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Elegy V: The Dream. By Henry Cromwell.

'Twas in the midst and silent dead of night,
When heavy sleep oppos'd my weary sight,
This vision did my troubled mind affright:-
To Sol expos'd there stood a rising ground,
Which cast beneath a spacious shade around;
A gloomy grove of spreading oaks below,
And various birds were perch'd on ev'ry bough;
Just on the margin of a verdant mead,
Where murm'ring brooks refreshing waters spread
To shun the heat I sought this cool recess,
But in this shade I felt my heat no less;
When browzing o'er the flow'ry grass appear'd
A lovely cow, the fairest of the herd.
By spotless white distinguished from the rest,
Whiter than milk from her own udder press'd;
Whiter than falling, or the driven snow,
Before descending mists can make it flow.
She, with a lusty bull, her happy mate,
Delighted, on the tender herbage sat;
There, as he crops the flow'rs, and chews the cud,
Feasting a second time upon his food,
His limbs with sudden heaviness oppress'd,
He bends his head, and sinks to pleasing rest.
A noisy crow, cleaving the liquid air,
Thrice with lewd bill pick'd off the heifer's hair;
The glossy white imbib'd a spreading blot,
But on her breast appear'd a livid spot.
The cow rose slowly from her consort's side,
But when afar the grazing bull she spied,
Frisk'd to the herd, with an impetuous haste,
And pleas'd, in new luxuriant soil, her taste.
Oh, learn'd diviner!
What may this visionary dream portend,
If dreams in any future truth can end ?
The prophet nicely weighs what I relate,
And thus denounces in the voice of fate:-
"That heat you tried to shun i' th' shady grove,
But shunn'd in vain, was the fierce heat of love.
The cow denotes the nymph, your only care,
(For white's th' expressive image of the fair,)
And you the bull, abandon'd to despair.
The picking crow some busy bawd implies,
Who with base arts will soon seduce your prim.
You saw the cow to fresher pasture range,
So will your nymph for richer lovers change;
As mixing with the herd you saw her rove,
So will the fair pursue promiscuous love;
Soon will you find a foul incestuous blot,
As on the cow you view'd the livid spot."
At this my blood retired, with dismal fright,
And left me pale as death ; my fainting sight
Was quite o'ercast in dusky shades of night.

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load focus Latin (R. Ehwald, 1907)
load focus English (Christopher Marlowe)
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    • John Conington, Commentary on Vergil's Aeneid, Volume 1, 2.180
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