
7:156 Thro' bellowing throats, the struggling vapour prest.
7:157 Yet Jason marches up without concern,
7:158 While on th' advent'rous youth the monsters turn
7:159 Their glaring eyes, and, eager to engage,
7:160 Brandish their steel-tipt horns in threatning rage:
7:161 With brazen hoofs they beat the ground, and choak
7:162 The ambient air with clouds of dust and smoak:
7:163 Each gazing Graecian for his champion shakes,
7:164 While bold advances he securely makes
7:165 Thro' sindging blasts; such wonders magick art
7:166 Can work, when love conspires, and plays his part.
7:167 The passive savages like statues stand,
7:168 While he their dew-laps stroaks with soothing hand;
7:169 To unknown yokes their brawny necks they yield,
7:170 And, like tame oxen, plow the wond'ring field.
7:171 The Colchians stare; the Graecians shout, and raise
7:172 Their champion's courage with inspiring praise.
7:173 Embolden'd now, on fresh attempts he goes,
7:174 With serpent's teeth the fertile furrows sows;
7:175 The glebe, fermenting with inchanted juice,
7:176 Makes the snake's teeth a human crop produce.
7:177 For as an infant, pris'ner to the womb,
7:178 Contented sleeps, 'till to perfection come,
7:179 Then does the cell's obscure confinement scorn,
7:180 He tosses, throbs, and presses to be born;
7:181 So from the lab'ring Earth no single birth,
7:182 But a whole troop of lusty youths rush forth;
7:183 And, what's more strange, with martial fury warm'd,
7:184 And for encounter all compleatly arm'd;
7:185 In rank and file, as they were sow'd, they stand,
7:186 Impatient for the signal of command.
7:187 No foe but the Aemonian youth appears;
7:188 At him they level their steel-pointed spears;
7:189 His frighted friends, who triumph'd, just before,
7:190 With peals of sighs his desp'rate case deplore:
7:191 And where such hardy warriors are afraid,
7:192 What must the tender, and enamour'd maid?
7:193 Her spirits sink, the blood her cheek forsook;
7:194 She fears, who for his safety undertook:
7:195 She knew the vertue of the spells she gave,
7:196 She knew the force, and knew her lover brave;
7:197 But what's a single champion to an host?
7:198 Yet scorning thus to see him tamely lost,
7:199 Her strong reserve of secret arts she brings,
7:200 And last, her never-failing song she sings.
7:201 Wonders ensue; among his gazing foes
7:202 The massy fragment of a rock he throws;
7:203 This charm in civil war engag'd 'em all;
7:204 By mutual wounds those Earth-born brothers fall.
7:205 The Greeks, transported with the strange success,
7:206 Leap from their seats the conqu'ror to caress;
7:207 Commend, and kiss, and clasp him in their arms:
7:208 So would the kind contriver of the charms;
7:209 But her, who felt the tenderest concern,
7:210 Honour condemns in secret flames to burn;
7:211 Committed to a double guard of fame,
7:212 Aw'd by a virgin's, and a princess' name.
7:213 But thoughts are free, and fancy unconfin'd,
7:214 She kisses, courts, and hugs him in her mind;
7:215 To fav'ring Pow'rs her silent thanks she gives,
7:216 By whose indulgence her lov'd hero lives.
7:217 One labour more remains, and, tho' the last,
7:218 In danger far surmounting all the past;
7:219 That enterprize by Fates in store was kept,
7:220 To make the dragon sleep that never slept,
7:221 Whose crest shoots dreadful lustre; from his jaws
7:222 A tripple tire of forked stings he draws,
7:223 With fangs, and wings of a prodigious size:
7:224 Such was the guardian of the golden prize.
7:225 Yet him, besprinkled with Lethaean dew,
7:226 The fair inchantress into slumber threw;
7:227 And then, to fix him, thrice she did repeat
7:228 The rhyme, that makes the raging winds retreat,
7:229 In stormy seas can halcyon seasons make,
7:230 Turn rapid streams into a standing lake;
7:231 While the soft guest his drowzy eye-lids seals,
7:232 Th' ungarded golden fleece the stranger steals;
7:233 Proud to possess the purchase of his toil,
7:234 Proud of his royal bride, the richer spoil;
7:235 To sea both prize, and patroness he bore,
7:236 And lands triumphant on his native shore.
Old Aeson restor'd to Youth
7:237 Aemonian matrons, who their absence mourn'd,
7:238 Rejoyce to see their prosp'rous sons return'd:
7:239 Rich curling fumes of incense feast the skies,
7:240 An hecatomb of voted victims dies,
7:241 With gilded horns, and garlands on their head,
7:242 And all the pomp of death, to th' altar led.
7:243 Congratulating bowls go briskly round,
7:244 Triumphant shouts in louder musick drown'd.
7:245 Amidst these revels, why that cloud of care
7:246 On Jason's brow? (to whom the largest share
7:247 Of mirth was due)-His father was not there.
7:248 Aeson was absent, once the young, and brave,
7:249 Now crush'd with years, and bending to the grave.
7:250 At last withdrawn, and by the crowd unseen,
7:251 Pressing her hand (with starting sighs between),
7:252 He supplicates his kind, and skilful queen.
7:253 O patroness! preserver of my life!
7:254 (Dear when my mistress, and much dearer wife)
7:255 Your favours to so vast a sum amount,
7:256 'Tis past the pow'r of numbers to recount;
7:257 Or cou'd they be to computation brought,
7:258 The history would a romance be thought:
7:259 And yet, unless you add one favour more,
7:260 Greater than all that you conferr'd before,
7:261 But not too hard for love and magick skill,
7:262 Your past are thrown away, and Jason's wretched still.
7:263 The morning of my life is just begun,
7:264 But my declining father's race is run;
7:265 From my large stock retrench the long arrears,
7:266 And add 'em to expiring Aeson's years.
7:267 Thus spake the gen'rous youth, and wept the rest.
7:268 Mov'd with the piety of his request,
7:269 To his ag'd sire such filial duty shown,
7:270 So diff'rent from her treatment of her own,
7:271 But still endeav'ring her remorse to hide,
7:272 She check'd her rising sighs, and thus reply'd.
7:273 How cou'd the thought of such inhuman wrong
7:274 Escape (said she) from pious Jason's tongue?
7:275 Does the whole world another Jason bear,
7:276 Whose life Medea can to yours prefer?
7:277 Or cou'd I with so dire a change dispence,
7:278 Hecate will never join in that offence:
7:279 Unjust is the request you make, and I
7:280 In kindness your petition shall deny;
7:281 Yet she that grants not what you do implore,
7:282 Shall yet essay to give her Jason more;
7:283 Find means t' encrease the stock of Aeson's years,
7:284 Without retrenchment of your life's arrears;
7:285 Provided that the triple Goddess join
7:286 A strong confed'rate in my bold design.
