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Undid creation at a jirk,
And of redemption made damn'd work.
Then took his Muse at once, and dipt her
Full in the middle of the Scripture.
What wonders there the man, grown old, did!
Sternhold himself he out-Sternholded,
Made David 10 seem so mad and freakish,
All thought him just what thought king Achish.
No mortal read his Solomon ",
But judg'd Re'boam his own son.
Moses he serv'd as Moses Pharaoh,
And Deborah 12, as she Sise-rah :
Made Jeremy's full sore to cry,
And Job 14 himself curse God and die.
What punishment all this must follow?
Shall Arthur use him like king Tollo?
Shall David as Uriah slay him?
Or dex'trous Deborah Sisera-him?
Or shall Eliza lay a plot,
To treat him like her sister Scot?
Shall William dub his better end 15,
Or Marlborough serve him like a friend?
No!-none of these!-Heaven spare his life!
But send him, honest Job, thy wife!
POLY. Whither, fairest, art thou running,
Still my warm embraces shunning?
The lion calls not to his prey;
Nor bids the wolf the lambkin stay.
Thee Polyphemus, great as Jove,
Calls to empire, and to love:
To his palace in the rock,
To his dairy, to his flock;
To the grape of purple hue,
To the plumb of glossy blue;
Wildings which expecting stand,
Proud to be gather'd by thy hand. \
Of infant limbs to make my food,
And swill full draughts of human blood!
Go, monster! bid some other guest:
I loath the host; I loath the feast.
By moments we measure; But life is too little
To measure our care.
Cease, O cease, thou gentle youth! Trust my constancy and truth; Trust my truth, and powers above, The powers propitious still to love.
Help, Galatea! help, ye parent gods! And take me dying to your deep abodes!
Mourn, all ye Muses! weep, ye swains! Tune, tune your reeds to doleful strains! Groans, cries, and howlings, fill the neighbouring Ah!-the gentle Acis is no more!
Must I my Acis still bemoan,
Inglorious crush'd beneath that stone?
Must the lovely charming youth
Die for his constancy and truth?
Say, what comfort can you find?
For dark despair o'erclouds my mind.
Cease, Galatea, cease to grieve;
Bewail not, when thou canst relieve:
Call forth thy power, employ thy art;
The goddess soon can heal thy smart:
To kindred gods the youth return,
Through verdant plains to roll his urn.
'Tis done: thus I exert my power divine; Be thou immortal, though thou art not mine,
Heart, thou seat of soft delight! Be thou now a fountain bright; Purple be no more thy blood, Glide thou like a crystal flood;
THESEUS, returning from a great hunting-match in Calydon, is stopped from proceeding by the overflowing of the river Achelous.—The god of the stream courteously invites him into his cave, where they pass the time in discoursing of various metamorphoses. At last, to prove the possibility of such changes, he asserts, that he has himself the power of varying his form within certain limitations, among which he mentions his having lost one of his horns when in the shape of a bull; and this gives rise to the following story.
THESEUS requests the god to tell his woes, Whence his maim'd brow, and whence his groans When thus the Calydonian Stream reply'd, [arose; With twining weeds his careless tresses tied:
Ungrateful is the tale; for who can bear, When conquer'd, to rehearse the shameful war? Yet I'll the melancholy story trace; So great a conqueror softens the disgrace: Nor was it still so mean the prize to yield, As great and glorious to dispute the field.
"Perhaps you've heard of Deïanira's name,
For all the country spoke her beauty's fame.
Long was the nymph by numerous suitors woo'd,
Fach with address his envy'd hopes pursued:
I join'd the loving band; to gain the fair,
Reveal'd my passion to her father's ear.
Their vain pretensions all the rest resign;
Alcides only strove to equal mine:
He boasts his birth from Jove, recounts his spoils,
His step-dame's hate subdued, and finish'd toils.
"Can mortals then" (said I)' with gods compare?
Behold a god; mine is the watery care:
Through your wide realms I take my mazy way,
Branch into streams, and o'er the region stray:
No foreign guest your daughter's charms adores,
But one who rises in your native shores.
Let not his punishment your pity move;
Is Juno's hate an argument for love?
Though you your life from fair Alcmena drew, Jove's a feign'd father, or by fraud a true. Choose then; confess thy mother's honour lost, Or thy descent from Jove no longer boast.'
