Pegasus Restored

Mr Flaxman

Pegasus Restored to Gods & Men

An Ode

Thyestes’ deed, Medea’s rage
Hateful! begone! from age to age
Nor stain with future bloody track th’ Historic page.

Still the black-veiled fury roams
Her giant form she rears on high
Still she whirls her blazing torch
And in the flames & sparks are hurled
Envy, contention, strife, confusion
To the natives of the upper world!

Now the assembly congregates
The adamantine doors unfold
Beryls and sapphires pave the way
The massy portal’s burning gold
But who the splendors of this dome shall write,
Glories which dim poetic sight!
Still the assembly congregates
Like myriad motes that darken summer noons
Like bellowing waves that rise o’er mountain tops
And level in one watery plain beneath
The nodding harvest, cities, temples, woods & rocks,
To rush the immortals on from depths beneath, from earth, from air,
Some ride on stars1, some comets, some bestride the vapors of the air.
“What means this tumult now?” cried Mercury above
How dare ye thus approach the dome of mighty Jove?”

“The Winged Pegasus!” they cried aloud,
The name of Pegasus rung thro’ the crowd
Have ye not slaughtered him like one forsaken
Split him like deal-boards & struck him ’mongst the stars
Like to a side of bacon?
And not content with this, but to compleat your riddle2
Your butchering hands bereft him of bum fiddle!
‘Twas spite propense to gods and men
But be assured we’ll have him down again.

Swift Hermes flies to learn the sovereigns will in Ethiopean glades
Where Jove reclines beneath convivial shades.
His golden rod & sandals glitter o’er the seas,
Thro’ the blue aether as he past
His silken cloak still flutters in the blast
Or swells upon the breeze,
Arrived, he tells the labourings of his mighty mind
Expectant waits the thunderer’s nod
Having declared before the god
The wild uproar & anger left behind.

Saturnius mild replies, “O! take him down
Glue him together
& if he is not quite weather tight
Still he’ll be strong enough for poetaster’s tether.”3


  1. Sub pedibusque videt nubes & sidera Daphis — Virg.  

  2. [...] see the [...] of Eustath, Theocritus, Murmurans, Mussitans — in this manner anigmatical and magical chants were expressed & understood by both sacred & profane writers.  

  3. In consequence of this imperial order for taking down the constellation — the more recent astronomers have left out the animal figures in their drafts of the heavens.