Ovid [Trans., Sir Samuel Garth]. Metamorphoses
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BOOK THE NINTH
The Story of Achelous and Hercules
9:1 Theseus requests the God to tell his woes,
9:2 Whence his maim'd brow, and whence his groans arose
9:3 Whence thus the Calydonian stream reply'd,
9:4 With twining reeds his careless tresses ty'd:
9:5 Ungrateful is the tale; for who can bear,
9:6 When conquer'd, to rehearse the shameful war?
9:7 Yet I'll the melancholy story trace;
9:8 So great a conqu'ror softens the disgrace:
9:9 Nor was it still so mean the prize to yield,
9:10 As great, and glorious to dispute the field.
9:11 Perhaps you've heard of Deianira's name,
9:12 For all the country spoke her beauty's fame.
9:13 Long was the nymph by num'rous suitors woo'd,
9:14 Each with address his envy'd hopes pursu'd:
9:15 I joyn'd the loving band; to gain the fair,
9:16 Reveal'd my passion to her father's ear.
9:17 Their vain pretensions all the rest resign,
9:18 Alcides only strove to equal mine;
9:19 He boasts his birth from Jove, recounts his spoils,
9:20 His step-dame's hate subdu'd, and finish'd toils.
9:21 Can mortals then (said I), with Gods compare?
9:22 Behold a God; mine is the watry care:
9:23 Through your wide realms I take my mazy way,
9:24 Branch into streams, and o'er the region stray:
9:25 No foreign guest your daughter's charms adores,
9:26 But one who rises in your native shores.
9:27 Let not his punishment your pity move;
9:28 Is Juno's hate an argument for love?
9:29 Though you your life from fair Alcmena drew,
9:30 Jove's a feign'd father, or by fraud a true.
9:31 Chuse then; confess thy mother's honour lost,
9:32 Or thy descent from Jove no longer boast.
9:33 While thus I spoke, he look'd with stern disdain,
9:34 Nor could the sallies of his wrath restrain,
9:35 Which thus break forth. This arm decides our right;
9:36 Vanquish in words, be mine the prize in fight.
9:37 Bold he rush'd on. My honour to maintain,
9:38 I fling my verdant garments on the plain,
9:39 My arms stretch forth, my pliant limbs prepare,
9:40 And with bent hands expect the furious war.
9:41 O'er my sleek skin now gather'd dust he throws,
9:42 And yellow sand his mighty muscles strows.
9:43 Oft he my neck, and nimble legs assails,
9:44 He seems to grasp me, but as often fails.
9:45 Each part he now invades with eager hand;
9:46 Safe in my bulk, immoveable I stand.
9:47 So when loud storms break high, and foam and roar
9:48 Against some mole that stretches from the shore;
9:49 The firm foundation lasting tempests braves,
9:50 Defies the warring winds, and driving waves.
9:51 A-while we breathe, then forward rush amain,
9:52 Renew the combat, and our ground maintain;
9:53 Foot strove with foot, I prone extend my breast,
9:54 Hands war with hands, and forehead forehead prest.
9:55 Thus have I seen two furious bulls engage,
9:56 Inflam'd with equal love, and equal rage;
9:57 Each claims the fairest heifer of the grove,
9:58 And conquest only can decide their love:
9:59 The trembling herds survey the fight from far,
9:60 'Till victory decides th' important war.
9:61 Three times in vain he strove my joints to wrest,
9:62 To force my hold, and throw me from his breast;
9:63 The fourth he broke my gripe, that clasp'd him round,
9:64 Then with new force he stretch'd me on the ground;
9:65 Close to my back the mighty burthen clung,
9:66 As if a mountain o'er my limbs were flung.
9:67 Believe my tale; nor do I, boastful, aim
9:68 By feign'd narration to extol my fame.
9:69 No sooner from his grasp I freedom get,
9:70 Unlock my arms, that flow'd with trickling sweat,
9:71 But quick he seized me, and renew'd the strife,
9:72 As my exhausted bosom pants for life:
9:73 My neck he gripes, my knee to earth he strains;
9:74 I fall, and bite the sand with shame, and pains.
9:75 O'er-match'd in strength, to wiles, and arts I take,
9:76 And slip his hold, in form of speckled snake;
9:77 Who, when I wreath'd in spires my body round,
9:78 Or show'd my forky tongue with hissing sound,
9:79 Smiles at my threats: Such foes my cradle knew,
9:80 He cries, dire snakes my infant hand o'erthrew;
9:81 A dragon's form might other conquests gain,
9:82 To war with me you take that shape in vain.
9:83 Art thou proportion'd to the Hydra's length,
9:84 Who by his wounds receiv'd augmented strength?
9:85 He rais'd a hundred hissing heads in air;
9:86 When one I lopt, up-sprung a dreadful pair.
9:87 By his wounds fertile, and with slaughter strong,
9:88 Singly I quell'd him, and stretch'd dead along.
9:89 What canst thou do, a form precarious, prone,
9:90 To rouse my rage with terrors not thy own?
9:91 He said; and round my neck his hands he cast,
9:92 And with his straining fingers wrung me fast;
9:93 My throat he tortur'd, close as pincers clasp,
9:94 In vain I strove to loose the forceful grasp.
9:95 Thus vanquish'd too, a third form still remains,
9:96 Chang'd to a bull, my lowing fills the plains.
9:97 Strait on the left his nervous arms were thrown
9:98 Upon my brindled neck, and tugg'd it down;
9:99 Then deep he struck my horn into the sand,
9:100 And fell'd my bulk among the dusty land.
9:101 Nor yet his fury cool'd; 'twixt rage and scorn,
9:102 From my maim'd front he tore the stubborn horn:
9:103 This, heap'd with flow'rs, and fruits, the Naiads bear,
9:104 Sacred to plenty, and the bounteous year.
9:105 He spoke; when lo, a beauteous nymph appears,
9:106 Girt like Diana's train, with flowing hairs;
9:107 The horn she brings in which all Autumn's stor'd,
9:108 And ruddy apples for the second board.
9:109 Now morn begins to dawn, the sun's bright fire
9:110 Gilds the high mountains, and the youths retire;
9:111 Nor stay'd they, 'till the troubled stream subsides,
9:112 And in its bounds with peaceful current glides.
9:113 But Achelous in his oozy bed
9:114 Deep hides his brow deform'd, and rustick head:
9:115 No real wound the victor's triumph show'd,
9:116 But his lost honours griev'd the watry God;
9:117 Yet ev'n that loss the willow's leaves o'erspread,
9:118 And verdant reeds, in garlands, bind his head.
The Death of Nessus the Centaur
9:119 This virgin too, thy love, O Nessus, found,
9:120 To her alone you owe the fatal wound.
9:121 As the strong son of Jove his bride conveys,
9:122 Where his paternal lands their bulwarks raise;
9:123 Where from her slopy urn, Evenus pours
9:124 Her rapid current, swell'd by wintry show'rs,
9:125 He came. The frequent eddies whirl'd the tide,
9:126 And the deep rolling waves all pass deny'd.
