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To seek where'er his body might be cast;
Till, on the borders of the Po, at last
The name inscribed on the new tomb appears :
The dear, dear name she bathes in flowing tears,
Hangs o'er the tomb, unable to depart,
And hugs the marble to her throbbing heart.
Her daughters too lament, and sigh, and mourn,
(A fruitless tribute to their brother's urn,)
And beat their naked bosoms, and complain,
And call aloud for Phaëton in vain :
All the long night their mournful watch they keep,
And all the day stand round the tomb, and weep.
Four times revolving the full moon returned; So long the mother and the daughters mourned : When now the eldest, Phaëthusa, strove To rest her weary limbs, but could not move; Lampetia would have helped her, but she found Herself withheld, and rooted to the ground: A third in wild affliction, as she grieves, Would rend her hair, but fills her hands with leaves; One sees her thighs transformed, another views Her arms shot out, and branching into boughs. And now their legs and breasts and bodies stood Crusted with bark, and hardening into wood; But still above were female heads displayed, And mouths, that called the mother to their aid. What could, alas! the weeping mother do ? From this to that with eager haste she flew, And kissed her sprouting daughters as they grew. She tears the bark that to each body cleaves, And from their verdant fingers strips the leaves : The blood came trickling, where she tore away The leaves and bark: the maids were heard to say,
Forbear, mistaken parent, oh! forbear;
A wounded daughter in each tree you tear ;
Farewell for ever.” Here the bark increased,
Closed on their faces, and their words suppressed.
The new-made trees in tears of amber run,
Which, hardened into value by the sun,
Distil for ever on the streams below:
The limpid streams their radiant treasure show,
Mixt in the sand; whence the rich drops conveyed, Shine in the dress of the bright Latian maid.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF CYCNUS INTO A SWAN.
Cycnus beheld the nymphs transformed, allied
To their dead brother on the mortal side,
In friendship and affection nearer bound;
He left the cities and the realms he owned,
Through pathless fields and lonely shores to range,
And woods, made thicker by the sisters' change.
Whilst here, within the dismal gloom, alone,
The melancholy monarch made his moan,
His voice was lessened, as he tried to speak,
And issued through a long extended neck ;
His hair transforms to down, his fingers meet
In skinny films, and shape his oary feet;
From both his sides the wings and feathers break;
And from his mouth proceeds a blunted beak;
All Cycnus now into a swan was turned,
Who, still remembering how his kinsman burned,
To solitary pools and lakes retires,
And loves the waters as opposed to fires.
Meanwhile Apollo, in a gloomy shade
(The native lustre of his brows decayed)
Indulging sorrow, sickens at the sight
Of his own sunshine, and abhors the light:
The hidden griefs, that in his bosom rise,
Sadden his looks, and overcast his eyes,
As when some dusky orb obstructs his ray,
And sullies in a dim eclipse the day.
Now secretly with inward griefs he pined,
Now warm resentments to his grief he joined,
And now renounced his office to mankind.
"E’er since the birth of time,” said he, “I've borne
A long, ungrateful toil without return;
Let now some other manage, if he dare,
The fiery steeds, and mount the burning car;
Or, if none else, let Jove his fortune try,
And learn to lay his murdering thunder by;
Then will he own, perhaps, but own too late,
My son deserved not so severe a fate."
The gods stand round him, as he mourns, and pray He would resume the conduct of the day, Nor let the world be lost in endless night: Jove too himself, descending from his height, Excuses what had happened, and entreats, Majestically mixing prayers and threats. Prevailed upon, at length, again he took The harnessed steeds, that still with horror shook, And plies 'em with the lash, and whips 'em on, And, as he whips, upbraids them with his son.
The day was settled in its course; and Jove Walked the wide circuit of the heavens above, To search if
cracks or flaws were made ; But all was safe: the earth he then surveyed, And cast an eye on every different coast, And every land; but on Arcadia most. Her fields he clothed, and cheered her blasted face With running fountains, and with springing grass. No tracks of heaven's destructive fire remain, The fields and woods revive, and nature smiles again.
