tremble; for my spouse. "Spouse, dost thou say, Medea? hid'st thou thus, "With specious names thy crime? Behold the load "Of guilt thou goest to bear! While power remains "The sin avoid."—She said, and duty, shame, And rectitude, before her eyes appear'd; And vanquish'd love address'd his wings to flight. Now to an ancient altar Hecat' own'd, By shady trees dark veil'd from day, she came: Her flames abated, and her eager pulse Subsided. Here AEsonides she saw, And bright her love reblaz'd. Warm flush'd her cheeks, Deep all her visage glow'd. The smallest spark Thus low in embers hid, its vigor shews; Help'd by the feeding blast, increasing burns, And stirr'd in all its wonted fury glows. Just so the languid passion which but now All but extinct appear'd, the hero seen Fresh at his beauteous presence flam'd. By chance More beauteous Jason on that morn appear'd; Well might a lover all her love excuse. She looks, his countenance with her eyes devours As then first seen; and madly fond, she deems His features more than mortal: bashful turn'd Her forehead not from his. But when her guest Address'd her: when he gently took her hands; And crav'd assistance in an humble tone, The nuptial promise giving. Plenteous flow'd Her tears, exclaiming;—"What I should perform "Plainly I see: not ignorance me misleads "But love. My gifts shall aid you, you but keep "The promise pledg'd."—Sacred the hero swears By her, the tri-form'd goddess, whom that grove Acknowledges divine; and by the god, Whence sprung the sire-in-law he hopes to claim; The god who all beholds; by all his deeds Atchiev'd; and by his perils all he swears. His words believ'd, immediate he receives The magic plants, their use well taught, and seeks The roof rejoicing. Now the morn had driven The glimmering stars far distant, crowding press'd The people in the sacred field of Mars, The king himself amidst them, seated high, In purple clad, with ivory sceptre grac'd. Lo! come the brazen-footed bulls, who breathe Through nostrils fenc'd with adamant hot flames: Parch'd by their breath, the herbage blacken'd burns. Loud as the blazing forge's chimney roars; Or loud as lime in earthy furnace laid, Bursts into heat by watery sprinklings touch'd: So loud, within their flaming chests contain'd, The struggling fires loud bellow'd. Scorch'd their throats The sound transmitted. Boldly AEson's son March'd onward; fiercely as the youth approach'd, His foes dark lower'd, and bent their steel-tipt horns, Paw'd with their clefted hoofs the dusty ground, And fill'd with smoky bellowings all the air. Pale grew each Grecian face; advancing on The fiery blasts he feels not, such the power The mighty charms possess, but boldly strokes Their dewlaps pendulous, and to the yoke Subjected, makes them drag the ponderous plough; And with the iron cut th' uncustom'd soil. The Colchians wondering gaze; the Grecians loud Applaud, and with fresh courage fill his soul. Then from his brazen helmet pluck'd, he sows The serpent's teeth, deep in the furrow'd ground: The ground, the teeth with powerful venom ting'd, Soften'd and swell'd them, and a novel shape Imparted. Thus within the parent's womb, An human shape the infant mass receives, Completed perfect in the dark recess; Nor till mature, to air external given. So when the manly forms were perfect made Within earth's pregnant bowels, up they sprung Thick in the fruitful field; more wonderous still Their arms they clash'd when born. Then when the Greeks Their keenly-pointed spears preparing saw To hurl at Jason's head, low sunk their souls, And pallid grew their cheeks; Medea ev'n, Whose art insur'd his safety, trembling fear'd, When single she the youth beheld assail'd By foes in hosts; bloodless her face became, And tremor seiz'd her limbs: then lest the herbs Presented first, should fail in power, she sings An helping magic song, and all her arts Latent, calls forth. Amidst the hostile crowd A mighty rock he flings; their martial rage From him diverted, on each other turns. By mutual wounds the earth-born brothers fall; In civil discord perish. Joy'd again The Grecians clasp the conqueror in their arms. Thou too, Medea, wish'd thine arms to fill With him victorious. (Shame at first repress'd Thy open fondness, though thou wast embrac'd) Now reputation awes thee, now prevents That bliss. What honor gives,—silent to joy, And pour glad thanks to all thy magic arts, And gods their authors, those thou dar'st indulge. Now sole remains by powerful herbs to lull The wakeful dragon, whose high-crested head A triple tongue contains, whose crooked fangs Dreadful the golden fleece protecting guards. Him when be sprinkled with the juices prest From plants Lethean; and repeated thrice, The words which placid sleep inspire; which still The ruffled ocean; and arrest the course Of rapid torrents; sleep before unknown Stole o'er his eyelids, and th' AEsonian youth Seiz'd on the golden prize. Proud with the spoil, (A second spoil possessing) she who gave The power to conquer, as his wife he bears, And lands triumphant on Thessalia's shores.
Mothers of Thessaly, and aged sires For sons restor'd, glad offerings bring: bright flames The high-heap'd incense; votive victims deck'd With gilded horns are slain: but AEson, far The grateful crowd avoids, now near his fate, Bent by a weight of years. Hence Jason spoke;— "O, spouse! to thee my life and safety ow'd; "To me, thou all hast given; the high swol'n sum "Of all thy favors might belief surpass: "This more attempt, if this thou can'st,—and what "Thy magic power defies? My years curtail, "And to my sire's existence add the term." Fast flow'd his tears while speaking;—while he spoke, His pious duty mov'd Medea; quick Her sire AEeta, so deserted, sprung To thought, and shew'd the two contrasting souls. But, veil'd her secret thoughts, she thus replies;— "What impious accents hear I from thy tongue, "O, spouse religious? Can I then transfer "Of thy existence part? Not Hecat's power "Fateful, would sanction this; nor stands thy wish "In equity. Yet, Jason, will I try "More than thou seek'st to give. With all my skill "Thy sire's existence to prolong, thy years "Unshorten'd; should the tri-form'd goddess aid "Propitious my designs."—Three nights were now Deficient, ere the full-form'd horns could meet The lunar orb to fill. Complete her round; A solid sphere of light from earth beheld, Medea wanders forth; loose all her robes; Naked her feet; bare-headed; while her hair Wild o'er her shoulders floats; and thus array'd, Untended, while deep midnight silence reigns She bends her devious way. Men, beasts, and birds, In bonds of sleep were chain'd; the hedges still, No murmur breath'd; nor wav'd the silent trees; Hush'd was the humid sky; the stars alone Twinkled: to them her arms extending, thrice She turn'd around; thrice from the flowing stream Her tresses sprinkled; thrice with yelling noise The silence broke; then with her bended knee The hard earth pressing, cry'd;—"O, night! thou friend "Of secret deeds; ye glittering stars! whose rays "With Luna's, Sol's diurnal light succeed; "And thou, O, Hecat'! tripleform'd, who know'st "My undertaking, and approaching aid'st "With incantations, and with magic powers: "And thou, O, earth! whose bosom witching plants "Affords: ye winds; ye skies; ye mountains; lakes; "And flowing streams: O, all ye gods! who dwell "In shady woods; and all ye gods of night, "Hither approach! by whose high power, at will, "Rivers I cause between their wondering banks, "Back to their springs to flow; the stormy deep "Hush by my song, or lash it into rage; "Clouds form, or clouds dispel; raise furious blasts, "Or furious blasts allay; smite with my song "The dragon's furious jaws: the living rocks "I shake;—uproot the oak; the earth upturn; "Move forests; bid the trembling mountains leap; "Loud roar the ground; and from the tombs the ghosts "Affrighted walk. Thee, Luna, too I draw "From heaven, by all the threatening clash of brass "Deterr'd not: pale the brighter car becomes, "My spells once utterr'd: by my poisons charm'd, "Pallid Aurora seems. You, plants! for me, "Blunted the ardor of the flaming bulls; "Press'd with the yoke, their necks impatient bent, "And dragg'd the crooked plough. You bade the race "Snake-born, upon themselves their warring rage "To turn. In sleep the roaring dragon's eyes "You steep'd; the guard eluded, sent the prize "To glad the towns of Greece. Now have I need "Of renovating herbs, to make old age "Glow once again in all its youthful bloom. "This will you grant, for sure those stars in vain "Not sparkle; nor in vain the chariot comes "Drawn by the dragons wing'd." The chariot comes Swift sweeping through the air. Active she mounts, Strokes the rein'd dragons' manes, and shakes the thongs. On high they soar:—Thessalian Tempe far Beneath she views; then tow'rd the chalky land Her snakes directs. On Ossa's top explores For plants, and seeks what lofty Pelion bears; Othrys, and Pindus, and Olympus huge. What please her, part she with their root updrags; Part with her crooked brazen sickle mows; Apidanus; Amphrysos, on their banks Many afforded: nor Enipeus scap'd. Peneus, and Spercheus, and the rushy shores Of Baebe some contributed. She pluck'd In Anthedon the living grass whose power, Then Glaucus' form unchang'd, was yet unknown.
Now had nine days, now had nine nights elaps'd, Borne on her dragon wings, and in her car Wandering the fields among, ere back she turn'd: Unfed her dragons, save by odorous smells; Yet had they shed their scales, with youth renew'd. Arriv'd, without the palace gate she stays, And there sole shelter'd by the sky, all touch Of man denying; altars two she rears Of turf; sacred to Hecate stood the right, To Youth the left: when these with vervain bound. And forest boughs, here sacrifice she makes. Hard by, two trenches scoops from out the ground; Smites with her weapon in the sable throat, A sheep presented; in the open ditch Empties the blood; then bowls of wine she pours, And bowls of smoking milk; with mystic words Invokes the powers terrestrial; begs the king Of shades, and begs his ravish'd spouse to aid, Nor of his soul the aged king defraud. These when with lengthen'd prayers, and murmurings long, Appeas'd; she bids them tow'rd the altars bring The feeble AEson; his exhausted limbs Bound in deep slumber, by her magic power, Corse-like, she lays extended on the grass. Then Jason bids, and his attendant crew, Far thence depart, nor with their view prophane Her acts mysterious. As she bids they go. Medea then the flaming altars round, In Bacchanalian guise her flowing locks, Circles; and in the ditch's blackening gore Her splinter'd torches dips; with blood imbu'd, Burns them upon her altars; thrice with fire, With sulphur thrice, and thrice with flowing streams, The sire she lustrates. Heated now in brass, Her powerful medicines bubble, high and white The swelling froth appears. There boils she all The roots in vales AEmonian dug; and seeds, And flowers, and juices dark: gems unto these, Sought in the distant East, she adds; and adds What on the sand the refluent ocean leaves: More still, the night-long moon collected dew She brings; the dismal screech-owl's flesh and wings; The entrails of the wolf ambiguous, wont His savage face in human guise to wear: Nor wanted there, the scaly skin which clothes Th' amphibious snake Cyniphian, long and small: The beak and head a crow nine ages bore, She adds. Now was the foreign dame prepar'd, By help of these, and nameless thousands more, The promis'd boon to give, the whole she stirs Deep from the bottom, with a bough long rent, From the mild olive. Lo! the wither'd branch, The boiling caldron stirring, sudden shoots In virid freshness! shortly leaves bud forth; And soon it bends beneath a load of fruit! Where'er the fire above the hollow brass, The bubbling foam high-rais'd, and boiling drops Sprinkled the ground,—the ground with verdure smil'd; Flowers and soft herbage sprung. Medea sees, And with her weapon ope's the senior's throat; His aged blood exhausted sees, and pours Her juices copious: part his mouth receives; And part the wound. When AEson these had drank, Their hoary whiteness lost, his beard and hair, An ebon tinge receiv'd; his leanness fled; His pallid ghastly face no more was seen; His hollow veins with added blood were fill'd; And all his limbs in lusty plumpness swell'd. The wondering AEson, such himself beheld, As the last forty years he ne'er had past.
Bacchus, from heaven survey'd the mighty change Wonderous, and hence that power was given he found; His nurses to restore to youthful years: The boon from Tethys asking, he obtain'd.
Nor cease the frauds yet of the Phasian dame: Fierce hatred 'gainst her by her spouse she feigns, And flies to Pelias' court; a suppliant there, His daughters hail her guest:—the sire bent down With age. The crafty Colchian these beguiles Soon, with her well-dissembled friendship's form. Amid her mighty benefits, she tells AEson's old age remov'd; relating all, On this she chiefly dwells. Hope sudden springs Within their virgin breasts: Pelias their sire, Such art they trust may yet revivify. That art they sue for,—highest claim'd reward To her they promise: mute at first she stands, And feigning doubt, in hesitation holds, And anxious poise their eager minds. At last, She says, when promising,—"That in the deed, "More faith ye may confide, a leading ram, "The oldest in your fleecy flocks, a lamb "My medicine shall transform!"—Instant was dragg'd The woolly beast, whose wreathing horns around His hollow temples curl'd; whose wither'd throat The steel Thessalian stabb'd; the scanty blood The steel scarce spotting: then th' enchantress steeps His mangled body in the caldron deep, With juices powerful: smaller grow his limbs; Shed are his horns; and vanish'd are his years; And from the caldron tender bleatings sound: Instant leaps forth to all the wondering crowd The bleating lamb, which, frisking, flies and seeks The swelling teats. With admiration struck, Now Pelias' daughters faith unshaken give; More urgent press their wish. Thrice had the sun, 'Merg'd in th' Iberian sea, unyok'd his steeds; And the fourth night the glittering stars had shone; When o'er the fire, pure water from the stream, And powerless plants, the false Medea plac'd.
Now all in sleep relax'd, a death-like sleep, The monarch's limbs were stretch'd; and with their king, His guards lay dormant; so her magic words, And magic tongue had doom'd. Medea leads Across the steps the daughters; bidd'n by her, His couch they compass.—"Why, O, feeble souls! "Thus hesitate?"—she said,—"your swords unsheathe! "Pour out his far-spent gore, that I may fill "With youthful, vigorous blood his empty'd veins. "Your father's life, and years, are in your hands: "If sways you piety; if empty hopes "Wavering deceive you not; then well deserve, "By duty to your sire: quickly expel "With weapons his old age: let issue forth "His now congealing blood with brandish'd steel." Exhorted thus, most pious she who feels, First impious acts;—a wicked deed performs, Lest wicked she were call'd: yet on the blow Not one would bend her sight; with eyes averse Their savage hands the unseen wounds inflict. Flowing with gore, he from the bed uprais'd His limbs; and from his posture strove half-torn To rise; and stretching forth his pallid arms 'Mid all their threatening swords;—"Daughters!"—he cries, "What do ye? Why against your parent's life "Thus arm ye?"—Sink their spirits! drop their hands! His throat Medea severing, stay'd the words He more had utter'd,—and the mangled corse, Deep in the boiling brazen caldron flung.
She now,—but through the air on dragon wings High borne,—their furious vengeance had not scap'd. O'er shady Pelion high she flew, and o'er The cave of Chiron; Othrys; and the spot For old Cerambus' strange adventure known: Upborne on wings by kindly-aiding nymphs, Here, when the solid earth th' incroaching main Wide delug'd, flying, safe Deucalion's flood He 'scap'd. AEoelian Pitane to left She quits; and sees the dragon huge, to stone An image turn'd. And Ida's grove where chang'd By Bacchus' power, the steer a stag became, To screen the theft. And where beneath the sand, A little sand, Corythus' father lies; And fields which Maera's new-heard howlings fill. Euripylus' fam'd town, where Coaen dames, What time the troops of Hercules them left, With horns were crown'd: and Phoebus' favor'd Rhodes; Jalysian Telchines, whose hateful eyes All vitiating, Jove detesting 'whelm'd Beneath his brother's waves. She passes next Carthaeia' walls in ancient Caeae's isle, Where wondering saw Alcidamas the sire, A placid dove his daughter's body bear. And Hyrie's lake she sees, and Tempe's pool Cycneiaen, which the swan so sudden form'd Frequented: Phyllius there, a willing slave, Birds and fierce beasts, to his capricious boy Oft brought—e'en lions tam'd; a furious bull He bade him bring, a furious bull he brought; But now in choler at his craving soul, The bull refus'd, though as the last gift claim'd: Indignant, cry'd he,—"soon you'll wish him given!"— And from the high rock plung'd: all thought he fell: But form'd a swan, lightly he pois'd in air On snowy wings. Hyrie, her son thus sav'd, Knew not, by constant weeping soon dissolv'd; The lake becoming that still bears her name. Near this is Pleuron:—Ophian Combe, here Wafted on wings, her murderous sons escap'd. Thence she beholds Latona's favorite isle; Calaurea, where to birds the royal pair Were chang'd: Cyllene, on the right is plac'd Where like the savage herd, Menephron sought His mother's bed. Far hence she spies in tears Cephisus, for his nephew's fate who mourn'd, Chang'd by Apollo to a sea-calf huge; And saw Eumelus' dome, who wept his child, A bird become. At length on dragon wings, Pirenian Corinth she regain'd; where tell The ancient tales, in primal ages, men From shower-fed mushrooms sprung. Here first was flam'd In Colchian venoms fierce, the new-made bride; Then either sea in blazing spires beheld The royal dome; and with her children's gore Her impious sword was stain'd. Thus on herself Reveng'd; from royal Jason's wrath she fled.
Borne hence, her snakes Titanian reach the walls Of Pallas' city, where most just of men O, Phineus! thou, and Periphas the old, With Polyphemon's niece, as birds are seen, Soaring aloft in air on new-form'd wings. Here AEgeus' roof receiv'd her, for this deed Alone to blame: not satisfy'd as host, In marriage bonds he makes her more his own. Now Theseus comes, son to his sire unknown, Whose brave atchievements, all the two-sea'd land In peace had settled. For his death she mix'd The baneful aconite, long since from shores Of Scythia brought; which thus old tales relate, From Cerberus' venom'd jaws was first produc'd, Through a dark den, with gloomy opening, lies A path steep shelving, where Alcides dragg'd Fierce Cerberus to light, resisting strong, Glancing askaunce his eyes from day, whose rays Sparkled too bright, in adamantine chains. With rabid anger swol'n, a triple yell Fill'd all the air; he o'er the virid plain Sprinkled white foam; increasing fast this shoots; The fruitful soil fresh virulence imparts, And ranker grows its power: from hardest rocks It lively springs, and Aconite hence nam'd. This did old AEgeus, by his crafty spouse Deceiv'd, to Theseus, as a foe, present. Unwitting Theseus, in his hand receiv'd The cup presented; when the sire espy'd Upon his ivory-hilted sword a mark, Which prov'd his offspring; from his lips he dash'd The poison. Wrapp'd in clouds by magic rais'd, The sorceress from their furious vengeance fled.
The sire, though joy'd, his son in safety found, Trembles astonish'd at the narrow 'scape; And horrid crime premeditated: burns On every altar fires;—to every god Piles costly gifts: full on the brawny neck Of oxen falls, their horns with garlands bound, The sacrificing axe. Ne'er till that day Had Athens' town, such joyous feasting seen; Nobles and commons crowd around the board, And thus, by wine inspir'd, sublime they sing.
"Thee, mighty Theseus! Marathon admires, "Stain'd by the vanquish'd Cretan bull's black gore. "Thy aid the swains of Cromyon own; thou gav'st "That now secure they till their fields. The land "Of Epidaurus saw the club-arm'd son "Of Vulcan slain by thee. By thee, beheld "Cephisus' shores, the fierce Procrustes die, "Ceres' Eleusis hail'd Cercyon's fall. "Sinis thou slew'st, gifted with strength ill-us'd; "His strength high trees could bend, and oft he dragg'd "Close down to earth the loftiest tops of pines, "Thus rent the bodies of his victims wide. "Safe now extends the road to Lelex' walls, "Scyron low laid: earth to the robber's limbs, "Wide scatter'd, rest refuses; to his bones "Ocean a tomb denies; long widely tost, "Age hardens into rock his last remains; "His name the rock still bears. Should we thy age "And actions count, thy famous deeds by far "Thy years outnumber. O, most brave of men! "For thee the public vows ascend; to thee, "In Bacchus' bowl we drink. The royal hall "Resounds with all the grateful people's praise; "Nor through the city glooms one sorrowing spot."
And yet (so seldom pleasure comes unmix'd, But still some cares with joy will intervene) While AEgeus, gladden'd that his son secure Arriv'd; Minos, for furious war prepares. Strong though his troops, and though his navy strong His utmost strength was in paternal rage; And with just arms Androgeus' death t' avenge He wars: yet first auxiliar strength he gains; And powerful sweeps the seas with flying ships. First Anaphe joins him, and Astypalaea; urg'd By promise this, and that by threats constrain'd, Low Mycone; Cymolus' chalky fields; Bright Cythnos; Scyros; flat Seriphus' isle; The marble Paros; and the fort betray'd For gold, demanded by the impious nymph Sithonian: still for gold she anxious seeks Though chang'd a bird; on sable pinions borne, With sable feet, she flutters as a daw.
But Oliaros, and Didymae, unite; And Gyaros, Andros, Tenos, all refuse, With Peparethos, in bright olives rich, To aid the Gnossian fleet. Thence to the left Steering, OEnopia's regions Minos sought; OEnopia call'd of old, AEgina now, By AEaecus, his mother's honor'd name. In crowds the people rush, and pant to view So highly fam'd a prince: to meet him go First Telamon, then Peleus next in age, And Phocas third and last, Ev'n AEaecus With years opprest, steps tardy forth, and asks The visit's cause. The hundred-city'd king Deep sighs, his grief paternal all renew'd, And thus replies;—"My arms, O, king! assist "Assum'd, just vengeance for a son to claim. "Partake this pious war. Peace to his manes "I seek."—But Asopiades replies;— "In vain you ask;—my city cannot aid: "No lands by neighbouring scite more closely bound, "Than ours and Athens'; hence our league."—The king Angry departs, exclaiming.—"Much your league "May cost you!"—But to threaten war more safe He deems, than wage it there, and waste his force. Still from OEnopia's walls the fleet was seen, Not distant far; when sped by swelling sail, An Attic ship arriv'd; the friendly port Enter'd. On board was Cephalus who bore His country's message. Well the royal youths The hero knew, though long time past beheld; And gave the friendly hand, and welcome led To their paternal dome. The graceful chief Enters, retaining still evincing marks Of pristine beauty; in his hand he bears A branch of native olive: in the midst Senior he stands; and younger on each side, Clytus, and Butes, Pallas' sons. Complete Their friendly salutations; next the words Th' Athenians bade him, Cephalus reports: Their aid demands; their ancient league recounts; The oaths their fathers swore; and adds, all Greece Might perish in their ruin. When their cause With eloquence the messenger thus urg'd; On his bright sceptre as his left hand lean'd, "Take, O Athenians,"—AEaecus exclaim'd,— "Not ask, our aid! Unhesitating draw "What force this isle possesses, and with yours "Employ it: with you shall my strongest power "March forth: strength want we not; our numerous troops "Abundant, for ourselves and friends suffice: "Prais'd be the gods! such is our happy state "Your wish defies evasion."—"Still may grow," Said Cephalus,—"your prosperous city's state, "And yours!—What transport seiz'd me as I walk'd, "To see each youth so fair, so equal ag'd, "Of all who met me. Yet in vain I look'd "For many features, known when last your walls "Receiv'd me."—AEaecus, with deep-drawn sighs, And sorrowing voice, thus answers.—"Better fate "Completed, what a mournful sight began. "Would I in full could all the facts relate! "Now unconnected must I speak, or tire "Your ear with words superfluous. Whom you seek, "Whom you remember, bones and ashes rest. "But small their numbers:—Heavens! how small to those, "My people, who have sunk in death beside.
"A dreadful plague, the angry Juno shed "Unjust, upon the natives of the land, "Detested, that her rival's name it bore. "While human seem'd the scourge, the noxious cause "Of slaughter yet conceal'd, with physic's skill "We strove; in vain! death mock'd the power of art. "At first thick darkness heavy press'd the earth; "Pregnant with heat roll'd on the lazy clouds. "Four times the full-orb'd moon had join'd her horns, "Four times diminish'd, had she disappear'd; "Still the hot south-wind blew his deadly blasts. "Our lakes and fountains, from th' infected air "Contagion suck'd; millions of vipers swarm'd "In our uncultur'd fields, our running streams "Tainting with poison. First the sudden plague "Its power display'd, on sheep, on dogs, on fowls, "Cattle, and forest beasts with deadly power. "The hapless ploughman, wondering, at his work "Sees his strong oxen in the furrow sink. "The woolly flocks with sickly bleatings waste "In body, while their wool spontaneous falls. "The steed so fiery, on the dusty plain "So fam'd, the palm contemns; and all despis'd "His ancient honors, at his manger groans, "Prey to disease inglorious. His fierce rage "The boar forgets. The stag neglects his speed. "Not rush the bears upon the stronger herds. "A general languor reigns. In woods, in fields, "In ways, the filthy carcases are seen; "The stench pollutes the air: and, wonderous! dogs, "Nor birds rapacious, nor the grizzly wolves, "Touch the dead spoil. Rotting they melt away, "Poisoning the gale; and spreading wide the pest. "Now the disease, a heavier scourge, attacks "The hapless swains, and in the lofty walls "Of cities rules. First the scorch'd vitals burn; "The hidden fire the blushing skin betrays, "And breath laborious drawn; the furr'd tongue swells; "The parch'd mouth widely gapes, th' infectious air "Inhaling copious. On the couch none lie; "None bear their covering robes; their bodies swol'n, "On the bare earth they fling; nor coolness find "Their bodies from the ground;—the ground from them "Burns hot. Nor aids them now physicians' skill; "E'en them the dire pest seizes, and their art "Fails to assist themselves. Who boldly comes, "With kindly hand his dying friend to aid, "Sinks straight in death beside him. Fled all hope "Of health, and in the grave alone an end "Beheld of their disease,—some wild indulge "Their fondest passions, void of every care; "For every care is vain. Of modest shame "Regardless, in promiscuous throngs they crowd "To rivers, fountains, and capacious wells, "Their hot thirst unextinguish'd, but with life. "To rise unable, many in the stream "Sink, and there perish: still their followers drink. "So irksome to the wretched sufferers seem "Their couches, thence they spring;—and some too weak "To lift their limbs, roll desperate to the ground. "Each quits his home,—to each his home appears, "The fatal spot; and while obscure the cause, "Each deems the house contagious. Oft were seen "Beings half-dead, slow crawling o'er the ways, "Till power to crawl was lost. Others with moans "Stretch'd on the ground, rolling their half-clos'd eyes, "In final motion: raising high their arms "To heaven's o'erhanging stars, breathe out their last, "Caught here by death, and there. Ah! me, what then "My mind employ'd? What but to loathe my life, "And pray with my dear countrymen to die? "Whatever side mine eyes were bent, I saw "My people strewn;—thick as the mellow fruit, "Shook from the branches, or the acorns lie. "Observe that temple, lofty where it towers; "To Jove 'tis sacred. Who to that high fane "Their useless incense brought not? There how oft "Wife for her husband, parent for her child, "Before th' inexorable altar, breath'd "Their dying gasp, 'mid deprecating prayers; "And half their incense unconsum'd remain'd. "How oft the oxen to the temple dragg'd, "While now the priest his voice address'd, and pour'd "The goblet o'er their foreheads, have they dropp'd "By stroke unlook'd for. When myself, to Jove "Wish'd sacrifice to offer up; for me, "My country, and my sons,—the victim loud "Dire lowings utter'd, and without a blow "Fell sudden,—scarce with blood the wounding knife "Was stain'd. The morbid inwards mock'd our wish, "To learn the truth, and pleasure of the gods: "The deep-fixt plague had to the bowels pierc'd. "Before the sacred portals have I seen, "The corses spread; before the altars too, "As death would come in his most hideous form. "Some with the cord life's passage choke, and seek "Death, lest they death should meet. Madly they rush "And voluntary meet approaching fate. "The bodies plung'd in death, funereal rites "Custom'd, receiv'd not; nor the numerous dead "Could all the gates receive: or un-inhum'd "Above the earth they lie, or on the pyre "Unhonor'd by due rites, the bodies flame. "All sense of reverence lost, for piles they fight; "And burn their dead in fires which others own. "To mourn are none; unwept the shadows roam, "Of young and old alike, of sons and sires. "The ground for graves too small, for fires the woods. "Aghast this whirlwind of distress to view, "O, Jove!—I cry'd—if false they not report, "That once you in AEgina's arms were clasp'd;— "If not, O, mighty sire! asham'd to own "Yourself my parent, give my people back, "Or give me death with them. A rattling sign "He gave, and prosperous thunders roll'd. I spoke;— "These omens I accept; and pray these signs "May indicate your happy will:—as pledge "I take them.—Nigh by chance an oak there stood, "Thick-set with spreading boughs, Jove's sacred tree, "Sprung from Dodona's stock: here I beheld "Grain-gathering ants, each burthen'd with his load, "In his small mouth, as o'er the rugged bark "In lengthen'd file they march'd. The numerous crowds "Admiring;—Best of fathers, I exclaim'd, "So many subjects grant me, to refill "My desert walls.—Trembled the lofty oak, "Of wind no breath, yet mov'd the sounding boughs; "With terror shook my limbs, and upright rear'd "My hair; then kisses to the ground I gave, "And kiss'd the oak; scarce hope I dar'd to feel: "Yet still I nourish'd hope within my soul. "Night comes; my body worn with cares, to sleep "Obedience yielded. Still before mine eyes "The oak appear'd; branches the same it bore, "And on its branches seem'd the swarms the same; "So mov'd the boughs, and on the grass below, "Shook the corn-carrying crowd. Sudden they grew; "Large, and more large they seem'd, as from the ground "Themselves they rais'd, and stood in form erect. "Their slender make, their numerous feet, their hue "Of sable, disappear'd, and all their limbs "An human shape confess'd. Sleep fled mine eyes; "And fled my vision:—As by heaven not mark'd, "Complaining;—far without the hall I heard "A murmuring loud, and human seem'd the sounds,— "Though stranger to mine ears: musing if still "I slept not,—Lo! quick, Telamon approach'd, "Wide threw the doors; and cry'd,—O, sire! behold; "What hope, what faith surpasses!—Forth I come; "Such men as in my dream my fancy saw, "I see;—I know them, man by man, again: "They come, and king salute me: unto Jove "My votive thanks I pay; my city share "Amongst my subjects new; and all my lands, "(Of those who till'd them, empty.) Myrmidons, "From whence they sprung, I call them. You have seen "Their bodies,—still their habits are the same: "A frugal race as wont, patient of toil; "On gain still bent; tenacious of that gain. "These equal all, in courage and in years, "Shall follow you to battle; when the east "Which blew you here so prosperous, (for the east "Had brought him) to the southern gales shall yield." With these and such like speeches, all the day They sit conversing; evening they devote To banquets; and the night to soft repose. Sol rais'd his golden head, but Eurus still Prevail'd, and bound their sails. Now Pallas' sons To Cephalus, their chief in years, repair, And to the king with Pallas' sons he goes; But still deep-wrapt in sleep the king was laid. Phocus receiv'd them at the gates; employ'd Were Telamon and Peleus, troops to chuse For the new war. Th' Athenian chief he leads Within the palace, to the fairest rooms. When all were seated, Phocus mark'd the dart The hero bore, shap'd from a wood unknown, Pointed with gold; and said, with prefac'd words: "To range the forests, and fierce beasts to slay "Is all my joy; yet long in doubt I've stood "What tree this dart has form'd; for ash too pale, "Too smooth for cornel; though from whence it comes "So ignorant, ne'er before mine eyes beheld "A fairer weapon."