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And by and by they through the Ayre both gliding swiftly downe,
On Cadmus pallace hid in cloudes did light in Thebe towne.
A fielde was underneath the wall both levell, large and wide,
Betrampled every day with horse that men therin did ride,
Where store of Carres and Horses hoves the cloddes to dust had trode.
A couple of Amphions sonnes on lustie coursers rode
In this same place. Their horses faire Coperisons did weare
Of scarlet: and their bridles brave with golde bedecked were.
Of whome as Niobs eldest sonne Ismenos hapt to bring
His horse about, and reynde him in to make him keepe the ring,
He cride alas: and in his brest with that an arrow stacke
And by and by hys dying hand did let the bridle slacke.
And on the right side of the horse he slipped to the ground.
The second brother Sipylus did chaunce to heare the sound
Of Quivers clattring in the Ayre, and giving streight the reyne
And spur togither to his horse, began to flie amayne:
As doth the master of a ship: who when he sees a shoure
Approching, by some mistie cloud that ginnes to gloume and loure
Doth clap on all his sayles bicause no winde should scape him by
Though nere so small. Howbeit as he turned for to flie,
He was not able for to scape the Arrow which did stricke
Him through the necke. The nocke thereof did shaking upward sticke,
The head appeared at his throte. And as he forward gave
Himselfe in flying: so to ground he groveling also drave,
And toppled by the horses mane and feete amid his race,
And with his warme newshedded bloud berayed all the place.
But Phedimus, and Tantalus, the heir of the name
Of Tantalus, his Graundfather, who customably came
From other dailie exercise to wrestling, had begun
To close, and eache at other now with brest to brest to run,
When Phebus Arrow being sent with force from streyned string
Did strike through both of them as they did fast togither cling.
And so they sighed both at once, and both at once for paine
Fell downe to ground, and both of them at once their eyes did streine
To see their latest light, and both at once their ghostes did yeelde.
Alphenor this mischaunce of theirs with heavie heart behelde,
And scratcht and beate his wofull brest: and therewith flying out
To take them up betweene his armes, was as he went about
This worke of kindly pitie, killde. For Phebus with a Dart
Of deadly dint did rive him through the Bulke and brake his hart.
And when the steale was plucked out, a percell of his liver
Did hang upon the hooked heade: and so he did deliver
His life and bloud into the Ayre departing both togither.
But Damasicthon (on whose heade came never scissor) felt
Mo woundes than one. It was his chaunce to have a grievous pelt
Upon the verie place at which the leg is first begun
And where the hamstrings by the joynt with supple sinewes run
And while to draw this arrow out he with his hand assaide,
Another through his wezant went, and at the feathers staide.
The bloud did drive out this againe, and spinning high did spout
A great way off, and pierst the Ayre with sprinkling all about.
The last of all Ilionie with streched handes, and speche
Most humble (but in vaine) did say: O Gods I you beseche
Of mercie all in generall. He wist not what he saide
Ne how that unto all of them he ought not to have praide.
The God that helde the Bow in hande was moved: but as then
The Arrow was alredie gone so farre, that backe agen
He could not call it. Neerthelesse the wound was verie small
Of which he dide, for why his heart it did but lightly gall.
The rumor of the mischiefe selfe, and mone of people, and
The weeping of hir servants gave the mother t'understand
The sodaine stroke of this mischaunce. She wondred verie much
And stormed also that the Gods were able to doe such
A deede, or durst attempt it, yea she thought it more than right
That any of them over hir should have so mickle might.
Amphion had fordone himselfe alreadie with a knife,
And ended all his sorrowes quite togither with his life.
Alas, alas how greatly doth this Niobe differ here
From tother Niobe who alate disdaining any Pere
Did from Latonas Altars drive hir folke, and through the towne
With haultie looke and stately gate went pranking up and downe,
Then spighted at among hir owne, but piteous now to those:
That heretofore for hir deserts had bene hir greatest foes.
She falleth on the corses colde, and taking no regard,
Bestowde hir kysses on hir sonnes as whome she afterwarde
Did know she never more shoulde kisse. From whome she lifting thoe
Hir blew and broosed armes to heaven sayd: O thou cruell foe
Latona, feede, yea feede thy selfe I say upon my woe
And overgorge thy stomacke, yea and glut thy cruell hart
With these my present painefull pangs of bitter griping smart.
In corses seven I seven times deade am caried to my grave.
Rejoyce thou foe and triumph now in that thou seemste to have
The upper hande. What? upper hand? no no it is not so.
As wretched as my case doth seeme, yet have I left me mo
Than thou for all thy happinesse canst of thine owne account.
Even after all these corses yet I still doe thee surmount.
Upon the ende of these same wordes the twanging of the string
In letting of the Arrow flie was clearly heard: which thing
Made every one save Niobe afraide. Hir heart was so
With sorrowe hardned, that she grew more bolde. Hir daughters tho
Were standing all with mourning weede and hanging haire before
Their brothers coffins. One of them in pulling from the sore
An Arrow sticking in his heart, sanke downe upon hir brother
With mouth to mouth, and so did yeelde hir fleeting ghost. Another
In comforting the wretched case and sorrow of hir mother
Upon the sodaine helde hir peace. She stricken was within
With double wound: which caused hir hir talking for to blin
And shut hir mouth: but first hir ghost was gone. One all in vaine
Attempting for to scape by flight was in hir flying slaine.
Another on hir sisters corse doth tumble downe starke dead.
This quakes and trembles piteously, and she doth hide hir head.
And when that sixe with sundrye woundes dispatched were and gone,
At last as yet remained one: and for to save that one,
Hir mother with hir bodie whole did cling about hir fast,
And wrying hir did over hir hir garments wholy cast:
And cried out: O leave me one: this little one yet save:
Of many but this only one the least of all I crave.
But while she prayd, for whome she prayd was kild. Then down she sate
Bereft of all hir children quite, and drawing to hir fate,
Among hir daughters and hir sonnes and husband newly dead.
Hir cheekes waxt hard, the Ayre could stirre no haire upon hir head.
The colour of hir face was dim and clearly voide of blood,
And sadly under open lids hir eyes unmoved stood.
In all hir bodie was no life. For even hir verie tung
And palat of hir mouth was hard, and eche to other clung.
Hir Pulses ceased for to beate, hir necke did cease to bow,
Hir armes to stir, hir feete to go, all powre forwent as now.
And into stone hir verie wombe and bowels also bind.
But yet she wept: and being hoyst by force of whirling wind
Was caried into Phrygie. There upon a mountaines top
She weepeth still in stone. From stone the drerie teares do drop.
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