Phaeton's Sisters Transformed into Trees -

The Latian Nymphs came round him, and amaz'd
On the dead Youth, transfix'd with Thunder, gaz'd;
And, whilst yet smoaking from the Bolt he lay,
His shatter'd Body to a Tomb convey,
And o'er the Tomb an Epitaph devise:
" Here He who drove the Sun's bright Chariot lies;
" His Father's fiery Steeds he cou'd not guide,
" But in the glorious Enterprize he dy'd.
Apollo hid his Face, and pin'd for Grief,
And, if the Story may deserve Belief,
The Space of One whole Day is said to run,
From Morn to wonted Ev'n, without a Sun:
The burning Ruins, with a fainter Ray,
Supply the Sun, and counterfeit a Day,
A Day, that still did Nature's Face disclose:
This Comfort from the mighty Mischief rose
But Clymene , enrag'd with Grief, laments,
And as her Grief inspires, her Passion vents:
Wild for her Son, and frantick in her Woes,
With Hair dishevel'd, round the World she goes,
To seek where-e'er his Body might be cast;
Till, on the Borders of the Po , at last
The Name inscrib'd on the new Tomb appears.
The dear, dear Name she bathes in flowing Tears,
Hangs o'er the Tomb, unable to depart,
And hugs the Marble to her throbbing Heart.
Her Daughters too lament, and sigh, and mourn,
(A fruitless Tribute to their Brother's Urn)
And beat their naked Bosoms, and complain,
And call aloud for Phaeton in vain:
All the long Night their mournful Watch they keep,
And all the Day stand round the Tomb and weep
Four times, revolving, the full Moon return'd;
So long the Mother and the Daughters mourn'd:
When now the Eldest, Phaethusa , strove
To rest her weary Limbs, but cou'd not move;
Lampetia wou'd have help'd her, but she found
Her self with-held, and rooted to the Ground:
A Third in wild Affliction, as she grieves,
Wou'd rend her Hair, but fills her Hand with Leaves;
One sees her Thighs transform'd, Another views
Her Arms shot out, and branching into Boughs
And now their Legs, and Breasts, and Bodies stood
Crusted with Bark, and hard'ning into Wood;
But still Above were Female Heads display'd,
And Mouths, that call'd the Mother to their Aid.
What cou'd, alas! the weeping Mother do?
From this to that with eager Haste she flew,
And kiss'd her Sprouting Daughters as they grew.
She tear's the Bark that to each Body cleaves,
And from their verdant Fingers strips the Leaves:
The Blood came trickling, where she tore away
The Leaves and Bark: The Maids were heard to say,
" Forbear, mistaken Parent, Oh! forbear;
" A wounded Daughter in each Tree you tear;
" Farewell for ever. Here the Bark encreas'd,
Clos'd on their Faces, and their Words suppress'd,
The new-made Trees in Tears of Amber run,
Which, harden'd into Value by the Sun,
Distill for ever on the Streams below:
The limpid Streams their radiant Treasure show,
Mixt in the Sand; whence the rich Drops convey'd
Shine in the Dress of the bright Latian Maid.
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