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An auspicious verse drama is presented here that Shelley based on the ancient myths. Wrought upon the Roman myth of the abduction of Proserpine from Ceres by Pluto and the Greek myth of greedy emperor Midas, who was granted the quality of an alchemist, these are engrossing literary works. Her creative genius for verse adorned this classical literary. Marvellous!
62 pages with a reading time of ~60 minutes (15565 words), and first published in 1920. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2014.
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Scene; a beautiful plain, shadowed on one side by an overhanging rock, on the other a chesnut wood. Etna at a distance.
Enter Ceres, Proserpine, Ino and Eunoe.
Pros. Dear Mother, leave me not! I love to rest Under the shadow of that hanging cave And listen to your tales. Your Proserpine Entreats you stay; sit on this shady bank, And as I twine a wreathe tell once again The combat of the Titans and the Gods; Or how the Python fell beneath the dart Of dread Apollo; or of Daphne’s change,– That coyest Grecian maid, whose pointed leaves Now shade her lover’s brow. And I the while Gathering the starry flowers of this fair plain Will weave a chaplet, Mother, for thy hair. But without thee, the plain I think is vacant, Its [Note: There is an apostrophe on the s.] blossoms fade,–its tall fresh grasses droop, Nodding their heads like dull things half asleep;– Go not, dear Mother, from your Proserpine.
Cer. My lovely child, it is high Jove’s command:– (2) The golden self-moved seats surround his throne, The nectar is poured out by Ganymede, And the ambrosia fills the golden baskets; They drink, for Bacchus is already there, But none will eat till I dispense the food. I must away–dear Proserpine, farewel!– Eunoe can tell thee how the giants fell; Or dark-eyed Ino sing the saddest change Of Syrinx or of Daphne, or the doom Of impious Prometheus, and the boy Of fair Pandora, Mother of mankind. This only charge I leave thee and thy nymphs,– Depart not from each other; be thou circled By that fair guard, and then no earth-born Power Would tempt my wrath, and steal thee from their sight[.] But wandering alone, by feint or force, You might be lost, and I might never know Thy hapless fate. Farewel, sweet daughter mine, Remember my commands.
Pros. –Mother, farewel! Climb the bright sky with rapid wings; and swift As a beam shot from great Apollo’s bow Rebounds from the calm mirror of the sea Back to his quiver in the Sun, do thou Return again to thy loved Proserpine.
And now, dear Nymphs, while the hot sun is high (3) Darting his influence right upon the plain, Let us all sit beneath the narrow shade That noontide Etna casts.–And, Ino, sweet, Come hither; and while idling thus we rest, Repeat in verses sweet the tale which says How great Prometheus from Apollo’s car Stole heaven’s fire–a God-like gift for Man! Or the more pleasing tale of Aphrodite; How she arose from the salt Ocean’s foam, And sailing in her pearly shell, arrived On Cyprus sunny shore, where myrtles [Note: MS. mytles.] bloomed And sweetest flowers, to welcome Beauty’s Queen; And ready harnessed on the golden sands Stood milk-white doves linked to a sea-shell car, With which she scaled the heavens, and took her seat Among the admiring Gods.
Eun. Proserpine’s tale Is sweeter far than Ino’s sweetest aong.
Pros. Ino, you knew erewhile a River-God, Who loved you well and did you oft entice To his transparent waves and flower-strewn banks. He loved high poesy and wove sweet sounds, And would sing to you as you sat reclined On the fresh grass beside his shady cave, From which clear waters bubbled, dancing forth, And spreading freshness in the noontide air. (4) When you returned you would enchant our ears With tales and songs which did entice the fauns, [Note: MS. fawns] With Pan their King from their green haunts, to hear. Tell me one now, for like the God himself, Tender they were and fanciful, and wrapt The hearer in sweet dreams of shady groves, Blue skies, and clearest, pebble-paved streams.
Ino. I will repeat the tale which most I loved; Which tells how lily-crowned Arethusa, Your favourite Nymph, quitted her native Greece, Flying the liquid God Alpheus, who followed, Cleaving the desarts of the pathless deep, And rose in Sicily, where now she flows The clearest spring of Enna’s gifted plain.
Pros. Thanks, Ino dear, you have beguiled an hour With poesy that might make pause to list The nightingale in her sweet evening song. But now no more of ease and idleness, The sun stoops to the west, and Enna’s plain Is overshadowed by the growing form Of giant Etna:–Nymphs, let us arise, And cull the sweetest flowers of the field, And with swift fingers twine a blooming wreathe For my dear Mother’s rich and waving hair.
Eunoe. Violets blue and white anemonies Bloom on the plain,–but I will climb the brow (9) Of that o’erhanging hill, to gather thence That loveliest rose, it will adorn thy crown; Ino, guard Proserpine till my return.