Sidor som bilder

A river here he viewed so lovely bright,
It showed the bottom in a fairer light,
Nor kept a sand concealed from human sight.
The stream produced nor slimy ooze, nor weeds,
Nor miry rushes, nor the spiky reeds;

But dealt enriching moisture all around,

[ocr errors]

The fruitful banks with cheerful verdure crowned,
And kept the spring eternal on the ground.
A nymph presides, nor practised in the chase,
Nor skilful at the bow, nor at the race;
Of all the blue-eyed daughters of the main,
The only stranger to Diana's train:
Her sisters often, as 'tis said, would cry,
"Fie, Salmacis, what always idle! fie,
Or take thy quiver, or thy arrows seize,
And mix the toils of hunting with thy ease.'
Nor quiver she nor arrows e'er would seize,
Nor mix the toils of hunting with her ease.
But oft would bathe her in the crystal tide,
Oft with a comb her dewy locks divide;
Now in the limpid streams she viewed her face,
And drest her image in the floating glass:
On beds of leaves she now reposed her limbs,
Now gathered flowers that grew about her streams:
And then by chance was gathering, as she stood
To view the boy, and longed for what she viewed.
Fain would she meet the youth with hasty feet,
She fain would meet him, but refused to meet
Before her looks were set with nicest care,
And well deserved to be reputed fair.

"Bright youth," she cries," whom all thy features prove A god, and, if a god, the god of love;

But if a mortal, blest thy nurse's breast,

Blest are thy parents, and thy sisters blest:

But, oh! how blest! how more than blest thy bride,

Allied in bliss, if any yet allied.

If so, let mine the stolen enjoyments be;

If not, behold a willing bride in me.”

The boy knew nought of love, and, touched with shame,

He strove, and blusht, but still the blush became :

In rising blushes still fresh beauties rose;

The sunny side of fruit such blushes shows,

And such the moon, when all her silver white
Turns in eclipses to a ruddy light.
The nymph still begs, if not a nobler bliss,
A cold salute at least, a sister's kiss:
And now prepares to take the lovely boy
Between her arms. He, innocently coy,
Replies, "Or leave me to myself alone,

You rude, uncivil nymph, or I'll begone."


Fair stranger then," says she, "it shall be so;' And, for she feared his threats, she feigned to go; But hid within a covert's neighbouring green, She kept him still in sight, herself unseen. The boy now fancies all the danger o'er, And innocently sports about the shore, Playful and wanton to the stream he trips, And dips his foot, and shivers as he dips. The coolness pleased him, and with eager haste His airy garments on the banks he cast; His godlike features, and his heavenly hue, And all his beauties were exposed to view. His naked limbs the nymph with rapture spies, While hotter passions in her bosom rise, Flush in her cheeks, and sparkle in her eyes. She longs, she burns to clasp him in her arms, And looks, and sighs, and kindles at his charms. Now all undrest upon the banks he stood, And clapt his sides and leapt into the flood: His lovely limbs the silver waves divide, His limbs appear more lovely through the tide ; As lilies shut within a crystal case,

Receive a glossy lustre from the glass.

"He's mine, he's all my own," the Naïad cries,
And flings off all, and after him she flies.
And now she fastens on him as he swims,

And holds him close, and wraps about his limbs.
The more the boy resisted, and was coy,
The more she clipt and kist the struggling boy.
So when the wriggling snake is snatcht on high
In eagle's claws, and hisses in the sky,
Around the foe his twirling tail he flings,

And twists her legs, and writhes about her wings.

The restless boy still obstinately strove
To free himself, and still refused her love.
Amidst his limbs she kept her limbs entwined,

"And why, coy youth," she cries, "why thus unkind!
Oh may the gods thus keep us ever joined!
Oh may we never, never part again!"

So prayed the nymph, nor did she pray in vain :
For now she finds him, as his limbs she prest,
Grow nearer still, and nearer to her breast;
Till, piercing each the other's flesh, they run
Together, and incorporate in one:

Last in one face are both their faces joined,
As when the stock and grafted twig combined
Shoot up the same, and wear a common rind :
Both bodies in a single body mix,

A single body with a double sex.

The boy, thus lost in woman, now surveyed
The river's guilty stream, and thus he prayed.
(He prayed, but wondered at his softer tone,
Surprised to hear a voice but half his own,)
You parent gods, whose heavenly names I bear,
Hear your Hermaphrodite, and grant my prayer;
Oh grant, that whomsoe'er these streams contain.
If man he entered, he may rise again

Supple, unsinewed, and but half a man!

