The Transformation of Scylla
NOW Glaucus, with a lover’s haste, bounds o’er
The swelling waves, and seeks the Latian shore.
Messena, Rhegium, and the barren coast
Of flaming Aetna, to his sight are lost:
At length he gains the Tyrrhene seas, and views
The hills where baneful philters Circe brews;
Monsters, in various forms, around her press;
As thus the God salutes the sorceress.
O Circe, be indulgent to my grief,
And give a love-sick deity relief.
Too well the mighty pow’r of plants I know,
To those my figure, and new Fate I owe.
Against Messena, on th’ Ausonian coast,
I Scylla view’d, and from that hour was lost.
In tend’rest sounds I su’d; but still the fair
Was deaf to vows, and pityless to pray’r.
If numbers can avail, exert their pow’r;
Or energy of plants, if plants have more.
I ask no cure; let but the virgin pine
With dying pangs, or agonies, like mine.
No longer Circe could her flame disguise,
But to the suppliant God marine, replies:
When maids are coy, have manlier aims in view;
Leave those that fly, but those that like, pursue.
If love can be by kind compliance won;
See, at your feet, the daughter of the Sun.
Sooner, said Glaucus, shall the ash remove
From mountains, and the swelling surges love;
Or humble sea-weed to the hills repair;
E’er I think any but my Scylla fair.
Strait Circe reddens with a guilty shame,
And vows revenge for her rejected flame.
Fierce liking oft a spight as fierce creates;
For love refus’d, without aversion, hates.
To hurt her hapless rival she proceeds;
And, by the fall of Scylla, Glaucus bleeds.
Some fascinating bev’rage now she brews;
Compos’d of deadly drugs, and baneful juice.
At Rhegium she arrives; the ocean braves,
And treads with unwet feet the boiling waves.
Upon the beach a winding bay there lies,
Shelter’d from seas, and shaded from the skies:
This station Scylla chose: a soft retreat
From chilling winds, and raging Cancer’s heat.
The vengeful sorc’ress visits this recess;
Her charm infuses, and infects the place.
Soon as the nymph wades in, her nether parts
Turn into dogs; then at her self she starts.
A ghastly horror in her eyes appears;
But yet she knows not, who it is she fears;
In vain she offers from her self to run,
And drags about her what she strives to shun.
Oppress’d with grief the pitying God appears:
And swells the rising surges with his tears;
From the detested sorceress he flies;
Her art reviles, and her address denies:
Whilst hapless Scylla, chang’d to rocks, decrees
Destruction to those barques, that beat the seas.
Here bulg’d the pride of fam’d Ulysses’ fleet,
But good Aeneas ’scap’d the Fate he met.
As to the Latian shore the Trojan stood,
And cut with well-tim’d oars the foaming flood:
He weather’d fell Charybdis: but ere-long
The skies were darken’d, and the tempest strong.
Then to the Libyan coast he stretches o’er;
And makes at length the Carthaginian shore.
Here Dido, with an hospitable care,
Into her heart receives the wanderer.
From her kind arms th’ ungrateful hero flies;
The injur’d queen looks on with dying eyes,
Then to her folly falls a sacrifice.
Aeneas now sets sail, and plying gains
Fair Eryx, where his friend Acestes reigns:
First to his sire does fun’ral rites decree,
Then gives the signal next, and stands to sea;
Out-runs the islands where Volcanos roar;
Gets clear of Syrens, and their faithless shore:
But looses Palynurus in the way;
Then makes Inarime, and Prochyta.
The gallies now by Pythecusa pass;
The name is from the natives of the place,
The father of the Gods detesting lies,
Oft, with abhorrence, heard their perjuries.
Th’ abandon’d race, transform’d to beasts, began
To mimick the impertinence of Man.
Flat-nos’d, and furrow’d; with grimace they grin;
And look, to what they were, too near akin:
Merry in make, and busy to no end;
This moment they divert, the next offend:
So much this species of their past retains;
Tho’ lost the language, yet the noise remains.
Now, on his right, he leaves Parthenope:
His left, Misenus jutting in the sea:
Arrives at Cuma, and with awe survey’d
The grotto of the venerable maid:
Begs leave thro’ black Avernus to retire;
And view the much-lov’d Manes of his sire.
