Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 unbrac'd;
She flung herself on the cool grassy bed;
And on the painted quiver rais'd her head.
Jove saw the charming huntress unprepar'd
Stretch'd 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 strait he took,

Soften'd his brows, and smooth'd 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, tho' Jove himself were here.”
The god was nearer than she thought, and heard,
Well-pleas'd, himself before himself preferr'd.

He then salutes her with a warm embrace;
And, e'er she half had told the morning chase,
With love inflam'd, and eager on his bliss,
Smother'd her words, and stopp'd her with a kiss;
His kisses with unwonted ardour glow'd,
Nor could Diana's shape conceal the god.
The virgin did whate'er a virgin could;

(Sure Juno must have pardon'd, had she view'd)
With all her might against his force she strove ;
But how can mortal maids contend with Jove!

Possest at length of what his heart desir'd,
Back to his heavens th' exulting god retir'd.
The lovely huntress rising from the grass,
With downcast eyes, and with a blushing face,
By shame confounded, and by fear dismay'd,
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 quiver'd virgins, bounding o er the plain,
Call'd to the nymph; the nymph began to fear
A second fraud, a Jove disguis'd in her;
But, when she saw the sister nymphs, suppress'd
Her rising fears, and mingled with the rest.

How in the look does conscious guilt appear ! Slowly she mov'd, and loitered in the rear; Nor lightly tripp'd, nor by the goddess ran, As once she us'd, 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 guess'd 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 flow'd, And a smooth bed of shining gravel show'd.

A covert so obscure, and streams so clear, The goddess prais'd: "And now no spies are near, Let's strip, my gentle maids, and wash," she cries. Pleas'd with the motion, every maid complies;

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 ESCULAPIUS.

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

« EelmineJätka »