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Within the stalls, and snakes of noxious smell
With fumes of galbanum to drive away.
Oft under long-neglected cribs, or lurks
A viper ill to handle, that hath fled
The light in terror, or some snake, that wont
'Neath shade and sheltering roof to creep, and shower
Its bane among the cattle, hugs the ground,
Fell scourge of kine. Shepherd, seize stakes, seize stones!
And as he rears defiance, and puffs out
A hissing throat, down with him! see how low
That cowering crest is vailed in flight, the while,
His midmost coils and final sweep of tail
Relaxing, the last fold drags lingering spires.
Then that vile worm that in Calabrian glades
Uprears his breast, and wreathes a scaly back,
His length of belly pied with mighty spots—
While from their founts gush any streams, while yet
With showers of Spring and rainy south-winds earth
Is moistened, lo! he haunts the pools, and here
Housed in the banks, with fish and chattering frogs
Crams the black void of his insatiate maw.
Soon as the fens are parched, and earth with heat
Is gaping, forth he darts into the dry,
Rolls eyes of fire and rages through the fields,
Furious from thirst and by the drought dismayed.
Me list not then beneath the open heaven
To snatch soft slumber, nor on forest-ridge
Lie stretched along the grass, when, slipped his slough,
To glittering youth transformed he winds his spires,
And eggs or younglings leaving in his lair,
Towers sunward, lightening with three-forked tongue.
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