9:127 As for himself, he stood unmov'd by fears,
9:128 For now his bridal charge employ'd his cares,
9:129 The strong-limb'd Nessus thus officious cry'd
9:130 (For he the shallows of the stream had try'd),
9:131 Swim thou, Alcides, all thy strength prepare,
9:132 On yonder bank I'll lodge thy nuptial care.
9:133 Th' Aonian chief to Nessus trusts his wife,
9:134 All pale, and trembling for her heroe's life:
9:135 Cloath'd as he stood in the fierce lion's hide,
9:136 The laden quiver o'er his shoulder ty'd
9:137 (For cross the stream his bow and club were cast),
9:138 Swift he plung'd in: These billows shall be past,
9:139 He said, nor sought where smoother waters glide,
9:140 But stem'd the rapid dangers of the tide.
9:141 The bank he reach'd; again the bow he bears;
9:142 When, hark! his bride's known voice alarms his ears.
9:143 Nessus, to thee I call (aloud he cries)
9:144 Vain is thy trust in flight, be timely wise:
9:145 Thou monster double-shap'd, my right set free;
9:146 If thou no rev'rence owe my fame and me,
9:147 Yet kindred should thy lawless lust deny;
9:148 Think not, perfidious wretch, from me to fly,
9:149 Tho' wing'd with horse's speed; wounds shall pursue;
9:150 Swift as his words the fatal arrow flew:
9:151 The centaur's back admits the feather'd wood,
9:152 And thro' his breast the barbed weapon stood;
9:153 Which when, in anguish, thro' the flesh he tore,
9:154 From both the wounds gush'd forth the spumy gore
9:155 Mix'd with Lernaean venom; this he took,
9:156 Nor dire revenge his dying breast forsook.
9:157 His garment, in the reeking purple dy'd,
9:158 To rouse love's passion, he presents the bride.
The Death of Hercules
9:159 Now a long interval of time succeeds,
9:160 When the great son of Jove's immortal deeds,
9:161 And step-dame's hate, had fill'd Earth's utmost round;
9:162 He from Oechalia, with new lawrels crown'd,
9:163 In triumph was return'd. He rites prepares,
9:164 And to the King of Gods directs his pray'rs;
9:165 When Fame (who falshood cloaths in truth's disguise,
9:166 And swells her little bulk with growing lies)
9:167 Thy tender ear, o Deianira, mov'd,
9:168 That Hercules the fair Iole lov'd.
9:169 Her love believes the tale; the truth she fears
9:170 Of his new passion, and gives way to tears.
9:171 The flowing tears diffus'd her wretched grief,
9:172 Why seek I thus, from streaming eyes, relief?
9:173 She cries; indulge not thus these fruitless cares,
9:174 The harlot will but triumph in thy tears:
9:175 Let something be resolv'd, while yet there's time;
9:176 My bed not conscious of a rival's crime.
9:177 In silence shall I mourn, or loud complain?
9:178 Shall I seek Calydon, or here remain?
9:179 What tho', ally'd to Meleager's fame,
9:180 I boast the honours of a sister's name?
9:181 My wrongs, perhaps, now urge me to pursue
9:182 Some desp'rate deed, by which the world shall view
9:183 How far revenge, and woman's rage can rise,
9:184 When weltring in her blood the harlot dies.
9:185 Thus various passions rul'd by turns her breast,
9:186 She now resolves to send the fatal vest,
9:187 Dy'd with Lernaean gore, whose pow'r might move
9:188 His soul anew, and rouse declining love.
9:189 Nor knew she what her sudden rage bestows,
9:190 When she to Lychas trusts her future woes;
9:191 With soft endearments she the boy commands,
9:192 To bear the garment to her husband's hands.
9:193 Th' unwitting hero takes the gift in haste,
9:194 And o'er his shoulders Lerna's poison cast,
9:195 As first the fire with frankincense he strows,
9:196 And utters to the Gods his holy vows;
9:197 And on the marble altar's polish'd frame
9:198 Pours forth the grapy stream; the rising flame
9:199 Sudden dissolves the subtle pois'nous juice,
9:200 Which taints his blood, and all his nerves bedews.
9:201 With wonted fortitude he bore the smart,
9:202 And not a groan confess'd his burning heart.
9:203 At length his patience was subdu'd by pain,
9:204 He rends the sacred altar from the plain;
9:205 Oete's wide forests echo with his cries:
9:206 Now to rip off the deathful robe he tries.
9:207 Where-e'er he plucks the vest, the skin he tears,
9:208 The mangled muscles, and huge bones he bares
9:209 (A ghastful sight!), or raging with his pain,
9:210 To rend the sticking plague he tugs in vain.
9:211 As the red iron hisses in the flood,
9:212 So boils the venom in his curdling blood.
9:213 Now with the greedy flame his entrails glow,
9:214 And livid sweats down all his body flow;
9:215 The cracking nerves burnt up are burst in twain,
9:216 The lurking venom melts his swimming brain.
9:217 Then, lifting both his hands aloft, he cries,
9:218 Glut thy revenge, dread Empress of the skies;
9:219 Sate with my death the rancour of thy heart,
9:220 Look down with pleasure, and enjoy my smart.
9:221 Or, if e'er pity mov'd a hostile breast
9:222 (For here I stand thy enemy profest),
9:223 Take hence this hateful life, with tortures torn,
9:224 Inur'd to trouble, and to labours born.
9:225 Death is the gift most welcome to my woe,
9:226 And such a gift a stepdame may bestow.
9:227 Was it for this Busiris was subdu'd,
9:228 Whose barb'rous temples reek'd with strangers' blood?
9:229 Press'd in these arms his fate Antaeus found,
9:230 Nor gain'd recruited vigour from the ground.
9:231 Did I not triple-form'd Geryon fell?
9:232 Or did I fear the triple dog of Hell?
9:233 Did not these hands the bull's arm'd forehead hold?
9:234 Are not our mighty toils in Elis told?
9:235 Do not Stymphalian lakes proclaim thy fame?
9:236 And fair Parthenian woods resound thy name?
9:237 Who seiz'd the golden belt of Thermodon?
9:238 And who the dragon-guarded apples won?
9:239 Could the fierce centaur's strength my force withstand,
9:240 Or the fell boar that spoil'd th' Arcadian land?
9:241 Did not these arms the Hydra's rage subdue,
9:242 Who from his wounds to double fury grew?
9:243 What if the Thracian horses, fat with gore,
9:244 Who human bodies in their mangers tore,
9:245 I saw, and with their barb'rous lord o'erthrew?
9:246 What if these hands Nemaea's lion slew?
9:247 Did not this neck the heav'nly globe sustain?
