DRAMATIS PERSONAE (Persons Represented):
- INO, EUNOE, Nymphs attendant upon Proserpine.
- ARETHUSA, Naiad of a Spring.
- Shades from Hell, among which ASCALAPHUS.
Scene.—The plain of Enna, in Sicily.
[Scene;—a beautiful plain, shadowed on one side by an overhanging rock, on the other a chesnut wood. Etna at a distance.]
- Dear Mother, leave me not! I love to rest
- Under the shadow of that hanging cave
- And listen to your tales. Your Proserpine
- Entreats you stay; sit on this shady bank,
- And as I twine a wreathe tell once again
- The combat of the Titans and the Gods;
- Or how the Python fell beneath the dart
- Of dread Apollo; or of Daphne's change,–
- That coyest Grecian maid, whose pointed leaves
- Now shade her lover's brow. And I the while
- Gathering the starry flowers of this fair plain
- Will weave a chaplet, Mother, for thy hair.
- But without thee, the plain I think is vacant,
- Its blossoms fade,–its tall fresh grasses droop,
- Nodding their heads like dull things half asleep;–
- Go not, dear Mother, from your Proserpine.
- My lovely child, it is high Jove's command:–
- The golden self-moved seats surround his throne,
- The nectar is poured out by Ganymede,
- And the ambrosia fills the golden baskets;
- They drink, for Bacchus is already there,
- But none will eat till I dispense the food.
- I must away–dear Proserpine, farewel!–
- Eunoe can tell thee how the giants fell;
- Or dark-eyed Ino sing the saddest change
- Of Syrinx or of Daphne, or the doom
- Of impious Prometheus, and the boy
- Of fair Pandora, Mother of mankind.
- This only charge I leave thee and thy nymphs,–
- Depart not from each other; be thou circled
- By that fair guard, and then no earth-born Power
- Would tempt my wrath, and steal thee from their sight
- But wandering alone, by feint or force,
- You might be lost, and I might never know
- Thy hapless fate. Farewel, sweet daughter mine,
- Remember my commands.
- –Mother, farewel!
- Climb the bright sky with rapid wings; and swift
- As a beam shot from great Apollo's bow
- Rebounds from the calm mirror of the sea
- Back to his quiver in the Sun, do thou
- Return again to thy loved Proserpine.
- And now, dear Nymphs, while the hot sun is high
- Darting his influence right upon the plain,
- Let us all sit beneath the narrow shade
- That noontide Etna casts.–And, Ino, sweet,
- Come hither; and while idling thus we rest,
- Repeat in verses sweet the tale which says
- How great Prometheus from Apollo's car
- Stole heaven's fire–a God-like gift for Man!
- Or the more pleasing tale of Aphrodite;
- How she arose from the salt Ocean's foam,
- And sailing in her pearly shell, arrived
- On Cyprus sunny shore, where myrtles bloomed
- And sweetest flowers, to welcome Beauty's Queen;
- And ready harnessed on the golden sands
- Stood milk-white doves linked to a sea-shell car,
- With which she scaled the heavens, and took her seat
- Among the admiring Gods.
- Proserpine's tale
- Is sweeter far than Ino's sweetest song.
- Ino, you knew erewhile a River-God,
- Who loved you well and did you oft entice
- To his transparent waves and flower-strewn banks.
- He loved high poesy and wove sweet sounds,
- And would sing to you as you sat reclined
- On the fresh grass beside his shady cave,
- From which clear waters bubbled, dancing forth,
- And spreading freshness in the noontide air.
- When you returned you would enchant our ears
- With tales and songs which did entice the fauns,
- With Pan their King from their green haunts, to hear.
- Tell me one now, for like the God himself,
- Tender they were and fanciful, and wrapt
- The hearer in sweet dreams of shady groves,
- Blue skies, and clearest, pebble-paved streams.
- I will repeat the tale which most I loved;
- Which tells how lily-crowned Arethusa,
- Your favourite Nymph, quitted her native Greece,
- Flying the liquid God Alpheus, who followed,
- Cleaving the desarts of the pathless deep,
- And rose in Sicily, where now she flows
- The clearest spring of Enna's gifted plain.
