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Wide o'er the world in solemn pomp she drew
Her airy chariot, hung with pearly dew:
All birds and beasts lie hush'd : sleep steals away
The wild desires of men, and toils of day,
And brings, descending through the silent air,
A sweet forgetfulness of human care.
Yet no red clouds, with golden borders gay,
Promise the skies the bright return of day;
No faint reflections of the distant light
Streak with long gleams the scattering shades of night:
From the damp earth impervious vapours rise,
Increase the darkness, and involve the skies.
At once the rushing winds with roaring sound
Burst from the' Æolian caves, and rend the ground;
With equal rage their airy quarrel try,
And win by turns the kingdom of the sky :
Bat with a thicker night black Auster shrouds
The heav'ns, and drives on heaps the rolling clouds,
From whose dark womb a rattling tempest pours,
Which the cold north congeals to haily show'rs :
From pole to pole the thunder roars aloud,
And broken lightnings flash from every cloud.
Now smokes with show'rs the misty mountain-ground,
And floated fields lie undistinguish'd round:
The' Inachian streams with headlong fury run,
And Erasinus rolls a deluge on ;
The foaming Lerna swells above its bounds,
And spreads its ancient poisons o'er the grounds :
Where late was dust, now rapid torrents play,
Rush through the mounds, and bear the dams away:
Old limbs of trees, from crackling forests torn,
Are whirl'd in air, and on the winds are borne :
The storm the dark Lycæan groves display'd,
And first to light expos'd the sacred shade.
The' intrepid Theban hears the bursting sky,
Sees yawning rocks in massy fragments fly,
And views astonish'd, from the hills-afar,
The floods descending, and the watery war,
That, driv'n by storms, and pouring o'er the plain,
Swept herds, and hinds, and houses, to the main.
Through the brown horrors of the night he fled,
Nor knows, amaz'd, what doubtful path to tread ; 1
His brother's image to his mind appears,
Inflames his heart with rage, and wings his feet with
So fares the sailor on the stormy main,
When clouds conceal Boötes golden wain,
When not a star its friendly lustre keeps,
Nor trembling Cynthia glimmers on the deeps ;
He dreads the rocks, and shoals, and seas, and skies,
While thunder roars, and lightning round him flies.
Thus strove the chief, on every side distress'd; Thus still his courage with his toils increas'd: With his broad shield oppos’d, he forc'd his way Through thickest woods, and rous'd the beasts of prey; Till he beheld where from Larissa's height The shelving walls reflect a glancing light : Thither with haste the Theban hero flies; On this side Lerna's poisonous water lies, On that Prosymna's grove and temple rise. He pass'd the gates, which then unguarded lay, And to the regal palace bent his way ; On the cold marble, spent with toil, he lies, And waits till pleasing slumbers seal his eyes.
Adrastus here his happy people sways, Bless'd with calm peace in his declining days; By both his parents of descent divinë, Great and Phæbus grac'd his noble line: Heav'n had not crown'd his wishes with a son, But two fair daughters heir'd bis state and throne. To him Apollo (wondrous to relate! But who can pierce into the depths of fate 2) Had sung" Expect thy sons on Argos' shore, A yellow lion and a bristly boar." This long revolv'd in his paternal breast, Sat heavy on his heart, and broke his rest; This, great Amphiaraus! lay hid from thee, Though skill'd in fate and dark futurity. The father's care and prophet's art were vain, For thus did the predicting god ordais.
Lo, hapless Tydeus ! whose ill-fated hand
Had slain his brother, leaves his native land,
And, seiz'd with horror in the shades of night,
Thro' the thick deserts headlong urg'd his flight:
Now by the fury of the tempest driv’n,
He seeks a shelter from the inclement heav'n,
Till, led by fate, the Theban's steps he treads,
And to fair Argos' open courts succeeds.
When thus the chiefs from different lands resort
To' Adrastus' realms and hospitable court,
The king surveys his guests with curious eyes,
And views their arms and habit with surprise.
A lion's yellow skin the Theban wears,
Horrid his mane, and rough with curling hairs;
Such once employ'd Alcides' youthful toils,
Ere yet adorn'd with Nemea's dreadful spoils.
