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Oft did she call on death, as oft decreed,
The god caressed, and for admission prayed,
As when a cancer in the body feeds,
When now the god his fury had allayed,
"My trusty Hermes, by whose ready aid Thy sire's commands are through the world conveyed, Resume thy wings, exert their utmost force, And to the walls of Sidon speed thy course; There find a herd of heifers wandering o'er The neighbouring hill, and drive them to the shore." Thus spoke the god, concealing his intent. The trusty Hermes on his message went,
And found the herd of heifers wandering o'er
The dignity of empire laid aside,
(For love but ill agrees with kingly pride,)
Agenor's royal daughter, as she played Among the fields, the milk-white bull surveyed, And viewed his spotless body with delight, And at a distance kept him in her sight. At length she plucked the rising flowers, and fed The gentle beast, and fondly stroked his head. He stood well pleased to touch the charming fair, But hardly could confine his pleasure there. And now he wantons o'er the neighbouring strand, Now rolls his body on the yellow sand; And now, perceiving all her fears decayed, Comes tossing forward to the royal maid; Gives her his breast to stroke, and downward turns His grisly brow, and gently stoops his horns. In flowery wreaths the royal virgin drest His bending horns, and kindly clapt his breast. Till now grown wanton, and devoid of fear, Not knowing that she prest the Thunderer, She placed herself upon his back, and rode O'er fields and meadows, seated on the god.
He gently marched along, and by degrees Left the dry meadow, and approached the seas;
Where now he dips his hoofs and wets his thighs,
Through storms and tempests he the virgin bore, And lands her safe on the Dictean shore; Where now, in his divinest form arrayed, In his true shape he captivates the maid; Who gazes on him, and with wondering eyes Beholds the new majestic figure rise, His glowing features, and celestial light, And all the god discovered to her sight.
THE STORY OF CADMUS.
WHEN now Agenor had his daughter lost,
The restless youth searched all the world around;
"Behold among the fields a lonely cow, Unworn with yokes, unbroken to the plough; Mark well the place where first she lays her down, There measure out thy walls, and build thy town, And from thy guide, Boeotia call the land,
In which the destined walls and town shall stand."
No sooner had he left the dark abode,
Deep in the dreary den, concealed from day, Sacred to Mars, a mighty dragon lay, Bloated with poison to a monstrous size ; Fire broke in flashes when he glanced his eyes ; His towering crest was glorious to behold, His shoulders and his sides were scaled with gold; Three tongues he brandished when he charged his foes; His teeth stood jaggy in three dreadful rows. The Tyrians in the den for water sought, And with their urns explored the hollow vault: From side to side their empty urns rebound, And rouse the sleepy serpent with the sound. Straight he bestirs him, and is seen to rise; And now with dreadful hissings fills the skies, And darts his forky tongues, and rolls his glaring eyes. The Tyrians drop their vessels in their fright, All pale and trembling at the hideous sight.
Spire above spire upreared in air he stood,
And now the scorching sun was mounted high, In all its lustre, to the noon-day sky; When, anxious for his friends, and filled with cares, To search the woods the impatient chief prepares. A lion's hide around his loins he wore, The well poised javelin to the field he bore, Inured to blood, the far-destroying dart, And, the best weapon, an undaunted heart.
Soon as the youth approached the fatal place, He saw his servants breathless on the grass; The scaly foe amid their corpse he viewed, Basking at ease, and feasting in their blood, "Such friends," he cries, " deserved a longer date; But Cadmus will revenge, or share their fate." Then heaved a stone, and rising to the throw He sent it in a whirlwind at the foe: A tower, assaulted by so rude a stroke, With all its lofty battlements had shook; But nothing here the unwieldy rock avails, Rebounding harmless from the plaited scales, That, firmly joined, preserved him from a wound, With native armour crusted all around. The pointed javelin more successful flew, Which at his back the raging warrior threw ; Amid the plaited scales it took its course, And in the spinal marrow spent its force. The monster hissed aloud, and raged in vain, And writhed his body to and fro with pain;