- Arethusa arose
- From her couch of snows,
- In the Acroceraunian mountains,–
- From cloud, and from crag,
- With many a jag,
- Shepherding her bright fountains.
- She leapt down the rocks
- With her rainbow locks,
- Streaming among the streams,–
- Her steps paved with green
- The downward ravine,
- Which slopes to the Western gleams:–
- And gliding and springing,
- She went, ever singing
- In murmurs as soft as sleep;
- The Earth seemed to love her
- And Heaven smiled above her,
- As she lingered towards the deep.
- Then Alpheus bold
- On his glacier cold,
- With his trident the mountains strook;
- And opened a chasm
- In the rocks;–with the spasm
- All Erymanthus shook.
- And the black south wind
- It unsealed behind
- The urns of the silent snow,
- And earthquake and thunder
- Did rend in sunder
- The bars of the springs below:–
- And the beard and the hair
- Of the river God were
- Seen through the torrent's sweep
- As he followed the light
- Of the fleet nymph's flight
- To the brink of the Dorian deep.
- Oh, save me! oh, guide me!
- And bid the deep hide me,
- For he grasps me now by the hair!
- The loud ocean heard,
- To its blue depth stirred,
- And divided at her prayer,
- And under the water
- The Earth's white daughter
- Fled like a sunny beam,
- Behind her descended
- Her billows unblended
- With the brackish Dorian stream:–
- Like a gloomy stain
- On the Emerald main
- Alpheus rushed behind,
- As an eagle pursueing
- A dove to its ruin,
- Down the streams of the cloudy wind.
- Under the bowers
- Where the Ocean Powers
- Sit on their pearled thrones,
- Through the coral woods
- Of the weltering floods,
- Over heaps of unvalued stones;
- Through the dim beams,
- Which amid the streams
- Weave a network of coloured light,
- And under the caves,
- Where the shadowy waves
- Are as green as the forest's night:–
- Outspeeding the shark,
- And the sword fish dark,
- Under the Ocean foam,
- And up through the rifts
- Of the mountain clifts,
- They passed to their Dorian Home.
- And now from their fountains
- In Enna's mountains,
- Down one vale where the morning basks,
- Like friends once parted,
- Grown single hearted
- They ply their watery tasks.
- At sunrise they leap
- From their cradles steep
- In the cave of the shelving hill,–
- At noontide they flow
- Through the woods below
- And the meadows of asphodel,–
- And at night they sleep
- In the rocking deep
- Beneath the Ortygian shore;–
- Like spirits that lie
- In the azure sky,
- When they love, but live no more.
- Thanks, Ino dear, you have beguiled an hour
- With poesy that might make pause to list
- The nightingale in her sweet evening song.
- But now no more of ease and idleness,
- The sun stoops to the west, and Enna's plain
- Is overshadowed by the growing form
- Of giant Etna:–Nymphs, let us arise,
- And cull the sweetest flowers of the field,
- And with swift fingers twine a blooming wreathe
- For my dear Mother's rich and waving hair.
- Violets blue and white anemonies
- Bloom on the plain,–but I will climb the brow
- Of that o'erhanging hill, to gather thence
- That loveliest rose, it will adorn thy crown;
- Ino, guard Proserpine till my return.
- How lovely is this plain!–Nor Grecian vale,
- Nor bright Ausonia's ilex bearing shores,
- The myrtle bowers of Aphrodite's sweet isle,
- Or Naxos burthened with the luscious vine,
- Can boast such fertile or such verdant fields
- As these, which young Spring sprinkles with her stars;–
- Nor Crete which boasts fair Amalthea's horn
- Can be compared with the bright golden fields
- Of Ceres, Queen of plenteous Sicily.
- Sweet Ino, well I know the love you bear
- My dearest Mother prompts your partial voice,
- And that love makes you doubly dear to me.
- But you are idling,–look, my lap is full
- Of sweetest flowers;–haste to gather more,
- That before sunset we may make our crown.
- Last night as we strayed through that glade, methought
- The wind that swept my cheek bore on its wings
- The scent of fragrant violets, hid
- Beneath the straggling underwood; Haste, sweet,
- To gather them; fear not–I will not stray.