9:248 The female partner of the Thunderer's reign
9:249 Fatigu'd, at length suspends her harsh commands,
9:250 Yet no fatigue hath slack'd these valiant hands.
9:251 But now new plagues pursue me, neither force,
9:252 Nor arms, nor darts can stop their raging course.
9:253 Devouring flame thro' my rack'd entrails strays,
9:254 And on my lungs and shrivel'd muscles preys.
9:255 Yet still Eurystheus breathes the vital air.
9:256 What mortal now shall seek the Gods with pray'r?
The Transformation of Lychas into a Rock
9:257 The hero said; and with the torture stung,
9:258 Furious o'er Oete's lofty hills he sprung.
9:259 Stuck with the shaft, thus scours the tyger round,
9:260 And seeks the flying author of his wound.
9:261 Now might you see him trembling, now he vents
9:262 His anguish'd soul in groans, and loud laments;
9:263 He strives to tear the clinging vest in vain,
9:264 And with up-rooted forests strows the plain;
9:265 Now kindling into rage, his hands he rears,
9:266 And to his kindred Gods directs his pray'rs.
9:267 When Lychas, lo, he spies; who trembling flew,
9:268 And in a hollow rock conceal'd from view,
9:269 Had shun'd his wrath. Now grief renew'd his pain,
9:270 His madness chaf'd, and thus he raves again.
9:271 Lychas, to thee alone my fate I owe,
9:272 Who bore the gift, the cause of all my woe.
9:273 The youth all pale, with shiv'ring fear was stung,
9:274 And vain excuses falter'd on his tongue.
9:275 Alcides snatch'd him, as with suppliant face
9:276 He strove to clasp his knees, and beg for grace:
9:277 He toss'd him o'er his head with airy course,
9:278 And hurl'd with more than with an engine's force;
9:279 Far o'er th' Eubaean main aloof he flies,
9:280 And hardens by degrees amid the skies.
9:281 So showry drops, when chilly tempests blow,
9:282 Thicken at first, then whiten into snow,
9:283 In balls congeal'd the rolling fleeces bound,
9:284 In solid hail result upon the ground.
9:285 Thus, whirl'd with nervous force thro' distant air,
9:286 The purple tide forsook his veins, with fear;
9:287 All moisture left his limbs. Transform'd to stone,
9:288 In ancient days the craggy flint was known;
9:289 Still in the Eubaean waves his front he rears,
9:290 Still the small rock in human form appears,
9:291 And still the name of hapless Lychas bears.
The Apotheosis of Hercules
9:292 But now the hero of immortal birth
9:293 Fells Oete's forests on the groaning Earth;
9:294 A pile he builds; to Philoctetes' care
9:295 He leaves his deathful instruments of war;
9:296 To him commits those arrows, which again
9:297 Shall see the bulwarks of the Trojan reign.
9:298 The son of Paean lights the lofty pyre,
9:299 High round the structure climbs the greedy fire;
9:300 Plac'd on the top, thy nervous shoulders spread
9:301 With the Nemaean spoils, thy careless head
9:302 Rais'd on a knotty club, with look divine,
9:303 Here thou, dread hero, of celestial line,
9:304 Wert stretch'd at ease; as when a chearful guest,
9:305 Wine crown'd thy bowls, and flow'rs thy temples drest.
9:306 Now on all sides the potent flames aspire,
9:307 And crackle round those limbs that mock the fire
9:308 A sudden terror seiz'd th' immortal host,
9:309 Who thought the world's profess'd defender lost.
9:310 This when the Thund'rer saw, with smiles he cries,
9:311 'Tis from your fears, ye Gods, my pleasures rise;
9:312 Joy swells my breast, that my all-ruling hand
9:313 O'er such a grateful people boasts command,
9:314 That you my suff'ring progeny would aid;
9:315 Tho' to his deeds this just respect be paid,
9:316 Me you've oblig'd. Be all your fears forborn,
9:317 Th' Oetean fires do thou, great hero, scorn.
9:318 Who vanquish'd all things, shall subdue the flame.
9:319 That part alone of gross maternal frame
9:320 Fire shall devour; while what from me he drew
9:321 Shall live immortal, and its force subdue;
9:322 That, when he's dead, I'll raise to realms above;
9:323 May all the Pow'rs the righteous act approve.
9:324 If any God dissent, and judge too great
9:325 The sacred honours of the heav'nly seat,
9:326 Ev'n he shall own his deeds deserve the sky,
9:327 Ev'n he reluctant, shall at length comply.
9:328 Th' assembled Pow'rs assent. No frown 'till now
9:329 Had mark'd with passion vengeful Juno's brow,
9:330 Mean-while whate'er was in the pow'r of flame
9:331 Was all consum'd; his body's nervous frame
9:332 No more was known, of human form bereft,
9:333 Th' eternal part of Jove alone was left.
9:334 As an old serpent casts his scaly vest,
9:335 Wreathes in the sun, in youthful glory drest;
9:336 So when Alcides mortal mold resign'd,
9:337 His better part enlarg'd, and grew refin'd;
9:338 August his visage shone; almighty Jove
9:339 In his swift carr his honour'd offspring drove;
9:340 High o'er the hollow clouds the coursers fly,
9:341 And lodge the hero in the starry sky.
The Transformation of Galanthis
9:342 Atlas perceiv'd the load of Heav'n's new guest.
9:343 Revenge still rancour'd in Eurystheus' breast
9:344 Against Alcides' race. Alcmena goes
9:345 To Iole, to vent maternal woes;
9:346 Here she pours forth her grief, recounts the spoils
9:347 Her son had bravely reap'd in glorious toils.
9:348 This Iole, by Hercules' commands,
9:349 Hyllus had lov'd, and joyn'd in nuptial bands.
9:350 Her swelling womb the teeming birth confess'd,
9:351 To whom Alcmena thus her speech address'd.
9:352 O, may the Gods protect thee, in that hour,
9:353 When, 'midst thy throws, thou call'st th' Ilithyan Pow'r!
9:354 May no delays prolong thy racking pain,
9:355 As when I su'd for Juno's aid in vain.
9:356 When now Alcides' mighty birth drew nigh,
9:357 And the tenth sign roll'd forward on the sky,
9:358 My womb extends with such a mighty load,
9:359 As Jove the parent of the burthen show'd.
9:360 I could no more th' encreasing smart sustain,
9:361 My horror kindles to recount the pain;
9:362 Cold chills my limbs while I the tale pursue,
9:363 And now methinks I feel my pangs anew.
9:364 Seven days and nights amidst incessant throws,
9:365 Fatigu'd with ills I lay, nor knew repose;
9:366 When lifting high my hands, in shrieks I pray'd,
9:367 Implor'd the Gods, and call'd Lucina's aid.
9:368 She came, but prejudic'd, to give my Fate
9:369 A sacrifice to vengeful Juno's hate.
9:370 She hears the groaning anguish of my fits,
9:371 And on the altar at my door she sits.