"While thus I spoke, he look'd with stern disNor could the sallics of his wrath restrain, [dain, Which thus broke forth: This arm decides our
Vanquish'd in words; be mine the prize in fight!'
"Bold he rush'd on. My honour to maintain,
I fling my verdant garments on the plain,
My arms stretch forth, my pliant limbs prepare,
And with bent hands expect the furious war.
O'er my sleek skin now gather'd dust he throws,
And yellow sand his mighty muscles strows.
Oft he my neck and nimble legs assails,
He seems to grasp me, but as often fails:
Each part he now invades with eager hand;
Safe in my bulk, immoveable I stand.
So when loud storms break high, and foam and roar
Against some mole that stretches from the shore';
The firm foundation lasting tempests braves,
Defies the warring winds, and driving waves.
Awhile we breathe, then forward rush amain, Renew the combat, and our ground maintain; Foot strove with foot, I prone exteud my breast, Hands war with hands, and forehead forehead press'd.
Thus have I seen two furious bulls engage,
Inflam'd with equal love, and equal rage;
Each claims the fairest heifer of the grove,
And conquest only can decide their love:
The trembling herds survey the fight from far,
Till victory decides th' important war.
Three times, in vain, he strove my joints to wrest;
To force my hold, and throw me from his breast;
The fourth he broke my gripe, that clasp'd him
Then with new force he stretch'd me on the ground;
Close to my back the mighty burthen clung,
As if a mountain o'er my limbs were flung.
"Believe my tale; nor do I, boastful, aim, By feign'd narration, to extol my fame. No sooner from his grasp I freedom get, Unlock my arms, that flow'd with trickling sweat, But quick he seiz'd me, and renew'd the strife, As my exhausted bosom pants for life: My neck he gripes, my knee to earth he strains; I fall, and bite the sand with shame and pains. "O'er-match'd in strength, to wiles and arts I take,
And slip his hold, in form of speckled snake;
Who, when I wreath'd in spires my body round,
Or show'd my forky tongue with hissing sound,
Smiles at my threats. Such foes my cradle knew,'
He cries; dire snakes my infant hand o'erthrew;
A dragon's form might other conquests gain;
To war with me you take that shape in vain.
Art thou proportion'd to the Hydra's length,
Who by his wounds receiv'd augmented strength!
He rais'd a hundred hissing heads in air;
When one I lopp'd, up sprung a dreadful pair.
By his wounds fertile, and with slaughter strong,
Singly I quell'd him, and stretch'd dead along.
What canst thou do, a form precarious, prone,
To rouze my rage with terrours not thy own?
He said; and round my neck his hands he cast
And with his straining fingers wrung me fast:
My throat he tortur'd, close as pincers clasp,
In vain I strove to loose the forceful grasp
*Thus vanquish'd too, a third form still remains,
Chang'd to a bull, my lowing fills the plains.
Straight on the left his nervous arms were thrown
Upon my brindled neck, and tugg'd it down;
Then deep he struck my horn into the sand,
And fell'd my bulk along the dusty land.
Nor yet his fury cool'd; 'twixt rage and scorn,
From my maim'd front he tore the stubborn horn;
This, heap'd with flowers and fruits, the Naïads
Sacred to Plenty, and the bounteous year."
He spoke; when lo! a beauteous nymph appears,
Girt, like Diana's train, with flowing hairs;
The horn she brings, in which all autumn's stor'd,
And ruddy apples for the second board.
Now morn begins to dawn, the Sun's bright fire
Gilds the high mountains, and the youths retire;
Nor stay'd they, till the troubled stream subsides,
And in its bounds with peaceful current glides.
But Achelous in his oozy bed
Deep hides his brow deform'd, and rustic head :
No real wound the victor's triumph show'd,
But his lost honours griev'd the watery god;
Yet ev'n that loss the willow's leaves o'erspread,
And verdant reeds, in garlands, bind his head.
THIS virgin too, thy love, O Nessus! found,
To her alone you owe the fatal wound.
As the strong son of Jove his bride conveys,
Where his paternal lands their bulwarks raise;
Where from her slopy urn Evenus pours
Her rapid current, swell'd by wintery showers,
He came. The frequent eddies whirl'd the tide,
And the deep rolling waves all pass deny'd.
As for himself, he stood unmov'd by fears,
For now his bridal charge employ'd his cares.
