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What help will all my heav'nly friends afford,
breast I lift the pointed sword ? That hour, which join’d us, came before its time : In death we had been one without a crime. Why did thy flames beyond a brother's move? Why lov'd I thee with more than fister's love? For I lov'd too; and knowing not my wound, A secret pleasure in thy kisses found : My cheeks no longer did their colour boast, My food grew loathsome, and my strength I loft : Still ere I spoke, a figh would stop my tongue ; Short were my slumbers, and my nights were long, I knew not from my love these griefs did grow, Yet was, alas, the thing I did not know. My wily nurse by long experience found, And first discover'd to my soul its wound. 'Tis love, said she; and then my down-cast eyes, And guilty dumbness, witness'd my surprize, Forc'd at the last, my shameful pain I tell : And, oh, what follow'd we both know too well! “ When half denying, more than half content, • Embraces warm'd me to a full consent. “ Then with tumultuous joys my heart did beat, “ And guilt that made them anxious made them great." But now my swelling womb heav'd
breast, And rising weight my finking limbs oppreft. What herbs, what plants, did not my nurse produce, To make abortion by their pow'rful juice ? What med'cines try'd we not, to thee unknown ? Our first crime common; this was mine alone. But the strong child, secure in his dark cell, With nature's vigour did our arts repel, And now the pale-fac'd empress of the night Nine times had fill'd her orb with borrow'd light: Not knowing 'twas my labour, I complain Of sudden shootings, and of grinding pain:
My throes came thicker, and my cries increas'd,
Which with her hand the conscious nurse suppress’d.
To that unhappy fortune was I come,
Pain urg'd my clamours, but fear kept me dumb.
With inward struggling I restrain’d my cries,
And drunk the tears that trickled from my eyes.
Death was in fight, Lucina gave no aid;
And even my dyine had my guilt betray'd.
Thou cam'ft, and in thy count'nance sate despair;
Rent were thy garments all, and torn thy hair :
Yet feigning comfort, which thou couldst not give,
(Prest in thy arms, and whisp’ring me to live :)
For both our fakes, (faidst thou) preserve thy life;
Live, my dear Gifter, and my dearer wife.
Rais’d by that name
pangs I ftrove :
Such pow'r have words, when spoke by those we love.
The babe, as if he heard what thou hadít sworn,
With hafty joy sprung forward to be born.
What helps it to have weather’d out one storm?
Fear of our father does another form.
High in his hall, rock'd in a chair of state,
The king with his tempestuous council fate.
Thro’ this large room our only passage lay,
By which we could the new-born babe convey.
Swath'd in her lap, the bold nurse bore him out,
With olive branches cover'd round about ;
And, mutt'ring pray'rs, as holy rites the meant,
Thro' the divided croud unquestion’d went.
Just at the door, th' unhappy infant cry'd :
The grandfire heard him, and the theft he spy'd.
Swist as a whirlwind to the nurse he fies,
And deafs his stormy subjects with his cries.
With one fierce puff he blows the leaves away :
Expos'd the self-discover'd infant lay.
The noise reach'd me, and my presaging mind
Too soon its own approaching woes divin'd.
Not ships at sea with winds are shaken more,
Nor feas themselves, when angry tempefts roar,
Than I, when my loud father's voice I hear:
The bed beneath me trembled with fear.
He rush'd upon me, and divulg'd my stain;
Scarce from my murder could his hands refrain.
I only answer'd him with silent tears;
They flow’d: my tongue was frozen up
His little grand-child he commands away,
To mountain wolves and ev'ry bird of prey
The babe cry'd out, as if he understood,
And begg'd his pardon with what voice he could.
By what expressions can my grief be shown?
(Yet you may guess my anguish by your own)
To see my bowels, and, what yet was worse,
Your bowels too, condemn’d to such a curse!
Out went the king; my voice its freedom found,
My breasts I beat, my blubber'd cheeks I wound.
And now appear'd the messenger of death;
Sad were his looks, and scarce he drew his breath,
To say, “ Your father sends you”– (with that word
His trembling hands presented me a sword:)
“ Your father sends you this; and lets you know,
“ That your own crimes the use of it will show."
Too well I know the sense those words impart:
His present shall be treasur’d in my
heart. Are these the nuptial gifts a bride receives? And this the fatal dow'r a father gives? Thou God of Marriage, fhun thy own disgrace, And take thy torch from this detested place: Instead of that, let furies light their brands, And fire my pile with their infernal hands. With happier fortune may my sisters wed; Warn’d by the dire example of the dead. For thee, poor babe, what crime could they pretend? How could thy infant innocence offend?
A guilt there was; but, oh, that guilt was mine!
Thou suffer'it for a fin that was not thine.
Thy mother's grief and crime! but just enjoy'd,
Shewn to my right, and born to be deftroy'd!
Unhappy offspring of my teeming womb!
Drag'd headlong from thy cradle to thy tomb!
Thy un-offending life I could not save,
Nor weeping could I follow to thy grave:
Nor on thy tomb could offer my thorn hair;
Nor shew the grief which tender mothers bear.
Yet long thou shalt not from my arms be loft;
For foon I will o'ertake thy infant ghost.
But thou, my love, and now my love's despair,
Perform his fun'rals with paternal care.
His scatter'd limbs with my dead body burn;
And once more join us in the pious urn.
If on my wounded breast thou dropp'ít a tear,
Think for whose fake my breast that wound did bear;
And faithfully my last desires fulfil,
As I perform my cruel father's will.
Helen, having received an epistle from Paris, returns
the following answer: wherein the jeems at first to chide him for his presumption in writing as he had done, which could only proceed from his low opinion of her virtue; then owns herself to be sensible of the pasion, which he had expressed for her, though the much fufpected his constancy; and at last discovers her inclination to be favourable to him: the whole letter Jhewing the extreme artifice of womankind.
HEN loose epistles violate chaste eyes,
She half confents, who silently denies.
How dares a stranger, with designs so vain,
Marriage and hospitable rights prophane ?
Was it for this, your feet did shelter find
From swelling feas, and ev'ry faithless wind?
(For tho'a distant country brought you forth,
Your usage here was equal to your worth.)
Does this deserve to be rewarded fo?
Did you come here a stranger or a foe?
Your partial judgment may perhaps complain,
And think me barb'rous for my just disdain.
Ill-bred then let me be, but not uncharte,
my clear fame with any spot defac’d.
Tho' in my face there's no affected frown,
Nor in my carriage a feign’d niceness shown,
I keep my honour still without a stain,
Nor has my love made any coxcoinb vain.
Your boldness I with admiration fee;
What hope had you to gain a queen like me?