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I go, ye nymphs! where furious love inspires;
Let female fears submit to female fires.
To rocks and seas I fly from Phaon's hate,
And hope from seas and rocks a milder fate.
Ye gentle gales, beneath my body blow,
And softly lay me on the waves below!
And thou, kind Love, my sinking limbs sustain,
Spread thy soft wings, and waft me o'er the main,
Nor let a lover's death the guiltless flood profane!
On Phoebus' shrine my harp I'll then bestow,
And this inscription shall be plac'd below:
"Here she who sung, to him that did inspire,
Sappho to Phoebus consecrates her lyre;
What suits with Sappho, Phœbus, suits with thee;
The gift, the giver, and the god agree.”
But why, alas! relentless youth, ah why
To distant seas must tender Sappho fly?
Thy charms than those may far more powerful be,
And Phoebus' self is less a god to me.
Ah! canst thou doom me to the rocks and sea,
Oh! far more faithless and more hard than they?
Ah! canst thou rather see this tender breast
Dash'd on these rocks than to thy bosom press'd?
This breast which once, in vain! you lik'd so well;
Where the Loves play'd, and where the Muses
Alas! the Muses now no more inspire;
Untun'd my lute, and silent is my lyre.
My languid numbers have forgot to flow,
And fancy sinks beneath a weight of woe.
Ye Lesbian virgins, and ye Lesbian dames;
Themes of my verse, and objects of my flames,
No more your groves with my glad songs shall ring,
No more these hands shall touch the trembling
My Phaon's fled, and I those arts resign;
(Wretch that I am, to call that Phaon mine!)
Return, fair youth, return, and bring along
Joy to my soul, and vigour to my song:-
Absent from thee, the poet's flame expires;
But ah! how fiercely burn the lover's fires!
Gods! can no prayers, no sighs, no numbers move
One savage heart, or teach it how to love?
. The winds my prayers, my sighs, my numbers bear,
The flying winds have lost them all in air!
Oh when, alas! shall more auspicious gales
To these fond eyes restore thy welcome sails!
If you return-ah why these long delays?
Poor Sappho dies while careless Phaon stays.
O launch thy bark, nor fear the watery plain;
Venus for thee shall smooth her native main.
O launch thy bark, secure of prosperous gales;
Cupid for thee shall spread the swelling sails.
If you will fly-(yet ah! what cause can be,
Too cruel youth, that you should fly from me?)
If not from Phaon I must hope for ease,
Ah let me seek it from the raging seas:
To raging seas unpitied I'll remove,
And either cease to live or cease to love!
FROM THE NINTH BOOK OF OVID'S METAMORPHOSES.
SHE said, and for her lost Galanthis sighs;
When the fair consort of her son replies:
"Since you a servant's ravish'd form bemoan,
And kindly sigh for sorrows not your own,
Let me (if tears and grief permit) relate
A nearer woe, a sister's stranger fate.
No nymph of all Echalia could compare
For beauteous form with Dryope the fair,
Her tender mother's only hope and pride
(Myself the offspring of a second bride).
This nymph compress'd by him who rules the day,
Whom Delphi and the Delian isle obey,
Andræmon lov'd; and bless'd in all those charms
That pleas'd a god, succeeded to her arms.
"A lake there was with shelving banks around,
Whose verdant summit fragrant myrtles crown'd.
These shades, unknowing of the fates, she sought,
And to the naiads flowery garlands brought:
Her smiling babe (a pleasing charge) she prest
Within her arms, and nourish'd at her breast.
Not distant far a watery lotos grows;
The spring was new, and all the verdant boughs,
Adorn'd with blossoms, promis'd fruits that vie
In glowing colours with the Tyrian dye.
Of these she cropp'd, to please her infant son,
And I myself the same rash act had done:
But, lo! I saw (as near her side I stood)
The violated blossoms drop with blood;
Upon the tree I cast a frightful look;
The trembling tree with sudden horror shook.
Lotis the nymph (if rural tales be true)
As from Priapus' lawless lust she flew,
Forsook her form, and, fixing here, became
A flowery plant, which still preserves her name.
"This change unknown, astonish'd at the sight,
My trembling sister strove to urge her flight;
And first the pardon of the nymphs implor'd,
And those offended sylvan powers ador'd:
But when she backward would have fled, she found
Her stiffening feet were rooted in the ground:
In vain to free her fasten'd feet she strove,
And as she struggles only moves above;
She feels th' encroaching bark around her grow
By quick degrees, and cover all below:
Surpris'd at this, her trembling hand she heaves
To rend her hair; her hand is fill'd with leaves:
Where late was hair the shooting leaves are seen
To rise, and shade her with a sudden green.
The child Amphissus, to her bosom prest,
Perceiv'd a colder and a harder breast,
And found the springs, that ne'er till then denied
Their milky moisture, on a sudden dried.
I saw, unhappy! what I now relate,
And stood the helpless witness of thy fate;
Embrac'd thy boughs, thy rising bark delay'd,
There wish'd to grow, and mingle shade with shade.
"Behold Andræmon and th' unhappy sire
Appear, and for their Dryope inquire:
A springing tree for Dryope they find,
And print warm kisses on the panting rind;
Prostrate, with tears their kindred plant bedew,
And close embrace as to the roots they grew.
The face was all that now remain'd of thee.
No more a woman, nor yet quite a tree;
Thy branches hung with humid pearls appear,
From every leaf distils a trickling tear;
And straight a voice, while yet a voice remains, Thus through the trembling boughs in sighs complains.
'If to the wretched any faith be given,
I swear by all th' unpitying powers of heaven,
No wilful crime this heavy vengeance bred;
In mutual innocence our lives we led:
If this be false, let these new greens decay,
Let sounding axes lop my limbs away,
And crackling flames on all my honours prey.
But from my branching arms this infant bear;
Let some kind nurse supply a mother's care;
And to his mother let him oft be led,
Sport in her shades, and in her shades be fed.
Teach him, when first his infant voice shall frame
Imperfect words, and lisp his mother's name,
To hail this tree, and say with weeping eyes,
'Within this plant my hapless parent lies:?