Vergil. Aeneid. John Dryden. trans.

  1. So saying, she stirred a passion-burning breast
  2. to Iove more madly still; her words infused
  3. a doubting mind with hope, and bade the blush
  4. of shame begone. First to the shrines they went
  5. and sued for grace; performing sacrifice,
  6. choosing an offering of unblemished ewes,
  7. to law-bestowing Ceres, to the god
  8. of light, to sire Lyeus, Iord of wine;
  9. but chiefly unto Juno, patroness
  10. of nuptial vows. There Dido, beauteous Queen
  11. held forth in her right hand the sacred bowl
  12. and poured it full between the lifted horns
  13. of the white heifer; or on temple floors
  14. she strode among the richly laden shrines,
  15. the eyes of gods upon her, worshipping
  16. with many a votive gift; or, peering deep
  17. into the victims' cloven sides, she read
  18. the fate-revealing tokens trembling there.
  19. How blind the hearts of prophets be! Alas!
  20. Of what avail be temples and fond prayers
  21. to change a frenzied mind? Devouring ever,
  22. love's fire burns inward to her bones; she feels
  23. quick in her breast the viewless, voiceless wound.
  24. Ill-fated Dido ranges up and down
  25. the spaces of her city, desperate
  26. her life one flame—like arrow-stricken doe
  27. through Cretan forest rashly wandering,
  28. pierced by a far-off shepherd, who pursues
  29. with shafts, and leaves behind his light-winged steed,
  30. not knowing; while she scours the dark ravines
  31. of Dicte and its woodlands; at her heart
  32. the mortal barb irrevocably clings.
  33. around her city's battlements she guides
  34. aeneas, to make show of Sidon's gold,
  35. and what her realm can boast; full oft her voice
  36. essays to speak and frembling dies away:
  37. or, when the daylight fades, she spreads anew
  38. a royal banquet, and once more will plead
  39. mad that she is, to hear the Trojan sorrow;
  40. and with oblivious ravishment once more
  41. hangs on his lips who tells; or when her guests
  42. are scattered, and the wan moon's fading horn
  43. bedims its ray, while many a sinking star
  44. invites to slumber, there she weeps alone
  45. in the deserted hall, and casts her down
  46. on the cold couch he pressed. Her love from far
  47. beholds her vanished hero and receives
  48. his voice upon her ears; or to her breast,
  49. moved by a father's image in his child,
  50. she clasps Ascanius, seeking to deceive
  51. her unblest passion so. Her enterprise
  52. of tower and rampart stops: her martial host
  53. no Ionger she reviews, nor fashions now
  54. defensive haven and defiant wall;
  55. but idly all her half-built bastions frown,
  56. and enginery of sieges, high as heaven.
  1. But soon the chosen spouse of Jove perceived
  2. the Queen's infection; and because the voice
  3. of honor to such frenzy spoke not, she,
  4. daughter of Saturn, unto Venus turned
  5. and counselled thus: “How noble is the praise,
  6. how glorious the spoils of victory,
  7. for thee and for thy boy! Your names should be
  8. in lasting, vast renown—that by the snare
  9. of two great gods in league one woman fell!
  10. it 'scapes me not that my protected realms
  11. have ever been thy fear, and the proud halls
  12. of Carthage thy vexation and annoy.
  13. Why further go? Prithee, what useful end
  14. has our long war? Why not from this day forth
  15. perpetual peace and nuptial amity?
  16. Hast thou not worked thy will? Behold and see
  17. how Iove-sick Dido burns, and all her flesh
  18. 'The madness feels! So let our common grace
  19. smile on a mingled people! Let her serve
  20. a Phrygian husband, while thy hands receive
  21. her Tyrian subjects for the bridal dower!”
  1. In answer (reading the dissembler's mind
  2. which unto Libyan shores were fain to shift
  3. italia's future throne) thus Venus spoke:
  4. “'T were mad to spurn such favor, or by choice
  5. be numbered with thy foes. But can it be
  6. that fortune on thy noble counsel smiles?
  7. To me Fate shows but dimly whether Jove
  8. unto the Trojan wanderers ordains
  9. a common city with the sons of Tyre,
  10. with mingling blood and sworn, perpetual peace.
  11. His wife thou art; it is thy rightful due
  12. to plead to know his mind. Go, ask him, then!
  13. For humbly I obey!” With instant word
  14. Juno the Queen replied: “Leave that to me!
  15. But in what wise our urgent task and grave
  16. may soon be sped, I will in brief unfold
  17. to thine attending ear. A royal hunt
  18. in sylvan shades unhappy Dido gives
  19. for her Aeneas, when to-morrow's dawn
  20. uplifts its earliest ray and Titan's beam
  21. shall first unveil the world. But I will pour
  22. black storm-clouds with a burst of heavy hail
  23. along their way; and as the huntsmen speed
  24. to hem the wood with snares, I will arouse
  25. all heaven with thunder. The attending train
  26. shall scatter and be veiled in blinding dark,
  27. while Dido and her hero out of Troy
  28. to the same cavern fly. My auspices
  29. I will declare—if thou alike wilt bless;
  30. and yield her in true wedlock for his bride.
  31. Such shall their spousal be!” To Juno's will
  32. Cythera's Queen inclined assenting brow,
  33. and laughed such guile to see. Aurora rose,
  34. and left the ocean's rim. The city's gates
  35. pour forth to greet the morn a gallant train
  36. of huntsmen, bearing many a woven snare
  37. and steel-tipped javelin; while to and fro
  38. run the keen-scented dogs and Libyan squires.
  39. The Queen still keeps her chamber; at her doors
  40. the Punic lords await; her palfrey, brave
  41. in gold and purple housing, paws the ground
  42. and fiercely champs the foam-flecked bridle-rein.
  43. At last, with numerous escort, forth she shines:
  44. her Tyrian pall is bordered in bright hues,
  45. her quiver, gold; her tresses are confined
  46. only with gold; her robes of purple rare
  47. meet in a golden clasp. To greet her come
  48. the noble Phrygian guests; among them smiles
  49. the boy Iulus; and in fair array
  50. Aeneas, goodliest of all his train.
  51. In such a guise Apollo (when he leaves
  52. cold Lycian hills and Xanthus' frosty stream
  53. to visit Delos to Latona dear)
  54. ordains the song, while round his altars cry
  55. the choirs of many islands, with the pied,
  56. fantastic Agathyrsi; soon the god
  57. moves o'er the Cynthian steep; his flowing hair
  58. he binds with laurel garland and bright gold;
  59. upon his shining shoulder as he goes
  60. the arrows ring:—not less uplifted mien
  61. aeneas wore; from his illustrious brow
  62. such beauty shone. Soon to the mountains tall
  63. the cavalcade comes nigh, to pathless haunts
  64. of woodland creatures; the wild goats are seen,
  65. from pointed crag descending leap by leap
  66. down the steep ridges; in the vales below
  67. are routed deer, that scour the spreading plain,
  68. and mass their dust-blown squadrons in wild flight,
  69. far from the mountain's bound. Ascanius
  70. flushed with the sport, spurs on a mettled steed
  71. from vale to vale, and many a flying herd
  72. his chase outspeeds; but in his heart he prays
  73. among these tame things suddenly to see
  74. a tusky boar, or, leaping from the hills,
  75. a growling mountain-lion, golden-maned.
  1. Meanwhile low thunders in the distant sky
  2. mutter confusedly; soon bursts in full
  3. the storm-cloud and the hail. The Tyrian troop
  4. is scattered wide; the chivalry of Troy,
  5. with the young heir of Dardan's kingly line,
  6. of Venus sprung, seek shelter where they may,
  7. with sudden terror; down the deep ravines
  8. the swollen torrents roar. In that same hour
  9. Queen Dido and her hero out of Troy
  10. to the same cavern fly. Old Mother-Earth
  11. and wedlock-keeping Juno gave the sign;
  12. the flash of lightnings on the conscious air
  13. were torches to the bridal; from the hills
  14. the wailing wood-nymphs sobbed a wedding song.
  15. Such was that day of death, the source and spring
  16. of many a woe. For Dido took no heed
  17. of honor and good-name; nor did she mean
  18. her loves to hide; but called the lawlessness
  19. a marriage, and with phrases veiled her shame.
  1. Swift through the Libyan cities Rumor sped.
  2. Rumor! What evil can surpass her speed?
  3. In movement she grows mighty, and achieves
  4. strength and dominion as she swifter flies.
  5. small first, because afraid, she soon exalts
  6. her stature skyward, stalking through the lands
  7. and mantling in the clouds her baleful brow.
  8. The womb of Earth, in anger at high Heaven,
  9. bore her, they say, last of the Titan spawn,
  10. sister to Coeus and Enceladus.
  11. Feet swift to run and pinions like the wind
  12. the dreadful monster wears; her carcase huge
  13. is feathered, and at root of every plume
  14. a peering eye abides; and, strange to tell,
  15. an equal number of vociferous tongues,
  16. foul, whispering lips, and ears, that catch at all.
  17. At night she spreads midway 'twixt earth and heaven
  18. her pinions in the darkness, hissing loud,
  19. nor e'er to happy slumber gives her eyes:
  20. but with the morn she takes her watchful throne
  21. high on the housetops or on lofty towers,
  22. to terrify the nations. She can cling
  23. to vile invention and malignant wrong,
  24. or mingle with her word some tidings true.
  25. She now with changeful story filled men's ears,
  26. exultant, whether false or true she sung:
  27. how, Trojan-born Aeneas having come,
  28. Dido, the lovely widow, Iooked his way,
  29. deigning to wed; how all the winter long
  30. they passed in revel and voluptuous ease,
  31. to dalliance given o'er; naught heeding now
  32. of crown or kingdom—shameless! lust-enslaved!
  33. Such tidings broadcast on the lips of men
  34. the filthy goddess spread; and soon she hied
  35. to King Iarbas, where her hateful song
  36. to newly-swollen wrath his heart inflamed.
  1. Him the god Ammon got by forced embrace
  2. upon a Libyan nymph; his kingdoms wide
  3. possessed a hundred ample shrines to Jove,
  4. a hundred altars whence ascended ever
  5. the fires of sacrifice, perpetual seats
  6. for a great god's abode, where flowing blood
  7. enriched the ground, and on the portals hung
  8. garlands of every flower. The angered King,
  9. half-maddened by malignant Rumor's voice,
  10. unto his favored altars came, and there,
  11. surrounded by the effluence divine,
  12. upraised in prayer to Jove his suppliant hands.
