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Venus et Adonis. Atalanta.

Time gliding by without our knowledge cheats us,
and nothing can be swifter than the years.
That son of sister and grandfather, who
was lately hidden in his parent tree,
just lately born, a lovely baby-boy
is now a youth, now man more beautiful
than during growth. He wins the love of Venus
and so avenges his own mother's passion.
For while the goddess' son with quiver held
on shoulder, once was kissing his loved mother,
it chanced unwittingly he grazed her breast
with a projecting arrow. Instantly
the wounded goddess pushed her son away;
but the scratch had pierced her deeper than she thought
and even Venus was at first deceived.

Delighted with the beauty of the youth,
she does not think of her Cytherian shores
and does not care for Paphos, which is girt
by the deep sea, nor Cnidos, haunts of fish,
nor Amathus far-famed for precious ores.

Venus, neglecting heaven, prefers Adonis
to heaven, and so she holds close to his ways
as his companion, and forgets to rest
at noon-day in the shade, neglecting care
of her sweet beauty. She goes through the woods,
and over mountain ridges and wild fields,
rocky and thorn-set, bare to her white knees
after Diana's manner. And she cheers
the hounds, intent to hunt for harmless prey,
such as the leaping hare, or the wild stag,
high-crowned with branching antlers, or the doe.—
she keeps away from fierce wild boars, away
from ravenous wolves; and she avoids the bears
of frightful claws, and lions glutted with
the blood of slaughtered cattle.

She warns you,
Adonis, to beware and fear them. If her fears
for you were only heeded! “Oh be brave,”
she says, “against those timid animals
which fly from you; but courage is not safe
against the bold. Dear boy, do not be rash,
do not attack the wild beasts which are armed
by nature, lest your glory may cost me
great sorrow. Neither youth nor beauty nor
the deeds which have moved Venus have effect
on lions, bristling boars, and on the eyes
and tempers of wild beasts. Boars have the force
of lightning in their curved tusks, and the rage
of tawny lions is unlimited.
I fear and hate them all.”

When he inquires
the reason, she says: “I will tell it; you
will be surprised to learn the bad result
caused by an ancient crime.—But I am weary
with unaccustomed toil; and see! a poplar
convenient, offers a delightful shade
and this lawn gives a good couch. Let us rest
ourselves here on the grass.” So saying, she
reclined upon the turf and, pillowing
her head against his breast and mingling kisses
with her words, she told him the following tale:

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