« EelmineJätka »
His temples with celestial ointment wet,
Of sov’reign virtue to repel the heat;
Then fix'd the beamy circle on his head,
And fetch'd a deep foreboding sigh, and said,
“ Take this at least, this last advice, my son:
Keep a stiff rein, and move but gently on:
The coursers of themselves will run too fast,
Your art must be to moderate their haste.
Drive them not on directly through the skies,
But where the zodiac's winding circle lies,
Along the midmost zone; but sally forth
Nor to the distant south, nor stormy north.
The horses' hoofs a beaten track will show,
But neither mount too high, nor sink too low,
That no new fires or heaven or earth infest;
Keep the mid-way, the middle way is best.
Nor, where in radiant folds the Serpent twines,
Direct your course, nor where the Altar shines.
Shun both extremes; the rest let Fortune guide,
And better for thee than thyself provide !
See, while I speak, the shades disperse away,
Aurora gives the promise of a day;
I'm call d, nor can I make a longer stay.
Snatch up the reins; or still th' attempt forsake,
And not my chariot, but my counsel take,
While yet securely on the earth you stand;
Nor touch the horses with too rash a hand.
Let me alone to light the world, while you
Enjoy those beams which you may safely view."
He spoke in vain: the youth with active heat
And sprightly vigour vaults into the seat;
And joys to hold the reins, and fondly gives
Those thanks his father with remorse receives.
Mean while the restless horses neigh'd aloud, Breathing out fire, and pawing where they stood. Tethys, not knowing what had past, gave way, And all the waste of heav'n before thein lay. They spring together out, and swiftly bear The flying youth through clouds and yielding air;
With wingy speed outstrip the eastern wind,
And leave the breezes of the morn behind.
The youth was light, nor could he fill the seat,
Or poise the chariot with its wonted weight:
But as at sea th' unballast vessel rides,
Cast to and fro, the sport of winds and tides;
So in the bounding chariot tost on high,
The youth is hurried headlong through the sky.
Soon as the steeds perceive it, they forsake
Their stated course, and leave the beaten track.
The youth was in amaze, nor did he know
Which way to turn the reins, or where to go;
Nor would the horses, had he known, obey.
Then the Seven Stars first felt Apollo's ray,
And wish'd to dip in the forbidden sea.
The folded Serpent next the frozen pole,
Stiff and benumb'd before, began to roll,
And rag'd with inward heat, and threaten'd war,
And shot a redder light from every star;
Nay, and 'tis said, Boötes too, that fain
Thou would’st have fled, though cumber'd with thy wain,
Th’unhappy youth then, bending down his head,
Saw earth and ocean far beneath him spread :
His colour chang’d, he startled at the sight,
And his eyes darken'd by too great a light.
Now could he wish the fiery steeds untry'd,
His birth obscure, and his request deny’d:
Now would he Merops for his father own,
And quit his boasted kindred to the Sun.
So fares the pilot, when his ship is toss'd
In troubled seas, and all its steerage lost,
He gives her to the winds, and, in despair,
Seeks his last refuge in the gods and prayer.
What could he do? his eyes, if backward cast,
Find a long path he had already past;
If forward, still a longer path they find:
Both he compares, and measures in his mind;
And sometimes casts an eye upon the east,
And sometimes looks on the forbidden west.
The horses' names he knew not in the fright:
Nor would he loose the reins, nor could he hold them
Now all the horrors of the heav'ns he spies,
And monstrous shadows of prodigious size,
That deck'd with stars, lie scatter'd o'er the skies.
There is a place above, where Scorpio bent
In tail and arms surrounds a vast extent;
In a wide circuit of the heav'ns he shines,
And fills the space of two celestial signs.
Soon as the youth beheld him, vex'd with heat,
Brandish his sting, and in his poison sweat,
Half dead with sudden fear, he dropt the reins;
The horses felt them loose upon their manes,
And, flying out through all the plains above,
Ran uncontrol'd where'er their fury drove;
Rush'd on the stars, and through a pathless way
Of unknown regions hurry d on the day.
And now above, and now below they flew,
And near the earth the burning chariot drew.
