Ovid [Trans., Sir Samuel Garth]. Metamorphoses
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BOOK THE EIGHTH
The Story of Nisus and Scylla
8:1 Now shone the morning star in bright array,
8:2 To vanquish night, and usher in the day:
8:3 The wind veers southward, and moist clouds arise,
8:4 That blot with shades the blue meridian skies.
8:5 Cephalus feels with joy the kindly gales,
8:6 His new allies unfurl the swelling sails;
8:7 Steady their course, they cleave the yielding main,
8:8 And, with a wish, th' intended harbour gain.
8:9 Mean-while King Minos, on the Attick strand,
8:10 Displays his martial skill, and wastes the land.
8:11 His army lies encampt upon the plains,
8:12 Before Alcathoe's walls, where Nisus reigns;
8:13 On whose grey head a lock of purple hue,
8:14 The strength, and fortune of his kingdom, grew.
8:15 Six moons were gone, and past, when still from far
8:16 Victoria hover'd o'er the doubtful war.
8:17 So long, to both inclin'd, th' impartial maid
8:18 Between 'em both her equal wings display'd.
8:19 High on the walls, by Phoebus vocal made,
8:20 A turret of the palace rais'd its head;
8:21 And where the God his tuneful harp resign'd.
8:22 The sound within the stones still lay enshrin'd:
8:23 Hither the daughter of the purple king
8:24 Ascended oft, to hear its musick ring;
8:25 And, striking with a pebble, wou'd release
8:26 Th' enchanted notes, in times of happy peace.
8:27 But now, from thence, the curious maid beheld
8:28 Rough feats of arms, and combats of the field:
8:29 And, since the siege was long, had learnt the name
8:30 Of ev'ry chief, his character, and fame;
8:31 Their arms, their horse, and quiver she descry'd,
8:32 Nor cou'd the dress of war the warriour hide.
8:33 Europa's son she knew above the rest,
8:34 And more, than well became a virgin breast:
8:35 In vain the crested morion veils his face,
8:36 She thinks it adds a more peculiar grace:
8:37 His ample shield, embost with burnish'd gold,
8:38 Still makes the bearer lovelier to behold:
8:39 When the tough jav'lin, with a whirl, he sends,
8:40 His strength and skill the sighing maid commends;
8:41 Or, when he strains to draw the circling bow,
8:42 And his fine limbs a manly posture show,
8:43 Compar'd with Phoebus, he performs so well,
8:44 Let her be judge, and Minos shall excell.
8:45 But when the helm put off, display'd to sight,
8:46 And set his features in an open light;
8:47 When, vaulting to his seat, his steed he prest,
8:48 Caparison'd in gold, and richly drest;
8:49 Himself in scarlet sumptuously array'd,
8:50 New passions rise, and fire the frantick maid.
8:51 O happy spear! she cries, that feels his touch;
8:52 Nay, ev'n the reins he holds are blest too much.
8:53 Oh! were it lawful, she cou'd wing her way
8:54 Thro' the stern hostile troops without dismay;
8:55 Or throw her body to the distant ground,
8:56 And in the Cretans happy camp be found.
8:57 Wou'd Minos but desire it! she'd expose
8:58 Her native country to her country's foes;
8:59 Unbar the gates, the town with flames infest,
8:60 Or any thing that Minos shou'd request.
8:61 And as she sate, and pleas'd her longing sight,
8:62 Viewing the king's pavilion veil'd with white,
8:63 Shou'd joy, or grief, she said, possess my breast,
8:64 To see my country by a war opprest?
8:65 I'm in suspense! For, tho' 'tis grief to know
8:66 I love a man that is declar'd my foe;
8:67 Yet, in my own despite, I must approve
8:68 That lucky war, which brought the man I love.
8:69 Yet, were I tender'd as a pledge of peace,
8:70 The cruelties of war might quickly cease.
8:71 Oh! with what joy I'd wear the chains he gave!
8:72 A patient hostage, and a willing slave.
8:73 Thou lovely object! if the nymph that bare
8:74 Thy charming person, were but half so fair;
8:75 Well might a God her virgin bloom desire,
8:76 And with a rape indulge his amorous fire.
8:77 Oh! had I wings to glide along the air,
8:78 To his dear tent I'd fly, and settle there:
8:79 There tell my quality, confess my flame,
8:80 And grant him any dowry that he'd name.
8:81 All, all I'd give; only my native land,
8:82 My dearest country, shou'd excepted stand,
8:83 For, perish love, and all expected joys,
8:84 E're, with so base a thought, my soul complies.
8:85 Yet, oft the vanquish'd some advantage find,
8:86 When conquer'd by a noble, gen'rous mind.
8:87 Brave Minos justly has the war begun,
8:88 Fir'd with resentment for his murder'd son:
8:89 The righteous Gods a righteous cause regard,
8:90 And will, with victory, his arms reward:
8:91 We must be conquer'd; and the captive's fate
8:92 Will surely seize us, tho' it seize us late.
8:93 Why then shou'd love be idle, and neglect
8:94 What Mars, by arms and perils, will effect?
8:95 Oh! Prince, I dye, with anxious fear opprest,
8:96 Lest some rash hand shou'd wound my charmer's breast:
8:97 For, if they saw, no barb'rous mind cou'd dare
8:98 Against that lovely form to raise a spear.
8:99 But I'm resolv'd, and fix'd in this decree,
8:100 My father's country shall my dowry be.
8:101 Thus I prevent the loss of life and blood,
8:102 And, in effect, the action must be good.
8:103 Vain resolution! for, at ev'ry gate
8:104 The trusty centinels, successive, wait:
8:105 The keys my father keeps; ah! there's my grief;
8:106 'Tis he obstructs all hopes of my relief.
8:107 Gods! that this hated light I'd never seen!
8:108 Or, all my life, without a father been!
8:109 But Gods we all may be; for those that dare,
8:110 Are Gods, and Fortune's chiefest favours share.
8:111 The ruling Pow'rs a lazy pray'r detest,
8:112 The bold adventurer succeeds the best.
8:113 What other maid, inspir'd with such a flame,
8:114 But wou'd take courage, and abandon shame?
8:115 But wou'd, tho' ruin shou'd ensue, remove
8:116 Whate'er oppos'd, and clear the way to love?
8:117 This, shall another's feeble passion dare?
8:118 While I sit tame, and languish in despair:
8:119 No; for tho' fire and sword before me lay,
8:120 Impatient love thro' both shou'd force its way.
8:121 Yet I have no such enemies to fear,
8:122 My sole obstruction is my father's hair;
8:123 His purple lock my sanguine hope destroys,
8:124 And clouds the prospect of my rising joys.
8:125 Whilst thus she spoke, amid the thick'ning air
8:126 Night supervenes, the greatest nurse of care:
8:127 And, as the Goddess spreads her sable wings,
8:128 The virgin's fears decay, and courage springs.
8:129 The hour was come, when Man's o'er-labour'd breast
8:130 Surceas'd its care, by downy sleep possest:
8:131 All things now hush'd, Scylla with silent tread
8:132 Urg'd her approach to Nisus' royal bed:
8:133 There, of the fatal lock (accursed theft!)
8:134 She her unwitting father's head bereft.
8:135 In safe possession of her impious prey,
8:136 Out at a postern gate she takes her way.
8:137 Embolden'd, by the merit of the deed
8:138 She traverses the adverse camp with speed,
8:139 'Till Minos' tent she reach'd: the righteous king
8:140 She thus bespoke, who shiver'd at the thing.
8:141 Behold th' effect of love's resistless sway!
8:142 I, Nisus' royal seed, to thee betray
8:143 My country, and my Gods. For this strange task,
8:144 Minos, no other boon but thee I ask.
8:145 This purple lock, a pledge of love, receive;
8:146 No worthless present, since in it I give
8:147 My father's head.-Mov'd at a crime so new,
8:148 And with abhorrence fill'd, back Minos drew,
8:149 Nor touch'd th' unhallow'd gift; but thus exclaim'd
8:150 (With mein indignant, and with eyes inflam'd),
8:151 Perdition seize thee, thou, thy kind's disgrace!
8:152 May thy devoted carcass find no place
8:153 In earth, or air, or sea, by all out-cast!
8:154 Shall Minos, with so foul a monster, blast
8:155 His Cretan world, where cradled Jove was nurst?
8:156 Forbid it Heav'n!-away, thou most accurst!
8:157 And now Alcathoe, its lord exchang'd,
8:158 Was under Minos' domination rang'd.
8:159 While the most equal king his care applies
8:160 To curb the conquer'd, and new laws devise,
8:161 The fleet, by his command, with hoisted sails,
8:162 And ready oars, invites the murm'ring gales.
8:163 At length the Cretan hero anchor weigh'd,
8:164 Repaying, with neglect, th' abandon'd maid.
8:165 Deaf to her cries, he furrows up the main:
8:166 In vain she prays, sollicits him in vain.
8:167 And now she furious grows in wild despair,
8:168 She wrings her hands, and throws aloft her hair.
8:169 Where run'st thou? (thus she vents her deep distress)
8:170 Why shun'st thou her that crown'd thee with success?
8:171 Her, whose fond love to thee cou'd sacrifice
8:172 Her country, and her parent, sacred ties!
8:173 Can nor my love, nor proffer'd presents find
8:174 A passage to thy heart, and make thee kind?
8:175 Can nothing move thy pity? O ingrate,
8:176 Can'st thou behold my lost, forlorn estate,
8:177 And not be soften'd? Can'st thou throw off one
8:178 Who has no refuge left but thee alone?
8:179 Where shall I seek for comfort? whither fly?
8:180 My native country does in ashes lye:
8:181 Or were't not so, my treason bars me there,
8:182 And bids me wander. Shall I next repair
8:183 To a wrong'd father, by my guilt undone?-
8:184 Me all Mankind deservedly will shun.
8:185 I, out of all the world, my self have thrown,
8:186 To purchase an access to Crete alone;
8:187 Which, since refus'd, ungen'rous man, give o'er
8:188 To boast thy race; Europa never bore
8:189 A thing so savage. Thee some tygress bred,
8:190 On the bleak Syrt's inhospitable bed;
8:191 Or where Charybdis pours its rapid tide
8:192 Tempestuous. Thou art not to Jove ally'd;
8:193 Nor did the king of Gods thy mother meet
8:194 Beneath a bull's forg'd shape, and bear to Crete.
8:195 That fable of thy glorious birth is feign'd;
8:196 Some wild outrageous bull thy dam sustain'd.
8:197 O father Nisus, now my death behold;
8:198 Exult, o city, by my baseness sold:
8:199 Minos, obdurate, has aveng'd ye all;
8:200 But 'twere more just by those I wrong'd to fall:
8:201 For why shou'dst thou, who only didst subdue
8:202 By my offending, my offence pursue?
8:203 Well art thou matcht to one whose am'rous flame
8:204 Too fiercely rag'd, for human-kind to tame;
8:205 One who, within a wooden heifer thrust,
8:206 Courted a low'ring bull's mistaken lust;
8:207 And, from whose monster-teeming womb, the Earth
8:208 Receiv'd, what much it mourn'd, a bi-form birth.
8:209 But what avails my plaints? the whistling wind,
8:210 Which bears him far away, leaves them behind.
8:211 Well weigh'd Pasiphae, when she prefer'd
8:212 A bull to thee, more brutish than the herd.
8:213 But ah! Time presses, and the labour'd oars
8:214 To distance drive the fleet, and lose the less'ning shores.
8:215 Think not, ungrateful man, the liquid way
8:216 And threat'ning billows shall inforce my stay.
8:217 I'll follow thee in spite: My arms I'll throw
8:218 Around thy oars, or grasp thy crooked prow,
8:219 And drag thro' drenching seas. Her eager tongue
8:220 Had hardly clos'd the speech, when forth she sprung
8:221 And prov'd the deep. Cupid with added force
8:222 Recruits each nerve, and aids her wat'ry course.
8:223 Soon she the ship attains, unwelcome guest;
8:224 And, as with close embrace its sides she prest,
8:225 A hawk from upper air came pouring down
8:226 ('Twas Nisus cleft the sky with wings new grown).
8:227 At Scylla's head his horny bill he aims;
8:228 She, fearful of the blow, the ship disclaims,
8:229 Quitting her hold: and yet she fell not far,
8:230 But wond'ring, finds her self sustain'd in air.
8:231 Chang'd to a lark, she mottled pinions shook,
8:232 And, from the ravish'd lock, the name of Ciris took.
8:233 Now Minos, landed on the Cretan shore,
8:234 Performs his vows to Jove's protecting pow'r;
8:235 A hundred bullocks of the largest breed,
8:236 With flowrets crown'd, before his altar bleed:
8:237 While trophies of the vanquish'd, brought from far
8:238 Adorn the palace with the spoils of war.
8:239 Mean-while the monster of a human-beast,
8:240 His family's reproach, and stain, increas'd.
8:241 His double kind the rumour swiftly spread,
8:242 And evidenc'd the mother's beastly deed.
8:243 When Minos, willing to conceal the shame
8:244 That sprung from the reports of tatling Fame,
8:245 Resolves a dark inclosure to provide,
8:246 And, far from sight, the two-form'd creature hide.
8:247 Great Daedalus of Athens was the man
8:248 That made the draught, and form'd the wondrous plan;
8:249 Where rooms within themselves encircled lye,
8:250 With various windings, to deceive the eye.
8:251 As soft Maeander's wanton current plays,
8:252 When thro' the Phrygian fields it loosely strays;
8:253 Backward and forward rouls the dimpl'd tide,
8:254 Seeming, at once, two different ways to glide:
8:255 While circling streams their former banks survey,
8:256 And waters past succeeding waters see:
8:257 Now floating to the sea with downward course,
8:258 Now pointing upward to its ancient source,
8:259 Such was the work, so intricate the place,
8:260 That scarce the workman all its turns cou'd trace;
8:261 And Daedalus was puzzled how to find
8:262 The secret ways of what himself design'd.
8:263 These private walls the Minotaur include,
8:264 Who twice was glutted with Athenian blood:
8:265 But the third tribute more successful prov'd,
8:266 Slew the foul monster, and the plague remov'd.
8:267 When Theseus, aided by the virgin's art,
8:268 Had trac'd the guiding thread thro' ev'ry part,
8:269 He took the gentle maid, that set him free,
8:270 And, bound for Dias, cut the briny sea.
8:271 There, quickly cloy'd, ungrateful, and unkind,
8:272 Left his fair consort in the isle behind,
8:273 Whom Bacchus saw, and straining in his arms
8:274 Her rifled bloom, and violated charms,
8:275 Resolves, for this, the dear engaging dame
8:276 Shou'd shine for ever in the rolls of Fame;
8:277 And bids her crown among the stars be plac'd,
8:278 With an eternal constellation grac'd.
8:279 The golden circlet mounts; and, as it flies,
8:280 Its diamonds twinkle in the distant skies;
8:281 There, in their pristin form, the gemmy rays
8:282 Between Alcides, and the dragon blaze.
The Story of Daedalus and Icarus
8:283 In tedious exile now too long detain'd,
8:284 Daedalus languish'd for his native land:
8:285 The sea foreclos'd his flight; yet thus he said:
8:286 Tho' Earth and water in subjection laid,
8:287 O cruel Minos, thy dominion be,
8:288 We'll go thro' air; for sure the air is free.
8:289 Then to new arts his cunning thought applies,
8:290 And to improve the work of Nature tries.
8:291 A row of quils in gradual order plac'd,
8:292 Rise by degrees in length from first to last;
8:293 As on a cliff th' ascending thicket grows,
8:294 Or, different reeds the rural pipe compose.
8:295 Along the middle runs a twine of flax,
8:296 The bottom stems are joyn'd by pliant wax.
8:297 Thus, well compact, a hollow bending brings
8:298 The fine composure into real wings.
8:299 His boy, young Icarus, that near him stood,
8:300 Unthinking of his fate, with smiles pursu'd
8:301 The floating feathers, which the moving air
8:302 Bore loosely from the ground, and wasted here and there.
8:303 Or with the wax impertinently play'd,
8:304 And with his childish tricks the great design delay'd.
8:305 The final master-stroke at last impos'd,
8:306 And now, the neat machine compleatly clos'd;
8:307 Fitting his pinions on, a flight he tries,
8:308 And hung self-ballanc'd in the beaten skies.
8:309 Then thus instructs his child: My boy, take care
8:310 To wing your course along the middle air;
8:311 If low, the surges wet your flagging plumes;
8:312 If high, the sun the melting wax consumes:
8:313 Steer between both: nor to the northern skies,
8:314 Nor south Orion turn your giddy eyes;
8:315 But follow me: let me before you lay
8:316 Rules for the flight, and mark the pathless way.
8:317 Then teaching, with a fond concern, his son,
8:318 He took the untry'd wings, and fix'd 'em on;
8:319 But fix'd with trembling hands; and as he speaks,
8:320 The tears roul gently down his aged cheeks.
8:321 Then kiss'd, and in his arms embrac'd him fast,
8:322 But knew not this embrace must be the last.
8:323 And mounting upward, as he wings his flight,
8:324 Back on his charge he turns his aking sight;
8:325 As parent birds, when first their callow care
8:326 Leave the high nest to tempt the liquid air.
8:327 Then chears him on, and oft, with fatal art,
8:328 Reminds the stripling to perform his part.
8:329 These, as the angler at the silent brook,
8:330 Or mountain-shepherd leaning on his crook,
8:331 Or gaping plowman, from the vale descries,
8:332 They stare, and view 'em with religious eyes,
8:333 And strait conclude 'em Gods; since none, but they,
8:334 Thro' their own azure skies cou'd find a way.
8:335 Now Delos, Paros on the left are seen,
8:336 And Samos, favour'd by Jove's haughty queen;
8:337 Upon the right, the isle Lebynthos nam'd,
8:338 And fair Calymne for its honey fam'd.
8:339 When now the boy, whose childish thoughts aspire
8:340 To loftier aims, and make him ramble high'r,
8:341 Grown wild, and wanton, more embolden'd flies
8:342 Far from his guide, and soars among the skies.