9:372 O'er her left knee her crossing leg she cast,
9:373 Then knits her fingers close, and wrings them fast:
9:374 This stay'd the birth; in mutt'ring verse she pray'd,
9:375 The mutt'ring verse th' unfinish'd birth delay'd.
9:376 Now with fierce struggles, raging with my pain,
9:377 At Jove's ingratitude I rave in vain.
9:378 How did I wish for death! such groans I sent,
9:379 As might have made the flinty heart relent.
9:380 Now the Cadmeian matrons round me press,
9:381 Offer their vows, and seek to bring redress;
9:382 Among the Theban dames Galanthis stands,
9:383 Strong limb'd, red hair'd, and just to my commands:
9:384 She first perceiv'd that all these racking woes
9:385 From the persisting hate of Juno rose.
9:386 As here and there she pass'd, by chance she sees
9:387 The seated Goddess; on her close-press'd knees
9:388 Her fast-knit hands she leans; with chearful voice
9:389 Galanthis cries, Whoe'er thou art, rejoyce,
9:390 Congratulate the dame, she lies at rest,
9:391 At length the Gods Alcmena's womb have blest.
9:392 Swift from her seat the startled Goddess springs,
9:393 No more conceal'd, her hands abroad she flings;
9:394 The charm unloos'd, the birth my pangs reliev'd;
9:395 Galanthis' laughter vex'd the Pow'r deceiv'd.
9:396 Fame says, the Goddess dragg'd the laughing maid
9:397 Fast by the hair; in vain her force essay'd
9:398 Her grov'ling body from the ground to rear;
9:399 Chang'd to fore-feet her shrinking arms appear:
9:400 Her hairy back her former hue retains,
9:401 The form alone is lost; her strength remains;
9:402 Who, since the lye did from her mouth proceed,
9:403 Shall from her pregnant mouth bring forth her breed;
9:404 Nor shall she quit her long-frequented home,
9:405 But haunt those houses where she lov'd to roam.
The Fable of Dryope
9:406 She said, and for her lost Galanthis sighs;
9:407 When the fair consort of her son replies;
9:408 Since you a servant's ravish'd form bemoan,
9:409 And kindly sigh for sorrows not your own,
9:410 Let me (if tears and grief permit) relate
9:411 A nearer woe, a sister's stranger fate.
9:412 No nymph of all Oechaloa could compare
9:413 For beauteous form with Dryope the fair;
9:414 Her tender mother's only hope and pride
9:415 (My self the offspring of a second bride),
9:416 This nymph, compress'd by him who rules the day,
9:417 Whom Delphi, and the Delian isle obey,
9:418 Andraemon lov'd; and blest in all those charms
9:419 That pleas'd a God, succeeded to her arms.
9:420 A lake there was, with shelving banks around,
9:421 Whose verdant summit fragrant myrtles crown'd.
9:422 Those shades, unknowing of the fates, she sought;
9:423 And to the Naiads flow'ry garlands brought;
9:424 Her smiling babe (a pleasing charge) she prest
9:425 Between her arms, and nourish'd at her breast.
9:426 Not distant far a watry lotos grows;
9:427 The Spring was new, and all the verdant boughs,
9:428 Acorn'd with blossoms, promis'd fruits that vye
9:429 In glowing colours with the Tyrian dye.
9:430 Of these she cropt, to please her infant son,
9:431 And I my self the same rash act had done,
9:432 But, lo! I saw (as near her side I stood)
9:433 The violated blossoms drop with blood;
9:434 Upon the tree I cast a frightful look,
9:435 The trembling tree with sudden horror shook.
9:436 Lotis the nymph (if rural tales be true)
9:437 As from Priapus' lawless lust she flew,
9:438 Forsook her form; and fixing here became
9:439 A flow'ry plant, which still preserves her name.
9:440 This change unknown, astonish'd at the sight,
9:441 My trembling sister strove to urge her flight;
9:442 Yet first the pardon of the Nymphs implor'd,
9:443 And those offended Sylvan pow'rs ador'd:
9:444 But when she backward would have fled, she found
9:445 Her stiff'ning feet were rooted to the ground:
9:446 In vain to free her fasten'd feet she strove,
9:447 And as she struggles only moves above;
9:448 She feels th' incroaching bark around her grow,
9:449 By slow degrees, and cover all below:
9:450 Surpriz'd at this, her trembling hand she heaves
9:451 To rend her hair; her hand is fill'd with leaves;
9:452 Where late was hair, the shooting leaves are seen
9:453 To rise, and shade her with a sudden green.
9:454 The Child Amphisus, to her bosom prest,
9:455 Perceiv'd a colder and a harder breast,
9:456 And found the springs, that n'er 'till then deny'd
9:457 Their milky moisture, on a sudden dry'd.
9:458 I saw, unhappy, what I now relate,
9:459 And stood the helpless witness of thy fate;
9:460 Embrac'd thy boughs, the rising bark delay'd,
9:461 There wish'd to grow, and mingle shade with shade.
9:462 Behold Andraemon, and th' unhappy sire
9:463 Appear, and for their Dryope enquire;
9:464 A springing tree for Dryope they find,
9:465 And print warm kisses on the panting rind;
9:466 Prostrate, with tears their kindred plant bedew,
9:467 And close embrac'd, as to the roots they grew;
9:468 The face was all that now remain'd of thee;
9:469 No more a woman, nor yet quite a tree:
9:470 Thy branches hung with humid pearls appear,
9:471 From ev'ry leaf distills a trickling tear;
9:472 And strait a voice, while yet a voice remains,
9:473 Thus thro' the trembling boughs in sighs complains.
9:474 If to the wretched any faith be giv'n,
9:475 I swear by all th' unpitying Pow'rs of Heav'n,
9:476 No wilful crime this heavy vengeance bred,
9:477 In mutual innocence our lives we led.
9:478 If this be false, let these new greens decay,
9:479 Let sounding axes lop my limbs away,
9:480 And crackling flames on all my honours prey.
9:481 Now from my branching arms this infant bear,
9:482 Let some kind nurse supply a mother's care;
9:483 Yet to his mother let him oft be led,
9:484 Sport in her shades, and in her shades be fed;
9:485 Teach him, when first his infant voice shall frame
9:486 Imperfect words, and lisp his mother's name,
9:487 To hail this tree, and say with weeping eyes,
9:488 Within this plant my hapless parent lies;
9:489 And when in youth he seeks the shady woods,
9:490 Oh, let him fly the chrystal lakes and floods,
9:491 Nor touch the fatal flow'rs; but warn'd by me,
9:492 Believe a Goddess shrin'd in ev'ry tree.
9:493 My sire, my sister, and my spouse farewel!
9:494 If in your breasts or love, or pity, dwell,
9:495 Protect your plant, nor let my branches feel
9:496 The browzing cattle, or the piercing steel.