Straight the divining virgin rais’d her eyes:
And, foaming with a holy rage, replies:
O thou, whose worth thy wond’rous works proclaim;
The flames, thy piety; the world, thy fame;
Tho’ great be thy request, yet shalt thou see
Th’ Elysian fields, th’ infernal monarchy;
Thy parent’s shade: this arm thy steps shall guide:
To suppliant virtue nothing is deny’d.
She spoke, and pointing to the golden bough,
Which in th’ Avernian grove refulgent grew,
Seize that, she bids; he listens to the maid;
Then views the mournful mansions of the dead:
The shade of great Anchises, and the place
By Fates determin’d to the Trojan race. -
As back to upper light the hero came,
He thus salutes the visionary dame. —
O, whether some propitious deity,
Or lov’d by those bright rulers of the sky!
With grateful incense I shall stile you one,
And deem no Godhead greater, than your own.
’Twas you restor’d me from the realms of night,
And gave me to behold the fields of light:
To feel the breezes of congenial air;
And Nature’s blest benevolence to share.
I am no deity, reply’d the dame,
But mortal, and religious rites disclaim.
Yet had avoided death’s tyrannick sway,
Had I consented to the God of day.
With promises he sought my love, and said,
Have all you wish, my fair Cumaean maid.
I paus’d; then pointing to a heap of sand,
For ev’ry grain, to live a year, demand.
But ah! unmindful of th’ effect of time,
Forgot to covenant for youth, and prime.
The smiling bloom, I boasted once, is gone,
And feeble age with lagging limbs creeps on.
Sev’n cent’ries have I liv’d; three more fulfil
The period of the years to finish still.
Who’ll think, that Phoebus, drest in youth divine,
Had once believ’d his lustre less than mine?
This wither’d frame (so Fates have will’d) shall waste
To nothing, but prophetick words, at last.
The Sibyll mounting now from nether skies,
And the fam’d Ilian prince, at Cuma rise.
He sail’d, and near the place to anchor came,
Since call’d Cajeta from his nurse’s name.
Here did the luckless Macareus, a friend
To wise Ulysses, his long labours end.
Here, wandring, Achaemenides he meets,
And, sudden, thus his late associate, greets.
Whence came you here, o friend, and whither bound?
All gave you lost on far Cyclopean ground;
A Greek’s at last aboard a Trojan found.
Thus Achaemenides — With thanks I name
Aeneas, and his piety proclaim.
I ’scap’d the Cyclops thro’ the hero’s aid,
Else in his maw my mangled limbs had laid.
When first your navy under sail he found,
He rav’d, ’till Aetna labour’d with the sound.
Raging, he stalk’d along the mountain’s side,
And vented clouds of breath at ev’ry stride.
His staff a mountain ash; and in the clouds
Oft, as he walks, his grisly front he shrowds.
Eyeless he grop’d about with vengeful haste,
And justled promontories, as he pass’d.
Then heav’d a rock’s high summit to the main,
And bellow’d, like some bursting hurricane.
Oh! cou’d I seize Ulysses in his flight,
How unlamented were my loss of sight!
These jaws should piece-meal tear each panting vein,
Grind ev’ry crackling bone, and pound his brain.
As thus he rav’d, my joynts with horror shook;
The tide of blood my chilling heart forsook.
I saw him once disgorge huge morsels, raw,
Of wretches undigested in his maw.
From the pale breathless trunks whole limbs he tore,
His beard all clotted with o’erflowing gore.
My anxious hours I pass’d in caves; my food
Was forest fruits, and wildings of the wood.
At length a sail I wafted, and aboard
My fortune found an hospitable lord.
Now, in return, your own adventures tell,
And what, since first you put to sea, befell.
Then Macareus — There reign’d a prince of fame
O’er Tuscan seas, and Aeolus his name.
A largess to Ulysses he consign’d,
And in a steer’s tough hide inclos’d a wind.
Nine days before the swelling gale we ran;
The tenth, to make the meeting land, began:
When now the merry mariners, to find
Imagin’d wealth within, the bag unbind.
Forthwith out-rush’d a gust, which backwards bore
Our gallies to the Laestrigonian shore,
Whose crown, Antiphates the tyrant wore.
Some few commission’d were with speed to treat;
We to his court repair, his guards we meet.
Two, friendly flight preserv’d; the third was doom’d,
To be by those curs’d cannibals consum’d.
