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THE LOVE OF DAVID AND FAIR BETHSABE, WITH THE TRAGEDY OF ABSALON.
OF Israel's sweetest singer now I sing,
His holy style and happy victories;
Whose muse was dipt in that inspiring dew,
Arch-angels stilled from the breath of Jove,
Decking her temples with the glorious flowers,
Heavens rain'd on tops of Sion and mount Sinai.
Upon the bosom of his ivory lute
The cherubins and angels laid their breasts; -
And, when his consecrated fingers strook
The golden wires of his ravishing harp,
He gave alarum to the host of heaven,
That, wing'd with lightning, brake the clouds, and
Their crystal armour at his conquering feet.
Of this sweet poet, Jove's musician,
And of his beauteous son, I prease" to sing.
Then help, divine Adonay, to conduct
Upon the wings of my well temper'd verse
The hearers’ minds above the towers of heaven,
And guide them so in this thrice haughty flight,
Their mounting feathers scorch not with the fire,
That none can temper but thy holy hand:
To thee for succour flies my feeble muse,
And at thy feet her iron pen doth use.
He draws a curtain and discovers BETH's ABE with her Maid bathing over a spring : she sings, and DAVID sits above viewing her.
HoT sun, cool fire, temper'd with sweet air,
Black shade, fair nurse, shadow my white hair:
Shine, sun; burn, fire; breathe, air, and ease me;
Black shade, fair nurse, shroud me, and please me:
Shadow, my sweet nurse, keep me from burning,
Make not my glad cause cause of mourning.
Let not my beauty's fire
Inflame unstay’d desire,
Nor pierce any bright eye
That wandereth lightly.
BETH. Come, gentle Zephyr, trickt with those perfumes That erst in Eden sweeten’d Adam's love, And stroke my bosom with the silken fan : This shade, sun-proof, is yet no proof for thee; Thy body, smoother than this waveless spring,
And purer than the substance of the same,
Can creep through that his lances cannot pierce:
Thou, and thy sister, soft and sacred air,
Goddess of life, and governess of health,
Keeps every fountain fresh and arbour sweet;
No brazen gate her passage can repulse,
Nor bushy" thicket bar thy subtle breath:
Then deck thee with thy loose delightsome robes,
And on thy wings bring delicate perfumes,
To play the wantons with us through the leaves.
DAv. What tunes, what words, what looks, what
My soul, incensed with a sudden fire?
What tree, what shade, what spring, what paradise,
Enjoys the beauty of so fair a dame?
Fair Eva, plac'd in perfect happiness,
Lending her praise-notes to the liberal heavens,
Strook with the accents of arch-angels' tunes,
Wrought not more pleasure to her husband's thoughts,
Than this fair woman's words and notes to mine.
May that sweet plain that bears her pleasant weight,
Be still enamell'd with discolour'd f flowers;
That precious fount bear sand of purest gold;
And, for the pebble, let the silver streams
That pierce earth's bowels to maintain the source,
Play upon rubies, sapphires, chrysolites;
The brims let be embrac'd with golden curls
Of moss that sleeps with sound the waters make,
For joy to feed the fount with their recourse;
Let all the grass that beautifies her bower
Bear manna every morn instead of dew,
Or let the dew be sweeter far than that
That hangs, like chains of pearl, on Hermon hill,
Or balm which trickled from old Aaron's beard.
Cusay, come up, and serve thy lord the king.
CU. What service doth my lord the king command? DAv. See, Cusay, see the flower of Israel, The fairest daughter that obeys the king, In all the land the Lord subdu'd to me; Fairer than Isaac's lover at the well, Brighter than inside bark of new-hewn cedar, Sweeter than flames of fine perfumed" myrrh, And comelier than the silver clouds that dance On Zephyr's t wings before the king of heaven. CU. Is it not Bethsabe the Hethite's wife, Urias, now at Rabbah's siege with Joab 2 DAv. Go know, and bring her quickly to the king; Tell her, her graces have f found grace with him. Cu. I will, my lord. [Exit Cusay to Bethsabe. DAv. Bright Bethsabe shall wash in David's bower In water mix'd with purest almond flower, And bathe her beauty in the milk of kids:
* fine perfumed] England's Parnassus, 1600, (where this passage is given, p. 397, under the head of Descriptions of Beauty and Personage) “fire-perfumed.” t Zephyr's] England's Parnassus “2ephyrus.” : have] Old copy “ hath.”