PSYCHE: or the GREAT METAMORPHOSIS.
A POEM, written in Imitation of SPENSER,
1 WHERE early Phoebus sheds his milder beams,
2 The happy gardens of Adonis lay:
3 There Time, well pleas'd to wonne, a youth beseems.
4 Ne yet his wings were fledg'd, ne locks were grey;
5 Round him in sweet accord the Seasons play
6 With fruits and blossoms meint, in goodly gree;
7 And dancing hand in hand rejoice the lea.
8 Sick gardens now no mortal wight can see,
9 Ne mote they in my simple verse descriven be.
10 The temper'd clime full many a tree affords;
11 Those many trees blush forth with ripen'd fruite;
12 The blushing fruite to feast invites the birds;
13 The birds with plenteous feasts their strength recruite;[Page 24]
14 And warble songs more sweet than shepherd's flute.
15 The gentle stream that roll'd the stones among,
16 Charm'd with the place, almost forgot its suite;
17 But list'ning and responding to the song,
18 Loit'ring, and winding often, murmured elong.
19 Here Panacea, here Nepenthe grew,
20 Here Polygon, and each ambrosial weed;
21 Whose vertues could decayed health renew,
22 And, answering exhausted nature's need,
23 Mote eath a mortal to immortal feed.
24 Here lives Adonis in unfading youth;
25 Celestial Venus grants him that rich meed,
26 And him successive evermore renew'th,
27 In recompence for all his faithful love and truth,
28 Not she, I ween, the wanton queen of love,
29 All buxom as the waves from whence she rose,
30 With her twin sons, who idly round her rove,
31 One Eros hight, the other Anteros;
32 Albeit brothers, different as foes:
33 This sated, sullen, apt for bickerment;
34 That hungry, eager, fit for derring-does.
35 That flies before, with scorching flames ybrent;
36 This foll'wing douts those flames with peevish discontent.
37 Celestial Venus does such ribaulds shun,
38 Ne dare they in her purlues to be seen;
39 But Cupid's torch, fair mother's fairest son,
40 Shines with a steady unconsuming sheen;
41 Not fierce, yet bright, coldness and rage between.
42 The backs of lyons fellonest he strod;
43 And lyons tamely did themselves amene;
44 On nature's wild full sov'reignly he rod;
45 Wild natures, chang'd, confess'd the mild puissant god.
46 A beauteous Fay, or heav'n-descended spright,
47 Sprung from her sire, withouten female's aid,
48 (As erst Minerva did) and Psyche hight,
49 In that inclosure happy sojourn made.
50 No art some heel'd uncomelyness betray'd,
51 But nature wrought her many-colour'd stole;
52 Ne tarnish'd like an Aethiopian maid,
53 Scorch'd with the suns that ore her beauties roll;
54 Ne faded like the dames who bleach beneath the pole.
55 Nor shame, nor pride of borrow'd substance wrought
56 Her gay embroidery and ornament:
57 But she who gave the gilded insect's coat
58 Spun the soft silk, and spread the various teint:[Page 26]
59 The gilded insect's colours yet were feint
60 To those which nature for this fairy wove.
61 Our grannums thus with diff'rent dies besprent,
62 Adorn'd in naked majesty the grove,
63 Charm'd our great sires, and warm'd our frozen clime to love,
64 On either side, and all adown her back,
65 With many a ring at equal distance plac'd,
66 Contrary to the rest, was heben black,
67 With shades of green, quick changing as she pass'd,
68 All were on ground-work of bright gold orecast.
69 The black gave livelood to the greenish hue,
70 The green still deep'd the heben ore it lac'd;
71 The gold, that peep'd atween and then withdrew,
72 Gave lustre to them both, and charm'd the wond'ring view.
73 It seem'd like arras, wrought with cunning skill,
74 Where kindly meddle colours, light, and shade;
75 Here flows the flood; there rising wood or hill
76 Breaks off its course; gay verdure dies the mead.
77 The stream, depeinten by the glitt'rand braid,
78 Emong the hills now winding seems to hide;
79 Now shines unlook'd for thro' the op'ning glade,
