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And, seiz'd at once with wonder and delight, Nor till her lay was ended could I move,
And all three senses in full gust enjoy'd.
And what alone did all the rest surpass, And all around the shades defended it from day: The sweet possession of the fairy place; For sycamores with eglantine were spread, Single, and conscious to myself alone A hedge about the sides, a covering over head. Of pleasures to th' excluded world unknown : And so the fragrant brier was wove between, Pleasures which no where else were to be found, The sycamore and flowers were mix'd with green, And all Elysium in a spot of ground. That Nature seem'd to vary the delight;
Thus while I sat intent to see and hear, And satisfy'd at once the smell and sight.
And drew perfumes of more than vital air,
As if the bless'd above did all conspire
A train less fair, as ancient fathers tell,
I pass their form, and every charming grace, But all that pass'd without with ease was seen, Less than an angel would their worth debase : As if nor fence nor tree was plac'd between. But their attire, like liveries of a kind 'Twas border'd with a field; and some was plain All rich and rare, is fresh within my mind. With grass, and some was sow'd with rising grain. In velvet white as snow the troop was gown’d, That (now the dew with spangles deck'd the ground) The seams with sparkling emeralds set around: A sweeter spot of earth was never found.
Their hoods and sleeves the same; and purfled o'er I look'd and look’d, and still with new delight; With diamonds, pearls, and all the shining store Such joy my soul, such pleasures fill'd my sight: Of eastern pomp: their long descending train, And the fresh eglantine exhal'd a breath,
With rubies edg'd, and sapphires, swept
the plain : Whose odours were of power to raise from death. High on their heads, with jewels richly set, Nor sullen discontent, nor anxious care,
Each lady wore a radiant coronet. Ev'n though brought thither, could inhabit there: Beneath the circles, all the quire was grac'd But thence they fled as from their mortal foe; With chaplets green, on their fair foreheads plac'd. For this sweet place could only pleasure know. Of laurel some, of woodbine many more ; Thus as I mus'd, I cast aside my eye,
And wreaths of agnus-castus others bore : And saw a medlar-tree was planted nigh.
These last, who with those virgin crowns were dressid, The spreading branches made a goodly show, Appear'd in higher honour than the rest. And full of opening blooms was every bough: They danc'd around : but in the midst was seen A goldfinch there I saw with gawdy pride
A lady of a more majestic mien ; Of painted plumes, that hopp'd from side to side, By stature and by beauty mark'd their sovereign Sull pecking as she pass’d; and still she drew
Her short performance was no sooner try'd, With more of godhead shining in her face;
So, nobler than the rest, was her attire.
Plain without pomp, and rich without a show. I stood entranc'd, and had no room for thought, A branch of agnus-castus in her hand But, all o'erpower'd with ecstasy of bliss,
She bore alott (her sceptre of command); Was in a pleasing dream of Paradise ;
Admir'd, ador'd by all the circling crowd, At length I wak'd, and looking round the bower, For wheresoe'er she turn'd her face, they bow'd : Search'd every tree, and pry'd on every flower, And as she danc'd, a roundelay she sung, If any where by chance I might espy,
In honour of the laurel, ever young: The rural poet of the melody;
She rais'd her voice on high, and sung so clear, For still methought she sung not far away : The fawns came scudding from the groves to hear ; At last I found her on a laurel spray.
And all the bending forest lent an ear. Close by my side she sat, and fair in sight, At every close she made, th' attending throng Fall in a line against her opposite;
Reply'd, and bore the burthen of the song: Where stood with eglantine the laurel twin'd; So just, so small, yet in so sweet a note, And both their native sweets were well conjoin'd. It seem'd the music melted in the throat.
On the green bank I sat, and listen'd long Thus dancing on, and singing as they danc'd, (Siring was more convenient for the song): They to the middle of the mead advanc'd,
Till round my arbour a new ring they made, Like to their lords their equipage was seen,
And all their foreheads crown'd with garlands green. O'erjoy'd to see the jolly troop so near,
And after these came, arm’d with spear and shicid, But somewhat aw'd, I shook with holy fear; An host so great, as cover'd all the field, Yet not so much, but that I noted well
And all their foreheads, like the knights before,
With laurels ever green were shaded o'er,
Tenacious of the stem, and firm against the wind.
