Australian and Other Poems/Phœbus to Daphne

 
PHŒBUS TO DAPHNE.


TRANSLATED FROM BOOK I. OF OVID'S METAMORPHOSES


Daphne! await, dispel thy vain alarm:
Sweet nymph! await, no foe designs thee harm;
'Tis thus, with beating heart and rapid pace,
The lamb avoids the cruel wolfs embrace,
The deer the lion, the dove the bird of Jove;
Thus flies, each creature all who hostile prove;
Of my pursuit the moving cause is love.
How wretched I at each retreating bound,
Lest Daphne tripping touch the unworthy ground;
Or, I the cause, whilst flying, faint with fear.
Thy tender limbs the cruel thorns tear.
The way is rugged where thy footsteps lie,
Restrain thy speed, fair nymph, less wildly fly.
And my pursuit arrested by thy stay.
My name and rank thy questions shall repay.

No mountain swain, no care to brutes I lend;
No clownish swain, nor droves or herds I tend.
Thou knowest not, timid, whom thy footsteps shun,
Else hadst thou ceased to fear and ceased to run.
The Delphic shrine and Clarion altars groan
With gifts to me, their incense clouds my throne.
The Ægean Tenedos admits my sway;
My sceptre, too, the Lycian realms obey,
My sire, he who rules the gods' array.
At my behest the books of fate unroll;
Charmed by my touch the lyre inspires the soul;
My arrow's certain in its airy course;
But one more certain, and of deadlier force.
Has pierced with painful wound my hapless heart,
'Till now unmoved by Cupid's direful art.
The laws of physic owe to me their birth,
I'm called the healer through the extended earth;
In sweet and grateful herbs the charms that lie
To me alone 'tis given to descry.
Alas! that herbs to love no cure afford.
And arts that all do bless, bless not their lord.