PYGMALION loathing their lascivious Life, Abhorred all Womankind, but most a Wife: So single chose to live, and shunned to wed, Well pleased to want a Consort of his Bed. Yet fearing Idleness, the Nurse of Ill, In Sculpture exercised his happy Skill; And carved in Ivory such a Maid, so fair, As Nature could not with his Art compare, Were she to work; but in her own Defence, Must take her Pattern here, and copy hence. Pleased with his Idol, he commends, admires, Adores; and last, the Thing adored, desires. A very Virgin in her Face was seen, And she had moved, a living Maid had been: One would have thought she could have stirred; but strove With Modesty, and was ashamed to move. Art hid with Art, so well performed the Cheat, It caught the Carver with his own Deceit: He knows 'tis Madness, yet he must adore, And still the more he knows it, loves the more: The Flesh, or what so seems, he touches oft, Which feels so smooth, that he believes it soft. Fired with his Thought, at once he strained the Breast, And on the Lips a burning Kiss impressed. 'Tis true, the hardened Breast resists the Gripe, And the cold Lips return a Kiss unripe: But when, retiring back, he looked again, To think it Ivory, was a thought too mean: So would believe she kissed, and courting more, Again embraced her naked Body o'er; And straining hard the Statue, was afraid His Hands had made a Dint, and hurt his Maid: Explored her, Limb by Limb, and feared to find So rude a Gripe had left a livid Mark behind With Flatt'ry now he seeks her Mind to move, And now with Gifts (the powerful bribe of Love): He furnishes her Closet first; and fills The crowded Shelves with Rarities of Shells; Adds Orient Pearls, which from the Conches he drew, And all the sparkling Stones of various Hue: And Parrots, imitating Human Tongue, And singing-birds in Silver Cages hung; And ev'ry fragrant Flower, and odorous Green, Were sorted well, with Lumps of Amber laid between: Rich, fashionable Robes her person Deck: Pendants her Ears, and Pearls adorn her neck: Her tapered Fingers too With Rings are graced, And an embroidered Zone surrounds her slender Waist. Thus like a Queen arrayed, so richly dressed, Beauteous she shewed, but naked shewed the best. Then, from the Floor, he raised a Royal Bed, With Cov'rings of Sydonian Purple spread: The Solemn Rites performed, he calls her Bride, With Blandishments invites her to his Side, And as she were with Vital Sense possessed, Her Head did on a plumy Pillow rest. The Feast of Venus came, a Solemn Day, To which the Cypriots due Devotion pay; With gilded Horns the milk-white Heifers led, Slaughtered before the sacred Altars, bled: Pygmalion offering, first approached the Shrine, And then with Pray'rs implored the Powers Divine: Almighty Gods, if all we Mortals want, If all we can require, be yours to grant; Make this fair Statue mine, he would have said, But changed his Words for shame; and only prayed, Give me the likeness of my Ivory Maid. The Golden Goddess, present at the Prayer, Well knew he meant th' inanimated Fair, And gave the Sign of granting his Desire; For thrice in cheerful Flames ascends the Fire. The Youth, returning to his Mistress, hies, And, impudent in Hope, with ardent Eyes, And beating Breast, by the dear Statue lies. He kisses her white Lips, renews the Bliss, And looks and thinks they redden at the Kiss: He thought them warm before: Nor longer stays, But next his Hand on her hard Bosom lays: Hard as it was, beginning to relent, It seemed, the Breast beneath his Fingers bent; He felt again, his Fingers made a Print, 'Twas Flesh, but Flesh so firm, it rose against the Dint: The pleasing Task he fails not to renew; Soft, and more soft at every Touch it grew; Like pliant Wax, when chafing Hands reduce The former Mass to Form, and frame for Use He would believe, but yet is still in pain, And tries his Argument of Sense again, Presses the Pulse, and feels the leaping Vein. Convinced, o'erjoyed, his studied Thanks and Praise, To her who made the Miracle, he pays: Then Lips to Lips he joined; now freed from Fear, He found the Savour of the Kiss sincere: At this the wakened image oped her Eyes, And viewed at once the Light and Lover, with surprise. The Goddess present at the Match she made, So blessed the Bed, such Fruitfulness conveyed, That e'er ten Moons had sharpened either Horn, To crown their Bliss, a lovely Boy was born; Paphos his Name, who, grown to manhood, walled The City Paphos, from the Founder called.
Salmacis And Hermaphroditus
- by Ovid68
HOW Salmacis with weak enfeebling streams Softens the body, and unnerves the limbs, And what the secret cause shall here be shown; The cause is secret, but the effect is known.