Inhumanly our hapless friends they treat;
Our men they murder, and destroy our fleet.
In time the wise Ulysses bore away,
And drop’d his anchor in yon faithless bay.
The thoughts of perils past we still retain,
And fear to land, ’till lots appoint the men.
Polites true, Elpenor giv’n to wine,
Eurylochus, my self, the lots assign.
Design’d for dangers, and resolv’d to dare,
To Circe’s fatal palace we repair.
Before the spacious front, a herd we find
Of beasts, the fiercest of the savage kind.
Our trembling steps with blandishments they meet,
And fawn, unlike their species, at our feet.
Within upon a sumptuous throne of state,
On golden columns rais’d, th’ enchantress sate.
Rich was her robe, and amiable her mein,
Her aspect awful, and she look’d a queen.
Her maids not mind the loom, nor household care,
Nor wage in needle-work a Scythian war,
But cull in canisters disastrous flow’rs,
And plants from haunted heaths, and fairy bow’rs,
With brazen sickles reap’d at planetary hours.
Each dose the Goddess weighs with watchful eye;
So nice her art in impious pharmacy!
Entring she greets us with a gracious look,
And airs, that future amity bespoke.
Her ready nymphs serve up a rich repast;
The bowl she dashes first, then gives to taste.
Quick, to our own undoing, we comply;
Her pow’r we prove, and shew the sorcery.
Soon, in a length of face, our head extends;
Our chine stiff bristles bears, and forward bends:
A breadth of brawn new burnishes our neck;
Anon we grunt, as we begin to speak.
Alone Eurylochus refus’d to taste,
Nor to a breast obscene the man debas’d.
Hither Ulysses hastes (so Fates command)
And bears the pow’rful Moly in his hand;
Unsheaths his scymitar, assaults the dame,
Preserves his species, and remains the same.
The nuptial right this outrage strait attends;
The dow’r desir’d is his transfigur’d friends.
The incantation backward she repeats,
Inverts her rod, and what she did, defeats.
And now our skin grows smooth, our shape upright;
Our arms stretch up, our cloven feet unite.
With tears our weeping gen’ral we embrace;
Hang on his neck, and melt upon his face,
Twelve silver moons in Circe’s court we stay,
Whilst there they waste th’ unwilling hours away.
’Twas here I spy’d a youth in Parian stone;
His head a pecker bore; the cause unknown
To passengers. A nymph of Circe’s train
The myst’ry thus attempted to explain.
Picus, who once th’ Ausonian scpetre held,
Could rein the steed, and fiihim for the field.
So like he was to what you see, that still
We doubt if real, or the sculptor’s skill.
The graces in the finish’d piece, you find,
Are but the copy of his fairer mind.
Four lustres scarce the royal youth could name,
’Till ev’ry love-sick nymph confess’d a flame.
Oft for his love the mountain Dryads su’d,
And ev’ry silver sister of the flood:
Those of Numicus, Albula, and those
Where Almo creeps, and hasty Nar o’erflows:
Where sedgy Anio glides thro’ smiling meads,
Where shady Farfar rustles in the reeds:
And those that love the lakes, and homage owe
To the chaste Goddess of the silver bow.
In vain each nymph her brightest charms put on,
His heart no sov’reign would obey but one.
She whom Venilia, on Mount Palatine,
To Janus bore, the fairest of her line.
Nor did her face alone her charms confess,
Her voice was ravishing, and pleas’d no less.
When e’er she sung, so melting were her strains,
The flocks unfed seem’d list’ning on the plains;
The rivers would stand still, the cedars bend;
And birds neglect their pinions to attend;
The savage kind in forest-wilds grow tame;
And Canens, from her heav’nly voice, her name.
Hymen had now in some ill-fated hour
Their hands united, as their hearts before.
Whilst their soft moments in delights they waste,
And each new day was dearer than the past;
Picus would sometimes o’er the forests rove,
And mingle sports with intervals of love.
It chanc’d, as once the foaming boar he chac’d,
His jewels sparkling on his Tyrian vest,
Lascivious Circe well the youth survey’d,
As simpling on the flow’ry hills she stray’d.
Her wishing eyes their silent message tell,
And from her lap the verdant mischief fell.
As she attempts at words, his courser springs
O’er hills, and lawns, and ev’n a wish outwings.
