Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, IDYLL 3. A PASTORAL ON THE DEATH OF BION, by MOSCHUS



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IDYLL 3. A PASTORAL ON THE DEATH OF BION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ye vales, and doric floods, or fount, or rill
Last Line: And from dun night redeem thy sacred shade.
Subject(s): Bion (2nd Century B.c.); Death; Flutes; Grief; Lament; Mourning; Music & Musicians; Mythology - Classical; Nature; Dead, The; Sorrow; Sadness; Bereavement


YE Vales, and Doric Floods, or Fount, or Rill,
Lament with me the much lov'd Bion dead;
Ye Forests pour your Plaints, ye Flourets mourn;
Utter, ye Hyacinths, the baleful Words
That on your velvet Bells inscrib'd are seen;
Be clad, ye Roses, in sad Purple's Robe;
Dead is the Pride of Swains, and rural Song.
Begin, Sicilian Muse, the plaintive Lay.

Ye Poplar-shrouded Nightingales that oft
In midnight Hour complain, the dreary Tale
To listening Arethusa's Waves prolong,
And that with him each Doric Muse is fled.
Begin, &c.

Ye Swans that warble sweet on Strymon's Bank
Come, steep in bitter Tears your sorrowing Song,
And tell in Notes like his th' Æagrian Maids,
And Bacchus' Nymphs that haunt Bistonian Hills,
That Doria's Vales their Orpheus dear have lost!
Begin, &c.

No more the lovely Shepherd sooths his Herd
With soft-voic'd Flute, beneath some ample Oak
At Ease reclin'd: But in black Plauto's Bow'r
Pours forth to grisly Ghosts Lethëan Lays,
While here above each Mountain silent stands,
And his deserted Herds in Mutt'rings hoarse,
And sullen Lowings moan, nor deign to feed.
Begin, &c.

Thy cruel Fate, dear Swain, Apollo wept,
Thee too Priapus Sable-mantled mourn'd;
And Pan surrounded with his Satyr-train
Sigh'd sore, nor joy'd to lead the merry Dance;
Wept the mild Naiads in their coral Caves;
Nor Echo more from her far-winding Grot
Is heard to sing, since now no more thy Verse,
And wonted tuneful Notes she can prolong.
Begin, &c.

At thy sad Death the sympathizing Trees,
Dropt their half-ripen'd Fruits, and fading Flowers,
Hung down their blasted Blooms; the pining Flocks
Refus'd the milky Stream, nor more the Bee
With Thyme enrich'd his Nectar-streaming Cell.
Begin, &c.

The Dolphin ne'er upon the sunny Shore
Made such deep Plaints, or in the rocky Wilds
Did Philomel e'er tune so sad a Dirge,
Nor Mountain-loving Swallow such sad Notes
Was heard to pour, or with such heart-felt Woe
Cëyx deplor'd her dead Halcyone,
Nor Cerylas in the Cærulean Deep
Sorrow'd so deep, or in th' Eöan Vale
The Bird of Memmon, fair Aurora's Son,
As when they wept their best-lov'd Bion's Fate.
Begin, &c.

Ye Nightingales, and Swallows swift, that oft
Have heard delighted his heart-thrilling Lays,
Whom seated in your leafy Groves he wont
To teach sweet Notes, responsive now repeat
The Voice of Woe, re-echoing thro' the Vale,
Join too ye Doves your sadly-pleasing Lays.
Begin, &c.

Who now, for ever dear, will tune thy Pipe?
Who to their Lip apply thy sacred Reed
Advent'rous? But to Pan the precious Gift
I'll bear, nor haply will he dare inspire
Thy Reed, lest thee superior he should prove.
Begin, &c.

Thy Loss the green-hair'd Galathëa mourns,
Who lov'd with thee upon the sea-beat Shore,
To sit enraptur'd with thy magic Verse.
For sweeter fat than Polypheme's thy Lay
Flow'd thro' her Ear; she fled the Cyclop-swain;
But ever to thy Song she hasten'd swift,
With dimply Cheek, and Looks of fond Desire.
No more she now regards old Nereus' Bow'r,
But on the bare Sand sits, and tends thy Flock.
Begin, &c.