9:497 Farewel! and since I cannot bend to join
9:498 My lips to yours, advance at least to mine.
9:499 My son, thy mother's parting kiss receive,
9:500 While yet thy mother has a kiss to give.
9:501 I can no more; the creeping rind invades
9:502 My closing lips, and hides my head in shades:
9:503 Remove your hands; the bark shall soon suffice,
9:504 Without their aid, to seal these dying eyes.
9:505 She ceas'd at once to speak, and ceas'd to be;
9:506 And all the nymph was lost within the tree:
9:507 Yet latent life thro' her new branches reign'd,
9:508 And long the plant a human heat retain'd.
Iolaus restor'd to Youth
9:509 While Iole the fatal change declares,
9:510 Alcmena's pitying hand oft wip'd her tears.
9:511 Grief too stream'd down her cheeks; soon sorrow flies,
9:512 And rising joy the trickling moisture dries,
9:513 Lo Iolaus stands before their eyes.
9:514 A youth he stood; and the soft down began
9:515 O'er his smooth chin to spread, and promise man.
9:516 Hebe submitted to her husband's pray'rs,
9:517 Instill'd new vigour, and restor'd his years.
The Prophecy of Themis
9:518 Now from her lips a solemn oath had past,
9:519 That Iolaus this gift alone shou'd taste,
9:520 Had not just Themis thus maturely said
9:521 (Which check'd her vow, and aw'd the blooming maid).
9:522 Thebes is embroil'd in war. Capaneus stands
9:523 Invincible, but by the Thund'rer's hands.
9:524 Ambition shall the guilty brothers fire,
9:525 Both rush to mutual wounds, and both expire.
9:526 The reeling Earth shall ope her gloomy womb,
9:527 Where the yet breathing bard shall find his tomb.
9:528 The son shall bath his hands in parents' blood,
9:529 And in one act be both unjust, and good.
9:530 Of home, and sense depriv'd, where-e'er he flies,
9:531 The Furies, and his mother's ghost he spies.
9:532 His wife the fatal bracelet shall implore,
9:533 And Phegeus stain his sword in kindred gore.
9:534 Callirhoe shall then with suppliant pray'r
9:535 Prevail on Jupiter's relenting ear.
9:536 Jove shall with youth her infant sons inspire,
9:537 And bid their bosoms glow with manly fire.
The Debate of the Gods
9:538 When Themis thus with prescient voice had spoke,
9:539 Among the Gods a various murmur broke;
9:540 Dissention rose in each immortal breast,
9:541 That one should grant, what was deny'd the rest.
9:542 Aurora for her aged spouse complains,
9:543 And Ceres grieves for Jason's freezing veins;
9:544 Vulcan would Erichthonius' years renew,
9:545 Her future race the care of Venus drew,
9:546 She would Anchises' blooming age restore;
9:547 A diff'rent care employ'd each heav'nly Pow'r:
9:548 Thus various int'rests did their jars encrease,
9:549 'Till Jove arose; he spoke, their tumults cease.
9:550 Is any rev'rence to our presence giv'n,
9:551 Then why this discord 'mong the Pow'rs of Heav'n?
9:552 Who can the settled will of Fate subdue?
9:553 'Twas by the Fates that Iolaus knew
9:554 A second youth. The Fates' determin'd doom
9:555 Shall give Callirhoe's race a youthful bloom.
9:556 Arms, nor ambition can this pow'r obtain;
9:557 Quell your desires; ev'n me the Fates restrain.
9:558 Could I their will controul, no rolling years
9:559 Had Aeacus bent down with silver hairs;
9:560 Then Rhadamanthus still had youth possess'd,
9:561 And Minos with eternal bloom been bless'd.
9:562 Jove's words the synod mov'd; the Pow'rs give o'er,
9:563 And urge in vain unjust complaint no more.
9:564 Since Rhadamanthus' veins now slowly flow'd,
9:565 And Aeacus, and Minos bore the load;
9:566 Minos, who in the flow'r of youth, and fame,
9:567 Made mighty nations tremble at his name,
9:568 Infirm with age, the proud Miletus fears,
9:569 Vain of his birth, and in the strength of years,
9:570 And now regarding all his realms as lost,
9:571 He durst not force him from his native coast.
9:572 But you by choice, Miletus, fled his reign,
9:573 And thy swift vessel plow'd th' Aegean main;
9:574 On Asiatick shores a town you frame,
9:575 Which still is honour'd with the founder's name.
9:576 Here you Cyanee knew, the beauteous maid,
9:577 As on her father's winding banks she stray'd:
9:578 Caunus and Byblis hence their lineage trace,
9:579 The double offspring of your warm embrace.
The Passion of of Byblis
9:580 Let the sad fate of wretched Byblis prove
9:581 A dismal warning to unlawful love;
9:582 One birth gave being to the hapless pair,
9:583 But more was Caunus than a sister's care;
9:584 Unknown she lov'd, for yet the gentle fire
9:585 Rose not in flames, nor kindled to desire,
9:586 'Twas thought no sin to wonder at his charms,
9:587 Hang on his neck, and languish in his arms;
9:588 Thus wing'd with joy, fled the soft hours away,
9:589 And all the fatal guilt on harmless Nature lay.
9:590 But love (too soon from piety declin'd)
9:591 Insensibly deprav'd her yielding mind.
9:592 Dress'd she appears, with nicest art adorn'd,
9:593 And ev'ry youth, but her lov'd brother, scorn'd;
9:594 For him alone she labour'd to be fair,
9:595 And curst all charms that might with hers compare.
9:596 'Twas she, and only she, must Caunus please,
9:597 Sick at her heart, yet knew not her disease:
9:598 She call'd him lord, for brother was a name
9:599 Too cold, and dull for her aspiring flame;
9:600 And when he spoke, if sister he reply'd,
9:601 For Byblis change that frozen word, she cry'd.
9:602 Yet waking still she watch'd her strugling breast,
9:603 And love's approaches were in vain address'd,
9:604 'Till gentle sleep an easy conquest made,
9:605 And in her soft embrace the conqueror was laid.
9:606 But oh too soon the pleasing vision fled,
9:607 And left her blushing on the conscious bed:
9:608 Ah me! (she cry'd) how monstrous do I seem?
9:609 Why these wild thoughts? and this incestuous dream?
9:610 Envy herself ('tis true) must own his charms,
9:611 But what is beauty in a sister's arms?
9:612 Oh were I not that despicable she,
9:613 How bless'd, how pleas'd, how happy shou'd I be!
9:614 But unregarded now must bear my pain,
9:615 And but in dreams, my wishes can obtain.
9:616 O sea-born Goddess! with thy wanton boy!
9:617 Was ever such a charming scene of joy?
9:618 Such perfect bliss! such ravishing delight!
9:619 Ne'er hid before in the kind shades of night.
9:620 How pleas'd my heart! in what sweet raptures tost!
