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THE NYMPHS PAY THEIR DUTY
And yet the pious bevy of goddesses did not cease paying Edward countless duties, calling him their darling. The first to come were the sisters of the Castalian font, their heads bound with garlands. The Graces, those symbols of graciousness, made their appearance. Next the Oceanids followed, and a right fair flock of Naiads. Then the Dryads followed in the parade, their unbound hair decorated with green leaves, and the friendly Napaeae, bearing on their brows and carrying in their hands fresh flowers. In their long procession the Oreads brought up the rear, bearing on their shoulders unstrung bows and quivers. All of them gave many greetings to Prince Edward, fair as white snow, and sang their tuneful songs. And the tuneful Muses were the first to play their part.
THE CASTALIAN MUSES
Let us celebrate the Prince’s noble birth, at whose arrival a numerous throng of the British people rejoices and praises the favoring gods.
This day deserves to be marked with white sea-shells, this day deserves to be decorated with a happy frond, which dispels so many shadows for the wretched English, the sun brought back.
As a well-known token, we will dutifully give the Prince a pair of wreaths, made of the ivy, with which we are familiar, and the laurel, dedicated to our Apollo.
May the Prince love erudition and triumphs. May he be friendly and support learned poets. And, a victor with his sword drawn, may he put down the proud enemy.
May protecting Edward imitate his noble father in his deeds, his mother in his piety, and may he live the years of a Nestor, a noble old man.
We are a group three in number, bare of body, simple, kindly, with our fair hair unbound, linking our decent hands and skilled in tripping our gentle measures. We have come here to mark the birth of elegant Edward with a gleaming gem, and to pay the newborn Prince many a greeting with our happy song. Hail, you serene light of your nation, you Prince whiter than snow or privet, in whose face beauty resides. You will be fortunate, and your reputation will reach to the stars of high heaven.
Spacious Britain is surrounded by vast Ocean, and we are a pretty crew of his daughters. The old man is absent, rejoicing in his damp chambers, and true joy grips us, who are present. We have brought sea-shells, you Prince who are the fairest of all things, a present destined quickly to become fit for your grasp. We have come here, noble boy, in this pretty little fleet. A Zephyr has blown which for the most part was a Palinurus. Just so you won’t be unaware, seashells have no uniformity. Every one has its own weight, its own degree of brilliance. From them will be made a pretty little fish to decorate your snow-white neck, or a crown for your head. Edward, you divine boy, may you strive for lasting fame, and be famed for waging war abroad, and for peace at home. If perchance some seaborne enemy should wage war against you, with our help you will prove the victor in a sea-fight. Live long, boy, enjoy happy winds. Let your ship stay in the peaceful water of a harbor.
With our quiet coursing we inhabit gliding rivers. But when the Thames, that prime glory of the nymphs, duly advised us of your birth, straightway we all eagerly swam down together from the bosom of our high banks, our temples bound with poplar leave, and bearing in our hands our customary reeds. Accept the pious prayers we now offer, Prince. Let fostering Virtue deservedly commend her son to the world. Let your better fortune grant you success in your rule, and also the joys of a lengthy life.
Rumor, sped through the boundless forests of the regions belonging to the Atrebates and Cateuchlani, and happy news have come to our ears, informing us that new lights of a Prince have come down from bright heaven, which should banish all clouds far away. Thus we, our brows bound with oak-leaf, have brought fragrant honey, sweet little gifts contained in brimming containers of bark. Now the Golden Age is returned to us, now dark fear is banished from the frightened forest. Now we desire to live in greeny huts and build enduring dwellings of holm-oak. Therefore our sole concern is to pray that you live the years of the long-enduring Phoenix, and to pray that you enjoy every great thing.
Among the Britons there arose a contention between the white and red roses. The Duke of Urorovicum [York], strong of mind and of hand, led the white party, while he of Mediolanum [Lancaster] always upheld the honor of the red flower. Wars fought over fields drenched with civil blood were unable to join the damaged roses in a firm peace and bring about a balance. But who we, who dwell widely through these flourishing realms and with careful hand gather the fresh jewels of both the roses are able to do this, and to do it well, and to decide the quarrel with our true judgment. But this place scarcely demands that. Behold, we give you these fragrant welcome gifts in a jam-packed basket, proud roses of unsullied whiteness and redness. And to your gifts our dutiful band will join lilies, let down from a peaceful sky. Grow up for your government, noble boy, grow up for your triumphs. The laurel is at hand.
In the north-facing part of warlike Cambria [Wales], we happily inhabit the Venetan Alps [Snowdonia] and its rocks, which threaten the heaven with peaks no less steep than those which block Italy’s exit, and our glory is to lay low the boars of lightning-like strength we encounter, with the heads of our unbending hunting-spears. Another glory is also reserved for us, to shoot the deer with our flying shafts and subdue goats with our arrows. Here, as we wandered the remote places in solitude, some swift Zephyr, serving as a messenger, resounded through all the forest: “You nymphs who dwell on mountain-ridges, be friendly and extol the birth of noble Prince Edward with its due honors, and pour forth songs for your master.” We complied with a friendly will, and quickly girded our bodies, accustomed to constant toil, with the spoils of stags, and placed back on our shoulders our bows and familiar arrows, gleaming in their quivers. And, beginning our journey, at sunrise we have arrived at your fathers’ lofty palace. Since it is convenient, and also is our pleasure to gaze at it with eager eyes, Prince, take that which maidens’ most sure promises and honest prayers have to offer. Jupiter on high will remove our Venetan cliffs from their natural homes and no quarry will range the forest, before we forget this birth of yours in our hearts, or these arrows we carry in our quivers are not at your service. Grow stronger, lucky boy. May you see Tithon’s prosperous long years.