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And straight a voice, while yet a voice remains, Thus through the trembling boughs in sighs com
plains : • If to the wretched any faith be given I swear by all th' unpitying powers of heaven, No wilful crime this heavy vengeance bred; In mutual innocence our lives we led : , If this be false, let these new greens decay, Let sounding axes lop my limbs away, And crackling flames on all my honours prey ! But from my branching arms this infant bear, Let some kind nurse supply a mother's care : And to his mother let him oft be led, Sport in her shades, and in her shades be fed ; Teach him, when first his infant voice shall frame Imperfect words, and lisp his mother's name, To hail this tree; and say, with weeping eyes, Within this plant my hapless parent lies : And when in youth he seeks the shady woods. Oh, let him fly the crystal lakes and floods, . Nor touch the fatal flowers; but warn’d by rac, Believe a goddess shrin'd in every tree. My sire, my sister, and my spouse, farewel! If in your breasts or love or pity dwell, Protect your plant, nor let my branches feel The browsing cattle, or the piercing steel. Farewel! and since I cannot bend to join My lips to yours, advance at least to mine. My son, thy mother's parting kiss receive, While yet thy mother has a kiss to give. I can no more; the creeping rind invades My closing lips, and hides my head in shades: Remove your hands; the bark shall soon suffice Without their aid to seal these dying eyes.'
She ceas'd at once to speak, and ceas’d to be ; And all the nymph was lost within the tree; Yet latent life through her new branches reign'd. And long the plant a human heat retain'd.
VERTUMNUS AND POMONA.
THE fair Pomona flourish'd in his reign :
I Of all the virgins of the sylvan train,
None taught the trees a nobler race to bear,
Or more improv'd the vegetable care.
To her the shady grove, the flowery field,
The streams and fountains, no delights could yield;
'Twas all her joy the ripening fruits to tend,
And see the boughs with happy burthens bend.
The hook she bore instead of Cynthia's spear,
To lop the growth of the luxuriant year,
To decent form the lawless shoots to bring,
And teach th' obedient branches where to spring.
Now the eleft rind inserted graffs receives,
And yields an offspring more than nature gives;
Now sliding streams the thirsty plants renew,
And feed their fibres with reviving dew.
These cares alone her virgin breast employ,
Averse from Venas and the nuptial joy.
Her private orchards, wall'd on every side,
To lawless sylvans all access denied.
How oft the satyrs and the wanton fawns,
Who haunt the forest, or frequent the lawns,
The gad whose ensigns scares the birds of prey,
And old Silenus, youthful in decay,
Employ'd their wiles and unavailing care,
To pass the fences, and surprise the fair !
Like these, Vertumnus own'd his faithful flame.
Like these, rejected by the scornful dame.
To gain her sight a thousand forms he wears;
And first a reaper from the field appears,
Sweating he walks, while loads of golden grain
O'ercharge the shoulders of the seeming swain. -
Oft o'er his back a crooked scythe is laid,
And wreaths of hay his sun-burnt temples shade;
Oft in his harden'd hand a goad he bears,
Like one who late unyok'd the sweating steers.
Sometimes his pruning-hook corrects the vines,
And the loose stragglers to make their confines.
Now gathering what the bounteous year allows,
He pulls ripe apples from the bending boughs.
A soldier now, he with his sword appears;
A fisher next, his trembling angle bears.
Each shape he varies, and each art he tries,
On her bright charms to feast his longing eyes.
A female form at last Vertumnus wears,
With all the marks of reverend age appears,
His temples thinly spread with silver hairs :
Propp'd on his staff, and stooping as he goes,
A painted mitre shades his furrow'd brows.
The god, in this decrepit form array'd,
The gardens enter'd, and the fruit survey'd, - >
And Happy you! he thus address'd the maid, )
• Whose charms as far all other nymphs out shine,
As other gardens are excell'd by thine!'
Then kiss'd the fair (his kisses warmer grow
Than such as women on their sex bestow);
Then, plac'd beside her on the flow'ry ground,
Beheld the trees with autumn's bounty crown'd.
An elm was near, to whose embraces led,
The curling vine her swelling clusters spread :
He view'd her twining branches with delight,
And prais'd the beauty of the pleasing sight.
Yet this tall elm, but for his vine,' he said, • Had stood neglected, and a barren shade; And this fair vine, but that her arms surround Her marry'd elm, had crept along the ground.
Ah, beauteous maid! let this example move
Your mind, averse from all the joys of love :
Deign to be lov'd, and every heart subdue!
What nymph could e'er attract such crowds as you?
Not she whose beauty urg'd the Centaur's arms,
Ulysses' queen, nor Helen's fatal charms.
Ev'n now, when silent scorn is all they gain,
A thousand court you, though they court in vain,
A thousand sylvans, demigods, and gods,
That haunt our mountains, and our Alban woods.
But if you'll prosper, mark what I advise,
Whom age and long experience render wise,
And one whose tender care is far above
All that these lovers ever felt of love
(Far more than ere can by yourself be guess'd),
Fix on Vertumnus, and reject the rest.
For his firm faith I dare engage my own,
Scarce to himself, himself is better known.
To distant lands Vertumnus never roves;
Like you, contented with his nativo groves;
Nor at first sight, like most, admires the fair;
For you he lives; and you alone shall share
His last affection, as his early care.
Besides, he's lovely far above the rest,
With youth immortal, and with beauty blest.
Add, that he varies every shape with ease,
And tries all forms that may Pomona please.
But what should most excite a mutual flame,
Your rural cares and pleasures are the same.
To him your orchard's early fruit are due
(A pleasing offering when 'tis made by you),
He values these; but yet, alas! complains,
That still the best and dearest gift remains.
Not the fair fruit that on yon branches glows
With that ripe red th' autumnal sun bestows;
Nor tasteful herbs that in these gardens rise,
Which the kind soil with milky sap supplies;
You, only you, can move the god's desire;
Oh, crown so constant and so pure a fise!
Let soft compassion touch your gentle mind;
Think, 'tis Vertumnus begs you to be kind:
So may no frost, when early buds appear,
Destroy the promise of the youthful year;
Nor winds, when first your florid orchard blows,
Shake the light blossoms from their blasted boughs!"
This when the various god has urg'd in vain,
He straight assum'd his native form again;
Such, and so bright an aspect now he bears,
As when through clouds th' emerging sun appears,
And, thence exerting his refulgent ray,
Dispels the darkness, and reveals the day.
Force he prepar'd, but check'd the rash desiga;
For when, appearing in a form divine,
The nymph surveys him, and beholds the grace
Of charming features, and a youthful face ;
In her soft breast consenting passions move,
And the warm maid confess'd a mutual love.