8:343 The soft'ning wax, that felt a nearer sun,
8:344 Dissolv'd apace, and soon began to run.
8:345 The youth in vain his melting pinions shakes,
8:346 His feathers gone, no longer air he takes:
8:347 Oh! Father, father, as he strove to cry,
8:348 Down to the sea he tumbled from on high,
8:349 And found his Fate; yet still subsists by fame,
8:350 Among those waters that retain his name.
8:351 The father, now no more a father, cries,
8:352 Ho Icarus! where are you? as he flies;
8:353 Where shall I seek my boy? he cries again,
8:354 And saw his feathers scatter'd on the main.
8:355 Then curs'd his art; and fun'ral rites confer'd,
8:356 Naming the country from the youth interr'd.
8:357 A partridge, from a neighb'ring stump, beheld
8:358 The sire his monumental marble build;
8:359 Who, with peculiar call, and flutt'ring wing,
8:360 Chirpt joyful, and malicious seem'd to sing:
8:361 The only bird of all its kind, and late
8:362 Transform'd in pity to a feather'd state:
8:363 From whence, O Daedalus, thy guilt we date.
8:364 His sister's son, when now twelve years were past,
8:365 Was, with his uncle, as a scholar plac'd;
8:366 The unsuspecting mother saw his parts,
8:367 And genius fitted for the finest arts.
8:368 This soon appear'd; for when the spiny bone
8:369 In fishes' backs was by the stripling known,
8:370 A rare invention thence he learnt to draw,
8:371 Fil'd teeth in ir'n, and made the grating saw.
8:372 He was the first, that from a knob of brass
8:373 Made two strait arms with widening stretch to pass;
8:374 That, while one stood upon the center's place,
8:375 The other round it drew a circling space.
8:376 Daedalus envy'd this, and from the top
8:377 Of fair Minerva's temple let him drop;
8:378 Feigning, that, as he lean'd upon the tow'r,
8:379 Careless he stoop'd too much, and tumbled o'er.
8:380 The Goddess, who th' ingenious still befriends,
8:381 On this occasion her asssistance lends;
8:382 His arms with feathers, as he fell, she veils,
8:383 And in the air a new made bird he sails.
8:384 The quickness of his genius, once so fleet,
8:385 Still in his wings remains, and in his feet:
8:386 Still, tho' transform'd, his ancient name he keeps,
8:387 And with low flight the new-shorn stubble sweeps,
8:388 Declines the lofty trees, and thinks it best
8:389 To brood in hedge-rows o'er its humble nest;
8:390 And, in remembrance of the former ill,
8:391 Avoids the heights, and precipices still.
8:392 At length, fatigu'd with long laborious flights,
8:393 On fair Sicilia's plains the artist lights;
8:394 Where Cocalus the king, that gave him aid,
8:395 Was, for his kindness, with esteem repaid.
8:396 Athens no more her doleful tribute sent,
8:397 That hardship gallant Theseus did prevent;
8:398 Their temples hung with garlands, they adore
8:399 Each friendly God, but most Minerva's pow'r:
8:400 To her, to Jove, to all, their altars smoak,
8:401 They each with victims, and perfumes invoke.
8:402 Now talking Fame, thro' every Grecian town,
8:403 Had spread, immortal Theseus, thy renown.
8:404 From him the neighb'ring nations in distress,
8:405 In suppliant terms implore a kind redress.
The Story of Meleager and Atalanta
8:406 From him the Caledonians sought relief;
8:407 Though valiant Meleagros was their chief.
8:408 The cause, a boar, who ravag'd far and near:
8:409 Of Cynthia's wrath, th' avenging minister.
8:410 For Oeneus with autumnal plenty bless'd,
8:411 By gifts to Heav'n his gratitude express'd:
8:412 Cull'd sheafs, to Ceres; to Lyaeus, wine;
8:413 To Pan, and Pales, offer'd sheep and kine;
8:414 And fat of olives, to Minerva's shrine.
8:415 Beginning from the rural Gods, his hand
8:416 Was lib'ral to the Pow'rs of high command:
8:417 Each deity in ev'ry kind was bless'd,
8:418 'Till at Diana's fane th' invidious honour ceas'd.
8:419 Wrath touches ev'n the Gods; the Queen of Night,
8:420 Fir'd with disdain, and jealous of her right,
8:421 Unhonour'd though I am, at least, said she,
8:422 Not unreveng'd that impious act shall be.
8:423 Swift as the word, she sped the boar away,
8:424 With charge on those devoted fields to prey.
8:425 No larger bulls th' Aegyptian pastures feed,
8:426 And none so large Sicilian meadows breed:
8:427 His eye-balls glare with fire suffus'd with blood;
8:428 His neck shoots up a thick-set thorny wood;
8:429 His bristled back a trench impal'd appears,
8:430 And stands erected, like a field of spears;
8:431 Froth fills his chaps, he sends a grunting sound,
8:432 And part he churns, and part befoams the ground,
8:433 For tusks with Indian elephants he strove,
8:434 And Jove's own thunder from his mouth he drove.
8:435 He burns the leaves; the scorching blast invades
8:436 The tender corn, and shrivels up the blades:
8:437 Or suff'ring not their yellow beards to rear,
8:438 He tramples down the spikes, and intercepts the year:
8:439 In vain the barns expect their promis'd load,
8:440 Nor barns at home, nor recks are heap'd abroad:
8:441 In vain the hinds the threshing-floor prepare,
8:442 And exercise their flail in empty air.
8:443 With olives ever-green the ground is strow'd,
8:444 And grapes ungather'd shed their gen'rous blood.
8:445 Amid the fold he rages, nor the sheep
8:446 Their shepherds, nor the grooms their bulls can keep.
8:447 From fields to walls the frighted rabble run,
8:448 Nor think themselves secure within the town:
8:449 'Till Meleagros, and his chosen crew,
8:450 Contemn the danger, and the praise pursue.
8:451 Fair Leda's twins (in time to stars decreed)
8:452 One fought on foot, one curb'd the fiery steed;
8:453 Then issu'd forth fam'd Jason after these,
8:454 Who mann'd the foremost ship that sail'd the seas;
8:455 Then Theseus join'd with bold Perithous came;
8:456 A single concord in a double name:
8:457 The Thestian sons, Idas who swiftly ran,
8:458 And Ceneus, once a woman, now a man.
8:459 Lynceus, with eagle's eyes, and lion's heart;
8:460 Leucippus, with his never-erring dart;
8:461 Acastus, Phileus, Phoenix, Telamon,
8:462 Echion, Lelix, and Eurytion,
8:463 Achilles' father, and great Phocus' son;
8:464 Dryas the fierce, and Hippasus the strong;
8:465 With twice old Iolas, and Nestor then but young.
8:466 Laertes active, and Ancaeus bold;
8:467 Mopsus the sage, who future things foretold;
8:468 And t' other seer, yet by his wife unsold.
8:469 A thousand others of immortal fame;
8:470 Among the rest, fair Atalanta came,
8:471 Grace of the woods: a diamond buckle bound
8:472 Her vest behind, that else had flow'd upon the ground,
8:473 And shew'd her buskin'd legs; her head was bare,
8:474 But for her native ornament of hair;
8:475 Which in a simple knot was ty'd above,
8:476 Sweet negligence! unheeded bait of love!
8:477 Her sounding quiver, on her shoulder ty'd,
8:478 One hand a dart, and one a bow supply'd.
8:479 Such was her face, as in a nymph display'd
8:480 A fair fierce boy, or in a boy betray'd
8:481 The blushing beauties of a modest maid.
8:482 The Caledonian chief at once the dame
8:483 Beheld, at once his heart receiv'd the flame,
8:484 With Heav'ns averse. O happy youth, he cry'd;
8:485 For whom thy fates reserve so fair a bride!
8:486 He sigh'd, and had no leisure more to say;
8:487 His honour call'd his eyes another way,
8:488 And forc'd him to pursue the now-neglected prey.
8:489 There stood a forest on a mountain's brow,
8:490 Which over-look'd the shaded plains below.
8:491 No sounding ax presum'd those trees to bite;
8:492 Coeval with the world, a venerable sight.
8:493 The heroes there arriv'd, some spread around
8:494 The toils; some search the footsteps on the ground:
8:495 Some from the chains the faithful dogs unbound.
8:496 Of action eager, and intent in thought,
8:497 The chiefs their honourable danger sought:
8:498 A valley stood below; the common drain
8:499 Of waters from above, and falling rain:
8:500 The bottom was a moist, and marshy ground,
8:501 Whose edges were with bending oziers crown'd:
8:502 The knotty bulrush next in order stood,
8:503 And all within of reeds a trembling wood.
8:504 From hence the boar was rous'd, and sprung amain,
8:505 Like lightning sudden, on the warrior train;
8:506 Beats down the trees before him, shakes the ground.
8:507 The forest echoes to the crackling sound;
8:508 Shout the fierce youth, and clamours ring around.
8:509 All stood with their protended spears prepar'd,
8:510 With broad steel heads the brandish'd weapons glar'd.
