Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

XLII.

And white and silver robes, all overwrought

With cunning workmanship of tracery sweetExcept among the Gods there can be nought

In the wide world to be compared with it. Latona's offspring, after having sought

His herds in every corner, thus did greet Great Hermes :-“ Little cradled rogue, declare, Of my illustrious heifers, where they are !

XLIII.

"Speak quickly! or a quarrel between us

Must rise, and the event will be, that I
Shall haul you into dismal Tartarus,

In fiery gloom to dwell eternally!
Nor shall your father nor your mother loose

The bars of that black dungeon-utterly
You shall be cast out from the light of day,
To rule the ghosts of men, unblest as they."

XLIV.

To whom thus Hermes slily answered :-“Son

Of great Latona, what a speech is this ! Why come you here to ask me what is done

With the wild oxen which it seems you miss ? I have not seen them, nor from any one

Have heard a word of the whole business ; If you should promise an immense reward, I could not tell more than you now have heard.

XLV.

“ An ox-stealer should be both tall and strong,

And I am but a lit new-born thing, Who, yet at least, can think of nothing wrong:

My business is to suck, and sleep, and fling

The cradle-clothes about me all day long,—

Or, half asleep, hear my sweet mother sing, And to be washed in water clean and warm, And hushed and kissed and kept secure from harm.

XLVI.

Oh, let not e'er this quarrel be averred !

The astounded Gods would laugh at you, if e'er You should allege a story so absurd,

As that a new-born infant forth could fare Out of his home after a savage herd.

I was born yesterday—my small feet are Too tender for the roads so hard and rough :And if you think that this is not enough,

XLVII.

“I swear a great oath, by my father's head,

That I stole not your cows, and that I know Of no one else who might, or could, or did.

Whatever things cows are I do not know, For I have only heard the name.”—This said,

He winked as fast as could be, and his brow Was wrinkled, and a whistle loud gave he, Like one who hears some strange absurdity.

XLVIII.

Apollo gently smiled and said :

Aye, aye, — You cunning little rascal, you will bore Many a rich man's house, and your array

Of thieves will lay their siege before his door, Silent as night, in night; and many a day

In the wild glens rough shepherds will deplore That you or yours, having an appetite, Met with their cattle, comrade of the night!

XLIX.

“ And this among the Gods shall be your gift,

To be considered as the lord of those Who swindle, house-break, sheep-steal, and shop-lift ;

But now if you would not your last sleep doze,
Crawl out!”—Thus saying, Phoebus did uplift

The subtle infant in his swaddling-clothes,
And in his arms, according to his wont,
A scheme devised the illustrious Argiphont.

L.

*

*

*

And sneezed and shuddered—Phæbus on the grass

Him threw, and whilst all that he had designed He did perform-eager although to pass,

Apollo darted from his mighty mind Towards the subtle babe the following scoff: “Do not imagine this will get you off,

LI.

“ You little swaddled child of Jove and May!”

And seized him :-"By this omen I shall trace My noble herds, and

you

shall lead the way.”Cyllenian Hermes from the grassy place, Like one in earnest haste to get away,

Rose, and with hands lifted towards his face, Round both his ears up from his shoulders drew His swaddling clothes, and—“What mean you to do

LII.

“With me, you unkind God?”—said Mercury:

“Is it about these cows you teaze me so ? I wish the race of cows were perished !—I

Stole not your cows—I do not even know

What things cows are.

Alas! I well may sigh,
That, since I came into this world of woe,
I should have ever heard the name of one-
But I appeal to the Saturnian's throne.”

LIII.

Thus Phæbus and the vagrant Mercury

Talked without coming to an explanation, With adverse purpose. As for Phoebus, he

Sought not revenge, but only information,
And Hermes tried with lies and roguery

To cheat Apollo.—But when no evasion
Served-for the cunning one his match had found-
He paced on first over the sandy ground.

LIV.

He of the Silver Bow, the child of Jove,

Followed behind, till to their heavenly Sire
Came both his children-beautiful as Love,

And from his equal balance did require
A judgment in the cause wherein they strove.
O'er odorous Olympus and its snows
A murmuring tumult as they came arose, -

LV.

And from the folded depths of the great Hill,

While Hermes and Apollo reverent stood Before Jove's throne, the indestructible

Immortals rushed in mighty multitude; And, whilst their seats in order due they fill,

The lofty Thunderer in a careless mood To Phæbus said :-“Whence drive you this sweet prey, This herald-baby, born but yesterday?

[ocr errors]

LVI.

"A most important subject, trifler, this

To lay before the Gods!”—“Nay, father, nay, When

you

have understood the business, Say not that I alone am fond of prey. I found this little boy in a recess

Under Cyllene's mountains far away-
A manifest and most apparent thief,
A scandal-monger beyond all belief.

LVII.

· I never saw his like either in heaven

Or upon earth for knavery or craft : Out of the field

my

cattle yester-even,
By the low shore on which the loud sea laughed,
He right down to the river-ford had driven;
And mere astonishment would make

you

daft To see the double kind of footsteps strange He has impressed wherever he did range.

LVIII.

“The cattle's track on the black dust full well

Is evident, as if they went towards
The place from which they came-that asphodel

Meadow, in which I feed my many herds ;
L'is steps were most incomprehensible-

I know not how I can describe in words
Those tracks—he could have gone along the sands
Nei her

upon his feet nor on his hands ;

LIX.

• He nust have had some other stranger mode

Of moving on: those vestiges immense, Far as I raced them on the sandy road,

Seemed like the trail of oak-toppings but thence

« PoprzedniaDalej »