Or branches for their mystic emblems took,
Of palm, of laurel, or of cerrial-oak. Come issuing out in arms a warrior train,
Thus marching to the trumpet's lofty sound, That like a deluge pour'd upon the plain :
Drawn in two lines adverse they wheel'd around, On tarbed steeds they rode in proud array,
And in the middle meadow took their ground. Thick as the college of the bees in May,
Among themselves the turney they divide,
Then turn'd their horses' heads, and man to man,
And, at the sign, against each other press'd:
The mix'd events, and fortunes of the field. Would make the mighty Persian monarch poor. Some broke their spears, some tumbled horse and Yet what I can, I will ; before the rest
At length the nine (who still together held)
And with resistless force o'erran the field.
The victors from their lofty steeds alight:
Who near the secret harbour sung and danc'd.
The ladies left their measures at the sight,
Her leafy arms with such extent were spread,
From Heaven's inclemency here found retreat, Nine royal knights in equal rank succeed, Enjoy'd the cool, and shunn d the scorching heat: Each warrior mounted on a fiery steed;
A hundred knights might there at ease abide ; In golden armour glorious to behold;
And every knight a lady by his side : The rivets of their arms were nail'd with gold. The trunk itself such odours did bequeath, Their surcoats of white ermin fur were made, That a Moluccan breeze to these was commor: With cloth of gold between, that cast a glittering
The lords and ladies here, approaching, paid
With song of love, and mix with pleasures new;
And every champion leads his chosen dame,
For from the region of the west I heard
New music sound, and a new troop appear'd; The second bore the buckler of his knight,
Of knights, and ladies mix'd, a jolly band, The third of cornel-wood a spear upright,
But all on foot they march d, and band in hand. Headed with piercing steel, and polish'd bright.
The ladies dress'd in rich cymart were seen The laurel champions with their swords invade Of Florence satin, flower'd with white and green, The neighbouring forests, where the justs were made, And for a shade betwixt the bloomy gridelin. And serewood from the rotten hedges took, The borders of their petticoats below
And seeds of latent fire from flints provoke : Were guarded thick with rubies on a row;
A cheerful blaze arose, and by the fire
(attire. And every damsel wore upon her head
They warm'd their frozen feet, and dry'd their wet Of flowers a garland blended white and red. Refresh'd with heat, the ladies sought around Attir'd in mantles all the knights were seen, For virtuous herbs, which gather'd from the ground That gratify'd the view with cheerful green : They squeez'd the juice, and cooling ointment made, Their chaplets of their ladies colours were, (hair. Which on their sun-burnt cheeks and their chapt Compos'd of white and red, to shade their shining
skins they laid : Before the merry troop the minstrels play'd ; Then sought green salads, which they bade them eat, All in their master's liveries were array'd,
A sovereign remedy for inward heat. And clad in green, and on their temples wore The lady of the leaf ordain'd a feast, The chaplets white and red their ladies bore. And made the lady of the flower her guest: Their instruments were various in their kind, When lo, a bower ascended on the plain, Some for the bow, and some for breathing wind : With sudden seats ordain'd, and large for either train. The sawtry, pipe, and hautboy's noisy band, [hand. This bower was near my pleasant arbour plac'd, And the soft lute trembling beneath the touching That I could hear and see whatever pass'd : A tuft of daisies on a flowery lay
The ladies sat with each a knight between, They saw, and thitherward they bent their way; Distinguish'd by their colours, white and green; To this both knights and dames their homage made, The vanquish'd party with the victors join'd, (mind. And due obeisance to the daisy paid.