- Nor fear that I shall loiter in my task.
PROSERPINE. [Sings as she gathers her flowers.]
- Sacred Goddess, Mother Earth,
- Thou from whose immortal bosom
- Gods, and men, and beasts have birth,
- Leaf, and blade, and bud, and blossom,
- Breathe thine influence most divine
- On thine own child Proserpine.
- If with mists of evening dew
- Thou dost nourish these young flowers
- Till they grow in scent and hue
- Fairest children of the hours,
- Breathe thine influence most divine
- On thine own child Proserpine.
[she looks around.]
- My nymphs have left me, neglecting the commands
- Of my dear Mother. Where can they have strayed?
- Her caution makes me fear to be alone;–
- I'll pass that yawning cave and seek the spring
- Of Arethuse, where water-lilies bloom
- Perhaps the nymph now wakes tending her waves,
- She loves me well and oft desires my stay,–
- The lilies shall adorn my mother's crown.
[After a pause enter EUNOE.]
- I've won my prize! look at this fragrant rose!
- But where is Proserpine? Ino has strayed
- Too far I fear, and she will be fatigued,
- As I am now, by my long toilsome search.
- Oh! you here, Wanderer! Where is Proserpine?
- My lap's heaped up with sweets; dear Proserpine,
- You will not chide me now for idleness;–
- Look here are all the treasures of the field,–
- First these fresh violets, which crouched beneath
- A mossy rock, playing at hide and seek
- With both the sight and sense through the high fern;
- Star-eyed narcissi & the drooping bells
- Of hyacinths; and purple polianthus,
- Delightful flowers are these; but where is she,
- The loveliest of them all, our Mistress dear?
- I know not, even now I left her here,
- Guarded by you, oh Ino, while I climbed
- Up yonder steep for this most worthless rose:–
- Know you not where she is? Did you forget
- Ceres' behest, and thus forsake her child?
- Chide not, unkind Eunoe, I but went
- Down that dark glade, where underneath the shade
- Of those high trees the sweetest violets grow,–
- I went at her command. Alas! Alas!
- My heart sinks down; I dread she may be lost;–
- Eunoe, climb the hill, search that ravine,
- Whose close, dark sides may hide her from our view:–
- Oh, dearest, haste! Is that her snow-white robe?
- No;–'tis a fawn beside its sleeping Mother,
- Browsing the grass;–what will thy Mother say,
- Dear Proserpine, what will bright Ceres feel,
- If her return be welcomed not by thee?
- These are wild thoughts,–& we are wrong to fear
- That any ill can touch the child of heaven;
- She is not lost,–trust me, she has but strayed
- Up some steep mountain path, or in yon dell,
- Or to the rock where yellow wall-flowers grow,
- Scaling with venturous step the narrow path
- Which the goats fear to tread;–she will return
- And mock our fears.
- The sun now dips his beams
- In the bright sea; Ceres descends at eve
- From Jove's high conclave; if her much-loved child
- Should meet her not in yonder golden field,
- Where to the evening wind the ripe grain waves
- Its yellow head, how will her heart misgive.
- Let us adjure the Naiad of yon brook,
- She may perchance have seen our Proserpine,
- And tell us to what distant field she's strayed:–
- Wait thou, dear Ino, here, while I repair
- To the tree-shaded source of her swift stream.
- Why does my heart misgive? & scalding tears,
- That should but mourn, now prophecy her loss?
- Oh, Proserpine! Where'er your luckless fate
- Has hurried you,–to wastes of desart sand,
- Or black Cymmerian cave, or dread Hell,
- Yet Ino still will follow! Look where Eunoe
- Comes, with down cast eyes and faltering steps,
- I fear the worst;–
- Has she not then been seen?
- Alas, all hope is vanished! Hymera says
- She slept the livelong day while the hot beams
- Of Phoebus drank her waves;–nor did she wake
- Until her reed-crowned head was wet with dew;–
- If she had passed her grot she slept the while.