A boar's stiff hide, of Calydonian breed,
Oenides' manly shoulders overspread;
Oblique his tusks, erect his bristles stood,
Alive the pride and terror of the wood.
Struck with the sight, and fix'd in deep amaze,
The king the accomplish'd oracle surveys,
Reveres Apollo's vocal caves, and owns
The guiding godhead and his future sons;
D'er all his bosom secret transports reign,
And a glad horror shoots through every vein :
To heav'u he lifts his hands, erects his sight,
And thus invokes the silent queen of night :-
“Goddess of shades! beneath whose gloomy reign
Yon spangled arch glows with the starry train ;*
You who the cares of heav'n and earth allay,
Till nature, quicken'd by the inspiring ray,
Wakes to new vigour with the rising day :
O thou ! who freest me from my doubtful state,
Long lost and wilder'd in the maze of fate,
Be present still, 0 goddess ! in our aid ;
Proceed, and 'firm those omens thou hast made.
We to thy name our annual rites will pay,
And on thy altars, sacrifices lay ;
The sable flock shall fall beneath the stroke,
And fill thy temples with a grateful smoke.
Hail ! faithful Tripos ! hail ! ye dark abodes
Of awful Phæbus ; I confess the gods !"
Thus, seiz'd with sacred fear, the monarch pray'd ;
Then to his inner court the guests convey'd,
Where yet thin fumes from dying sparks arise,
And dust yet white upon each altar lies,
The relics of a former sacrifice.
The king once more the solemn rites requires,
And bids renew the feasts and wake the fires.
His train obey ; while all the courts around
With noisy care and various tumult sound.
Embroider'd purple clothes the golden beds;
This slave the floor, and that the table spreads ;
A third dispels the darkness of the night,
And fills depending lamps with beans of light;
Here loaves in canisters are pild on high,
And there in flames the slaughter'd victims fly.
Sublime in regal state Adrastus shone,
Stretch'd on rich carpets on his ivory throne;
A lofty couch receives each princely guest;
Around, at awful distance, wait the rest.
And now the king, his royal feast to grace, Acestis calls, the guardian of his race, Who first their youth in arts of virtue traio'd, And their ripe years in modest grace maintain'd; Then softly whisper'd in her faithful ear, And bade his daughters at the rites appear. When from the close apartments of the night The royal nymphs approach divinely bright, Such was Diana's, such Minerva's face, Nor shine their beauties with superior grace, But that in these a milder charm endears, And less of terror in their looks appears. As on the heroes first they cast their eyes, O'er their fair cheeks the glowing blushes rise ; Their downcast looks a decent shame confest, Then on their father's reverend features rest.
The banquet done, the monarch gives the sign To fill the goblet bigb with sparkling wine, Which Danaus us'd in sacred rites of old, With sculpture grac'd, and rough with rising gold: Here to the clouds victorious Perseus flies, Medusa seems to move her languid eyes, And, ev'o in gold, turns paler as she dies : There from the chase Jove's towering eagle bears, On golden wings, the Phrygian to the stars ; Still as he rises in the etherial beight, His-native mountains lessen to his sight, While all his sad companions upward gaze, Fix'd on the glorious scene in wild amaze, And the swift hounds, affrighted as he flies, Run to the shade, and bark against the skies.
This golden bowl with generous juice was crowu'd, The first libation sprinkled on the ground, By turns on each celestial pow'r they call; With Phæbus' name resounds the vaulted hall. The courtly train, the strangers, and the rest, Crown'd with chaste laurel, and with garlands drest, While with rich gums the fuming altars blaze, Salute the god in numerous hymns of praise.
Then thus the king : “ Perhaps, my noble guests! These honour'd altars, and these annual feasts To bright Apollo's awful name design'd, Unknown, with wonder may perplex your mind. Great was the cause : our old solemnities From no blind zeal or fond tradition rise ; But sav'd from death, our Argives yearly pay These grateful honours to the god of day.
“ When by a thousand darts the Python slain With orbs unroll'd lay covering all the plain, (Transfix'd as.o'er Castalia's streams he hung, And suck'd new poisons with his triple tongue) To Argos' realms the victor god resorts, And enters old Crotopos' humble courts. This rural prince one only daughter bless'd, That all the charms of blooming youth possess'd;