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Cleon my son is dead; his fate you mourn ; A cave appear'd, which from a mountain steepy
Through a low valley, look'd into the deep.
The cavern hung with savage spoils around;
Some solitary hunter's wild retreat.
The club of Hercules ; anel wrapt around,
The mantle which he wore in all his toils. Where Pelion's lofty head ascends the sky. Amaz'd we stood ; in silence, each his mird For as, on Oeta's top, he vainly strove
To fear and hope alternately resign'd: To win the arrows of the son of Jove;
With joy we hop'd to find the hero near; Compelling Pbiloctetes to resign,
The club and mantle found, dispos'd to fear. The friend of Hercules, his arms divine ;
His force invincible in fight we knew,
Which nought of mortal kind could e'er subdue,
Thus spoke Dienices. The king supprest The tread of feet descending thro' the grore
"T'was then our footsteps in the care be heard,
No buckler to resist its point avails, [fails;. “ Princes of Thebes ! and thou, whose sov'- The hammer'd cuirass yields, the breast-plate reign hand
And where it once has drawn the purple gore, Sways the dread sceptre of supreme command ! No charm can cure, no med'cine health restore.' To what I offer, lend an equal ear; [hear.
“ With threats he question'd thus; and Cleon The truth I'll speak, and judge me when you
The hero, to protect his native state:
Famine within, without the sword, derours. Your censure to escape, and public blame. If you hare learn'd where Hercules remains,
“From Marathon by night our course we steerd, In mountain cares, or hamlets on the plains, And passid Gerastus when the day appear'd; Our way direct ; for, led by gen’ral fame, Andros we saw, with promontories steep, To find him in these desert wilds we came.' Ascend ; and Delos level with the deep.
“ He spoke; and Philoctetes thus again : A circuit wide; for where Euripus roars
« May Jove, for Thebes, some other aid ordain; Between Euboea and the Theban shores,
For Hercules no more exerts his might,
Enter; for now the double twilight fails; His form divine he roll'd in dust and blood;
“The cave we enter'd, and his bounty shar'd; But burning still the unextinguish'd pain, A rural banquet by himself prepard.
The shore he left, and stietch'd into the main.
We saw him land on Oeta's desert shore.
Towards the skies his furious hands he rear'd, The sad assurance of our loss to hear.'
And thus, across the deep, bis voice we heard : I question'd thus. The youth, with horror pale, “ Sor'reign of Heavn and Earth! whose Attempted to recite an awful tale;
boundless sway Abore the fabled woes which bards rehearse, The fates of men and mortal things obey, When sad Melpomene inspires the verse. Ife'er delighted from the courts above, « « The wife of Jove' (Pæonides reply'd)
In human form you sought Alcinene's love; * All arts in vain to crush the hero try'd;
If fame's unchanging voice to all the Earth, For brighter from her hate his virtue burn'd; With truth, proclaims you author of my birth ; And disappointed still, the goddess mourn'd.
Whence, from a course of spotless glory run, His ruin to effect at last she strove
Successful toils and wreaths of triumph won, By jealousy, the rage of injur'd love.
Am I thus wretched ? better that before The bane to Deianira's breast convay'd, Sume monster fierce had drank my streaming Wbo, as a rival, fear'd th' Oechalian maid.
gore ; The goddess knew, that, jealous of her lord,
Or crush'd by Cacus, foe to gods and men, A robe she kept with latent poisons stor’d; My batter'd brains had strew'd bis rocky den; The centaur's gift, bequeath'd her, to reclaim
Than, from my glorious toils and triumpbs past, The hero's love, and light his dying flame;
To fall subdu'd by female arts, at last. If e'er devoted to a stranger's charms,
O cool my boiling blood, ye winds, that blow He stray'd inconstant, from her widow'd arms; From mountains loaded with eternal snow, But giv'n with treacherous intent to prove And crack the icy cliffs : in vain! in rain! The death of oature, not the life of love,
Your rigour cannot quench my raging pain ! Mad from her jealousy, the charm she try'd;
For round this heart the furies wave their brands, His love to change, the deadly robe apply'd: And wring my entrails with their burning hands, And guiltless of the present which he bore, Now bending from the skies, O wife of Jove! Lychas convey'd it to Cencnum's shore: Enjoy the vengeance of thy injur'd love: Where to the pow'rs immortal, for their aid, For fate, by me, the thund'rer's guilt atones; A grateful hecatomb the hero paid :
And, punish'd in her son, Alemene groans : When favor'd from above, bis arm o'erthrew The object of your hate shall soon expire; The proud Eurytus, and his warriors slew. Fix'd on my shoulders preys a net of fire; The venom'd robe the hero took, nor fear'd Whom nor the toils nor dangers could subdue, A gift by conjugal respects endear'd :
By false Eurystheus dictated from you; And straight resign d the lion's shaggy spoils, Nor tyrants lawless, nor the monstrous brood The mantle which he wore in all his toils.
