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When urg'd to rage, their teeth the serpents fix,
And venom with our vital juices mix;

1055 The pest infus’d through every vein runs round, Infects the mass, and death is in the wound. Harmless and safe, no poison here they shed : He said; and first the doubtful draught essay'd; He, who through all their march, their toil, their thirst,

1060 Demanded, here alone, to drink the first.

Why.plagues, like these, infect the Libyan air, Why deaths unknown in various shapes appear ; Why, fruitful to destroy, the cursed landIs temper'd thus, by nature's secret hand; 1065 Dark and obscure the hidden cause remains; And still deludes the vain enquirer's pains ; Unless a tale for truth may be believ'd, And the good-natur'd world be willingly deceiv'd.

Where western waves on farthest Libya beat, Warm’d with the setting fun's descending heat, Dreadful Medusa fix'd her horrid feat. No leafy shade, with kind protection, shields The rough, the fqualid, unfrequented fields ; No mark of thepherds, or the plowman's toil, 1075 To tend the flocks, or turn the mellow soil : But, rude with rocks, the region all around Its mistress, and her potent visage, own’d. 'Twas from this monster to afflict mankind, That nature first produc'd the fnaky kind: 1080 On her, at first their forky tongues appear'd'; From her, their dreadful hisfings first were heard.


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Some wreath'd in folds upon her temples hung ;
Some backwards to her waste depended long;
Some with their rising crests her forehead deck; 1085
Some wanton play, and laih her swelling neck :
And while her hands the curling vipers comb,
Poisons diftil around, and drops of livid foam.

None, who beheld the fury, could complain ;
So swift their fate, preventing death and pain :

1090 Ere they had time to fear, the change came on, And motion, sense, and life, were lost in stone. The soul itself, from sudden flight debarr’d, Congealing, in the body's fortune Thar'd. The dire Eumenides could rage inspire,

1095 But could no more; the tuneful Thracian lyre Infernal Cerberus did soon assuage, Lulld him to rest, and footh'd his triple rage ; Hydra's feyen heads the bold Alcides view'd, Safely he faw, and what he saw, subdued : Of these in various terrors each excell’d; But all to this superior fury yield. Phorcus and Cæto, next to Neptune hey Immortal both, and rulers of the sea, This monster's parents did their offspring dread ; 1105 And from her sight her sister Gorgons fled. Old ocean's waters, and the liquid air, The universal world her power might fear: All nature's beauteous works she could invade, Through every part a lazy numbness fhed, And over all a stony surface spread. Birds in their flight were stopt, and ponderous grown, Forgot their pinions, and fell senseless down.


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Beasts to the rocks were fix'd, and all around
Were tribes of stone and marble nations found. 1115
No living eyes so fell a fight could bear;
Her snakes themselves, all deadly though they were,
Shot backward from her face, and shrunk away for

By her, a rock Titanian, Atlas grew,
And heaven by her the giants did subdue : 1120
Hard was the fight, and Joye was half dismay'd,
Till Pallas brought the Gorgon to his aid :
The heavenly nation laid aside their fear,
For foon she finish'd the prodigious war;
To mountains turn'd, the monster race remains, 1125
The trophies of her power on the Phlegræan plains.

To seek this monster, and her fate to prove, The son of Danaë and golden Jove, Attempts a flight through airy ways above, The youth Cyllenian Hermes' aid implor’d; 1130 The god assisted with his wings the sword, His sword, which late made watchful Argus bleed, And lö from her cruel keeper freed : Unwedded Pallas lent a sister's aid ; But ask'd, for recompence, Medusa's head. 1135 Eastward she warns her brother bend his flight, And from the Gorgon realms avert his fight; Then arms his left with her refulgent shield, And shews how there the foe might be beheld. Deep slumbers had the drouiy fiend poffeft, 1140 Such as drew on, and well might seem, her last: And yet the slept not whole ; one half her snakes Watchful, to guard their horrid mistress, wakes




The rest disheveld, loosely, round her head,
And o'er her drousy lids and face were spread. 1145
Backward the youth draws near, nor dares to look,
But blindly, at a venture, aims a stroke :
His faltering hand the virgin goddess guides,
And from the monster's neck her snaky head divides.
But oh! what art, what numbers, can express 1150
The terrors of the dying Gorgon's face !
What clouds of poison from her lips arise !
What death, what vast destruction, threaten't in her

eyes !

'Twas somewhat that immortal gods might fear,
More than the warlike maid herself could bear. 1155
The victor Perseus still had been subdued,
Though, wary ftill, with eyes averse he stood :
Had not his heavenly fifter's timely care
Veild the dread visage with the hissing hair.
Seiz'd of his prey, heavenwards, uplifted light, 1169
On Hermes' nimble wings, he took his flight.
Now thoughtful of his course, he hung in air,
And meant through Europe's happy clime to steer ;
Till pitying Pallas warn'd him not to blast
Her fruitful fields, nor lay her cities waste.
For who would not have upwards cast their fight,
Curious to gaze at such a wondrous flight ?
Therefore, by gales of gentle Zephyrs borne,
To Libya's coast the hero minds to turn.
Beneath the sultry line, expos'd it lies

To deadly planets, and malignant skies.
Still, with his fiery steeds, the god of day
Drives through that heaven, and makes his burning way.


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No land more high erects its lofty head,
The silver moon in dim eclipse to shade ; 1175
If through the summer signs direct she run,
Nor bends obliquely, north or. south to fhun
The envious earth that hides her from the sun.
Yet could this foil accurst, this barren field,
Increase of deaths, and poisonous harvests yield. 1180
Where-e'er sublime in air the victor flew,
The monster's head distillid a deadly dew
The earth receiv'd the seed, and pregnant grew.
Still as the putrid gore dropt on the sand,
'Twas temper'd up by nature's forming hand ; 1185
The glowing climate makes the work complete,
And broods upon the mass, and lends it genial heat.

First of those plagues the drousy Asp appear’d,
Then first her crest and swelling neck the rear'd;
A larger drop of black congealing blood 1190
Distinguish'd her amidst the deadly brood.
Of all the ferpent race are none so fell,
None with so many deaths such plenteous venom swell;
Chill in themselves, our colder climes they shun,
And choose to back in Afric's warmer sun; 1195
But Nile no more confines them now: What bound
Can for insatiate avarice be found !
Freighted with Libyan deaths our merchants come,
And poisonous Afps are things of price at Rome.

Her scaly folds th’ Hæmorrhois unbends,
And her vast length along the sand extends;
Where-e'er she wounds, from every part the blood
Gushes refiftless in a crimson flood.



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