The strong-limb'd Nessus thus officious cry'd,
(For he the shallows of the stream had try'd)
Swim thou, Alcides, all thy strength prepare;
On yonder bank I'll lodge thy nuptial care."
Now a long interval of time succeeds,
When the great son of Jove's immortal deeds,
And step-dame's hate, had fill'd Earth's utinost
He from (Echalia, with new laurels crown'd,
In triumph was return'd. He rites prepares,
And to the king of gods directs his prayers,
When Fame (who falsehood clothes in truth's dis-
And swells her little bulk with growing lies)
Thy tender ear, O Deïanira, mov'd,
That Hercules the fair Iole lov'd.
Her love believes the tale; the truth she fears
Of his new passion, and gives way to tears.
The flowing tears diffus'd her wretched grief,
Why seek I thus, from streaming eyes, relief?"
She cries; 66
indulge not thus these fruitless cares,
The harlot will but triumph in thy tears:
Let something be resolv'd, while yet there's time;
My bed not conscious of a rival's crime.
In silence shall I mourn, or loud complain?
Shall I seek Calydon, or here remain?
What though, ally'd to Meleager's fame,
I boast the honours of a sister's name?
My wrongs, perhaps, now urge me to pursue
Some desperate deed, by which the world shall view
How far revenge and woman's rage can rise,
When weltering in her blood the harlot dies."
Thus various passions rul'd by turns her breast.
She now resolves to send the fatal vest,
Dy'd with Lernæan gore, whose power might
His soul anew, and rouze declining love.
Nor knew she what her sudden rage bestows,
When she to Lichas trusts her future woes;
With soft endearments she the boy commands
To bear the garment to her husband's hands.
Th' unwitting hero takes the gift in haste,
And o'er his shoulders Lerna's poison cast.
As first the fire with frankincense he strows,
And utters to the gods his holy vows;
And on the marble altar's polish'd frame
Pours forth the grapy stream; the rising flame
Sudden dissolves the subtle poisonous juice,
Which taints his blood, and all his nerves bedews,
With wonted fortitude he bore the smart,
And not a groan confess'd his burning heart.
At length his patience was subdued by pain,
He rends the sacred altar from the plain;
Ete's wide forests echo with his cries!
Now to rip off the deathful robe he tries.
Where'er he plucks the vest, the skin he tears,
The mangled muscles and huge bones he bares,
(A ghastly sight!) or, raging with his pain,
To rend the sticking plague he tugs in vain.
As the red iron hisses in the flood,
Th' Aonian chief to Nessus trusts his wife,
All pale, and trembling for her hero's life:
Cloth'd as he stood in the fierce lion's hide,
The laden quiver o'er his shoulder ty'd
(For cross the stream his bow and club were cast);
Swift he plung'd in: "These billows shall be pass'd."
He said, nor sought where smoother waters glide,
But stemm'd the rapid dangers of the tide.
The bank he reach'd: again the bow he bears;
When, hark! his bride's known voice alarms his
"Nessus! to thee I call," aloud he cries; [ears.
"Vain is thy trust in flight, be timely wise:
Thou monster double-shap'd, my right set free!
If thou no reverence owe my fame and me,
Yet kindred should thy lawless lust deny.
Think not, perfidious wretch, from me to fly,
Though wing'd with horse's speed; wounds shall
Swift as his words the fatal arrow flew: [pursue:"The
The Centaur's back admits the feather'd wood,
And through his breast the barbed weapon stood;
Which when, in anguish, through the flesh he tore,
From both the wounds gush'd forth the spumy gore,
Mix'd with Lernæan venom; this he took,
Nor dire revenge his dying breast forsook.
His garment, in the reeking purple dy'd,
To rouze love's passion, he presents the bride.
So boils the venom in his curdling blood.
Now with the greedy flame his entrails glow,
And livid sweats down all his body flow;
The cracking nerves burnt up are burst in twain,
lurking venom melts his swimming brain.
Then, lifting both his hands aloft, he cries,
"Glut my revenge, dread empress of the skies;
Sate with my death the rancour of thy heart,
Look down with pleasure, and enjoy my smart.
Or, if e'er pity mov'd a hostile breast,
(For here I stand thy enemy profest)
Take hence this hateful life, with tortures torn,
Inur'd to trouble, and to labours born.