Which haunts the desert or infests the flood, No sign of harın the fatal present show'd; Nor Grece, nor all the barb'rous climes that lie Till rons'd by heat its secret venom glow'd:
Where Phæbus ever points his golden eye; Straight on the flesh it seiz'd, like stiffest glue, A woman bath o'erthrown !-ye gods! I yield And scorching deep, to ev'ry meinber grew. To female arts, unconquer'd in the field. Then tearing with his hands th' infernal snare,
My arms-alas! are these the same that bowd
And slew the dragon in his native fen?
Awake my virtue, oft in dangers try'd,
With fame achiev'd, be blotted by the last :
“«The hero thus; and grasp'd a pointed rock My love and sympathy by fear restrain'!: With both his arms, which straight in pieces For furious 'midst the sacred fires he grew;
broke, The victims scatter'd, and the hearths'o'er. Crush'd in his agony : then on his breast threw.
Descending prostrate, further plaint supprest. Then sinking prostrate, where a tide of gore And now the clouds, in dusky volumes spread, From oxen slain bad blacken'd all the sbore, Had darkeu'd all the mountains with their shades
The winds withhold their breath; the billows O let me still attend rou, and receive
Who come obsequious for your last commands, We saw, and steer'd our vessel to the land. And tenders to your need his willing hands,' Then mounting on the rocky beach above,
""My voice be heard; and from the mountain's Thro' the thick gloom, descry'd the son of Jove. Saw me ascending on the steep below. [brow His head, declin'd between his bands, he leav'd; To favour my approach his steps he stay'd; His elbows on his bended knees sustain'd.
And pleas'd, amidst his anguish, smiling said: Above bim still a hov'ring vapour flew,
* Approach, my Pbilocietes ! Oft l've known Which, from his boiling veins, the garment drew. Your friendly zeal in former labours shown : Thro' the thick woof we saw the fumes aspire; The present, more than all, your love proclaims, Like smoke of victims from the sacred fire, Which braves the thund'rer's bolts and volley'd Compassion's keenest touch my bosom thrill'd;
flames; My eyes, a flood of melting sorrow fillid: With daring step, the rocking earthquake treads, Doubtful I stood; and pond'ring in my mind, While the firm mountains shake their trembling By fear, and pity, variously inclin'd,
heads. Whether to shun the hero, or essay,
As my last gift, these arrows, with the bow, With friendly words, his torment to allay: Accept; the greatest which I can bestow ; When bursting from above with hideous glare, My glory all my wealth; of pow'r to raise A food of lightning kindled all the air.
Your naine tu nonour and imunortal praise ; From Oeta's top it rush'd in sudden streams; If for wrong'd innocence your shafts shall fly, The ocean redden'd at its fiery beams.
As Jove by signs directs them from the sky.' Then, bellowing deep, the thunder's awful sound Straight from his mighty shoulders, as he Shook the firm mountains and the shores around.
spoke, Far to the east it rolld, a length of sky; He loos'd and lodg'd them in a cavern'd rock; We heard Eubea's rattling cliffs reply,
'To lie untouch'a, till future care had drain'd As at his master's voice a swain appears,
Their poison from the veuom'd robe retain'd. When wak'd from sleep his early call he hears, And thus again : "The only aid I need, The hero rose; and to the mountain turn’d, For all my favours past, the only meed, Whose cloud-involved top with lightning burn'd, Is, that, with vengeful hand, you fix a dart And thus bis sire address'd; • With patient In cruel Deianira's faithless beart: Thy call I hear, obedient and resign'd; [mind | Her treach'rous messenger already dead, Faithful and true the oracle! which spoke, Let her, the author of his crime, succeed. In high Dodona, from the sacred oak;
This awful scene forsake without delay; That twenty years of painful labours past, In vain to mingle with my fate you stay: On Oeta's top I should repose at last :
No kind assistauce can my state retrieve, Before, involved, the meaning lay conceal'd; Nor any friend attend me, and survive.' But now I find it in my fate reveal'd.