  13. “Almighty Jupiter, to whom each day,
  14. at banquet on the painted couch reclined,
  15. Numidia pours libation! Do thine eyes
  16. behold us? Or when out of yonder heaven,
  17. o sire, thou launchest the swift thunderbolt,
  18. is it for naught we fear thee? Do the clouds
  19. shoot forth blind fire to terrify the soul
  20. with wild, unmeaning roar? O, Iook upon
  21. that woman, who was homeless in our realm,
  22. and bargained where to build her paltry town,
  23. receiving fertile coastland for her farms,
  24. by hospitable grant! She dares disdain
  25. our proffered nuptial vow. She has proclaimed
  26. Aeneas partner of her bed and throne.
  27. And now that Paris, with his eunuch crew,
  28. beneath his chin and fragrant, oozy hair
  29. ties the soft Lydian bonnet, boasting well
  30. his stolen prize. But we to all these fanes,
  31. though they be thine, a fruitless offering bring,
  32. and feed on empty tales our trust in thee.”
  1. As thus he prayed and to the altars clung,
  2. th' Omnipotent gave ear, and turned his gaze
  3. upon the royal dwelling, where for love
  4. the amorous pair forgot their place and name.
  5. Then thus to Mercury he gave command:
  6. “Haste thee, my son, upon the Zephyrs call,
  7. and take thy winged way! My mandate bear
  8. unto that prince of Troy who tarries now
  9. in Tyrian Carthage, heedless utterly
  10. of empire Heaven-bestowed. On winged winds
  11. hasten with my decrees. Not such the man
  12. his beauteous mother promised; not for this
  13. twice did she shield him from the Greeks in arms:
  14. but that he might rule Italy, a land
  15. pregnant with thrones and echoing with war;
  16. that he of Teucer's seed a race should sire,
  17. and bring beneath its law the whole wide world.
  18. If such a glory and event supreme
  19. enkindle not his bosom; if such task
  20. to his own honor speak not; can the sire
  21. begrudge Ascanius the heritage
  22. of the proud name of Rome? What plans he now?
  23. What mad hope bids him linger in the lap
  24. of enemies, considering no more
  25. the land Lavinian and Ausonia's sons.
  26. Let him to sea! Be this our final word:
  27. this message let our herald faithful bear.”
  1. He spoke. The god a prompt obedience gave
  2. to his great sire's command. He fastened first
  3. those sandals of bright gold, which carry him
  4. aloft o'er land or sea, with airy wings
  5. that race the fleeting wind; then lifted he
  6. his wand, wherewith he summons from the grave
  7. pale-featured ghosts, or, if he will, consigns
  8. to doleful Tartarus; or by its power
  9. gives slumber or dispels; or quite unseals
  10. the eyelids of the dead: on this relying,
  11. he routs the winds or cleaves th' obscurity
  12. of stormful clouds. Soon from his flight he spied
  13. the summit and the sides precipitous
  14. of stubborn Atlas, whose star-pointing peak
  15. props heaven; of Atlas, whose pine-wreathed brow
  16. is girdled evermore with misty gloom
  17. and lashed of wind and rain; a cloak of snow
  18. melts on his shoulder; from his aged chin
  19. drop rivers, and ensheathed in stiffening ice
  20. glitters his great grim beard. Here first was stayed
  21. the speed of Mercury's well-poising wing;
  22. here making pause, from hence he headlong flung
  23. his body to the sea; in motion like
  24. some sea-bird's, which along the levelled shore
  25. or round tall crags where rove the swarming fish,
  26. flies Iow along the waves: o'er-hovering so
  27. between the earth and skies, Cyllene's god
  28. flew downward from his mother's mountain-sire,
  29. parted the winds and skimmed the sandy merge
  30. of Libya. When first his winged feet
  31. came nigh the clay-built Punic huts, he saw
  32. Aeneas building at a citadel,
  33. and founding walls and towers; at his side
  34. was girt a blade with yellow jaspers starred,
  35. his mantle with the stain of Tyrian shell
  36. flowed purple from his shoulder, broidered fair
  37. by opulent Dido with fine threads of gold,
  38. her gift of love; straightway the god began:
  39. “Dost thou for lofty Carthage toil, to build
  40. foundations strong? Dost thou, a wife's weak thrall,
  41. build her proud city? Hast thou, shameful loss!
  42. Forgot thy kingdom and thy task sublime?
  43. From bright Olympus, I. He who commands
  44. all gods, and by his sovran deity
  45. moves earth and heaven—he it was who bade
  46. me bear on winged winds his high decree.
  47. What plan is thine? By what mad hope dost thou
  48. linger so Iong in lap of Libyan land?
  49. If the proud reward of thy destined way
  50. move not thy heart, if all the arduous toil
  51. to thine own honor speak not, Iook upon
  52. Iulus in his bloom, thy hope and heir
  53. Ascanius. It is his rightful due
  54. in Italy o'er Roman lands to reign.”
  55. After such word Cyllene's winged god
  56. vanished, and e'er his accents died away,
  57. dissolved in air before the mortal's eyes.
  1. Aeneas at the sight stood terror-dumb
  2. with choking voice and horror-rising hair.
  3. He fain would fly at once and get him gone
  4. from that voluptuous land, much wondering
  5. at Heaven's wrathful word. Alas! how stir?
  6. What cunning argument can plead his cause
  7. before th' infuriate Queen? How break such news?
  8. Flashing this way and that, his startled mind
  9. makes many a project and surveys them all.
  10. But, pondering well, his final counsel stopped
  11. at this resolve: he summoned to his side
  12. Mnestheus, Sergestus, and Serestus bold,
  13. and bade them fit the fleet, all silently
  14. gathering the sailors and collecting gear,
  15. but carefully dissembling what emprise
  16. such novel stir intends: himself the while
  17. (Since high-born Dido dreamed not love so fond
  18. could have an end) would seek an audience,
  19. at some indulgent time, and try what shift
  20. such matters may require. With joy they heard,
  21. and wrought, assiduous, at their prince's plan.