80 Now in full torrent pours its golden tyde;
81 Hills, woods, and meads refresh'd, rejoicing by its side.
82 Her Cupid lov'd, whom Psyche lov'd again.
83 He, like her parent and her belamour,
84 Sought how she mote in sickerness remain,
85 From all malengine safe, and evil stour.
86 "Go tender cosset, said he, forray ore
87 "These walks and lawnds; thine all these buskets are;
88 "Thine ev'ry shrub, thine ev'ry fruite and flower:
89 "But oh! I charge thee, love, the rose forbear;
90 'For prickles sharp do arm the dang'rous rosiere.
91 "Prickles will pain, and pain will banish love:
92 "I charge thee, Psyche, then the rose forbear.
93 "When faint and sick, thy languors to remove,
94 "To yon ambrosial shrubs and plants repair;
95 "Thou weetest not what med'cines in them are:
96 "What wonders follow their repeated use
97 "N'ote thy weak sense conceive, should I declare;
98 "Their labour'd balm, and well-concocted juice,
99 "New life, new forms, new thews, new joys, new worlds produce.
100 "Thy term of tryal past with constancy,
101 "That wimpling slough shall fall like filth away;
102 "On pinions broad, uplifted to the sky,
103 "Thou shalt, astert, thy stranger self survey.[Page 28]
104 "Together, Psyche, will we climb and play;
105 "Together wander through the fields of air,
106 "Beyond where suns and moons mete night and day,
107 "I charge thee, O my love, the rose forbear,
108 "If thou wouldst scathe avoid. Psyche, forewarn'd, beware!"
109 "How sweet thy words to my enchanted ear!
110 (With grateful, modest confidence she said)
111 "If Cupid speak, I could for ever hear:
112 "Trust me, my love, thou shalt be well obey'd.
113 "What rich purveyance for me hast thou made,
114 "The prickly rose alone denied! the rest
115 "In full indulgence giv'n! 'twere to upbraid
116 "To doubt compliance with this one request:
117 "How small, and yet how kind, Cupid, is thy beheast!
118 "And is that kindness made an argument
119 "To raise me still to higher scenes of bliss?
120 "Is the acceptance of thy goodness meant
121 "Merit in me for farther happiness?
122 "No merit and no argument, I wiss,
123 "Is there besides in me unworthy maid:
124 "Thy gift the very love I bear thee is.
125 "Trust me, my love, thou shalt be well obey'd;
126 "To doubt compliance here, Cupid, were to upbraid."
127 Withouten counterfesance thus she spoke;
128 Unweeting of her frailty. Light uprose
129 Cupid on easy wings: yet tender look,
130 And oft reverted eye on her bestows;
131 Fearful, but not distrustful of her vows.
132 And mild regards she back reflects on him:
133 With aching eye pursues him as he goes;
134 With aching heart marks each diminish'd limb;
135 Till indistinct, diffus'd, and lost in air he seem.
136 He went to set the watches of the east,
137 That none mote rush in with the tyde of wind:
138 He went to Venus to make fond request
139 From fleshly ferm to loosen Psyche's mind,
140 And her eftsoons transmew. She forelore pin'd;
141 And mov'd for solace to the glassy lake,
142 To view the charms that had his heart entwin'd.
143 She saw, and blush'd and smil'd; then inly spake:
144 'These charms I cannot chuse but love, for Cupid's sake. "
145 But sea-born Venus 'gan with envy stir
146 At bruite of their great happiness; and sought
147 How she might wreak her spight: then call'd to her
148 Her sons, and op'd what rankled in her thought;[Page 30]
149 Asking who'd venture ore the mounds to vau't
150 To breed them scathe unwares; to damp the joy
151 Of blissful Venus, or to bring to nought
152 The liefest purpose of her darling boy,
153 Or urge them both their minion Psyche to destroy.
154 Eros recul'd, and noul'd the work atchieve.
155 "Behold is th' attempt, said he, averse from love:
156 "If love inspires I could derreign to reave
157 "His spear from Mars, his levin-brond from Jove."
158 Him Anteros, sneb'd surly. "Galless dove!
159 "Than love's, spight's mightier prowess understond:
160 "If spight inspires I dare all dangers prove:
161 "And if successful, stand the levin-brond,
162 "When hurlen angry forth from Jove's avenging hond."
163 He said, and deffly t'wards the gardens flew;
164 Horribly smiling at his foul emprise.
165 When, nearer still and nearer as he drew,
166 Unsufferable brightness wounds his eyes
167 Forth beaming from the crystal walls; he tries
168 Arrear to move, averted from the blaze.
169 But now no longer the pure aether buoys.
170 His grosser body's disproportion'd peaze;
171 Down drops, plumb from his tow'ring path, the treachor base.
172 So ore Avernus, or the Lucrine lake,
173 The wistless bird pursues his purpos'd flight:
174 Whether by vapours noy'd that thenceforth break,
175 Or else deserted by an air too light,
176 Down tumbles the fowl headlong from his height.
177 So Anteros astonied fell to ground,
178 Provok'd, but not accoid at his straunge plight.
179 He rose, and wending coasts it round and round
180 To find unguarded pass, hopeless to leap the mound.
181 As on the margin of a stream he stood,
182 Slow rolling from that paradise within,
183 A snake's out-case untenanted he view'd:
184 Seizing the spoil, albeit it worthless been,
185 He darts himself into the vacant skin.
186 In borrow'd gear, th' exulting losel glides,
187 Whose faded hues with joy flush bright again;
188 Triumphant ore the buoyant flood he rides;
189 And shoots th' important gulph, borne on the gentle tydes.
190 So shone the brazen gates of Babylon;
191 Armies in vain her muniments assail:
192 So strong, no engines could them batter down:
193 So high, no ladders could the ramparts scale;[Page 32]
194 So flank'd with tow'rs, besiegers n'ote avail;
195 So wide, sufficient harvests they enclose:
196 But where might yields, there stratagems prevail.
197 Faithless Euphrates thro' the city flows,
198 And thro' his channel pours the unexpected foes.
199 He sails along in many a wanton spire;
200 Now floats at length, now proudly rears his crest:
201 His sparkling eyes and scales, instinct with fire,
202 With splendor as he moves, the waves ore kest:
203 And the waves gleam beneath his flaming breast.
204 As through the battle, set in full array,
205 When the sun walks in radiant brightness dress'd;
206 His beams that on the burnish'd helmets play,
207 The burnish'd helms reflect, and spread unusual day.
208 So on he fares, and stately wreaths about,
209 In semblaunce like a seraph glowing bright;
210 But without terror flash'd his lightning out,
211 More to be wonder'd at, than to affright.
212 The backward stream soon led the masker right
213 To the broad lake, where hanging ore the flood
214 (Narcissus like, enamour'd with the sight
215 Of his own beauties) the fond Psyche stood,
216 To mitigate the pains of lonely widowhood.
217 Unkenn'd of her, he raught th' embroider'd bank;
218 And through the tangled flourets west aside
219 To where a rosiere by the river dank,
220 Luxuriant grew in all its blowing pride,
221 Not far from Psyche; arm'd with scaly hide
222 He clamb the thorns, which no impression make;
223 His glitt'ring length, with all its folds untied,
224 Plays floating ore the bush: then silence brake,
225 And thus the [nymph], astonish'd at his speech, bespake.
226 "O fairest, and most excellent compleat
227 "In all perfections, sov'reign queen of nature!
228 "The whole creation bowing at thy feet
229 "Submissive pays thee homage! wond'rous creature,
230 "If aught created thou! for every feature
231 "Speaks thee a goddess issued from the skie;
232 "Oh! let not me offend, unbidden waiter,
233 "At aweful distance gazing thus! But why
234 "Should gazing thus offend? or how unbidden I?
