« EelmineJätka »
Prone to revenge, the bees, a wrathful race, When once provok'd, assault the aggressor's face,
And through the purple veins a passage find; There fix their stings, and leave their souls behind.
But, if a pinching winter thou foresee And wouldst preserve thy famish'd family; With fragrant thyme the city fumigate, And break the waxen walls to save the state. For lurking lizards often lodge, by stealth; Within the suburbs, and purloin their wealth; And worms, that shun the light, a dark retreat Have found in combs, and undermin'd the seat; Or lazy drones, without their share of pain, In winter-quarters free, devour the gain; Or wasps infest the camp with loud alarms, And mix in battle with unequal arm Or secret moths are there in silence fed; Or spiders in the vault their snary webs have spread.
The more oppress'd by foes, or famine-pin'd, The more increase thy care to save the sinking kind: With greens and flow'rs recruit their empty hives,
And crowds of dead, that never must return
To their lov'd hives, in decent pomp are borne:
Their friends attend the hearse; the next rela-
The sick, for air, before the portal gasp,
Their feeble legs within each other clasp,
Or idle in their empty hives remain,
Benumb'd with cold, and listless of their gain.
Soft whispers then, and broken sounds, are
As when the woods by gentle winds are stirr'd,
Such stiffed noise as the close furnace hides,
Or dying murmurs of departing tides.
This when thou seest galbanean odours use,
And honey in the sickly hive infuse.
Through reeden pipes convey the golden flood,
T' invite the people to their wonted food.
Mix it with thicken'd juice of sodden wines,
And raisins from the grapes of Psythian vines :
To these add pounded galls, and roses dry,
And, with Cecropian thyme, strong-scented
A flow'r there is, that grows in meadowground, Amellus call'd, and easy to be found; For, from one root, the rising stem bestows A wood of leaves, and vi'let purple boughs: The flow'r itself is glorious to behold, And shines on altars like refulgent goldSharp to the taste-by shepherds near the
Of Mella found; and thence they gave the name.
Boil this restoring root in gen'rous wine,
And set beside the door, the sickly stock to dine.
But, if the lab'ring kind be wholly lost,
And not to be retriev'd with care or cost;
'Tis time to touch the precepts of an art
Th' Arcadian master did of old impart;
And how he stock'd his empty hives again,
Renew'd with putrid gore of oxen slain.
An ancient legend I prepare to sing,
And upward follow Fame's immortal spring;
For, where with sevenfold horns mysterious
Surrounds the skirts of Egypt's fruitful isle, And where in pomp the sunburnt people ride, On painted barges o'er the teeming tide, Which, pouring down from Ethiopian lands, Makes green the soil with slime, and black prolific sands
That length of region, and large tract of ground,
In this one art a sure relief have found.
First, in a place, by nature close, they build
A narrow flooring, gutter'd, wall'd, and til'd.
In this, four windows are contriv'd, that strike
To the four winds oppos'd, their beams oblique.
A steer of two years old they take, whose head
Now first with burnish'd horns begins to
They stop his nostrils while he strives in vain
To breathe free air, and struggles with his pain.
Knock'd down, he dies: his bowels bruis'd
Betray no wound on his unbroken skin.
Extended thus, in this obscene abode
They leave the beast; but first sweet flow'rs
Beneath his body, broken boughs and thyme,
And pleasing cassia just renew'd in prime.
This must be done ere spring makes equal day,
When western winds on curling waters play :
Ere painted meads produce their flow'ry crops,
Or swallows twitter on the chimney tops.
The tainted blood, in this close prison pent,
Begins to boil, and through the bones ferment.
Then (wondrous to behold) new creatures rise,
A moving mass at first, and short of thighs;
Till shooting out with legs, and imp'd with
The grubs proceed to bees with pointed stings,
And, more and more affecting air, they try
Their tender pinions, and begin to fly :
At length, like summer storms from spreading
That burst at once,and pour impetuous floods
Or flights of arrows from the Parthian bows,
When from afar they gall embattled foes-
With such a tempest through the skies they
And such a form the winged squadrons bear.
What god, O Muse! this useful science taught?
And, while his falling tears the stream suppli'd,
Thus mourning to his mother goddess cried :
"Mother Cyrene ! mother, whose abode
Is in the depth of this immortal flood!
What boots it, that from Phœbus' loins I spring
The third, by him and thee, from heav'n's
O! where is all thy boasted pity gone,
And promise of the skies to thy deluded son?
Why didst thou me, unhappy me, create,
Odious to gods, and borne to bitter fate?
Whom scarce my sheep, and scarce my painful
Starting at once from their green seats, they
Fear in their heart, amazement in their eyes.
But Arethusa, leaping from her bed,
First lifts above the waves her beauteous head,,
And, crying from afar, thus to Cyrene said:
"O sister, not with causeless fear possest!
No stranger voice disturbs thy tender breast,
'Tis Aristæus, 'tis thy darling son,
Who to his careless mother makes his moan.
Or by what man's experience was it brought ?
Sad Aristaus from fair Tempe fled-
His bees with famine or diseases dead :
On Pencus' banks he stood, and near his holy Near his paternal stream he sadly stands, With downcast eyes, wet cheeks, and folded hands. Upbraiding heav'n from whence his lineage [name." And cruel calls the gods, and cruel thee, by
Cyrene, mov'd with love, and seiz'd with fear, Crics out, "Conduct my son, conduct him here:
The needful aids of human life allow :
So wretched is thy son, so hard a mother thou!
Proceed, inhuman parent, in thy scorn;
Root up my trees; with blights destroy my corn;
My vineyards ruin, and my sheepfolds burn.
Let loose thy rage, let all thy spite be shown;
Since thus thy hate pursues the praises of thy
But, from her mossy bow'r below the ground,
His careful mother heard the plaintive sound-
Encompass'd with her sea-green sisters round.
One common work they pli'd; their distaffs full
With carded locks of blue Milesian wool.
Spio, with Drymo brown, and Xantho fair,
And sweet Phyllodoce with long dishevell❜d hair,
Cydippe with Lycorias, one a maid,
And one that once had call'd Lucina's aid;
Clio and Beroe, from one father both;
Both girt with gold, and clad in particolour'd
Opis the meek, and Deiopeia proud:
Nisma lofty, with Ligea loud;
Thalia joyous, Ephyre the sad,
And Arethusa, once Diana's maid,
But now (her quiver left) to love betray'd.
To these Clymene the sweet theft deciares
Of Mars; and Vulcan's unavailing cares ;
And all the rapes of gods, and ev'ry love,
From ancient Chaos down to youthful Jove :
Thus while she sings, the sisters turn the
Empty the woolly rack, and fill the reel.
A mournful sound again the mother hears;
Again the mournful sound invades the sisters'
"In the Carpathian bottom, makes abode
The shepherd of the seas, a prophet and a god.
High o'er the main in wat'ry pomp he rides,
His azure car and finny coursers guides-
Proteus his name.-To his Pallenian port
I see from far the weary god resort.
Him, not alone, we river gods adore,
But aged Nereus hearkens to his lore.
With sure foresight, and with unerring doom,
He sees what is, and was, and is to come.
This Neptune gave him, when he gave to keep
His scaly flocks, that graze the wat❜ry deep.
Implore his aid; for Proteus only knows
The secret cause, and cure, of all thy woes.
But first the wily wizard must be caught;
For, unconstrain'd, he nothing tells for nought;
Nor is with pray'rs, or bribes, or flattery bought.
Surprise him first, and with hard fetters bind;
Then all his frauds will vanish into wind.
I will myself conduct thee on thy way,
When next the southing sun inflames the day,
When the dry herbage thirsts for dews in vain,
And sheep, in shades, avoid the parching plain;
Then will I lead thee to his secret seat,
When, weary with his toil, and scorch'd with
The wayward sire frequents his cool retreat.
His eyes with heavy slumber overcast-
With force invade his limbs, and bind him fast.
Thus surely bound, yet be not over bold:
The slipp'ry god will try to loose his hold,
And various forms assume, to cheat thy sight,
And with vain images of beasts affright;
With foamy tusks, he seems a bristly boar,
Or imitates the lion's angy roar
Breaks out in crackling flames to shun thy snares,
Hisses a dragon, or a tiger stares;
Or with a wile thy caution to betray,
In fleeting streams attempts to slide away.
But thou, the more he varies forms, beware
To strain his fetters with a stricter care,
Till, tiring all his arts, he turns again
To his true shape, in which he first was seen."
