"'While in his Breast he bears, to Fear unknown, / 'A rigid Heart of Iron or of Stone!"

— Polwhele, Richard (1760-1838); Moschus

Place of Publication
Printed and Sold by R. Thorn [etc.]
"'While in his Breast he bears, to Fear unknown, / 'A rigid Heart of Iron or of Stone!"
Metaphor in Context
'Say, whence those Looks that tell so dire a Tale,
'The Groan so wasting, and the Cheek so pale?
'Is it thy tortur'd Offspring to survey?
'To see a Fawn upon a Lion prey?
'To see a worthless Wretch torment thy Son?
'Ye Gods! what Evil hath Megara done?
'Immortals! have I merited your Scorn?
'Ah me, to adverse Fate untimely born!
'Who, who so curs'd! E'er since the Hour he led
'Me, a fond Virgin, to the nuptial Bed,
'Dear have I ever priz'd him as these Eyes,
'And, still adoring, from my Soul I prize!
'But ah, my matchless Lord was doom'd to share
'Such bitter Draughts, amid his every Care,
'As from the Cup of Sorrow seem to flow,
'Deeper than any Dregs of mortal Woe!
'Wretch! on his Children--his own Flesh he flew,
'And with Apollo's Darts in Frenzy slew!
'Fates--Furies rather the dire Darts supplied!--
'Slain by their Sire before these Eyes they died!
'Oh how they ask'd (and never Dream display'd
'So dread a Scene) their helpless Mother's Aid!
'Alas (I hear each dying Echo still)
'These Hands had vainly cross'd the insuperable Ill.
'But as a hapless Bird her Young bewails,
'That, yet unfledg'd, a cruel Snake assails
''Mid the thick Copse; around her Offspring flies,
'And twitters in shrill Notes her plaintive Cries;
'Not venturing near--too weak to bring Relief--
'Yet hovering in an Agony of Grief--
'So (my poor Offspring fall'n in early Bloom)
'I ran all frantic thro' the blood-stain'd Dome.
'O Dian, Sovereign of the female World,
'Had but thy Hand the Dart in Pity hurl'd;
'Its Poison to this wasting Bosom sped,
'And struck me on my slaughter'd Children dead--
'Then had my Parents the last Office paid,
'And on one Pile the breathless Relics laid!
'Then weeping had they seen our Bodies burn,
'Clos'd the pale Ashes in one common Urn,
'And kindly, to compleat the Rites of Death,
'Buried, where first we drew our vital Breath.
'Now where Aonia boasts her fertile Soil,
''Mid Theban Steeds they urge the rural Toil.
'But I, at Tiryns, Juno's sacred Seat,
'Feel many a Sorrow in my Bosom beat:
'Each Day one melancholy Blank appears,
'And brings no Respite--to eternal Tears!
'Yet soon these Eyes shall hail my hapless Lord
'To his own Roof (tho' transiently) restor'd!
'For many a Labor must he still sustain,
'Rove the rough Earth, and pass the stormy Main;
'While in his Breast he bears, to Fear unknown,
'A rigid Heart of Iron or of Stone!

'But thou, like Water, art dissolv'd away--
'Thy Sorrows flow by Night--nor cease by Day!
'Of all my Friends thou only hast the Power
'To gild with Comfort's Ray the darksome Hour!
'They--they beyond the pine-rob'd Isthmus dwell!--
'Nor, as a hapless Woman, can I tell
'My Griefs; or to one soothing Friend impart
'(Except my Sister Pyrrha) my full Heart!
'She pines too for her Iphiclus--thy Son--
'And sure dire Ills thro' all thy Lineage run,
'Still tortur'd, whether first their Lives began
'From Gods their deathless Sires, or mortal Man.'
Searching "heart" and "iron" in HDIS (Poetry
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.