Thou shalt not ’scape me so, pronounc’d the dame,
If plants have pow’r, and spells be not a name.
She said — and forthwith form’d a boar of air,
That sought the covert with dissembled fear.
Swift to the thicket Picus wings his way
On foot, to chase the visionary prey.
Now she invokes the daughters of the night,
Does noxious juices smear, and charms recite;
Such as can veil the moon’s more feeble fire,
Or shade the golden lustre of her sire.
In filthy fogs she hides the chearful noon;
The guard at distance, and the youth alone,
By those fair eyes, she cries, and ev’ry grace
That finish all the wonders of your face,
Oh! I conjure thee, hear a Queen complain;
Nor let the sun’s soft lineage sue in vain.
Who-e’er thou art, reply’d the King, forbear,
None can my passion with my Canens share.
She first my ev’ry tender wish possest,
And found the soft approaches to my breast.
In nuptials blest, each loose desire we shun,
Nor time can end, what innocence begun.
Think not, she cry’d, to saunter out a life
Of form, with that domestick drudge, a wife;
My just revenge, dull fool, ere-long shall show
What ills we women, if refus’d, can do:
Think me a woman, and a lover too.
From dear successful spight we hope for ease,
Nor fail to punish, where we fail to please.
Now twice to east she turns, as oft to west;
Thrice waves her wand, as oft a charm exprest.
On the lost youth her magick pow’r she tries;
Aloft he springs, and wonders how he flies.
On painted plumes the woods he seeks, and still
The monarch oak he pierces with his bill.
Thus chang’d, no more o’er Latian lands he reigns;
Of Picus nothing but the name remains.
The winds from drisling damps now purge the air,
The mist subsides, the settling skies are fair:
The court their sovereign seek with arms in hand,
They threaten Circe, and their lord demand.
Quick she invokes the spirits of the air,
And twilight elves, that on dun wings repair
To charnels, and th’ unhallow’d sepulcher.
Now, strange to tell, the plants sweat drops of blood,
The trees are toss’d from forests where they stood;
Blue serpents o’er the tainted herbage slide,
Pale glaring spectres on the Aether ride;
Dogs howl, Earth yawns, rent rocks forsake their beds,
And from their quarries heave their stubborn heads.
The sad spectators, stiffen’d with their fears
She sees, and sudden ev’ry limb she smears;
Then each of savage beasts the figure bears.
The Sun did now to western waves retire,
In tides to temper his bright world of fire.
Canens laments her royal husband’s stay;
Ill suits fond love with absence, or delay,
Where she commands, her ready people run;
She wills, retracts; bids, and forbids anon.
Restless in mind, and dying with despair,
Her breasts she beats, and tears her flowing hair.
Six days, and nights she wanders on, as chance
Directs, without or sleep, or sustenance.
Tiber at last beholds the weeping fair;
Her feeble limbs no more the mourner bear;
Stretch’d on his banks, she to the flood complains,
And faintly tunes her voice to dying strains.
The sick’ning swan thus hangs her silver wings,
And, as she droops, her elegy she sings,
Ere-long sad Canens wastes to air; whilst Fame
The place still honours with her hapless name.
Here did the tender tale of Picus cease,
Above belief the wonder, I confess.
Again we sail, but more disasters meet,
Foretold by Circe, to our suff’ring fleet.
My self unable further woes to bear,
Declin’d the voyage, and am refug’d here.
Thus Macareus — Now with a pious aim
Had good Aeneas rais’d a fun’ral flame,
In honour of his hoary nurse’s name.
Her epitaph he fix’d; and setting sail,
Cajeta left, and catch’d at ev’ry gale.
He steer’d at distance from the faithless shore
Where the false Goddess reigns with fatal pow’r;
And sought those grateful groves, that shade the plain,
Where Tyber rouis majestick to the main,
And fattens, as he runs, the fair campain.
His kindred Gods the hero’s wishes crown
With fair Lavinia, and Latinus’ throne:
But not without a war the prize he won.
Drawn up in bright array the battel stands:
Turnus with arms his promis’d wife demands.
Hetrurians, Latians equal fortune share;
And doubtful long appears the face of war.
Both pow’rs from neighb’ring princes seek supplies,
And embassies appoint for new allies.
Aeneas, for relief, Evander moves;
His quarrel he asserts, his cause approves.
The bold Rutilians, with an equal speed,
Sage Vendus dispatch to Diomede.
