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Mean while the restless horfes neigh'd aloud,
Breathing out fire, and pawing where they stood.
Tethys, not knowing what had past, gave way,
And all the waste of heaven before them lay.
They spring together out, and fwiftly bear
The flying youth through clouds and yielding air;
With wingy fpeed outstrip the eastern wind,
And leave the breezes of the morn behind.
The youth was light, nor could he fill the feat,
Or poife the chariot with its wonted weight:
But as at sea th' unbalast vessel rides,
Caft to and fro, the fports of winds and tides;
So in the bounding chariot tofs'd on high,
The youth is hurry'd headlong through the sky.
Soon as the fteeds perceive it, they forfake
Their ftated course, and leave the beaten track.
The youth was in a maze, nor did he know
Which way to turn the reins, or where to go;
Nor would the horfes, had he known, obey.
Then the Seven Stars first felt Apollo's ray,
And wish'd to dip in the forbidden sea.
The folded Serpent next the frozen pole,
Stiff and benumb'd before, began to roll,
And rag'd with inward heat, and threaten'd war,
And shot a redder light from every star;
Nay, and 'tis faid, Boötes too, that fain
Thou wouldst have fled, though cumber'd with thy wain.
Th' unhappy youth then, bending down his head,
Saw earth and ocean far beneath him fpread:
His colour chang'd, he startled at the fight,
And his eyes darken'd by too great a light.
Now could he wish the fiery fteeds untry'd,
His birth obfcure, and his request deny'd:
Now would he Merops for his father own,
And quit his boasted kindred to the Sun.
So fares the pilot, when his fhip is toft
In troubled feas, and all its fteerage loft;
He gives her to the winds, and in defpair
Seeks his last refuge in the Gods and prayer.
What could he do? His eyes, if backward caft,
Find a long path he had already past;
If forward, itill a longer path they find:
Both he compares, and measures in his mind;
And fometimes cafts an eye upon the east,
And fometimes looks on the forbidden west.
The horfes' names he knew not in the fright:
Nor would he loofe the reins, nor could he hold them tight:
Now all the horrors of the heavens he fpies,
And monftrous fhadows of prodigious fize,
That, deck'd with stars, lie fcatter'd o'er the fkies.
There is a place above, where Scorpio bent
In tail and arms furrounds a vast extent;
In a wide circuit of the heavens he fhines,
And fills the space of two celeftial figns.
Soon as the youth beheld him, vex'd with heat,
Brandifh his fting, and in his poifon sweat,
Half dead with fudden fear he dropt the reins;
The horfes felt them loofe upon their manes,
And, flying out through all the plains above,
Ran uncontrol'd where e'er their fury drove;
Rush'd on the stars, and through a pathless way,
Of unknown regions hurry'd on the day.
And now above, and now below they flew,
And near the earth the burning chariot drew.
The clouds difperfe in fumes, the wondering moon
Beholds her brother's fteeds beneath her own;
The highlands smoke, cleft by the piercing rays,
Or, clad with woods, in their own fuel blaze.
Next o'er the plains, where ripen'd harvests grow,
The running conflagration spreads below,
But thefe are trivial ills: whole cities burn,
And peopled kingdoms into afhes turn.
The mountains kindle as the car draws near,
Athos and Tmolus red with fires appear;
Oeagrian Hamus (then a fingle name)
And virgin Helicon increafe the flame;
Taurus and Oete glare amid the sky,
And Ida, spite of all her fountains, dry.
Eryx, and Othrys, and Citharon, glow;
And Rhodope, no longer cloath'd in fnow;
High Pindus, Mimas, and Parnaffus, sweat,
And Ætna rages with redoubled heat.
Ev'n Scythia, through her hoary regions warm'd,
In vain with all her native froft was arm'd.
Cover'd with flames, the towering Appennine,
And Caucafus, and proud Olympus, fhine;
And, where the long-extended Alps afpire,
Now ftands a huge continued range of fire.
Th' aftonish'd youth, where-e'er his eyes could turn, Beheld the univerfe around him burn:
The world was in a blaze; nor could he bear
The fultry vapours and the fcorching air,
Which from below, as from a furnace, flow'd;
And now the axle-tree beneath him glow'd :
Loft in the whirling clouds, that round him broke,
And white with ashes, hovering in the smoke,
He flew where-e'er the horses drove, nor knew
Whither the horfes drove, or where he flew.
'Twas then, they fay, the fwarthy Moor begun
To change his hue, and blacken in the fun.
Then Libya first, of all her moisture drain'd,
Became a barren waste, a wild of fand.
The water-nymphs lament their empty urrs;
Bœotia, robb'd of filver Dirce, mourns;
Corinth Pyrene's waited fpring bewails;
And Argos grieves whilst Amymonè fails.
The floods are drain'd from every distant coast:
Ev'n Tanaïs, though fix'd in ice, was lost;
Enrag'd Caïcus and Lycormas roar,
And Xanthus, fated to be burnt once more.
The fam'd Mæander, that unweary'd strays
Through mazy windings, fmokes in every maze.
From his lov'd Babylon Euphrates flies;
The big-swoln Ganges and the Danube rife
In thickening fumes, and darken half the fkies.
In flames Ifmenos and the Phafis roll'd,
And Tagus floating in his melted gold.
The swans, that on Cäyster often try’d
Their tuneful fongs, now fung their last, and dy'd.
The frighted Nile ran off, and under ground
Conceal'd his head, nor can it yet be found:
His feven divided currents are all dry,
And where they roll'd, feven gaping trenches lie.
No more the Rhine or Rhone their courfe maintain, Nor Tiber, of his promis'd empire vain.
The ground, deep cleft, admits the dazzling ray, And startles Pluto with the flash of day.
The feas fhrink in, and to the fight difclofe
Wide naked plains, where once their billows rofe;
Their rocks are all difcover'd, and increase
The number of the fcatter'd Cyclades.
The fish in fholes about the bottom creep,
Nor longer dares the crooked dolphin leap :
Gafping for breath, th' unshapen Phocæ die,
And on the boiling wave extended lie.
Nereus, and Doris with her virgin train,
Seek out the laft receffes of the main;
Beneath unfathomable depths they faint,
And fecret in their gloomy caverns pant.
Stern Neptune thrice above the waves upheld
His face, and thrice was by the flames repell'd.
The earth at length on every fide embrac'd
With fcalding feas, that floated round her waste,
When now fhe felt the fprings and rivers come,
And crowd within the hollow of her womb,
Up-lifted to the heavens her blafsted head,
And clapt her hands upon her brows, and faid;
(But firft, impatient of the fultry heat,
Sunk deeper down, and fought a cooler feat :)
"If you, great King of Gods, my death approve, "And I deferve it, let me die by Jove;
"If I must perish by the force of fire,
"Let me transfix'd with thunderbolts expire.