- Alas! Alas! I see the golden car,
- And hear the flapping of the dragons wings,
- Ceres descends to Earth. I dare not stay,
- I dare not meet the sorrow of her look,
- The angry glance of her severest eyes.
- Quick up the mountain! I will search the dell,
- She must return, or I will never more.
- And yet I will not fly, though I fear much
- Her angry frown and just reproach, yet shame
- Shall quell this childish fear, all hope of safety
- For her lost child rests but in her high power,
- And yet I tremble as I see her come.
- Where is my daughter? have I aught to dread?
- Where does she stray? Ino, you answer not;–
- She was aye wont to meet me in yon field,–
- Your looks bode ill;–I fear my child is lost.
- Eunoe now seeks her track among the woods;
- Fear not, great Ceres, she has only strayed.
- Alas! My boding heart,–I dread the worst.
- Oh, careless nymphs! oh, heedless Proserpine!
- And did you leave her wandering by herself?
- She is immortal,–yet unusual fear
- Runs through my veins. Let all the woods be sought,
- Let every dryad, every gamesome faun
- Tell where they last beheld her snowy feet
- Tread the soft, mossy paths of the wild wood.
- But that I see the base of Etna firm
- I well might fear that she had fallen a prey
- To Earth-born Typheus, who might have arisen
- And seized her as the fairest child of heaven,
- That in his dreary caverns she lies bound;
- It is not so: all is as safe and calm
- As when I left my child. Oh, fatal day!
- Eunoe does not return: in vain she seeks
- Through the black woods and down the darksome glades,
- And night is hiding all things from our view.
- I will away, and on the highest top
- Of snowy Etna, kindle two clear flames.
- Night shall not hide her from my anxious search,
- No moment will I rest, or sleep, or pause
- Till she returns, until I clasp again
- My only loved one, my lost Proserpine.
END OF ACT FIRST.
Scene; -the Plain of Enna as before.]
[Enter Ino & Eunoe.]
- How weary am I! and the hot sun flushes
- My cheeks that else were white with fear and grief.
- E'er since that fatal day, dear sister nymph,
- On which we lost our lovely Proserpine,
- I have but wept and watched the livelong night
- And all the day have wandered through the woods.
- How all is changed since that unhappy eve!
- Ceres forever weeps, seeking her child,
- And in her rage has struck the land with blight;
- Trinacria mourns with her;–its fertile fields
- Are dry and barren, and all little brooks
- Struggling scarce creep within their altered banks;
- The flowers that erst were wont with bended heads,
- To gaze within the clear and glassy wave,
- Have died, unwatered by the failing stream.–
- And yet their hue but mocks the deeper grief
- Which is the fountain of these bitter tears.
- But who is this, that with such eager looks
- Hastens this way?–
- 'Tis fairest Arethuse,
- A stranger naiad, yet you know her well.
- My eyes were blind with tears.
- Dear Arethuse,
- Methinks I read glad tidings in your eyes,
- Your smiles are the swift messengers that bear
- A tale of coming joy, which we, alas!
- Can answer but with tears, unless you bring
- To our grief solace, Hope to our Despair.
- Have you found Proserpine? or know you where
- The loved nymph wanders, hidden from our search?
- Where is corn-crowned Ceres? I have hastened
- To ease her anxious heart.
- Oh! dearest Naiad,
- Herald of joy! Now will great Ceres bless
- Thy welcome coming & more welcome tale.
- Since that unhappy day when Ceres lost
- Her much-loved child, she wanders through the isle;
- Dark blight is showered from her looks of sorrow;–
- And where tall corn and all seed-bearing grass
- Rose from beneath her step, they wither now
- Fading under the frown of her bent brows:
- The springs decrease;–the fields whose delicate green
- Was late her chief delight, now please alone,
- Because they, withered, seem to share her grief.
- Unhappy Goddess! how I pity thee!
- At night upon high Etna's topmost peak
- She lights two flames, that shining through the isle
- Leave dark no wood, or cave, or mountain path,
- Their sunlike splendour makes the moon-beams dim,
- And the bright stars are lost within their day.
- She's in yon field,–she comes towards this plain,
- Her loosened hair has fallen on her neck,
- Uncircled by the coronal of grain:–
- Her cheeks are wan,–her step is faint & slow.
