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Only the blushing huntress stood confus’d,
And form'd delays, and her delays excus'd ;
In vain excus'd : her fellows round her press'd,
And the reluctant nymph by force undress’d.
The naked huntress all her shame reveal'd,
In vain her hands the pregnant womb conceal'd;
“Begone !" the goddess, cries with stern disdain,
Begone! nor dare the hallow'd stream to stain:" She fled, for ever banish'd from the train.
This Juno heard, who long had watch'd her time To punish the detested rival's crime; The time was come : for, to enrage her more, A lovely boy the teeming rival bore.
The goddess cast a furious look, and cry'd, “ It is enough ! I'm fully satisfy'd! 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 dragg'd her on the ground, The prostrate wretch lifts up her arms in prayer; Her arms grow shaggy, and deform’d with hair, Her nails are sharpen'd into pointed claws, Her hands bear half her weight, and turn to paws; Her lips, that once could tempt a god, begin To grow distorted in an ugly grin. And, lest the supplicating brute might reach The ears of Jove, she was depriv'd of speech :
Her surly voice thro' a hoarse passage came
In savage sounds : her mind was still the same.
The furry monster fix'd her eyes above,
And heav'd her new unwieldy paws to Jove,
And begg'd his aid with inward groans; and tho'
She could not call him false, she thought him so.
How did she fear to lodge in woods alone,
And haunt the fields and meadows once her own!
How often would the deep-mouth'd dogs pursue,
Whilst from her hounds the frighted huntress flew !
How did she fear her fellow-brutes, and shun
The shaggy bear, tho' now herself was one !
How from the sight of rugged wolves retire,
Although the grim Lycaon was her sire !
But now her son had fifteen summers told,
Fierce at the chase, and in the forest bold;
When, as he beat the woods in quest of prey,
He chanc'd to rouse his mother where she lay.
She knew her son, and kept him in her sight,
And fondly gaz'd: the boy was in a fright,
And aim'd a pointed arrow at her breast,
And would have slain his mother in the beast;
But Jove forbad, and snatch'd 'em through the air
In whirlwinds up to heaven, and fix'd 'em there :
Where the new constellations nightly rise,
And add a lustre to the northern skies.
When Juno saw the rival in her height,
Spangled with stars, and circled round with light,
She sought old Ocean in his deep abodes,
And Tethys; both revered among the gods.
They ask what brings her there : “ Ne’er ask,” says she,
"What brings me here, heaven is no place for me.
You'll see, when night has cover'd all things o'er,
Jove's starry bastard and triumphant whore
Usurp the heavens ; you'll see 'em proudly roll
In their new orbs, and brighten all the pole.
And who shall now on Juno’s altars wait,
When those she hates grow greater by her hate ?
I on the nymph a brutal form impress'd,
Jove to a goddess has transform'd the beast;
This, this was all my weak revenge could do :
But let the god his chaste amours pursue,
And, as he acted after Io's rape,
Restore th' adult’ress to her former shape;
Then may he cast his Juno off, and lead
The great Lycaon's offspring to his bed.
But you, ye venerable powers, be kind,
And, if my wrongs a due resentment find,
Receive not in your waves their setting beams,
Nor let the glaring strumpet taint your streams."
The goddess ended, and her wish was given.
Back she return'd in triumph up to heaven;
Her gaudy peacocks drew her through the skies,
Their tails were spotted with a thousand eyes ;
The eyes of Argus on their tails were rang'd,
At the same time the raven's colour chang’d.
THE STORY OF CORONIS, AND BIRTH OF ÆSCULAPIUS.
The raven once in snowy plumes was drest, White as the whitest dove's unsully'd breast, Fair as the guardian of the Capitol, Soft as the swan; a large and lovely fowl ; His tongue, his prating tongue had chang'd him quite To sooty blackness from the purest white.
The story of his change shall here be told : In Thessaly there liv'd a nymph of old, Coronis nam'd; a peerless maid she shin'd, Confest the fairest of the fairer kind. Apollo lov'd her, till her guilt he knew, While true she was, or whilst he thought her truc. But his own bird the raven chanc'd to find The false one with a secret rival join'd. Coronis begg'd him to suppress the tale, But could not with repeated prayers prevail. His milk-white pinions to the god he ply'd; The busy daw flew with him, side by side, And by a thousand teasing questions drew Th’important secret from him as they flew. The daw gave honest counsel, tho' despis’d, And, tedious in her tattle, thus advis'd :
“Stay, silly bird, th' ill-natur'd task refuse, Nor be the bearer of unwelcome news. Be warn'd by my example: you discern What now I am, and what I was shall learn. My foolish honesty was all my crime; Then hear my story. Once upon a time, The two-shap'd Ericthonius had his birth (Without a mother) from the teeming earth; Minerva nurs’d him, and the infant laid Within a chest of twining osiers made. The daughters of King Cecrops undertook To guard the chest, commanded not to look On what was hid within. I stood to see The charge obey'd, perch'd on a neighb'ring tree. The sisters Pandrosos and Hersè keep The strict command; Aglauros needs would peep,
And saw the monstrous infant in a fright,
And call'd her sisters to the hideous sight:
A boy's soft shape did to the waist prevail,
But the boy ended in a dragon's tail.
I told the stern Minerva all that pass'd,
But for my pains, discarded and disgrac'd,
The frowning goddess drove me from her sight,
And for her favorite chose the bird of night.
Be then no tell-tale; for I think my wrong
Enough to teach a bird to hold her tongue.
“But you, perhaps, may think I was remov'd,
As never by the heavenly maid belov'd :
But I was loy'd; ask Pallas if I lie;
Tho' Pallas hate me now, she won't deny :
For I, whom in a feather'd shape you view,
Was once a maid, (by heaven the story's true)
A blooming maid, and a king's daughter too.
A crowd of lovers own'd my beauty's charms;
My beauty was the cause of all my harms;
Neptune, as on his shores I went to rove,
Observ'd me in my walks, and fell in love.
He made his courtship, he confess’d his pain,
And offer'd force when all his arts were vain;
Swift he pursu'd: I ran along the strand,
'Till, spent and weary'd on the sinking sand,
I shriek'd aloud, with cries I fill'd the air
To gods and men; nor god nor man was there :
A virgin goddess heard a virgin's prayer.
For, as my arms I lifted to the skies,
I saw black feathers from my fingers rise;
I strove to fling my garment on the ground;
My garment turn'd to plumes, and girt me round: