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This steed, by strong Poseidon's mace
That leapt to life, through airy space
Shall safely waft thee now."
Thus spake the goddess, wise as fair;
And with the word, dissolved in air,
Was seen no more. The knight
Brushed from his eyes the dazzling glare,
And scarce believed his sight.
But when he saw the steed was there,
He winged to Heaven a rapid prayer,
And for the airy flight
Buckled his purpose. Mounted now
With rapid wheel he soars,
O'er creek and crag, and rocky brow,
And swift-receding shores.
A lovely sight was there, I trow,
Where high on winged oars
He clove the pathless air. The sea,
With various-twinkling brilliancy,
Immense before him lay,
With many a coast far-stretching seen,
And many a high-cliffed isle between,
And many a winding bay.
High o'er Enone's isle he sails,*
Where acus' justest law prevails,
And masted armies ride;
O'er famous Sunium's rocky steep,
Where Pallas guards the Attic deep,
He swept with airy pride.
Ceos and Syros wondering saw
His meteor-steed with humble awe;
And sacred Delos deemed
Apollo's self, the fervid god
His own ethereal regions trod,
And with such brightness gleamed.
Swift o'er the Bacchic isle he glides,†
Where music mingles with the tides
From many a Mænad throat.
And nigh to Caria's craggy shore,
Cos with her blushing winy store
His sweeping view can note.
Anon, sublime he soars above
Thy temple, Atabyrian Jove,
The lord of cloudless Rhodes,‡
Where Telchins wise, with busy clamour,
Who shape the steel beneath the hammer,
Possess their famed abodes:
And swiftly then he swoops, I ween,
Down on the steeps of Cragus green
Into the pleasant plain,
Where Xanthus rolls his yellow stream,
And Phoebus lights with glorious gleam
The Patarean plain.
The old name of Ægina, whose maritime strength and commercial dignity are celebrated by Pindar. (Öl. viii.)
The climate of Rhodes is delightful. The Atabyrian mount is mentioned by Pindar, in the famous ode to Diagoras (ol. vii.), αλλ ὦ Ζεῦ πάτερ νώτοισιν Αταβύριου.
Here he alights. His heavenly steed,
With instant eye out-stripping speed
Scorning the earthly loam,
Wheels eastward far with vans sonorous,
And o'er the rosy peaks of Taurus
Sails to his starry home.
The Xanthian gate is wide and free ;*
The Xanthian towers are high;
The Xanthian streets are fair to see;
The knight, with wondering eye,
Beholds and enters. To the king
A ready troop the stranger bring,
And scan him o'er and o'er;
Curious that one so spruce and trim,
And with such light unwearied limb,
Had reached the Lycian shore.
With kindly heart the Xanthian lord
Opes his high hall and spreads his board,
And pours the Coan wine;
Nor question asked (for Jove gives free
To all a questless courtesy)
Till days were numbered nine.
His tablets then the knight presents;
The monarch scans their dire contents,
For here 'twas written plainly,
"If thou dost hate who works amiss
Let not his hand that beareth this
Have sinned against me vainly;
Thy Protus." Sore vexed was the king
That he must do a bloody thing
Against so brave a guest;
But vows were strong, and family bonds;
Therefore, composed, he thus responds-
"Brave knight, a fearful pest
Afflicts this land: a monster dire,
With terror armed, and breathing fire,
In Cragus holds her den,
Chimera named: with savage jaw
She bites, and with voracious maw
Consumes both beasts and men.
This hideous form its birth did take
From hoar Echidna, virgin-snake;
She to that fiery blaster,
Typhon, Cilicia's curse of yore
A triform goatish portent bore,
With serpent's sting and lion's roar,
This Lycian land's disaster.
Harmless at first, for sport 'twas bred
By Caria's thoughtless king,
And by his innocent children led
Obedient to a string.
Anon its hellish blood grew hot;
It breathed a breath of fire,
* On the subject of Lycia, and the topography of this part of the poem, it is perhaps superfluous to refer our readers to Sir Charles Fellowes' works, and the travels, in the same district, of Professor Edward Forbes, now of this city.
And tainted every household spot
With gouts of poison dire.
Full grown at length, and fierce and bold,
She ranges freely through each fold,
And licks the fleecy slaughter;
And, when her humour waxes wild,
No flesh she spares of man or child,
Echidna's gory daughter.
Now hear me, noble Glaucus' son,
Most valiant knight, Bellerophon;
Thou hast a face that seems to court
A dangerous business as a sport-
This thing I ask thee then;
Wilt thou go forth, and dare to tame
This murtherous monster breathing flame,
And win thyself a deathless name
Among the Xanthian men?"
Thus he (for in his heart he thought
Such venture must with life be bought).
But brave Bellerophon
Guileless received the guileful plan,
And, as an eager-purposed man,
Buckled his armour on.
Alone he went of such emprise
With this bold-breasted stranger
No one shall share, a herald cries,
The glory or the danger.
By Xanthus' stream he wends him then,
And leftward up the hollow glen
Where Pandarus' city, like a tower,
Rises begirt with rocky power;
Then upward, still he goes,
Where black-browed mountains round him lower, And 'neath chill winter's grisly bower
The sunless water flows.
Upon a steep rock hoar with eld
A yawning cave his eye beheld,
High-perched; and to that cave no trace
Of road upon the mountain's face,
But, like an eagle's nest,
Sublime it hung. He looked again,
And from the cave a tawny mane
Shook o'er the rocky crest;
And now a lion's head forth came,
And now, O Heaven! long tongues of flame
Ran wreathing round the hill.
No fear the son of Glaucus knew,
But pricked his forward will
The rock-perched monster to pursue :
On right, on left, he sought a clue
To thread that steep-faced hill;
But though the day had much ado,
When night came down with sable hue
It found him searching still.
Hid in the tangled brakes around
Next morn a rugged chasm he found,
That oped into an archway wide
Right through the hollow mountain-side;
Trails forth its length, and shows its head
And mouth all daubed with gore.
The brave knight drew his sword, and flew
Like lightning on the foe,
And on its hide of horny pride
Dealt ringing blow on blow.
In vain; that hide, Bellerophon,
Dipt in the flood of Acheron,
Is proof at every pore;
And where thy steel doth vainly hack,
A goat's head rising on its back
With living fire streams o'er;
And from behind, a serpent's tail,
With many mouths that hisses, Rears round about thee like a flail, To give thee poisoned kisses. The flame, the smoke, the sulphurous breath Doth choke thy mortal life; Spare that dear life, for only death Can grow from such a strife. Backward the flame-scorched hero sped, And as he went, upon his tread The roaring Terror came. Along the ridge, so sharp and jaggy, Huge-limb'd it strode, horrid and shaggy, And swathed with sevenfold flame. Down through the archway opening wide, Far through the hollow mountain-side, It drove him wrathful on;
Then through the black jaws of the rock
It hurled him with a furious shock,
And with a huge-heaved stone
Blocked up the rift. There in the vale,
Scarcely with life, all scorched and pale,
Was left Bellerophon.
That bent the knee before the knight,
And bowed its lofty head.
Raptured he woke; with sense now clear
He saw the heavenly maid,
And in her hand a massive spear,
Firm-planted, she displayed;
And thus she spake: "Ephyrian knight,
Dear to the gods art thou,
Not vainly did thy prayer invite
My aid to wing thy airy flight
To Cragus' rocky brow.
A friendly god is thy provider;
If thou hast wisely planned,
Fear not; the steed doth wait the rider,
The spear doth claim the hand.
That snake-born monster's horny hide,
That was not made to feel,
May never yield life's crimson tide
To sharpest Rhodian steel;
But with this spear from Vulcan's forge, Right through the mouth in the deep gorge If thou shalt pierce it, then
This dire Chimera, breathing flame,
Thou with a hero's hand shalt tame,
And win thyself a glorious name
Among the Xanthian men."
Upstood the knight, with hope elate,
And felt the aching pain abate
From all his sore-bruised limbs;
The winged steed he straight bestrode,
And to Chimera's black abode
Through liquid air he swims.
The deep-mouthed Terror 'gan to bray,
The forky fire-tongues 'gan to play,
The fretful serpents hissed dismay
Round all the rocky wall;
But with direct and eager speed
The rider and the heavenly steed
Rushed to achieve the fearless deed
At glorious danger's call.
The knight, with curious eye, did note
The centre of the roaring throat,
And while it gaped with gory jaws
To thunder fear around,
Forward he rode-nor any pause,
But right into Chimera's gorge
He drove the spear from Vulcan's forge,
And fixed it in the ground.
Up from the back the fell goat's head
Rose rough with swelling ire,
And right and left long tongues were spread Of forky-flaming fire;
But with immortal strength the steed
Flaps his huge vans around,
And straight the eager spires recede,
And harmless lick the ground.
Cowed lie the snakes, and with quick eye
A tender place the knight did spy
Where the neck joined the back ;
There with a fatal swoop he came,