But as the god walked to and fro the earth, And raised the plants, and gave the spring its birth, By chance a fair Arcadian nymph he viewed, And felt the lovely charmer in his blood. The nymph nor spun, nor dressed with artful pride; Her vest was gathered up, her hair was tied ; Now in her hand a slender spear she bore, Now a light quiver on her shoulders wore; To chaste Diana from her youth inclined, The sprightly warriors of the wood she joined. Diana too the gentle huntress loved, Nor was there one of all the nymphs that roved O'er Mænalus, amid the maiden throng, More favoured once; but favour lasts not long.
The sun now shone in all its strength, and drove The heated virgin panting to a grove; The grove around a grateful shadow cast : She dropt her arrows, and her bow unbraced ; She flung herself on the cool, grassy bed; And on the painted quiver raised her head.
Jove saw the charming huntress unprepared,
Stretched on the verdant turf, without a guard.
“Here I am safe,” he cries, “ from Juno's eye;
Or should my jealous queen the theft descry,
Yet would I venture on a theft like this,
And stand her rage for such, for such a bliss !”
Diana's shape and habit straight he took,
Softened his brows, and smoothed his awful look,
And mildly in a female accent spoke.
How fares my girl ? How went the morning chase ?
To whom the virgin, starting from the grass,
“All hail, bright deity, whom I prefer
To Jove himself, though Jove himself were here."
The god was nearer than she thought, and heard,
Well-pleased, himself before himself preferred.
He then salutes her with a warm embrace,
And, ere she half had told the morning chase,
With love inflamed, and eager on his bliss,
Smothered her words, and stopped her with a kiss ;
His kisses with unwanted ardour glowed,
Nor could Diana's shape conceal the god.
The virgin did whate'er a virgin could;
(Sure Juno must have pardoned, had she viewed ;)
With all her might against his force she strove;
But how can mortal maids contend with Jove!
Possest at length of what his heart desired,
Back to his heavens the exulting god retired.
The lovely huntress, rising from the grass,
With downcast eyes, and with a blushing face
By shame confounded, and by fear dismayed,
Flew from the covert of the guilty shade,
And almost, in the tumult of her mind,
Left her forgotten bow and shafts behind.
But now Diana, with a sprightly train
Of quivered virgins, bounding over the plain,
Called to the nymph; the nymph began to fear
A second fraud, a Jove disguised in her ;
But, when she saw the sister nymphs, suppressed
Her rising fears, and mingled with the rest.
How in the look does conscious guilt appear!
Slowly she moved, and loitered in the rear ;
Nor slightly tripped, nor by the goddess ran,
As once she used, the foremost of the train.
Her looks were flushed, and sullen was her mien,
That sure the virgin goddess (had she been
Aught but a virgin) must the guilt have seen.
'Tis said the nymphs saw all, and guessed aright:
And now the moon had nine times lost her light,
When Dian, fainting in the mid-day beams,
Found a cool covert, and refreshing streams
That in soft murmurs through the forest flowed,
And a smooth bed of shining gravel showed.
A covert so obscure, and streams so clear,
The goddess praised : “And now no spies are near,
Let’s strip, my gentle maids, and wash, she cries.
Pleased with the motion, every maid complies;
Only the blushing huntress stood confused,
And formed delays, and her delays excused;
In vain excused her fellows round her pressed,
And the reluctant nymph by force undressed.
The naked huntress all her shame revealed,
In vain her hands the pregnant womb concealed;
“Begone!” the goddess cries with stern disdain,
Begone! nor dare the hallowed stream to stain:”
She fled, for ever banished from the train.
This Juno heard, who long had watched her time
To punish the detested rival's crime:
The time was come; for, to enrage her
A lovely boy the teeming rival bore.
The goddess cast a furious look, and cried,
"It is enough! I'm fully satisfied!
This boy shall stand a living mark, to prove
My husband's baseness, and the strumpet's love:
But vengeance shall awake: those guilty charms,
That drew the Thunderer from Juno's arms,
No longer shall their wonted force retain,
Nor please the god, nor make the mortal vain.
This said, her hand within her hair she wound,
Swung her to earth, and dragged her on the ground.
The prostrate wretch lifts up her arms in prayer;
Her arms grow shaggy, and deformed with hair,
Her nails are sharpened into pointed claws,
Her hands bear half her weight, and turn to paws ;