Pastorals Epistles Odes (1748)/Fable of Thule

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Pastorals, epistles, odes, and other original poems, with translations from Pindar, Anacreon, and Sappho  (1748)  by Ambrose Philips
The Fable of Thule

An unfinished poem about the mythical Thule.

Pastorals Epistles Odes (1748) p112 upper border.jpg




FAR northward as the Dane extends his ſway,
Where the ſun glances but a ſloping ray,
Beneath the ſharpeſt rigour of the skies,
Diſdainful Thule's wintry iſland lies. 4
Unhappy maid! thy tale, forgotten long,
Shall virgins learn from my inſtructive ſong,
And every youth, who lingers in deſpair,
By thy example warn the cruel fair. 8

In Cyprus, ſacred to the queen of love,
(Where ſtands her temple, and her myrtle grove,)
Was Thule born, uncertain how: 'tis ſaid
Once Venus won Adonis to her bed, 12
And pregnant grew, the birth to chance aſſign'd
In woods, and foſter'd by the feather'd kind.
With flowers ſome ſtrew the helpleſs orphan round,
With downy moſs ſome ſpread the carpet ground, 16
Some ripened fruits, ſome fragrant honey, bring;
And ſome fetch water from the running ſpring;
While others warble from the boughs, to cheer
Their infant charge, and tune her tender ear. 20
Soon as the ſun forſakes the evening skies,
And hid in ſhades the gloomy foreſt lies,
The nightingales their tuneful vigils keep,
And lull her, with their gentler ſtrains, to ſleep. 24

This the prevailing rumour: as ſhe grew,
No dubious tokens ſpoke the rumour true.
In every forming feature might be ſeen
Some bright reſemblance of the Cyprian queen: 28
Nor was it hard the hunter youth to trace,
In all her early paſſion for the chace:
And when, on ſpringing flowers reclin'd, ſhe ſung,
The birds upon the bending branches hung, 32
While, warbling, ſhe expreſs'd their various ſtrains,
And, at a diſtance, charm'd the liſtening ſwains:
So ſweet her voice reſounded through the wood,
They thought the nymph ſome Siren from the flood. 36

Half human thus by lineage, half divine,
In foreſts did the lonely beauty ſhine,
Like wood-land flowers, which paint the deſert glades,
And waſte their ſweets in unfrequented ſhades. 40
No human face ſhe ſaw, and rarely ſeen
By human face: a ſolitary queen
She rul'd, and rang'd, her ſhady empire round.
No horn the ſilent huntreſs bears; no hound, 44
With noiſy cry, diſturbs her ſolemn chace,
Swift, as the bounding ſtag, ſhe wings her pace;
And, bend when-e'er ſhe will her ebon bow,
A ſpeedy death arreſts the flying foe. 48
The bow the hunting goddeſs firſt fupply'd,
And ivory quiver croſs her ſhoulders ty'd.

The imperious queen of heaven, with jealous eyes,
Beholds the blooming virgin from the skies, 52
At once admires, and dreads, her growing charms,
And ſees the god already in her arms:
In vain, ſhe finds, her bitter tongue reproves
His broken vows, and his clandeſtine loves: 56
Jove ſtill continues frail: and all in vain
Does Thule, in obſcureſt ſhades remain,
While Maja's ſon, the thunderer's winged ſpy,
Informs him where the lurking beauties ly. 60
What ſure expedient then ſhall Juno find,
To calm her fears, and eaſe her boding mind?
Delays to jealous minds a torment prove;
And Thule ripens every day for love. 64

She mounts her car, and ſhakes the ſilken reins;
The harneſs'd peacocks ſpread their painted trains,
And ſmooth their gloſſy necks againſt the ſun:
The wheels along the level Azure run. 68
Eaſtward the goddeſs guides her gaudy team,
And perfects, as ſhe rides, her forming ſcheme.

The various orbs now paſs'd, adown the ſteep
Of heaven the chariot whirls, and plunges deep 72
In fleecy clouds, which o'er the mid-land main
Hang pois'd in air, to bleſs the iſles with rain:
And here the panting birds repoſe a-while;
Not ſo their queen; ſhe gains the Cyprian iſle, 76
By ſpeedy Zephyrs borne in thickned air:
Unſeen ſhe ſeeks, unſeen ſhe finds, the fair.

Now o'er the mountain tops the riſing ſun
Shot purple rays: now Thule had begun 80
Her morning chace, and printed in the dews
Her fleeting ſteps. The goddeſs now purſues,
Now over-takes her in the full career,
And flings a javelin at the flying deer. 84
Amaz'd, the virgin huntreſs turns her eyes;
When Juno, (now Diana in diſguiſe,)
Let no vain terrours diſcompoſe thy mind;
My ſecond viſit, like my firſt, is kind. 88
Thy ivory quiver, and thy ebon bow,
Did not I give?——Here ſudden bluſhes glow
On Thule's cheeks: her buſy eyes ſurvey
The dreſs, the creſcent, and her doubts give way. 92

I own thee, goddeſs bright, the nymph replies,
Goddeſs, I own thee, and thy favours prize:
Goddeſs of woods, and lawns, and level plains,
Freſh in my mind thine image ſtill remains. 96

Then Juno, beauteous ranger of the grove,
My darling care, fair object of my love,
Hither I come, urg'd by no trivial fears,
To guard thy bloom, and warn thy tender years. 100