Table of Contents:
When ended was this piteous plaint, the Earth did hold hir peace.
She could no lenger dure the heate but was compelde to cease.
Into hir bosome by and by she shrunke hir cinged heade
More nearer to the Stygian caves, and ghostes of persones deade.
The Sire of Heaven protesting all the Gods and him also
That lent the Chariot to his child, that all of force must go
To havocke if he helped not, went to the highest part
And top of all the Heaven from whence his custome was to dart
His thunder and his lightning downe. But neyther did remaine
A Cloude wherewith to shade the Earth, nor yet a showre of raine.
Then with a dreadfull thunderclap up to his eare he bent
His fist, and at the Wagoner a flash of lightning sent,
Which strake his bodie from the life and threw it over wheele
And so with fire he quenched fire. The Steedes did also reele
Upon their knees, and starting up sprang violently, one here,
And there another, that they brast in pieces all their gere.
They threw the Collars from their neckes, and breaking quite asunder
The Trace and Harnesse flang away: here lay the bridles: yonder
The Extree plucked from the Naves: and in another place
The shevered spokes of broken wheeles: and so at every pace
The pieces of the Chariot torne lay strowed here and there.
But Phaeton (fire yet blasing stil among his yellow haire)
Shot headlong downe, and glid along the Region of the Ayre
Like to a starre in Winter nights (the wether cleare and fayre)
Which though it doe not fall in deede, yet falleth to our sight,
Whome almost in another world and from his countrie quite
The River Padus did receyve, and quencht his burning head.
The water Nymphes of Italie did take his carkasse dead
And buried it yet smoking still, with Joves threeforked flame,
And wrate this Epitaph in the stone that lay upon the same:
Here lies the lusty Phaeton which tooke in hand to guide
His fathers Chariot, from the which although he chaunst to slide:
Yet that he gave a proud attempt it cannot be denide.
Wyth ruthfull cheere and heavie heart his father made great mone
And would not shew himselfe abrode, but mournd at home alone.
And if it be to be beleved, as bruited is by fame
A day did passe without the Sunne. The brightnesse of the flame
Gave light: and so unto some kinde of use that mischiefe came.
But Clymen having spoke, as much as mothers usually
Are wonted in such wretched case, discomfortablely,
And halfe beside hir selfe for wo, with torne and scratched brest,
Sercht through the universall world, from East to furthest West,
First seeking for hir sonnes dead coarse, and after for his bones.
She found them by a forren streame, entumbled under stones.
There fell she groveling on his grave, and reading there his name,
Shed teares thereon, and layd hir breast all bare upon the same.
The daughters also of the Sunne no lesse than did their mother,
Bewaild in vaine with flouds of teares, the fortune of their brother:
And beating piteously their breasts, incessantly did call
The buried Phaeton day and night, who heard them not at all,
About whose tumbe they prostrate lay. Foure times the Moone had filde
The Circle of hir joyned hornes, and yet the sisters hilde
Their custome of lamenting still: (for now continuall use
Had made it custome.) Of the which the eldest, Phaetuse,
About to kneele upon the ground, complaynde hir feete were nom.
To whome as fayre Lampetie was rising for to com,
Hir feete were held with sodaine rootes. The third about to teare
Hir ruffled lockes, filde both hir handes with leaves in steade of heare.
One wept to see hir legges made wood: another did repine
To see hir armes become long boughes. And shortly to define,
While thus they wondred at themselves, a tender barke began
To grow about their thighes and loynes, which shortly overran
Their bellies, brestes, and shoulders eke, and hands successively,
That nothing (save their mouthes) remainde, aye calling piteously
Upon the wofull mothers helpe. What could the mother doe
But runne now here now there, as force of nature drue hir to
And deale hir kisses while she might? She was not so content:
But tare their tender braunches downe: and from the slivers went
Red drops of bloud as from a wound. The daughter that was rent
Cride: Spare us mother spare I pray, for in the shape of tree
The bodies and the flesh of us your daughters wounded bee.
And now farewell. That word once said, the barke grew over all.
Now from these trees flow gummy teares that Amber men doe call,
Which hardened with the heate of sunne as from the boughs they fal
The trickling River doth receyve, and sendes as things of price
To decke the daintie Dames of Rome and make them fine and nice.
Now present at this monstruous hap was Cygnus, Stenels son,
Who being by the mothers side akinne to Phaeton
Was in condicion more akinne. He leaving up his charge
(For in the land of Ligurie his Kingdome stretched large)
Went mourning all along the bankes and pleasant streame of Po
Among the trees encreased by the sisters late ago.
Annon his voyce became more small and shrill than for a man.
Gray fethers muffled in his face: his necke in length began
Far from his shoulders for to stretche: and furthermore there goes
A fine red string acrosse the joyntes in knitting of his toes:
With fethers closed are his sides: and on his mouth there grew
A brode blunt byll: and finally was Cygnus made a new
And uncoth fowle that hight a Swan, who neither to the winde,
The Ayre, nor Jove betakes himselfe, as one that bare in minde
The wrongfull fire sent late against his cousin Phaeton.
In Lakes and Rivers is his joy: the fire he aye doth shon,
And chooseth him the contrary continually to won.
Forlorne and altogether voyde of that same bodie shene
Was Phaetons father in that while which erst had in him bene,
Like as he looketh in Th'eclypse. He hates the yrkesome light,
He hates him selfe, he hates the day, and settes his whole delight
In making sorrow for his sonne, and in his griefe doth storme -
And chaufe denying to the worlde his dutie to performe.
My lot (quoth he) hath had inough of this unquiet state
From first beginning of the worlde. It yrkes me (though too late)
Of restlesse toyles and thankelesse paines. Let who so will for me
Go drive the Chariot in the which the light should caried be.
If none dare take the charge in hand, and all the Gods persist
As insufficient, he himselfe go drive it if he list,
That at the least by venturing our bridles for to guide
His lightning making childlesse Sires he once may lay aside.
By that time that he hath assayde the unappalled force
That doth remaine and rest within my firiefooted horse,
I trow he shall by tried proufe be able for to tell
How that he did not merit death that could not rule them well.
The Goddes stoode all about the Sunne thus storming in his rage
Beseching him in humble wise his sorrow to asswage.
And that he would not on the world continuall darkenesse bring,
Jove eke excusde him of the fire the which he chaunst to sling,
And with entreatance mingled threates as did become a King.
Then Phebus gathered up his steedes that yet for feare did run
Like flaighted fiendes, and in his moode without respect begun
To beate his whipstocke on their pates and lash them on the sides.
It was no neede to bid him chaufe; for ever as he rides
He still upbraides them with his sonne, and layes them on the hides.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.