The King, late griefs revolving in his mind,
These reasons for neutrality assign’d. —
Shall I, of one poor dotal town possest,
My people thin, my wretched country waste;
An exil’d prince, and on a shaking throne;
Or risk my patron’s subjects, or my own?
You’ll grieve the harshness of our hap to hear;
Nor can I tell the tale without a tear.
After fam’d Ilium was by Argives won,
And flames had finish’d, what the sword begun;
Pallas, incens’d, pursu’d us to the main,
In vengeance of her violated fane.
Alone Oilëus forc’d the Trojan maid,
Yet all were punish’d for the brutal deed.
A storm begins, the raging waves run high,
The clouds look heavy, and benight the sky;
Red sheets of light’ning o’er the seas are spread,
Our tackling yields, and wrecks at last succeed.
’Tis tedious our disast’rous state to tell;
Ev’n Priam wou’d have pity’d, what befell.
Yet Pallas sav’d me from the swallowing main;
At home new wrongs to meet, as Fates ordain.
Chac’d from my country, I once more repeat
All suff’rirngs seas could give, or war compleat.
For Venus, mindful of her wound, decreed
Still new calamities should past succeed.
Agmon, impatient thro’ successive ills,
With fury, love’s bright Goddess thus reviles:—
These plagues in spight to Diomede are sent;
The crime is his, but ours the punishment.
Let each, my friends, her puny spleen despise,
And dare that haughty harlot of the skies.
The rest of Agmon’s insolence complain,
And of irreverence the wretch arraign.
About to answer; his blaspheming throat
Contracts, and shrieks in some disdainful note.
To his new skin a fleece of feather clings,
Hides his late arms, and lengthens into wings.
The lower features of his face extend,
Warp into horn, and in a beak descend.
Some more experience Agmon’s destiny,
And wheeling in the air, like swans they fly:
These thin remains to Daunus’ realms I bring,
And here I reign, a poor precarious king.
Thus Diomedes. Venulus withdraws;
Unsped the service of the common cause.
Puteoli he passes, and survey’d
A cave long honour’d for its awful shade.
Here trembling reeds exclude the piercing ray,
Here streams in gentle falls thro’ windings stray,
And with a passing breath cool zephyrs play.
The goatherd God frequents the silent place,
As once the wood-nymphs of the sylvan race,
’Till Appulus with a dishonest air,
And gross behaviour, banish’d thence the fair.
The bold buffoon, when-e’er they tread the green,
Their motion mimicks, but with gest obscene.
Loose Ianguage oft he utters; but ere-long
A bark in filmy net-work binds his tongue.
Thus chang’d, a base wild olive he remains;
The shrub the coarseness of the clown retains.
Mean-while the Latians all their pow’r prepare,
’Gainst Fortune, and the foe to push the war.
With Phrygian blood the floating fields they stain;
But, short of succours, still contend in vain.
Turnus remarks the Trojan fleet ill mann’d,
Unguarded, and at anchor near the strand;
He thought; and strait a lighted brand he bore,
And fire invades, what ’scap’d the waves before.
The billows from the kindling prow retire;
Pitch, rosin, searwood on red wings aspire,
And Vulcan on the seas exerts his attribute of fire.
This when the mother of the Gods beheld,
Her towry crown she shook, and stood reveal’d;
Her brindl’d lions rein’d, unveil’d her head,
And hov’ring o’er her favour’d fleet, she said:
Cease Turnus, and the heav’nly Pow’rs respect,
Nor dare to violate, what I protect.
These gallies, once fair trees on Ida stood,
And gave their shade to each descending God.
Nor shall consume; irrevocable Fate
Allots their being no determin’d date.
Strait peals of thunder Heav’n’s high arches rend,
The hail-stones leap, the show’rs in spouts descend.
The winds with widen’d throats the signal give;
The cables break, the smoaking vessels drive.
Now, wondrous, as they beat the foaming flood,
The timber softens into flesh, and blood;
The yards, and oars new arms, and legs design;
A trunk the hull; the slender keel, a spine;
The prow a female face; and by degrees
The gallies rise green daughters of the seas.
Sometimes on coral beds they sit in state,
Or wanton on the waves they fear’d of late.
The barks, that beat the seas are still their care,
Themselves remembring what of late they were;
To save a Trojan sail in throngs they press,
But smile to see Alcinous in distress.
