Transformation of Actaeon into a Stag -

In a fair Chace a shady Mountain stood,
Well stor'd with Game, and mark'd with Trails of Blood.
Here did the Huntsmen 'till the Heat of Day
Pursue the Stag, and load themselves with Prey;
When thus Actaeon calling to the rest:
" My Friends, says he, our Sport is at the best,
" The Sun is high advanc'd, and downward sheds
" His burning Beams directly on our Heads;
" Then by Consent abstain from further Spoils,
" Call off the Dogs, and gather up the Toiles;
" And e'er to Morrow's Sun begins his Race,
" Take the cool Morning to renew the Chace.
They all consent, and in a chearful Train
The jolly Huntsmen, loaden with the Slain,
Return in Triumph from the sultry Plain.
Down in a Vale with Pine and Cypress clad,
Refresh'd with gentle Winds, and brown with Shade,
The chaste Diana 's private Haunt, there stood
Full in the Centre of the darksome Wood
A spacious Grotto, all around o'er-grown
With hoary Moss, and arch'd with Purnice-stone.
From out its rocky Clests the Waters flow,
And trickling swell into a Lake below.
Nature had ev'ry where so plaid her Part,
That ev'ry where she seem'd to vie with Art.
Here the bright Goddess, toil'd and chaf'd with Heat,
Was wont to bathe her in the cool Retreat.
Here did she now with all her Train resort,
Panting with Heat, and breathless from the Sport;
Her Armour-bearer laid her Bow aside,
Some loos'd her Sandals, some her Veil unty'd;
Each busy Nymph her proper Part undrest;
While Crocale , more Handy than the rest,
Gather'd her flowing Hair, and in a Noose
Bound it together, whilst her own hung loose
Five of the more ignoble sort by turns
Fetch up the Water, and unlade their Urns.
Now all undrest the shining Goddess stood,
When young Actaeon , wilder'd in the Wood,
To the cool Grott by his hard Fate betray'd,
The Fountains fill'd with naked Nymphs survey'd.
Then in a Huddle round their Goddess prest:
She, proudly eminent above the rest,
With Blushes glow'd; such Blushes as adorn,
The ruddy Welkin, or the purple Morn;
And tho' the crowding Nymphs her Body hide,
Half backward shrunk, and view'd him from aside.
Surpriz'd, at first she would have snatch'd her Bow,
But sees the circling Waters round her flow;
These in the Hollow of her Hand she took,
And dash'd 'em in his Face, while thus she spoke:
" Tell if thou can'st the wond'rous Sight disclos'd,
" A Goddess naked to thy View expos'd.
This said, the Man begun to disappear
By slow Degrees, and ended in a Deer.
A rising Horn on either Brow he wears,
And stretches out his Neck, and pricks his Ears;
Rough is his Skin, with sudden Hairs o'er-grown,
His Bosom pants with Fears before unknown.
Transform'd at length, he flies away in haste,
And wonders why he flies away so fast.
But as by Chance, within a neighb'ring Brook,
He saw his branching Horns and alter'd Look,
Wretched Actaeon! in a doleful Tone
He try'd to speak, but only gave a Groan;
And as he wept, within the watry Glass
He saw the big round Drops, with silent Pace,
Run trickling down a savage hairy Face.
What should he do? Or seek his old Abodes,
Or herd among the Deer, and sculk in Woods?
Here Shame dissuades him, there his Fear prevails,
And each by turns his aking Heart assails.
As he thus ponders, he behind him spies
His op'ning Hounds, and now he hears their Cries:
A gen'rous Pack, or to maintain the Chace,
Or snuff the Vapour from the scented Grass.
He bounded off with Fear, and swiftly ran
O'er craggy Mountains, and the flow'ry Plain;
Through Brakes and Thickers forc'd his Way, and flew
Through many a Ring, where once he did pursue.
In vain he oft endeavour'd 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,
Deafen'd and stunn'd with their promiscuous Cries.
When now the fleetest of the Pack, that prest
Close at his Heels, and sprung before the rest,
Had fasten'd on him, straight another Pair
Hung on his wounded Haunch, and held him there,
'Till all the Pack came up, and ev'ry Hound
Tore the sad Huntsman grov'ling on the Ground,
Who now appear'd but one continu'd Wound.
With dropping Tears his bitter Fate he moans,
And fills the Mountain with his dying Groans.
His Servants with a piteous Look he spies,
And turns about his supplicating Eyes.
His Servants, ignorant of what had chanc'd,
With eager Haste and joyful Shouts advanc'd,
And call'd their Lord Actaeon to the Game:
He shook his Head in answer to the Name;
He heard, but wish'd 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 rav'nous Dogs with Fury tear
Their wretched Master panting in a Deer.
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