At last one sister cries, who nimbly knew
To draw nice threads and wind the finest clue,
“While others idly rove, and gods revere,
Their fancied gods! they know not who or where;
Let us, whom Pallas taught her better arts,
Still working, cheer with mirthful chat our hearts;
And, to deceive the time, let me prevail
With each by turns to tell some antique tale.”
She said; her sisters like’d the humour well,
And, smiling, bade her the first story tell;
But she awhile profoundly seem’d to muse,
Perplex’d amid variety to choose;
And knew not whether she should first relate
The poor Dircetis and her wondrous fate.
The Palestines believe it to a man,
and show the lake in which her scales began;
Or if she rather should the daughter sing,
Who in the horary verge of life took wing;
Who soar’d from earth, and dwelt in towers high,
And now a dove she flits along the sky;
Or how lewd Naïs, when her lust was cloy’d,
To fishes turn’d the youths she had enjoy’d,
By powerful verse and herbs; effect most strange!
And last the changer shar’d herself the change.
Or how the tree which once white berries bore,
Still crimson bears, since stain’d with crimson gore.
The tree was new; she likes it, and begins
to tell the tale, and as she tells, she spins.
“In Babylon, where first her queen for state
Rais’d walls of brick magnificently great,
Liv’d Pyramus and Thisbe, lovely pair!
Ovid, Metamorphoses, translated from the Latin by Dr. Garth and others, Vol. I, London: Stanhope Press, 1812, pp. 141-142. This translation by Eusden, corresponding Book IV, 35-55
Illustration inspired by a drawing from the Quechua Andean tradition