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“ Stay, lilly bird, th' ill-natur'd talk refuse,
My foolish honesty was all my crime ; “ Then hear my story. Once upon a time, “ The two-shap'd Ericthonius had his birth “ (Without a mother) from the teeming earth; - Minerva nurs'd him, and the infant laid “ Wirhin a chelt, of twining osiers made. “ The daughters of king Cecrops undertook " To guard the chest, commanded not to look 66 On what was hid within. I stood to see “ The charge obey'd, perch'd on a neighbouring tree. « The fifters Pandrosos 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 light:
“ 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, “ But, for my pains, discarded and disgrac’d, «. The frowning goddess drove me from her light, “ And for her favourite chose the bird of night. “ Be then no tell-tale; for I think my wrong “ Enough to teach a bird to hold her tongue.
“ But you, perhaps, may think I was remov'd, “ As never by the heavenly maid beloy'd; " But I was lov'd; ask Pallas if I lie; « Though 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, 66 And offer'd førce when all his arts were yain ; « Swift he pursued: I ran along the strand, « Till, spent and weary'd on the sinking sand, “ I Thriek'd aloud, with cries I fill'd 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 rife ; “ 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 Minerya's virgin bird : « Prefer'd in vain! I now am in disgrace : “ Nyetimene the owl enjoys my place.
« On her incestuous life I need not dwen « (In Lesbos still the horrid tale they tell); " And of her dire amours you must have heard, " For which the now does penar.ce in a bird,
« That, conscious of her shame, avoids the light,
The raven, ury'd by such impertinence,
The god was wroth ; the colour left his look,
The god diffolves in pity at her death;
With fighs and groans her obsequies he kept,
But, lest his offspring should her fate partake,
gave 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 Thore, The nymph Chariclo to the centaur bore, With hair disheveld 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 facred 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 unconfind ! “ 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 “ Rise up victorious, and be twice a god. " And thou, my fire, not destin’d by thy birth " To turn to dust, and mix with common earth, “ How wilt thou tofs, and rave, and long to die, “ And quit thy claim to immortality ; “When thou shalt feel, inrag'd with inward pains, “ The Hydra's venom rankling in thy veins ? “ The gods in pity shall contract thy date ; " And give thée over to the power of fate.”
Thus, entering into destiny, the maid The secrets of offended Jove betray'd : More had the still to say ; but now appears Oppress’d with fobs and fighs, 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, But in shrill accents and mis-shapen words Pours forth such hideous wailings, as declare The human form confounded in the mare : Till by degrees, accomplish'd in the beast, She neigh'd outright, and all the feed expreft.