The heavenly parents answered, from on high,
Their two-shaped son, the double votary;
Then gave a secret virtue to the flood,

And tinged its source to make his wishes good.





THE story of Phaeton is told with a greater air of majesty and grandeur than any other in all Ovid. It is, indeed, the most important subject he treats of, except the deluge; and

I cannot but believe that this is the conflagration he hints at in the first book.

Esse quoque in fatis reminiscitur affore tempus

Quo mare, quo tellus, correptaque regia cœli
Ardeat, et mundi moles operosa laboret ;

(though the learned apply those verses to the future burning of the world,) for it fully answers that description, if the Cœli miserere tui, circumspice utrumque,

Fumat uterque polus.

Fumat uterque polus-comes up to correptaque regia cœli-Besides, it is Ovid's custom to prepare the reader for a following story, by giving such intimations of it in a foregoing one, which was more particularly necessary to be done before he led us into so strange a story as this is he is now upon. P. 87, 1. 7.-For in the portal, &c.] We have here the picture of the universe drawn in little.

Balænarumque prementem

Ægeona suis immunia terga lacertis.

Ægeon makes a diverting figure in it.

Facies non omnibus una

Nec diversa tamen: qualem decet esse sororum.

The thought is very pretty, of giving Doris and her daughters
such a difference in their looks as is natural to different
sons, and yet such a likeness as showed their affinity.

Terra viros, urbesque gerit, sylvasque, ferasque,
Fluminaque, et nymphas, et cætera numina ruris.


The less important figures are well huddled together in the promiscuous description at the end, which very well represents what painters call a group.

Circum caput omne micantes

Deposuit radios; propiusque accedere jussit.

P. 88, 1. 21. And flung the blaze, &c.] It gives us a great image of Phoebus, that the youth was forced to look on him at a distance, and not able to approach him till he had lain1

[ocr errors]


1 Had lain aside.] He uses lain for laid very improperly here and elsewhere, on the idea, I suppose, that the verb lay has two perfect participles; just as the verb load has loaded and loaden. But the fact is otherwise and the reason is not far to seek. The double d in the regular participle loaded," having an ill sound, the ear gradually introduces loaden, which our nicer writers, and amongst the rest our author, prefers to loaded, though the last is not entirely disused. There was not the same reason for changing laid to lain; and the use has never prevailed: if it had, “had lain aside" is, by accident, better than "had laid aside;

aside the circle of rays that cast such a glory about his head. And, indeed, we may every where observe in Ovid, that he never fails of a due loftiness in his ideas, though he wants it in his words. And this I think infinitely better than to have sublime expressions and mean thoughts, which is generally the true character of Claudian and Statius. But this is not considered by them who run down Ovid in the gross, for a low, middle way of writing. What can be more simple and unadorned than his description of Enceladus in the sixth book?

Nititur ille quidem, pugnatque resurgere sæpe,
Dextra sed Ausonio manus est subjecta Peloro,
Læva Pachyne tibi, Lilibæo crura premuntur,
Degravat Ætna caput, sub quâ resupinus arenas
Ejectat, flammamque fero vomit ore Typhæus.

But the image we have here is truly great and sublime, of a giant vomiting out a tempest of fire, and heaving up all Sicily, with the body of an island upon his breast, and a vast promontory on either arm.

There are few books that have had worse commentators on them than Ovid's Metamorphoses. Those of the graver sort have been wholly taken up in the mythologies, and think they have appeared very judicious, if they have shown us out of an old author that Ovid is mistaken in a pedigree, or has turned such a person into a wolf that ought to have been made a tiger. Others have employed themselves on what never entered into the poet's thoughts, in adapting a dull moral to every story, and making the persons of his poems to be only nicknames for such virtues or vices: particularly the pious commentator, Alexander Ross, has dived deeper into our author's design than any of the rest; for he discovers in him the greatest mysteries of the Christian religion, and finds almost in every page some typical representation of the world, the flesh, and the devil. But if these writers have gone too deep, others have been wholly employed in the surface, most of them serving only to help out a school-boy in the construing part; or if they go out of their way, it is only to mark out the gnome of the author, as they call them, which are generally the heaviest pieces of a

and that meliority of sound induced, no doubt, our delicate writer, who was all ear, to prefer " lain," in this place, to laid, without reflecting that the established practice was, for good reason, against him.-" Lain" is, properly, the perfect participle of lie—laid, of lay.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »