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He fought, but in the dark tempestuous night
He knew not whither to direct his fight.
So whirl the seas, such darkness blinds the sky,
That the black night receives a deeper dye.
The giddy fhip ran round; the tempeft tore
Her mast, and over-board the rudder bore.
One billow mounts; and with a scornful brow,
Proud of her conquest gain'd, insults the waves below;
Nor lighter falls, than if fome giant tore
Pindus and Athos, with the freight they bore,
And toss’d on seas: press’d with the pond'rous blow
Down finks the ship within th’abyss below :
Down with the vessel sink into the main
The many, never more to rise again.
Some few on scatter'd planks with fruitless care
Lay hold, and swim, but while they swim, despair.
Ev’n he who late a sceptre did command
Now grasps a floating fragment in his hand,
And while he struggles on the stormy main,
Invokes his father, and his wife, in vain ;
his comfort is his greater care ;
Alcyone he names amidst his pray'r,
Names as a charm against the waves, and wind ;
Most in his mouth, and ever in his mind :
Tir'd with his toil, all hopes of safety past,
From pray’rs to wishes he descends at last ;
That his dead body wafted to the sands,
Might have its burial from her friendly hands.
As oft as he can catch a gulph of air,
above the feas, he names the fair,
And ev'n when plung'd beneath, on her he raves,
Murm'ring Alcyone below the waves :
At last a falling billow stops his breath,
Breaks o'er his head, and whelms him underneath.
Bright Lucifer unlike himself appears
That night, his heav'nly form obscur'd with tears ;
And fince he was forbid to leave the skies,
He muffled with a cloud his mournful eyes.
Mean time Alcyone (his fate unknown)
Computes how many nights he had been gone,
Observes the waning muon with hourly view,
Numbers her age, and wishes for a new;
Against the promis'd time provides with care,
And hastens in the woof the robes he was to wear :
And for herself employs another loom,
New dress’d to meet her lord returning home,
Flate’ring her heart with joys that never were to come:
She fum’d the temples with an od'rous flame,
And oft before the sacred altars came,
for him, who was an empty name.
All Pow'rs implor’d, but far above the rest
To Juno she her pious vows address’d,
Her much-lov'd lord from perils to protect,
And safe o’er seas his voyage to direct :
Then pray'd that she might ftill possess his heart,
And no pretending rival share a part;
This last petition heard of all her pray’r,
The rest difpers’d by winds were lost in air.
But she, the Goddess of the nuptial bed.
Tird with her vain devotions for the dead,
Resolv'd the tainted hand should be repellid,
Which incense offer'd, and her altar held:
Then Iris thus bespoke ; Thou faithful maid,
By whom the queen’s commands are well convey'd,
Haste to the house of sleep, and bid the God,
Who rules the night by visions with a nod,
Prepare a dream, in figure and in form
Resembling him who perill'd in the storm :
This form before Alcyone present,
To make her certain of the sad event.
Indu'd with robes of various hue the flies, And flying draws an arch, (a segment of the skies :)
Then leaves her bending bow, and from the steep
Descends to search the filent house of sleep.
Near the Cimmerians, in his dark abode
Deep in a cavern, dwells the drowsy God;
Whose gloomy mansion nor the rising fun,
Nor setting, visits, nor the lightsome noon:
But lazy vapours round the region fly,
Perpetual twilight, and a doubtful sky;
No crowing cock does there his wings display,
Nor with his horny bill provoke the day:
Nor watchful dogs, nor the more wakeful geese,
Disturb with nightly noise the sacred peace:
Nor beast of nature, nor the tame are nigh,
Nor trees with tempests rock'd, nor human cry;
But safe repose without an air of breath
Dwells here, and a dumb quiet next to death,
An arm of Lethe, with a gentle flow
Arising upwards from the rock below,
The palace moats, and o'er the pebbles creeps,
And with soft murmurs calls the coming sleeps ;
Around its entry nodding poppies grow,
And all cool fimples that sweet rest bestow;
Night from the plants their sleepy virtue drains,
And paling sheds it on the silent plains :
No door there was th’unguarded house to keep,
On creeking hinges turn'd, to break his sleep.
But in the gloomy court was rais’d a bed,
Stuff?d with black plumes, and on an ebon-sed:
Black was the cov’ring too, where lay the God
And slept supine, his limbs display'd abroad:
About his head fantastick visions fly,
Which various images of things fupply,
And mock their forms; the leaves on trees not more,
Nor bearded ears in fields, nor sands upon the fore.
The virgin entring bright indulg’d the day
To the brown cave, and brush'd the drcains away :
The God disturb’d with this new glare of light,
Caft sudden on his face, unseal'd his fight,
And rais’d his tardy head, which sunk again,
And finking on his bosom knock'd his chin:
At length shook off himself; and ask'd the dame,
(And asking yawn'd) for what intent she came ?
To whom the Goddess thus: O sacred Rest,
Sweet pleasing sleep, of all the pow'rs the best !
O peace of mind, repairer of decay,
Whose balms renew the limbs to labours of the day,
Care shuns thy soft approach, and fallen flies away!
Adorn a dream, expressing human form,
The shape of him who suffer'd in the storm,
And send it Aitting to the Trachin court,
The wreck of wretched Ceyx to report :
Before his queen bid the pale spectre stand,
Who begs a vaiñ relief at Juno’s hand.
She said, and scarce awake her eyes could keep;
Unable to support the fumes of fleep:
But fed returning by the way she went,
And swerv'd along her bow with swift afcent.
The God uneasy till he slept again,
Resolv'd at once to rid himself of pain ;
And, tho' against his custom, call'd aloud,
Exciting Morpheus from the sleepy crowd:
Morpheus of all his numerous train express'd
The shape of man, and imitated best ;
The walk, the words, the gesture could supply,
The habit miinic, and the mien bely;
Plays well, but all his action is confin'd;
Extending not beyond our human kind.
Another birds, and beasts, and dragons apes,
And dreadful images, and monster shapes:
This dæmon, Icelos, in heaven's high hall
The Gods have nam’d; but men Phobeter call :
A third is Phantasus, whose actions roll
On meaner thoughts, and things devoid of soul;
Earth, fruits, and flow'rs, he represents in dreams,
And solid rocks unmov'd, and running streams :
These three to kings and chiefs their scenes display,
The rest before th'ignoble commons play:
Of these the chosen Morpheus is dispatch'd :
Which done, the lazy monarch overwatch'd
Down from his propping elbow drops his head,
Diffolv'd in sleep, and shrinks within his bed.
Darkling the dæmon glides for flight prepar'd,
So soft that scarce his fanning wings are heard.
To Trachin, swift as thought, the flitting shade
Through air his momentary journey made :
Then lays aside the steerage of his wings,
Forsakes his proper form, assumes the king's ;
And pale as death, despoild of his array,
Into the queen's apartment takes his way,
And stands before the bed at dawn of day :
Unmov'd his eyes, and wet his beard appears ;
And shedding vain, but seeming real tears;
The briny water dropping from his hairs;
Then staring on her, with a ghaftly look
And hollow voice, he thus the Queen bespoke.
Know'lt thou not me! Not yet, unhappy wife ?
Or are my features perith'd with my life?
Look once again, and for thy husband lost,
Lo all that's left of him, thy husband's ghoft!
Thy vows for my return were all in vain ;
The stormy south o'ertook us in the main ;
And never halt thou see thy living lord again.
Bear witness, heaven, I call’d on thee in death,
And while I call’d, a billow stopp'd my breath :
Think not that flying fame' reports my fate;
I present, I appear, and my own wreck relate.