7:287 Thus was her enterprize resolv'd; but still
7:288 Three tedious nights are wanting to fulfil
7:289 The circling crescents of th' encreasing moon;
7:290 Then, in the height of her nocturnal noon,
7:291 Medea steals from court; her ankles bare,
7:292 Her garments closely girt, but loose her hair;
7:293 Thus sally'd, like a solitary sprite,
7:294 She traverses the terrors of the night.
7:295 Men, beasts, and birds in soft repose lay charm'd,
7:296 No boistrous wind the mountain-woods alarm'd;
7:297 Nor did those walks of love, the myrtle-trees,
7:298 Of am'rous Zephir hear the whisp'ring breeze;
7:299 All elements chain'd in unactive rest,
7:300 No sense but what the twinkling stars exprest;
7:301 To them (that only wak'd) she rears her arm,
7:302 And thus commences her mysterious charms.
7:303 She turn'd her thrice about, as oft she threw
7:304 On her pale tresses the nocturnal dew;
7:305 Then yelling thrice a most enormous sound,
7:306 Her bare knee bended on the flinty ground.
7:307 O night (said she) thou confident and guide
7:308 Of secrets, such as darkness ought to hide;
7:309 Ye stars and moon, that, when the sun retires,
7:310 Support his empire with succeeding fires;
7:311 And thou, great Hecate, friend to my design;
7:312 Songs, mutt'ring spells, your magick forces join;
7:313 And thou, O Earth, the magazine that yields
7:314 The midnight sorcerer drugs; skies, mountains, fields;
7:315 Ye wat'ry Pow'rs of fountain, stream, and lake;
7:316 Ye sylvan Gods, and Gods of night, awake,
7:317 And gen'rously your parts in my adventure take.
7:318 Oft by your aid swift currents I have led
7:319 Thro' wand'ring banks, back to their fountain head;
7:320 Transformed the prospect of the briny deep,
7:321 Made sleeping billows rave, and raving billows sleep;
7:322 Made clouds, or sunshine; tempests rise, or fall;
7:323 And stubborn lawless winds obey my call:
7:324 With mutter'd words disarm'd the viper's jaw;
7:325 Up by the roots vast oaks, and rocks cou'd draw,
7:326 Make forests dance, and trembling mountains come,
7:327 Like malefactors, to receive their doom;
7:328 Earth groan, and frighted ghosts forsake their tomb.
7:329 Thee, Cynthia, my resistless rhymes drew down,
7:330 When tinkling cymbals strove my voice to drown;
7:331 Nor stronger Titan could their force sustain,
7:332 In full career compell'd to stop his wain:
7:333 Nor could Aurora's virgin blush avail,
7:334 With pois'nous herbs I turn'd her roses pale;
7:335 The fury of the fiery bulls I broke,
7:336 Their stubborn necks submitting to my yoke;
7:337 And when the sons of Earth with fury burn'd,
7:338 Their hostile rage upon themselves I turn'd;
7:339 The brothers made with mutual wounds to bleed,
7:340 And by their fatal strife my lover freed;
7:341 And, while the dragon slept, to distant Greece,
7:342 Thro' cheated guards, convey'd the golden fleece.
7:343 But now to bolder action I proceed,
7:344 Of such prevailing juices now have need,
7:345 That wither'd years back to their bloom can bring,
7:346 And in dead winter raise a second spring.
7:347 And you'll perform't-
7:348 You will; for lo! the stars, with sparkling fires,
7:349 Presage as bright success to my desires:
7:350 And now another happy omen see!
7:351 A chariot drawn by dragons waits for me.
7:352 With these last words he leaps into the wain,
7:353 Stroaks the snakes' necks, and shakes the golden rein;
7:354 That signal giv'n, they mount her to the skies,
7:355 And now beneath her fruitful Tempe lies,
7:356 Whose stories she ransacks, then to Crete she flies;
7:357 There Ossa, Pelion, Othrys, Pindus, all
7:358 To the fair ravisher, a booty fall;
7:359 The tribute of their verdure she collects,
7:360 Nor proud Olympus' height his plants protects.
7:361 Some by the roots she plucks; the tender tops
7:362 Of others with her culling sickle crops.
7:363 Nor could the plunder of the hills suffice,
7:364 Down to the humble vales, and meads she flies;
7:365 Apidanus, Amphrysus, the next rape
7:366 Sustain, nor could Enipeus' bank escape;
7:367 Thro' Beebe's marsh, and thro' the border rang'd
7:368 Whose pasture Glaucus to a Triton chang'd.
7:369 Now the ninth day, and ninth successive night,
7:370 Had wonder'd at the restless rover's flight;
7:371 Mean-while her dragons, fed with no repast,
7:372 But her exhaling simples od'rous blast,
7:373 Their tarnish'd scales, and wrinkled skins had cast.
7:374 At last return'd before her palace gate,
7:375 Quitting her chariot, on the ground she sate;
7:376 The sky her only canopy of state.
7:377 All conversation with her sex she fled,
7:378 Shun'd the caresses of the nuptial bed:
7:379 Two altars next of grassy turf she rears,
7:380 This Hecate's name, that Youth's inscription bears;
7:381 With forest-boughs, and vervain these she crown'd;
7:382 Then delves a double trench in lower ground,
7:383 And sticks a black-fleec'd ram, that ready stood,
7:384 And drench'd the ditches with devoted blood:
7:385 New wine she pours, and milk from th' udder warm,
7:386 With mystick murmurs to compleat the charm,
7:387 And subterranean deities alarm.
7:388 To the stern king of ghosts she next apply'd,
7:389 And gentle Proserpine, his ravish'd bride,
7:390 That for old Aeson with the laws of Fate
7:391 They would dispense, and lengthen his short date;
7:392 Thus with repeated pray'rs she long assails
7:393 Th' infernal tyrant and at last prevails;
7:394 Then calls to have decrepit Aeson brought,
7:395 And stupifies him with a sleeping draught;
7:396 On Earth his body, like a corpse, extends,
7:397 Then charges Jason and his waiting friends
7:398 To quit the place, that no unhallow'd eye
7:399 Into her art's forbidden secrets pry.
7:400 This done, th' inchantress, with her locks unbound,
7:401 About her altars trips a frantick round;
7:402 Piece-meal the consecrated wood she splits,
7:403 And dips the splinters in the bloody pits,
7:404 Then hurles 'em on the piles; the sleeping sire
7:405 She lustrates thrice, with sulphur, water, fire.
7:406 In a large cauldron now the med'cine boils,
7:407 Compounded of her late-collected spoils,
7:408 Blending into the mesh the various pow'rs
7:409 Of wonder-working juices, roots, and flow'rs;
7:410 With gems i' th' eastern ocean's cell refin'd,
7:411 And such as ebbing tides had left behind;
7:412 To them the midnight's pearly dew she flings,
7:413 A scretch-owl's carcase, and ill boding wings;
7:414 Nor could the wizard wolf's warm entrails scape
7:415 (That wolf who counterfeits a human shape).
