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Had in his likenesse shewde himself: and with his pretie trull
Tane landing in the Ile of Crete. When in that while hir Sire
Not knowing where she was become, sent after to enquire
Hir brother Cadmus, charging him his sister home to bring,
Or never for to come againe: wherein he did a thing,
For which he might both justly kinde and cruell called bee.
When Cadmus over all the world had sought, (for who is hee
That can detect the thefts of Jove?) and no where could hir see,
Then as an outlaw (to avoyde his fathers wrongfull yre)
He went to Phebus Oracle most humbly to desire
His heavenly counsell, where he would assigne him place to dwell.
An Heifer all alone in field (quoth Phebus) marke hir well,
Which never bare the pinching yoke, nor drew the plough as yit,
Shall meete thee. Follow after hir, and where thou seest hir sit,
There builde a towne, and let thereof Beotia be the name.
Downe from Parnasus stately top scarce fully Cadmus came,
When royling softly in the vale before the herde alone
He saw an Heifer on whose necke of servage print was none.
He followde after leysurly as hir that was his guide,
And thanked Phebus in his heart that did so well provide.
Now had he past Cephisus forde, and eke the pleasant groundes
About the Citie Panope conteinde within those boundes.
The Heifer staide, and lifting up hir forehead to the skie
Full seemely for to looke upon with homes like braunches hie
Did with hir lowing fill the Ayre: and casting backe hir eie
Upon the rest that came aloofe, as softly as she could
Kneelde downe and laide hir hairie side against the grassie mould.
Then Cadmus gave Apollo thankes, and falling flat bylow
Did kisse the ground and haile the fields which yet he did not know.
He was about to sacrifice to Jove the Heavenly King,
And bad his servants goe and fetch him water of the spring.
An olde forgrowne unfelled wood stoode neare at hand thereby,
And in the middes a queachie plot with Sedge and Osiers hie,
Where courbde about with peble stone in likenesse of a bow
There was a spring with silver streames that forth thereof did flow.
Here lurked in his lowring den God Mars his griesly Snake
With golden scales and firie eyes beswolne with poyson blake.
Three spirting tongues, three rowes of teeth within his head did sticke.
No sooner had the Tirian folke set foote within this thicke
And queachie plot, and deped downe their bucket in the well,
But that to buscle in his den began this Serpent fell,
And peering with a marble head right horribly to hisse.
The Tirians let their pitchers slip for sodaine feare of this,
And waxing pale as any clay, like folke amazde and flaight,
Stoode trembling like an Aspen leafe. The specled serpent straight
Commes trailing out in waving linkes, and knottie rolles of scales,
And bending into bunchie boughts his bodie forth he hales.
And lifting up above the wast himselfe unto the Skie,
He overlooketh all the wood, as huge and big welnie
As is the Snake that in the Heaven about the Nordren Pole
Devides the Beares. He makes no stay but deales his dreadfull dole
Among the Tirians. Whether they did take them to their tooles,
Or to their heeles, or that their feare did make them stand like fooles,
And helpe themselves by none of both, he snapt up some alive,
And swept in others with his taile, and some he did deprive
Of life with rankenesse of his breath, and other some againe
He stings and poysons unto death till all at last were slaine.
Now when the Sunne was at his heigth and shadowes waxed short,
And Cadmus saw his companie make tarience in that sort,
He marveld what should be their let, and went to seeke them out.
His harnesse was a Lions skin that wrapped him about.
His weapons were a long strong speare with head of yron tride,
And eke a light and piercing Dart. And thereunto beside
Worth all the weapons in the world a stout and valiant hart.
When Cadmus came within the wood and saw about that part
His men lie slaine upon the ground, and eke their cruell fo
Of bodie huge stand over them, and licking with his blo
And blasting tongue their sorie woundes: Well trustie friendes (quoth he)
I eyther of your piteous deathes will streight revenger be,
Or else will die my selfe therefore. With that he raughting fast
A mightie Milstone, at the Snake with all his might it cast.
The stone with such exceding force and violence forth was driven,
As of a fort the bulwarkes strong and walles it would have riven.
And yet it did the Snake no harme: his scales as hard and tough
As if they had bene plates of mayle did fence him well inough,
So that the stone rebounded backe against his freckled slough.
But yet his hardnesse savde him not against the piercing dart.
For hitting right betweene the scales that yeelded in that part
Whereas the joynts doe knit the backe, it thirled through the skin,
And pierced to his filthy mawe and greedy guts within.
He fierce with wrath wrings backe his head, and looking on the stripe,
The Javeling steale that sticked out, betwene his teeth doth gripe.
The which with wresting to and fro at length he forth did winde,
Save that he left the head therof among his bones behinde.
When of his courage through the wound more kindled was the ire,
His throteboll swelde with puffed veines, his eyes gan sparkle fire.
There stoode about his smeared chaps a lothly foming froth.
His skaled brest ploughes up the ground, the stinking breath that goth
Out from his blacke and hellish mouth infectes the herbes full fowle.
Sometime he windes himselfe in knots as round as any Bowle.
Sometime he stretcheth out in length as straight as any beame.
Anon againe with violent brunt he rusheth like a streame
Encreast by rage of latefalne raine, and with his mightie sway
Beares downe the wood before his breast that standeth in his way.
Agenors sonne retiring backe doth with his Lions spoyle
Defend him from his fierce assaults, and makes him to recoyle
Aye holding at the weapons point. The Serpent waxing wood
Doth crashe the steele betwene his teeth, and bites it till the blood,
Dropt mixt with poyson from his mouth, did die the greene grasse blacke,
But yet the wound was verie light bicause he writhed backe
And puld his head still from the stroke: and made the stripe to die
By giving way, untill that Cadmus following irefully
The stroke, with all his powre and might did through the throte him rive,
And naylde him to an Oke behind the which he eke did clive.
The Serpents waight did make the tree to bend. It grievde the tree
His bodie of the Serpents taile thus scourged for to bee.
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