The Mariners Transformed to Dolphins

Him Pentheus view'd with Fury in his Look,
And scarce with-held his Hands, whilst thus he spoke:
" Vile Slave! whom speedy Vengeance shall pursue,
" And terrify thy base seditious Crew:
" Thy Country, and thy Parentage reveal,
" And, why thou join'st in these mad Orgies , tell.
The Captive views him with undaunted Eyes,
And, arm'd with inward Innocence, replies.
" From high Meonia 's rocky Shores I came,
" Of poor Descent, Acaetes is my Name:
" My Sire was meanly born; no Oxen plow'd
" His fruitful Fields, nor in his Pastures low'd.
" His whole Estate within the Waters lay;
" With Lines and Hooks he caught the finny Prey.
" His Art was all his Livelihood; which he
" Thus with his dying Lips bequeath'd to me:
" In Streams, my Boy, and Rivers take thy Chance;
" There swims, said he, thy whole Inheritance.
" Long did I live on this poor Legacy;
" 'Till tir'd with Rocks, and my old native Sky,
" To Arts of Navigation I inclin'd;
" Observ'd the Turns and Changes of the Wind:
" Learn'd the fit Havens, and began to note
" The stormy Hyades , the rainy Goat ,
" The bright Taygete , and the shining Bears ,
" With all the Sailor's Catalogue of Stars.
" Once, as by chance for Delos I design'd,
" My Vessel, driv'n by a strong Gust of Wind,
" Moor'd in a Chian Creek; ashore I went,
" And all the following Night in Chlos spent.
" When Morning rose, I sent my Mates to bring
" Supplies of Water from a neighb'ring Spring,
" Whilst I the Motion of the Winds explor'd;
" Then summon'd in my Crew, and went aboard.
" Opheltes heard my Summons, and with Joy
" Brought to the Shoar a soft and lovely Boy,
" With more than Female Sweetness in his Look,
" Whom straggling in the neighb'ring Fields he took.
" With Fumes of Wine the little Captive glows,
" And nods with Sleep, and staggers as he goes
" I view'd him nicely, and began to trace
" Each heav'nly Feature, each immortal Grace,
" And saw Divinity in all his Face.
" I know not who, said I, this God should be;
" But that he is a God I plainly see:
" And Thou, who-e er thou art, excuse the Force
" These Men have us'd; and oh befriend our Course!
" Pray not for us, the nimble Dictys cry'd,
" Dictys , that could the Main-top-Mast bestride,
" And down the Ropes with active Vigour slide
" To the same Purpose old Epopeus spoke,
" Who over-look'd the Oars, and tim'd the Stroke;
" The same the Pilot, and the same the rest;
" Such impious Ayarice their Souls possest.
" Nay, Heav'n forbid that I should bear away
" Within my Vessel so divine a Prey,
" Said I; and stood to hinder their Intent:
" When Lycabas , a Wretch for Murder sent
" From Tuscany , to suffer Banishment,
" With his clench'd Fist had struck me over-board,
" Had not my Hands in falling grasp'd a Cord.
" His base Confederates the Fact approve;
" When Bacchus , (for 'twas he) begun to move,
" Wak'd by the Noise and Clamours which they rais'd;
" And shook his drowsie Limbs, and round him gaz'd:
" What means this Noise? he cries; am I betray'd?
" Ah! whither, whither must I be convey'd?
" Fear not, said Proreus , Child; but tell us where
" You wish to land, and trust our friendly Care.
" To Naxos then direct your Course, said he;
" Naxos a hospitable Port shall be
" To each of you, a joyful Home to me.
" By ev'ry God, that rules the Sea or Sky,
" The perjur'd Villains promise to comply,
" And bid me hasten to unmoor the Ship.
" With eager Joy I launch into the Deep;
" And, heedless of the Fraud, for Naxos stand.
" They whisper oft, and beckon with the Hand,
" And give me Signs, all anxious for their Prey,
" To tack about, and steer another Way.
" Then let some other to my Post succeed,
" Said I, I'm guiltless of so foul a Deed.
" What, says Ethalion , must the Ship's whole Crew
" Follow your Humour, and depend on you?
" And strait himself he seated at the Prore,
" And tack'd about, and sought another Shore:
" The beauteous Youth now found himself betray'd,
" And from the Deck the rising Waves survey'd,
" And seem'd to weep, and as he wept he said;
" And do you thus my easy Faith beguile?
" Thus do you bear me to my native Isle?
" Will such a Multitude of Men employ
" Their Strength against a weak defenceless Boy?
" In vain did I the God-like Youth deplore,
" The more I begg'd, they thwarted me the more.
" And now by all the Gods in Heav'n that hear
" This solemn Oath, by Bacchus self, I swear,
" The mighty Miracle that did ensue,
" Although it seems beyond Belief, is true.
" The Vessel, fix'd and rooted in the Flood,
" Unmov'd by all the beating Billows stood.
" In vain the Mariners would plow the Main
" With Sails unfurl'd, and strike their Oars in vain;
" Around their Oars a twining Ivy cleaves,
" And climbs the Mast, and hides the Cords in Leaves:
" The Sails are cover'd with a chearful Green,
" And Berries in the fruitful Canvase seen.
" Amidst the Waves a sudden Forrest rears
" Its verdant Head, and a new Spring appears.
" The God we now behold with open'd Eyes;
" A Herd of spotted Panthers round him lyes
" In glaring Forms; the grapy Clusters spread
" On his fair Brows, and dangle on his Head.
" And whilst he frowns, and brandishes his Spear,
" My Mates, surpriz'd with Madness or with Fear,
" Leap'd over-board; first perjur'd Madon found
" Rough Scales and Fins his stiff'ning Sides surround;
" Ah what, cries one, has thus transform'd thy Look?
" Strait his own Mouth grew wider as he spoke;
" And now himself he views with like Surprize.
" Still at his Oar th' industrious Libys plies;
" But, as he plies, each busy Arm shrinks in,
" And by degrees in fashion'd to a Fin.
" Another, as he catches at a Cord,
" Misses his Arms, and, tumbling over-board,
" With his broad Fins and forky Tail he laves
" The rising Surge, and flounces in the Waves
" Thus all my Crew transform'd around the Ship;
" Or dive below, or on the Surface leap,
" And spout the Waves, and wanton in the Deep:
" Full nineteen Sailors did the Ship convey,
" A Shole of nineteen Dolphins round her play.
" I only in my proper Shape appear,
" Speechless with Wonder, and half dead with Fear,
" 'Till Bacchus kindly bid me fear no more.
" With him I landed on the Chian Shore,
" And him shall ever gratefully adore.
" This forging Slave, says Pentheus , would prevail,
" O'er our just Fury by a far-fetch'd Tale:
" Go, let him feel the Whips, the Swords, the Fire,
" And in the Tortures of the Rack expire
Th' officious Servants hurry him away,
And the poor Captive in a Dungeon lay.
But, whilst the Whips and Tortures are prepar'd,
The Gates fly open, of themselves unbarr'd;
At Liberty th'unfetter'd Captive stands,
And flings the loosen'd Shackles from his Hands.
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