“ • The hero thus his tender care exprest, Thy sov'reign will I blame not, which denies, And spread his arms to clasp me to bis breast; With length of days, to crown my victories : But soon withdrew them, lest bis tainted veins 1 hough still with danger and distress engag'd, Infection had convey'd and mortal pains : For injur'd r.ght eternal war I wag'd;
Silent I stood in streams of sorrow drown'd, A life of pain, in barb'rous climates, led, Till from my heart these words a passage found: The heav'ns my canopy, a rock my bed : • () bid me pot forsake thee, nor impose More joy I've felt than delicacy knows,
What wretched Philoctetes must refuse. Or all the pride of regal pomp bestows.
By him I swear, whose presence now proclaim Dread sire! thy will I honour and revere,
The thunder's awful voice and forked flame, And own thy love with gratitude sincere,
Beneath whose steps the trembling desert quakes, Which watch'd me in my toils, that none could And Earth affrighted to her centre shakes ; To raise a trophy from my glory lost: [boast I never will forsake thee, but remain And though at last, by female arts, o'ercome, While struggling life these ruin'd limbs retain: And unsuspected fraud, I find my doom; No form of fate shall drive me from thy side, There to have fail'd, my honour ne'er can shake, Nor death with all its terrours e'er divide; Where vice is only strong and virtue weak.' Though the same stroke our mortal lives should ""He said, and turning to the cloudy height,
end, The seat of thunder, wrapt in sable night, One flash consume us, and our ashes blend.' Firm and undauuted trud the steep ascent; “I spoke ; and to the cloudy steep we turn'd; An earthquake rock'd the mountain as he went. Along its brow the kindled forest burn'd. Back from the shaking shores retir'd the flood; The savage brood, descending to the plains, In horror lost, my bold companions stvod, The scattered flocks and dread distracted swains, To speech or motion : but the present pow'r Rush'd from the shaking cliffs : we saw theia Of love inspir'd me, in that awful hour;
corne, With trembling steps, I trac'd the son of Jove; In wild disorder mingled, through the gloom. And saw him darkly on the steep above, [noise And now appear'd the desert's lofty head, Through the thick gloom. The thunder's awful A narrow rock with forest thinly spread. Ceas'd ; and I call'd him thus with feeble voice: His mighty hands display'd aloft in air, "O son of mighty Jove! thy friend await; To Jove the hero thus address'd a pray'r Who comes to comfort thee, or share thy fate, * Hear me, dread pow'r! whose nod controls In ev'ry danger and distress before,
the skies, His part your faithful Philoctetes bóre,
At whose command the winged lightning fies:
Almighty sire ! if yet yon deign to own
His soul unfetter'd, sought the blest abodes, Alcmena's wretched offspring as your son ;
By virtue rais'd to mingle with the gods. Soine comfort in my agony impart,
His bones in earth, with pious hands, 1 laid ; And bid thy forked thunder rend this heart : The place to publish nothing shall persuade; Round my devoted head it idly plays;
Lest tyrants now unaw'd, and men unjust, and aids the fire, which wastes me, with its rays: With insults, should profane his sacred dust. By heat inflam'd, this robe exerts its pow'r,
E'er since, I haunt this solitary den, My scorched limbs to shrivel and devour ;
Retir'd from all the busy paths of men; Upon my shoulders, like a dragon, clings, for these wild mountains only suit my state, And fixes in my flesh a thousand stings.
And sooth, with kindred gloom, my deep regret.' Great sire! in pity to my suit attend,
“ He ended thus : amazement long suppress'd And with a sudden stroke my being end." My voice; but Cleon answ'ring thus adılress'd :
“As thus the hero pray'd, the lightning ceas'd, Brave youth ! you offer, to our wond'ring ears, And thicker darkness all the hill embrac'd. Events more awful than tradition bears. He saw his suit deny'd: in fierce despair, Fix'd in my mind the hero's fate remains, The rooted pines be tore, and cedars fair ; I see bis agonies, and feel his pains. And from the crannies of the rifted rocks,
Yet suffer, that for hapless Thebes I mour, Twisted with force immense the stubborn oaks Whose fairest hopes the envious fates o'erturn. Of these upon the cliff a heap he laid,
If great Alcides liv'd, ber tow'rs should stand And thus address'd me, as I stood dismay'd : Gate and protected by his mighty hand : • Behold, my friend! the ruler of the skies, On you, brave youth! our second hopes depend; In agouy invok’d, my suit denies :
To you the arms of Hercules descend. But sure the oracle inspir'd from Heaven,
He did not, sure, those glorious gifts bestow, Which in Dodona's sacred grove was given,
The shafts invincible, the mighty bow; The truth declar'd: that now my toils shall From which the innocent protection claim, And all my painful labours end in peace : (cease, To dye the hills with blood of savage game. Peace, death can only bring: the raging smart,
Such toils as these your glory ne'er can raise, Wrapt with my vitals, mocks each healing art. Nor crown your merit with immortal praise ; Not all the plants that clothe the verdant field, And with the great Alcides place your name, Not all the health a thousand mountains yield, To stand distinguish'd in the rolls of fame.' Which on their tops the sage physician finds,
“ The hero thus. The son of Pean said : Or digging from the veins of flint unbinds, • Myself, my arms, I offer for your aid; This fire can quench. And therefore, to obey If fav’ring from the skies, the signs of Jove My last commands, prepare without delay.