  1. But what can cheat true love? The Queen foreknew
  2. his stratagem, and all the coming change
  3. perceived ere it began. Her jealous fear
  4. counted no hour secure. That unclean tongue
  5. of Rumor told her fevered heart the fleet
  6. was fitting forth, and hastening to be gone.
  7. Distractedly she raved, and passion-tossed
  8. roamed through her city, like a Maenad roused
  9. by the wild rout of Bacchus, when are heard
  10. the third year's orgies, and the midnight scream
  11. to cold Cithaeron calls the frenzied crew.
  12. Finding Aeneas, thus her plaint she poured:
  13. “Didst hope to hide it, false one, that such crime
  14. was in thy heart,—to steal without farewell
  15. out of my kingdom? Did our mutual joy
  16. not move thee; nor thine own true promise given
  17. once on a time? Nor Dido, who will die
  18. a death of sorrow? Why compel thy ships
  19. to brave the winter stars? Why off to sea
  20. so fast through stormy skies? O, cruelty!
  21. If Troy still stood, and if thou wert not bound
  22. for alien shore unknown, wouldst steer for Troy
  23. through yonder waste of waves? Is it from me
  24. thou takest flight? O, by these flowing tears,
  25. by thine own plighted word (for nothing more
  26. my weakness left to miserable me),
  27. by our poor marriage of imperfect vow,
  28. if aught to me thou owest, if aught in me
  29. ever have pleased thee—O, be merciful
  30. to my low-fallen fortunes! I implore,
  31. if place be left for prayer, thy purpose change!
  32. Because of thee yon Libyan savages
  33. and nomad chiefs are grown implacable,
  34. and my own Tyrians hate me. Yes, for thee
  35. my chastity was slain and honor fair,
  36. by which alone to glory I aspired,
  37. in former days. To whom dost thou in death
  38. abandon me? my guest!—since but this name
  39. is left me of a husband! Shall I wait
  40. till fell Pygmalion, my brother, raze
  41. my city walls? Or the Gaetulian king,
  42. Iarbas, chain me captive to his car? .
  43. O, if, ere thou hadst fled, I might but bear
  44. some pledge of love to thee, and in these halls
  45. watch some sweet babe Aeneas at his play,
  46. whose face should be the memory of thine own —
  47. I were not so forsaken, Iost, undone!”
  1. She said. But he, obeying Jove's decree,
  2. gazed steadfastly away; and in his heart
  3. with strong repression crushed his cruel pain;
  4. then thus the silence broke: “O Queen, not one
  5. of my unnumbered debts so strongly urged
  6. would I gainsay. Elissa's memory
  7. will be my treasure Iong as memory holds,
  8. or breath of life is mine. Hear my brief plea!
  9. 'T was not my hope to hide this flight I take,
  10. as thou hast dreamed. Nay, I did never light
  11. a bridegroom's torch, nor gave I thee the vow
  12. of marriage. Had my destiny decreed,
  13. that I should shape life to my heart's desire,
  14. and at my own will put away the weight
  15. of foil and pain, my place would now be found
  16. in Troy, among the cherished sepulchres
  17. of my own kin, and Priam's mansion proud
  18. were standing still; or these my loyal hands
  19. had rebuilt Ilium for her vanquished sons.
  20. But now to Italy Apollo's power
  21. commands me forth; his Lycian oracles
  22. are loud for Italy. My heart is there,
  23. and there my fatherland. If now the towers
  24. of Carthage and thy Libyan colony
  25. delight thy Tyrian eyes; wilt thou refuse
  26. to Trojan exiles their Ausonian shore?
  27. I too by Fate was driven, not less than thou,
  28. to wander far a foreign throne to find.
  29. Oft when in dewy dark night hides the world,
  30. and flaming stars arise, Anchises' shade
  31. looks on me in my dreams with angered brow.
  32. I think of my Ascanius, and the wrong
  33. to that dear heart, from whom I steal away
  34. Hesperia, his destined home and throne.
  35. But now the winged messenger of Heaven,
  36. sent down by Jove (I swear by thee and me!),
  37. has brought on winged winds his sire's command.
  38. My own eyes with unclouded vision saw
  39. the god within these walls; I have received
  40. with my own ears his word. No more inflame
  41. with lamentation fond thy heart and mine.
  42. 'T is not my own free act seeks Italy.”
  1. She with averted eyes and glance that rolled
  2. speechless this way and that, had listened long
  3. to his reply, till thus her rage broke forth:
  4. “No goddess gave thee birth. No Dardanus
  5. begot thy sires. But on its breast of stone
  6. Caucasus bore thee, and the tigresses
  7. of fell Hyrcania to thy baby lip
  8. their udders gave. Why should I longer show
  9. a lying smile? What worse can I endure?
  10. Did my tears draw one sigh? Did he once drop
  11. his stony stare? or did he yield a tear
  12. to my lament, or pity this fond heart?
  13. Why set my wrongs in order? Juno, now,
  14. and Jove, the son of Saturn, heed no more
  15. where justice lies. No trusting heart is safe
  16. in all this world. That waif and castaway
  17. I found in beggary and gave him share—
  18. fool that I was!—in my own royal glory.
  19. His Iost fleet and his sorry crews I steered
  20. from death away. O, how my fevered soul
  21. unceasing raves! Forsooth Apollo speaks!
  22. His Lycian oracles! and sent by Jove
  23. the messenger of Heaven on fleeting air
  24. the ruthless bidding brings! Proud business
  25. for gods, I trow, that such a task disturbs
  26. their still abodes! I hold thee back no more,
  27. nor to thy cunning speeches give the lie.