Nor wanted sweet discourse, the banquet of the And then the band of flutes began to play, Meantime the minstrels play'd on either side, To which a lady sung a virelay :
Vain of their art, and for the mastery vy'd : And still at every close she would repeat
The sweet contention lasted for an hour, The burthen of the song, “ The daisy is so sweet.' And reach'd my secret arbour from the bower. " The daisy is so sweet," when she begun,
The Sun was set; and Vesper, to supply
But soon their pleasure passid : at noon of day, Fled from her laurel shade, and wing'd her flight The Sun with sultry beams began to play :
Directly to the queen array'd in white; Not Sirius shoots a fiercer flame from high, And, hopping, sat familiar on her hand, When with his poisonous breath he blasts the sky: A new musician, and increas'd the band. Then droop'd the fading flowers (their beauty fied) The goldfinch, who, to shun the scalding heat, And clos'd their sickly eyes, and hung the head ; Had chang'd the medlar for a safer seat, And, riveld up with heat, lay dying in their bed. And, hid in bushes, 'scap'd the bitter shower, The lalies gasp'd, and scarcely could respire : Now perch'd upon the lady of the flower ; The breath they drew, no longer air, but fire; And either songster holding out their throats, The fainty knights were scorch'd ; and knew not And folding up their wings, renew'd their notes : wbere
As if all day, preluding to the fight, To run for shelter, for no shade was near ;
They only had rehears'd, to sing by night : And after this the gathering clouds amain
The banquet ended, and the battle done, Pour'd down a storm of rattling hail and rain : They danc'd by star-light and the friendly Moon : And lightning flash'd betwixt: the field, and flowers, And when they were to part, the laureat queen Baret up before, were buried in the showers. Supply'd with steeds the lady of the green, The ladies and the knights, no shelter nigh, Her and her train conducting on the way, Bare to the weather, and the wintery sky,
The Moon to follow, and avoid the day. Were dropping wet, disconsolate, and wan,
This when I saw, inquisitive to know
, and stood from danger Some nymph to satisfy my longing mind:
With due respect my body I inclin'd,
As to some being of superior kind, So did the knights and dames, with courtly grace, And made my court according to the day, And with behaviour sweet, their foes embrace : Wishing her queen and her a happy May. Then thus the queen with laurel on her brow, “Great thanks, my daughter," with a gracious bow * Fär sister, I have suffer'd in your woe;
She said ; and I, who much desir'd to know Por shall be wanting aught within my power Of whence she was, yet fearful how to break Fe your relief in my refreshing bower."
My mind, adventur'd humbly thus to speak : That other answer'd with a lowly look,
“ Madam, might I presume and not offend, And sowa the gracious invitation took :
Su may the stars and shining Moon attend Fall a esse both she and all her train
Your nightly sports, as you vouchsafe to tell The sucking Sun had borne, and beating rain. What nymphs they were who mortal forms excel, Like murtesy was us'd by all in white, [knight. And what the knights who fought in listed fields so Each damne a dame receiv'd, and every knight a
To this the dame reply'd: “ Fair daughter, know, Our England's ornament, the crown's defence,
In battle brave, protectors of their prince:
And well repaid the honours which they gain'd. We privileg'd in sunshine may appear :
The laurel wreaths were first by Cæsar worn,
One leaf of this is immortality,
And more of worth than all the world can buy." And posting through the skies pursue the Moon: “ One doubt remains," said I, “ the dames in But when the morn arises, none are found;
green, For cruel Demogorgon walks the round,
What were their qualities, and who their queen ?" And if he finds a fairy lag in light,
“ Flora commands," said she, “those nymphs and He drives the wretch before, and lashes into night.
knights, “ All courteous are by kind ; and ever proud
Who liv'd in slothful ease and loose delights; With friendly offices to help the good.
Who never acts of honour durst pursue, In every land we have a larger space
The men inglorious knights, the ladies all untrue : Than what is known to you
of mortal race : Who, nurs'd in idleness, and train'd in courts, Where we with green adorn our fairy bowers, Pass'd all their precious hours in plays and sports, And ev'n this grove, unseen before, is ours.
Till Death behind came stalking on, unseen, (green. Know farther : every lady cloth'd in white, And wither'd (like the storm) the freshness of their And, crown'd with oak and laurel every knight, These, and their mates, enjoy their present hour, Are servants to the Leaf, by liveries known
And therefore pay their homage to the Flower. Of innocence; and I myself am one.