Confirm what thus I purpose and approve. When on this pile you see my limbs compos'd,
For when Alcides, with his last commands, Shriuk not, but hear what must not be oppos'd ;
His bow and shafts committed to my bands; Approach, and, with an unrelenting hand, In all attempts he charg'd me to proceed Fix, in the boughs beneath, a flaming brand. As Jove by signs and augories should lead. I must not longer trust this madding pain,
But these the rising Sun will best disclose ; Lest some rash deed should all my glory stain. The season now invites to soft repose.' Lychas 1 slew upon the Cænian shore,
“He said ; and, from the hearth a flaming bough, Who knew not, sure, the fatal gift he bore : To light us through the shady cavern, drew. His guilt had taught him else to fly, nor wait, Far in the deep recess, a rocky bed Till from my rage he found a sudden fate. We found, with skins of mountain monsters spread. I will not Deianira's action blame ;
There we compos'd our weary limbs, and lay, Let Heav'n decide, which only knows her aim: Till darkness fed before the morning ray. Whether from hate, with treacherous intent,
Then rose, and climb'd a promontory steep, This fatal garment to her lord she sent;
Whose rocky brow, impending o'er the deep, Or, by the cunning of a foc betray'd,
Shoots high into the air, and lifts the eye, His vengeance, thus imprudently convey'd.
In boundless stretch, to take a length of sky. If this, or that, I urge not my command,
With hands extended to th' ethereal height, Nor claim her fate from thy avenging hand :
The pow'r we call'd, who rules the realms of light; To lodge my lifeless bones, is all I crave,
That symbols sure his purpose might explain, Safe and uninjor'd in the peaceful grave.'
Whether the youth should aid us, or refrain : ". This with a hollow voice and alter'd look, We pray'd; and on the left along the vales, In agony extreme, the hero spoke.
With pipions broad display'd, an eagle sails. I pour'd a flood of sorrow, and withdrew, As near the ground his level Alight he drew, Amid the kindled groves, to pluck a bough; He stoop'd, and brush'd the thickets as he flew; Withghich the structure at the base I fir'd: When starting from the centre of a brake, On ev'ry side the pointed flames aspird. With horrid hiss appear'd a crested snake: But ere involving smoke the pile enclos'd, Her young to guard, her venom'd fangs she rear'd; I saw tbe bero on the top repos’d;
Above the shrubs her wavy length appeard ; Serene as one who, near the fountain laid, Against bis swift approaches, as he flew, At noon enjoys the cool refreshing shade. On ev'ry side her furked tungue she threw, The venom'd garment hiss'd; its touch the fires and armed jaws; but wheeling from the snare Avoiding, slop'd oblique their pointed spires : The swift assailant still escap'd in air ; On ev'ry side the parted fame withdrew, But, stooping from his pitch, at last be tore And level'd, round the burning structure flew. Her purple crest, and drew a stream of gore. At last victorious to the top they rose;
She writh’d; and, in the fierceness of her pain, Fimm and unmov'd the hero saw them close. Shook the long thickets with her twisted train :
Relax'd at last, its spires forgot to roll,
Against reproach necessity shall plead; And, in a hiss, she breath'd her fiery soul : Censure confute, and justify the deed.' In haste to gorge his prey, the bird of Jove
“ The hero thus, and ceas'd: with pity morid, Down to the bottom of the thicket drove; And zeal for Thebes, I rashly, thus approv'd. The young defenceless from the cuvert drew; • You counsel well; but prudence would advise Devour'd them straight, and to the mountains To work by cunning rather, and surprise, This omen seen, another worse we hear; [few. Than force declard; his venom'd shafts you know, The subterraneous thunder greets our ear: Which Ay resistless from th' Herculean bow; The worst of all the signs which augurs know; A safe occasion now the silent hour A dire prognostic of impending woe.