8:511 The beast impetuous with his tusks aside
8:512 Deals glancing wounds; the fearful dogs divide:
8:513 All spend their mouths aloof, but none abide.
8:514 Echion threw the first, but miss'd his mark,
8:515 And stuck his boar-spear on a maple's bark.
8:516 Then Jason; and his javelin seem'd to take,
8:517 But fail'd with over-force, and whiz'd above his back.
8:518 Mopsus was next; but e'er he threw, address'd
8:519 To Phoebus, thus: O patron, help thy priest:
8:520 If I adore, and ever have ador'd
8:521 Thy pow'r divine, thy present aid afford;
8:522 That I may reach the beast. The God allow'd
8:523 His pray'r, and smiling, gave him what he cou'd:
8:524 He reach'd the savage, but no blood he drew:
8:525 Diana unarm'd the javelin, as it flew.
8:526 This chaf'd the boar, his nostrils flames expire,
8:527 And his red eye-balls roul with living fire.
8:528 Whirl'd from a sling, or from an engine thrown,
8:529 Amid the foes, so flies a mighty stone,
8:530 As flew the beast: the left wing put to flight,
8:531 The chiefs o'er-born, he rushes on the right.
8:532 Eupalamos and Pelagon he laid
8:533 In dust, and next to death, but for their fellows' aid.
8:534 Onesimus far'd worse, prepar'd to fly,
8:535 The fatal fang drove deep within his thigh,
8:536 And cut the nerves: the nerves no more sustain
8:537 The bulk; the bulk unprop'd, falls headlong on the plain.
8:538 Nestor had fail'd the fall of Troy to see,
8:539 But leaning on his lance, he vaulted on a tree;
8:540 Then gath'ring up his feet, look'd down with fear,
8:541 And thought his monstrous foe was still too near.
8:542 Against a stump his tusk the monster grinds,
8:543 And in the sharpen'd edge new vigour finds;
8:544 Then, trusting to his arms, young Othrys found,
8:545 And ranch'd his hips with one continu'd wound.
8:546 Now Leda's twins, the future stars, appear;
8:547 White were their habits, white their horses were:
8:548 Conspicuous both, and both in act to throw,
8:549 Their trembling lances brandish'd at the foe:
8:550 Nor had they miss'd; but he to thickets fled,
8:551 Conceal'd from aiming spears, not pervious to the steed.
8:552 But Telamon rush'd in, and happ'd to meet
8:553 A rising root, that held his fastned feet;
8:554 So down he fell, whom, sprawling on the ground,
8:555 His brother from the wooden gyves unbound.
8:556 Mean-time the virgin-huntress was not slow
8:557 T' expel the shaft from her contracted bow:
8:558 Beneath his ear the fastned arrow stood,
8:559 And from the wound appear'd the trickling blood.
8:560 She blush'd for joy: but Meleagros rais'd
8:561 His voice with loud applause, and the fair archer prais'd.
8:562 He was the first to see, and first to show
8:563 His friends the marks of the successful blow.
8:564 Nor shall thy valour want the praises due,
8:565 He said; a virtuous envy seiz'd the crew.
8:566 They shout; the shouting animates their hearts,
8:567 And all at once employ their thronging darts:
8:568 But out of order thrown, in air they joyn,
8:569 And multitude makes frustrate the design.
8:570 With both his hands the proud Ancaeus takes,
8:571 And flourishes his double-biting ax:
8:572 Then, forward to his fate, he took a stride
8:573 Before the rest, and to his fellows cry'd,
8:574 Give place, and mark the diff'rence, if you can,
8:575 Between a woman warrior, and a man,
8:576 The boar is doom'd; nor though Diana lend
8:577 Her aid, Diana can her beast defend.
8:578 Thus boasted he; then stretch'd, on tiptoe stood,
8:579 Secure to make his empty promise good.
8:580 But the more wary beast prevents the blow,
8:581 And upward rips the groin of his audacious foe.
8:582 Ancaeus falls; his bowels from the wound
8:583 Rush out, and clotted blood distains the ground.
8:584 Perithous, no small portion of the war,
8:585 Press'd on, and shook his lance: to whom from far
8:586 Thus Theseus cry'd; O stay, my better part,
8:587 My more than mistress; of my heart, the heart.
8:588 The strong may fight aloof; Ancaeus try'd
8:589 His force too near, and by presuming dy'd:
8:590 He said, and while he spake his javelin threw,
8:591 Hissing in air th' unerring weapon flew;
8:592 But on an arm of oak, that stood betwixt
8:593 The marks-man and the mark, his lance he fixt.
8:594 Once more bold Jason threw, but fail'd to wound
8:595 The boar, and slew an undeserving hound,
8:596 And thro' the dog the dart was nail'd to ground.
8:597 Two spears from Meleager's hand were sent,
8:598 With equal force, but various in th' event:
8:599 The first was fix'd in earth, the second stood
8:600 On the boar's bristled back, and deeply drank his blood.
8:601 Now while the tortur'd savage turns around,
8:602 And flings about his foam, impatient of the wound,
8:603 The wound's great author close at hand provokes
8:604 His rage, and plies him with redoubled strokes;
8:605 Wheels, as he wheels; and with his pointed dart
8:606 Explores the nearest passage to his heart.
8:607 Quick, and more quick he spins in giddy gires,
8:608 Then falls, and in much foam his soul expires.
8:609 This act with shouts heav'n-high the friendly band
8:610 Applaud, and strain in theirs the victor's hand.
8:611 Then all approach the slain with vast surprize,
8:612 Admire on what a breadth of earth he lies,
8:613 And scarce secure, reach out their spears afar,
8:614 And blood their points, to prove their partnership of war.
8:615 But he, the conqu'ring chief, his foot impress'd
8:616 On the strong neck of that destructive beast;
8:617 And gazing on the nymph with ardent eyes,
8:618 Accept, said he, fair Nonacrine, my prize,
8:619 And, though inferior, suffer me to join
8:620 My labours, and my part of praise, with thine:
8:621 At this presents her with the tusky head
8:622 And chine, with rising bristles roughly spread.
8:623 Glad she receiv'd the gift; and seem'd to take
8:624 With double pleasure, for the giver's sake.
8:625 The rest were seiz'd with sullen discontent,
8:626 And a deaf murmur through the squadron went:
8:627 All envy'd; but the Thestyan brethren show'd
8:628 The least respect, and thus they vent their spleen aloud:
8:629 Lay down those honour'd spoils, nor think to share,
8:630 Weak woman as thou art, the prize of war:
8:631 Ours is the title, thine a foreign claim,
8:632 Since Meleagrus from our lineage came.
8:633 Trust not thy beauty; but restore the prize,
8:634 Which he, besotted on that face, and eyes,
8:635 Would rend from us: at this, enflam'd with spite,
8:636 From her they snatch the gift, from him the giver's right.
8:637 But soon th' impatient prince his fauchion drew,
8:638 And cry'd, Ye robbers of another's due,
8:639 Now learn the diff'rence, at your proper cost,
8:640 Betwixt true valour, and an empty boast.
8:641 At this advanc'd, and sudden as the word,
8:642 In proud Plexippus' bosom plung'd the sword:
8:643 Toxeus amaz'd, and with amazement slow,
8:644 Or to revenge, or ward the coming blow,
8:645 Stood doubting; and while doubting thus he stood,
8:646 Receiv'd the steel bath'd in his brother's blood.
8:647 Pleas'd with the first, unknown the second news;
8:648 Althaea to the temples pays their dues
8:649 For her son's conquest; when at length appear
8:650 Her grisly brethren stretch'd upon the bier:
8:651 Pale at the sudden sight, she chang'd her cheer,
8:652 And with her cheer her robes; but hearing tell
8:653 The cause, the manner, and by whom they fell,
8:654 'Twas grief no more, or grief and rage were one
8:655 Within her soul; at last 'twas rage alone;
8:656 Which burning upwards in succession, dries
8:657 The tears, that stood consid'ring in her eyes.
8:658 There lay a log unlighted on the hearth,
8:659 When she was lab'ring in the throws of birth
8:660 For th' unborn chief; the fatal sisters came,
8:661 And rais'd it up, and toss'd it on the flame:
8:662 Then on the rock a scanty measure place
8:663 Of vital flax, and turn'd the wheel apace;
8:664 And turning sung, To this red brand and thee,
8:665 O new born babe, we give an equal destiny;
8:666 So vanish'd out of view. The frighted dame
8:667 Sprung hasty from her bed, and quench'd the flame:
8:668 The log, in secret lock'd, she kept with care,
8:669 And that, while thus preserv'd, preserv'd her heir.
8:670 This brand she now produc'd; and first she strows
8:671 The hearth with heaps of chips, and after blows;
8:672 Thrice heav'd her hand, and heav'd, she thrice repress'd:
8:673 The sister and the mother long contest,
8:674 Two doubtful titles, in one tender breast:
8:675 And now her eyes, and cheeks with fury glow,
8:676 Now pale her cheeks, her eyes with pity flow:
8:677 Now low'ring looks presage approaching storms,
8:678 And now prevailing love her face reforms:
8:679 Resolv'd, she doubts again; the tears she dry'd
8:680 With burning rage, are by new tears supply'd;
8:681 And as a ship, which winds and waves assail
8:682 Now with the current drives, now with the gale,
8:683 Both opposite, and neither long prevail:
8:684 She feels a double force, by turns obeys
8:685 Th' imperious tempest, and th' impetuous seas:
8:686 So fares Althaea's mind, she first relents
8:687 With pity, of that pity then repents:
8:688 Sister, and mother long the scales divide,
8:689 But the beam nodded on the sister's side.