7:416 Then, from the bottom of her conj'ring bag,
7:417 Snakes' skins, and liver of a long-liv'd stag;
7:418 Last a crow's head to such an age arriv'd,
7:419 That he had now nine centuries surviv'd;
7:420 These, and with these a thousand more that grew
7:421 In sundry soils, into her pot she threw;
7:422 Then with a wither'd olive-bough she rakes
7:423 The bubling broth; the bough fresh verdure takes;
7:424 Green leaves at first the perish'd plant surround,
7:425 Which the next minute with ripe fruit were crown'd.
7:426 The foaming juices now the brink o'er-swell;
7:427 The barren heath, where-e'er the liquor fell,
7:428 Sprang out with vernal grass, and all the pride
7:429 Of blooming May-When this Medea spy'd,
7:430 She cuts her patient's throat; th' exhausted blood
7:431 Recruiting with her new enchanted flood;
7:432 While at his mouth, and thro' his op'ning wound,
7:433 A double inlet her infusion found;
7:434 His feeble frame resumes a youthful air,
7:435 A glossy brown his hoary beard and hair.
7:436 The meager paleness from his aspect fled,
7:437 And in its room sprang up a florid red;
7:438 Thro' all his limbs a youthful vigour flies,
7:439 His empty'd art'ries swell with fresh supplies:
7:440 Gazing spectators scarce believe their eyes.
7:441 But Aeson is the most surpriz'd to find
7:442 A happy change in body and in mind;
7:443 In sense and constitution the same man,
7:444 As when his fortieth active year began.
7:445 Bacchus, who from the clouds this wonder view'd,
7:446 Medea's method instantly pursu'd,
7:447 And his indulgent nurse's youth renew'd.
The Death of Pelias
7:448 Thus far obliging love employ'd her art,
7:449 But now revenge must act a tragick part;
7:450 Medea feigns a mortal quarrel bred
7:451 Betwixt her, and the partner of her bed;
7:452 On this pretence to Pelias' court she flies,
7:453 Who languishing with age and sickness lies:
7:454 His guiltless daughters, with inveigling wiles,
7:455 And well dissembled friendship, she beguiles:
7:456 The strange achievements of her art she tells,
7:457 With Aeson's cure, and long on that she dwells,
7:458 'Till them to firm perswasion she has won,
7:459 The same for their old father may be done:
7:460 For him they court her to employ her skill,
7:461 And put upon the cure what price she will.
7:462 At first she's mute, and with a grave pretence
7:463 Of difficulty, holds 'em in suspense;
7:464 Then promises, and bids 'em, from the fold
7:465 Chuse out a ram, the most infirm and old;
7:466 That so by fact their doubts may be remov'd,
7:467 And first on him the operation prov'd.
7:468 A wreath-horn'd ram is brought, so far o'er-grown
7:469 With years, his age was to that age unknown
7:470 Of sense too dull the piercing point to feel,
7:471 And scarce sufficient blood to stain the steel.
7:472 His carcass she into a cauldron threw,
7:473 With drugs whose vital qualities she knew;
7:474 His limbs grow less, he casts his horns, and years,
7:475 And tender bleatings strike their wond'ring ears.
7:476 Then instantly leaps forth a frisking lamb,
7:477 That seeks (too young to graze) a suckling dam.
7:478 The sisters, thus confirm'd with the success,
7:479 Her promise with renew'd entreaty press;
7:480 To countenance the cheat, three nights and days
7:481 Before experiment th' inchantress stays;
7:482 Then into limpid water, from the springs,
7:483 Weeds, and ingredients of no force she flings;
7:484 With antique ceremonies for pretence
7:485 And rambling rhymes without a word of sense.
7:486 Mean-while the king with all his guards lay bound
7:487 In magick sleep, scarce that of death so sound;
7:488 The daughters now are by the sorc'ress led
7:489 Into his chamber, and surround his bed.
7:490 Your father's health's concern'd, and can ye stay?
7:491 Unnat'ral nymphs, why this unkind delay?
7:492 Unsheath your swords, dismiss his lifeless blood,
7:493 And I'll recruit it with a vital flood:
7:494 Your father's life and health is in your hand,
7:495 And can ye thus like idle gazers stand?
7:496 Unless you are of common sense bereft,
7:497 If yet one spark of piety is left,
7:498 Dispatch a father's cure, and disengage
7:499 The monarch from his toilsome load of age:
7:500 Come-drench your weapons in his putrid gore;
7:501 'Tis charity to wound, when wounding will restore.
7:502 Thus urg'd, the poor deluded maids proceed,
7:503 Betray'd by zeal, to an inhumane deed,
7:504 And, in compassion, make a father bleed.
7:505 Yes, she who had the kindest, tend'rest heart,
7:506 Is foremost to perform the bloody part.
7:507 Yet, tho' to act the butchery betray'd,
7:508 They could not bear to see the wounds they made;
7:509 With looks averted, backward they advance,
7:510 Then strike, and stab, and leave the blows to chance.
7:511 Waking in consternation, he essays
7:512 (Weltring in blood) his feeble arms to raise:
7:513 Environ'd with so many swords-From whence
7:514 This barb'rous usage? what is my offence?
7:515 What fatal fury, what infernal charm,
7:516 'Gainst a kind father does his daughters arm?
7:517 Hearing his voice, as thunder-struck they stopt,
7:518 Their resolution, and their weapons dropt:
7:519 Medea then the mortal blow bestows,
7:520 And that perform'd, the tragick scene to close,
7:521 His corpse into the boiling cauldron throws.
7:522 Then, dreading the revenge that must ensue,
7:523 High mounted on her dragon-coach she flew;
7:524 And in her stately progress thro' the skies,
7:525 Beneath her shady Pelion first she spies,
7:526 With Othrys, that above the clouds did rise;
7:527 With skilful Chiron's cave, and neighb'ring ground,
7:528 For old Cerambus' strange escape renown'd,
7:529 By nymphs deliver'd, when the world was drown'd;
7:530 Who him with unexpected wings supply'd,
7:531 When delug'd hills a safe retreat deny'd.
7:532 Aeolian Pitane on her left hand
7:533 She saw, and there the statu'd dragon stand;
7:534 With Ida's grove, where Bacchus, to disguise
7:535 His son's bold theft, and to secure the prize,
7:536 Made the stoln steer a stag to represent;
7:537 Cocytus' father's sandy monument;
7:538 And fields that held the murder'd sire's remains,
7:539 Where howling Moera frights the startled plains.
7:540 Euryphilus' high town, with tow'rs defac'd
7:541 By Hercules, and matrons more disgrac'd
7:542 With sprouting horns, in signal punishment,
7:543 From Juno, or resenting Venus sent.
7:544 Then Rhodes, which Phoebus did so dearly prize,
7:545 And Jove no less severely did chastize;
7:546 For he the wizard native's pois'ning sight,
7:547 That us'd the farmer's hopeful crops to blight,
7:548 In rage o'erwhelm'd with everlasting night.