This said, with nectar she her son anoints;
Infusing vigour through his mortal joints :
Down from his head the liquid odours ran;
He breath'd of heav'n, and look'd above a
Within a mountain's hollow womb, there lies A large recess conceal'd from human eyes, Where heaps of billows, driv'n by wind and tide,
In form of war their watʼry ranks divide, And their like centries set, without the mouth abide :
A station safe for ships, when tempests roar,
A silent harbour, and a cover'd shore.
Secure within resides the various god,
And draws a rock upon his dark abode.
Hither with silent steps, secure from sight,
The goddess guides her son, and turns him from
Herself, involv'd in clouds,precipitates herflight.
'Twas noon; the sultry Dog-star from the sky Scorch'd Indian swains; the rivel'd grass was dry;
The sun with flaming arrows pierc'd the flood,
And, darting to the bottom, bak'd the mud;
When weary Proteus, from the briny waves,
Retir'd for shelter to his wonted caves.
His finny flocks about their shepherd play,
And, rolling round him spurt the bitter sea:
Unwieldily they wallow first in ooze,
Then in the shady covert seek repose.
Himself, their herdsman, on the middle mount,
Takes of his muster'd flocks a just account
So, seated on a rock, a shepherd's groom
Surveys his evening flocks returning home,
When lowing calves and bleating lambs, from
Provoke the prowling wolf to nightly war.
Th' occasion offers, and the youth complies;
For scarce the weary god had clos'd his eyes,
When, rushing on with shouts, he binds in
The drowsy prophet, and his limbs constrains.
He, not uninindful of his usual art,
First in dissembled fire attempts to part:
Then roaring beasts, and running streams, he
And wearies all his miracles of lies.
But, having shifted ev'ry form to 'scape,
Convinc'd of conquest, he resum'd his shape,
And thus, at length, in human accent spoke :
"Audacious youth! what madness could pro-
All these Cocytus bounds with squalid reeds,
With muddy ditches, and with deadly weeds;
And baleful Styx encompasses around,
With nine slow circling streams, th' unhappy
E'en from the depths of the damn'd advance;
Th' infernal mansions, nodding seem to dance;
The gaping three-mouth'd dog forgets to snarl:
The Furies hearken, and their snakes uncurl;
Ixion seems no more his pain to feel.
But leans attentive on his standing wheel.
All dangers past, at length the lovely bride
In safety goes, with her melodious guide,
Longing the common light again to share,
And draw the vital breath of upper air-
He first; and close behind him follow'd she;
For such was Proserpine's severe decree-
When strong desires th' impatient youth invade,
By little caution and much love betray'd:
A fault, which easy pardon might receive,
Were lovers judges, or could hell forgive.
For, near the confines of etherial light,
And longing for the glimm'ring of a sight,
Th' unwary lover casts his eyes behind,
Forgetful of the law nor master of his mind.
Straight all his hopes exhal'd in empty smoke;
And his long toils were forfeit for a look.
Three flashes of blue lightning gave the sign
Of cov'nants broke; three peals of thunder
For crimes, not his, the lover lost his life,
And at thy hands requires his murder'd wife :
Nor (if the Fates assist not) canst thou 'scape
The just revenge of that intended rape.
To shun thy lawless lust the dying bride,
Unwary, took along the river's side,
Nor at her heels perceiv'd the deadly snake,
That kept the bank, in covert of the brake.
But all her fellow-nymphs the mountains tear
With loud laments, and break the yielding air:
The realms of Mars remurmur all around,
And echoes to th' Athenian shores rebound.
Th' unhappy husband, husband now no more,
Did on his tuneful harp his loss deplore;
And sought his mournful mind with music to re-
Then thus the bride: 'what fury seiz'd on thee,
Unhappy man! to lose thyself and me?
Dragg'd back again by cruel destinies,
An iron slumber shuts my swimming eyes.
And now farewell! involv'd in shades of night,
For ever I am ravish'd from thy sight.
In vain I reach my feeble hands, to join
In sweet embraces-ah! no longer thine!'
She said; and from his eyes the fleeting fair
Retir'd like subtle smoke dissolv'd in air,
And left the hopeless lover in despair.