Unable were those wonders to deter
The Latians from their unsuccessful war.
Both sides for doubtful victory contend;
And on their courage, and their Gods depend.
Nor bright Lavinia, nor Latinus’ crown,
Warm their great soul to war, like fair renown.
Venus at last beholds her godlike son
Triumphant, and the field of battel won;
Brave Turnus slain, strong Ardea but a name,
And bury’d in fierce deluges of flame.
Her tow’rs, that boasted once a sov’reign sway,
The fate of fancy’d grandeur now betray.
A famish’d heron from the ashes springs,
And beats the ruin with disastrous wings.
Calamities of towns distrest she feigns,
And oft, with woful shrieks, of war complains.
Now had Aeneas, as ordain’d by Fate,
Surviv’d the period of Saturnia’s hate:
And by a sure irrevocable doom,
Fix’d the immortal majesty of Rome.
Fit for the station of his kindred stars,
His mother Goddess thus her suit prefers.
Almighty Arbiter, whose pow’rful nod
Shakes distant Earth, and bows our own abode;
To thy great progeny indulgent be,
And rank the Goddess born a deity.
Already has he view’d, with mortal eyes,
Thy brother’s kingdoms of the nether skies.
Forthwith a conclave of the godhead meets,
Where Juno in the shining senate sits,
Remorse for past revenge the Goddess feels;
Then thund’ring Jove th’ almighty mandate seals;
Allots the prince of his celestial line
An Apothëosis, and rights divine.
The crystal mansions eccho with applause,
And, with her graces, love’s bright Queen withdraws;
Shoots in a blaze of light along the skies,
And, born by turtles, to Laurentum flies.
Alights, where thro’ the reeds Numicius strays,
And to the seas his watry tribute pays.
The God she supplicates to wash away
The parts more gross, and subject to decay,
And cleanse the Goddess-born from seminal allay.
The horned flood with glad attention stands,
Then bids his streams obey their sire’s commands.
His better parts by lustral waves refin’d,
More pure, and nearer to aetherial mind;
With gums of fragrant scent the Goddess strews,
And on his features breathes ambrosial dews.
Thus deify’d, new honours Rome decrees,
Shrines, festivals; and styles him Indiges.
Ascanius now the Latian sceptre sways;
The Alban nation, Sylvius, next obeys.
Then young Latinus: next an Alba came,
The grace, and guardian of the Alban name.
Then Epitus; then gentle Capys reign’d;
Then Capetis the regal pow’r sustain’d.
Next he who perish’d on the Tuscan flood,
And honour’d with his name the river God.
Now haughty Remulus begun his reign,
Who fell by thunder he aspir’d to feign.
Meek Acrota succeeded to the crown;
From peace endeavouring, more than arms, renown,
To Aventinus well resign’d his throne.
The mount on which he rul’d, preserves his name,
And Procas wore the regal diadem.
A Hama-Dryad flourish’d in these days,
Her name Pomona, from her woodland race.
In garden culture none could so excell,
Or form the pliant souls of plants so well;
Or to the fruit more gen’rous flavours lend,
Or teach the trees with nobler loads to bend.
The nymph frequented not the flatt’ring stream,
Nor meads, the subject of a virgin’s dream;
But to such joys her nurs’ry did prefer,
Alone to tend her vegetable care.
A pruning-hook she carry’d in her hand,
And taught the straglers to obey command;
Lest the licentious, and unthrifty bough,
The too-indulgent parent should undo.
She shows, how stocks invite to their embrace
A graft, and naturalize a foreign race
To mend the salvage teint; and in its stead
Adopt new nature, and a nobler breed.
Now hourly she observes her growing care,
And guards their nonage from the bleaker air:
Then opes her streaming sluices, to supply
With flowing draughts her thirsty family.
Long had she labour’d to continue free
From chains of love, and nuptial tyranny;
And in her orchard’s small extent immur’d,
Her vow’d virginity she still secur’d.
Oft would loose Pan, and all the lustful train
Of Satyrs, tempt her innocence in vain.
Silenus, that old dotard, own’d a flame;
And he, that frights the thieves with stratagem
Of sword, and something else too gross to name.
Vertumnus too pursu’d the maid no less;
But, with his rivals, shar’d a like success.
