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who blessed our young emprise, due gifts were paid;
and unto the supreme celestial King
I slew a fair white bull beside the sea.
But haply near my place of sacrifice
a mound was seen, and on the summit grew
a copse of corner and a myrtle tree,
with spear-like limbs outbranched on every side.
This I approached, and tried to rend away
from its deep roots that grove of gloomy green,
and dress my altars in its leafy boughs.
But, horrible to tell, a prodigy
smote my astonished eyes: for the first tree,
which from the earth with broken roots I drew,
dripped black with bloody drops, and gave the ground
dark stains of gore. Cold horror shook my frame,
and every vein within me froze for fear.
Once more I tried from yet another stock
the pliant stem to tear, and to explore
the mystery within,—but yet again
the foul bark oozed with clots of blackest gore!
From my deep-shaken soul I made a prayer
to all the woodland nymphs and to divine
Gradivus, patron of the Thracian plain,
to bless this sight, to lift its curse away.
But when at a third sheaf of myrtle spears
I fell upon my knees, and tugged amain
against the adverse ground (I dread to tell!),
a moaning and a wail from that deep grave
burst forth and murmured in my listening ear:
“Why wound me, great Aeneas, in my woe?
O, spare the dead, nor let thy holy hands
do sacrilege and sin! I, Trojan-born,
was kin of thine. This blood is not of trees.
Haste from this murderous shore, this land of greed.
O, I am Polydorus! Haste away!
Here was I pierced; a crop of iron spears
has grown up o'er my breast, and multiplied
to all these deadly javelins, keen and strong.”
Then stood I, burdened with dark doubt and fear
I quailed, my hair rose and my utterance choked.
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