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Slides down the belt, and from her station Alies,
And night with sable clouds involves the skies.
Bold Myrrha still pursues her black intent:
She stumbled thrice, (an omen of th' event ;)
Thrice shriek'd the fun'ral owl, yet on she went,
Secure of shame, because secure of fight;
Ev'n bashful fins are impudent by night.
Link'd hand in hand, th' accomplice, and the dame,
T'heir way exploring, to the chamber came :
The door was ope, they blindly grope their way,
Where dark in bed th' expecting monarch lay;
Thus far her courage held, but here forsakes;
Her faint knees knock at ev'ry step she makes.
The nearer to her crime, the more within
She feels remorse, and horror of her fin;
Repents too late her criminal defire,
And wishes, that unknown the could retire.
Her ling'ring thus, the nurse (who fear'd delay
The fatal secret might at length betray)
Pullid forward, to complete the work begun,
And said to Cinyras, Receive thy own :
Thus saying, the deliver'd kind to kind,
Accurs'd, and their devoted bodies join'd.
The fire, unknowing of the crime, admits
His bowels, and profanes the hallow'd sheets ;
He found the trembled, huc believ'd she strove
With maiden modefty, against her love;
And fought with flatt'ring words vain fancies to remove.
Perhaps he said, My daughter, cease thy fears,
(Because the title suited with her years ;)
And, Father, she might whisper him again,
That names might not be wanting to the fin.
Full of her fire, she left th' incestuous bed,
And carry'd in her womb the crime she bred :
Another, and another night she came ;
For frequent fin had left no sense of shame :
Tüil Cinyras defir'd to see her face,
Whose body he had held in close embrace,
And brought a taper ; the revealer, light,
Expos'd both crime, and criminal to fight :
Grief, rage, amazement, cou'd no speech afford,
But from the sheath he drew th' avenging sword ;
The guilty Aed: the benefit of night,
That favour'd first the fin, secur'd the fight.
Long wandring through the spacious fields, she bent
Her voyage to th’ Arabian continent;
Then pass'd the region which Panchæa join'd,
And Aying left the palmy plains behind.
Nine times the moon had mew'd her horns; at length
With travel weary, unsupply'd with strength,
And with the burden of her womb oppress’d
Sabæan fields affords her needful reft :
There, loathing life, and yet of death afraid,
In anguish of her fpirit, thus the pray'd.
Ye powers, if any fo propitious are
T'accept my penitence, and hear my pray'r;
Your judgments, I confess, are justly sent ;
Great fins deserve as great a punishment:
Yet since my life the living will profane,
And since my death the happy dead will stain,
A middle state your mercy may bestow,
Betwixt the realms above, and those below :
Some other form to wretched Myrrha give,
Nor let her wholly die, nor wholly live.
The prayers of penitents are never vain ;
At least, she did her last request obtain ;
For while she spoke, the ground began to rise,
And gather'd round her feet, her legs, and thighs :
Her toes in roots descend, and, spreading wide,
A firm foundation for the trunk provide :
Her solid bones convert to solid wood,
To pith her marrow, and to fap her blood :
Her arms are boughs, her fingers change their kind,
Her tender skin is harden'd into rind.
And now the rising tree her womb inucfts,
Now shooting upwards ftill, invades her breasts,
And shades the neck; and, weary with delay,
She funk her head within, and met it half the way.
And tho' with outward Mape she loit her sense,
With bitter tears she wept her last offence ;
And still she weeps, nor sheds her tears in vain ;
For still the precious drops her name retain.
Mean time the misbegotten infant grows,
And, ripe for birth, diftends with deadly throes
The swelling rind, with unavailing strife,
To leave the wooden womb, and pushes into life.
The mother-tree, as if oppress’d with pain,
Writhes here and there, to breath the bark, in vain ;
And, like a lab'ring woman, wou'd have pray'd,
But wants a voice to call Lucina's aid:
The berding hole sends out a hollow sound,
And trickling tears fall thicker on the ground,
The mild Lucina came uncall’d, and stood
Beside the struggling boughs, and heard the groaning
Then reach'd her midwife-hand, to speed the throes,
And spoke the powerfulspells that babes to birth disclose.
The bark divides, the living load to free,
And safe delivers the convulsive tree.
The ready nymphs receive the crying child,
And wash him in the tears the parent plant distill’d.
'They swath'd him with their scarfs ; beneath him spread
The ground with herbs; with roses rais'd his head.
The lovely babe was born with ev'ry grace:
must have prais'd so fair a face : Such was his form, as painters, when they fhow Their utmost art, on naked loves bestow : 4
And that their arms no diff'rence might betray,
Give him a bow, or his from Cupid take away.
Time glides along, with undiscover'd hafte,
The future but a length behind the past :
So swift are years : the babe, whom just before
His grand fire got, and whom his sister bore ;
The drop, the thing which late the tree inclos'd,
And late the yawning bark to life expos'd;
A babe, a boy, a beauteous youth appears;
And lovelier than himself at riper years.
Now to the queen of love he gave desires,
And, with her pains, reveng'd his mother's fires.
Connection of this Fable with the former,
Ceyx, the son of Lucifer (the morning far) and king of Trachin in Thessaly, was married to Alcyone daughter to Æolus god of the winds. Both the husband and the wife loved each other with an entire affection. Dædalion, the elder brother of Ceyx, whom he fucceeded, having been turned into a falcon by Apollo, and Chione, Dadalion's daughter, sain by Diana, Ceyx prepares a ship to fail to Claros, there to consult the oracle of Apollo, and (as Ovid seems to intimate) to enquire how the anger of the Gods might be atoned.
"Hese prodigies affect the pious prince,
But more perplex’d with those that happen'd fince, He purposes to seek the Clarian God, Avoiding Delphos, his more fam'd abode ; Since Phlegian robbers made unsafe the road, Yet could not he from her he lov'd so well, The fatal voyage, he resoly'd, conceal: But when she saw her lord prepar’d to part, A deadly cold ran fhiv'ring to her heart: Her faded cheeks are chang'd to boxen hue, And in her eyes the tears are ever new : She thrice essay'd to speak; her accents hung, And faltring dy'd unfinish'd on her tongue, Or vanilh’d into sighs: with long delay Her voice return'd; and found the wonted way,