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Rife, wretched widow, rise, nor undeplor'd
Permit my ghost to pass the Stygian ford:
Butrise, prepar'd, in black, to mourn thy perish'd lord.
Thus said the player-god; and adding art
Of voice and gefture, so perform’d his part,
She thought (so like her love the shade appears)
That Ceyx spake the words, and Ceyx shed the tears.
She groan'd, her inward soul with grief opprest,
She figh’d, she wept ; and sleeping beat her breaft:
Then stretch'd her arms t'embrace his body bare,
Her clasping arms inclose but empty air :
: At this not yet awake the cry'd, Oh stay,
One is our fate, and common is our way!
So dreadful was the dream, fo loud she spoke,
That starting sudden up, the slumber broke;
Then caft her eyes around in hope to view
Her vanish'd lord, and find the vision true :
For now the maids, who waited her commands,
Ran in with lighted tapers in their hands.
Tir'd with the search, not finding what she seeks,
With cruel blows the pounds her blubber'd cheeks;
Then from her beaten breast the linen tare,
And cut the golden caul that bound her hair:
Her nurse demands the cause; with louder cries
She prosecutes her griefs, and thus replies.
No more Alcyone, she suffer'd death
With her lov'd lord, when Ceyx loit his breath :
No flatt'ry, no false comfort, give me none,
My shipwreck'd Ceyx is for ever gone;
I saw, I saw him manifest in view,
His voice, his figure, and his geflores knew;
His luftre loft, and ev'ry living grace,
Yet I retain'd the features of his face ;
Tho' with pale cheeks, wet beard, and dropping hair,
None but my Ceyx could appear so fair:
I would have strain'd him with a strict embrace,
But thro' my arms he slipt, and vanilh'd from the place:
There, ev'n juft there he stood; and as she spoke,
Where last the spectre was, she cast her look:
Fain would she hope, and gaz'd upon the ground
If any printed footsteps might be found.
Then figh'd and said ; This I too well foreknew,
And my prophetic fear presag'd too true:
'Twas what I begg’d, when with a bleeding heart
I took my leave, and suffer'd thee to part,
Or I to go along, or thou to stay,
Never, ah never to divide our way!
Happier for me, that all our hours afsign'd
Together we had liv'd; ev'n not in death disjoin'd!
So had my Ceyx still been living here,
Or with my Ceyx I had perish'd there :
Now I die absent, in the vast profound ;
And me without myself the seas have drown'd:
The storms were not so cruel; should I strive
To lengthen life, and such a grief survive;
But neither will I strive, nor wretched thee
In death forsake, but keep thee company.
If not one common sepulchre contains
Our bodies, or one urn our last remains,
Yet Ceyx and Alcyone shall join,
Their names remember'd in one common line.
No farther voice her mighty grief affords,
For fighs come rushing in betwixt her words,
And ftopt her tongue; but what her tongue deny'd,
Soft tears and groans, and dumb complaints fupply'd.
'Twas morning ; to the port she takes her way,
And stands upon the margin of the sea;
That place, that very spot of ground the fought,
Or thither by her destiny was brought,
Where last he stood : and while she sadly said,
'Twas here he left me, ling'ring here delay'd
His parting kiss; and there his anchors weigh’d;
Thus speaking, while her thoughts past actions trace,
And call to mind, admonish'd by the place,
Sharp at her utmost ken the cast her eyes,
And somewhat floating from afar descries ;
It seem'd a corps adrift, to distant fight,
But at a distance who could judge aright?
It wafted nearer yet, and then she knew
That what before she but surmis’d, was true :
A corps it was, but whose it was, unknown,
Yet mov’d, howe'er, she made the case her own :
Took the bad omen of a shipwreck'd man,
As for a stranger wept, and thus began.
Poor wretch, on stormy seas to lose thy life,
Unhappy thou, but more thy widow'd wife!
At this the paus'd; for now the flowing tide
Had brought the body nearer to the fide:
The more the looks, the more her fears increase,
At nearer fight; and she's herself the less :
Now driv'n afhore, and at her feet it lies,
She knows too much, in knowing whom she fees :
Her husband's corps ; at this the loudly shrieks,
'Tis he, 'tis he, she cries, and tears her cheeks,
Her hair, her veft, and stooping to the sands,
About his neck she cast her trembling hands,
And is it thus, o dearer than my life,
Thus, thus return'st thou to thy longing wife!
She said, and to the neighb’ring mole she ftrode,
(Rais’d there to break th' incursions of the flood ;)
Headlong from hence to plunge herself she springs,
But thoots along supported on her wings;
A bird new-made about the banks she plies,
Not far from shore ; and short excursions tries ;
Nor seeks in air her humble flight to raise,
Content to skim the surface of the feas;
Her bill, tho' slender, sends a creaking noise,
And imitates a lamentable voice :
Now lighting where the bloodless body lies,
She with a fun'ral note renews her cries.
At all her stretch her little wings the spread,
And with her feather'd arms embrac'd the dead :
Then flickering to his pallid lips, the strove
To print a kiss, the last essay of love :
Whether the vital touch reviv'd the dead,
Or that the moving waters rais’d his head
To meet the kiss, the vulgar doubt alone;
For sure a present miracle was shown,
The Gods their shapes to winter-birds translate,
But both obnoxious to their former fate.
Their conjugal afft ction still is tyd,
And still the mournful race is multiply'd;
They bill, they tread; Alcyone compress'd
Seven days fits brooding on her floating neft :
A wintry queen : her fire at length is kind,
Calms ev'ry storm, and hufhes ev'ry wind :
Prepares his empire for his daughter's ease,
And for his hatching nephews smooths the seas,
ÆsAcus transformed into a Cormorant.
From the Eleventh Book of
Hese some old man fees wanton in the air,
And praises the unhappy constant pair. Then to his friend the long-neck'd Corm'rant shows, The former tale reviving others woes : That sable bird, he cries, which cuts the flood With slender legs, was once of royal blood; His ancestors from mighty Tros proceed, The brave Laomedon, and Ganymede, (Whose beauty tempted Jove to steal the boy) And Priam, hapless prince! who fell with Troy: Himself was Hector's brother, and (had fate But givin this hopeful youth a longer date) Perhaps had rival'd warlike Hector's worth, Tho' on the mother's side of meaner birth; Fair Alyxothoé, a country maid, Bare Æsacus by stealth in Ida's shade. He fled the noisy town, and pompous court, Lov'd the lone hills, and simple rural sport, And seldom to the city would resort. Yet he no rustic clownishness profest, Nor was soft love a stranger to his breast : The youth had long the nymph Hesperia wood, Oft thro' the thicket, or the mead pursu'd : Her haply on her father's bank he spy'd, While fearless she her silver tresses dry'd ; Away she fled: not ftags with half such speed, Before the prowling wolf, scud o'er the mead; Not ducks, when they the fafer flood forsake, Pursu'd by hawks, so swift regain the lake.