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the earth appeared to heaven and the skies
appeared to earth. The fury of the main
abated, for the Ocean ruler laid
his trident down and pacified the waves,
and called on azure Triton.—Triton arose
above the waving seas, his shoulders mailed
in purple shells.—He bade the Triton blow,
blow in his sounding shell, the wandering streams
and rivers to recall with signal known:
a hollow wreathed trumpet, tapering wide
and slender stemmed, the Triton took amain
and wound the pearly shell at midmost sea.
Betwixt the rising and the setting suns
the wildered notes resounded shore to shore,
and as it touched his lips, wet with the brine
beneath his dripping beard, sounded retreat:
and all the waters of the land and sea
obeyed. Their fountains heard and ceased to flow;
their waves subsided; hidden hills uprose;
emerged the shores of ocean; channels filled
with flowing streams; the soil appeared; the land
increased its surface as the waves decreased:
and after length of days the trees put forth,
with ooze on bending boughs, their naked tops.
And all the wasted globe was now restored,
but as he viewed the vast and silent world
Deucalion wept and thus to Pyrrha spoke;
“O sister! wife! alone of woman left!
My kindred in descent and origin!
Dearest companion of my marriage bed,
doubly endeared by deepening dangers borne,—
of all the dawn and eve behold of earth,
but you and I are left—for the deep sea
has kept the rest! And what prevents the tide
from overwhelming us? Remaining clouds
affright us. How could you endure your fears
if you alone were rescued by this fate,
and who would then console your bitter grief?
Oh be assured, if you were buried in the waves,
that I would follow you and be with you!
Oh would that by my father's art I might
restore the people, and inspire this clay
to take the form of man. Alas, the Gods
decreed and only we are living!”, Thus
Deucalion's plaint to Pyrrha;—and they wept.
And after he had spoken, they resolved
to ask the aid of sacred oracles,—
and so they hastened to Cephissian waves
which rolled a turbid flood in channels known.
Thence when their robes and brows were sprinkled well,
they turned their footsteps to the goddess' fane:
its gables were befouled with reeking moss
and on its altars every fire was cold.
But when the twain had reached the temple steps
they fell upon the earth, inspired with awe,
and kissed the cold stone with their trembling lips,
and said; “If righteous prayers appease the Gods,
and if the wrath of high celestial powers
may thus be turned, declare, O Themis! whence
and what the art may raise humanity?
O gentle goddess help the dying world!”
Moved by their supplications, she replied;
“Depart from me and veil your brows; ungird
your robes, and cast behind you as you go,
the bones of your great mother.” Long they stood
in dumb amazement: Pyrrha, first of voice,
refused the mandate and with trembling lips
implored the goddess to forgive—she feared
to violate her mother's bones and vex
her sacred spirit. Often pondered they
the words involved in such obscurity,
repeating oft: and thus Deucalion
to Epimetheus' daughter uttered speech
of soothing import; “ Oracles are just
and urge not evil deeds, or naught avails
the skill of thought. Our mother is the Earth,
and I may judge the stones of earth are bones
that we should cast behind us as we go.”
And although Pyrrha by his words was moved
she hesitated to comply; and both amazed
doubted the purpose of the oracle,
but deemed no harm to come of trial. They,
descending from the temple, veiled their heads
and loosed their robes and threw some stones
behind them. It is much beyond belief,
were not receding ages witness, hard
and rigid stones assumed a softer form,
enlarging as their brittle nature changed
to milder substance,—till the shape of man
appeared, imperfect, faintly outlined first,
as marble statue chiseled in the rough.
The soft moist parts were changed to softer flesh,
the hard and brittle substance into bones,
the veins retained their ancient name. And now
the Gods supreme ordained that every stone
Deucalion threw should take the form of man,
and those by Pyrrha cast should woman's form
assume: so are we hardy to endure
and prove by toil and deeds from what we sprung.
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