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Oft did she call on death, as oft decreed,
Rather than see her sister's wish succeed,
To tell her awful father what had passed:
At length before the door herself she cast;
And, sitting on the ground with sullen pride,
A passage to the love-sick god denied.
The god caressed, and for admission prayed,
And soothed, in softest words, the envenomed maid.
In vain he soothed! " Begone!" the maid replies,
"Or here I keep my seat, and never rise."
"Then keep thy seat for ever!" cries the god,
And touched the door, wide-opening to his rod.
Fain would she rise, and stop him, but she found
Her trunk too heavy to forsake the ground;
Her joints are all benumbed, her hands are pale,
And marble now appears in every nail.
As when a cancer in the body feeds,
And gradual death from limb to limb proceeds;
So does the chillness to each vital part
Spread by degrees, and creeps into her heart;
Till, hardening everywhere, and speechless grown,
She sits unmoved, and freezes to a stone.
But still her envious hue and sullen mien
Are in the sedentary figure seen.
When now the god his fury had allayed,
And taken vengeance of the stubborn maid,
From where the bright Athenian turrets rise
He mounts aloft, and re-ascends the skies.
Jove saw him enter the sublime abodes,
And, as he mixed among the crowd of gods,
Beckoned him out, and drew him from the rest,
And in soft whispers thus his will exprest.
"My trusty Hermes, by whose ready aid
Thy sire's commands are through the world conveyed,
Resume thy wings, exert their utmost force,
And to the walls of Sidon speed thy course;
There find a herd of heifers wandering o'er
The neighbouring hill, and drive them to the shore."
Thus spoke the god, concealing his intent.
The trusty Hermes on his message went,
And found the herd of heifers wandering o'er
A neighbouring hill, and drove 'em to the shore;
Where the king's daughter, with a lovely train
Of fellow-nymphs, was sporting on the plain.
The dignity of empire laid aside,
(For love but ill agrees with kingly pride,)
The ruler of the skies, the thundering god,
Who shakes the world's foundations with a nod,
Among a herd of lowing heifers ran,
Frisked in a bull, and bellowed o'er the plain.
Large rolls of fat about his shoulders clung,
And from his neck the double dewlap hung.
His skin was whiter than the snow that lies
Unsullied by the breath of southern skies;
Small shining horns on his curled forehead stand,
As turned and polished by the workman's hand;
His eye-balls rolled, not formidably bright,
But gazed and languished with a gentle light.
His every look was peaceful, and exprest
The softness of the lover in the beast.
Agenor's royal daughter, as she played Among the fields, the milk-white bull surveyed, And viewed his spotless body with delight, And at a distance kept him in her sight. At length she plucked the rising flowers, and fed The gentle beast, and fondly stroked his head. He stood well pleased to touch the charming fair, But hardly could confine his pleasure there. And now he wantons o'er the neighbouring strand, Now rolls his body on the yellow sand; And now, perceiving all her fears decayed, Comes tossing forward to the royal maid; Gives her his breast to stroke, and downward turns His grisly brow, and gently stoops his horns. In flowery wreaths the royal virgin drest His bending horns, and kindly clapt his breast. Till now grown wanton, and devoid of fear, Not knowing that she prest the Thunderer, She placed herself upon his back, and rode O'er fields and meadows, seated on the god.
He gently marched along, and by degrees Left the dry meadow, and approached the sens;
Where now he dips his hoofs and wets his thighs,
Now plunges in, and carries off the prize.
The frighted nymph looks backward on the shore,
And hears the tumbling billows round her roar;
But still she holds him fast: one hand is borne
Upon his back, the other grasps a horn:
Her train of ruffling garments flies behind,
Swells in the air and hovers in the wind.
Through storms and tempests he the virgin bore,
And lands her safe on the Dictean shore;
Where now, in his divinest form arrayed,
In his true shape he captivates the maid;
Who gazes on him, and with wondering eyes
Beholds the new majestic figure rise,
His glowing features, and celestial light,
And all the god discovered to her sight.
THE STORY OF CADMUS.