  28. Begone! Sail on to Italy, thy throne,
  29. through wind and wave! I pray that, if there be
  30. any just gods of power, thou mayest drink down
  31. death on the mid-sea rocks, and often call
  32. with dying gasps on Dido's name—while I
  33. pursue with vengeful fire. When cold death rends
  34. the body from the breath, my ghost shall sit
  35. forever in thy path. Full penalties
  36. thy stubborn heart shall pay. They'll bring me never
  37. in yon deep gulf of death of all thy woe.”
  38. Abrupt her utterance ceased; and sick at heart
  39. she fled the light of day, as if to shrink
  40. from human eyes, and left Aeneas there
  41. irresolute with horror, while his soul
  42. framed many a vain reply. Her swooning shape
  43. her maidens to a marble chamber bore
  44. and on her couch the helpless limbs reposed.
  1. Aeneas, faithful to a task divine,
  2. though yearning sore to remedy and soothe
  3. such misery, and with the timely word
  4. her grief assuage, and though his burdened heart
  5. was weak because of love, while many a groan
  6. rose from his bosom, yet no whit did fail
  7. to do the will of Heaven, but of his fleet
  8. resumed command. The Trojans on the shore
  9. ply well their task and push into the sea
  10. the lofty ships. Now floats the shining keel,
  11. and oars they bring all leafy from the grove,
  12. with oak half-hewn, so hurried was the flight.
  13. Behold them how they haste—from every gate
  14. forth-streaming!—just as when a heap of corn
  15. is thronged with ants, who, knowing winter nigh,
  16. refill their granaries; the long black line
  17. runs o'er the levels, and conveys the spoil
  18. in narrow pathway through the grass; a part
  19. with straining and assiduous shoulder push
  20. the kernels huge; a part array the file,
  21. and whip the laggards on; their busy track
  22. swarms quick and eager with unceasing toil.
  23. O Dido, how thy suffering heart was wrung,
  24. that spectacle to see! What sore lament
  25. was thine, when from the towering citadel
  26. the whole shore seemed alive, the sea itself
  27. in turmoil with loud cries! Relentless Love,
  28. to what mad courses may not mortal hearts
  29. by thee be driven? Again her sorrow flies
  30. to doleful plaint and supplication vain;
  31. again her pride to tyrant Love bows down
  32. lest, though resolved to die, she fail to prove
  33. each hope of living: “O Anna, dost thou see
  34. yon busy shore? From every side they come.
  35. their canvas wooes the winds, and o'er each prow
  36. the merry seamen hang their votive flowers.
  37. Dear sister, since I did forebode this grief,
  38. I shall be strong to bear it. One sole boon
  39. my sorrow asks thee, Anna! Since of thee,
  40. thee only, did that traitor make a friend,
  41. and trusted thee with what he hid so deep —
  42. the feelings of his heart; since thou alone
  43. hast known what way, what hour the man would yield
  44. to soft persuasion—therefore, sister, haste,
  45. and humbly thus implore our haughty foe:
  46. ‘I was not with the Greeks what time they swore
  47. at Aulis to cut off the seed of Troy;
  48. I sent no ships to Ilium. Pray, have I
  49. profaned Anchises' tomb, or vexed his shade?’
  50. Why should his ear be deaf and obdurate
  51. to all I say? What haste? May he not make
  52. one last poor offering to her whose love
  53. is only pain? O, bid him but delay
  54. till flight be easy and the winds blow fair.
  55. I plead no more that bygone marriage-vow
  56. by him forsworn, nor ask that he should lose
  57. his beauteous Latium and his realm to be.
  58. Nothing but time I crave! to give repose
  59. and more room to this fever, till my fate
  60. teach a crushed heart to sorrow. I implore
  61. this last grace. (To thy sister's grief be kind!)
  62. I will requite with increase, till I die.”
  1. Such plaints, such prayers, again and yet again,
  2. betwixt the twain the sorrowing sister bore.
  3. But no words move, no lamentations bring
  4. persuasion to his soul; decrees of Fate
  5. oppose, and some wise god obstructs the way
  6. that finds the hero's ear. Oft-times around
  7. the aged strength of some stupendous oak
  8. the rival blasts of wintry Alpine winds
  9. smite with alternate wrath: Ioud is the roar,
  10. and from its rocking top the broken boughs
  11. are strewn along the ground; but to the crag
  12. steadfast it ever clings; far as toward heaven
  13. its giant crest uprears, so deep below
  14. its roots reach down to Tartarus:—not less
  15. the hero by unceasing wail and cry
  16. is smitten sore, and in his mighty heart
  17. has many a pang, while his serene intent
  18. abides unmoved, and tears gush forth in vain.
  1. Then wretched Dido, by her doom appalled,
  2. asks only death. It wearies her to see
  3. the sun in heaven. Yet that she might hold fast
  4. her dread resolve to quit the light of day,
  5. behold, when on an incense-breathing shrine
  6. her offering was laid—O fearful tale!—
  7. the pure libation blackened, and the wine
  8. flowed like polluting gore. She told the sight
  9. to none, not even to her sister's ear.
  10. A second sign was given: for in her house
  11. a marble altar to her husband's shade,
  12. with garlands bright and snowy fleeces dressed,
  13. had fervent worship; here strange cries were heard
  14. as if her dead spouse called while midnight reigned,
  15. and round her towers its inhuman song
  16. the lone owl sang, complaining o'er and o'er
  17. with lamentation and long shriek of woe.