To gain access a thousand ways he tries;
Oft, in the hind, the lover would disguise.
The heedless lout comes shambling on, and seems
Just sweating from the labour of his teams.
Then, from the harvest, oft the mimick swain
Seems bending with a load of bearded grain.
Sometimes a dresser of the vine he feigns,
And lawless tendrils to their bounds restrains.
Sometimes his sword a soldier shew’s; his rod,
An angler; still so various is the God.
Now, in a forehead-cloth, some crone he seems,
A staff supplying the defect of limbs;
Admittance thus he gains; admires the store
Of fairest fruit; the fair possessor more;
Then greets her with a kiss: th’ unpractis’d dame
Admir’d a grandame kiss’d with such a flame.
Now, seated by her, he beholds a vine
Around an elm in am’rous foldings twine.
If that fair elm, he cry’d, alone should stand,
No grapes would glow with gold and tempt the hand;
Or if that vine without her elm should grow,
’Twould creep a poor neglected shrub below.
Be then, fair nymph, by these examples led;
Nor shun, for fancy’d fears, the nuptial bed.
Not she for whom the Lapithites took arms,
Nor Sparta’s queen, could boast such heavenly charms.
And if you would on woman’s faith rely,
None can your choice direct so well, as I.
Tho’ old, so much Pomona I adore,
Scarce does the bright Vertumnus love her more.
’Tis your fair self alone his breast inspires
With softest wishes and unsoyl’d desires.
Then fly all vulgar followers, and prove
The God of seasons only worth your love:
On my assurance well you may repose;
Vertumnus scarce Vertumnus better knows.
True to his choice, all looser flames he flies;
Nor for new faces fashionably dies.
The charms of youth, and ev’ry smiling grace
Bloom in his features, and the God confess.
Besides, he puts on ev’ry shape at ease;
But those the most, that best Pomona please.
Still to oblige her is her lover’s aim;
Their likings and aversions are the same.
Nor the fair fruit your burthen’d branches bear;
Nor all the youthful product of the year,
Could bribe his choice; your self alone can prove
A fit reward for so refin’d a love.
Relent, fair nymph, and with a kind regret,
Think ’tis Vertumnus weeping at your feet.
A tale attend, thro’ Cyprus known, to prove
How Venus once reveng’d neglected love.
Iphis, of vulgar birth, by chance had view’d
Fair Anaxareté of Teucer’s blood.
Not long had he beheld the royal dame,
Ere the bright sparkle kindled into flame.
Oft did he struggle with a just despair,
Unfix’d to ask, unable to forbear.
But love, who flatters still his own disease,
Hopes all things will succeed, he knows will please.
Where-e’er the fair one haunts, he hovers there;
And seeks her confident with sighs, and pray’r,
Or letters he conveys, that seldom prove
Successless messengers in suits of love.
Now shiv’ring at her gates the wretch appears,
And myrtle garlands on the columns rears,
Wet with a deluge of unbidden tears.
The nymph more hard than rocks, more deaf than seas,
Derides his pray’rs; insults his agonies;
Arraigns of insolence th’ aspiring swain;
And takes a cruel pleasure in his pain.
Resolv’d at last to finish his despair,
He thus upbraids th’ inexorable fair. —
O Anaxaretè, at last forget
The licence of a passion indiscreet.
Now triumph, since a welcome sacrifice
Your slave prepares, to offer to your eyes.
My life, without reluctance, I resign;
That present best can please a pride, like thine.
But, o! forbear to blast a flame so bright,
Doom’d never to expire, but with the light.
And you, great Pow’rs, do justice to my name;
The hours, you take from life, restore to Fame.
Then o’er the posts, once hung with wreaths, he throws
The ready cord, and fits the fatal noose;
For death prepares; and bounding from above,
At once the wretch concludes his life, and love.
Ere-long the people gather, and the dead
Is to his mourning mother’s arms convey’d.
First, like some ghastly statue, she appears;
Then bathes the breathless coarse in seas of tears,
And gives it to the pile; now as the throng
Proceed in sad solemnity along,
To view the passing pomp, the cruel fair
Hastes, and beholds her breathless lover there.
Struck with the sight, inanimate she seems;
Set are her eyes, and motionless her limbs:
Her features without fire, her colour gone,
And, like her heart, she hardens into stone.
In Salamis the statue still is seen
In the fam’d temple of the Cyprian Queen.
