Apollo and the Python

The serpent Python, foe of gods and men,
The crafty, cunning fiend, was defeated when
One child of noble birth, the son of Zeus,
Pulled taut his arrow and sudden let it loose.
For Python, who before had been the nurse,
Of dreadful Typhon, he whom Zeus did curse
(For Zeus, when Typhon rose to overthrow
The gods in heaven, cast to depths below,
Where shades of every kind, of chthonic type,
In Tartarus their lamentations pipe;
Though that horrid beast may on occasion spray
Up fire from below, yet the gods of day
And light and joy he harms not in his rage:
He cannot in his chains even them engage),
Did chase the mother of the golden twin,
And thought against the god of truth to win:
But even in the womb Apollo knew,
Nothing of the Python to be good or true;
And after he was born, still in infant might,
From his mother’s arms he leapt to seize the fight;
He took the bow and loosed a fatal shot,
Then left the Python in a cave to rot;
The god of prophecy he then became,
And snakes forever after lived in shame.
And so this second serpent was destroyed,
And the golden gods at last their peace enjoyed:
Not even to the shades did Apollo send
The noisome beast; its soul met its final end.
The subterranean, though it wail in pain,
Against the heavenly never makes a gain;
The darkness of its soul condemns its plight,
While the light of gods shows them to be right:
The celestial the evil beast won’t brook;
On such they will not even deign to look;
They condemn the same to live underground,
Forever hated, and forever bound.

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