235 "The sun that wakes those flourets from their beds,
236 "Or opes these buds by his soft influence,
237 "Is not offended that they peep their heads,
238 "And shew they feel his pow'r by their quick sense,[Page 34]
239 "Off'ring at his command, their sweet incense;
240 "Thus I, drawn here, by thy enliv'ning rays,
241 "(Call not intrusion my obedience!)
242 "Perforce, yet willing thrall, am come to gaze,
243 "To pay my homage meet, and bask in beauty's blaze."
244 Amaz'd she stood, nor could recover soon:
245 From contemplation suddenly abraid:
246 Starting at speech unusual: yet the tune
247 Struck sootly on her ear, and concert made
248 With her own thoughts. Nor with less pleasure stray'd
249 Her eyes delighted o'er his glossy skin;
250 Yet frighted at the thorn on which he play'd:
251 Pleasure with horror mixt! she hung between
252 Suspended; yields, recoils, uncertain where to lin.
253 At length she spoke: "Reptile, no charms I know
254 "Such as you mention: yet whate'er they are,
255 "(And nill I lessen what the gods bestow)
256 "Their is the gift, and be the tribute their!
257 "For them these beauties I improve with care,
258 "Intent to them alone from eve to morn.
259 "But reed me, reptile, whence this wonder rare,
260 "That thou hast speech, as if to reason born?
261 "And how, unhurt you sport on that forbidden thorn?"
262 "Say, why forbidden thorn? the foe replied:
263 "To every reptile, every insect free,
264 "Has malice harsh to thee alone denied
265 "The fragrance of the rose enjoy'd by me? "
266 "— 'Twas love, not malice, form'd the kind decree,
267 Half-wroth, she cried:) "Thine all these buskets are,
268 "Thine fruit and flow'r, were Cupid's words to me:
269 "But oh? I charge thee, love, the rose forbear;
270 "For prickles sharp do arm the dang'rous rosiere.
271 "Prickles will pain, and pain will banish love:
272 "I charge thee, Psyche, then the rose forbear.
273 "When faint and sick, thy languors to remove,
274 "To yon ambrosial shrubs, and plants repair;
275 "Thou weetest not what med'cines in them are.
276 "What wonders follow their repeated use
277 "N'ote thy weak sense conceive, should I declare:
278 "Their labour'd balm, and well-concocted juice,
279 "New life, new forms, new thews, new joys, new worlds" produce.
280 "Thy term of tryal past with constancy,
281 "Thy wimpling slough shall fall like filth away;
282 "On pinions broad up-lifted to the skie,
283 "Thou shalt, astert, thy stranger self survey.[Page 36]
284 "Together, Psyche, will we climb and play;
285 "Together wander through the fields of air,
286 "Beyond where suns and moons mete night and day.
287 "I charge thee, O my love, the rose forbear,
288 "If thou wouldst scathe avoid, Psyche, forewarn'd, beware!"
289 Out burst the frannion into open laugh:
290 She blush'd, and frown'd at his uncivil mirth.
291 Then, soften'd to a smile, as hiding half
292 What mote offend if boldly utter'd forth,
293 He seem'd t' assay to give his answer birth:
294 But stop'd; and chang'd his smiles to looks of ruth,
295 "Is this (quoth he) fit guerdon for thy worth?
296 "Does Cupid thus impose upon thy youth?
297 "Dwells then in heav'n such envy, void of love and truth?
298 "Is this the instance of his tenderness,
299 "To envy Psyche what to worms is given?
300 "To cut her off from present happiness
301 "With feign'd reversion of a promis'd heav'n?
302 "By threat'nings false from true enjoyments driven!
303 "How innocent the thorn to touch, he knows:
304 "Where are my wounds? or where th' avenging levin?
305 "How softly blush these colours of the rose?
306 "How sweet (and div'd into the flow'r) its fragrance flows?
307 "Disadvantageous are thy terms of tryal;
308 "No longer Psyche then the rose forbear.
309 "What is to recompence the harsh denyal,
310 "But dreams of wand'ring thro' the fields of air.
311 "And joys, I know not what, I know not where!
312 "As eath, on leafy pinions borne the tree
313 "Mote rush into the skies, and flutter there,
314 "As thou soar yon, and quit thy due degree:
315 "Thou for this world wert made: this world was made for thee.
316 "In vain you'd fly to yonder shrubs and plants;
317 "Bitter their taste, and worthless their effect:
318 "Here is the polychrest for all thy wants;
319 "No panacea, like the rose, expect.
320 "Mute as my fellow-brutes, as them abject
321 "And reasonless was I, till haply woke
322 "By tasting of the rose, (O weak neglect
323 "In thee the while!) the dawn of sapience broke
324 "On my admiring soul, I reason'd, and I spoke.
325 "Nor this the only change; for soon I found
326 "The brisker spirits flow in fuller tyde;
327 "And more than usual lustre spread around;
328 "Such virtue has the rose, in me well tried.[Page 38]
329 "But wise, I ween, thy lover has denied
330 "Its use to thee; I join him too: beware
331 "The dang'rous rose. — For such thy beauty's pride
332 "'Twere death to gaze on, if improv'd! — Forbear
333 "To sharp that wit, too keen! — Touch not the rosiere."
334 Uncheckt, indulg'd, her growing passions rise:
335 Wonder, to see him safe, and hear his telling;
336 Ambition vain, to be more fair and wise;
337 And rage, at Cupid's misconceiv'd false dealing:
338 Various the gusts, but, all one way impelling,
339 She plung'd into the bosom of the tree,
340 And snatch'd the rose, no dreaded pain or quelling.
341 Off drops the snake, nor farther staid to see;
342 But rush'd into the flood, and vanish'd presently.
343 Full many a thorn her tender body rent;
344 Full many a thorn within the wounds remain,
345 And throbbing cause continual dreriment:
346 While gory drops her dainty form distain.
347 She wishes her lost innocence again,
348 And her lost peace, lost charms, lost love to find;
349 But shame upbraids her with a wish so vain:
350 Despair succeeded, and aversion blind;
351 Pain fills her tortur'd sense, and horror clouds her mind.
352 Her bleeding, faint, disorder'd, woe-begon,
353 Stretcht on the bank beside the fatal thorn,
354 Venus who came to seek her with her son,
355 Beheld. She stop'd: And albe heav'nly born,
356 Ruthful of others woe, began to mourn.
357 The loss of Venus' smiles sick nature found:
358 As frost-nipt drops the bloom, the birds forelorn
359 Sit hush'd, the faded sun spreads dimness round;
360 The clatt'ring thunders crash, and earthquakes rock the ground.
361 Then arming with a killing frown her brow;
362 "Die, poor unhappy" — Cupid suppliant broke
363 Th' unfinish'd sentence; and with dueful bow
364 Beg'd her to doff the keenness of her look,
365 Which nature feeling to her center shook.
366 "Then how should Psyche bear it? Spare the maid;
367 "'Tis plain that Anteros his spight has wroke;
368 "Shall vengeance due to him, on her be laid?
369 "Oh! let me run, and reach th' ambrosial balms, "he said.
370 "Ah what would Cupid ask?" the queen replies;
371 "Can all those balms restore her peace again?
372 "Wouldst thou a wretched life immortalize;
373 "Wouldst thou protract by potent herbs, her pain?[Page 40]
374 "Love bids her die: thy cruel wish restrain —
375 "Why then (quoth he) in looms of fate were wove
376 "The lives of those, in long successive train,
377 "From her to spring, thro' yon bright tracts to rove?
378 "Due to the skyes, and meant to shine in fields above?
379 "Say, would thy goodness envy them the light
380 "Appointed for them, or the good prevent
381 "Foreseen from them to flow? eracing quite
382 "The whole creation thro' avengement?
