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Nought knoweth Cadmus that his daughter and hir little childe
Admitted were among the Goddes that rule the surges wilde.
Compellde with griefe and great mishappes that had ensewd togither,
And straunge foretokens often seene since first his comming thither,
He utterly forsakes his towne the which he builded had,
As though the fortune of the place so hardly him bestad,
And not his owne. And fleeting long like pilgrims, at the last
Upon the coast of Illirie his wife and he were cast.
Where ny forpind with cares and yeares, while of the chaunces past
Upon their house, and of their toyles and former travails tane
They sadly talkt betweene themselves: Was my speare head the bane
Of that same ougly Snake of Mars (quoth Cadmus) when I fled
From Sidon? or did I his teeth in ploughed pasture spred?
If for the death of him the Goddes so cruell vengeaunce take,
Drawen out in length upon my wombe then traile I like a snake.
He had no sooner sayde the worde but that he gan to glide
Upon his belly like a Snake. And on his hardened side
He felt the scales new budding out, the which was wholy fret
With speccled droppes of blacke and gray as thicke as could be set.
He falleth groveling on his breast, and both his shankes doe growe
In one round spindle Bodkinwise with sharpned point below.
His armes as yet remayned still: his armes that did remayne,
He stretched out, and sayde with teares that plentuously did raine
Adowne his face, which yet did keepe the native fashion sownd:
Come hither wyfe, come hither wight most wretched on the ground,
And whyle that ought of mee remaynes vouchsafe to touche the same.
Come take mee by the hand as long as hand may have his name,
Before this snakish shape doe whole my body over runne.
He would have spoken more when sodainely his tongue begunne
To split in two and speache did fayle: and as he did attempt
To make his mone, he hist: for nature now had cleane exempt
All other speach. His wretched wyfe hir naked stomack beete
And cryde: What meaneth this? deare Cadmus, where are now thy feete?
Where are thy shoulders and thy handes? thy hew and manly face?
With all the other things that did thy princely person grace
Which nowe I overpasse? But why yee Goddes doe you delay
My bodie into lyke misshape of Serpent to convay?
When this was spoken, Cadmus lickt his wyfe about the lippes:
And (as a place with which he was acquaynted well) he slippes
Into hir boosome, lovingly embracing hir, and cast
Himselfe about hir necke, as oft he had in tyme forepast.
Such as were there (their folke were there) were flaighted at the sight,
For by and by they sawe their neckes did glister slicke and bright.
And on their snakish heades grew crests: and finally they both
Were into verie Dragons tournd, and foorth together goth
T'one trayling by the tothers side, untill they gaynd a wood,
The which direct against the place where as they were then stood.
And now remembring what they were themselves in tymes forepast,
They neyther shonne nor hurten men with stinging nor with blast.
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