metamorphoses book ii

Phaeton Driving the Chariot of the Sun
Benjamin Green (British; 1739–1798) after George Stubbs (British; 1724–1806)
The British Museum, London | © Trustees of the British Museum

Published and sold by Benjamin Green, “Drawing Master to Christs Hospital & at the Print Shops.”

Meanwhile the restless horses neigh’d aloud,
Breathing out fire, and pawing where they stood.
Tethys, not knowing what had past, gave way,
And all the waste of Heav’n before ‘em lay.
They spring together out, and swiftly bear
The flying youth thro’ clouds and yielding air;
With wingy speed outstrip the eastern wind,
And leave the breezes of the morn behind.
The youth was light, nor cou’d he fill the seat,
Or poise the chariot with its wonted weight:
But as at sea th’ unballass’d vessel rides,
Cast to and fro, the sport of winds and tides;
So in the bounding chariot toss’d on high,
The youth is hurry’d headlong through the sky.
Soon as the steeds perceive it, they forsake
Their stated course, and leave the beaten track.
The youth was in a maze, nor did he know
Which way to turn the reins, or where to go;
Nor wou’d the horses, had he known, obey.

(Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book II; trans. by Sir Samuel Garth, John Dryden, et al.)