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“So, Daphnis, thou must try a fall with Love !
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. “Farewell, wolf, jackal, mountain-prisoned bear ! Ye'll see no more by grove or glade or glen Your herdsman Daphnis! Arethuse, farewell, And the bright streams that pour down Thymbris' side.
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. “I am that Daphnis, who lead here my kine, Bring here to drink my oxen and ny calves.
Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song.
Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song.
Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song."
Thyrsis, let honey and the honeycomb
For ne'er cicala trilled so sweet a song.
Be steady, or your pranks will rouse the ram. The piece, The Festival of Adonis, now to follow and to finish our presentation of Theocritus, is not a pastoral poem. On the contrary, it is pronouncedly a poem of the city. But it is eminently fit to be called an idyll, that is, a little picture. For a little picture it is a picture true and vivid, as if painted by the sunbeam, as if, that is to say, a photograph-of a day's life, the life of a religious holiday, lived by two women of the common class, in the great Greek city of Alexandria, in the time of Theocritus. Here is the poem, in a prose rendering, by Mr. Matthew Arnold. But we give first the prefatory explanation supplied by the translator.
“The idyll is dramatic. Somewhere about two hundred and eighty years before the Christian era, a couple of Syracusan women, staying at Alexandria, agreed, on the occasion of a great religious solemnity—the feast of Adonis--to go together to the palace of King Ptolemy Philadelphus, to see the image of Adonis, which the Queen Ar-sin'o-e, Ptolemy's wife, had had decorated with peculiar magnificence. A hymn, by a celebrated performer, was to be recited over the image. The names of the two women are Gorgo and Prax. in'o-e; their maids, who are mentioned in the poem, are called Eu'no-e and Eu'ty-chis. Gorgo comes, by appointment, to Praxinoe's house to fetch her, and there the dialogue begins:"
Gorgo. Is Praxinoe at home?
Praxinoe. My dear Gorgo, at last! Yes, here I am. Eunoe, find a chair,-get a cushion for it.
G. It will do beautifully as it is.
G. O, this gadabout spirit ! I could hardly get to you, Praxinoe, through all the crowd and all the carriages. Nothing but heavy boots, is not,
nothing but men in uniform. And what a journey it is! My dear child, you really live too far off.
P. It is all that insane husband of mine. He has chosen to come out here to the end of the world, and take a hole of a place,-for a house it -on purpose
you and I might not be neighbors. He is always just the same ;-any thing to quarrel with one ! any thing for spite !
G. My dear, don't talk so of your husband before the little fellow. Just see how astonished hé looks at you. Never mind, Zo-pyr'i-o, my pet, she is not talking about papa.
P. Good heavens ! the child does really understand.
P. That pretty papa of his the other day (though I told him before. hand to mind what he was about), when I sent him to a shop to buy soap and rouge, brought me home salt instead ;-stupid, great, big, interminable animal !
G. Mine is just the fellow to him. ... But never mind now, get on your things, and let us be off to the palace to see the Adonis. I hear the queen's decorations are soinething splendid.
P. In grand people's houses every thing is grand. What things you have seen in Alexandria! What a deal you will have to tell to any body who has never been here !
G. Come, we ought to be going.
P. Every day is holiday to people who have nothing to do. Eunoe, pick up your work; and take care, lazy girl, how you leave it lying about again; the cats find it just the bed they like. Come, stir your. self, fetch me some water, quick! I wanted the water first, and the girl brings me the soap. Never mind; give it me.
Not all that, ex. travagant! Now pour out the water :-stupid! why don't you of my dress? That will do. I have got my hands washed as it pleased God. Where is the key of the large wardrobe ? Bring it here ;quick!
G. Praxinoe, you can't think how well that dress, made full, as you've got it, suits you. Tell me, how much did it cost ?—the dress by itself, I
P. Don't talk of it. Gorgo : more than eight guineas of good hard money. And about the work on it I have almost worn my life out.
