As for the spirits of the river, the Merrimac Naiads, or whatever may be their name in Indian vocabulary, they have no good reason for complaint; inasmuch as Nature, in marking and scooping out the channel of their stream, seems to have had an eye to the useful rather than the picturesque.
And he observes with surprise, that this wickedness, which is at a furnace-heat in the superior gods, becomes fainter and paler as you descend. Amongst the semi-deities, such as the Oreads or Dryads, the Nereids or Naiads, he feels not at all offended. The odor of corruption, the saeva mephitis, has by this time exhaled. The uproar of eternal outrage has ceased.
O lord of the Naiads and the Bacchanalian women, who are able with their hands to overthrow lofty ash-trees; nothing little, nothing low, nothing mortal will I sing. Charming is the hazard, O Bacchus, to accompany the god, who binds his temples with the verdant vine-leaf. Here, here, deposit the shining flambeaux, and the wrenching irons, and the bows, that threatened the resisting doors.
Once a chattering squirrel came bravely rustling through the branches to the very edge of the enchanted bower, but he only sat and stared a moment in seeming admiration, then retreated quietly. A yellow-beaked toucan, in a flash of red and black and gold, settled upon a mirrored limb; but it, too, stilled its raucous tongue and flitted away on noiseless pinions as if the Naiads were asleep.
Unfortunately, the element of water is not quite a universal possession, and no one can train Naiads on dry land. One of the merits of boating is that it suggests indirectly the attendant accomplishment of swimming, and this is some thing of such priceless importance that no trouble can be too great for its acquisition.
The little birds of the forest mourned for him, even the stony rocks wept, the trees shed their leaves with grief, and the dryads and naiads tore their hair and put on the garb of sorrow. Only the pitiless revelers knew no remorse. They seized the singer's head and threw it with his lyre into the river Hebrus.
The second, which treats of Diet, is necessarily less attractive, as the topic is less susceptible of ornament; yet in speaking of water, he has contrived to embellish it by some lines, which are, perhaps, the finest in the poem. Now come, ye Naiads, to the fountains lead; Now let me wander through your gelid reign. I burn to view th' enthusiastic wilds By mortals else untrod.
A slight wind followed her, and seemed to whisper to the circumjacent trees. It appeared to waken her sister naiads and nymphs, who, joining their leafy fingers, softly drew around her a gently moving band of trembling lights and shadows, of flecked sprays and inextricably mingled branches, and involved her in a chaste sylvan obscurity, veiled alike from pursuing god or stumbling shepherd.
Yet a nobler meed than gold Waits for Albion's children bold; Great Eliza's virgin hand Welcomes you to Fairy-land, While your native Naiads bring Native wreaths as offering. Simple though their show may be, Britain's worship in them see.
They stared, and pointed, and buzzed, and giggled, and even touched my skin with the tips of their fingers to see, I suppose, if the white would come off. But ravenous hunger turned up its nose at flirtation. The fillets of drying salmon suspended from every bough were a million times more seductive than the dark Naiads who had dressed them.