- I faint with weariness: a dreadful thirst
- Possesses me! Must I give up the search?
- Oh! never, dearest Proserpine, until
- I once more clasp thee in my vacant arms!
- Help me, dear Arethuse! fill some deep shell
- With the clear waters of thine ice-cold spring,
- And bring it me;–I faint with heat and thirst.
- My words are better than my freshest waves:
- I saw your Proserpine–
- Arethusa, where?
- Tell me! my heart beats quick, & hope and fear
- Cause my weak limbs to fail me.–
- Sit, Goddess,
- Upon this mossy bank, beneath the shade
- Of this tall rock, and I will tell my tale.
- The day you lost your child, I left my source.
- With my Alpheus I had wandered down
- The sloping shore into the sunbright sea;
- And at the coast we paused, watching the waves
- Of our mixed waters dance into the main:–
- When suddenly I heard the thundering tread
- Of iron hoofed steeds trampling the ground,
- And a faint shriek that made my blood run cold.
- I saw the King of Hell in his black car,
- And in his arms he bore your fairest child,
- Fair as the moon encircled by the night,–
- But that she strove, and cast her arms aloft,
- And cried, "My Mother!"–When she saw me near
- She would have sprung from his detested arms,
- And with a tone of deepest grief, she cried,
- "Oh, Arethuse!" I hastened at her call–
- But Pluto when he saw that aid was nigh,
- Struck furiously the green earth with his spear,
- Which yawned,–and down the deep Tartarian gulph
- His black car rolled–the green earth closed above.
CERES. [Starting up]
- Is this thy doom, great Jove? & shall Hell's king
- Quitting dark Tartarus, spread grief and tears
- Among the dwellers of your bright abodes?
- Then let him seize the earth itself, the stars,–
- And all your wide dominion be his prey!–
- Your sister calls upon your love, great King!
- As you are God I do demand your help!–
- Restore my child, or let all heaven sink,
- And the fair world be chaos once again!
- Look! in the East that loveliest bow is formed;
- Heaven's single-arched bridge, it touches now
- The Earth, and 'mid the pathless wastes of heaven
- It paves a way for Jove's fair Messenger;–
- Iris descends, and towards this field she comes.
- Sovereign of Harvests, 'tis the Messenger
- That will bring joy to thee. Thine eyes light up
- With sparkling hope, thy cheeks are pale with dread.
- Speak, heavenly Iris! let thy words be poured
- Into my drooping soul, like dews of eve
- On a too long parched field.–Where is my Proserpine?
- Sister of Heaven, as by Joves throne I stood
- The voice of thy deep prayer arose,–it filled
- The heavenly courts with sorrow and dismay:
- The Thunderer frowned, & heaven shook with dread
- I bear his will to thee, 'tis fixed by fate,
- Nor prayer nor murmur e'er can alter it.
- If Proserpine while she has lived in hell
- Has not polluted by Tartarian food
- Her heavenly essence, then she may return,
- And wander without fear on Enna's plain,
- Or take her seat among the Gods above.
- If she has touched the fruits of Erebus,
- She never may return to upper air,
- But doomed to dwell amidst the shades of death,
- The wife of Pluto and the Queen of Hell.
- Joy treads upon the sluggish heels of care!
- The child of heaven disdains Tartarian food.
- Pluto, give up thy prey! restore my child!
- Soon she will see again the sun of Heaven,
- By gloomy shapes, inhabitants of Hell,
- Attended, and again behold the field
- Of Enna, the fair flowers & the streams,
- Her late delight,–& more than all, her Mother.
- Our much-loved, long-lost Mistress, do you come?
- And shall once more your nymphs attend your steps?
- Will you again irradiate this isle–
- That drooped when you were lost?
- & once again
- Trinacria smile beneath your Mother's eye?
[CERES and her companions are ranged on one side in eager
- expectation; from, the cave on the other, enter PROSERPINE,
- attended by various dark & gloomy shapes bearing
- torches; among which ASCALAPHUS. CERES & PROSERPINE
- embrace;–her nymphs surround her.]
