This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
as from Tithonus' saffron bed she sprang;
while from her battlements the wakeful Queen
watched the sky brighten, saw the mated sails
push forth to sea, till all her port and strand
held not an oar or keel. Thrice and four times
she smote her lovely breast with wrathful hand,
and tore her golden hair. “Great Jove,” she cries,
“Shall that departing fugitive make mock
of me, a queen? Will not my men-at-arms
draw sword, give chase, from all my city thronging?
Down from the docks, my ships! Out, out! Begone!
Take fire and sword! Bend to your oars, ye slaves!
What have I said? Where am I? What mad thoughts
delude this ruined mind? Woe unto thee,
thou wretched Dido, now thy impious deeds
strike back upon thee. Wherefore struck they not,
as was most fit, when thou didst fling away
thy sceptre from thy hand? O Iying oaths!
O faith forsworn! of him who brings, they boast,
his father's gods along, and bowed his back
to lift an age-worn sire! Why dared I not
seize on him, rend his body limb from limb,
and hurl him piecemeal on the rolling sea?
Or put his troop of followers to the sword,
ascanius too, and set his flesh before
that father for a feast? Such fearful war
had been of doubtful issue. Be it so!
What fears a woman dying? Would I had
attacked their camp with torches, kindled flame
from ship to ship, until that son and sire,
with that whole tribe, were unto ashes burned
in one huge holocaust—myself its crown!
Great orb of light whose holy beam surveys
all earthly deeds! Great Juno, patroness
of conjugal distress, who knowest all!
Pale Hecate, whose name the witches cry
at midnight crossways! O avenging furies!
O gods that guard Queen Dido's dying breath!
Give ear, and to my guiltless misery
extend your power. Hear me what I pray!
If it be fated that yon creature curst
drift to the shore and happy haven find,
if Father Iove's irrevocable word
such goal decree—there may he be assailed
by peoples fierce and bold. A banished man,
from his Iulus' kisses sundered far,
may his own eyes see miserably slain
his kin and kind, and sue for alien arms.
nor when he basely bows him to receive
terms of unequal peace, shall he be blest
with sceptre or with life; but perish there
before his time, and lie without a grave
upon the barren sand. For this I pray.
This dying word is flowing from my heart
with my spilt blood. And—O ye Tyrians! I
sting with your hatred all his seed and tribe
forevermore. This is the offering
my ashes ask. Betwixt our nations twain,
No Iove! No truce or amity! Arise,
Out of my dust, unknown Avenger, rise!
To harry and lay waste with sword and flame
those Dardan settlers, and to vex them sore,
to-day, to-morrow, and as long as power
is thine to use! My dying curse arrays
shore against shore and the opposing seas
in shock of arms with arms. May living foes
pass down from sire to son insatiate war!”
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.