7:549 Cartheia's ancient walls come next in view,
7:550 Where once the sire almost a statue grew
7:551 With wonder, which a strange event did move,
7:552 His daughter turn'd into a turtle-dove.
7:553 Then Hyrie's lake, and Tempe's field o'er-ran,
7:554 Fam'd for the boy who there became a swan;
7:555 For there enamour'd Phyllius, like a slave,
7:556 Perform'd what tasks his paramour would crave.
7:557 For presents he had mountain-vultures caught,
7:558 And from the desart a tame lion brought;
7:559 Then a wild bull commanded to subdue,
7:560 The conquer'd savage by the horns he drew;
7:561 But, mock'd so oft, the treatment he disdains,
7:562 And from the craving boy this prize detains.
7:563 Then thus in choler the resenting lad:
7:564 Won't you deliver him?-You'll wish you had:
7:565 Nor sooner said, but, in a peevish mood,
7:566 Leapt from the precipice on which he stood:
7:567 The standers-by were struck with fresh surprize,
7:568 Instead of falling, to behold him rise
7:569 A snowy swan, and soaring to the skies.
7:570 But dearly the rash prank his mother cost,
7:571 Who ignorantly gave her son for lost;
7:572 For his misfortune wept, 'till she became
7:573 A lake, and still renown'd with Hyrie's name.
7:574 Thence to Latona's isle, where once were seen,
7:575 Transform'd to birds, a monarch, and his queen.
7:576 Far off she saw how old Cephisus mourn'd
7:577 His son, into a seele by Phoebus turn'd;
7:578 And where, astonish'd at a stranger sight,
7:579 Eumelus gaz'd on his wing'd daughter's flight.
7:580 Aetolian Pleuron she did next survey,
7:581 Where sons a mother's murder did essay,
7:582 But sudden plumes the matron bore away.
7:583 On her right hand, Cyllene, a fair soil,
7:584 Fair, 'till Menephron there the beauteous hill
7:585 Attempted with foul incest to defile.
7:586 Her harness'd dragons now direct she drives
7:587 For Corinth, and at Corinth she arrives;
7:588 Where, if what old tradition tells, be true,
7:589 In former ages men from mushrooms grew.
7:590 But here Medea finds her bed supply'd,
7:591 During her absence, by another bride;
7:592 And hopeless to recover her lost game,
7:593 She sets both bride and palace in a flame.
7:594 Nor could a rival's death her wrath asswage,
7:595 Nor stopt at Creon's family her rage,
7:596 She murders her own infants, in despight
7:597 To faithless Jason, and in Jason's sight;
7:598 Yet e'er his sword could reach her, up she springs,
7:599 Securely mounted on her dragon's wings.
The Story of Aegeus
7:600 From hence to Athens she directs her flight,
7:601 Where Phineus, so renown'd for doing right;
7:602 Where Periphas, and Polyphemon's neece,
7:603 Soaring with sudden plumes amaz'd the towns of Greece.
7:604 Here Aegeus so engaging she addrest,
7:605 That first he treats her like a royal guest;
7:606 Then takes the sorc'ress for his wedded wife;
7:607 The only blemish of his prudent life.
7:608 Mean-while his son, from actions of renown,
7:609 Arrives at court, but to his sire unknown.
7:610 Medea, to dispatch a dang'rous heir
7:611 (She knew him), did a pois'nous draught prepare;
7:612 Drawn from a drug, was long reserv'd in store
7:613 For desp'rate uses, from the Scythian shore;
7:614 That from the Echydnaean monster's jaws
7:615 Deriv'd its origin, and this the cause.
7:616 Thro' a dark cave a craggy passage lies,
7:617 To ours, ascending from the nether skies;
7:618 Thro' which, by strength of hand, Alcides drew
7:619 Chain'd Cerberus, who lagg'd, and restive grew,
7:620 With his blear'd eyes our brighter day to view.
7:621 Thrice he repeated his enormous yell,
7:622 With which he scares the ghosts, and startles Hell;
7:623 At last outragious (tho' compell'd to yield)
7:624 He sheds his foam in fury on the field,-
7:625 Which, with its own, and rankness of the ground,
7:626 Produc'd a weed, by sorcerers renown'd,
7:627 The strongest constitution to confound;
7:628 Call'd Aconite, because it can unlock
7:629 All bars, and force its passage thro' a rock.
7:630 The pious father, by her wheedles won,
7:631 Presents this deadly potion to his son;
7:632 Who, with the same assurance takes the cup,
7:633 And to the monarch's health had drank it up,
7:634 But in the very instant he apply'd
7:635 The goblet to his lips, old Aegeus spy'd
7:636 The iv'ry hilted sword that grac'd his side.
7:637 That certain signal of his son he knew,
7:638 And snatcht the bowl away; the sword he drew,
7:639 Resolv'd, for such a son's endanger'd life,
7:640 To sacrifice the most perfidious wife.
7:641 Revenge is swift, but her more active charms
7:642 A whirlwind rais'd, that snatch'd her from his arms.
7:643 While conjur'd clouds their baffled sense surprize,
7:644 She vanishes from their deluded eyes,
7:645 And thro' the hurricane triumphant flies.
7:646 The gen'rous king, altho' o'er-joy'd to find
7:647 His son was safe, yet bearing still in mind
7:648 The mischief by his treach'rous queen design'd;
7:649 The horrour of the deed, and then how near
7:650 The danger drew, he stands congeal'd with fear.
7:651 But soon that fear into devotion turns,
7:652 With grateful incense ev'ry altar burns;
7:653 Proud victims, and unconscious of their fate,
7:654 Stalk to the temple, there to die in state.
7:655 In Athens never had a day been found
7:656 For mirth, like that grand festival, renown'd.
7:657 Promiscuously the peers, and people dine,
7:658 Promiscuously their thankful voices join,
7:659 In songs of wit, sublim'd by spritely wine.
7:660 To list'ning spheres their joint applause they raise,
7:661 And thus resound their matchless Theseus' praise.
7:662 Great Theseus! Thee the Marathonian plain
7:663 Admires, and wears with pride the noble stain
7:664 Of the dire monster's blood, by valiant Theseus slain.
7:665 That now Cromyon's swains in safety sow,
7:666 And reap their fertile field, to thee they owe.
7:667 By thee th' infested Epidaurian coast
7:668 Was clear'd, and now can a free commerce boast.
7:669 The traveller his journey can pursue,
7:670 With pleasure the late dreadful valley view,
7:671 And cry, Here Theseus the grand robber slew.
7:672 Cephysus' cries to his rescu'd shore,
7:673 The merciless Procrustes is no more.
7:674 In peace, Eleusis, Ceres' rites renew,
7:675 Since Theseus' sword the fierce Cercyon slew.
7:676 By him the tort'rer Sinis was destroy'd,
7:677 Of strength (but strength to barb'rous use employ'd)
7:678 That tops of tallest pines to Earth could bend,
7:679 And thus in pieces wretched captives rend.