8:690 Sometimes she softly sigh'd, then roar'd aloud;
8:691 But sighs were stifled in the cries of blood.
8:692 The pious, impious wretch at length decreed,
8:693 To please her brothers' ghost, her son should bleed:
8:694 And when the fun'ral flames began to rise,
8:695 Receive, she said, a sister's sacrifice;
8:696 A mother's bowels burn: high in her hand,
8:697 Thus while she spoke, she held the fatal brand;
8:698 Then thrice before the kindled pile she bow'd,
8:699 And the three Furies thrice invok'd aloud:
8:700 Come, come, revenging sisters, come, and view
8:701 A sister paying her dead brothers due:
8:702 A crime I punish, and a crime commit;
8:703 But blood for blood, and death for death is fit:
8:704 Great crimes must be with greater crimes repaid,
8:705 And second fun'rals on the former laid.
8:706 Let the whole houshold in one ruin fall,
8:707 And may Diana's curse o'ertake us all.
8:708 Shall Fate to happy Oenus still allow
8:709 One son, while Thestius stands depriv'd of two?
8:710 Better three lost, than one unpunish'd go.
8:711 Take then, dear ghosts (while yet admitted new
8:712 In Hell you wait my duty), take your due:
8:713 A costly off'ring on your tomb is laid,
8:714 When with my blood the price of yours is paid.
8:715 Ah! whither am I hurry'd? Ah! forgive,
8:716 Ye shades, and let your sister's issue live;
8:717 A mother cannot give him death; tho' he
8:718 Deserves it, he deserves it not from me.
8:719 Then shall th' unpunish'd wretch insult the slain,
8:720 Triumphant live, nor only live, but reign?
8:721 While you, thin shades, the sport of winds, are tost
8:722 O'er dreary plains, or tread the burning coast.
8:723 I cannot, cannot bear; 'tis past, 'tis done;
8:724 Perish this impious, this detested son:
8:725 Perish his sire, and perish I withal;
8:726 And let the house's heir, and the hop'd kingdom fall.
8:727 Where is the mother fled, her pious love,
8:728 And where the pains with which ten months I strove!
8:729 Ah! had'st thou dy'd, my son, in infant years,
8:730 Thy little herse had been bedew'd with tears.
8:731 Thou liv'st by me; to me thy breath resign;
8:732 Mine is the merit, the demerit thine.
8:733 Thy life by double title I require;
8:734 Once giv'n at birth, and once preserv'd from fire:
8:735 One murder pay, or add one murder more,
8:736 And me to them who fell by thee restore.
8:737 I would, but cannot: my son's image stands
8:738 Before my sight; and now their angry hands
8:739 My brothers hold, and vengeance these exact;
8:740 This pleads compassion, and repents the fact.
8:741 He pleads in vain, and I pronounce his doom:
8:742 My brothers, though unjustly, shall o'ercome.
8:743 But having paid their injur'd ghosts their due,
8:744 My son requires my death, and mine shall his pursue.
8:745 At this, for the last time, she lifts her hand,
8:746 Averts her eyes, and, half unwilling, drops the brand.
8:747 The brand, amid the flaming fewel thrown,
8:748 Or drew, or seem'd to draw, a dying groan;
8:749 The fires themselves but faintly lick'd their prey,
8:750 Then loath'd their impious food, and would have shrunk away.
8:751 Just then the heroe cast a doleful cry,
8:752 And in those absent flames began to fry:
8:753 The blind contagion rag'd within his veins;
8:754 But he with manly patience bore his pains:
8:755 He fear'd not Fate, but only griev'd to die
8:756 Without an honest wound, and by a death so dry.
8:757 Happy Ancaeus, thrice aloud he cry'd,
8:758 With what becoming fate in arms he dy'd!
8:759 Then call'd his brothers, sisters, sire around,
8:760 And, her to whom his nuptial vows were bound,
8:761 Perhaps his mother; a long sigh she drew,
8:762 And his voice failing, took his last adieu.
8:763 For as the flames augment, and as they stay
8:764 At their full height, then languish to decay,
8:765 They rise and sink by fits; at last they soar
8:766 In one bright blaze, and then descend no more:
8:767 Just so his inward heats, at height, impair,
8:768 'Till the last burning breath shoots out the soul in air.
8:769 Now lofty Calidon in ruins lies;
8:770 All ages, all degrees unsluice their eyes,
8:771 And Heav'n, and Earth resound with murmurs, groans, and cries.
8:772 Matrons and maidens beat their breasts, and tear
8:773 Their habits, and root up their scatter'd hair:
8:774 The wretched father, father now no more,
8:775 With sorrow sunk, lies prostrate on the floor,
8:776 Deforms his hoary locks with dust obscene,
8:777 And curses age, and loaths a life prolong'd with pain.
8:778 By steel her stubborn soul his mother freed,
8:779 And punish'd on her self her impious deed.
8:780 Had I a hundred tongues, a wit so large
8:781 As could their hundred offices discharge;
8:782 Had Phoebus all his Helicon bestow'd
8:783 In all the streams, inspiring all the God;
8:784 Those tongues, that wit, those streams, that God in vain
8:785 Would offer to describe his sisters' pain:
8:786 They beat their breasts with many a bruizing blow,
8:787 'Till they turn livid, and corrupt the snow.
8:788 The corps they cherish, while the corps remains,
8:789 And exercise, and rub with fruitless pains;
8:790 And when to fun'ral flames 'tis born away,
8:791 They kiss the bed on which the body lay:
8:792 And when those fun'ral flames no longer burn
8:793 (The dust compos'd within a pious urn),
8:794 Ev'n in that urn their brother they confess,
8:795 And hug it in their arms, and to their bosoms press.
8:796 His tomb is rais'd; then, stretch'd along the ground,
8:797 Those living monuments his tomb surround:
8:798 Ev'n to his name, inscrib'd, their tears they pay,
8:799 'Till tears, and kisses wear his name away.
8:800 But Cynthia now had all her fury spent,
8:801 Not with less ruin than a race content:
8:802 Excepting Gorge, perish'd all the seed,
8:803 And her whom Heav'n for Hercules decreed.
8:804 Satiate at last, no longer she pursu'd
8:805 The weeping sisters; but With Wings endu'd,
8:806 And horny beaks, and sent to flit in air;
8:807 Who yearly round the tomb in feather'd flocks repair.
The Transformation of the Naiads
8:808 Theseus mean-while acquitting well his share
8:809 In the bold chace confed'rate like a war,
8:810 To Athens' lofty tow'rs his march ordain'd,
8:811 By Pallas lov'd, and where Erectheus reign'd.
8:812 But Achelous stop'd him on the way,
8:813 By rains a deluge, and constrain'd his stay.
8:814 O fam'd for glorious deeds, and great by blood,
8:815 Rest here, says he, nor trust the rapid flood;
8:816 It solid oaks has from its margin tore,
8:817 And rocky fragments down its current bore,
8:818 The murmur hoarse, and terrible the roar.
8:819 Oft have I seen herds with their shelt'ring fold
8:820 Forc'd from the banks, and in the torrent roul'd;
8:821 Nor strength the bulky steer from ruin freed,
8:822 Nor matchless swiftness sav'd the racing steed.
8:823 In cataracts when the dissolving snow
8:824 Falls from the hills, and floods the plains below;
8:825 Toss'd by the eddies with a giddy round,
8:826 Strong youths are in the sucking whirlpools drown'd.
8:827 'Tis best with me in safety to abide,
8:828 'Till usual bounds restrain the ebbing tide,
8:829 And the low waters in their channel glide.
8:830 Theseus perswaded, in compliance bow'd:
8:831 So kind an offer, and advice so good,
8:832 O Achelous, cannot be refus'd;
8:833 I'll use them both, said he; and both he us'd.
8:834 The grot he enter'd, pumice built the hall,
8:835 And tophi made the rustick of the wall;
8:836 The floor, soft moss, an humid carpet spread,
8:837 And various shells the chequer'd roof inlaid.
8:838 'Twas now the hour when the declining sun
8:839 Two thirds had of his daily journey run;
8:840 At the spread table Theseus took his place,
8:841 Next his companions in the daring chace;
8:842 Perithous here, there elder Lelex lay,
8:843 His locks betraying age with sprinkled grey.
8:844 Acharnia's river-God dispos'd the rest,
8:845 Grac'd with the equal honour of the feast,
8:846 Elate with joy, and proud of such a guest.
8:847 The nymphs were waiters, and with naked feet
8:848 In order serv'd the courses of the meat.
8:849 The banquet done, delicious wine they brought,
8:850 Of one transparent gem the cup was wrought.
8:851 Then the great heroe of this gallant train,
8:852 Surveying far the prospect of the main:
8:853 What is that land, says he, the waves embrace?