  18. Forgotten oracles by wizards told
  19. whisper old omens dire. In dreams she feels
  20. cruel Aeneas goad her madness on,
  21. and ever seems she, friendless and alone,
  22. some lengthening path to travel, or to seek
  23. her Tyrians through wide wastes of barren lands.
  24. Thus frantic Pentheus flees the stern array
  25. of the Eumenides, and thinks to see
  26. two noonday lights blaze oer his doubled Thebes;
  27. or murdered Agamemnon's haunted son,
  28. Orestes, flees his mother's phantom scourge
  29. of flames and serpents foul, while at his door
  30. avenging horrors wait. Now sorrow-crazed
  31. and by her grief undone, resolved on death,
  32. the manner and the time her secret soul
  33. prepares, and, speaking to her sister sad,
  34. she masks in cheerful calm her fatal will:
  35. “I know a way—O, wish thy sister joy!—
  36. to bring him back to Iove, or set me free.
  37. On Ocean's bound and next the setting sun
  38. lies the last Aethiop land, where Atlas tall
  39. lifts on his shoulder the wide wheel of heaven,
  40. studded with burning stars. From thence is come
  41. a witch, a priestess, a Numidian crone,
  42. who guards the shrine of the Hesperides
  43. and feeds the dragon; she protects the fruit
  44. of that enchanting tree, and scatters there
  45. her slumb'rous poppies mixed with honey-dew.
  46. Her spells and magic promise to set free
  47. what hearts she will, or visit cruel woes
  48. on men afar. She stops the downward flow
  49. of rivers, and turns back the rolling stars;
  50. on midnight ghosts she calls: her vot'ries hear
  51. earth bellowing loud below, while from the hills
  52. the ash-trees travel down. But, sister mine,
  53. thou knowest, and the gods their witness give,
  54. how little mind have I to don the garb
  55. of sorcery. Depart in secret, thou,
  56. and bid them build a lofty funeral pyre
  57. inside our palalce-wall, and heap thereon
  58. the hero's arms, which that blasphemer hung
  59. within my chamber; every relic bring,
  60. and chiefly that ill-omened nuptial bed,
  61. my death and ruin! For I must blot out
  62. all sight and token of this husband vile.
  63. 'T is what the witch commands.” She spoke no more,
  64. and pallid was her brow. Yet Anna's mind
  65. knew not what web of death her sister wove
  66. by these strange rites, nor what such frenzy dares;
  67. nor feared she worse than when Sichaeus died,
  68. but tried her forth the errand to fulfil.
  1. Soon as the funeral pyre was builded high
  2. in a sequestered garden, Iooming huge
  3. with boughs of pine and faggots of cleft oak,
  4. the queen herself enwreathed it with sad flowers
  5. and boughs of mournful shade; and crowning all
  6. she laid on nuptial bed the robes and sword
  7. by him abandoned; and stretched out thereon
  8. a mock Aeneas;—but her doom she knew.
  9. Altars were there; and with loose locks unbound
  10. the priestess with a voice of thunder called
  11. three hundred gods, Hell, Chaos, the three shapes
  12. of triple Hecate, the faces three
  13. of virgin Dian. She aspersed a stream
  14. from dark Avernus drawn, she said; soft herbs
  15. were cut by moonlight with a blade of bronze,
  16. oozing black poison-sap; and she had plucked
  17. that philter from the forehead of new foal
  18. before its dam devours. Dido herself,
  19. sprinkling the salt meal, at the altar stands;
  20. one foot unsandalled, and with cincture free,
  21. on all the gods and fate-instructed stars,
  22. foreseeing death, she calls. But if there be
  23. some just and not oblivious power on high,
  24. who heeds when lovers plight unequal vow,
  25. to that god first her supplications rise.
  1. Soon fell the night, and peaceful slumbers breathed
  2. on all earth's weary creatures; the loud seas
  3. and babbling forests entered on repose;
  4. now midway in their heavenly course the stars
  5. wheeled silent on; the outspread lands below
  6. lay voiceless; all the birds of tinted wing,
  7. and flocks that haunt the merge of waters wide
  8. or keep the thorny wold, oblivious lay
  9. beneath the night so still; the stings of care
  10. ceased troubling, and no heart its burden knew.
  11. Not so the Tyrian Queen's deep-grieving soul!
  12. To sleep she could not yield; her eyes and heart
  13. refused the gift of night; her suffering
  14. redoubled, and in full returning tide
  15. her love rebelled, while on wild waves of rage
  16. she drifted to and fro. So, ceasing not
  17. from sorrow, thus she brooded on her wrongs:
  18. “What refuge now? Shall I invite the scorn
  19. of my rejected wooers, or entreat
  20. of some disdainful, nomad blackamoor
  21. to take me to his bed—though many a time
  22. such husbands I made mock of? Shall I sail
  23. on Ilian ships away, and sink to be
  24. the Trojans' humble thrall? Do they rejoice
  25. that once I gave them bread? Lives gratitude
  26. in hearts like theirs for bygone kindnesses?
  27. O, who, if so I stooped, would deign to bear
  28. on yon proud ships the scorned and fallen Queen?
  29. Lost creature! Woe betide thee! Knowest thou not
  30. the perjured children of Laomedon?
  31. What way is left? Should I take flight alone
  32. and join the revelling sailors? Or depart
  33. with Tyrians, the whole attending train
  34. of my own people? Hard the task to force
  35. their hearts from Sidon's towers; how once more
  36. compel to sea, and bid them spread the sail?