With thee the Muse's choicest Joys are fled,
No more the Virgin's luscious Kiss delights;
Quench'd is the Lamp of Love, and at thy Tomb
The weeping Cupids sprinkle freshest Flow'rs;
To Venus wert thou sweeter, gentlest Swain,
Than the last Kiss which on the clay-cold Lip
Of her Adonis dead the Goddess prest.
Come, Meles, hither turn thy sedge-crown'd Head,
Renew thy wonted Voice of baleful Woe;
That erst around thy sadden'd Banks was heard,
And echoing fill'd blue Neptune's distant Shores;
When cruel Fate thy first-born Homer snatch'd,
Whose Mouth Calliope with Nectar dew'd.
But now thy second Son demands thy Grief;
Each lov'd two fav'rite Founts. To Homer dear
Was Pindus' springing Well, while Bion drank
The Waves of Arethuse. This sung the Charms
Of beauteous Helen, strife-exciting Fair,
And the dire Wrath of Thetis' sea-born Son;
While This neglected War's resounding Trump;
Well cou'd he sing the woodland Wanderer Pan;
Skill'd was his Hand to form the rustic Flute;
Nor seldom would he milk the shaggy Goat,
Or Heifer breathing Sweets. Meantime he sung
How soft the Kiss of tender-blooming Boys;
While in his Bosom Cupid wont to sleep,
And Venus joy'd to hear his Lays divine.
Begin, &c.

Each towred City, Bion, thee deplores,
More heart-felt Plaints o'er Ascra's Hills resound
Than when Her Hesiod died. Bæotia's Shades
Forget their Pindar, and the Lesbian Streets
Alcæus dead, and all thy Death lament
In sympathizing Grief; while Paros deigns
With louder Woe to greet thy cypress'd Hearse,
Than when Archilochus' sweet Tongue was stopt
By cruel Fate; and Mytilene forgets
Her beauteous Sappho's wonted Lays for thine.
Quædam desunt.
In Teios' soft Anacreon bears the Palm,
Theocritus in Syracuse is fam'd,
My mournful Muse delights Ausonian Swains,
Nor to the Sylvan Lay disdains to stoop;
Which eager from thy tuneful Mouth she caught,
Oft raptur'd with the Sound. The shining Stores
Let others, narrow-soul'd possess, while I
Thy Lays inherit, and thy Doric Art.
Begin, &c.

Tho' nipt by Winter's Blast the Mallow fades,
And twining Parsley, Pride of Gardens, feels
Th' untimely Frost; yet each with Verdure fresh
Renew their Bloom, and with the Spring return.
But Man, tho' Strength and Wisdom stamp him Great,
When once the beaming Lamp of Life is spent,
To Caves of Darkness, subterranean Glooms,
Immers'd, in Sleep's eternal Shackles lies
Fast bound, no more to tread the Walks of Men.
Thou too to Realms of silent Night art gone,
While here above mean Bards usurp thy Reign,
Whose Brows the Muse's Laurel never bound.
Begin, &c.

O ruthless Hand that to thy Lips apply'd
The poisonous Cup, and baleful Draught of Death!
How cou'd the baleful Drugs approach thy Lips,
Nor still preserve its native noxious Gall
Unblended with the Nectar of thy Mouth?
How could the Felon drear that mix'd the Bowl
Escape the Magic of thy tuneful Strains?
Begin, &c.

On each the Fates adjust the Share of Pain,
And each receives his portion'd Lot of Grief.
O that like Orpheus I cou'd tread the Shades,
Or great Ulysses, or brave Hercules,
Then wou'd these Eyes behold th' infernal Pow'rs
Melt at thy Song, and Pluto, grisly King,
To Softness sooth'd, and murm'ring hoarse Applause.
But chief to Hecate thy sweet Song address,
And let her hear thy wonted Doric Songs,
For she of Yore the Vales of Ætna lov'd.
Haply deceiv'd by the mellifluous Sound,
She may return thee to thy desert Seats:
I too, my Friend, if this rude Lip was skill'd
In Music's Charms, or knew to sing like thee,
Would to the Ways of darksome Dis descend,
And from dun Night redeem thy sacred Shade.





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