8:854 (And with his finger pointed at the place);
8:855 Is it one parted isle which stands alone?
8:856 How nam'd? and yet methinks it seems not one.
8:857 To whom the watry God made this reply;
8:858 'Tis not one isle, but five; distinct they lye;
8:859 'Tis distance which deceives the cheated eye.
8:860 But that Diana's act may seem less strange,
8:861 These once proud Naiads were, before their change.
8:862 'Twas on a day more solemn than the rest,
8:863 Ten bullocks slain, a sacrificial feast:
8:864 The rural Gods of all the region near
8:865 They bid to dance, and taste the hallow'd cheer.
8:866 Me they forgot: affronted with the slight,
8:867 My rage, and stream swell'd to the greatest height;
8:868 And with the torrent of my flooding store,
8:869 Large woods from woods, and fields from fields I tore.
8:870 The guilty nymphs, oh! then, remembring me,
8:871 I, with their country, wash'd into the sea;
8:872 And joining waters with the social main,
8:873 Rent the gross land, and split the firm champagne.
8:874 Since, the Echinades, remote from shore
8:875 Are view'd as many isles, as nymphs before.
Perimele turn'd into an Island
8:876 But yonder far, lo, yonder does appear
8:877 An isle, a part to me for ever dear.
8:878 From that (it sailors Perimele name)
8:879 I doating, forc'd by rape a virgin's fame.
8:880 Hippodamas's passion grew so strong,
8:881 Gall'd with th' abuse, and fretted at the wrong,
8:882 He cast his pregnant daughter from a rock;
8:883 I spread my waves beneath, and broke the shock;
8:884 And as her swimming weight my stream convey'd,
8:885 I su'd for help divine, and thus I pray'd:
8:886 O pow'rful thou, whose trident does command
8:887 The realm of waters, which surround the land;
8:888 We sacred rivers, wheresoe'er begun,
8:889 End in thy lot, and to thy empire run.
8:890 With favour hear, and help with present aid;
8:891 Her whom I bear 'twas guilty I betray'd.
8:892 Yet if her father had been just, or mild,
8:893 He would have been less impious to his child;
8:894 In her, have pity'd force in the abuse;
8:895 In me, admitted love for my excuse.
8:896 O let relief for her hard case be found,
8:897 Her, whom paternal rage expell'd from ground,
8:898 Her, whom paternal rage relentless drown'd.
8:899 Grant her some place, or change her to a place,
8:900 Which I may ever clasp with my embrace.
8:901 His nodding head the sea's great ruler bent,
8:902 And all his waters shook with his assent.
8:903 The nymph still swam, tho' with the fright distrest,
8:904 I felt her heart leap trembling in her breast;
8:905 But hardning soon, whilst I her pulse explore,
8:906 A crusting Earth cas'd her stiff body o'er;
8:907 And as accretions of new-cleaving soil
8:908 Inlarg'd the mass, the nymph became an isle.
The Story of Baucis and Philemon
8:909 Thus Achelous ends: his audience hear
8:910 With admiration, and admiring, fear
8:911 The Pow'rs of Heav'n; except Ixion's Son,
8:912 Who laugh'd at all the Gods, believ'd in none:
8:913 He shook his impious head, and thus replies.
8:914 These legends are no more than pious lies:
8:915 You attribute too much to heav'nly sway,
8:916 To think they give us forms, and take away.
8:917 The rest of better minds, their sense declar'd
8:918 Against this doctrine, and with horror heard.
8:919 Then Lelex rose, an old experienc'd man,
8:920 And thus with sober gravity began;
8:921 Heav'n's pow'r is infinite: Earth, Air, and Sea,
8:922 The manufacture mass, the making Pow'r obey:
8:923 By proof to clear your doubt; in Phrygian ground
8:924 Two neighb'ring trees, with walls encompass'd round,
8:925 Stand on a mod'rate rise, with wonder shown,
8:926 One a hard oak, a softer linden one:
8:927 I saw the place, and them, by Pittheus sent
8:928 To Phrygian realms, my grandsire's government.
8:929 Not far from thence is seen a lake, the haunt
8:930 Of coots, and of the fishing cormorant:
8:931 Here Jove with Hermes came; but in disguise
8:932 Of mortal men conceal'd their deities;
8:933 One laid aside his thunder, one his rod;
8:934 And many toilsome steps together trod:
8:935 For harbour at a thousand doors they knock'd,
8:936 Not one of all the thousand but was lock'd.
8:937 At last an hospitable house they found,
8:938 A homely shed; the roof, not far from ground,
8:939 Was thatch'd with reeds, and straw, together bound.
8:940 There Baucis and Philemon liv'd, and there
8:941 Had liv'd long marry'd, and a happy pair:
8:942 Now old in love, though little was their store,
8:943 Inur'd to want, their poverty they bore,
8:944 Nor aim'd at wealth, professing to be poor.
8:945 For master, or for servant here to call,
8:946 Was all alike, where only two were all.
8:947 Command was none, where equal love was paid,
8:948 Or rather both commanded, both obey'd.
8:949 From lofty roofs the Gods repuls'd before,
8:950 Now stooping, enter'd through the little door:
8:951 The man (their hearty welcome first express'd)
8:952 A common settle drew for either guest,
8:953 Inviting each his weary limbs to rest.
8:954 But ere they sate, officious Baucis lays
8:955 Two cushions stuff'd with straw, the seat to raise;
8:956 Coarse, but the best she had; then rakes the load
8:957 Of ashes from the hearth, and spreads abroad
8:958 The living coals; and, lest they should expire,
8:959 With leaves, and bark she feeds her infant fire:
8:960 It smoaks; and then with trembling breath she blows,
8:961 'Till in a chearful blaze the flames arose.
8:962 With brush-wood, and with chips she strengthens these,
8:963 And adds at last the boughs of rotten trees.
8:964 The fire thus form'd, she sets the kettle on
8:965 (Like burnish'd gold the little seether shone),
8:966 Next took the coleworts which her husband got
8:967 From his own ground (a small well-water'd spot);
8:968 She stripp'd the stalks of all their leaves; the best
8:969 She cull'd, and them with handy care she drest.
8:970 High o'er the hearth a chine of bacon hung;
8:971 Good old Philemon seiz'd it with a prong,
8:972 And from the sooty rafter drew it down,
8:973 Then cut a slice, but scarce enough for one;
8:974 Yet a large portion of a little store,
8:975 Which for their sakes alone he wish'd were more.
8:976 This in the pot he plung'd without delay,
8:977 To tame the flesh, and drain the salt away.
8:978 The time beween, before the fire they sat,
8:979 And shorten'd the delay by pleasing chat.
8:980 A beam there was, on which a beechen pail
8:981 Hung by the handle, on a driven nail:
8:982 This fill'd with water, gently warm'd, they set
8:983 Before their guests; in this they bath'd their feet,
8:984 And after with clean towels dry'd their sweat.
8:985 This done, the host produc'd the genial bed,
8:986 Sallow the feet, the borders, and the sted,
8:987 Which with no costly coverlet they spread,
8:988 But coarse old garments; yet such robes as these
8:989 They laid alone, at feasts, on holidays.
8:990 The good old housewife, tucking up her gown,
8:991 The table sets; th' invited Gods lie down.
8:992 The trivet-table of a foot was lame,
8:993 A blot which prudent Baucis overcame,
8:994 Who thrusts beneath the limping leg a sherd,
8:995 So was the mended board exactly rear'd:
8:996 Then rubb'd it o'er with newly gather'd mint,
8:997 A wholsom herb, that breath'd a grateful scent.
8:998 Pallas began the feast, where first was seen
8:999 The party-colour'd olive, black, and green:
8:1000 Autumnal cornels next in order serv'd,
8:1001 In lees of wine well pickled, and preserv'd.
8:1002 A garden-sallad was the third supply,
8:1003 Of endive, radishes, and succory:
8:1004 Then curds, and cream, the flow'r of country fare,
8:1005 And new-laid eggs, which Baucis' busie care
8:1006 Turn'd by a gentle fire, and roasted rare.
8:1007 All these in earthen ware were serv'd to board;
8:1008 And next in place, an earthen pitcher stor'd,
8:1009 With liquor of the best the cottage could afford.
8:1010 This was the table's ornament and pride,
8:1011 With figures wrought: like pages at his side
8:1012 Stood beechen bowls; and these were shining clean,
8:1013 Varnish'd with wax without, and lin'd within.
8:1014 By this the boiling kettle had prepar'd,
8:1015 And to the table sent the smoaking lard;
8:1016 On which with eager appetite they dine,
8:1017 A sav'ry bit, that serv'd to relish wine:
8:1018 The wine itself was suiting to the rest,
8:1019 Still working in the must, and lately press'd.
8:1020 The second course succeeds like that before,
8:1021 Plums, apples, nuts, and of their wintry store
8:1022 Dry figs, and grapes, and wrinkled dates were set
8:1023 In canisters, t' enlarge the little treat:
8:1024 All these a milk-white honey-comb surround,
8:1025 Which in the midst the country-banquet crown'd:
8:1026 But the kind hosts their entertainment grace
8:1027 With hearty welcome, and an open face:
8:1028 In all they did, you might discern with ease,
8:1029 A willing mind, and a desire to please.
8:1030 Mean-time the beechen bowls went round, and still,
8:1031 Though often empty'd, were observ'd to fill;
8:1032 Fill'd without hands, and of their own accord
8:1033 Ran without feet, and danc'd about the board.
8:1034 Devotion seiz'd the pair, to see the feast
8:1035 With wine, and of no common grape, increas'd;
8:1036 And up they held their hands, and fell to pray'r,
8:1037 Excusing, as they could, their country fare.
8:1038 One goose they had ('twas all they could allow),
8:1039 A wakeful centry, and on duty now,
8:1040 Whom to the Gods for sacrifice they vow:
8:1041 Her with malicious zeal the couple view'd;
8:1042 She ran for life, and limping they pursu'd:
8:1043 Full well the fowl perceiv'd their bad intent,
8:1044 And would not make her master's compliment;
8:1045 But persecuted, to the Pow'rs she flies,
8:1046 And close between the legs of Jove she lies:
8:1047 He with a gracious ear the suppliant heard,
8:1048 And sav'd her life; then what he has declar'd,
8:1049 And own'd the God. The neighbourhood, said he,
8:1050 Shall justly perish for impiety:
8:1051 You stand alone exempted; but obey
8:1052 With speed, and follow where we lead the way:
8:1053 Leave these accurs'd; and to the mountain's height
8:1054 Ascend; nor once look backward in your flight.
8:1055 They haste, and what their tardy feet deny'd,
8:1056 The trusty staff (their better leg) supply'd.
8:1057 An arrow's flight they wanted to the top,
8:1058 And there secure, but spent with travel, stop;
8:1059 Then turn their now no more forbidden eyes;
8:1060 Lost in a lake the floated level lies:
8:1061 A watry desart covers all the plains,
8:1062 Their cot alone, as in an isle, remains.
8:1063 Wondring, with weeping eyes, while they deplore
8:1064 Their neighbours' fate, and country now no more,
8:1065 Their little shed, scarce large enough for two,
8:1066 Seems, from the ground increas'd, in height and bulk to grow.
8:1067 A stately temple shoots within the skies,
8:1068 The crotches of their cot in columns rise:
8:1069 The pavement polish'd marble they behold,
8:1070 The gates with sculpture grac'd, the spires and tiles of gold.
8:1071 Then thus the sire of Gods, with looks serene,
8:1072 Speak thy desire, thou only just of men;
8:1073 And thou, o woman, only worthy found
8:1074 To be with such a man in marriage bound.
8:1075 A-while they whisper; then, to Jove address'd,
8:1076 Philemon thus prefers their joint request:
8:1077 We crave to serve before your sacred shrine,
8:1078 And offer at your altars rites divine:
8:1079 And since not any action of our life
8:1080 Has been polluted with domestick strife;
8:1081 We beg one hour of death, that neither she
8:1082 With widow's tears may live to bury me,
8:1083 Nor weeping I, with wither'd arms may bear
8:1084 My breathless Baucis to the sepulcher.
8:1085 The Godheads sign their suit. They run their race
8:1086 In the same tenour all th' appointed space:
8:1087 Then, when their hour was come, while they relate
8:1088 These past adventures at the temple gate,
8:1089 Old Baucis is by old Philemon seen
8:1090 Sprouting with sudden leaves of spritely green:
8:1091 Old Baucis look'd where old Philemon stood,
8:1092 And saw his lengthen'd arms a sprouting wood:
8:1093 New roots their fasten'd feet begin to bind,
8:1094 Their bodies stiffen in a rising rind:
8:1095 Then, ere the bark above their shoulders grew,
8:1096 They give, and take at once their last adieu.
8:1097 At once, Farewell, o faithful spouse, they said;
8:1098 At once th' incroaching rinds their closing lips invade.
8:1099 Ev'n yet, an ancient Tyanaean shows
8:1100 A spreading oak, that near a linden grows;
8:1101 The neighbourhood confirm the prodigy,
8:1102 Grave men, not vain of tongue, or like to lie.
8:1103 I saw my self the garlands on their boughs,
8:1104 And tablets hung for gifts of granted vows;
8:1105 And off'ring fresher up, with pious pray'r,
8:1106 The good, said I, are God's peculiar care,
8:1107 And such as honour Heav'n, shall heav'nly honour share.
The Changes of Proteus
8:1108 He ceas'd in his relation to proceed,
8:1109 Whilst all admir'd the author, and the deed;
8:1110 But Theseus most, inquisitive to know
8:1111 From Gods what wondrous alterations grow.
8:1112 Whom thus the Calydonian stream address'd,
8:1113 Rais'd high to speak, the couch his elbow press'd.
8:1114 Some, when transform'd, fix in the lasting change;
8:1115 Some with more right, thro' various figures range.
8:1116 Proteus, thus large thy privilege was found,
8:1117 Thou inmate of the seas, which Earth surround.
8:1118 Sometimes a bloming youth you grac'd the shore;
8:1119 Oft a fierce lion, or a furious boar:
8:1120 With glist'ning spires now seem'd an hissing snake,
8:1121 The bold would tremble in his hands to take:
8:1122 With horns assum'd a bull; sometimes you prov'd
8:1123 A tree by roots, a stone by weight unmov'd:
8:1124 Sometimes two wav'ring contraries became,
8:1125 Flow'd down in water, or aspir'd in flame.
The Story of Erisichthon
8:1126 In various shapes thus to deceive the eyes,
8:1127 Without a settled stint of her disguise,
8:1128 Rash Erisichthon's daughter had the pow'r,
8:1129 And brought it to Autolicus in dow'r.
8:1130 Her atheist sire the slighted Gods defy'd,
8:1131 And ritual honours to their shrines deny'd.
8:1132 As fame reports, his hand an ax sustain'd,
8:1133 Which Ceres' consecrated grove prophan'd;
8:1134 Which durst the venerable gloom invade,
8:1135 And violate with light the awful shade.
8:1136 An ancient oak in the dark center stood,
8:1137 The covert's glory, and itself a wood:
8:1138 Garlands embrac'd its shaft, and from the boughs
8:1139 Hung tablets, monuments of prosp'rous vows.
8:1140 In the cool dusk its unpierc'd verdure spread,
8:1141 The Dryads oft their hallow'd dances led;
8:1142 And oft, when round their gaging arms they cast,
8:1143 Full fifteen ells it measu'rd in the waste:
8:1144 Its height all under standards did surpass,
8:1145 As they aspir'd above the humbler grass.
8:1146 These motives, which would gentler minds restrain,
8:1147 Could not make Triope's bold son abstain;
8:1148 He sternly charg'd his slaves with strict decree,
8:1149 To fell with gashing steel the sacred tree.
8:1150 But whilst they, lingring, his commands delay'd,
8:1151 He snatch'd an Ax, and thus blaspheming said:
8:1152 Was this no oak, nor Ceres' favourite care,
8:1153 But Ceres' self, this arm, unaw'd, shou'd dare
8:1154 Its leafy honours in the dust to spread,
8:1155 And level with the earth its airy head.
8:1156 He spoke, and as he poiz'd a slanting stroak,
8:1157 Sighs heav'd, and tremblings shook the frighted oak;
8:1158 Its leaves look'd sickly, pale its acorns grew,
8:1159 And its long branches sweat a chilly dew.
8:1160 But when his impious hand a wound bestow'd,
8:1161 Blood from the mangled bark in currents flow'd.
8:1162 When a devoted bull of mighty size,
8:1163 A sinning nation's grand atonement, dies;
8:1164 With such a plenty from the spouting veins,
8:1165 A crimson stream the turfy altars stains.
8:1166 The wonder all amaz'd; yet one more bold,
8:1167 The fact dissuading, strove his ax to hold.
8:1168 But the Thessalian, obstinately bent,
8:1169 Too proud to change, too harden'd to repent,
8:1170 On his kind monitor, his eyes, which burn'd
8:1171 With rage, and with his eyes his weapon turn'd;
8:1172 Take the reward, says he, of pious dread:
8:1173 Then with a blow lopp'd off his parted head.
8:1174 No longer check'd, the wretch his crime pursu'd,
8:1175 Doubled his strokes, and sacrilege renew'd;
8:1176 When from the groaning trunk a voice was heard,
8:1177 A Dryad I, by Ceres' love preferr'd,
8:1178 Within the circle of this clasping rind
8:1179 Coeval grew, and now in ruin join'd;
8:1180 But instant vengeance shall thy sin pursue,
8:1181 And death is chear'd with this prophetick view.
8:1182 At last the oak with cords enforc'd to bow,
8:1183 Strain'd from the top, and sap'd with wounds below,
8:1184 The humbler wood, partaker of its fate,
8:1185 Crush'd with its fall, and shiver'd with its weight.
8:1186 The grove destroy'd, the sister Dryads moan,
8:1187 Griev'd at its loss, and frighted at their own.
8:1188 Strait, suppliants for revenge to Ceres go,
8:1189 In sable weeds, expressive of their woe.
