Book IV

Not so the queen: a deep wound drains
The healthful current of her veins:
Long since the unsuspected flame
Has fastened on her fevered frame:
Much dwells she on the chief divine,
Much on the glories of his line:
Each look is pictured in her breast,
Each word: nor passion lets her rest.

Soon as Aurora, tricked anew,
Had drawn from heaven the veil of dew,
Behold her thus her care impart
To the fond sister of her heart:

‘What portents, Anna, sister dear,
Possess my troubled dreams!
What strange unwonted guest is here!
How hero-like he seems!
How bold his port! how fair his face!
’Tis no vain tale, his heavenly race.
Fear proves a base-born soul: but he—
What perils his from war and sea!
Were not my purpose fixed as fate
With none in wedlock’s band to mate,
Since my first passion falsely played
And left me by grim death betrayed,
Were bed and bridal aught but pain,
Perchance I had been weak again.
Dear Anna! ay, I will confess,
Since that wild moment of distress
When poor Sychæus foully bled,
And brother’s crime a home made red,
He, he alone has touched my heart,
And made my faltering purpose start.
E’en in these ashen embers cold
I feel the spark I felt of old.
But first for me may Earth unseal
The horrors of her womb,
Or Jove with awful thunder-peal
Dismiss me into gloom,
The gloom of Orcus’ dim twilight,
Or deeper still, primeval night,
Ere wound I thee, my woman’s fame,
Or disallow thy sacred claim.
My heart to him on whom ’twas set
Has passed: and let him hold it yet,
And keep it in his tomb.’
She said, and speaking bathed her breast
With tears that would not be repressed.

Then Anna: ‘Sweeter than the day
To your fond sister’s eye!
And will you pine your youth away
In loveless fantasy,
Nor wedded joy, nor children know,
As constancy were prized below?
Grant that no noble suitor yet
Has made your widowed heart forget,
In Libya now, as erst at Tyre:
Iarbas, and the rest who reign
In haughty Afric, sued in vain:
But would you quench a welcome fire?
Bethink you further, whose the ground
That hems your infant city round.
Here lie Gætulian cantons rude,
A race untamed in battle-feud,
The Nomad, reinless as his steed,
And tribes that churlish Syrtes breed:
There regions parched and summer-dried,
And Barca’s people prowling wide.
Why talk of menaces from Tyre,
The mutterings of fraternal ire?
’Twas Heaven and Juno’s grace that bore,
I ween, these Trojans to our shore.
How glorious then my sister’s towers,
How vast her empire’s rising powers,
Linked to so grand a fate!
With Teucrian armies at its side,
To what a pinnacle of pride
Will mount the Punic state!
Pray you to Heaven: that favour gained,
Give hospitality its sweep,
And hold him still by pleas detained,
While fierce Orion rules the deep,
While shattered vessels fear the wind,
While skies are sullen and unkind.’
With words like these her sister piled
Fresh fuel on the flame,
Bade doubt be hopeful, and beguiled
The fears of woman’s fame.

First they implore the powers divine,
And ask for peace from shrine to shrine.
Choice sheep of two years’ age are slain,
As ceremonial rules ordain,
To Ceres, law’s eternal spring,
To Phœbus, and Lyæus king,
But chief to Juno, who presides
Supreme o’er bridegrooms and o’er brides.
In radiant beauty Dido stands,
A brimming goblet in her hands,
And pours it, studious of the rite,
Between the horns of heifer white,
Or with the Gods in view moves slow
Where tributary altars glow,
With rich oblations crowns the feast,
Then gazes on the slaughtered beast,
And in the heart’s yet quivering strings
Spells out the lore of hidden things.
Alas! but seers are blind to-day:
Can vows, can sacrifice allay
A frantic lover’s smart?
The very marrow of her frame
Is turning all the while to flame,
The wound is at her heart.
Unhappy Dido! all ablaze
In frenzy through the town she strays:
E’en as a deer whom from afar
A swain in desultory war,
Where Cretan woods are thick,
Has pierced, as ’mid the trees she lies,
And all unknowing of his prize
Has left the dark to stick:
She wanders lawn and forest o’er,
While the fell shaft still drinks her gore.
Now through the city of her pride
She walks, Æneas at her side,
Displays the stores of Sidon’s trade,
And stately homes already made:
Begins, but stops she knows not why,
And lets the imperfect utterance die.
Now, as the sunlight wears away,
She seeks the feast of yesterday,
Enquires once more of Troy’s eclipse,
And hangs once more upon his lips.
Then, when the guests have gone their ways,
And the dim moon withdraws her rays,
And setting stars to slumber call,
Alone she mourns in that lone hall,
Clasps the dear couch where late he lay,
Beholds him, hears him far away;
Or keeps Ascanius on her knees,
And in the son the father sees,
Might she but steal one peaceful hour
From love’s ungovernable power.
No more the growing towers arise,
No more in martial

  By PanEris using Melati.

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