Warn’d by this tale, no longer then disdain,
O nymph belov’d, to ease a lover’s pain.
So may the frosts in Spring your blossoms spare,
And winds their rude autumnal rage forbear.
The story oft Vertumnus urg’d in vain,
But then assum’d his heav’nly form again.
Such looks, and lustre the bright youth adorn.
As when with rays glad Phoebus paints the morn,
The sight so warms the fair admiring maid,
Like snow she melts: so soon can youth persuade.
Consent, on eager winds, succeeds desire;
And both the lovers glow with mutual fire.
Now Procas yielding to the Fates, his son
Mild Numitor succeeded to the crown.
But false Amulius, with a lawless pow’r,
At length depos’d his brother Numitor.
Then Ilia’s valiant issue, with the word,
Her parent re-inthron’d, the rightful lord.
Next Romulus to people Rome contrives;
The joyous time of Pales’ feast arrives;
He gives the word to seize the Sabine wives.
The sires enrag’d take arms, by Tatius led,
Bold to revenge their violated bed.
A fort there was, not yet unknown to fame,
Call’d the Tarpeian, its commander’s name.
This by the false Tarpeia was betray’d,
But death well recompens’d the treach’rous maid.
The foe on this new-bought success relies,
And silent, march; the city to surprize.
Saturnia’s arts with Sabine arms combine;
But Venus countermines the vain design;
Intreats the nymphs that o’er the springs preside,
Which near the fane of hoary Janus glide,
To send their succours; ev’ry urn they drain,
To stop the Sabines’ progress, but in vain.
The Naiads now more stratagems essay;
And kindling sulphur to each source convey.
The floods ferment, hot exhalations rise,
’Till from the scalding ford the army flies.
Soon Romulus appears in shining arms,
And to the war the Roman legions warms:
The battel rages, and the field is spread
With nothing, but the dying, and the dead.
Both sides consent to treat without delay,
And their two chiefs at once the sceptre sway.
But Tatius by Lavinian fury slain;
Great Romulus continu’d long to reign.
Now warrior Mars his burnish’d helm puts on,
And thus addresses Heav’n’s imperial throne.
Since the inferior world is now become
One vassal globe, and colony to Rome,
This grace, o Jove, for Romulus I claim,
Admit him to the skies, from whence he came.
Long hast thou promis’d an aetherial state
To Mars’s lineage; and thy word is Fate.
The sire, that rules the thunder, with a nod,
Declar’d the Fiat, and dismiss’d the God.
Soon as the Pow’r armipotent survey’d
The flashing skies, the signal he obey’d;
And leaning on his lance, he mounts his car,
His fiery coursers lashing thro’ the air.
Mount Palatine he gains, and finds his son
Good laws enacting on a peaceful throne;
The scales of heav’nly justice holding high,
With steady hand, and a discerning eye.
Then vaults upon his carr, and to the spheres,
Swift, as a flying shaft, Rome’s founder bears.
The parts more pure, in rising are refin’d,
The gross, and perishable lag behind.
His shrine in purple vestments stands in view;
He looks a God, and is Quirinus now.
Ere-long the Goddess of the nuptial bed,
With pity mov’d, sends Iris in her stead
To sad Hersilia — Thus the meteor maid:—
Chast relict! in bright truth to Heav’n ally’d,
The Sabines’ glory, and the sex’s pride;
Honour’d on Earth, and worthy of the love
Of such a spouse, as now resides above,
Some respite to thy killing griefs afford;
And if thou wouldst once more behold thy lord,
Retire to yon steep mount, with groves o’er-spread,
Which with an awful gloom his temple shade.
With fear the modest matron lifts her eyes,
And to the bright embassadress replies:
O Goddess, yet to mortal eyes unknown,
But sure thy various charms confess thee one:
O quick to Romulus thy votress bear,
With looks of love he’ll smile away my care:
In what-e’er orb he shines, my Heav’n is there.
Then hastes with Iris to the holy grove,
And up the Mount Quirinal as they move,
A lambent flame glides downward thro’ the air,
And brightens with a blaze Hersilia’s hair.
Together on the bounding ray they rise,
And shoot a gleam of light along the skies.
With op’ning arms Quirinus met his bride,
Now Ora nam’d, and press’d her to his side.
The End of the Fourteenth Book.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:12