Poems and Prose Remains, Vol II

Actæon 1

Arthur Hugh Clough

OVER a mountain slope with lentisk, and with abounding
Arbutus, and the red oak overtufted, ’mid a noontide
Now glowing fervidly, the Leto-born, the divine one,
Artemis, Arcadian wood-rover, alone, hunt-weary,
Unto a dell cent’ring many streamlets her foot unerring
Had guided. Platanus with fig-tree shaded, a hollow,
Shaded a waterfall, where pellucid yet abundant
Streams from perpetual full-flowing sources a current:
Lower on either bank in sunshine flowered the oleanders:
Plenteous under a rock green herbage here to the margin
Grew with white poplars overcrowning. She thither arrived,
Unloosening joyfully the vest enfolded upon her,
Swift her divine shoulders discovering, swiftly revealing
Her maidenly bosom and all her beauty beneath it,
To the river water overflowing to receive her
Yielded her ambrosial nakedness. But with an instant
Conscious, with the instant the’ immortal terrific anger
Flew to the guilty doer: that moment, where amid amply
Concealing plane-leaves he the’ opportunity pursued,
Long vainly, possessed, unwise, Actæon, of hunters,
Hapless of Arcadian, and most misguided of hunters,
Knew the divine mandate, knew fate directed upon him.
He, to the boughs crouching, with dreadful joy the desired one
Had viewed descending, viewed as in a dream, disarraying,
And the unclad shoulders awestruck, awestruck let his eyes see
The maidenly bosom, but not—dim fear fell upon them—
Not more had witnessed. Not, therefore, less the forest through
Ranging, their master ceasing thenceforth to remember,
With the instant together came trooping, as to devour him,
His dogs from the ambush.—Transformed suddenly before them,
He fled, an antlered stag wild with terror to the mountain.
She, the liquid stream in, her limbs carelessly reclining,
The flowing waters collected grateful about her.

1. Passages of the second letter of Parepidemus (vol. i. pp. 4OO, Clough has carried into practice in these hexameters as well as in the Translations from the Iliad.    [back]

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