The clouds disperse in fumes, the wond'ring Moon
Beholds her brother's steeds beneath her own;
The highlands smoke, cleft by the piercing rays,
Or, clad with woods, in their own fuel blaze.
Next o'er the plains, where ripen'd harvests grow,
The running conflagration spreads below.
But these are trivial ills: whole cities burn,
And peopled kingdoms into ashes turn.
The mountains kindle as the car draws near,
Athos and Tmolus red with fires appear;
Eagrian Hæmus (then a single name)
And virgin Helicon increase the fame;
Taurus te glare amid the sky,
And Ida, spite of all her fountains, dry.
Eryx, and Othrys, and Cithæron, glow;
And Rhodope, no longer cloth'd in snow;
High Pindus, Mimas, and Parnassus sweat,
And Ætna rages with redoubled heat.
Ev'n Scythia, through her hoary regions warm’d,
In vain with all her native frost was arm’d.
Cover'd with flames, the tow'ring Appennine,
And Caucasus, and proud Olympus shine;
And, where the long-extended Alps aspire,
Now stands a huge continu'd range of fire.
Th' astonish'd youth, where'er his eyes could turn,
Beheld the universe around him burn:
The world was in a blaze; nor could he bear
The sultry vapours and the scorching air,
Which from below, as from a furnace, flow'd;
And now the axletree beneath him glow'd:
Lost in the whirling clouds, that round him broke,
And white with ashes, hov’ring in the smoke,
He flew where'er the horses drove, nor knew
Whither the horses drove, or where he flew.
'Twas then, they say, the swarthy Moor begun
To change his hue, and blacken in the sun.
Then Lybia first, of all her moisture drain’d,
Became a barren waste, a wild of sand.
The water-nymphs lament their empty urns,
Bæotia, robb’d of silver Dirce, mourns,
Corinth Pyrene’s wasted spring bewails,
And Argos grieves whilst Amymone fails.
The floods are drain'd from every distant coast,
Ev'n Tanaïs, though fix'd in ice, was lost.
Enrag'd Caicus and Lycormas roar, ,
And Xanthus, fated to be burnt once more.
The fam’d Meander, that unweary'd strays
Through mazy windings, smokes in every maze.
From his lovd Babylon Euphrates flies ;
The big-swoln Ganges and the Danube rise
In thick’ning fumes, and darken half the skies.
In flames Ismenos and the Phasis rolld,
And Tagus floating in his melted gold.
The Swans, that on Cayster often try'd
Their tuneful songs, now sung their last, and dy'd.
The frighted Nile ran off, and under ground
Conceal'd his head, nor can it yet be found;
His seven-divided currents all are dry,
And where they rolld, seven gaping trenches lie.
No more the Rhine or Rhone their course maintain,
Nor Tiber, of his promis'd empire vain.
The ground, deep cleft, admits the dazzling ray,
And startles Pluto with the flash of day.
The seas shrink in, and to the sight disclose
Wide naked plains, where once their billows rose;
Their rocks are all discover'd, and increase
The number of the scatter'd Cyclades.
The fish in shoals about the bottom creep,
Nor longer dares the crooked dolphinleap:
Gasping for breath, th’ unshapen Phocæ die,
And on the boiling wave extended lie.
Nereus, and Doris with her virgin train,
Seek out the last recesses of the main ;
Beneath unfathomable depths they faint,
And secret in their gloomy caverns pant.
Stern Neptune thrice above the waves upheld
His face, and thrice was by the flames repell’d.
The Earth at length, on every side embrac'd With scalding seas, that floated round her waist, When now she felt the springs and rivers come, And crowd within the hollow of her womb, Uplifted to the heavens her blasted head, And clapp'd her hand upon her brows, and said; (But first impatient of the sultry heat, Šunk deeper down, and sought a cooler seat:) “ If you, great king of gods, my death approve, And I deserve it, let me die by Jove; If I must perish by the force of fire, Let me transfix'd with thunderbolts expire. See, whilst I speak, my breath the vapours choke, (For now her face lay wrapp'd in clouds of smoke) See my sing’d hair, behold my faded eye, And wither'd face, where heaps of cinders lie! And does the plough for this my body tear? This the reward for all the fruits I bear, Tortur'd with rakes, and harass'd all the year?