7:680 Inhuman Scyron now has breath'd his last,
7:681 And now Alcatho's roads securely past;
7:682 By Theseus slain, and thrown into the deep:
7:683 But Earth nor Sea his scatter'd bones wou'd keep,
7:684 Which, after floating long, a rock became,
7:685 Still infamous with Scyron's hated name.
7:686 When Fame to count thy acts and years proceeds,
7:687 Thy years appear but cyphers to thy deeds.
7:688 For thee, brave youth, as for our common-wealth,
7:689 We pray; and drink, in yours, the publick health.
7:690 Your praise the senate, and plebeians sing,
7:691 With your lov'd name the court, and cottage ring.
7:692 You make our shepherds and our sailors glad,
7:693 And not a house in this vast city's sad.
7:694 But mortal bliss will never come sincere,
7:695 Pleasure may lead, but grief brings up the rear;
7:696 While for his sons' arrival, rev'ling joy
7:697 Aegeus, and all his subjects does employ;
7:698 While they for only costly feasts prepare,
7:699 His neighb'ring monarch, Minos, threatens war:
7:700 Weak in land-forces, nor by sea more strong,
7:701 But pow'rful in a deep resented wrong
7:702 For a son's murder, arm'd with pious rage;
7:703 Yet prudently before he would engage,
7:704 To raise auxiliaries resolv'd to sail,
7:705 And with the pow'rful princes to prevail.
7:706 First Anaphe, then proud Astypalaea gains,
7:707 By presents that, and this by threats obtains:
7:708 Low Mycone, Cymolus, chalky soil,
7:709 Tall Cythnos, Scyros, flat Seriphos' isle;
7:710 Paros, with marble cliffs afar display'd;
7:711 Impregnable Sithonia; yet betray'd
7:712 To a weak foe by a gold-admiring maid,
7:713 Who, chang'd into a daw of sable hue,
7:714 Still hoards up gold, and hides it from the view.
7:715 But as these islands chearfully combine,
7:716 Others refuse t' embark in his design.
7:717 Now leftward with an easy sail he bore,
7:718 And prosp'rous passage to Oenopia's shore;
7:719 Oenopia once, but now Aegina call'd,
7:720 And with his royal mother's name install'd
7:721 By Aeacus, under whose reign did spring
7:722 The Myrmidons, and now their reigning king.
7:723 Down to the port, amidst the rabble, run
7:724 The princes of the blood; with Telamon,
7:725 Peleus the next, and Phocus the third son:
7:726 Then Aeacus, altho' opprest with years,
7:727 To ask the cause of their approach appears.
7:728 That question does the Gnossian's grief renew,
7:729 And sighs from his afflicted bosom drew;
7:730 Yet after a short solemn respite made,
7:731 The ruler of the hundred cities said:
7:732 Assist our arms, rais'd for a murder'd son,
7:733 In this religious war no risque you'll run:
7:734 Revenge the dead-for who refuse to give
7:735 Rest to their urns, unworthy are to live.
7:736 What you request, thus Aeacus replies,
7:737 Not I, but truth and common faith denies;
7:738 Athens and we have long been sworn allies:
7:739 Our leagues are fix'd, confed'rate are our pow'rs,
7:740 And who declare themselves their foes, are ours.
7:741 Minos rejoins, Your league shall dearly cost
7:742 (Yet, mindful how much safer 'twas to boast,
7:743 Than there to waste his forces, and his fame,
7:744 Before in field with his grand foe he came),
7:745 Parts without blows-nor long had left the shore,
7:746 E're into port another navy bore,
7:747 With Cephalus, and all his jolly crew;
7:748 Th' Aeacides their old acquaintance knew:
7:749 The princes bid him welcome, and in state
7:750 Conduct the heroe to their palace gate;
7:751 Who entr'ring, seem'd the charming mein to wear,
7:752 As when in youth he paid his visit there.
7:753 In his right hand an olive-branch he holds,
7:754 And, salutation past, the chief unfolds
7:755 His embassy from the Athenian state,
7:756 Their mutual friendship, leagues of ancient date;
7:757 Their common danger, ev'ry thing cou'd wake
7:758 Concern, and his address successful make:
7:759 Strength'ning his plea with all the charms of sense,
7:760 And those, with all the charms of eloquence.
7:761 Then thus the king: Like suitors do you stand
7:762 For that assistance which you may command?
7:763 Athenians, all our listed forces use
7:764 (They're such as no bold service will refuse);
7:765 And when y' ave drawn them off, the Gods be prais'd,
7:766 Fresh legions can within our isle be rais'd:
7:767 So stock'd with people, that we can prepare
7:768 Both for domestick, and for distant war,
7:769 Ours, or our friends' insulters to chastize.
7:770 Long may ye flourish thus, the prince replies.
7:771 Strange transport seiz'd me as I pass'd along,
7:772 To meet so many troops, and all so young,
7:773 As if your army did of twins consist;
7:774 Yet amongst them my late acquaintance miss'd:
7:775 Ev'n all that to your palace did resort,
7:776 When first you entertain'd me at your court;
7:777 And cannot guess the cause from whence cou'd spring
7:778 So vast a change-Then thus the sighing king:
7:779 Illustrious guest, to my strange tale attend,
7:780 Of sad beginning, but a joyful end:
7:781 The whole to a vast history wou'd swell,
7:782 I shall but half, and that confus'dly, tell.
7:783 That race whom so deserv'dly you admir'd,
7:784 Are all into their silent tombs retir'd:
7:785 They fell; and falling, how they shook my state,
7:786 Thought may conceive, but words can ne'er relate.
The Story of Ants chang'd to Men
7:787 A dreadful plague from angry Juno came,
7:788 To scourge the land, that bore her rival's name;
7:789 Before her fatal anger was reveal'd,
7:790 And teeming malice lay as yet conceal'd,
7:791 All remedies we try, all med'cines use,
7:792 Which Nature cou'd supply, or art produce;
7:793 Th' unconquer'd foe derides the vain design,
7:794 And art, and Nature foil'd, declare the cause divine.
7:795 At first we only felt th' oppressive weight
7:796 Of gloomy clouds, then teeming with our fate,
7:797 And lab'ring to discarge unactive heat:
7:798 But ere four moons alternate changes knew,
7:799 With deadly blasts the fatal South-wind blew,
7:800 Infected all the air, and poison'd as it flew.
7:801 Our fountains too a dire infection yield,
7:802 For crowds of vipers creep along the field,
7:803 And with polluted gore, and baneful steams,
7:804 Taint all the lakes, and venom all the streams.
7:805 The young disease with milder force began,
7:806 And rag'd on birds, and beasts, excusing Man.