The Naiads nurst an infant heretofore, That Cytherea once to Hermes bore; From both the illustrious authors of his race The child was named; nor was it hard to trace Both the bright parents through the infant's face; When fifteen years, in Ida's cool retreat, The boy had told, he left his native seat, And sought fresh fountains in a foreign soil; The pleasure lessened the attending toil. With eager steps the Lycian fields he crossed, And fields that border on the Lycian coast; A River here he viewed so lovely bright, It showed the bottom in a fairer light, Nor kept a sand concealed from human sight. The stream produced, nor slimy ooze, nor weeds, Nor miry rushes nor the spiky reeds: But dealt encircling moisture all around, The fruitful banks with cheerful verdure crowned, And kept the spring eternal on the ground A nymph presides, nor practised in the chase, Nor skilful at the bow, nor at the race; Of all the blue-eyed daughters of the main. The only stranger to Diana's train; Her sisters, often, as 'tis said, would cry, 'Fie, Salmacis, what, always idle! Fie! Or take thy quiver or thy arrows seize, And mix the toils of hunting with thy ease.' But oft would bathe her in the crystal tide, Oft with a comb her dewy locks divide; Now in the limpid streams she viewed her face, And drest her image in the floating glass: On beds of leaves she now reposed her limbs, Now gathered flowers that grew about her streams; And then by chance was gathering, as she stood To view the boy, and longed for what she viewed.
Fain would she meet the youth with hasty feet, She fain would meet him, but refused to meet Before her looks were set with nicest care, And well deserved to be reputed fair. 'Bright youth,' she cries, 'whom all thy features prove A God, and, if a God, the God of Love; But if a mortal, blest thy nurse's breast, Blest are thy parents, and thy sisters blest: But, oh! how blest! how more than blest thy bride, Allied in bliss, if any get allied: If so, let mine the stolen enjoyment be; If not, behold a willing bride to me.'
The boy knew nought of love, and, touched with shame, He strove, and blushed, but still the blush became; In rising blushes still fresh beauties rose; The sunny side of fruit such blushes shows, And such the moon, when all her silver white Turns in eclipses to a ruddy light. The Nymph still begs, if not a nobler bliss, A cold salute at least, a sister's kiss; And now prepares to take the lovely boy Between her arms. He, innocently coy, Replies, 'Oh leave me to myself alone, You rude, uncivil nymph, or I'll begone.' 'Fair stranger then,' says she; 'it shall be so'; And, for she feared his threats, she feigned to go; But hid within a covert's neighboring green, She kept him still in sight, herself unseen. The boy now fancies all the danger o'er, And innocently sports about the shore, Playful and wanton to the stream he trips, And dips his foot, and shivers as he dips, The coolness pleases him, and with eager haste His airy garments on the banks he cast; His godlike features and his heavenly hue, And all his beauties were exposed to view. His naked limbs the nymph with rapture spies, While hotter passions in her bosom rise, Flush in her cheeks, and sparkle in her eyes. She longs, she burns to clasp him in her arms, And loves, and sighs, and kindles at his charms.
Now all undrest upon the banks he stood, And clapt his sides and leapt into the flood: His lovely limbs the silver waves divide, His limbs appear more lovely through the tide; As lilies shut within a crystal case, Receive a glossy lustre from the glass. 'He's mine, he's all my own,' the Naiad cries, And flings off all, and after him she flies. And now she fastens on him as he swims, And holds him close, and wraps about his limbs. The more the boy resisted and was coy, The more she kissed and clipt the strippling boy. So when the wriggling snake is hatched on high In eagle's claws, and hisses in the sky, Around the foe his twirling tail he flings, And twists her legs, and writhes about her wings. The restless boy still obstinately strove To free himself and still refused her love. Amidst his limbs she kept her limbs entwined, 'And why, coy youth,' she cries, 'why thus unkind! Oh, may the Gods thus keep us ever joined! Oh, may we never, never part again!' So prayed the nymph, nor did she pray in vain: For now she finds him, as his limbs she prest, Grow nearer still, and nearer to her breast; Till, piercing each the other's flesh, they run Together, and incorporate in one: Last in one face are both their faces joined, As when the stock and grafter twig combined Shoot up the same, and wear a common mind:
Both bodies in a single body mix, A single body with a double sex. The boy, thus lost in woman, now surveyed The river's guilty stream, and thus he prayed. (He prayed, but wondered at his softer tone, Surprised to hear a voice but half his own.) You parent gods, whose heavenly names I bear, Hear your Hermaphrodite, and grant my prayer; Oh, grant that--whom so'er these streams contain, If man he entered, he may rise again Supple, unsinewed, and but half a man!
The heavenly parents answered, from on high Their two-shaped son, the double votary; Then gave a secret virtue to the flood, And tinged its source to make his wishes good.
Poems by Ovid, Ovid's poems collection. Ovid is a classical and famous poet (43 BCE - 17 CE / Rome / Italy). Share all poems of Ovid.