9:621 Ev'n life it self in the soft combat lost,
9:622 While breathless he on my heav'd bosom lay,
9:623 And snatch'd the treasures of my soul away.
9:624 If the bare fancy so affects my mind,
9:625 How shou'd I rave if to the substance join'd?
9:626 Oh, gentle Caunus! quit thy hated line,
9:627 Or let thy parents be no longer mine!
9:628 Oh that in common all things were enjoy'd,
9:629 But those alone who have our hopes destroy'd.
9:630 Were I a princess, thou an humble swain,
9:631 The proudest kings shou'd rival thee in vain.
9:632 It cannot be, alas! the dreadful ill
9:633 Is fix'd by Fate, and he's my brother still.
9:634 Hear me, ye Gods! I must have friends in Heav'n,
9:635 For Jove himself was to a sister giv'n:
9:636 But what are their prerogatives above,
9:637 To the short liberties of human love?
9:638 Fantastick thoughts! down, down, forbidden fires,
9:639 Or instant death extinguish my desires.
9:640 Strict virtue, then, with thy malicious leave,
9:641 Without a crime I may a kiss receive:
9:642 But say shou'd I in spight of laws comply,
9:643 Yet cruel Caunus might himself deny,
9:644 No pity take of an afflicted maid
9:645 (For love's sweet game must be by couples play'd).
9:646 Yet why shou'd youth, and charms like mine, despair?
9:647 Such fears ne'er startled the Aeolian pair;
9:648 No ties of blood could their full hopes destroy,
9:649 They broke thro' all, for the prevailing joy;
9:650 And who can tell but Caunus too may be
9:651 Rack'd and tormented in his breast for me?
9:652 Like me, to the extreamest anguish drove,
9:653 Like me, just waking from a dream of love?
9:654 But stay! Oh whither wou'd my fury run!
9:655 What arguments I urge to be undone!
9:656 Away fond Byblis, quench these guilty flames;
9:657 Caunus thy love but as brother claims;
9:658 Yet had he first been touch'd with love of me,
9:659 The charming youth cou'd I despairing see?
9:660 Oppress'd with grief, and dying by disdain?
9:661 Ah no! too sure I shou'd have eas'd his pain!
9:662 Since then, if Caunus ask'd me, it were done;
9:663 Asking my self, what dangers can I run?
9:664 But canst thou ask? and see that right betray'd,
9:665 From Pyrrha down to thy whole sex convey'd?
9:666 That self-denying gift we all enjoy,
9:667 Of wishing to be won, yet seeming to be coy.
9:668 Well then, for once, let a fond mistress woo;
9:669 The force of love no custom can subdue;
9:670 This frantick passion he by words shall know,
9:671 Soft as the melting heart from whence they flow.
9:672 The pencil then in her fair hand she held,
9:673 By fear discourag'd, but by love compell'd
9:674 She writes, then blots, writes on, and blots again,
9:675 Likes it as fit, then razes it as vain:
9:676 Shame, and assurance in her face appear,
9:677 And a faint hope just yielding to despair;
9:678 Sister was wrote, and blotted as a word
9:679 Which she, and Caunus too (she hop'd) abhorr'd;
9:680 But now resolv'd to be no more controul'd
9:681 By scrup'lous virtue, thus her grief she told.
9:682 Thy lover (gentle Caunus) wishes thee
9:683 That health, which thou alone canst give to me.
9:684 O charming youth! the gift I ask bestow,
9:685 Ere thou the name of the fond writer know;
9:686 To thee without a name I would be known,
9:687 Since knowing that, my frailty I must own.
9:688 Yet why shou'd I my wretched name conceal?
9:689 When thousand instances my flames reveal:
9:690 Wan looks, and weeping eyes have spoke my pain,
9:691 And sighs discharg'd from my heav'd heart in vain;
9:692 Had I not wish'd my passion might be seen,
9:693 What cou'd such fondness and embraces mean?
9:694 Such kisses too! (Oh heedless lovely boy)
9:695 Without a crime no sister cou'd enjoy:
9:696 Yet (tho' extreamest rage has rack'd my soul,
9:697 And raging fires in my parch'd bosom roul)
9:698 Be witness, Gods! how piously I strove,
9:699 To rid my thoughts of this enchanting love.
9:700 But who cou'd scape so fierce, and sure a dart,
9:701 Aim'd at a tender, and defenceless heart?
9:702 Alas! what maid cou'd suffer, I have born,
9:703 Ere the dire secret from my breast was torn;
9:704 To thee a helpless vanquish'd wretch I come,
9:705 'Tis you alone can save, or give my doom;
9:706 My life, or death this moment you may chuse.
9:707 Yet think, oh think, no hated stranger sues,
9:708 No foe; but one, alas! too near ally'd,
9:709 And wishing still much nearer to be ty'd.
9:710 The forms of decency let age debate,
9:711 And virtue's rules by their cold morals state;
9:712 Their ebbing joys give leisure to enquire,
9:713 And blame those noble flights our youth inspire:
9:714 Where Nature kindly summons let us go,
9:715 Our sprightly years no bounds in love shou'd know,
9:716 Shou'd feel no check of guilt, and fear no ill;
9:717 Lovers, and Gods act all things at their will:
9:718 We gain one blessing from our hated kin,
9:719 Since our paternal freedom hides the sin;
9:720 Uncensur'd in each other's arms we lye,
9:721 Think then how easie to compleat our joy.
9:722 Oh, pardon and oblige a blushing maid,
9:723 Whose rage the pride of her vain sex betray'd;
9:724 Nor let my tomb thus mournfully complain,
9:725 Here Byblis lies, by her lov'd Caunus slain.
9:726 Forc'd here to end, she with a falling tear
9:727 Temper'd the pliant wax, which did the signet bear:
9:728 The curious cypher was impress'd by art,
9:729 But love had stamp'd one deeper in her heart;
9:730 Her page, a youth of confidence, and skill,
9:731 (Secret as night) stood waiting on her will;
9:732 Sighing (she cry'd): Bear this, thou faithful boy,
9:733 To my sweet partner in eternal joy:
9:734 Here a long pause her secret guilt confess'd,
9:735 And when at length she would have spoke the rest,
9:736 Half the dear name lay bury'd in her breast.
9:737 Thus as he listned to her vain command,
9:738 Down fell the letter from her trembling hand.
9:739 The omen shock'd her soul. Yet go, she cry'd;
9:740 Can a request from Byblis be deny'd?
9:741 To the Maeandrian youth this message's born,
9:742 The half-read lines by his fierce rage were torn;
9:743 Hence, hence, he cry'd, thou pandar to her lust,
9:744 Bear hence the triumph of thy impious trust:
9:745 Thy instant death will but divulge her shame,
9:746 Or thy life's blood shou'd quench the guilty flame.
9:747 Frighted, from threatning Caunus he withdrew,
9:748 And with the dreadful news to his lost mistress flew.