—Pallas' son address'd The youth:—"The javelin's use you'll more admire "Than beauty;—thrown where'er, its mark it gains, "Unrul'd by erring chance, and bloody, back "Instant returns."—Then Phocus curious asks More full its story, how, and whence it came, And who the author of so priz'd a gift. Him Cephalus informs, but shame denies To tell the whole, and what the present's price. Full to his mind his consort's loss recall'd, Tears sudden gush'd:—"O, goddess-born!—he cries, "This dart (improbable howe'er) my tears "Has often caus'd,—and long will make them flow;— "If fate long life should grant. My dear-lov'd spouse "This dart destroy'd:—O, that this fatal gift "Had still been unpossess'd! Procris, ally'd "To stol'n Orithyiae (if Orithyiae's fame "Your ears has reach'd) was as her sister fair: "Nay, match'd in form and manners, she might more "The robber tempt. Her sire Erechthens join'd "To me the maid; us love more firmly bound: "Blest was I call'd, and blest I was indeed, "And still were blest, but heaven else will'd my fate. "Now had the second month connubial joys "Beheld; when chasing dusky darkness far, "Aurora ruddy, saw me on the heights "Hymettus flowery rears, as there my toils "For antler'd stags I spread: and there by force "She clasp'd me. Truth I wish to guide my tongue "Nor yet displease the goddess, when I swear "Though bright her roseate cheeks; though wide she sways "Of night and day the confines; though she quaffs "Nectarean liquid, still I Procris lov'd: "Still in my bosom Procris reign'd, and still "Procris, my tongue repeated. Oft I urg'd "The sacred couch, the new-felt joys, the rites "So recent, and the plighted faith just given, "To her deserted: when the goddess flam'd, "Exclaiming;—Ingrate! cease thy doleful plaints, "Enjoy thy Procris,—if I right foresee "Thou'lt rue that wish'd enjoyment:—Angry thus "She fled me. Slow returning, much I mus'd, "The goddess' words recalling: fear me thrill'd, "Lest Procris had her nuptial oaths profaned. "Her age, her beauty, much suspicion mov'd; "Her virtue bade me chase my fears as vain. "Yet was I absent, and from whence I came, "Prov'd how adulterous females might indulge, "Suspicious love fears all. Studious I seek, "What found would rack with torture; and I burn "To bribe with gifts, and try her modest faith. "Aurora aids my fears, my shape transforms: "(Conscious I felt it.) To Minerva's town, "To all unknown, I hastened, and my house "Enter'd: the house in faultless guise I found; "Chaste all appear'd, and anxious all were seen "For their lost master. By a thousand arts "Erechtheus' daughter I at length beheld, "And seen was stagger'd: near my purpos'd proof "Relinquish'd of fidelity; most hard "The cheat to tell not; to refrain most hard "From conjugal salutes. Sad she appear'd. "But nought more lovely could in sadness seem: "Burning in wishes for her absent spouse. "Image, O, Phocus! what her beauteous face "Could boast; a face that woe itself became. "Why should I tell how oft her virtuous soul, "Repuls'd my tempting offers? Why repeat "How oft she cry'd;—For one myself I keep, "For one, where'er he stays, my joys preserve. "Whose mad suspicion would not this allay? "This proof of faith? But I, not so content, "Strive for my own confusion. Lavish gifts "I proffer for the joys of one short night: "More and more rich I heap them, till her breast "Wavers, then loud exclaim,—Lo! here behold, "Adulteress! one unluckily disguis'd, "Unluckily betroth'd, thy lawful spouse! "Perfidious! by those eyes convinc'd I stand. "Nought she:—with silent shame o'ercome, she fled "The house deceitful, and her hated spouse. "With me offended, all the race of men "Detesting, on the mountain tops she rov'd; "Diana's sports close following. Fiercer love "Flam'd in my bosom, thus deserted left. "I su'd for pardon, and my fault I own'd; "Swore that myself so tempted, so had err'd, "By such high offers brib'd. Confessing thus, "Her wounded modest pride grew more compos'd; "And shortly I regain'd her. Long in peace "We liv'd, and cordial spent the smiling years. "Herself a gift she priz'd not: more she gave, "An hound, she from Diana's hand receiv'd, "Who said,—accept the fleetest of his race— "And gave this javelin which you see me bear. "If of the first the fate you seek to know, "Attend, th' adventure will your wonder move.
"The son of Laius had the words explain'd, "Before his time to every mind obscure; "And the dark prophetess, down headlong flung, "Laid lifeless, all her riddling tales forgot. "Her, fostering Themis saw, and unreveng'd "To lie not suffer'd. Straight another plague "On Thebes was loos'd; and all the country swains "Fear'd by the savage beast their flocks to lose, "And fear'd their own destruction. With the youths "Adjacent, I assembled; round the fields "Our toils we fix; the toils the rapid beast "O'erleaps high-bounding; 'bove the loftiest ropes, "Stretch'd o'er the nets, with active spring he flies. "The hounds uncoupled, in the chace he mocks, "And like an agile bird before them plays; "With outcries loud, for Laelaps' aid they call. "(My Procris' gift, so nam'd.) Long had he tugg'd, "To extricate him from the chain; to free "His captive neck: scarce was he loos'd, so swift "He shot, in vain our eyes his progress mark'd: "In the light dust his feet were printed, he, "Rapt from the view, was vanish'd. Swifter flies "The darted spear not: nor the leaden ball "Hurl'd from the whirling sling;—nor reedy dart "Shot from the Cretan bow. A central hill "High-towering, all the subject plains o'erlooks; "Thither I climb, and there behold the chase; "A novel scene. Now seems the beast safe caught; "Now from the grasp light-springing. Flight right on "Crafty he shuns, and doubles round the field, "Cheating his chaser's mouth; and circling turns "His foe's quick speed eluding. Swift he flies,— "With equal swiftness follow'd. Now to grasp "His prey seems Laelaps,—in his grasp deceiv'd, "His empty jaws seize air. Now to my aid "I call my javelin,—poize it for the blow, "And bend mine eyes the thongs to fix secure: "Again I lift them to behold the chase, "And see astonish'd in the spacious plain "Two marble statues! this to fly appears,— "That barking seems to follow. So decreed "Doubtless the gods, that in the arduous course "Unconquer'd, each his glory might retain."
Thus far he spoke, then silent sate.—"What crime," Said Phocus—"has the javelin then perform'd?"— And thus the javelin's fault the hero tells, "Since joys supreme my sorrows first forewent, "Let me, O, Phocus! first those joys recount. "O, youth! how it delights me to retrace "Those happy moments, when supremely blest "In her, the primal years were joyous spent. "She, equal happy in her darling spouse; "Each mind of mutual care a portion bore; "And love's connubial joys each equal shar'd. "Jove's proffer'd couch, with my embrace compar'd, "Procris had spurn'd; nor could the loveliest nymph "Me tempt, though Venus' self had deign'd to sue: "In either breast an equal ardor flam'd. "In youthful guise I wont the woods to scour, "For sport betimes, ere yet the sun had ting'd "With early beams the lofty mountains' tops: "Nor took I servants, nor the courser fleet, "Nor hounds sharp-scented, nor the knotted snares; "This dart my sole dependence: when my arm "With slaughtered spoil was satiate, tir'd I sought "The cooling shade, and sought where Aura breath'd "In frigid vales her breezes. 'Midst the heat "Refreshing air I sought, and Aura call'd, "My labour's recreation; thus I sung, "I well the words remember;—Aura, come! "Come, my delight,—within my bosom creep, "Most grateful friend; come, and as wont remove "My inward flames.—By chance more tender words "(So sway'd my destiny) to these I join'd: "And thus I spoke—O, thou! my greatest joy "Refreshing, cherishing my strength and power! "For thee, these woods and lonely spots I love: "Here does my wishing mouth thy breath inhale.— "These words ambiguous, busy ears receiv'd, "And Aura! Aura! oft invok'd, they deem "A favor'd nymph,—a nymph by me belov'd. "The rash informer with the imag'd wrong, "My Procris seeks his whispering tongue relates, "The words o'erheard. Love credulous believes. "O'erpress'd with grief, she sudden sunk, when heard "The tale,—and long she unrecover'd laid. "Then—hapless wife!—O, wayward fate! she cries:— "My broken faith bewails, and with my crime "Imagin'd, troubled, fears what not exists,— "A name without a being: much she grieves, "As real were her rival: yet full oft "Stagger'd, she doubts, and hopes herself deceiv'd: "Trusts not th' informer; and her husband's fault, "Unless beheld, refuses to believe. "When next Aurora bade the darkness fly "I sally'd forth, and sought th' accustomed wood: "Then tir'd with conquest, on the grass I stretch'd, "And,—come, dear Aura, ease my pain,—I cry'd "Sudden a mournful sigh betwixt my words "I heard, but still proceeded,—dearest, come!— "Again the falling leaves a rustling sound "Causing, a savage beast I thought lay hid, "And hurl'd my faithful dart. Procris was there! "And as her tender breast the blow receiv'd "Alas! she cry'd.—My faithful spouse's voice "I knew, and with distracted speed I ran; "Half-dead I found her, all her robes distain'd "With flowing blood,—and dragging from the wound, "Ah, me!—her fatal gift. My guilty arms, "Her body, dearer far than mine, support; "My vest I rend, the cruel gash to bind, "And check the gushing blood; I fearful pray, "She will not leave me guilty of her fate. "She now, her strength fast wasting, dying fast, "These words to utter try'd:—Suppliant I beg, "By all the oaths that form'd our nuptial ties; "By all the gods and goddesses above; "By all my actions which have given you joy; "By that strong love which thus my fate has caus'd, "Which now in death my bosom still retains, "Let not this Aura to my bed succeed.— "She said,—too late I learn'd, too late I told "The error of the name; for what avail'd! "She sinks, her small remaining strength is fled, "Her last blood flows. While ought she seems to view, "On me she bends her eyes; her hapless soul "My lips inhale, yet pleas'd her brow appears "In death, more calm from what I just explain'd." Thus grieving, Cephalus concludes, and all His audience with him weep. When, lo! appear King AEaecus, his sons, and troops new-rais'd; Whom Cephalus, in warlike strength, receives.
