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"Stay, filly bird, th' ill-natur'd task refuse,"
"Nor be the bearer of unwelcome news.
"Be warn'd by my example: you difcern
"What now I am, and what I was fhall learn.
"My foolish honesty was all my crime;
"Then hear my ftory. Once upon a time,
"The two-fhap'd Ericthonius had his birth
" (Without a mother) from the teeming earth;
"Minerva nurs'd him, and the infant laid
"Within a cheft, of twining ofiers made.
"The daughters of king Cecrops undertook
"To guard the cheft, commanded not to look
"On what was hid within. I ftood to fee

"The charge obey'd, perch'd on a neighbouring tree. "The fifters Pandrofos and Hersè keep

"The ftrict command; Aglauros needs would peep, "And faw the monftrous infant in a fright, "And call'd her fifters to the hideous fight: "A boy's foft fhape did to the waist prevail, "But the boy ended in a dragon's tail. "I told the ftern Minerva all that país'd, "But, for my pains, difcarded and difgrac'd, "The frowning goddess drove me from her fight, "And for her favourite chofe 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 lov'd; afk Pallas if I lie; "Though Pallas hate me now, she won't deny; K

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"For I, whom in a feather'd fhape you view,
"Was once a maid (by heaven the story 's true)
"A blooming maid, and a king's daughter too.
"A croud of lovers own'd my beauty's charms;
"My beauty was the cause of all my harms;
"Neptune, as on his fhores I went to rove,
"Obferv'd me in my walks, and fell in love.
"He made his courtship, he confefs'd his pain,
"And offer'd force when all his arts were yain ;
Swift he pursued: I ran along the strand,
"Till, spent and weary'd on the finking sand,
"I fhriek'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 faw black feathers from my fingers rife ;
"I ftrove to fling my garment on the ground;
"My garment turn'd to plumes, and girt me round.
"My hands to beat my naked bosom try;
"Nor naked bofom now nor hands had I,
"Lightly I tript, nor weary as before

"Sunk in the fand, but fkimm'd along the fhore;
"Till, rifing on my wings, I was prefer'd
"To be the chafte Minerva's virgin bird:
"Prefer'd in vain! I now am in disgrace:
"Nyctimene the owl enjoys my place.

"On her inceftuous life I need not dwell
"(In Lefbos ftill the horrid tale they tell);
"And of her dire amours you must have heard,
"For which she now does penance in a bird,



"That, conscious of her shame, avoids the light,
"And loves the gloomy covering of the night;
"The birds, where'er the flutters, fcare away
"The hooting wretch, and drive her from the day."
The raven, urg'd by such impertinence,
Grew paffionate, it seems, and took offence,
And curft the harmless daw; the daw withdrew :
The raven to her injur'd patron flew,

And found him out, and told the fatal truth
Of falfe Coronis and the favour'd youth.

The god was wroth; the colour left his look,
The wreath his head, the harp his hand forfook;
His filver bow and feather'd shafts he took,
And lodg'd an arrow in the tender breast,
That had so often to his own been preft.

Down fell the wounded nymph, and fadly groan'd,
And pull'd his arrow reeking from the wound;
And, weltering in her bloed, thus faintly cry'd,
"Ah cruel god! though I have justly dy'd,
"What has, alas ! my unborn infant done,
"That he should fall, and two expire in one?"
This faid, in agonies fhe fetch'd her breath.

The god diffolves in pity at her death;

He hates the bird that made her falfehood known,
And hates himself for what himself had done;
The feather'd fhaft, that fent her to the fates,
And his own hand, that fent the fhaft, he hates.
Fain would he heal the wound, and ease her pain,
And tries the compass of his art in vain.
Soon as he faw the lovely nymph expire,
The pile made ready, and the kindling fire,

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With fighs and groans her obfequies he kept,
And, if a god could weep, the god had wept.
Her corpfe he kifs'd, and heavenly incenfe brought,
And folemniz'd the death himself had wrought.

But, left his offspring fhould her fate partake,
Spite of th' immortal mixture in his make,
He ript her womb, and fet the child at large,
And gave him to the centaur Chiron's charge:
Then in his fury black'd the raven o'er,

And bid him prate in his white plumes no more.


OLD Chiron took the babe with fecret joy, Proud of the charge of the celeftial boy, His daughter too, whom on the fandy shore, The nymph Chariclo to the centaur bore, With hair difhevel'd on her fhoulders, came To fee the child, Ocyrrhöe was her name; She knew her father's art, and could rehearse The depths of prophecy in founding verfe. Once, as the facred infant fhe furvey'd, The god was kindled in the raving maid, And thus the utter'd her prophetic tale; "Hail, great physician of the world, all hail; "Hail, mighty infant, who in years to come "Shall heal the nations, and defraud the tomb; "Swift be thy growth! thy triumphs unconfin'd! "Make kingdoms thicker, and increase mankind. "Thy daring art fhall animate the dead, "And draw the thunder on thy guilty head:


"Then shalt thou die; but from the dark abode "Rife up victorious, and be twice a god. "And thou, my fire, not deftin'd by thy birth "To turn to duft, and mix with common earth, "How wilt thou tofs, and rave, and long to die, "And quit thy claim to immortality;

"When thou shalt feel, inrag'd with inward pains, "The Hydra's venom rankling in thy veins ? "The gods in pity shall contract thy date; "And give thee over to the power of fate." Thus, entering into deftiny, the maid

"The fecrets of offended Jove betray'd: More had she still to fay; but now appears

Opprefs'd with fobs and fighs, and drown'd in tears. "My voice, fays fhe, is gone, my language fails; "Through every limb my kindred shape prevails; "Why did the god this fatal gift impart, "And with prophetic raptures fwell my heart? "What new defires are these? I long to pace "O'er flowery meadows, and to feed on grafs; "I haften to a brute, a maid no more; "But why, alas! am I transform'd all o'er ? "My fire does half a human shape retain, "And in his upper parts preferves the man."


Her tongue no more distinct complaints affords, But in fhrill accents and mif-fhapen words Pours forth fuch hideous wailings, as declare The human form confounded in the mare : Till by degrees, accomplish'd in the beaft, She neigh'd outright, and all the fteed expreft.

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