8:1190 The beauteous Goddess with a graceful air
8:1191 Bow'd in consent, and nodded to their pray'r.
8:1192 The awful motion shook the fruitful ground,
8:1193 And wav'd the fields with golden harvests crown'd.
8:1194 Soon she contriv'd in her projecting mind
8:1195 A plague severe, and piteous in its kind
8:1196 (If plagues for crimes of such presumptuous height
8:1197 Could pity in the softest breast create).
8:1198 With pinching want, and hunger's keenest smart,
8:1199 To tear his vitals, and corrode his heart.
8:1200 But since her near approach by Fate's deny'd
8:1201 To famine, and broad climes their pow'rs divide,
8:1202 A nymph, the mountain's ranger, she address'd,
8:1203 And thus resolv'd, her high commands express'd.
The Description of Famine
8:1204 Where frozen Scythia's utmost bound is plac'd,
8:1205 A desart lies, a melancholy waste:
8:1206 In yellow crops there Nature never smil'd,
8:1207 No fruitful tree to shade the barren wild.
8:1208 There sluggish cold its icy station makes,
8:1209 There paleness, frights, and aguish trembling shakes,
8:1210 Of pining famine this the fated seat,
8:1211 To whom my orders in these words repeat:
8:1212 Bid her this miscreant with her sharpest pains
8:1213 Chastise, and sheath herself into his veins;
8:1214 Be unsubdu'd by plenty's baffled store,
8:1215 Reject my empire, and defeat my pow'r.
8:1216 And lest the distance, and the tedious way,
8:1217 Should with the toil, and long fatigue dismay,
8:1218 Ascend my chariot, and convey'd on high,
8:1219 Guide the rein'd dragons thro' the parting sky.
8:1220 The nymph, accepting of the granted carr,
8:1221 Sprung to the seat, and posted thro' the air;
8:1222 Nor stop'd 'till she to a bleak mountain came
8:1223 Of wondrous height, and Caucasus its name.
8:1224 There in a stony field the fiend she found,
8:1225 Herbs gnawing, and roots scratching from the ground.
8:1226 Her elfelock hair in matted tresses grew,
8:1227 Sunk were her eyes, and pale her ghastly hue,
8:1228 Wan were her lips, and foul with clammy glew.
8:1229 Her throat was furr'd, her guts appear'd within
8:1230 With snaky crawlings thro' her parchment skin.
8:1231 Her jutting hips seem'd starting from their place,
8:1232 And for a belly was a belly's space,
8:1233 Her dugs hung dangling from her craggy spine,
8:1234 Loose to her breast, and fasten'd to her chine.
8:1235 Her joints protuberant by leanness grown,
8:1236 Consumption sunk the flesh, and rais'd the bone.
8:1237 Her knees large orbits bunch'd to monstrous size,
8:1238 And ancles to undue proportion rise.
8:1239 This plague the nymph, not daring to draw near,
8:1240 At distance hail'd, and greeted from afar.
8:1241 And tho' she told her charge without delay,
8:1242 Tho' her arrival late, and short her stay,
8:1243 She felt keen famine, or she seem'd to feel,
8:1244 Invade her blood, and on her vitals steal.
8:1245 She turn'd, from the infection to remove,
8:1246 And back to Thessaly the serpents drove.
8:1247 The fiend obey'd the Goddess' command
8:1248 (Tho' their effects in opposition stand),
8:1249 She cut her way, supported by the wind,
8:1250 And reach'd the mansion by the nymph assign'd.
8:1251 'Twas night, when entring Erisichthon's room,
8:1252 Dissolv'd in sleep, and thoughtless of his doom,
8:1253 She clasp'd his limbs, by impious labour tir'd,
8:1254 With battish wings, but her whole self inspir'd;
8:1255 Breath'd on his throat and chest a tainting blast,
8:1256 And in his veins infus'd an endless fast.
8:1257 The task dispatch'd, away the Fury flies
8:1258 From plenteous regions, and from rip'ning skies;
8:1259 To her old barren north she wings her speed,
8:1260 And cottages distress'd with pinching need.
8:1261 Still slumbers Erisichthon's senses drown,
8:1262 And sooth his fancy with their softest down.
8:1263 He dreams of viands delicate to eat,
8:1264 And revels on imaginary meat,
8:1265 Chaws with his working mouth, but chaws in vain,
8:1266 And tires his grinding teeth with fruitless pain;
8:1267 Deludes his throat with visionary fare,
8:1268 Feasts on the wind, and banquets on the air.
8:1269 The morning came, the night, and slumbers past,
8:1270 But still the furious pangs of hunger last;
8:1271 The cank'rous rage still gnaws with griping pains,
8:1272 Stings in his throat, and in his bowels reigns.
8:1273 Strait he requires, impatient in demand,
8:1274 Provisions from the air, the seas, the land.
8:1275 But tho' the land, air, seas, provisions grant,
8:1276 Starves at full tables, and complains of want.
8:1277 What to a people might in dole be paid,
8:1278 Or victual cities for a long blockade,
8:1279 Could not one wolfish appetite asswage;
8:1280 For glutting nourishment increas'd its rage.
8:1281 As rivers pour'd from ev'ry distant shore,
8:1282 The sea insatiate drinks, and thirsts for more;
8:1283 Or as the fire, which all materials burns,
8:1284 And wasted forests into ashes turns,
8:1285 Grows more voracious, as the more it preys,
8:1286 Recruits dilate the flame, and spread the blaze:
8:1287 So impious Erisichthon's hunger raves,
8:1288 Receives refreshments, and refreshments craves.
8:1289 Food raises a desire for food, and meat
8:1290 Is but a new provocative to eat.
8:1291 He grows more empty, as the more supply'd,
8:1292 And endless cramming but extends the void.
The Transformations of Erisichthon's Daughter
8:1293 Now riches hoarded by paternal care
8:1294 Were sunk, the glutton swallowing up the heir.
8:1295 Yet the devouring flame no stores abate,
8:1296 Nor less his hunger grew with his estate.
8:1297 One daughter left, as left his keen desire,
8:1298 A daughter worthy of a better sire:
8:1299 Her too he sold, spent Nature to sustain;
8:1300 She scorn'd a lord with generous disdain,
8:1301 And flying, spread her hand upon the main.
8:1302 Then pray'd: Grant, thou, I bondage may escape,
8:1303 And with my liberty reward thy rape;
8:1304 Repay my virgin treasure with thy aid
8:1305 ('Twas Neptune who deflower'd the beauteous maid).
8:1306 The God was mov'd, at what the fair had su'd,
8:1307 When she so lately by her master view'd
8:1308 In her known figure, on a sudden took
8:1309 A fisher's habit, and a manly look.
8:1310 To whom her owner hasted to enquire;
8:1311 O thou, said he, whose baits hide treach'rous wire;
8:1312 Whose art can manage, and experienc'd skill
8:1313 The taper angle, and the bobbing quill,
8:1314 So may the sea be ruffled with no storm,
8:1315 But smooth with calms, as you the truth inform;
8:1316 So your deceit may no shy fishes feel,
8:1317 'Till struck, and fasten'd on the bearded steel.
8:1318 Did not you standing view upon the strand,
8:1319 A wand'ring maid? I'm sure I saw her stand;
8:1320 Her hair disorder'd, and her homely dress
8:1321 Betray'd her want, and witness'd her distress.
8:1322 Me heedless, she reply'd, whoe'er you are
8:1323 Excuse, attentive to another care.
8:1324 I settled on the deep my steady eye;
8:1325 Fix'd on my float, and bent on my employ.
8:1326 And that you may not doubt what I impart,
8:1327 So may the ocean's God assist my art,
8:1328 If on the beach since I my sport pursu'd,
8:1329 Or man, or woman but my self I view'd.
8:1330 Back o'er the sands, deluded, he withdrew,
8:1331 Whilst she for her old form put off her new.
8:1332 Her sire her shifting pow'r to change perceiv'd;
8:1333 And various chapmen by her sale deceiv'd.
8:1334 A fowl with spangled plumes, a brinded steer,
8:1335 Sometimes a crested mare, or antler'd deer:
8:1336 Sold for a price, she parted, to maintain
8:1337 Her starving parent with dishonest gain.
8:1338 At last all means, as all provisions, fail'd;
8:1339 For the disease by remedies prevail'd;
8:1340 His muscles with a furious bite he tore,
8:1341 Gorg'd his own tatter'd flesh, and gulph'd his gore.
8:1342 Wounds were his feast, his life to life a prey,
8:1343 Supporting Nature by its own decay.
8:1344 But foreign stories why shou'd I relate?
8:1345 I too my self can to new forms translate,
8:1346 Tho' the variety's not unconfin'd,
8:1347 But fix'd, in number, and restrain'd in kind:
8:1348 For often I this present shape retain,
8:1349 Oft curl a snake the volumes of my train.
8:1350 Sometimes my strength into my horns transfer'd,
8:1351 A bull I march, the captain of the herd.
8:1352 But whilst I once those goring weapons wore,
8:1353 Vast wresting force one from my forehead tore.
8:1354 Lo, my maim'd brows the injury still own;
8:1355 He ceas'd; his words concluding with a groan.