- Welcome, dear Proserpine! Welcome to light,
- To this green earth and to your Mother's arms.
- You are too beautiful for Pluto's Queen;
- In the dark Stygian air your blooming cheeks
- Have lost their roseate tint, and your bright form
- Has faded in that night unfit for thee.
- Then I again behold thee, Mother dear:–
- Again I tread the flowery plain of Enna,
- And clasp thee, Arethuse, & you, my nymphs;
- I have escaped from hateful Tartarus,
- The abode of furies and all loathed shapes
- That thronged around me, making hell more black.
- Oh! I could worship thee, light giving Sun,
- Who spreadest warmth and radiance o'er the world.
- Look at the branches of those chesnut trees,
- That wave to the soft breezes, while their stems
- Are tinged with red by the sun's slanting rays.
- And the soft clouds that float 'twixt earth and sky.
- How sweet are all these sights! There all is night!
- No God like that [pointing to the sun]
- smiles on the Elysian plains,
- The air is windless, and all shapes are still.
- And must I interpose in this deep joy,
- And sternly cloud your hopes? Oh! answer me,
- Art thou still, Proserpine, a child of light?
- Or hast thou dimmed thy attributes of Heaven
- By such Tartarian food as must for ever
- Condemn thee to be Queen of Hell & Night?
- No, Iris, no,–I still am pure as thee:
- Offspring of light and air, I have no stain
- Of Hell. I am for ever thine, oh, Mother!
CERES. [to the shades from Hell]
- Begone, foul visitants to upper air!
- Back to your dens! nor stain the sunny earth
- By shadows thrown from forms so foul–Crouch in!
- Proserpine, child of light, is not your Queen!
[to the nymphs]
- Quick bring my car,–we will ascend to heaven,
- Deserting Earth, till by decree of Jove,
- Eternal laws shall bind the King of Hell
- To leave in peace the offspring of the sky.
- Stay, Ceres! By the dread decree of Jove
- Your child is doomed to be eternal Queen
- Of Tartarus,–nor may she dare ascend
- The sunbright regions of Olympian Jove,
- Or tread the green Earth 'mid attendant nymphs.
- Proserpine, call to mind your walk last eve,
- When as you wandered in Elysian groves,
- Through bowers for ever green, and mossy walks,
- Where flowers never die, nor wind disturbs
- The sacred calm, whose silence soothes the dead,
- Nor interposing clouds, with dun wings, dim
- Its mild and silver light, you plucked its fruit,
- You ate of a pomegranate's seeds–
- Be silent,
- Prophet of evil, hateful to the Gods!
- Sweet Proserpine, my child, look upon me.
- You shrink; your trembling form & pallid cheeks
- Would make his words seem true which are most false.
- Thou didst not taste the food of Erebus;–
- Offspring of Gods art thou,–nor Hell, nor Jove
- Shall tear thee from thy Mother's clasping arms.
- If fate decrees, can we resist? farewel!
- Oh! Mother, dearer to your child than light,
- Than all the forms of this sweet earth & sky,
- Though dear are these, and dear are my poor nymphs,
- Whom I must leave;–oh! can immortals weep?
- And can a Goddess die as mortals do,
- Or live & reign where it is death to be?
- Ino, dear Arethuse, again you lose
- Your hapless Proserpine, lost to herself
- When she quits you for gloomy Tartarus.
- Is there no help, great Jove? If she depart
- I will descend with her–the Earth shall lose
- Its proud fertility, and Erebus
- Shall bear my gifts throughout th' unchanging year.
- Valued till now by thee, tyrant of Gods!
- My harvests ripening by Tartarian fires
- Shall feed the dead with Heaven's ambrosial food.
- Wilt thou not then repent, brother unkind,
- Viewing the barren earth with vain regret,
- Thou didst not shew more mercy to my child?
- We will all leave the light and go with thee,
- In Hell thou shalt be girt by Heaven-born nymphs,
- Elysium shall be Enna,–thou'lt not mourn
- Thy natal plain, which will have lost its worth
- Having lost thee, its nursling and its Queen.