  37. Nay, perish! Thou hast earned it. Let the sword
  38. from sorrow save thee! Sister of my blood—
  39. who else but thee,—my own tears borne down,
  40. didst heap disaster on my frantic soul,
  41. and fling me to this foe? Why could I not
  42. pass wedlock by, and live a blameless life
  43. as wild things do, nor taste of passion's pain?
  44. But I broke faith! I cast the vows away
  45. made at Sichaeus' grave.” Such loud lament
  46. burst from her breaking heart with doleful sound.
  47. Meanwhile Aeneas on his lofty ship,
  48. having made ready all, and fixed his mind
  49. to launch away upon brief slumher fell.
  50. But the god came; and in the self-same guise
  51. once more in monitory vision spoke,
  52. all guised as Mercury,—his voice, his hue,
  53. his golden locks, and young limbs strong and fair.
  54. “Hail, goddess-born! Wouldst linger on in sleep
  55. at such an hour? Nor seest thou the snares
  56. that hem thee round? Nor hearest thou the voice
  57. of friendly zephyrs calling? Senseless man!
  58. That woman's breast contrives some treachery
  59. and horrid stroke; for, resolute to die,
  60. she drifts on swollen floods of wrath and scorn.
  61. Wilt thou not fly before the hastening hour
  62. of flight is gone? To-morrow thou wilt see
  63. yon waters thronged with ships, the cruel glare
  64. of fire-brands, and yonder shore all flame,
  65. if but the light of morn again surprise
  66. thee loitering in this land. Away! Away!
  67. Stay not! A mutable and shifting thing
  68. is woman ever.” Such command he spoke,
  69. then melted in the midnight dark away.
  1. Aeneas, by that fleeting vision struck
  2. with an exceeding awe, straightway leaped forth
  3. from slumber's power, and to his followers cried :
  4. “Awake, my men! Away! Each to his place
  5. upon the thwarts! Unfurl at once the sails!
  6. A god from heaven a second time sent down
  7. urges our instant flight and bids us cut
  8. the twisted cords. Whatever be thy name,
  9. behold, we come, O venerated Power!
  10. Again with joy we follow! Let thy grace
  11. assist us as we go! And may thy power
  12. bring none but stars benign across our sky.”
  13. So saying, from its scabbard forth he flashed
  14. the lightning of his sword, with naked blade
  15. striking the hawsers free. Like ardor seized
  16. on all his willing men, who raced and ran;
  17. and, while their galleys shadowed all the sea,
  18. clean from the shore they scudded, with strong strokes
  19. sweeping the purple waves and crested foam.
  1. Aurora's first young beams to earth were pouring
  2. as from Tithonus' saffron bed she sprang;
  3. while from her battlements the wakeful Queen
  4. watched the sky brighten, saw the mated sails
  5. push forth to sea, till all her port and strand
  6. held not an oar or keel. Thrice and four times
  7. she smote her lovely breast with wrathful hand,
  8. and tore her golden hair. “Great Jove,” she cries,
  9. “Shall that departing fugitive make mock
  10. of me, a queen? Will not my men-at-arms
  11. draw sword, give chase, from all my city thronging?
  12. Down from the docks, my ships! Out, out! Begone!
  13. Take fire and sword! Bend to your oars, ye slaves!
  14. What have I said? Where am I? What mad thoughts
  15. delude this ruined mind? Woe unto thee,
  16. thou wretched Dido, now thy impious deeds
  17. strike back upon thee. Wherefore struck they not,
  18. as was most fit, when thou didst fling away
  19. thy sceptre from thy hand? O Iying oaths!
  20. O faith forsworn! of him who brings, they boast,
  21. his father's gods along, and bowed his back
  22. to lift an age-worn sire! Why dared I not
  23. seize on him, rend his body limb from limb,
  24. and hurl him piecemeal on the rolling sea?
  25. Or put his troop of followers to the sword,
  26. ascanius too, and set his flesh before
  27. that father for a feast? Such fearful war
  28. had been of doubtful issue. Be it so!
  29. What fears a woman dying? Would I had
  30. attacked their camp with torches, kindled flame
  31. from ship to ship, until that son and sire,
  32. with that whole tribe, were unto ashes burned
  33. in one huge holocaust—myself its crown!
  34. Great orb of light whose holy beam surveys
  35. all earthly deeds! Great Juno, patroness
  36. of conjugal distress, who knowest all!
  37. Pale Hecate, whose name the witches cry
  38. at midnight crossways! O avenging furies!
  39. O gods that guard Queen Dido's dying breath!
  40. Give ear, and to my guiltless misery
  41. extend your power. Hear me what I pray!
  42. If it be fated that yon creature curst
  43. drift to the shore and happy haven find,
  44. if Father Iove's irrevocable word
  45. such goal decree—there may he be assailed
  46. by peoples fierce and bold. A banished man,
  47. from his Iulus' kisses sundered far,
  48. may his own eyes see miserably slain
  49. his kin and kind, and sue for alien arms.
  50. nor when he basely bows him to receive
  51. terms of unequal peace, shall he be blest
  52. with sceptre or with life; but perish there
  53. before his time, and lie without a grave
  54. upon the barren sand. For this I pray.
  55. This dying word is flowing from my heart
  56. with my spilt blood. And—O ye Tyrians! I
  57. sting with your hatred all his seed and tribe
  58. forevermore. This is the offering
  59. my ashes ask. Betwixt our nations twain,
  60. No Iove! No truce or amity! Arise,
  61. Out of my dust, unknown Avenger, rise!
  62. To harry and lay waste with sword and flame
  63. those Dardan settlers, and to vex them sore,
  64. to-day, to-morrow, and as long as power
  65. is thine to use! My dying curse arrays
  66. shore against shore and the opposing seas
  67. in shock of arms with arms. May living foes
  68. pass down from sire to son insatiate war!”
