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The reverend fire the Latian chief obey'd,
And sudden seiz'd the unsuspecting maid,
Where careless in the peaceful grove the stray'd.
Dismay'd, aghast, and pale, he drags her on;
She stops, and itrives the fatal talk to shun:
Subdued by force, to fraud and art she flies,
And thus to turn the Roman's purpose tries :
What curious hopes thy wandering fancy move,
The silent Delphic oracle to prove ?
In vain, Aufonian Appius, art thou come ;
Long has our Phæbus and his cave been dumb.
Whether, disdaining us, the sacred voice
Has made some other distant land its choice;
Or whether, when the fierce barbarians' fires
Low in the dust had laid our lofty spires,
In heaps the mouldering afhes heavy rod,
And chok'd the channels of the breathing god :
Or whether heaven no longer gives replies, 195
But bids the Sibyls mystic verse suffice;
Or, if he deigns not this bad age to bear,
And holds the world unworthy of his care;
Whate'er the cause, our god has long been mute,
And answers not to any suppliant’s fuit.
But, ah! too well her artifice is known, Her fears confess the god, whom they disown. Howe’er, each rite the seemingly prepares ; A fillet gathers up her foremost hairs;. While the white wreath and bays her temples bind, 205 And knit the looser locks which flow behind. Sudden, the stronger priest, though yet the strives, The lingering maid within the temple drives :
But still the fears, still shuns the dreadful shrine,
Lags in the outer space, and feigns the rage divine. 216
But far unlike the god, her calmer breast
No strong enthusiastic throes confeft;
No terrors in her starting hairs were seen,
To cast from off her brow the wreathing green;
No broken accents half obstructed hung,
Nor swelling murmurs roll her labouring tongue.
From her fierce jaws no founding horrors come,
No thunders bellow through the working foam,
Torend the spacious cave, and thake the vaulted dome.
Too plain, the peaceful groves and fane betray'd 220
The wily, fearful, god-diffembling maid.
The furious Roman foon the fraud espyd,
And, Hope not thou to 'scape my rage, he cry'd;
Sore shalt thou rue thy fond deceit, profane,
(The gods and Appius are not mock'd in vain) 225
Unless thou cease thy mortal sounds to tell,
Unless thou plunge thee in the mystic cell,
Unless the gods themselves reveal the doom,
Which shall befall the warring world and Rome.
He fpoke, and, aw'd, by the superior dread, 230 The trembling priestess to the Tripod fled : Close to the holy breathing vent the cleaves, And largely the unwonted god receives. Nor age the potent spirit had decay’d, But with full force he fills the heaving maid ; 235 Nor e'er so strong inspiring Pæan came, Nor stretch'd, as now, her agonizing frame : The mortal mind driv'n out forfook her breast, And the sole godhead every part posest,
Now swell her veins, her turgid sinews rise, 240
And bounding frantic through the cave she fies;
Her bristling locks the wreathy fillet scorn,
And her fierce feet the tumbling Tripods spurn.
Now wild Me dances o er the vacant fane,
And whirls her giddy head, and bellows with the pain.
Nor yet the less th' avenging wrathful god
Pours in his fires, and shakes his founding röd:
He lashes now, and goads her on amain ;
And now he checks her stubborn to the rein,
Curbs in her tongue, just labouring to disclose, 2.50
And speak that fate which in her bosom glows.
Ages on ages throng, a painful load,
Myriads of images, and myriads croud;
Men, times, and things, or present, or to come,
Work labouring up and down, and urge for room. 255
Whatever is, shall be, or e'er has been,
Rolls in her thought, and to her fight' is seen.
The ocean's utmost bounds her eyes explore,
And number every sand on every Thore ;
Nature, and all her works, at once they fee, 260
Know when she first begun, and when her end shall be.
- And as the Siby once in Cumæ's cell,
When vulgar fates the proudly ceas'd to tell,
The Roman destiny distinguish'd took,
And kept it careful in her sacred book;
So now, Phemonoë, in crouds of thought,
The single doom of Latian Appius sought.
Nor in that mass, where multitudes abound,
A private fortune can with ease be found.
At length her foamy mouth begins to flow, 270
Groans more distinct, and plainer murmurs go :
A doleful howl the roomy cavern shook,
And thus the calmer maid in fainting accents spoke :
While guilty rage the world tumultuous rends,
for thee, Euhca's vale attends ;
275: Thither, as to thy refuge, shalt thou fly, There find repose, and unmolested lye: She said; the god her labouring tongue fupprest, And in eternal darkness veil'd the rest.
Ye sacred Tripods, on whose doom we wait! 280, Ye guardians of the future laws of fate ! And thou, oh! Phæbus, whose prophetic skill Reads the dark counsels of the heavenly will;
your wary oracles refrain, To tell what kings, what heroes must be llain,
Was it that, yet, the guilt was undecreed ?
That yet our Pompey was not doom'd to bleed ?
Or chose you wisely, rather, to afford
A just occasion to the patriot's sword ?
290 As if you fear'd t'avert the tyrant's doom, And hinder Brutus-from-avenging Rome?
Through the wide gates at length by force display'd, Impetuous fallies the prophetic maid; Nor yet: the holy rage was all suppress’d,
295 Part of the god still heaving in her breast : Urg'd by the Dæmon, yet she rolls her eyes, And wildly wanders o'er the spacious skies. Now horrid purple fushes in her face,' , And now a livid pale supplies the place;."
A double madness paints her cheeks by turns,
With fear she freezes, and with fury burns :
Sad breathing sighs with heavy accent go,
And doleful from her fainting bosom blow.
So when no more the storm sonorous sings,
But noisy Boreas hangs his weary wings:
In hollow groans the falling winds complain,
And murmur o'er the hoarse-resounding main.
Now by degrees the fire æthereal fail'd, And the dull human sense again prevail'd;
While Phoebus, sudden, in a murky shade,
Hid the past vision from the mortal maid.
Thick clouds of dark oblivion rise between,
And snatch away at once the wondrous scene;
Stretch'd on the ground the fainting priestess lies, 315
While to the Tripod, back, th' informing fpirit flies.
Mean-while, fond Appius, erring in his fate,
Dream'd of long fafety, and a neutral state
And, ere the great event of war was known,
Fix'd on Euboean Chalcis for his own.
Fool! to believe that power could ward the blow,
Or snatch thee from amidst the general woe!
In times like these, what god but death can save ?
The world can yield no refuge, but the grave.
Where struggling feas Charystos rude constrains, 325
And, dreadful to the proud, Rh
nnusia reigns ;
Where by the whirling current barks are tost
From Chalcis to unlucky Auli's coast;
There shalt thou meet the gods appointed doom,
A private death, and long-remember'd tomb.