9:749 The sad repulse so struck the wounded fair,
9:750 Her sense was bury'd in her wild despair;
9:751 Pale was her visage, as the ghastly dead;
9:752 And her scar'd soul from the sweet mansion fled;
9:753 Yet with her life renew'd, her love returns,
9:754 And faintly thus her cruel fate she mourns:
9:755 'Tis just, ye Gods! was my false reason blind?
9:756 To write a secret of this tender kind?
9:757 With female craft I shou'd at first have strove,
9:758 By dubious hints to sound his distant love;
9:759 And try'd those useful, tho' dissembled, arts,
9:760 Which women practise on disdainful hearts:
9:761 I shou'd have watch'd whence the black storm might rise;
9:762 Ere I had trusted the unfaithful skies.
9:763 Now on the rouling billows I am tost,
9:764 And with extended sails, on the blind shelves am lost.
9:765 Did not indulgent Heav'n my doom foretell,
9:766 When from my hand the fatal letter fell?
9:767 What madness seiz'd my soul? and urg'd me on
9:768 To take the only course to be undone?
9:769 I cou'd my self have told the moving tale
9:770 With such alluring grace as must prevail;
9:771 Then had his eyes beheld my blushing fears,
9:772 My rising sighs, and my descending tears;
9:773 Round his dear neck these arms I then had spread,
9:774 And, if rejected, at his feet been dead:
9:775 If singly these had not his thoughts inclin'd,
9:776 Yet all united would have shock'd his mind.
9:777 Perhaps, my careless page might be in fault,
9:778 And in a luckless hour the fatal message brought;
9:779 Business, and worldly thoughts might fill his breast,
9:780 Sometimes ev'n love itself may be an irksome guest:
9:781 He cou'd not else have treated me with scorn,
9:782 For Caunus was not of a tygress born;
9:783 Nor steel, nor adamant has fenc'd his heart;
9:784 Like mine, 'tis naked to the burning dart.
9:785 Away false fears! he must, he shall be mine;
9:786 In death alone I will my claim resign;
9:787 'Tis vain to wish my written crime unknown,
9:788 And for my guilt much vainer to atone.
9:789 Repuls'd and baffled, fiercer still she burns,
9:790 And Caunus with disdain her impious love returns.
9:791 He saw no end of her injurious flame,
9:792 And fled his country to avoid the shame.
9:793 Forsaken Byblis, who had hopes no more;
9:794 Burst out in rage, and her loose robes she tore;
9:795 With her fair hands she smote her tender breast,
9:796 And to the wond'ring world her love confess'd;
9:797 O'er hills and dales, o'er rocks and streams she flew,
9:798 But still in vain did her wild lust pursue:
9:799 Wearied at length, on the cold earth she fell,
9:800 And now in tears alone could her sad story tell.
9:801 Relenting Gods in pity fix'd her there,
9:802 And to a fountain turn'd the weeping fair.
The Fable of Iphis and Ianthe
9:803 The fame of this, perhaps, thro' Crete had flown:
9:804 But Crete had newer wonders of her own,
9:805 In Iphis chang'd; for, near the Gnossian bounds
9:806 (As loud report the miracle resounds),
9:807 At Phaestus dwelt a man of honest blood,
9:808 But meanly born, and not so rich as good;
9:809 Esteem'd, and lov'd by all the neighbourhood;
9:810 Who to his wife, before the time assign'd
9:811 For child-birth came, thus bluntly spoke his mind.
9:812 If Heav'n, said Lygdus, will vouchsafe to hear,
9:813 I have but two petitions to prefer;
9:814 Short pains for thee, for me a son and heir.
9:815 Girls cost as many throes in bringing forth;
9:816 Beside, when born, the titts are little worth;
9:817 Weak puling things, unable to sustain
9:818 Their share of labour, and their bread to gain.
9:819 If, therefore, thou a creature shalt produce,
9:820 Of so great charges, and so little use
9:821 (Bear witness, Heav'n, with what reluctancy),
9:822 Her hapless innocence I doom to die.
9:823 He said, and common tears the common grief display,
9:824 Of him who bad, and her who must obey.
9:825 Yet Telethusa still persists, to find
9:826 Fit arguments to move a father's mind;
9:827 T' extend his wishes to a larger scope,
9:828 And in one vessel not confine his hope.
9:829 Lygdus continues hard: her time drew near,
9:830 And she her heavy load could scarcely bear;
9:831 When slumbring, in the latter shades of night,
9:832 Before th' approaches of returning light,
9:833 She saw, or thought she saw, before her bed,
9:834 A glorious train, and Isis at their head:
9:835 Her moony horns were on her forehead plac'd,
9:836 And yellow shelves her shining temples grac'd:
9:837 A mitre, for a crown, she wore on high;
9:838 The dog, and dappl'd bull were waiting by;
9:839 Osyris, sought along the banks of Nile;
9:840 The silent God: the sacred crocodile;
9:841 And, last, a long procession moving on,
9:842 With timbrels, that assist the lab'ring moon.
9:843 Her slumbers seem'd dispell'd, and, broad awake,
9:844 She heard a voice, that thus distinctly spake.
9:845 My votary, thy babe from death defend,
9:846 Nor fear to save whate'er the Gods will send.
9:847 Delude with art thy husband's dire decree:
9:848 When danger calls, repose thy trust on me:
9:849 And know thou hast not serv'd a thankless deity.
9:850 This promise made, with night the Goddess fled;
9:851 With joy the woman wakes, and leaves her bed;
9:852 Devoutly lifts her spotless hands on high,
9:853 And prays the Pow'rs their gift to ratifie.
9:854 Now grinding pains proceed to bearing throes,
9:855 'Till its own weight the burden did disclose.
9:856 'Twas of the beauteous kind, and brought to light
9:857 With secrecy, to shun the father's sight.
9:858 Th' indulgent mother did her care employ,
9:859 And past it on her husband for a boy.
9:860 The nurse was conscious of the fact alone;
9:861 The father paid his vows as for a son;
9:862 And call'd him Iphis, by a common name,
9:863 Which either sex with equal right may claim.
9:864 Iphis his grandsire was; the wife was pleas'd,
9:865 Of half the fraud by Fortune's favour eas'd:
9:866 The doubtful name was us'd without deceit,
9:867 And truth was cover'd with a pious cheat.
9:868 The habit show'd a boy, the beauteous face
9:869 With manly fierceness mingled female grace.
9:870 Now thirteen years of age were swiftly run,
9:871 When the fond father thought the time drew on
9:872 Of settling in the world his only son.
9:873 Ianthe was his choice; so wondrous fair,
9:874 Her form alone with Iphis cou'd compare;
9:875 A neighbour's daughter of his own degree,
9:876 And not more bless'd with Fortune's goods than he.
9:877 They soon espous'd; for they with ease were join'd,
9:878 Who were before contracted in the mind.
9:879 Their age the same, their inclinations too;
9:880 And bred together, in one school they grew.