383 "One only species from its order rent,
384 "The whole creation shrivels to a shade. —
385 "— Better all vanish'd, said she, than be meint
386 "In wild confusion; through free will misled,
387 "And tempted to go wrong from punishment delay'd."
388 "Let me that exemplary vengeance bear,
389 (Benign return'd her amiable son:)
390 "Justice on her would lose its aim; severe
391 "In vain, productive of no good; for none
392 "Could by that desolating blow be won.
393 "So falls each generous purpose of the will
394 "Correct, extinguish'd by abortion:
395 "Whence justice would its own intendments spill;
396 "And cut off virtue, by the stroke meant vice to kill.
397 "Yet lest impunity should forehead give
398 "To vice, in me let guilt adopted find
399 "A victim; here awhile vouchsafe me live
400 "Thy proof of justice, mixt with mercy kind! "
401 "— Oh! strange request (quoth she) of pity blind!
402 "How shouldst thou suffer, who didst ne'er offend?
403 "How canst thou bear to be from me disloin'd?
404 "To wander here, where nature 'gins to wend
405 "To waste and wilderness, and pleasures have an end? "
406 "You, Venus, suffer, (said she) when you strike
407 "Not for your own, but others foul offence:
408 "Why not permitted I to do the like,
409 "When greater good, I see, will coul from thence?
410 "That greater good orepays all punishments;
411 "And makes my suff'rings, pleasure: if they prove
412 "A means to conquer Anteros, dispense
413 "Healings to Psyche's wounds, regain her love,
414 "And lead her, with her happy sons, to realms above."
415 "To thy intreaties Psyche's life I give,
416 (Replied th' indulgent mother to her son;)
417 "But yet deform'd, and minish'd let her live;
418 "'Till thou shalt grant a better change foredone;[Page 42]
419 "Nor shall that change, but thro' death gates be won.
420 "This meed be thine, ore her and hers to reign!
421 "Already Nature puts her horrors on:
422 "Away! — I to my bow'r of bliss again!
423 "Thou to thy task of love, and voluntary pain. "
424 She went; and like a shifted stage, the scene
425 Vanish'd at once; th' ambrosial plants were lost;
426 The jarring seasons brought on various teen;
427 Each sought, each seeking, each by other crost.
428 Young spring to summer flies from winter's frost;
429 While sweltry summer thirsts for autumn's bowl,
430 Which autumn holds to winter; winter tost
431 With scorn away, young spring inflames his soul:
432 Still craving, never pleas'd, thus round and round they roll.
433 Th' inclement airs bind up the sluggish soil;
434 The sluggish soil the toilsome hand requires;
435 Yet thankless pays with sour harsh fruits the toil;
436 Ne willing yields, but ragged thorns and briers.
437 Birds, birds pursue; as hunger's rage inspires:
438 Their sweetest songs are now but songs of woe.
439 Here from th' encroaching shore the wave retires:
440 There hoarse floods roar; impetuous torrents flow;
441 Invade the land, and the scarce harvests overthrow.
442 Stretcht on the bank eftsoons th' inviting form
443 Of Psyche faded; brac'd up lank and slim,
444 Her dwindled body shrunk into a worm:
445 Her make new moulded, chang'd in ev'ry limb;
446 Her colours only left, all pale and dim:
447 Doom'd in her caterpillar's shape to lout.
448 Her passions ill such worthless thing beseem;
449 Pride, rage, and vanity to banish out,
450 She creeping crawls, and drags a loathsome length about.
451 How Cupid wash'd her noisome filth away;
452 What arts he tried to win her love again;
453 By what wiles guileful Ant'ros did assay,
454 By leasing, still her recreant to maintain,
455 And render Cupid's kindly labours vain:
456 Their combat, Cupid's conquest, Psyche's crown,
457 (My day's set task here ended) must remain
458 Unsung; far nobler verse mote they renown:
459 Unyoke the toiled steers, the weary sun goes down.