The Flight of the Fury

The Fury heard, while on Cocytus' brink
Her snakes, untied, sulphureous waters drink;
But at the summons rolled her eyes around,
And snatcht the starting serpents from the ground.
Not half so swiftly shoots along in air
The gliding lightning or descending star.
Through crowds of airy shades she winged her flight,
And dark dominions of the silent night;
Swift as she past the flitting ghosts withdrew,
And the pale spectres trembled at her view:
To the iron gates of Tenarus she flies,
There spreads her dusky pinions to the skies.
The Day beheld, and, sickening at the sight,
Veiled her fair glories in the shades of Night.
Affrighted Atlas on the distant shore
Trembled, and shook the heavens and Gods he bore.
Now from beneath Malea's airy height
Aloft she sprung and steered to Thebes her flight;
With eager speed the well-known journey took,
Nor here regrets the Hell she late forsook.
A hundred snakes her gloomy visage shade,
A hundred serpents guard her horrid head;
In her sunk eyeballs dreadful meteors glow:
Such rays from Phœbe's bloody circle flow,
When labouring with strong charms she shoots from high
A fiery gleam and reddens all the sky.
Blood stained her cheeks and from her mouth there came
Blue steaming poisons and a length of flame.
From every blast of her contagious breath
Famine and Drought proceed and Plagues and Death.
A robe obscene was o'er her shoulders thrown—
A dress by Fates and Furies worn alone.
She tost her meagre arms; her better hand
In waving circles whirled a funeral brand;
A serpent from her left was seen to rear
His flaming crest and lash the yielding air.
But when the Fury took her stand on high,
Where vast Cithæron's top salutes the sky,
A hiss from all the snaky tire went round:
The dreadful signals all the rocks rebound,
And through the Achaian cities send the sound.
OEte, with high Parnasses, heard the voice;
Eurotas' banks remurmured to the noise;
Again Leucothea shook at these alarms,
And prest Palæmon closer in her arms.
Headlong from thence the glowing Fury springs
And o'er the Theban palace spreads her wings,
Once more invades the guilty dome, and shrouds
Its bright pavilions in a veil of clouds.
Straight with the rage of all their race possest,
Stung to the soul, the brothers start from rest,
And all the furies wake within their breast.
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