« AnteriorContinuar »
Some called the evils which Diana wrought,
Juno alone, of all that heard the news, Nor would condemn the goddess, nor excuse: She heeded not the justice of the deed, But joyed to see the race of Cadmus bleed; For still she kept Europa in her mind, And, for her sake, detested all her kind. Besides, to aggravate her hate, she heard How Semele, to Jove's embrace preferred, Was now grown big with an immortal load, And carried in her womb a future god. Thus terribly incensed, the goddess broke To sudden fury, and abruptly spoke.
66 Are my reproaches of so small a force ? 'Tis time I then pursue another course: It is decreed the guilty wretch shall die, If I'm indeed the mistress of the sky; If rightly styled among the powers above The wife and sister of the thundering Jove, (And none can sure a sister's right deny,) It is decreed the guilty wretch shall die. She boasts an honour I can hardly claim; Pregnant, she rises to a mother's name; While proud and vain she triumphs in her Jove, And shows the glorious tokens of his love: But if I'm still the mistress of the skies, By her own lover the fond beauty dies." This said, descending in a yellow cloud, Before the gates of Semele she stood.
Old Beroe's decrepit shape she wears, Her wrinkled visage, and her hoary hairs; Whilst in her trembling gait she totters on, And learns to tattle in the nurse's tone. The goddess, thus disguised in age, beguiled With pleasing stories her false foster-child. Much did she talk of love, and when she came To mention to the nymph her lover's name,
Fetching a sigh, and holding down her head,
The unwary nymph, insnared with what she said, Desired of Jove, when next he sought her bed, To grant a certain gift which she would choose; "Fear not," replied the god, "that I'll refuse Whate'er you ask: may Styx confirm my voice, Choose what you will, and you shall have your choice."
Then," says the nymph, "when next you seek my arms, May you descend in those celestial charms, With which your Juno's bosom you inflame, And fill with transport heaven's immortal dame." The god surprised, would fain have stopped her voice: But he had sworn, and she had made her choice.
To keep his promise he ascends, and shrouds
The illustrious god, descending from his height,
The mortal dame, too feeble to engage
But, to preserve his offspring from the tomb,
THE TRANSFORMATION OF TIRESIAS.
'Twas now, while these transactions past on earth, And Bacchus thus procured a second birth, When Jove disposed to lay aside the weight Of public empire and the cares of state; As to his queen in nectar bowls he quaffed, "In troth," says he, and as he spoke he laughed, "The sense of pleasure in the male is far More dull and dead than what you females share." Juno the truth of what was said denied; Tiresias therefore must the cause decide; For he the pleasure of each sex had tried.
It happened once, within a shady wood,
Deprived him, in her fury, of his sight,
THE TRANSFORMATION OF ECHO.
Famed far and near for knowing things to come, From him the inquiring nations sought their doom; The fair Liriope his answers tried, And first the unerring prophet justified; This nymph the god Cephisus had abused, With all his winding waters circumfused, And on the Nereid got a lovely boy, Whom the soft maids ev'n then beheld with joy. The tender dame, solicitous to know Whether her child should reach old age or no, Consults the sage Tiresias, who replies, "If e'er he knows himself, he surely dies." Long lived the dubious mother in suspense, Till time unriddled all the prophet's sense.
Narcissus now his sixteenth year began, Just turned of boy and on the verge of man; Many a friend the blooming youth caressed, Many a love-sick maid her flame confessed: Such was his pride, in vain the friend caressed, The love-sick maid in vain her flame confessed.
Once, in the woods, as he pursued the chase, The babbling Echo had descried his face; She, who in others' words her silence breaks, Nor speaks herself but when another speaks. Echo was then a maid, of speech bereft, Of wonted speech; for though her voice was left, Juno a curse did on her tongue impose, To sport with every sentence in the close. Full often when the goddess might have caught Jove and her rivals in the very fault, This nymph with subtle stories would delay Her coming, till the lovers slipped away. The goddess found out the deceit in time, And then she cried, "That tongue, for this thy crime,
Which could so many subtle tales produce,
The nymph, when nothing could Narcissus move,1
THE STORY OF NARCISSUS.
Thus did the nymphs in vain caress the boy,
1 When nothing could Narcissus move.] One would think, from the expression, that the means taken by Echo to move Narcissus had been specified; and so they are in the original. The truth is, fourteen lines are here omitted, not without good reason; but the inartificial connexion betrays the omission.