- I will sink down with thee;–my lily crown
- Shall bloom in Erebus, portentous loss
- To Earth, which by degrees will fade & fall
- In envy of our happier lot in Hell;–
- And the bright sun and the fresh winds of heaven
- Shall light its depths and fan its stagnant air.
[They cling round Proserpine; the Shades of Hell seperate and stand between them.]
- Depart! She is our Queen! Ye may not come!
- Hark to Jove's thunder! shrink away in fear
- From unknown forms, whose tyranny ye'll feel
- In groans and tears if ye insult their power.
- Behold Jove's balance hung in upper sky;
- There are ye weighed,–to that ye must submit.
- Oh! Jove, have mercy on a Mother's prayer!
- Shall it be nought to be akin to thee?
- And shall thy sister, Queen of fertile Earth,
- Derided be by these foul shapes of Hell?
- Look at the scales, they're poized with equal weights!
- What can this mean? Leave me not, Proserpine
- Cling to thy Mother's side! He shall not dare
- Divide the sucker from the parent stem.
- He is almighty! who shall set the bounds
- To his high will? let him decide our plea!
- Fate is with us, & Proserpine is ours!
[He endeavours to part Ceres & Proserpine, the nymphs prevent him.]
- Peace, ominous bird of Hell & Night! Depart!
- Nor with thy skriech disturb a Mother's grief,
- Avaunt! It is to Jove we pray, not thee.
- Thy fate, sweet Proserpine, is sealed by Jove,
- When Enna is starred by flowers, and the sun
- Shoots his hot rays strait on the gladsome land,
- When Summer reigns, then thou shalt live on Earth,
- And tread these plains, or sporting with your nymphs,
- Or at your Mother's side, in peaceful joy.
- But when hard frost congeals the bare, black ground,
- The trees have lost their leaves, & painted birds
- Wailing for food sail through the piercing air;
- Then you descend to deepest night and reign
- Great Queen of Tartarus, 'mid shadows dire,
- Offspring of Hell,–or in the silent groves
- Of, fair Elysium through which Lethe runs,
- The sleepy river; where the windless air
- Is never struck by flight or song of bird,–
- But all is calm and clear, bestowing rest,
- After the toil of life, to wretched men,
- Whom thus the Gods reward for sufferings
- Gods cannot know; a throng of empty shades!
- The endless circle of the year will bring
- Joy in its turn, and seperation sad;
- Six months to light and Earth,–six months to Hell.
- Dear Mother, let me kiss that tear which steals
- Down your pale cheek altered by care and grief.
- This is not misery; 'tis but a slight change
- Prom our late happy lot. Six months with thee,
- Each moment freighted with an age of love:
- And the six short months in saddest Tartarus
- Shall pass in dreams of swift returning joy.
- Six months together we shall dwell on earth,
- Six months in dreams we shall companions be,
- Jove's doom is void; we are forever joined.
- Oh, fairest child! sweet summer visitor!
- Thy looks cheer me, so shall they cheer this land
- Which I will fly, thou gone. Nor seed of grass,
- Or corn shall grow, thou absent from the earth;
- But all shall lie beneath in hateful night
- Until at thy return, the fresh green springs,
- The fields are covered o'er with summer plants.
- And when thou goest the heavy grain will droop
- And die under my frown, scattering the seeds,
- That will not reappear till your return.
- Farewel, sweet child, Queen of the nether world,
- There shine as chaste Diana's silver car
- Islanded in the deep circumfluous night.
- Giver of fruits! for such thou shalt be styled,
- Sweet Prophetess of Summer, coming forth
- From the slant shadow of the wintry earth,
- In thy car drawn by snowy-breasted swallows!
- Another kiss, & then again farewel!
- Winter in losing thee has lost its all,
- And will be doubly bare, & hoar, & drear,
- Its bleak winds whistling o'er the cold pinched ground
- Which neither flower or grass will decorate.
- And as my tears fall first, so shall the trees
- Shed their changed leaves upon your six months tomb:
- The clouded air will hide from Phoebus' eye
- The dreadful change your absence operates.
- Thus has black Pluto changed the reign of Jove,
- He seizes half the Earth when he takes thee.