In vain, with folding arms, the youth essay'd
On thee, dear wife, in deserts all alone,
He call'd, sigh'd, sung: his griefs with day To stop her flight, and strain the flying shade:
He prays; he raves; all means in vain he tries,
With rage inflam'd, astonish'd with surprise;
But she return'd no more, to bless his longing
A mortal man t' invade a sleeping god?
What bus'ness brought thee to my dark abode ?"
To this th' audacious youth: "Thou know'st
My name and bus'ness, god; nor need I tell.
No man can Proteus cheat: but, Proteus, leave
Thy fraudful arts, and do not thou deceive.
Following the gods' command I come t' implore
Thy help, my perish'd people to restore."
The seer, who could not yet his wrath assuage,
Roll'd his green eyes, that sparkled with his
And gnash'd his teeth, and cried, "no vulgar god
Pursues thy crimes, nor with a common rod
Thy great misdeeds have met a due reward,
And Orpheus' dying prayers at .ength are
Th' infernal troops like passing shadows glide,
And, list'ning, crowd the sweet musician's
(Not flocks of birds when driv'n by storms or
Stretch to the forest with so thick a flight)—
Men, matrons, children, and th' unmarried!
The mighty hero's more majestic shade,
And youths on funeral piles before their parents
Nor were they finish'd with the setting sun,
E'en to the dark dominions of the night
He took his way, through forests void of light,
And dar'd amidst the trembling ghosts to sing,
And stood before th' inexorable king.
Nor would th' infernal ferrymen once more,
Be brib'd to waft him to the farther shore,
What should he do, who twice had lost his love?
What notes invent? what new petitions move?
Her soul already was consign'd to fate,
And shiv'ring in the leaky sculler sate.
For sev'n continu'd months, if fame say true,
The wretched swain his sorrow did renew:
By Stryman's freezing streams he sat alone:
The rocks were mov'd to pity with his moan:
Trees bent their heads to hear him sing his
Fierce tigers couch'd around, and loll'd their fawning tongues.
So, close in poplar shades, her children gone,
The mother nightingale laments alone,
Whose nest some prying churl had found, and
By stealth, convey'd th' unfeather'd innocence. But she supplies the night with mournful trains;
And melancholy music fills the plains.
Sad Orpheus thus his tedious hours employs,
Averse from Venus, and from nuptial joys.
Alone he tempts the frozen floods, alone
Th' unhappy climes, where spring was never
He mourn'd his wretched wife, in vain restor❜d,
And Pluto's unavailing boon deplor'd.
The Thracian matrons-who the youth accus'd
Of love disdain'd, and marriage rites refus'd-
With furies and nocturnal orgies fir'd,
At length against his sacred life conspir'd.
Whom e'en the savage beasts had spar'd, they
And sent a plague among thy thriving bees. With vows and suppliant pray'rs their pow'rs
The soft Napaan race will soon repent
Their anger, and remit the punishment.
The secret in an easy method lies;
Select four brawny bulls for sacrifice,
Which on Lycæus graze without a guide;
Add four fair heifers yet in yoke untried,
For these, four altars in their temple rear,
And then adore the woodland pow'rs with pray'r.
From the slain victims pour the streaming blood,
And leave their bodies in the shady wood:
Nine mornings thence, Lathæan poppy bring,
T' appease the manes of the poet's king:
And, to propitiate his offended bride,
A fatted calf, and a black ewe provide :
This finish'd, to the former woods repair."
His mother's precepts he performs with care;
The temple visits, and adores with pray'r ;
Four altars raises; from his herd he culls,
For slaughter, four the fairest of his bulls:
Four heifers from his female store he took,
All fair, and all unknowing of the yoke,
Nine mornings thence, with sacrifice and
The pow'rs aton'd, he to the grove repairs.
Behold a prodigy! for, from within
The broken bowels and the bloated skin,
A buzzing noise of bees his ears alarms :
Straight issue through the sides assembling
Dark as a cloud, they make a wheeling flight,
Then on a neighb'ring tree, descending, light:
Like a large cluster of black grapes they show,
And make a large dependence from the bough.
Thus have I sung of fields, and flocks, and
And of the waxen work of lab'ring bees;
While mighty Cæsar, thund'ring from afar,
Seeks on Euphrates' banks the spoils of war;
With conq'ring arts asserts his country's