But knights in knightly deeds should persevere, Saw you not her so graceful to behold
And still continue what at first they were;
No room for cowardice, or dull delay;
From good to better they should urge their way. And, for the spotless name of maid she bears, For this with golden spurs the chiefs are grac'd, Thnt agnus-castus in her hand appears ;
With pointed rowels arm’d to mend their haste; And all her train, with leafy chaplets crown'd, For this with lasting leaves their brows are bound; Were for unblam'd virginity renown'd;
For laurel is the sign of labour crown'd, [ground: But those the chief and highest in command Which bears the bitter blast, nor shaken falls to Who bear those holy branches in their hand : From winter winds it suffers no decay, The knights adorn’d with laurel crowns are they, For ever fresh and fair, and every month is May. Whom death nor danger never could dismay,
Ev’n when the vital sap retreats below, Victorious names, who made the world obey : Ev'n when the hoary head is hid in snow; Who, while they liv'd, in deeds of arms excell'd, The life is in the leaf, and still between And after death for deities were held.
The fits of falling snow appears the streaky green. But those, who wear the woodbine on their brow, Not so the flower, which lasts for little space, Were knights of love, who never broke their vow;
A short-liv'd good, and an uncertain grace ; Firm to their plighted faith, and ever free
This way and that the feeble stem is driven, From fears, and fickle chance, and jealousy. Weak to sustain the storms and injuries of Heaven. The lords and ladies, who the woodbine bear, Propp'd by the spring, it lifts aloft the head, As true as Tristram and Isotta were." [nine, But of a sickly beauty, soon to shed :
“ But what are those," said I, “th' unconquer'd In summer living, and in winter dead. Who crown'd with laurel-wreaths in golden armour For things of tender kind, for pleasure made, shine ?
Shoot up with swift increase, and sudden are And who the knights in green, and what the train
decay'd.” Of ladies dress'd with daisies on the plain ?
With humble words, the wisest I could frame, Why both the bands in worship disagree,
And proferr'd service, I repaid the dame; And some adorn the flower, and some the tree ?” That, of her grace, she gave her maid to know
“ Just is your suit, fair daughter,” said the dame : The secret meaning of this moral show. “ 'Those laurel'd chiefs were men of mighty fame; And she, to prove what profit I had made Nine worthies were they call'd of different rites, Of mystic truth, in fables first convey'd, Three Jews, three Pagans, and three Christian Demanded, till the next returning May, knights.
Whether the Leaf or Flower I would obey? These, as you see, ride foremost in the field, I chose the leaf; she smil'd with sober chear, As they the foremost rank of honour held,
And wish'd me fair adventure for the year, And all in deeds of chivalry excell'd:
And gave me charms and sigils, for defence Their temples wreath'd with leaves, that still renew; Against ill tongues that scandal innocence : For deathless laurel is the victor's due:
“ But I,” said she, “my fellows must pursue, Who bear the bows were knights in Arthur's reign, Already past the plain, and out of view." Twelve they, and twelve the peers of Charlemain ; We parted thus ; I homeward sped my way, For bows the strength of brawny arms imply, Bewilder'd in the wood till dawn of day : Emblems of valour and of victory.
And met the merry crew who danc'd about the May. Behold an order yet of newer date
Then, late refresh'd with sleep, I rose to write Doubling their number, cqual in their state ; The visionary vigils of the night :
Blush, as thou may’st, my Little Book, with shame, He look'd like Nature's errour, as the mind
The ruling rod, the father's forming care,
Now scorn'd of all, and grown the public shame,
The people from Galesus chang'd his name,
And Cymon call’d, which signifies a brute;
So well his name did with his nature suit.
His father, when he found his labour lost, The power of beauty I remember yet. (wit. And care employ'd that answer'd not the cost, Which once inflam'd my soul, and still inspires my Chose an ungrateful object to remove, If love be folly, the severe divine
And loath'd to see what Nature made him love ; Has felt that folly, though he censures mine; So to his country farm the fool contin'd; Pollutes the pleasures of a chaste embrace, Rude work well suited with a rustic mind. Acts what I write, and propagates in grace, Thus to the wilds the sturdy Cymon went, [ment. With riotous excess, a priestly race.