7:807 The lab'ring oxen fall before the plow,
7:808 Th' unhappy plow-men stare, and wonder how:
7:809 The tabid sheep, with sickly bleatings, pines;
7:810 Its wool decreasing, as its strength declines:
7:811 The warlike steed, by inward foes compell'd,
7:812 Neglects his honours, and deserts the field;
7:813 Unnerv'd, and languid, seeks a base retreat,
7:814 And at the manger groans, but wish'd a nobler fate:
7:815 The stags forget their speed, the boars their rage,
7:816 Nor can the bears the stronger herds engage:
7:817 A gen'ral faintness does invade 'em all,
7:818 And in the woods, and fields, promiscuously they fall.
7:819 The air receives the stench, and (strange to say)
7:820 The rav'nous birds and beasts avoid the prey:
7:821 Th' offensive bodies rot upon the ground,
7:822 And spread the dire contagion all around.
7:823 But now the plague, grown to a larger size,
7:824 Riots on Man, and scorns a meaner prize.
7:825 Intestine heats begin the civil war,
7:826 And flushings first the latent flame declare,
7:827 And breath inspir'd, which seem'd like fiery air.
7:828 Their black dry tongues are swell'd, and scarce can move,
7:829 And short thick sighs from panting lung are drove.
7:830 They gape for air, with flatt'ring hopes t' abate
7:831 Their raging flames, but that augments their heat.
7:832 No bed, no cov'ring can the wretches bear,
7:833 But on the ground, expos'd to open air,
7:834 They lye, and hope to find a pleasing coolness there.
7:835 The suff'ring Earth with that oppression curst,
7:836 Returns the heat which they imparted first.
7:837 In vain physicians would bestow their aid,
7:838 Vain all their art, and useless all their trade;
7:839 And they, ev'n they, who fleeting life recall,
7:840 Feel the same Pow'rs, and undistinguish'd fall.
7:841 If any proves so daring to attend
7:842 His sick companion, or his darling friend,
7:843 Th' officious wretch sucks in contagious breath,
7:844 And with his friend does sympathize in death.
7:845 And now the care and hopes of life are past,
7:846 They please their fancies, and indulge their taste;
7:847 At brooks and streams, regardless of their shame,
7:848 Each sex, promiscuous, strives to quench their flame;
7:849 Nor do they strive in vain to quench it there,
7:850 For thirst, and life at once extinguish'd are.
7:851 Thus in the brooks the dying bodies sink,
7:852 But heedless still the rash survivors drink.
7:853 So much uneasy down the wretches hate,
7:854 They fly their beds, to struggle with their fate;
7:855 But if decaying strength forbids to rise,
7:856 The victim crawls and rouls, 'till on the ground he lies.
7:857 Each shuns his bed, as each wou'd shun his tomb,
7:858 And thinks th' infection only lodg'd at home.
7:859 Here one, with fainting steps, does slowly creep
7:860 O'er heaps of dead, and strait augments the heap;
7:861 Another, while his strength and tongue prevail'd,
7:862 Bewails his friend, and falls himself bewail'd:
7:863 This with imploring looks surveys the skies,
7:864 The last dear office of his closing eyes,
7:865 But finds the Heav'ns implacable, and dies.
7:866 What now, ah! what employ'd my troubled mind?
7:867 But only hopes my subjects' fate to find.
7:868 What place soe'er my weeping eyes survey,
7:869 There in lamented heaps the vulgar lay;
7:870 As acorns scatter when the winds prevail,
7:871 Or mellow fruit from shaken branches fall.
7:872 You see that dome which rears its front so high:
7:873 'Tis sacred to the monarch of the sky:
7:874 How many there, with unregarded tears,
7:875 And fruitless vows, sent up successless pray'rs?
7:876 There fathers for expiring sons implor'd,
7:877 And there the wife bewail'd her gasping lord;
7:878 With pious off'rings they'd appease the skies,
7:879 But they, ere yet th' attoning vapours rise,
7:880 Before the altars fall, themselves a sacrifice:
7:881 They fall, while yet their hands the gums contain,
7:882 The gums surviving, but their off'rers slain.
7:883 The destin'd ox, with holy garlands crown'd,
7:884 Prevents the blow, and feels th' expected wound:
7:885 When I my self invok'd the Pow'rs divine,
7:886 To drive the fatal pest from me and mine;
7:887 When now the priest with hands uplifted stood,
7:888 Prepar'd to strike, and shed the sacred blood,
7:889 The Gods themselves the mortal stroke bestow,
7:890 The victim falls, but they impart the blow:
7:891 Scarce was the knife with the pale purple stain'd,
7:892 And no presages cou'd be then obtain'd,
7:893 From putrid entrails, where th' infection reign'd.
7:894 Death stalk'd around with such resistless sway,
7:895 The temples of the Gods his force obey,
7:896 And suppliants feel his stroke, while yet they pray.
7:897 Go now, said he, your deities implore
7:898 For fruitless aid, for I defie their pow'r.
7:899 Then with a curst malicious joy survey'd
7:900 The very altars, stain'd with trophies of the dead.
7:901 The rest grown mad, and frantick with despair,
7:902 Urge their own fate, and so prevent the fear.
7:903 Strange madness that, when Death pursu'd so fast,
7:904 T' anticipate the blow with impious haste.
7:905 No decent honours to their urns are paid,
7:906 Nor cou'd the graves receive the num'rous dead;
7:907 For, or they lay unbury'd on the ground,
7:908 Or unadorn'd a needy fun'ral found:
7:909 All rev'rence past, the fainting wretches fight
7:910 For fun'ral piles which were another's right.
7:911 Unmourn'd they fall: for, who surviv'd to mourn?
7:912 And sires, and mothers unlamented burn:
7:913 Parents, and sons sustain an equal fate,
7:914 And wand'ring ghosts their kindred shadows meet.
7:915 The dead a larger space of ground require,
7:916 Nor are the trees sufficient for the fire.
7:917 Despairing under grief's oppressive weight,
7:918 And sunk by these tempestuous blasts of Fate,
7:919 O Jove, said I, if common fame says true,
7:920 If e'er Aegina gave those joys to you,
7:921 If e'er you lay enclos'd in her embrace,
7:922 Fond of her charms, and eager to possess;
7:923 O father, if you do not yet disclaim
7:924 Paternal care, nor yet disown the name;
7:925 Grant my petitions, and with speed restore
7:926 My subjects num'rous as they were before,
7:927 Or make me partner of the fate they bore.
7:928 I spoke, and glorious lightning shone around,
7:929 And ratling thunder gave a prosp'rous sound;
7:930 So let it be, and may these omens prove
7:931 A pledge, said I, of your returning love.
7:932 By chance a rev'rend oak was near the place,
7:933 Sacred to Jove, and of Dodona's race,
7:934 Where frugal ants laid up their winter meat,
7:935 Whose little bodies bear a mighty weight:
7:936 We saw them march along, and hide their store,
7:937 And much admir'd their number, and their pow'r;
7:938 Admir'd at first, but after envy'd more.
7:939 Full of amazement, thus to Jove I pray'd,
7:940 O grant, since thus my subjects are decay'd,
7:941 As many subjects to supply the dead.