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
Macdonald & Bailey, Printers, Harris's Place, Oxford-Street.
THE METAMORPHOSES OF PUBLIUS OVIDIUS NASO IN *English Blank Verse*
Translated by J. J. HOWARD
*The Eighth Book.*
Nisus betrayed to Minos by his daughter Scylla; changed to a falcon, and Scylla to a lark. Return of Minos to Crete. The Minotaur and labyrinth. Flight of Daedalus and Icarus. Change of Perdix to a partridge. Chase and death of the Calydonian boar, by Meleager and Atalanta. Murder of Meleager's uncles. Vengeance of his mother. Death of Meleager, and transformation of his sisters to birds. Acheloues. Nymphs transformed into the isles Echinades. Perimele into an island. Story of Baucis and Philemon. Changes of Proteus. Story of Erisichthon, and transformations of his daughter.
*Printed by G. HAYDEN, Brydges Street, Covent Garden.*
THE *Eighth Book* OF THE METAMORPHOSES OF OVID.
Now leading Phosphor' shining day disclos'd, The darkness flying; and the eastern gales Lull'd into calm, the vapoury clouds arose: The placid south befriending, rapid borne, The hero Cephalus, and aiding troops, Ride unexpected in their wish'd-for port.
Minos, meanwhile, the Lelegeian coast Lays waste, and on Alcathoe's town his power Essays. Here Nisus rul'd, whose reverend locks Of silvery brightness, in the midst contain'd One with rich purple splendid, sacred pledge Of fortune to his kingdom. Six times seen Were Luna's horns arising fresh renew'd; Still hover'd conquest doubtful o'er the war, On wavering pinions, 'twixt opposing hosts. A regal tower its vocal walls high-rear'd, Where once Latona's son his golden lyre Rested; the music still the stones retain'd. Oft here the beauteous daughter of the king Ascended, and the latent music drew Forth to the ear, by smallest pebbles struck. Thus she in peaceful times, and here she oft When war was raging, ventur'd: hence she saw The rough encounters of the furious field. So long the tedious warfare, well she knew The leaders' names, their arms, their prancing steeds: And knew their garments, and their Cretan bows. Far beyond all Europa's son she knew, More than became her state: this Minos well Could prove; whose head in crested helmet hid, Most beauteous helm'd appear'd: whose arm, adorn'd With brazen shield refulgent, well became The brazen shield: whose hand the tough lance whirl'd, And back withdrawn, the virgin wondering prais'd Such strength and skill combin'd: to fit the dart When to the spreading bow his strength he bent, She vow'd that Phoebus in such posture stood His arrows fitting: when, his brazen casque Relinquish'd, all his features shone display'd, As purple-rob'd his snow-white steed he press'd, In painted housings gay, and curb'd his jaws White foaming,—then the lost Nisean maid, Scarcely herself, in frantic rapture spoke:— Blest call'd the javelin, that his hands it touch'd; Blest call'd the reins he curb'd. Arduous she burns, (Could she) through hostile ranks her virgin steps To bend: arduous she burns, from loftiest towers To fling her body in the Cretan camp. The brazen portals of the city's walls Wide to the foe she'd ope: what could she not? That Minos will'd? As resting here she view'd, The white pavilion of the Gnossian king Dubious, she cry'd;—"Or should I grieve or joy, "This mournful war to witness? Grieve I must "That Minos so belov'd should be my foe. "But had the war not been, his lovely face "Had ne'er to me been known. Now war may cease "Should I become the hostage:—I retain'd, "As Minos' comrade, and the pledge of peace. "Fairest of forms! if she who brought thee forth "Resembled thee, well might an amorous god "Burn for her beauty. O! thrice blest were I, "If borne through air on lightly-waving wings, "The Cretan monarch's camp I might explore, "And there, my rank and love disclos'd, demand "What dowry he would ask to be my spouse. "My country's towers alone, he should not seek. "Perish the joys of his expected bed, "Ere I through treason gain them! Yet full oft "A moderate victor's clemency affords "Great blessings to the vanquish'd. Doubtless, he "Just warfare wages for his murder'd son. "Strong in his cause, and in his armies strong, "Which aid that cause, he must the conquest gain. "Why, if this fate my country waits, should war, "And not my love unbar to him the gates? "So may he conquer; slaughter, toil, and blood,— "His own dear blood, avoided. How I dread, "Lest some rash hand might that lov'd bosom wound! "None but the ignorant sure, the savage spear "At him would hurl. The scheme delights my soul: "Fixt my resolve; my country as my dower "Will I deliver, finish so the war! "But what are resolutions? Watchful guards "The passes keep; of every gate, the keys "My father careful holds. Hapless! I dread "My father only; he alone withstands "My wishes; would that so the gods had doom'd, "I had no parent! But to each himself "A god may surely be; and fortune spurns "Lazy beseechers. With such love inflam'd, "Another maid had long ere now destroy'd "All barriers to her bliss; and why than I, "Should any dare more boldly? Fearless, I "Thro' swords and flames would pass, but swords and flames "Oppose me not in this: my sole desire "Compris'd in one small lock of Nisus' hair: "Than gold that prize more dear. That purple lock "Most blest would make me, and my sole desires "Encompass."—Speaking thus, the gloomy night, Imperial nurse of cares, approach'd; more bold Her daring project with the darkness grew.
Now primal slumbers rul'd o'er weary breasts, Tir'd with their toil diurnal. Silent, she Her father's chamber enters, and (O, dire!) The daughter from her parent's head divides The fateful lock! Her wicked prize possess'd, Forth from the gate she issues; and the spoil, So cursed, with her bears; as through the hosts, (Such boldness gave the deed,) she seeks the king, Whom thus, astonish'd and aghast, she hails:— "To wicked deeds love sways; behold me here, "Scylla, from royal Nisus sprung; to thee "My household gods and country I betray: "Thee, sole reward I seek. Pledge of my faith, "This purple lock receive, and with this lock "Receive my parent's head."—Then in her hand The impious gift presented. Minos spurn'd The parricidal present; deeply shock'd A deed so base to witness, and exclaim'd;— "May all the gods, from every part of earth "Thee banish, scandal of our age! may land "And sea alike reject thee; such a soul "So monstrous! ne'er with me shall touch the shores "Of Crete, my land, and cradle of high Jove." He said, and on his captive foes impos'd Most just his equal laws; his men bade loose Their cables from the beach, and with their oars His vessels bright with brass, urge on the deep.
Launch'd on the main, when Scylla sees the fleet, Nor from its leader gain'd the hop'd reward, Her wicked deed had sought, tir'd of her prayers, In desperate rage she storms; wild throws her hair; Stretches her hands, exclaiming;—"Where! O, where! "Fly'st thou, the author of thy fortune left? "O, priz'd above my country! 'bove my sire! "O cruel, whither fly'st thou, whose success "At once my merit, and my fault displays? "Will not the gifted conquest move thy soul? "Will not my love thee move? Will not the thought "That all my hopes centre in thee alone? "By thee deserted, whither shall I fly? "Back to my natal town? Ruin'd it lies; "Or if still standing, fast the gates are barr'd "Against my treason. To my father's arms, "Whom I betray'd? Each citizen me hates "Deserv'dly; neighbours my example dread. "Banish'd, an exile from each spot of earth,— "Crete only open lies. Thence dost thou drive "Me also? Ingrate! dost thou fly me so? "Europa never bore thee, but some Syrt' "Inhospitable; or some tigress fell "Bred in Armenia; or Charybdis vext "With tempests: Jove was ne'er thy sire, nor feign'd "A bull's resemblance to delude her, false "That fable of thy origin. A bull, "Real and savage thee begot, whose love "No heifer mov'd. O father Nisus! now "Exact thy vengeance. Joy, O town! betray'd "By my transgression; for the woes I feel "Most merited I grant; guilty I die: "Yet should the deadly blow be given by one "My impious fault has injur'd; not by thee, "Victor through crimes thou with avenging hate "Now persecutest. This flagitious deed "Against my country, and against my sire, "Was all for thee. Th' adultress who beguil'd "In wooden cavity the furious bull; "Whose womb an ill-assorted birth produc'd; "Well for a spouse befits thee. Do my words "Reach to thine ears, or no? Do the brisk winds, "Thou ingrate! waft my bootless plainings on, "And waft thy vessels? Wondrous now no more, "Pasiphae, to thy embrace a bull "Preferr'd; for more unpitying is thy soul. "Joyful, ah! hapless me,—away thou fly'st; "Thy cleaving oars dash on the sounding waves: "Me, and my country far from thee recede. "O wretch! forgetful of my favoring aid, "Thou striv'st in vain to fly me. 'Gainst thy wish "Thee will I follow; on thy crooked ship "Hanging, embracing, dragg'd through drenching seas.' Scarce ending, in the waves she furious leaped, Vigorous by love, and gain'd the flying fleet; And clasp'd, unwelcome guest, the Gnossian poop. Here soon her father spy'd her (in the air He wing'd his way, now cloth'd with yellow plumes A falcon) and down darted; with his beak So curv'd, to wound her as she clung. In dread Her grasp she loos'd, and as she seem'd to fall, The light air bore her from the waves below: Plum'd she became, and form'd a feather'd bird, Ciris they call'd her from the ravish'd lock.
To Jove now Minos all his vows performs, An hecatomb of bulls; as from the fleet He lands on Gnossus' shores: his royal hall With all his spoils, on high uphung, adorn'd.
Meantime th' opprobrium of his bed increas'd: The two-formed monster in a novel birth, At length the mother's beastly crime proclaim'd. Minos, the shameful witness from his couch, Far to remove determines; in a dome Intricate winding, he resolves to lodge, From every eye conceal'd, the birth. Intrusts The work to Daedalus, in cunning arts Most fam'd, to build. He all the various marks, Confuses, puzzles; bent on either side, The various paths confound the searching eye. So in the fields the soft Maeander plays, Here refluent, flowing there with dubious course; Meeting himself, his wandering stream he sees: And urges now to whence he first arose; Now to the open outlet of the main. Thus Daedalus the numerous paths perplex'd With puzzlings intricate, so much entwin'd, Himself could scarce the outer threshold gain. Here was the double monster, man and bull Inclos'd; till by the third allotted tribe, The ninth year, vanquish'd; with Athenian blood Twice gorg'd before. Then was the secret gate, So often sought in vain, found by the aid A virgin lent to trace the winding clue. Instant for Dias, Theseus loos'd his sails, With Minos' ravish'd daughter: on that shore Cruel! he left her. The deserted nymph Wildly lamenting, Bacchus soon embrac'd, And gave her needful aid; her fame to fix Immortal in the skies, her sparkling crown, Mov'd from her forehead, 'mid the stars he plac'd: Through the thin air it flies, and as it mounts To blazing stars, the glittering jewels change. Still as a crown it shines, its station 'midst Where stout Alcides Ophiuchus grasps.