  1. She said. From point to point her purpose flew,
  2. seeking without delay to quench the flame
  3. of her loathed life. Brief bidding she addressed
  4. to Barce then, Sichaeus' nurse (her own
  5. lay dust and ashes in a lonely grave
  6. beside the Tyrian shore), “Go, nurse, and call
  7. my sister Anna! Bid her quickly bathe
  8. her limbs in living water, and procure
  9. due victims for our expiating fires.
  10. bid her make haste. Go, bind on thy own brow
  11. the sacred fillet. For to Stygian Jove
  12. it is my purpose now to consummate
  13. the sacrifice ordained, ending my woe,
  14. and touch with flame the Trojan's funeral pyre.”
  15. The aged crone to do her bidding ran
  16. with trembling zeal. But Dido (horror-struck
  17. at her own dread design, unstrung with fear,
  18. her bloodshot eyes wide-rolling, and her cheek
  19. twitching and fever-spotted, her cold brow
  20. blanched with approaching death)—sped past the doors
  21. into the palace garden; there she leaped,
  22. a frenzied creature, on the lofty pyre
  23. and drew the Trojan's sword; a gift not asked
  24. for use like this! When now she saw the garb
  25. of Ilian fashion, and the nuptial couch
  26. she knew too well, she lingered yet awhile
  27. for memory and tears, and, falling prone
  28. on that cold bed, outpoured a last farewell:
  29. “Sweet relics! Ever dear when Fate and Heaven
  30. upon me smiled, receive my parting breath,
  31. and from my woe set free! My life is done.
  32. I have accomplished what my lot allowed;
  33. and now my spirit to the world of death
  34. in royal honor goes. The founder I
  35. of yonder noble city, I have seen
  36. walls at my bidding rise. I was avenged
  37. for my slain husband: I chastised the crimes
  38. of our injurious brother. Woe is me!
  39. Blest had I been, beyond deserving blest,
  40. if but the Trojan galleys ne'er had moored
  41. upon my kingdom's bound!”So saying, she pressed
  42. one last kiss on the couch. “Though for my death
  43. no vengeance fall, O, give me death!” she cried.
  44. “O thus! O thus! it is my will to take
  45. the journey to the dark. From yonder sea
  46. may his cold Trojan eyes discern the flames
  47. that make me ashes! Be this cruel death
  48. his omen as he sails!” She spoke no more.
  49. But almost ere she ceased, her maidens all
  50. thronged to obey her cry, and found their Queen
  51. prone fallen on the sword, the reeking steel
  52. still in her bloody hands. Shrill clamor flew
  53. along the lofty halls; wild rumor spread
  54. through the whole smitten city: Ioud lament,
  55. groans and the wail of women echoed on
  56. from roof to roof, and to the dome of air
  57. the noise of mourning rose. Such were the cry
  58. if a besieging host should break the walls
  59. of Carthage or old Tyre, and wrathful flames
  60. o'er towers of kings and worshipped altars roll.
  61. Her sister heard. Half in a swoon, she ran
  62. with trembling steps, where thickest was the throng,
  63. beating her breast, while with a desperate hand
  64. she tore at her own face, and called aloud
  65. upon the dying Queen. “Was it for this
  66. my own true sister used me with such guile?
  67. O, was this horrid deed the dire intent
  68. of altars, Iofty couch, and funeral fires?
  69. What shall I tell for chiefest of my woes?
  70. Lost that I am! Why, though in death, cast off
  71. thy sister from thy heart? Why not invite
  72. one mortal stroke for both, a single sword,
  73. one agony together? But these hands
  74. built up thy pyre; and my voice implored
  75. the blessing of our gods, who granted me
  76. that thou shouldst perish thus—and I not know!
  77. In thy self-slaughter, sister, thou hast slain
  78. myself, thy people, the grave counsellors
  79. of Sidon, and yon city thou didst build
  80. to be thy throne!—Go, fetch me water, there!
  81. That I may bathe those gashes! If there be
  82. one hovering breath that stays, let my fond lips
  83. discover and receive!” So saying, she sprang up
  84. from stair to stair, and, clasping to her breast
  85. her sister's dying form, moaned grievously,
  86. and staunched the dark blood with her garment's fold.
  87. Vainly would Dido lift her sinking eyes,
  88. but backward fell, while at her heart the wound
  89. opened afresh; three times with straining arm
  90. she rose; three times dropped helpless, her dimmed eyes
  91. turned skyward, seeking the sweet light of day, —
  92. which when she saw, she groaned. Great Juno then
  93. looked down in mercy on that lingering pain
  94. and labor to depart: from realms divine
  95. she sent the goddess of the rainbow wing,
  96. Iris, to set the struggling spirit free
  97. and loose its fleshly coil. For since the end
  98. came not by destiny, nor was the doom
  99. of guilty deed, but of a hapless wight
  100. to sudden madness stung, ere ripe to die,
  101. therefore the Queen of Hades had not shorn
  102. the fair tress from her forehead, nor assigned
  103. that soul to Stygian dark. So Iris came
  104. on dewy, saffron pinions down from heaven,
  105. a thousand colors on her radiant way,
  106. from the opposing sun. She stayed her flight
  107. above that pallid brow: “I come with power
  108. to make this gift to Death. I set thee free
  109. from thy frail body's bound.” With her right hand
  110. she cut the tress: then through its every limb
  111. the sinking form grew cold; the vital breath
  112. fled forth, departing on the viewless air.