G. Well, you couldn't have done better.
P. Thank you. Bring me my shawl, and put my hat properly on my head ;-properly. No, child (to her little boy), I am not going to take you; there's a bogy on horseback, who bites. Cry as much as you like ; I'm not going to have you lamed for life. Now we'll start. Nurse, take the little one and amuse him ; call the dog in, and shut the street-door. (They go out.) Good heavens! what a crowd of people! How on earth are we ever to get through all this? They are like ants : you can't count them. My dearest Gorgo, what will become of us? here are the royal Horse Guards. My good man, don't ride over me! Look at that bay horse rearing bolt upright ; what a vicious one! Eunoe, you mad girl, do take care that horse will certainly be the death of the man on his back. How glad I am now that I left the child safe at home!
G. All right, Praxinoe, we are safe behind them; and they have gone on to where they are stationed.
P. Well, yes, I begin to revive again. From the time I was a little girl I have had more horror of horses and snakes than of any thing in the world. Let us get on; here's a great crowd coming this way upon us.
G. (to an old woman), Mother, are you from the palace ?
0. W. My pretty young lady, the Greeks got to Troy by dint of trying hard ; trying will do any thing in this world.
G. The old creature has delivered herself of an oracle and departed.
P. Women can tell you every thing about every thing, Jupiter's marriage with Juno not excepted.
G. Look, Praxinoe, what a squeeze at the palace-gates !
P. Tremendous ! Take hold of me, Gorgo, and you, Eunoe, take hold of Eutychis !-tight hold, or you'll be lost. Here we go in all together. Hold tight to us, Eunoe. O dear! O dear! Gorgo, there's my scarf torn right in two. For heaven's sake, my good man, as you hope to be saved, take care of my dress!
Stranger. I'll do what I can, but it doesn't depend upon me.
P. May you be all right, my dear sir, to the last day you live, for the care you have taken of us! What a kind, considerate man! There is Eunoe jammed in a squeeze. Push, you goose, push! Capital ! We are all of us the right side of the door, as the bridegroom said when he had locked himself in with the bride.
G. Praxinoe, come this way. Do but look at that work, how delicate it is ! how exquisite! Why, they might wear it in heaven.
P. Heavenly patroness of needlewomen, what hands were hired to do that work? Who designed those beautiful patterns ? They seem to stand up and move about, as if they were real ;-as if they were living things, and not needlework. Well, man is a wonderful creature! And look, look, how charming he lies there on his silver couch, with just a soft down on his cheeks, that beloved Adonis,-Adonis, whom one loves even though he is dead !
Another Stranger. You wretched woman, do stop your incessant chatter! Like turtles, you go on forever. They are enough to kill one with their broad lingo,-nothing but a, a, a.
G. Lord, where does the man come from? What is it to you if we are chatter-boxes? Order about your own servants! Do you give orders to Syracusan women? If you want to know, we came originally from Corinth, as Bellerophon did; we speak Peloponnesian. I suppose Dorian women may be allowed to have a Dorian accent.
P. O, honey-sweet Proserpine, let us have no more masters than the one we've got! We don't the least care for you ; pray don't trouble yourself for nothing.
G. Be quiet, Praxinoe! That first-rate singer, the Argive woman's daughter, is going to sing the Adonis hymn. She is the same who was chosen to sing the dirge last year. We are sure to have something first-rate from her. She is going through her airs and graces ready to begin.
Mistress, who lovest the haunt of Golgi, and Idalium, and high-peaked E’ryx, Aphroditè that playest with gold ! how have the delicate-footed Hours, after twelve months, brought thy Adonis back to thee from the ever-flowing Ach'e-ron! Tardiest of the immortals are the boon Hours, but all mankind wait their approach with longing, for they ever bring something with them.
All fruits that the tree bears are laid before him, all treasures of the garden in silver baskets, and alabaster boxes, gold-inlaid, of Syrian unguent; and all confectionary that cunning women make on their kneading-tray, kneading up every sort of flowers with white meal, and all that they make of sweet honey and delicate oil, and all winged and creeping things are here set before him. And there are built for him green bowers with wealth of tender anise, and little boy-loves flutter about over them, like young nightingales trying their new wings on the tree, from bough to bough. O the ebony, the gold, the eagle of white ivory that bears' aloft his cup-bearer to Kronos-born Zeus! And up there, see ! second couch strewn for lovely Adonis, scarlet coverlids softer than sleep itself (so Mi-le'tus and the Samian wool-grower will say); Cypris has hers, and the rosy-armed Adonis has his, that eighteen or nineteen yearold bridegroom. His kisses will not wound, the hair on his lip is yet light.