7:942 I pray'd, and strange convulsions mov'd the oak,
7:943 Which murmur'd, tho' by ambient winds unshook:
7:944 My trembling hands, and stiff-erected hair,
7:945 Exprest all tokens of uncommon fear;
7:946 Yet both the earth and sacred oak I kist,
7:947 And scarce cou'd hope, yet still I hop'd the best;
7:948 For wretches, whatsoe'er the Fates divine,
7:949 Expound all omens to their own design.
7:950 But now 'twas night, when ev'n distraction wears
7:951 A pleasing look, and dreams beguile our cares,
7:952 Lo! the same oak appears before my eyes,
7:953 Nor alter'd in his shape, nor former size;
7:954 As many ants the num'rous branches bear,
7:955 The same their labour, and their frugal care;
7:956 The branches too a like commotion sound,
7:957 And shook th' industrious creatures on the ground,
7:958 Who, by degrees (what's scarce to be believ'd)
7:959 A nobler form, and larger bulk receiv'd,
7:960 And on the earth walk'd an unusual pace,
7:961 With manly strides, and an erected face-
7:962 Their num'rous legs, and former colour lost,
7:963 The insects cou'd a human figure boast.
7:964 I wake, and waking find my cares again,
7:965 And to the unperforming Gods complain,
7:966 And call their promise, and pretences, vain.
7:967 Yet in my court I heard the murm'ring voice
7:968 Of strangers, and a mixt uncommon noise:
7:969 But I suspected all was still a dream,
7:970 'Till Telamon to my apartment came,
7:971 Op'ning the door with an impetuous haste,
7:972 O come, said he, and see your faith and hopes surpast:
7:973 I follow, and, confus'd with wonder, view
7:974 Those shapes which my presaging slumbers drew:
7:975 I saw, and own'd, and call'd them subjects; they
7:976 Confest my pow'r, submissive to my sway.
7:977 To Jove, restorer of my race decay'd,
7:978 My vows were first with due oblations paid,
7:979 I then divide with an impartial hand
7:980 My empty city, and my ruin'd land,
7:981 To give the new-born youth an equal share,
7:982 And call them Myrmidons, from what they were.
7:983 You saw their persons, and they still retain
7:984 The thrift of ants, tho' now transform'd to men.
7:985 A frugal people, and inur'd to sweat,
7:986 Lab'ring to gain, and keeping what they get.
7:987 These, equal both in strength and years, shall join
7:988 Their willing aid, and follow your design,
7:989 With the first southern gale that shall present
7:990 To fill your sails, and favour your intent.
7:991 With such discourse they entertain the day;
7:992 The ev'ning past in banquets, sport, and play:
7:993 Then, having crown'd the night with sweet repose,
7:994 Aurora (with the wind at east) arose.
7:995 Now Pallas' sons to Cephalus resort,
7:996 And Cephalus with Pallas' sons to court,
7:997 To the king's levee; him sleep's silken chain,
7:998 And pleasing dreams, beyond his hour detain;
7:999 But then the princes of the blood, in state,
7:1000 Expect, and meet 'em at the palace gate.
The Story of Cephalus and Procris
7:1001 To th' inmost courts the Grecian youths were led,
7:1002 And plac'd by Phocus on a Tyrian bed;
7:1003 Who, soon observing Cephalus to hold
7:1004 A dart of unknown wood, but arm'd with gold:
7:1005 None better loves (said he) the huntsman's sport,
7:1006 Or does more often to the woods resort;
7:1007 Yet I that jav'lin's stem with wonder view,
7:1008 Too brown for box, too smooth a grain for yew.
7:1009 I cannot guess the tree; but never art
7:1010 Did form, or eyes behold so fair a dart!
7:1011 The guest then interrupts him-'Twou'd produce
7:1012 Still greater wonder, if you knew its use.
7:1013 It never fails to strike the game, and then
7:1014 Comes bloody back into your hand again.
7:1015 Then Phocus each particular desires,
7:1016 And th' author of the wond'rous gift enquires.
7:1017 To which the owner thus, with weeping eyes,
7:1018 And sorrow for his wife's sad fate, replies,
7:1019 This weapon here (o prince!) can you believe
7:1020 This dart the cause for which so much I grieve;
7:1021 And shall continue to grieve on, 'till Fate
7:1022 Afford such wretched life no longer date.
7:1023 Would I this fatal gift had ne'er enjoy'd,
7:1024 This fatal gift my tender wife destroy'd:
7:1025 Procris her name, ally'd in charms and blood
7:1026 To fair Orythia courted by a God.
7:1027 Her father seal'd my hopes with rites divine,
7:1028 But firmer love before had made her mine.
7:1029 Men call'd me blest, and blest I was indeed.
7:1030 The second month our nuptials did succeed;
7:1031 When (as upon Hymettus' dewy head,
7:1032 For mountain stags my net betimes I spread)
7:1033 Aurora spy'd, and ravish'd me away,
7:1034 With rev'rence to the Goddess, I must say,
7:1035 Against my will, for Procris had my heart,
7:1036 Nor wou'd her image from my thoughts depart.
7:1037 At last, in rage she cry'd, Ingrateful boy
7:1038 Go to your Procris, take your fatal joy;
7:1039 And so dismiss'd me: musing, as I went,
7:1040 What those expressions of the Goddess meant,
7:1041 A thousand jealous fears possess me now,
7:1042 Lest Procris had prophan'd her nuptial vow:
7:1043 Her youth and charms did to my fancy paint
7:1044 A lewd adultress, but her life a saint.
7:1045 Yet I was absent long, the Goddess too
7:1046 Taught me how far a woman cou'd be true.
7:1047 Aurora's treatment much suspicion bred;
7:1048 Besides, who truly love, ev'n shadows dread.
7:1049 I strait impatient for the tryal grew,
7:1050 What courtship back'd with richest gifts cou'd do.
7:1051 Aurora's envy aided my design,
7:1052 And lent me features far unlike to mine.
7:1053 In this disguise to my own house I came,
7:1054 But all was chaste, no conscious sign of blame:
7:1055 With thousand arts I scarce admittance found,
7:1056 And then beheld her weeping on the ground
7:1057 For her lost husband; hardly I retain'd
7:1058 My purpose, scarce the wish'd embrace refrain'd.
7:1059 How charming was her grief! Then, Phocus, guess
7:1060 What killing beauties waited on her dress.
7:1061 Her constant answer, when my suit I prest,
7:1062 Forbear, my lord's dear image guards this breast;
7:1063 Where-e'er he is, whatever cause detains,
7:1064 Who-e'er has his, my heart unmov'd remains.
7:1065 What greater proofs of truth than these cou'd be?
7:1066 Yet I persist, and urge my destiny.
7:1067 At length, she found, when my own form return'd,
7:1068 Her jealous lover there, whose loss she mourn'd.
7:1069 Enrag'd with my suspicion, swift as wind,
7:1070 She fled at once from me and all mankind;
7:1071 And so became, her purpose to retain,
7:1072 A nymph, and huntress in Diana's train:
7:1073 Forsaken thus, I found my flames encrease,
7:1074 I own'd my folly, and I su'd for peace.
7:1075 It was a fault, but not of guilt, to move
7:1076 Such punishment, a fault of too much love.
7:1077 Thus I retriev'd her to my longing arms,
7:1078 And many happy days possess'd her charms.
7:1079 But with herself she kindly did confer,
7:1080 What gifts the Goddess had bestow'd on her;
7:1081 The fleetest grey-hound, with this lovely dart,
7:1082 And I of both have wonders to impart.
7:1083 Near Thebes a savage beast, of race unknown,
7:1084 Laid waste the field, and bore the vineyards down;
7:1085 The swains fled from him, and with one consent
7:1086 Our Grecian youth to chase the monster went;
7:1087 More swift than light'ning he the toils surpast,
7:1088 And in his course spears, men, and trees o'er-cast.
7:1089 We slipt our dogs, and last my Lelaps too,
7:1090 When none of all the mortal race wou'd do:
7:1091 He long before was struggling from my hands,
7:1092 And, e're we cou'd unloose him, broke his bands.
7:1093 That minute where he was, we cou'd not find,
7:1094 And only saw the dust he left behind.
7:1095 I climb'd a neighb'ring hill to view the chase,
7:1096 While in the plain they held an equal race;
7:1097 The savage now seems caught, and now by force
7:1098 To quit himself, nor holds the same strait course;
7:1099 But running counter, from the foe withdraws,
7:1100 And with short turning cheats his gaping jaws:
7:1101 Which he retrieves, and still so closely prest,
7:1102 You'd fear at ev'ry stretch he were possess'd;
7:1103 Yet for the gripe his fangs in vain prepare;
7:1104 The game shoots from him, and he chops the air.
7:1105 To cast my jav'lin then I took my stand;
7:1106 But as the thongs were fitting to my hand,
7:1107 While to the valley I o'er-look'd the wood,
7:1108 Before my eyes two marble statues stood;
7:1109 That, as pursu'd appearing at full stretch,
7:1110 This barking after, and at point to catch:
7:1111 Some God their course did with this wonder grace,
7:1112 That neither might be conquer'd in the chase.
7:1113 A sudden silence here his tongue supprest,
7:1114 He here stops short, and fain wou'd wave the rest.
7:1115 The eager prince then urg'd him to impart,
7:1116 The Fortune that attended on the dart.
7:1117 First then (said he) past joys let me relate,
7:1118 For bliss was the foundation of my fate.
7:1119 No language can those happy hours express,
7:1120 Did from our nuptials me, and Procris bless:
7:1121 The kindest pair! What more cou'd Heav'n confer?
7:1122 For she was all to me, and I to her.
7:1123 Had Jove made love, great Jove had been despis'd;
7:1124 And I my Procris more than Venus priz'd:
7:1125 Thus while no other joy we did aspire,
7:1126 We grew at last one soul, and one desire.
7:1127 Forth to the woods I went at break of day
7:1128 (The constant practice of my youth) for prey:
7:1129 Nor yet for servant, horse, or dog did call,
7:1130 I found this single dart to serve for all.
7:1131 With slaughter tir'd, I sought the cooler shade,
7:1132 And winds that from the mountains pierc'd the glade:
7:1133 Come, gentle air (so was I wont to say)
7:1134 Come, gentle air, sweet Aura come away.
7:1135 This always was the burden of my song,
7:1136 Come 'swage my flames, sweet Aura come along.
7:1137 Thou always art most welcome to my breast;
7:1138 I faint; approach, thou dearest, kindest guest!
7:1139 These blandishments, and more than these, I said
7:1140 (By Fate to unsuspected ruin led),
7:1141 Thou art my joy, for thy dear sake I love
7:1142 Each desart hill, and solitary grove;
7:1143 When (faint with labour) I refreshment need,
7:1144 For cordials on thy fragrant breath I feed.
7:1145 At last a wand'ring swain in hearing came,
7:1146 And cheated with the sound of Aura's name,
7:1147 He thought I some assignation made;
7:1148 And to my Procris' ear the news convey'd.
7:1149 Great love is soonest with suspicion fir'd:
7:1150 She swoon'd, and with the tale almost expir'd.
7:1151 Ah! wretched heart! (she cry'd) ah! faithless man.
7:1152 And then to curse th' imagin'd nymph began:
7:1153 Yet oft she doubts, oft hopes she is deceiv'd,
7:1154 And chides herself, that ever she believ'd
7:1155 Her lord to such injustice cou'd proceed,
7:1156 'Till she her self were witness of the deed.
7:1157 Next morn I to the woods again repair,
7:1158 And, weary with the chase, invoke the air:
7:1159 Approach, dear Aura, and my bosom chear:
7:1160 At which a mournful sound did strike my ear;
7:1161 Yet I proceeded, 'till the thicket by,
7:1162 With rustling noise and motion, drew my eye:
7:1163 I thought some beast of prey was shelter'd there,
7:1164 And to the covert threw my certain spear;
7:1165 From whence a tender sigh my soul did wound,
7:1166 Ah me! it cry'd, and did like Procris sound.
7:1167 Procris was there, too well the voice I knew,
7:1168 And to the place with headlong horror flew;
7:1169 Where I beheld her gasping on the ground,
7:1170 In vain attempting from the deadly wound
7:1171 To draw the dart, her love's dear fatal gift!
7:1172 My guilty arms had scarce the strength to lift
7:1173 The beauteous load; my silks, and hair I tore
7:1174 (If possible) to stanch the pressing gore;
7:1175 For pity beg'd her keep her flitting breath,
7:1176 And not to leave me guilty of her death.
7:1177 While I intreat she fainted fast away,
7:1178 And these few words had only strength to say:
7:1179 By all the sacred bonds of plighted love,
7:1180 By all your rev'rence to the Pow'rs above,
7:1181 By all the truth for which you held me dear,
7:1182 And last by love, the cause through which I bleed,
7:1183 Let Aura never to my bed succeed.
7:1184 I then perceiv'd the error of our fate,
7:1185 And told it her, but found and told too late!
7:1186 I felt her lower to my bosom fall,
7:1187 And while her eyes had any sight at all,
7:1188 On mine she fix'd them; in her pangs still prest
7:1189 My hand, and sigh'd her soul into my breast;
7:1190 Yet, being undeceiv'd, resign'd her breath
7:1191 Methought more chearfully, and smil'd in death.
7:1192 With such concern the weeping heroe told
7:1193 This tale, that none who heard him cou'd with-hold
7:1194 From melting into sympathizing tears,
7:1195 'Till Aeacus with his two sons appears;
7:1196 Whom he commits, with their new-levy'd bands,
7:1197 To Fortune's, and so brave a gen'ral's hands.