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« Stay, silly bird, th' ill-natur'd task refuse,
My foolish honesty was all my crime ; “ Then hear my story. Once upon a time, “ The two-thap'd Eriethonius had his birth “ (Without a mother) from the teeming 'earth; 5 Minerva nurs'd him, and the infant laid “ Wirhin a chelt, of twining ofiers made. « The daughters of king Cecrops undertook «? To guard the chest, commanded not to look « On what was hid within. I ftood to see “ The charge obey'd, perch'd on a neighbouring tice. “ The fifters Pandrofos and Hersè keep « The strict command ; Aglauros needs would peep, “ And saw the monstrous infant in a fright, « And call'd her sisters to the hideous fight :
“ A boy's soft shape did to the waist prevail, .“ But the boy ended in a dragon's tail.
« I told the stern Minerva all that país'd,
Enough to teach a bird to hold her tongue.
“ But you, perhaps, may think I was remov'd, “ As never by the heavenly maid belor'd; “ But I was lov’d; ask Pallas if I lie; « Thougha Pallas hate me now, he won't deny ;
« For I, whom in a feather'd fhape you view, “ Was once a maid (by heaven the story 's true) “ A blooming maid, and a king's daughter too. « A croud of lovers own'd my beauty's charms; “ My beauty was the cause of all my harms; “ Neptune, as on his shores I went to rove, " Observ'd me in my walks, and fell in love. “ He made his courtship, he confess’d his pain, 6. And offer'd force when all his arts were yain ; « Swift he pursued: I ran along the strand, « Till, spent and weary'd on the sinking sand, « I shriek'd aloud, with cries I fillid the air « To gods and men; nor god nor man was there : “ A virgin goddess heard a virgin's prayer. “ For, as my arms I lifted to the skies, " I saw black feathers from my fingers rise ; “ I strove to fling my garment on the ground; “ My garment turn'd to plumes, and girt me round. “ My hands to beat my naked bosom try; « Nor naked bosom now nor hands had I, “ Lightly I tript, nor weary as before « Sunk in the sand, but skimm’d along the shore; « Till, rising on my wings, I was prefer'd “ To be the chaste Minerva's virgin bird: « Prefer'd in vain! I now am in disgrace: “ Ny&timene the owl enjoys my place.
« On her incestuous life I need not dwell “ (In Lesbos still the horrid tale they tell); “ And of her dire amours you must have heard, “ For which she now does penar.ce in a bird,
« That, conscious of her shame, avoids the light,
The raven, urg'd by such impertinence,
The god was wroth; the colour left his look,
The god dissolves in pity at her death;
With fighs and groans her obsequies he kept,
But, left his offspring should her fate partake,
him to the centaur Chiron's charge :
OCYRRHÖE TRANSFORM'D' TO A MARE. OLD Chiron took the babe with secret joy, Proud of the charge of the celestial boy, His daughter too, whom on the fandy shore, The nymph Chariclo to the centaur bore, With hair dishevel'd on her shoulders, came To see the child, Ocyrrhöe was her name; She knew her father's art, and could rehearse The depths of prophecy in sounding verse. Once, as the sacred infant she survey'd, The god was kindled in the raving maid, And thus she utter'd her prophetic tale ; “ Hail, great physician of the world, all hail; “ Hail, mighty infant, who in years to come “ Shall heal the nations, and defraud the tomb; “ Swift be thy growth! thy triumphs unconfin'd! " Make kingdoms thicker, and increase mankind. “ Thy daring art shall animate the dead, " And draw the thunder on thy guilty head :
" Then shalt thou die ; but from the dark abode
Thus, entering into destiny, the maid The secrets of offended Jove betray'd : More had the still to fay; but now appears Oppress’d with sobs and sighs, and drown'd in tears. “ My voice, says she, is gone, my language fails; “ Through every limb my kindred shape prevails į " Why did the god this fatal gift impart, “ And with prophetic raptures swell my heart ? " What new desires are these? I long to pace “ O'er flowery meadows, and to feed on grass ; « I hasten to a brute, a maid no more; « But why, alas! am I transform'd all o’er ? “ My fire does half a human shape retain,
And in his upper parts preserves the man."
Her tongue no more distinct complaints affords,
The human form confounded in the mare :