Famous and over famous oeta reign'd
Dryops: him beauteous Polydora bare
To the river-god Sperchios: but above
Mother and sire, far brighter in renown,
Was Dryope their daughter, the beloved
Of him who guides thro' heaven his golden car.
Showering his light o'er all things, he endues
All things with colour, grace and song gives he,
But never now on any condescends
To lower his shining locks; his roseate lips
Breathe an ambrosial sigh on none but her.
He follows that shy Nymph thro' pathless ways,
Among the willows in their soft grey flowers,
In their peel'd boughs odorous, and amid
The baskets white and humid, incomplete:
He follows her along the river-side,
Soft to the foot and gladdened by the breeze;
He follows where the Nereids watch their fords
While listen the Napaean maids around.
Tending one day her father's sheep, she heard
A flute in the deep valley; then a pipe;
And soon from upright arms the tymbrel trill'd.
Dryads and Hamadryads then appear'd,
And one among them cried to her aloud
" Knowest thou not the day when all should sing
Paean and Io Paean? Shunnest thou
The lord of all, whom all the earth adores,
Giver of light and gladness, warmth and song?
And willest thou that Dryops stand above
Admetos? from thy sight thus banishing
And shutting from thy fold the son of Jove."
She, proud and joyous at the gay reproof,
Stood silent. They began the dance and games.
And thus the day went on. When evening came
They sang the hymn to Delios. Nigh the seat
Of Dryope, among the tufts of grass,
A lyre shone out; whose can it be, they ask;
Each saw the next with her's upon her knee;
Whether Theano's or Autonoe's gift,
Dryope takes it gratefully, and trills
The glimmering strings: and now at one she looks,
Now at another, knowingly, and speaks
(As if it heard her) to it, now on lap
And now on bosom fondly laying it.
Behold! a snake, a snake, it glides away.
They shriek: and each one as she sate reclined
Throws her whole body back. Striving to rise,
Autonoe prest upon a fragile reed
Her flattened hand, nor felt it: when she saw
The blood, she suckt the starting globe, and sought
The place it sprang from. Hither, thither, run
The maidens. But the strings, and tortoise-shell
That held them at due distance, are instinct
With life, and rush on Dryope, too slow
To celebrate the rites the sires had taught
And Delios had ordain'd. One whom the flight
Left nearest, turn'd her head, stil flying on,
Fearful til pity overcame her fear,
And thus she cried aloud.
" Look back! look back!
See how that creature licks her lips, her eyes,
Her bosom! how it seizes! how it binds
In the thick grass her struggles! Where is now,
Where is Apollo proud of Python slain?
Whether she sinn'd thro' silliness or dread,
Poor inexperienced girl! are snakes to teach?
Are they fit bonds for love? can fear persuade?
Phaebus! come hither! aid us! Ah, what now
Would the beast do? how swells his horrid crest?"
Various and manifold the dragon brood.
Some urge their scales along the ground, and some
Their wings aloft, some yoked to fiery cars,
And some, tho' hard of body, melt in air.
Callianira now was brave enough
To stop her flight: on the first hill she rais'd
Her eyes above the brambles, just above,
And caught and held Diaule at her side,
Who, when she stopt her, trembled more and more.
But arguments are ready to allay
Her terror; all strong arguments, like these.
" Are there not many things that may deceive
The sight at first? might not a lizard seem
A dragon? and how pleasant in hot days
To hold a lizard to the breast, and tempt
Its harmless bitings with the finger's end!
Dragon or lizard, rare the species is.
What! are they over . . Dryope's alarms?
She treats it like a sister. Lo! her hand
Upon its neck! and, far as we are off,
Lo! how it shines! as bright as any star.
Vainly exhorts she, first Autonoe,
And then Diaule, to come on; alone
She ventures; vainly would they call her back.
And now again the creature is transform'd.
Lizard nor serpent now, nor tortoise-shell
Cheyls, is that which purple flutters round,
And which is whiter here and darker there,
Like violets drifted o'er with shifting hail.
Golden the hair that fluctuates upon neck
None of its own. A bland etherial glow
Ran over and ran thro' the calmer maid.
At last her fellow Nymphs came all around,
And Delios stood before them, manifest
No less to them than to his Dryope:
For with a radiant nod and arm outstretcht
He call'd them back; and they obey'd his call.
He lookt upon them, and with placid smile
Bespake them, drawing close his saffron vest.
Their eyes were lower'd before him as they stept
Into his presence; well they knew what fears
He shook throughout the Dryads, when he gave
His steeds and chariot to his reckless son,
When the woods crasht and perisht under him,
And when Eridanos, altho' his stream
Flows down from heaven, saw its last ripple sink.
Well they remembered how Diana fled
Among the woods and wilds, when mightier bow
Than hers was strung, and Python gaspt in death.
Potent of good they knew him, and of ill,
And closed the secret in their prudent hearts.
At first they would have pitied the hard fate
Of Dryope; but when she answered not
The words of pity, in her face they lookt
Soft the moisture of her brow,
Languid the luster of her eyes; a shame
Rosier and richer than before suffused
Her features, and her lips were tinged with flame
A God inspired, and worthy of that God.
Each had her little question; but she stopt
As tho' she would reprove: at this they ply
Joke after joke, until they bring her home.
All they had known they would make others know,
But they had lookt too near and seen too well,
And had invoked the God with dance and hymn;
Beside, Diana would have sore avenged
Her righteous brother, who deals openly
With mortals, and new facts from them conceals.
Dryope soon became Andraemon's wife,
And mother of Amphissos. Every spring
They chaunt her praises; her's, who trill'd so well
The plectron of Apollo; in the vale,
Of her own shady oeta do they sing.
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.