Salomon-Guillaume Counis (Swiss; 1784–1859) after Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson (French; 1767–1824)
Clytie métamorphosée en héliotrope = Clytie Transformed into a Heliotrope
Lithograph on chine collé, 1825
The British Museum, London; © The Trustees of the British Museum

Tho’ guilty Clytie thus the sun betray’d,
By too much passion she was guilty made.
Excess of love begot excess of grief,
Grief fondly bad her hence to hope relief.
But angry Phoebus hears, unmov’d, her sighs,
And scornful from her loath’d embraces flies.
All day, all night, in trackless wilds, alone
She pin’d, and taught the list’ning rocks her moan.
On the bare earth she lies, her bosom bare,
Loose her attire, dishevel’d is her hair.
Nine times the morn unbarr’d the gates of light,
As oft were spread th’ alternate shades of night,
So long no sustenance the mourner knew,
Unless she drunk her tears, or suck’d the dew.
She turn’d about, but rose not from the ground,
Turn’d to the Sun, still as he roul’d his round:
On his bright face hung her desiring eyes,
’Till fix’d to Earth, she strove in vain to rise.
Her looks their paleness in a flow’r retain’d,
But here, and there, some purple streaks they gain’d.
Still the lov’d object the fond leafs pursue,
Still move their root, the moving Sun to view,
And in the Heliotrope the nymph is true.

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

Notes

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