9:881 Thus, fatally dispos'd to mutual fires,
9:882 They felt, before they knew, the same desires.
9:883 Equal their flame, unequal was their care;
9:884 One lov'd with hope, one languish'd in despair.
9:885 The maid accus'd the lingring day alone:
9:886 For whom she thought a man, she thought her own.
9:887 But Iphis bends beneath a greater grief;
9:888 As fiercely burns, but hopes for no relief.
9:889 Ev'n her despair adds fuel to her fire;
9:890 A maid with madness does a maid desire.
9:891 And, scarce refraining tears, Alas, said she,
9:892 What issue of my love remains for me!
9:893 How wild a passion works within my breast,
9:894 With what prodigious flames am I possest!
9:895 Could I the care of Providence deserve,
9:896 Heav'n must destroy me, if it would preserve.
9:897 And that's my fate, or sure it would have sent
9:898 Some usual evil for my punishment:
9:899 Not this unkindly curse; to rage, and burn,
9:900 Where Nature shews no prospect of return.
9:901 Nor cows for cows consume with fruitless fire;
9:902 Nor mares, when hot, their fellow-mares desire:
9:903 The father of the fold supplies his ewes;
9:904 The stag through secret woods his hind pursues;
9:905 And birds for mates the males of their own species chuse.
9:906 Her females Nature guards from female flame,
9:907 And joins two sexes to preserve the game:
9:908 Wou'd I were nothing, or not what I am!
9:909 Crete, fam'd for monsters, wanted of her store,
9:910 'Till my new love produc'd one monster more.
9:911 The daughter of the sun a bull desir'd,
9:912 And yet ev'n then a male a female fir'd:
9:913 Her passion was extravagantly new,
9:914 But mine is much the madder of the two.
9:915 To things impossible she was not bent,
9:916 But found the means to compass her intent.
9:917 To cheat his eyes she took a different shape;
9:918 Yet still she gain'd a lover, and a leap.
9:919 Shou'd all the wit of all the world conspire,
9:920 Shou'd Daedalus assist my wild desire,
9:921 What art can make me able to enjoy,
9:922 Or what can change Ianthe to a boy?
9:923 Extinguish then thy passion, hopeless maid,
9:924 And recollect thy reason for thy aid.
9:925 Know what thou art, and love as maidens ought,
9:926 And drive these golden wishes from thy thought.
9:927 Thou canst not hope thy fond desires to gain;
9:928 Where hope is wanting, wishes are in vain.
9:929 And yet no guards against our joys conspire;
9:930 No jealous husband hinders our desire;
9:931 My parents are propitious to my wish,
9:932 And she herself consenting to the bliss.
9:933 All things concur to prosper our design;
9:934 All things to prosper any love but mine.
9:935 And yet I never can enjoy the fair;
9:936 'Tis past the pow'r of Heav'n to grant my pray'r.
9:937 Heav'n has been kind, as far as Heav'n can be;
9:938 Our parents with our own desires agree;
9:939 But Nature, stronger than the Gods above,
9:940 Refuses her assistance to my love;
9:941 She sets the bar that causes all my pain;
9:942 One gift refus'd, makes all their bounty vain.
9:943 And now the happy day is just at hand,
9:944 To bind our hearts in Hymen's holy band:
9:945 Our hearts, but not our bodies: thus accurs'd,
9:946 In midst of water I complain of thirst.
9:947 Why com'st thou, Juno, to these barren rites,
9:948 To bless a bed defrauded of delights?
9:949 But why shou'd Hymen lift his torch on high,
9:950 To see two brides in cold embraces lye?
9:951 Thus love-sick Iphis her vain passion mourns;
9:952 With equal ardour fair Ianthe burns,
9:953 Invoking Hymen's name, and Juno's pow'r,
9:954 To speed the work, and haste the happy hour.
9:955 She hopes, while Telethusa fears the day,
9:956 And strives to interpose some new delay:
9:957 Now feigns a sickness, now is in a fright
9:958 For this bad omen, or that boding sight.
9:959 But having done whate'er she could devise,
9:960 And empty'd all her magazine of lies,
9:961 The time approach'd; the next ensuing day
9:962 The fatal secret must to light betray.
9:963 Then Telethusa had recourse to pray'r,
9:964 She, and her daughter with dishevel'd hair;
9:965 Trembling with fear, great Isis they ador'd,
9:966 Embrac'd her altar, and her aid implor'd.
9:967 Fair queen, who dost on fruitful Egypt smile,
9:968 Who sway'st the sceptre of the Pharian isle,
9:969 And sev'n-fold falls of disemboguing Nile,
9:970 Relieve, in this our last distress, she said,
9:971 A suppliant mother, and a mournful maid.
9:972 Thou, Goddess, thou wert present to my sight;
9:973 Reveal'd I saw thee by thy own fair light:
9:974 I saw thee in my dream, as now I see,
9:975 With all thy marks of awful majesty:
9:976 The glorious train that compass'd thee around;
9:977 And heard the hollow timbrels holy sound.
9:978 Thy words I noted, which I still retain;
9:979 Let not thy sacred oracles be vain.
9:980 That Iphis lives, that I myself am free
9:981 From shame, and punishment, I owe to thee.
9:982 On thy protection all our hopes depend.
9:983 Thy counsel sav'd us, let thy pow'r defend.
9:984 Her tears pursu'd her words; and while she spoke,
9:985 The Goddess nodded, and her altar shook:
9:986 The temple doors, as with a blast of wind,
9:987 Were heard to clap; the lunar horns that bind
9:988 The brows of Isis cast a blaze around;
9:989 The trembling timbrel made a murm'ring sound.
9:990 Some hopes these happy omens did impart;
9:991 Forth went the mother with a beating heart:
9:992 Not much in fear, nor fully satisfy'd;
9:993 But Iphis follow'd with a larger stride:
9:994 The whiteness of her skin forsook her face;
9:995 Her looks embolden'd with an awful grace;
9:996 Her features, and her strength together grew,
9:997 And her long hair to curling locks withdrew.
9:998 Her sparkling eyes with manly vigour shone,
9:999 Big was her voice, audacious was her tone.
9:1000 The latent parts, at length reveal'd, began
9:1001 To shoot, and spread, and burnish into man.
9:1002 The maid becomes a youth; no more delay
9:1003 Your vows, but look, and confidently pay.
9:1004 Their gifts the parents to the temple bear:
9:1005 The votive tables this inscription wear;
9:1006 Iphis the man, has to the Goddess paid
9:1007 The vows, that Iphis offer'd when a maid.
9:1008 Now when the star of day had shewn his face,
9:1009 Venus and Juno with their presence grace
9:1010 The nuptial rites, and Hymen from above
9:1011 Descending to compleat their happy love;
9:1012 The Gods of marriage lend their mutual aid;
9:1013 And the warm youth enjoys the lovely maid.