The Odes and Carmen Saeculare/Book 3/Part 11

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XI.

Mercuri, nam te.

COME, Mercury, by whose minstrel spell
Amphion raised the Theban stones,
Come, with thy seven sweet strings, my shell,
Thy "diverse tones,"
Nor vocal once nor pleasant, now
To rich man's board and temple dear:
Put forth thy power, till Lyde bow
Her stubborn ear.
She, like a three-year colt unbroke,
Is frisking o'er the spacious plain,
Too shy to bear a lover's yoke,
A husband's rein.
The wood, the tiger, at thy call
Have follow'd: thou canst rivers stay:
The monstrous guard of Pluto's hall
To thee gave way,
Grim Cerberus, round whose Gorgon head
A hundred snakes are hissing death,
Whose triple jaws black venom shed,
And sickening breath.
Ixion too and Tityos smooth'd
Their rugged brows: the urn stood dry
One hour, while Danaus' maids were sooth'd
With minstrelsy.

Let Lyde hear those maidens' guilt,
Their famous doom, the ceaseless drain
Of outpour'd water, ever spilt,
And all the pain
Reserved for sinners, e'en when dead:
Those impious hands, (could crime do more?)
Those impious hands had hearts to shed
Their bridegrooms' gore!
One only, true to Hymen's flame,
Was traitress to her sire forsworn:
That splendid falsehood lights her name
Through times unborn.
"Wake!" to her youthful spouse she cried,
" Wake! or you yet may sleep too well:
Fly—from the father of your bride,
Her sisters fell:
They, as she-lions bullocks rend,
Tear each her victim: I, less hard
Than these, will slay you not, poor friend,
Nor hold in ward:
Me let my sire in fetters lay
For mercy to my husband shown:
Me let him ship far hence away,
To climes unknown.
Go; speed your flight o'er land and wave,
While Night and Venus shield you; go
Be blest: and on my tomb engrave
This tale of woe."