Meantime long exile, and the land of Crete Detesting; burning with a patriot's wish His native soil to visit, Daedalus, By sea escape prevented, thus exclaim'd;— "Let earth and ocean both my flight obstruct, "Still open lies the air; through air we'll go. "Minos controlling all, controls not air."— He speaks, and bends to unknown arts his skill, Improving Nature's gift. Quills fixt in rows He places; small at first in length and size, Gradual enlarg'd, as if a hill's steep side Growing, produc'd them: So time past the pipe, Of rustic origin, by small degrees Increasing reeds compos'd. Firm fixt with thread Their middle part he binds, and close with wax Cements their bottom. All complete he bends The composition in a gentle curve, Resembling real wings. Young Icarus Alone was present; ignorant that the work Would his destruction cause; with playful tricks He fingers now the feathers, now his hands Soften the yellow wax. His sportive wiles His father's wond'rous essay oft delay.
Now was the last completing stroke impos'd Upon his undertaking: First the sire On artificial wings his body pois'd, And in the beaten air suspended hung: Then his young offspring, Icarus, he taught.— "This I my son advise, a middle course, "To keep be cautious; low if thou should'st skim, "Heavy with ocean's spray thy wings would droop: "If high, the sun would scorch them. Steer thy course "'Twixt each extreme. Nor would I wish thine eyes "To view Booetes, or the northern bear; "Nor yet Orion's naked sword. My track "Cautious pursue."—With anxious care he gives Rules thus for flight; and to his shoulders fits The new-form'd pinions. Tears his ancient cheeks Bedew'd, as thus his admonitions flow'd: And his paternal hands as thus employ'd, Beneath the office trembled. Warm salutes He gave the boy, nor knew he gave the last; Then on his feathers borne, explores the way, Timid for him who follows. So the bird, Tempts from her lofty nest her new-fledg'd brood, In the thin air. He bids him close pursue, Tries in each shape to teach the fatal skill; Shakes his own pinions, bending back to view His son's. The angler as with quivering reed, He drew his prey to land; the shepherd-swain, As o'er his staff he lean'd; the ploughman-clown, Their flight astonish'd saw, and deem'd them gods, That so at will could cleave the liquid sky.
Now Samos, Juno's favor'd isle they pass'd, Delos, and Paros, all to left;—to right Labyrithos lay, and rich in honey'd sweets Calymne: when the heedless boy o'erjoy'd In his bold flight, the precepts of his guide Contemning, soar'd to heaven a loftier range. The neighbouring sun's fierce heat the fragrant wax Which bound, his pinions, soften'd. Soon the wax Dissolves; and now his naked arms he waves; But destitute of power his course to steer, No air his arms can gather; loud he calls His father's name, as in the azure deep He drops,—the deep which still his name retains.
The hapless parent, not a parent now, Loud calls on Icarus;—"Where art thou, son? "Where shall I seek thee, Icarus?"—He said, And spy'd his feathers floating on the waves: Then curs'd his hapless art, as in the earth, He deep intomb'd him; all the land around Bears from the youth intomb'd its present name.
The whirring partridge, from a branchy holm Beheld him, as beneath the turf he plac'd His son's lamented body, and with joy Flutter'd his feathers; while his chirping song Proclaim'd his gladness: then the only bird Known of his kind, in elder days unseen; But lately cloth'd with feathers, through the crime Flagitious, Daedalus, of thee! To thee, Thy sister, witless how his fate was doom'd, Her son committed for instructing art, When twice six annual suns the youth had seen; His docile mind best fitted then to learn. He well th' indented bones remark'd, which form The fish's spiny back, and in like mode, Sharp steel indenting, first the saw produc'd For public service. Two steel arms he join'd Fixt to one orb above; each widely stretch'd, One steady rests, the other circling turns. Him Daedalus with envy viewing, forc'd Headlong, from sacred Pallas' lofty tower, His death feign'd accidental: but the maid Divine, to all ingenious minds a friend, Receiv'd him in his fall; chang'd to a bird, On pinions bore him through the middle air. His vigorous powers in force remain the same, But change their seat; rapid he flies, and quick He races on the ground; his name remains Unalter'd: still the cautious bird declines To trust his weight aloft, nor forms his nest On lofty boughs, or summits of high trees: Nigh to the earth he skims; beneath the hedge His shelly brood deposits; of his fall Still mindful, towering heights he always shuns.
Now Daedalus, with lengthen'd flight fatigu'd, Sicilia's realm receiv'd; whose king humane, Great Cocalus, mov'd with his suppliant pray'r, Arm'd to assist him. Now by Theseus freed, Athens no more the mournful tribute paid. With garlands every temple gay they hang, Invoke the warlike maid, the mighty Jove, And every deity: their altars all With promis'd blood they honor; with rich gifts, And fragrant incense. Now had wandering fame Through all the Grecian towns, spread the renown Of Theseus: and the rich Achaia's tribes His aid implor'd, when mighty perils press'd. Ev'n Calydon, though Meleager brave Possessing, sought his help with suppliant words. The cause, a furious boar by Dian' sent, Avenging instrument of slighted power.
OEneus, from plenteous harvests' full success Rejoicing, primal fruits to Ceres gave; To Bacchus pour'd libations of his wine; To yellow-hair'd Minerva offer'd oil: The rites invidious, from the rural gods Commencing, all the bright celestials shar'd. Latona's daughter only, in her fane, Nor flames nor offerings on her altar saw. Rage fires ev'n heavenly breasts.—"Not unreveng'd,"— She cry'd,—shall this be suffer'd; honor'd not! "Not unappeas'd by vengeance will I rest."— Then through th' OEneian fields the maid, despis'd, Sends the fierce boar to ravage. Such his size, The bulls that in Epirus' pastures graze More huge appear not: in Sicilia's meads Far less are seen. Red are his sparkling eyes, Fire mixt with blood; high rears his fearful neck, Thick clustering spears the threatening bristles seem: Hoarse as he grunts, down his wide shoulders spreads The boiling foam: his tusks the tusks outvie Of India's hugest beast: the lightening's blast, Driven from his mouth, burns all the verdant leaves. Now o'er the corn, but yet in budding ears, He tramples, immature he reaps the crop; The loud-lamenting tiller's hopes destroy'd: The harvest intercepting in the shoot. In vain the barns, the granaries in vain, Their promis'd loads expect. Prostrate alike Are thrown the fruitful clusters of the vine, With shooting tendrils; and the olive's fruit With branches ever-blooming. On the flocks He rages: these not shepherds, not their dogs Could save; nor could the furious bull his herd. Wide fled the people; safety none durst hope Save in their cities' walls; till thirst of fame Fir'd Meleager, with his chosen band Of valiant youths. And first were seen the twins Of Tyndarus, for wond'rous skill renown'd, This at the caestus, that to curb the steed: Jason, whose art the primal ship design'd: Theseus, in happy concord with his friend Pirithous, join'd: Thestius' two valiant sons: Lynceus, Aphareus' offspring: Idas swift: Leucippus fierce: Acastus unexcell'd To dart the javelin: Caeneus, now no more Cloth'd in a female figure: Phoenix, sprung From old Amyntor: Actor's equal sons: Hippothooes: Dryas: and from Elis' town Dispatch'd, came Phileus. Nor was absent there, Brave Telamon, nor great Achilles' sire: Nor stout Eurytion; with Pheretus' son: Nor Hyantean Ioelaues brave: Echion in speed unconquer'd: Nestor then In primal youth: Lelex, Narycian born: Panopeus: Hyleus: Hippasus the fierce: Nor those whom Hippocooen sent in aid, From old Amyclae: nor Ulysses' sire: Ancaeus of Parrhasia: Mopsus sage: Amphiareus, then by his false spouse's guile Betray'd not. With them Atalanta came, The grace and glory of Arcadia's woods. A shining buckle from the ground confin'd Her garment's border: simply bound, her hair One knot confin'd: her ivory quiver, slung O'er her left shoulder, sounded as she stepp'd: Her hand sustain'd a bow: and thus array'd Appear'd her form. Her lineaments disclos'd, What scarce might feminine in boys appear; Or hardly boyish in a virgin's face. The chief of Calydon the maid beheld,— Beheld, and lov'd: while heaven his love oppos'd. The secret flames inhaling deep, he cry'd,— "O, blessed youth! if youth to gain thy hand "Worthy were deem'd!"—Nor bashful shame, nor time Would more allow; a mightier deed now claim'd Their utmost efforts for the furious war.
Darken'd with trees thick-growing, rose a wood; From earliest ages there the biting axe Had never sounded; in the plain it rear'd Facing the sloping fields. The youths arriv'd; Some spread the knotted toils; some loose the hounds; Some strive the foot-prints of the boar to trace, Their danger anxious seeking. Low beneath A hollow vale extended, where the floods Fresh showery torrents gather'd, lazy laid. The flexile willow, and the waving reed; The fenny bulrush, osier, and the cane Diminutive, the stagnant depth conceal'd. Arous'd from hence, the boar impetuous rush'd Amidst his host of foes; so lightenings dart When clouds concussive clash. His rapid force Levels the grove, the crackling trees resound Where'er he pushes: loud the joyful youth Exclaim, each grasping with a nervous hand His weapon brandish'd, while its broad head shakes. Forward he darts, the dogs he scatters wide, And each opposing power; his strokes oblique Their baying drives to distance. Echion's arm Hurl'd the first dart, but hurl'd the dart in vain; Lightly a maple's trunk the weapon graz'd. The next, but over-urg'd the force that sent, Had pierc'd the rough back of the wish'd-for prey; Jason's the steel,—it whizz'd beyond him far. Then Mopsus pray'd,—"O Phoebus! if thy rites "I e'er perform'd, if still I thee adore, "Grant my sure weapon what I wish to touch." The god consented, what he could he gave,— The boar was struck, but struck without a wound: Diana from the flying weapon snatch'd The steely head, and pointless fell the wood. More chafes the beast, like lightening fierce he burns, Fire from his eyeballs flashes, from his chest Clouds of hot smoke through his wide nostrils roll. Forc'd from the close-drawn string as flies a stone, Hurl'd at embattl'd walls, or hostile towers With foes thick crowded: so the deadly beast Rush'd on the heroes with unerring shock. Eupalamus and Pelagon, who stood The right wing guarding, on the earth he threw: Their fellows snatch'd them from impending fate. Not so Onesimus, of Hippocooen The offspring, 'scap'd the death-inflicting blow; Torn through the ham, just as for flight he turn'd; His slacken'd nerves could bear his weight no more. Then Nestor too, long e'er the Trojan times, Perchance had perish'd, but beside him stood A tree, whose branches nimbly he attain'd; A mighty effort, aided by his spear: Safe in his seat, he view'd the foe he fled, Beneath him. Fiercely threatening death below, He whets his tushes on a stumpy oak, And bold in sharpen'd arms, ranches the thigh, With crooked fangs, of Othrys' mighty son. Now the twin-brothers, ere in heaven display'd Bright constellations, both fair dazzling shone, Mounted on steeds, whose lily'd hue surpass'd Th' unsully'd snow; both shook their brandish'd spears, The trembling motion sounded high in air; Deep both had pierc'd, but 'mid the darkening trees, Their bristly foe sought refuge, where nor steed, Nor dart could reach him. Telamon pursues; Ardent, and heedless of his steps, a root Checks his quick feet, and prone the hero falls. While Peleus aids his brother chief to rise, The beauteous Atalanta to the string Fits the swift dart, and from the bended bow Speeds it; the arrow, fixt beneath his ear, Razes the monster's skin, and drops of blood His bristly neck ensanguine. Joys the maid To see the blow;—but Meleager far In joy surpass'd her. He the first beheld The trickling blood; he to his comrades first The wound display'd, exclaiming,—"Yon fair nymph "The honors so deserv'dly won shall bear."— The warriors blush with shame, and each exhorts His fellow; shouts their souls more valiant swell; In heaps confus'd their numerous javelins fly; Clashing in crowds, each javelin fails to wound. Lo! now Ancaeus furious, to his fate Blind rushing, rears his double axe, and cries,— "Behold, O youths! how much a manly arm "Outstrikes a female's, to my prowess yield "The palm of conquest. Let Latona's maid "With all her power protect him, yet my force, "Spite of Diana, shall the monster slay."— Proud his big-boasting tongue thus speaks, then grasps His two-edg'd weapon firmly in his hands, And rais'd on tiptoe meditates the blow. The watchful beast prevents him, through his groin, To death sure passage, drives his double tusks: Ancaeus drops; his bowels gushing fall, Roll on the earth, and soak the ground in gore. Ixion's son, Pirithous, on the foe Rush'd, in his nervous hand a powerful spear Brandishing; Theseus loudly to his friend Exclaim'd,—"O, dearer far than is myself,— "Half of my soul, at distance wait; the brave "At distance may engage; valor too rash "Destroy'd Ancaeus."—As he spoke he hurl'd His massive cornel spear; its brazen head Well pois'd, its sender's anxious wish appear'd Fair to accomplish, when a leafy arm Branch'd from a beech, oppos'd it in its flight. Next AEson's son, his javelin threw, but chance Glanc'd from its mark the weapon, and transpierc'd An undeserving hound; the dart was drove Through all his belly, and deep fixt in earth. But different fortune on the arms awaits Of Meleager, javelins two he sent; Deep in the ground the foremost pierc'd, the next Firm in the monster's back quivering stood fixt. Nor stays he, whilst he raging furious whirl'd In giddy circles round, and pour'd his foam, Mad with the new-felt torture, close at hand The hero plies his work, provokes his foe To fiercer ire, and in his furious breast Buries the glittering spear. A second shout Loudly proclaims his thronging comrades' joy; Each to the victor crowding, hand in hand Congratulating grasps him; each amaz'd Views the dire savage, as his mighty bulk O'erspreads a space of land. Scarce think they yet Their safety sure, him touching; each his spear Extends, and dips it in the flowing gore. His foot upon the head destructive fixt, The conquering youth thus speaks:—"Nonacria fair! "Receive the spoil my fortune well might claim: "Fresh glory shall I gain, with thee to share "The honors of the day."—Then gives the spoils;— The chine with horrid bristles rising stiff, And head, fierce threatening still with mighty tusks. She takes the welcome gift, for much she joys From him to take it. Envy seiz'd the rest, And sullen murmurs through the comrades ran: Above the rest, were Thestius' sons,—their arms Out-stretching, clamor'd thus with a mighty noise;— "Let not thy beauteous form thy mind deceive, "When from thy eyes the donor of the spoil, "Besotted with thy love, shall far be mov'd. "Woman! restore the prize, nor hope to hold "Our intercepted claims."—Speaking they rob Her of the gift, him of the right to give. Nor passive stood the warlike youth, his teeth He gnash'd with swelling rage, as fierce he cry'd;— "Learn, ye base robbers of another's rights, "What difference threats and valiant actions shew.—" Then in Plexippus' unsuspecting breast He plung'd his impious sword: nor suffer'd long Toxeus to doubt, who hesitating stood, Now vengeance brooding for his brother's fate, Now dreading for himself a like swift blow; Again he warms the weapon, reeking still Hot from Plexippus' bosom, in his blood.
To every temple of the favoring gods Althaea bore donations for her son, Victorious: When the breathless bodies came Of both her brethren, loud the sounding blows Of grief were heard, and all the city rung With lamentable cries: her golden robes Were straight to sable chang'd. But when the hand Which struck the blow was known, her every tear Was dry'd, and vengeance only fill'd her soul. A log there lay when Thestius' daughter groan'd In child-bed pangs; which on the greedy flames The triple sisters flung; and while their thumbs Twirl'd round the fatal thread, this was their song;— "O newly born! to thee and to this bough "Like date of life we give."—Then ceas'd their words, And from her presence vanish'd: sudden snatch'd The mother from the fire the burning brand, And quench'd it instant in unsparing streams. Long in most secret darkness had she hid This fatal wood; and, thus preserv'd, her son Had safely years mature attain'd; but now Forth she produc'd it from its close recess. Fragments of torches on the hearth she heap'd, And blew the sparklings into deadly flames; And thrice she rais'd her hands the branch to heave On the fierce fire; and thrice her hands withdrew. Sister and mother in one bosom fought, To adverse acts impelling. Oft her face, Dread of her meditated crime, bleach'd pale; Oft to her eyes her furious rage supply'd A fiery redness; now her countenance glow'd With threatenings cruel; now her softening looks To pity seemed to melt; and when fierce ire Had fill'd her soul, and parch'd up every tear, Fresh tears would gush. Thus rocks a vessel, driven By winds and adverse currents, both their force At once obeys, and can to neither yield. Thus waver'd Thestius' daughter, dubious thus Affection sway'd her; now her rage is calm, Now her calm'd rage with fourfold fury burns. At length the sister's o'er the parent's tie The prevalence obtains; impiously good, With blood her own, she soothes the brethren's shades. Now, when the fires destructive fiercely glar'd, She cry'd:—"Here, funeral pile, my bowels burn!—" And as the fatal wood her direful hand Held forth, the hapless mother, at the pyre Sepulchral, stood, exclaiming;—"Furies three! "Avenging sisters! hither turn your eyes; "Behold the furious sacred rites I pay: "For retribution I commit this crime. "By death their death must be aveng'd; his fault "By mine be punish'd; on their funeral biers "His must be laid; one sinning house must fall, "In woes accumulated. Blest shall still "OEneus enjoy his proud victorious son, "And Thestius childless mourn? Better that both "Should weep in concert. Dear fraternal ghosts, "Recent from upper air, my work behold! "Take to th' infernal realms my offering bought "So dear! the hapless pledge my womb produc'd.
"Ah! whither am I swept? Brothers forgive "The parent. Lo! my faltering hands refuse "To second my intents. Well he deserves "To perish; yet by other hands than mine. "Unpunish'd shall he 'scape then? Victor live, "Proud of his high success, and rule the realm "Of Calydon, while ye are prostrate thrown "A trivial heap of ashes, and cold shades? "Patience no more will bear. Perish the wretch! "Perish his father's hopes! perish the realm! "And all the country perish! Where? O, where? "Is then the mother's soul, the pious prayers "A parent should prefer? Where the strong pains "Which twice five moons I bore? O, that the flames "First kindled, had thy infant limbs consum'd! "Would I had not then snatch'd thee from thy fate! "Thy gift of life is mine; now that thou dy'st "Thy own demerits ask: take the reward "Thy deeds deserve: yield up thy twice-given life, "First in thy birth, then by the brand I sav'd; "Or lay me with my brethren in their tomb. "I wish, yet what I would my hands refuse. "What will my soul determine? Now mine eyes "The mangled corses of my brethren fill: "Now filial fondness, and a mother's name "Distract my soul. O, wretched, wretched me! "Brothers you gain the conquest, yet you gain "Dearly for me; but on your shades I'll wait, "Blest in what gives you once to me again." She said; with face averse and trembling hand, The fateful brand amid the fires was dropt. The brand a groan deep utter'd, or a groan To utter seem'd: the flames half backward caught At length their prey, which gradually consum'd.
Witless of this sad deed, and absent far, Fierce Meleager, with the self-same fire Burn'd inward; all his vitals felt the flame Scorching conceal'd: th' excruciating pangs Magnanimous he bore. Yet deep he mourn'd By such a slothful bloodless fate to fall; And happy call'd Ancaeus in his wounds. With deep-drawn groans he calls his aged sire, His brother, sisters, and the nymph belov'd, Who shar'd his nuptial couch; with final breath, His mother too perchance. Now glows the fire, And now the pains increase; now both are faint; Now both together die. The soul flies forth, And gently dissipates in empty air.
Low now lies lofty Calydon,—the youths, And aged seniors weep; the vulgar crowd And nobles mourn alike; the matrons rend Their garments, beat their breasts, and tear their hair. Stretch'd on the earth the wretched sire defiles His hoary locks, and aged face with dust, Cursing his lengthen'd years: the conscious hand Which caus'd the direful end, the mother's fate Accomplish'd; through her vitals pierc'd the steel.
Had heaven on me an hundred tongues bestow'd, With sounding voice, and such capacious wit As all might fill; and all the Muses' power, Still should I fail the grieving sisters' woe Justly to paint. Heedless of beauteous forms They beat their bosoms livid; while the corse Remains, they clasp and cherish in their arms The senseless mass; the corse they kiss, and kiss The couch on which it rests: to ashes burn'd, Careful collected in the urn, they hug Those ashes to their breasts; and prostrate thrown His tomb they cover; on the graven stone Embrace his name; and on the letters pour Their tears in torrents. Dian' satiate now The house of OEneus levell'd with the dust, Rais'd them by wings in air, which sudden shot From each their bodies. Gorge sole, and she The spouse of valiant Hercules, unchang'd Were left. Long pinions for their arms were seen; Their mouths to horny bills were turn'd; through air Thus alter'd, ample range the goddess gives.