A squire among the swains, and pleas'd with banishSuppose him free, and that I forge th' offence, His corn and cattle were his only care, He show'd the way, perverting first my sense : And his supreme delight, a country fair In malice witty, and with venom fraught,
It happen'd on a summer's holiday, He makes me speak the things I never thought. That to the green-wood shade he took his way; Compute the gains of his ungovern'd zeal ; For Cymon shunn'd the church, and us'd not much II suits his cloth the praise of railing well. The world will think, that what we loosely write, His quarter-staff, which he could ne'er forsake, Though now arraign'd, he read with some delight; Hung half before, and half behind his back. Because he seems to chew the cud again,
He trudg'd along, unknowing what he sought, When his broad comment makes the text too plain; And whistled as he went for want of thought. And teaches more in one explaining page,
By Chance conducted, or by thirst constrain'd, Than all the double-meanings of the stage. The deep recesses of the grove he gain'd;
What needs he paraphrase on what we mean? Where, in a plain defended by the wood, We were at worst but wanton ; he's obscene. Crept through the matted grass a crystal food, I not my fellows nor myself excuse;
By which an alabaster fountain stood : But lore's the subject of the comic Muse;
And on the margin of the fount was laid Nor can we write without it, nor would you (Attended by her slaves) a sleeping maid. A tale of only dry instruction view;
Like Dian and her nymphs, when, tir'd with sport, Nor love is always of a vicious kind,
To rest by cool Eurotas they resort : But oft to virtuous acts inflames the mind, The dame herself the goddess well express'd, Awakes the sleepy vigour of the soul,
Not more distinguish'd by her purple vest, And, brushing o'er, adds motion to the pool. Than by the charming features of her face, Lore, studious how to please, improves our parts
And ev’n in slumber a superior grace : With polish'd manners, and adorns with arts. Her comely limbs compos’d with decent care, Love first invented verse, and form'd the rhyme, Her body shaded with a slight cymart ; The motion measur'd, harmoniz'd the chime; Her bosom to the view was only bare : To liberal acts enlarg'd the narrow-soul'd, Where two beginning paps were scarcely spy'd, Soften’d the fierce, and made the coward bold : For yet their places were but signify'd : The world, when waste, he peopled with increase, The fanning wind upon her bosom blows, And warring nations reconcil'd in peace.
To meet the fanning wind the bosom rose; Ormond, the first, and all the fair may find, The fanning wind, and purling streams, continue In this one legend, to their fame design'd, When Beauty fires the blood, how love exalts the The fool of Nature stood with stupid eyes, mind.
And gaping mouth that testify'd surprise,
Fix'd on her face, nor could remove his sight, Is that sweet isle where Venus keeps her court, New as he was to love, and novice to delight : And every Grace, and all the Loves, resort; Long mute he stood, and leaning on his staff, Where either sex is form'd of softer earth,
His wonder witness'd with an idiot laugh; And takes the bent of pleasure from their birth; Then would have spoke, but by his glimmering sense There liv'd a Cyprian lord above the rest
First found his want of words, and fear'd offence : Wise, wealthy, with a numerous issue bless'd. Doubted for what he was he should be known, But as no gift of Fortune is sincere,
By his clown accent, and his country tone. Was only wanting in a worthy heir ;
Through the rude chaos thus the running light His eldest born, a goodly youth to view,
Shot the first ray that pierc'd the native night: Elcelld the rest in shape, and outward show, Then day and darkness in the mass were mix'd, Fez, tall, his limbs with due proportion join'd, Till gather'd in a globe the beams were fix'd: But of a heavy, dull, degenerate mind.
Last shone the Sun, who, radiant in his sphere, His soul bely'd the features of his face;
Illumin'd Heaven and Earth, and rollid around the Beauty was there, but beauty in disgrace.
year. A clownish mien, a voice with rustic sound, So reason in this brutal soul began, And stupid eyes that ever lov'd the ground. Love made him first suspect he was a man;