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nor pass its gates; but, standing in the field,
alone beneath the canopy of Heaven,
she shunned all contact with her husband, while
she built up from the ever-living turf
two altars, one of which upon the right
to Hecate was given, but the one
upon the left was sacred then to you,
O Hebe, goddess of eternal youth!
Festooning woodland boughs and sweet vervain
adorned these altars, near by which she dug
as many trenches. Then, when all was done,
she slaughtered a black ram, and sprinkled with blood
the thirsty trenches; after which she poured
from rich carchesian goblets generous wine
and warm milk, grateful to propitious Gods—
the Deities of earth on whom she called—
entreating, as she did so, Pluto, lord
of ghostly shades, and ravished Proserpine,
that they should not, in undue haste,
deprive her patient's aged limbs of life.
When certain she compelled the God's regard,
assured her incantations and long prayers
were both approved and heard, she bade her people
bring out the body of her father-in-law—
old Aeson's worn out body—and when she
had buried him in a deep slumber by
her spells, as if he were a dead man, she
then stretched him out upon a bed of herbs.
She ordered Jason and his servants thence,
and warned them not to spy upon her rites,
with eyes profane. As soon as they retired,
Medea, with disheveled hair and wild
abandon, as a Bacchanalian, paced
times three around the blazing altars, while
she dipped her torches, splintered at the top,
into the trenches, dark: with blood, and lit
the dipt ends in the sacred altar flames.
Times three she purified the ancient man
with flames, and thrice with water, and three times
with sulphur,—as the boiling mixture seethed
and bubbled in the brazen cauldron near.
And into this, acerbic juices, roots,
and flowers and seeds—from vales Hemonian—
and mixed elixirs, into which she cast
stones of strange virtue from the Orient,
and sifted sands of ebbing ocean's tide;
white hoar-frost, gathered when the moon was full,
the nauseating flesh and luckless wings
of the uncanny screech-owl, and the entrails
from a mysterious animal that changed
from wolf to man, from man to wolf again;
the scaly sloughing of a water-snake,
the medic liver of a long-lived stag,
and the hard beak and head of an old crow
which was alive nine centuries before;
these, and a thousand nameless things
the foreign sorceress prepared and mixed,
and blended all together with a branch
of peaceful olive, old and dry with years. —
And while she stirred the withered olive branch
in the hot mixture, it began to change
from brown to green; and presently put forth
new leaves, and soon was heavy with a wealth
of luscious olives.—As the ever-rising fire
threw bubbling froth beyond the cauldron's rim,
the ground was covered with fresh verdure — flowers
and all luxuriant grasses, and green plants.
Medea, when she saw this wonder took
her unsheathed knife and cut the old man's throat;
then, letting all his old blood out of him
she filled his ancient veins with rich elixir.
As he received it through his lips or wound,
his beard and hair no longer white with age,
turned quickly to their natural vigor, dark
and lustrous; and his wasted form renewed,
appeared in all the vigor of bright youth,
no longer lean and sallow, for new blood
coursed in his well-filled veins.—Astonished, when
released from his deep sleep, and strong in youth,
his memory assured him, such he was
years four times ten before that day!—
Bacchus, from his celestial vantage saw
this marvel, and convinced his nurses might
then all regain their former vigor, he
pled with Medea to restore their youth.
The Colchian woman granted his request.
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