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It was the time that wives of Thrace were wont to celebrate
The three yeare rites of Bacchus which were done a nighttimes late.
A nighttimes soundeth Rhodope of tincling pannes and pots:
A nighttimes giving up hir house abrode Queene Progne trots
Disguisde like Bacchus other froes and armed to the proofe
With all the frenticke furniture that serves for that behoofe.
Hir head was covered with a vine. About hir loose was tuckt
A Reddeeres skin, a lightsome Launce upon hir shoulder ruckt.
In post gaddes terrible Progne through the woods, and at hir heeles
A flocke of froes. And where the sting of sorrow which she feeles
Enforceth hir to furiousnesse, she feynes it to proceede
Of Bacchus motion. At the length she finding out in deede
The outset Graunge howlde out, and cride, Now well, and open brake
The gates, and streight hir sister thence by force of hand did take,
And veyling hir in like attire of Bacchus, hid hir head
With Ivie leaves, and home to Court hir sore amazed led.
As soone as Philomela wist she set hir foote within
That cursed house, the wretched soule to shudther did begin,
And all hir face waxt pale. Anon hir sister getting place
Did pull off Bacchus mad attire, and making bare hir face
Embraced hir betweene hir armes. But she considering that
Queene Progne was a Cucqueane made by meanes of hir, durst nat
Once raise hir eyes: but on the ground fast fixed helde the same.
And where she woulde have taken God to witnesse that the shame
And villanie was wrought to hir by violence, she was fayne
To use hir hand in stead of speache. Then Progne chaaft amaine,
And was not able in hir selfe hir choler to restraine.
But blaming Philomela for hir weeping, said these wordes:
Thou must not deale in this behalfe with weeping, but with swordes:
Or with some thing of greater force than swords. For my part, I
Am readie, yea and fully bent all mischiefe for to trie.
This pallace will I eyther set on fire, and in the same
Bestow the cursed Tereus the worker of our shame:
Or pull away his tongue: or put out both his eyes: or cut
Away those members which have thee to such dishonor put:
Or with a thousand woundes expulse that sinfull soule of his.
The thing that I doe purpose on is great, what ere it is.
I know not what it may be yet. While Progne hereunto
Did set hir minde, came Itys in, who taught hir what to doe.
She staring on him cruelly, said: Ah, how like thou art
Thy wicked father, and without moe wordes a sorowfull part
She purposed, such inward ire was boyling in hir heart.
But notwithstanding when hir sonne approched to hir neare,
And lovingly had greeted hir by name of mother deare,
And with his pretie armes about the necke had hugde hir fast,
And flattring wordes with childish toyes in kissing forth had cast,
The mothers heart of hirs was then constreyned to relent,
Asswaged wholy was the rage to which she erst was bent,
And from hir eyes against hir will the teares enforced went.
But when she saw how pitie did compell hir heart to yeelde,
She turned to hir sisters face from Itys, and behelde
Now t'one, now tother earnestly and said: Why tattles he
And she sittes dumbe bereft of tongue? as well why calles not she
Me sister, as this boy doth call me mother? Seest thou not,
Thou daughter of Pandion, what a husband thou hast got?
Thou growest wholy out of kinde. To such a husband as
Is Tereus, pitie is a sinne. No more delay there was.
She dragged Itys after hir, as when it happes in Inde
A Tyger gets a little Calfe that suckes upon a Hynde
And drags him through the shadie woods. And when that they had found
A place within the house far off and far above the ground,
Then Progne strake him with a sword now plainly seeing whother
He should, and holding up his handes, and crying mother, mother,
And flying to hir necke: even where the brest and side doe bounde,
And never turnde away hir face. Inough had bene that wound
Alone to bring him to his ende. The tother sister slit
His throte. And while some life and soule was in his members yit,
In gobbits they them rent: whereof were some in Pipkins boyld,
And other some on hissing spits against the fire were broyld,
And with the gellied bloud of him was all the chamber foyld.
To this same banquet Progne bade hir husband knowing nought
Nor nought mistrusting of the harme and lewdnesse she had wrought.
And feyning a solemnitie according to the guise
Of Athens, at the which there might be none in any wise
Besides hir husband and hir selfe, she banisht from the same
Hir householde folke and sojourners, and such as guestwise came.
King Tereus sitting in the throne of his forefathers, fed
And swallowed downe the selfesame flesh that of his bowels bred.
And he (so blinded was his heart) Fetch Itys hither, sed.
No lenger hir most cruell joy dissemble could the Queene.
But of hir murther coveting the messenger to beene,
She said: The thing thou askest for, thou hast within. About
He looked round, and asked where? To put him out of dout,
As he was yet demaunding where, and calling for him: out
Lept Philomele with scattred haire aflaight like one that fled
Had from some fray where slaughter was, and threw the bloudy head
Of Itys in his fathers face. And never more was shee
Desirous to have had hir speache, that able she might be
Hir inward joy with worthie wordes to witnesse franke and free.
The tyrant with a hideous noyse away the table shoves:
And reeres the fiends from Hell. One while with yawning mouth he proves
To perbrake up his meate againe, and cast his bowels out.
Another while with wringing handes he weeping goes about.
And of his sonne he termes himselfe the wretched grave. Anon
With naked sword and furious heart he followeth fierce upon
Pandions daughters. He that had bene present would have deemde
Their bodies to have hovered up with fethers. As they seemde,
So hovered they with wings in deede. Of whome the one away
To woodward flies, the other still about the house doth stay.
And of their murther from their brestes not yet the token goth,
For even still yet are stainde with bloud the fethers of them both.
And he through sorrow and desire of vengeance waxing wight,
Became a Bird upon whose top a tuft of feathers light
In likenesse of a Helmets crest doth trimly stand upright.
In stead of his long sword, his bill shootes out a passing space:
A Lapwing named is this Bird, all armed seemes his face.
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