Theseus meantime, the toil confederate done, Homeward to Pallas' towers his journey bent; But Acheloues, swol'n by showery floods, Delay'd his progress. "Fam'd Cecropia's chief,"— He cry'd,—"here shelter, enter 'neath my roof, "Nor through the furious torrents trust thy steps. "Whole forests oft they root, and whirl along "Vast rocks with thundering sound. High stalls I've seen, "Near to the banks erected, swept away: "Nor aught avail'd the lusty bull's strong limbs, "Nor aught the courser's speed: the torrents oft "Of melted snows, which from the mountains rush, "Whelm the strong youths beneath the whirling pool. "To rest is safer, till their wonted banks "Again the streams confine; the lessen'd waves "Within their channels pent."—Theseus complies, And answers:—"Acheloues, we approve "Thy prudent counsel, and thy cave will use," The grot they enter; hollow pumice, mixt With rugged tophus, form'd it; tender moss The moist floor cover'd; fretwork on the roof The purple murex and the scallop white Alternate form'd. Now Phoebus' steeds had run Two thirds their race, when Theseus on his couch Reclin'd, the comrades of his toil close by; Pirithous here, Troezenian Lelex there, Whose temples now some silvery hairs display'd. With these were such as Acheloues, joy'd At such a noble guest, the honor deem'd Worthy to share. The barefoot Naiaed nymphs Heap'd on the board the banquet: food remov'd, They brought the wine, in cups with jewels deck'd.
The mighty hero then, the distant main Surveying, asks:—"What land is that I see?—" And shews the spot,—"tell me what name denotes "That isle? and yet methinks not one it seems." The river-god replies:—"What we behold "A single isle is not, but five; the eye "Is mock'd by distance. That Diana's wrath "May less your wonder move, these once were nymphs. "Ten bullocks had they sacrific'd, and call'd "Each rural god to taste the sacred feast, "And join the festal chorus, me alone, "Forgetful, they invited not. Sore vext, "I swell'd with rage, and as my anger rose, "My flood increas'd; till at my greatest height, "Woods I divorc'd from woods; from meadows tore "The neighbouring meadows; and the Naiaeds roll'd, "Now well-remembering what my godhead claim'd, "Down with their habitations to the main. "My waves then, with the ocean's waters join'd, "The land divided, and those isles you view, "Echinades, amid the sea were form'd.
"More distant may your vision reach;—behold "An isle beyond them to my soul most dear; "By sailors nam'd Perimele. I snatch'd "Her virgin-treasure from the much-lov'd maid. "Hippodamas her sire in fury rav'd; "And, from a precipice, the pregnant nymph "Plung'd in the deep. My waves receiv'd the load; "And whilst I bore her floating, thus I said;— "O, trident-bearer, thou whom lot decreed "Lord, next to heaven, o'er all the wandering waves, "Where all the sacred rivers end their course; "To which all rivers tend, O, Neptune, aid! "Propitious, hear my prayer! Much have I wrong'd "The nymph I now support: if lenient he, "And equitable, sure Hippodamas, "Her sire, had pity granted, and myself "Had pardon'd. Gracious Neptune, grant thy help "To her a parent's fury from the earth "Wide banishes. O, I beseech thee! grant "A place to her, paternal rage would drown: "Or to a place transform her, where my waves "May clasp her still. The ocean-god consents, "And all his waters shake as nods his head. "Still floats th' affrighted nymph; and as she swims, "I feel her heart with trepid motion beat: "While pressing fond her bosom, all her form "Rigidly firm becomes, and round her chest "Rough earth heaps high; and, whilst I wondring speak, "A new-form'd land her floating limbs enclasps: "Her shape transform'd, a solid isle becomes."
Thus far the watery deity, and ceas'd. The wondrous tale all mov'd, save one, the son Of bold Ixion; fierce of soul, he laugh'd To scorn their minds so credulous, the gods Impious contemning, as he thus exclaim'd;— "What tales, O, Acheloues, you relate! "Too much of potence to the gods you grant, "To give and change our figures."—All struck dumb, Discourage this bold speech, and Lelex first, Mature in age, and in experience old Beyond the rest, thus spoke:—"Celestial power, "In range is infinite, in sway immense; "What the gods will, completion instant finds. "To clear your doubts, upon the Phrygian hills "An ancient oak, and neighbouring linden stand, "Girt by a low inclosure; I the spot "Survey'd, when into Phrygia's realms dispatch'd "By Pittheus, when those realms his father rul'd. "Not far a lake extends, a space once fill'd "With human 'habitants, whose waves now swarm "With fenny coots, and cormorants alone. "Here Jove in human shape, and with his sire, "The son of Maiae, came; the last his rod "Shorn of its wings, still bore. A thousand doors, "Seeking repose, they knock'd at; every door "Firm barr'd repuls'd them: one at length flew wide; "A lowly cot, whose humble roof long reeds, "And straw firm-matted, cover'd. Baucis there, "A pious dame, and old Philemon match'd "In age, had dwelt, since join'd in springtide youth; "And there grew old together: Full content, "Their poverty they hid not, and more light "Their poverty on souls unmurmuring weigh'd. "Here nor for lord, nor servant, was there need "To seek; beneath the roof these only dwelt; "Each order'd, each obey'd. The heaven-born guests "The humble threshold crossing, lowly stoop'd, "And entrance gain'd: the ancient host bade sit "And rest their weary'd limbs: the bench was plac'd, "Which Baucis anxious for their comfort, spread "With home-made coverings: then with careful hand "The scarce warm embers on the hearth upturn'd; "And rous'd the sleeping fires of yestern's eve, "With food of leaves and bark dry-parch'd, and fann'd "To flame the fuel with her aged breath: "Then threw the small-slit faggots, and the boughs "Long-wither'd, on the top, divided small: "And plac'd her brazen vase of scanty size, "O'er all. Last stripp'd the coleworts' outer leaves, "Cull'd by her husband from the water'd ground, "Which serv'd as garden. He meantime reach'd down, "With two-fork'd prong, where high on blacken'd beam "It hung, a paltry portion of an hog, "Long harden'd there; and from the back he slic'd "A morsel thin, which soon he soften'd down "In boiling steam. The intermediate hours "With pleasing chat they cheat; the short delay "To feel avoiding. On a nail high hung "A beechen pail for bathing, by its hand "Deep-curv'd: with tepid water this he fill'd, "And plac'd before his guests their feet to lave. "A couch there stood, whose feet and frame were form'd "Of willow; tender reeds the centre fill'd, "With coverings this they spread, coverings which saw "The light not, but when festal days them claim'd: "Yet coarse and old were these, and such as well "With willow couch agreed. The gods laid down. "The dame close-girt, with tremulous hand prepar'd "The board; two feet were perfect, 'neath the third "She thrust a broken sherd, and all stood firm. "This sloping mended, all the surface clean "With fragrant mint she rubb'd: and plac'd in heaps "The double-teinted fruit of Pallas, maid "Of unsoil'd purity; autumnal fruits, "Cornels, in liquid lees of wine preserv'd; "Endive, and radish, and the milky curd; "With eggs turn'd lightly o'er a gentle heat: "All serv'd in earthen dishes. After these "A clay-carv'd jug was set, and beechen cups, "Varnish'd all bright with yellow wax within. "Short the delay, when from the ready fire "The steaming dish is brought; and wine not long "Press'd from the grape, again went round, again "Gave place to see the third remove produc'd. "Now comes the nut, the fig, the wrinkled date, "The plumb, the fragrant apple, and the grape "Pluck'd from the purple vine; all plac'd around "In spreading baskets: snow-white honey fill'd "The central space. The prime of all the feast, "Was looks that hearty welcome gave, and prov'd "No indigence nor poverty of soul. "Meantime the empty'd bowls full oft they see "Spontaneously replenish'd; still the wine "Springs to the brim. Astonish'd, struck with dread, "To view the novel scene, the timid pair "Their hands upraise devoutly, and with prayers "Excuses utter for their homely treat, "At unawares requir'd. A lonely goose "They own'd, the watchman of their puny farm; "Him would the hosts, to their celestial guests "A sacred offering make, but swift of wing, "Their toiling chace with age retarded, long "He mock'd; at length the gods themselves he seeks "For sheltering care. The gods his death forbid, "And speak:—Celestials are we both; a fate "Well-earn'd, your impious neighbouring roofs shall feel. "To you, and unto you alone is given "Exemption from their lot. Your cottage leave "And tread our footsteps, while of yonder mount "We seek the loftiest summit. Each obeys; "The gods precede them, while their tottering limbs "A trusty staff supports; tardy from years, "Slowly they labor up the long ascent. "Now from the summit wanted they not more "Than what an arrow, shot with strenuous arm, "At once could gain; when back their view they bent: "Their house alone they saw,—that singly stood: "All else were buried in a wide-spread lake. "Wondring at this, and weeping at the doom "Their hapless neighbours suffer'd; lo! they see "Their mouldering cot, e'en for the pair too small, "Change to a temple; pillars rear on high, "In place of crotchets; yellow turns the straw, "The roof seems gilded; sculptur'd shine the gates; "And marble pavement covers all the floor. "Then Saturn's son, in these benignant words "The pair address'd;—O, ancient man, most just! "And thou, O woman! worthy of thy spouse, "Declare your wishes.—Baucis spoke awhile "With old Philemon; then their joint desire "The latter to the deities declar'd.— "To be your ministers, your sacred fane "To keep we ask: and as our equal years "In concord we have pass'd, let the same hour "Remove us hence: may I her tomb not see, "Nor be by her interr'd.—The gods comply; "These guard the temple through succeeding life. "Fill'd now with years, as on the temple's steps "They stood, conversing on the wondrous change, "Baucis beheld Philemon shoot in leaves, "And leaves Philemon saw from Baucis sprout; "And from their heads o'er either's face they grew. "Still while they could with mutual words they spoke; "At once exclaim'd,—O, dearest spouse, farewell!— "At once the bark, their lips thus speaking, clos'd. "Ev'n yet a Tyanaean shews two trees "Of neighbouring growth, form'd from the alter'd pair. "Nor dotard credulous, nor lying tongue "The fact to me related. On the boughs "Myself have seen the votive garlands hung; "And whilst I offered fresher, have I said— "Heaven guards the good with care; and those who give "The gods due honors, honors claim themselves."