Of midnight yields; when, by the gentle pow's " Amaz'd we stood, till Philoctetes broke Of careless slumber bound, the hero lies, Our long dejected silence thus, and spoke: Our necessary fraud will 'scape his eyes; • Warriors of Thebes! the auguries dissuade Without the aid of force shall reach its aim, My purpose, and withhold me from your aid ; With danger less incurr'd, and less of blame.' Though pity moves me, and ambition draws, “I counsel'd thus; and Cleon straight apTo share your labours and assert your cause; In silence from the dark recess we mor'd; [provod. In fight the arms of Hercules to show,
Towards the hearth, with wary steps, we came, And from his native ramparts drive the foe. The ashes stirr'd,and rous'd the slumb'ring flame. But vain it is against the gods to strive; On ev'ry side in vain we turn'd our eyes, Whose counsels ruin nations or retrieve; Nor, as our hopes had promis'd, found the prize: Without their favour, valour jought avails, Till to the couch, where Philoctetes lay, And human prudence self-subverted fails ; The qniver led us by its silver ray ; For irresistibly their pow'r presides
For in a panther's fur together ty'd, In all events, and good and ill divides.
His bow and shafts, the pillow's place supply'd: Let Thebes assembled at the altars wait, Thither I went with careful steps and slow; And long processions crowd each sacred gate : And by degrees obtain'd th' Herculean bow: With sacrifice appeas'd, and humble pray'r, 'The quiver next to disengage essay'd ; Their omens frustrated, the gods may spare. It stuck entangled, but at last obey'd. To day, my guests, repose; to morrow sail, The prize obtain'd, we hasten to the strand, If Heav'n propitious sends a prosp'rous gale: And rouse the mariners, and straight command For, shifting to the south, the western breeze The canvass to unfurl: a gentle gale Forbids you now to trust the faithless seas.' Favour'd our course, and fill'd the swelling sail:
“ The hero thus ; in silence sad, we mourn'd; The shores retir'd; and when the morning ray And to the solitary cave return'd,
Ascended, from the deep, th' ethereal way; Despairing of success; our grief he shar'd, Upon the right Cenæum's beach appear'd, And for relief a cheering bowl prepar'd;
And Pelion on the left his summit rear'd. The vintage wbich the grape spontaneous yields, All day we sail'd; but when the setting light By art untutor'd, on the woodland fields,
Approach'd the ocean, froin th’ Olympian height, He sought with care, and mingled in the bowl The breeze was hush'd; and, stretch'd across A plant, of pow'r to calm the troubled soul;
the main, Its name nepenthe; swains, on desert ground, Like mountains rising on the wat'ry plain, Do often glean it, else but rarely found;
The clouds collected on the billows stood, This in the bowl he mix'd; and soon we found, And, with incumbent shade, obscur'd the flood. In soft oblivion, all our sorrows drown'd: Thither a current bore us; soon we found We felt no more the agonies of care,
JA night of vapour closing fast around. And hope, succeeding, dawn'd upon despair. Loose hung the empty sail : we ply'd our oars, From morn we feasted, till the setting ray And strove to reach Eubæa's friendly shores; Retir'd, and ev'ning shades expell’d the day; But strove in vain; for erring from the course, Then in the dark recesses of the cave,
In mazes wide, the rower spent his force. To slumbers soft, our willing limbs we gave : Seven days and nights we try'd some port to gain, But ere the morning, from the east, appear'd, Where Greek or barb'rous shores exclude the And sooner than the early lark is heard,
main ; Cleon awak'd, my careless slumber broke, But knew not, whether backwards, or before, And bending to my ear, in whispers spoke: Or on the right, or left, to seek the shore : • Dienices ! while slumbering thus secure, Till, risiog on the eighth, a gentle breeze We think not what our citizens endure. [pears | Drove the light fog, and brush'd the curling seas, The worst the signs have threaten'd, nought ap- Our canvass to its gentle pow'r we spread; With happier aspect to dispel our fears;
And fix'd our oars, and follow'd as it led. Alcides lives not, and his friend in vain
Before us soon, impending from above, To arms we call, while auguries restrain: Through parting clouds, we saw a lofty grove. Returning thus, we bring the Tbeban state Alarm'd, the sail we slacken, and explore But hopes deceiv'd, and omens of her fate: The deeps and shallows of the unknown shore. Better success our labours shall attend,
Near on the right a winding creek appear'd, Nor all our aims in disappointment end;
Thither directed by the pole, we steerd;
New caverns open, airy cliffs arise ;