Actaeon and His Hounds

‘Tell, if thou canst, the wondrous sight disclosed;
A goddess naked to thy view exposed.’
This said, the man began to disappear
By slow degrees, and ended in a deer.

As he thus ponders, he behind him spies
His opening hounds, and now he hears their cries:
A generous pack, or to maintain the chase,
Or snuff the vapour from the scented grass.
He bounded off with fear, and swiftly ran
O'er craggy mountains, and the flowery plain;
Through brakes and thickets forced his way and flew
Through many a ring, where once he did pursue.
In vain he oft endeavoured to proclaim
His new misfortune, and to tell his name;
Nor voice nor words the brutal tongue supplies,
From shouting men, and horns, and dogs, he flies,
Deafened and stunned with their promiscuous cries.
When now the fleetest of the pack, that prest
Close at his heels, and sprung before the rest,
Had fastened on him, straight another pair
Hung on his wounded haunch, and held him there,
Till all the pack came up, and every hound
Tore the sad huntsman grovelling on the ground,
Who now appeared but one continued wound.
With dropping tears his bitter fate he moans,
And fills the mountains with his dying groans.
His servants with a piteous look he spies,
And turns about with supplicating eyes.
His servants, ignorant of what had chanced,
With eager haste and joyful shouts advanced,
And called their lord Actæon to the game,
He shook his head in answer to the name;
He heard, but wished he had indeed been gone,
Or only to have stood a looker on.
But, to his grief, he finds himself too near,
And feels his ravenous dogs with fury tear
Their wretched master panting in a deer.
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