Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 35

The story of Baucis and Philemon has been imitated by Swift, in a burlesque style, the actors in the change being two wandering saints and the house being changed into a church, of which Philemon is made the parson The following may serve as a specimen:—

  "They scarce had spoke when, fair and soft,
  The roof began to mount aloft;
  Aloft rose every beam and rafter;
  The heavy wall climbed slowly after.
  The chimney widened and grew higher,
  Became a steeple with a spire.
  The kettle to the top was hoist,
  And there stood fastened to a joist,
  But with the upside down, to show
  Its inclination for below;
  In vain, for a superior force,
  Applied at bottom, stops its course;
  Doomed ever in suspense to dwell,
  'Tis now no kettle, but a bell.
  A wooden jack, which had almost
  Lost by disuse the art to roast,
  A sudden alteration feels,
  Increased by new intestine wheels;
  And, what exalts the wonder more,
  The number made the motion slower;
  The flier, though 't had leaden feet,
  Turned round so quick you scarce could see 't:
  But slackened by some secret power,
  Now hardly moves an inch an hour.
  The jack and chimney, near allied,
  Had never left each other's side.
  The chimney to a steeple grown,
  The jack would not be left alone;
  But up against the steeple reared,
  Became a clock, and still adhered;
  And still its love to household cares
  By a shrill voice at noon declares.
  Warning the cook-maid not to burn
  That roast meat which it cannot turn.
  The groaning chair began to crawl,
  Like a huge snail, along the wall;
  There stuck aloft in public view,
  And, with small change, a pulpit grew.
  A bedstead of the antique mode,
  Compact of timber many a load,
  Such as our ancestors did use,
  Was metamorphosed into pews,
  Which still their ancient nature keep
  By lodging folks disposed to sleep."


Under the island of Aetna lies Typhoeus the Titan, in punishment for his share in the rebellion of the giants against Jupiter. Two mountains press down the one his right and the other his left hand while Aetna lies over his head. As Typhoeus moves, the earth shakes; as he breathes, smoke and ashes come up from Aetna. Pluto is terrified at the rocking of the earth, and fears that his kingdom will be laid open to the light of day. He mounts his chariot with the four black horses and comes up to earth and looks around. While he is thus engaged, Venus, sitting on Mount Eryx playing with her boy Cupid, sees him and says: "My son, take your darts with which you conquer all, even Jove himself, and send one into the breast of yonder dark monarch, who rules the realm of Tartarus. Why should he alone escape? Seize the opportunity to extend your empire and mine. Do you not see that even in heaven some despise our power? Minerva the wise, and Diana the huntress, defy us; and there is that daughter of Ceres, who threatens to follow their example. Now do you, if you have any regard for your own interest or mine, join these two in one." The boy unbound his quiver, and selected his sharpest and truest arrow; then, straining the bow against his knee, he attached the string, and, having made ready, shot the arrow with its barbed point right into the heart of Pluto.