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Upon occafion of the death of Hercules, his mother Alcmena recounts her misfortunes to Tole, who answers with a relation of those of her own family; in particular the transformation of her fifter Dryope, which is the subject of the ensuing fable.
*HE said, and for her loft Galanthis fighs,
When the fair confort of her fon replies,
Since you a servant's ravish'd form bemoan,
And kindly figh for sorrows not your own;
Let me, if tears and grief permit, relate
A nearer woe, a fifter's ftranger fate.
No nymph of all Oechalia could compare
For beauteous forn with Dryope the fair,
Her tender mother's only hope and pride,
(My self the offspring of a second bride.)
This nymph comprefs'd by him who rules the day,
Whom Delphi and the Delian ifle 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 fhelving banks around, 13
Whose verdant fummit fragrant myrtles crown'd;
These fhades, unknowing of the fates, she fought,
And to the Naiads flow'ry garlands brought;
Her smiling babe (a pleasing charge) she prest
Within her arms, and nourish'd at her breast.
Not distant far, a wat'ry 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'the crop'd, to please her infant for, 25
And I myself the same rash act had done :
But lo! I saw, as near her fide I ftood,
The violated blossoms drop with blood;
Upon the tree I cast a frightful look;
The trembling tree with sudden horror fhook.
30 Lotis the nymph, if rural tales be true, As from Priapus' lawless luft she flew, Forsook her form; and fixing here became A flow'ry plant, which still, preserves her name.
This change unknown, astonish'd at the sight, 35 My trembling fifter strove to urge her flight, ... And first the pardon of the nymphs implor'd, And those offended sylvan pow'rs ador'd : But when the backward wou'd have fled, she found Her stiff’ning feet were rooted in the ground: In vain to free her faften'd feet she ftrove, s And as she struggles, only moves above ;)" She feels th’ encroaching bark around her grow By quick degrees, and cover all below: Surpriz'd at this, her trembling hand she heaves 45 To rend her hair; her hand is fill'd with leaves ; Where late was hair, the shooting leaves are teen To rise, and shade her with a sudden green.'i The child Amphisus, to her bosom prest, Perceiy'd a colder and a harder breast, And found the springs that ne'er till then deny'd ? Their milky moisture, on a sudden dry’d., I saw, unhappy! what I now relate, And stood the helpless witness of thy fate, Embrac'd thy boughs, the rising bark delay'd, 55 There wish'd to grow, and mingle shade with fhade.
Behold Andræmon and th' unhappy fire
Appear, and for their Dryope enquire ;
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 ev'ry leaf diftills a trickling tear,
And strait a voice while yet a voice remains,
Thus thro’ the trembling boughs in fighs complains.
If to the wretched any faith be giv’n,
I swear by all th' unpitying pow’rs of heav'n, 70
No wilful crime this heavy vengeance bred;
In mutual innocence our lives we led :
If this be false, let these new greens decay,
Let founding axes lop my limbs away,
And crackling flames on all my honours prey. 75)
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
80 Imperfect words, and lip his mother's name,
To hail this tree; and say, with weeping eyes,
Within this plant my hapless parent lies :
And when in youth he seeks the shady woods,
Oh, let him fly the crystal lakes and floods,
Nor touch the fatal flow'rs; but warn'd by me,
Believe a goddess shrin'd in ev'ry tree.
My fire, my sister, and my spouse farewell !
If in your breasts or love or pity dwell,
Protect your plant, nor let my branches feel
The browzing cattle or the piercing steel.
Farewell ! and since I cannot bend to join
My lips to yours, advance at least to mine.
My son, thy mother's parting kiss receive
While yet thy mother has a kifs to give.
I can no more; the creeping rind invades
My closing lips, and hides my head in Shades i
Remove your hands, the bark shall foon fuffice
Without their aid to feal these dying eyes.
She ceas'd at once to speak, and ceas’d to be ;
And all the nymph was loft within the tree :
Yet latent life thro' her new branches reign'd,
And long the plant a human heat retain’d.