Table of Contents:
In saving so
She gave hir them. The Nymph mounts up, and flying thence as tho
Alyghts in Scythy land, and up the cragged top of hye
Mount Caucasus did cause hir Snakes with much adoo to stye.
Where seeking long for Famin, shee the gaptoothd elfe did spye
Amid a barreine stony feeld a ramping up the grasse
With ougly nayles and chanking it. Her face pale colourd was.
Hir heare was harsh and shirle, her eyes were sunken in her head.
Her lyppes were hore with filth, her teeth were furd and rusty red.
Her skinne was starched, and so sheere a man myght well espye
The verie bowels in her bulk how every one did lye.
And eke above her courbed loynes her withered hippes were seene.
In stead of belly was a space where belly should have beene.
Her brest did hang so sagging downe as that a man would weene
That scarcely to her ridgebone had hir ribbes beene fastened well.
Her leannesse made her joynts bolne big, and kneepannes for to swell.
And with exceeding mighty knubs her heeles behynd boynd out.
Now when the Nymph behild this elfe afarre, (she was in dout
To come too neere her:) shee declarde her Ladies message. And
In that same little whyle although the Nymph aloof did stand,
And though shee were but newly come, yit seemed shee to feele
The force of Famin. Wheruppon shee turning backe her wheele
Did reyne her dragons up aloft: who streyght with courage free
Conveyd her into Thessaly. Although that Famin bee
Ay contrarye to Ceres woork, yit did shee then agree
To do her will and glyding through the Ayre supported by
The wynd, she found th'appoynted house: and entring by and by
The caytifs chamber where he slept (it was in tyme of nyght)
Shee hugged him betweene her armes there snorting bolt upryght,
And breathing her into him, blew uppon his face and brest,
That hungar in his emptie veynes myght woorke as hee did rest.
And when she had accomplished her charge, shee then forsooke
The frutefull Clymates of the world, and home ageine betooke
Herself untoo her frutelesse feeldes and former dwelling place.
The gentle sleepe did all this whyle with fethers soft embrace
The wretched Erisicthons corse. Who dreaming streight of meate
Did stirre his hungry jawes in vayne as though he had to eate
And chanking tooth on tooth apace he gryndes them in his head,
And occupies his emptie throte with swallowing, and in stead
Of food devoures the lither ayre. But when that sleepe with nyght
Was shaken off, immediatly a furious appetite
Of feeding gan to rage in him, which in his greedy gummes
And in his meatlesse maw dooth reigne unstauncht. Anon there cummes
Before him whatsoever lives on sea, in aire or land:
And yit he crieth still for more. And though the platters stand
Before his face full furnished, yit dooth he still complayne
Of hungar, craving meate at meale. The food that would susteine
Whole householdes, Towneships, Shyres and Realmes suffyce not him alone.
The more his pampred paunch consumes, the more it maketh mone
And as the sea receyves the brookes of all the worldly Realmes,
And yit is never satisfyde for all the forreine streames,
And as the fell and ravening fyre refuseth never wood,
But burneth faggots numberlesse, and with a furious mood
The more it hath, the more it still desyreth evermore,
Encreacing in devouring through encreasement of the store:
So wicked Erisicthons mouth in swallowing of his meate
Was ever hungry more and more, and longed ay to eate.
Meate tolld in meate: and as he ate the place was empty still.
The hungar of his brinklesse Maw, the gulf that nowght might fill,
Had brought his fathers goods to nowght. But yit continewed ay
His cursed hungar unappeasd: and nothing could alay I
The flaming of his starved throte. At length when all was spent,
And into his unfilled Maw bothe goods and lands were sent,
An only daughter did remayne unworthy to have had
So lewd a father. Hir he sold, so hard he was bestad.
But shee of gentle courage could no bondage well abyde.
And therfore stretching out her hands to seaward there besyde,
Now save mee, quoth shee, from the yoke of bondage I thee pray,
O thou that my virginitie enjoyest as a pray.
Neptunus had it. Who to this her prayer did consent.
And though her maister looking backe (for after him shee went)
Had newly seene her: yit he turnd hir shape and made hir man,
And gave her looke of fisherman. Her mayster looking than
Upon her, sayd: Good fellow, thou that on the shore doost stand
With angling rod and bayted hooke and hanging lyne in hand,
I pray thee as thou doost desyre the Sea ay calme to thee,
And fishes for to byght thy bayt, and striken still to bee,
Tell where the frizzletopped wench in course and sluttish geere
That stoode right now uppon this shore (for well I wote that heere
I saw her standing) is become. For further than this place
No footestep is appeering. Shee perceyving by the cace
That Neptunes gift made well with her, and beeing glad to see
Herself enquyrd for of herself, sayd thus: Who ere you bee
I pray you for to pardon mee. I turned not myne eye
A t'one syde ne a toother from this place, but did apply
My labor hard. And that you may the lesser stand in dowt,
So Neptune further still the Art and craft I go abowt,
As now a whyle no living Wyght uppon this levell sand
(Myself excepted) neyther man nor woman heere did stand.
Her maister did beleeve her words: and turning backward went
His way beguyld: and streight to her her native shape was sent.
But when her father did perceyve his daughter for to have
A bodye so transformable, he oftentymes her gave
For monny. But the damzell still escaped, now a Mare
And now a Cow, and now a Bird, a Hart, a Hynd, or Hare,
And ever fed her hungry Syre with undeserved fare.
But after that the maladie had wasted all the meates
As well of store as that which shee had purchast by her feates:
Most cursed keytife as he was, with bighting hee did rend
His flesh, and by diminishing his bodye did intend
To feede his bodye, till that death did speede his fatall end.
But what meene I to busye mee in forreine matters thus?
To alter shapes within precinct is lawfull even to us,
My Lords. For sumtime I am such as you do now mee see,
Sumtyme I wynd mee in a Snake: and oft I seeme to bee
A Capteine of the herd with homes. For taking homes on mee
I lost a tyne which heeretofore did arme mee as the print
Dooth playnly shew. With that same word he syghed and did stint.
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