WHEN now Agenor had his daughter lost,
He sent his son to search on every coast;
And sternly bid him to his arms restore
The darling maid, or see his face no more,
But live an exile in a foreign clime:
Thus was the father pious to a crime.
The restless youth searched all the world around;
But how can Jove in his amours be found?
When tired at length with unsuccessful toil,
To shun his angry sire and native soil,
He goes a suppliant to the Delphic dome;
There asks the god what new-appointed home
Should end his wanderings and his toils relieve.
The Delphic oracles this answer give.
"Behold among the fields a lonely cow,
Unworn with yokes, unbroken to the plough;
Mark well the place where first she lays her down,
There measure out thy walls, and build thy town,
And from thy guide, Boeotia call the land,
In which the destined walls and town shall stand."
No sooner had he left the dark abode,
Big with the promise of the Delphic god,
When in the fields the fatal cow he viewed,
Nor galled with yokes, nor worn with servitude:
Her gently at a distance he pursued;
And, as he walked aloof, in silence prayed
To the great power whose counsels he obeyed.
Her way through flowery Panopè she took,
And now, Cephisus, crossed thy silver brook;
When to the heavens her spacious front she raised,
And bellowed thrice, then backward turning, gazed
On those behind, till on the destined place
She stooped, and couched amid the rising grass.
Cadmus salutes the soil, and gladly hails
The new-found mountains, and the nameless vales,
And thanks the gods, and turns about his eye
see his new dominions round him lie;
Then sends his servants to a neighbouring grove
For living streams, a sacrifice to Jove.
O'er the wide plain there rose a shady wood
Of aged trees; in its dark bosom stood
A bushy thicket, pathless and unworn,
O'er-run with brambles, and perplexed with thorn:
Amidst the brake a hollow den was found,
With rocks and shelving arches vaulted round.
Deep in the dreary den, concealed from day,
Sacred to Mars, a mighty dragon lay,
Bloated with poison to a monstrous size;
Fire broke in flashes when he glanced his eyes;
His towering crest was glorious to behold,
His shoulders and his sides were scaled with gold;
Three tongues he brandished when he charged his foes;
His teeth stood jaggy in three dreadful rows.
The Tyrians in the den for water sought,
And with their urns explored the hollow vault:
From side to side their empty urns rebound,
And rouse the sleepy serpent with the sound.
Straight he bestirs him, and is seen to rise;
And now with dreadful hissings fills the skies,
And darts his forky tongues, and rolls his glaring eyes.
The Tyrians drop their vessels in their fright,
All pale and trembling at the hideous sight.
Spire above spire upreared in air he stood,
And gazing round him, overlooked the wood:
Then floating on the ground, in circles rolled;
Then leaped upon them in a mighty fold.
Of such a bulk, and such a monstrous size,
The serpent in the polar circle lies,
That stretches over half the northern skies.
In vain the Tyrians on their arms rely,
In vain attempt to fight, in vain to fly:
All their endeavours and their hopes are vain;
Some die entangled in the winding train;
Some are devoured; or feel a loathsome death.
Swoln up with blasts of pestilential breath.
And now the scorching sun was mounted high,
In all its lustre, to the noon-day sky;
When, anxious for his friends, and filled with cares,
To search the woods the impatient chief prepares.
A lion's hide around his loins he wore,
The well poised javelin to the field he bore,
Inured to blood, the far-destroying dart,
And, the best weapon, an undaunted heart.
Soon as the youth approached the fatal place, He saw his servants breathless on the grass; The scaly foe amid their corpse he viewed, Basking at ease, and feasting in their blood, "Such friends," he cries, "deserved a longer date; But Cadmus will revenge, or share their fate." Then heaved a stone, and rising to the throw He sent it in a whirlwind at the foe: A tower, assaulted by so rude a stroke, With all its lofty battlements had shook; But nothing here the unwieldy rock avails, Rebounding harmless from the plaited scales, That, firmly joined, preserved him from a wound, With native armour crusted all around. The pointed javelin more successful flew, Which at his back the raging warrior threw ; Amid the plaited scales it took its course, And in the spinal marrow spent its force. The monster hissed aloud, and raged in vain, And writhed his body to and fro with pain;