THE SQUIRE of DAMES.
A POEM. In SPENSER's STILE.
In the seventh Canto of the Legend of Chastity, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, the Squire of Dames tells Satyrane, that by order of his mistress Columbel (after having served the ladies for a year) he was sent out a second time, not to return till he could find three hundred women incapable of yielding to any temptation. The bad success he met with in the course of the three years, which is slightly touch'd upon by Spenser, is the foundation of the following poem.
1 HARD is the heart that never knew to love,
2 Ne felt the pleasing anguish of desire.
3 Ye British maids, more fair than Venus' dove,
4 For you alone I tune my humble lyre;
5 Adopt me, nymphs, receive me in your quire,
6 Make me your bard; for that is all my care:
7 Then shall I envy not that aged sire,
8 Who doth for court his annual song prepare:
9 I lever myrtle wreath than Kesar's laurel wear.
10 Think not because I write of Columbel
11 I thence would blast the sex with impious tale;
12 Transactions vile of foreign stronds I tell,
13 Ne 'gainst a British female would I rail
14 For all the wealth that rolls on Indian grail.
15 Here, beauty, truth, and chastity are found:
16 Eleonora here, with visage pale,
17 Did suck the poison from her Edward's wound,
18 And Anna's nuptial faith shall stond for aye renown'd.
19 See the fair swans on Thamis' lovely tide,
20 The which do trim their pennons silver bright,
21 In shining ranks they down the waters ride;
22 Oft have mine eyes devour'd the gallant sight.[Page 119]
23 Then cast thy looks with wonder and delight,
24 Where yon sweet nymphs enjoy the ev'ning air,
25 Some daunce along the green, like fairies light,
26 Some flow'rets cull to deck their flowing hair;
27 Then tell me, soothly, swain, which sight thou deem'st most fair.
28 To you, bright stars, that sparkle on our isle,
29 I give my life, my fortune, and my fame;
30 For my whole guerdon grant me but a smile,
31 A smile from you is all I hope or claim;
32 Nor age's ice my ardent zeal shall tame,
33 To my life's end I shall your names adore,
34 Not hermit's bosoms feel so pure a flame,
35 Warm'd by approval I more high shall soar:
36 Receive my humble lays, my heart was yours before.
37 Should you consent, I'll quit my shepherd's grey,
38 And don more graceful and more costly gear,
39 My crook and scrip I'll throw with scorn away,
40 And in a samite garment streit appear.
41 Farewell, ye groves, which once I held so dear;
42 Farewell, ye glens, I other joys pursue;
43 Then shall the world your matchless pow'r revere,
44 And own what wonders your sweet smiles can do,
45 That could a simple clown into a bard transmew.
The Squire of Dames to Satyrane
His history doth tell,
With all the toils he underwent
To gain his Columbel.
1 THE Squire of Dames his tale thus 'gan to tell;
2 Sith you command my tongue, sir Satyrane,
3 I now will all declare that me befell
4 The cause of muchel scath and dol'rous pain,
5 Ne shall thy gentle eye from tears refrain.
6 Me Columbel commanded far to go
7 'Till I should full three hundred nymphs attain,
8 Whose hearts should aye with Virtue's lessons glow,
9 And to all swains but one cry out for ever, No.
10 To find the fortilage that ne'er will yield
11 Is not an easy matter, good sir Knight;
12 Troy town, they say, is now a grass-grown field,
13 That long withstood the force of Grecian might;[Page 121]
14 And castles fall tho' deep in earth empight;
15 Ne ought so strong is found but what may fail,
16 The sun at last shall lose his glorious light,
17 And vows or bribes o'er women may prevail;
18 Their hearts are made of flesh, and mortal flesh is frail.
19 With heavy heart, and full of cark I go
20 And take my congé of my blooming maid,
21 I kiss'd her hond, and, louting very low,
22 To her behest at length myself array'd:
23 The fair we love expects to be obey'd,
24 Altho' she bid us with the kestrel fly;
25 So forth I prick, tho' much by doubt dismay'd,
26 The hard experiment resolv'd to try:
27 For she was wond'rous fair, and much in love was I.
28 A grove I reach'd, where tuneful throstles sung,
29 The linnet here did ope his little throat,
30 His twitting jests around the cuckoo flung,
31 And the proud goldsinch show'd his painted coat,
32 And hail'd us with no inharmonious note:
33 The robin eke here tun'd his sonnet shrill,
34 And told the soothing ditty all by rote,
35 How he with leaves his pious beak did fill,
36 To shroud those pretty babes, whom Sib unkind would kill.
37 And many a fair Narcissus deck'd the plain,
38 That seem'd anew their passions to admire;
39 Here Ajax told his dolors o'er again,
40 And am'rous Clytie sicken'd with desire;
41 Here the blown rose her odors sweet did spire;
42 Thro' the dun grove a murm'ring river led
43 His chrystal streams that wound in many a gyre;
44 The baleful willow all the banks bespread,
45 And ever to the breeze ycurl'd his hoary head.
46 Soon to the grove there came a lovely maid,
47 For maiden sure she did to me appear,
48 In plain check-laton was the nymph array'd,
49 Her sparkling eyes stood full of many a tear,
50 And she bewept the absence of her dear.
51 Alas! should beauty be to woe allay'd?
52 Beauty, methinks, should meet with better cheer,
53 Content should never wander from her side;
54 Good luck, I pray to heav'n, the face that's fair betide.
55 "Ah! woe is me, she cry'd, since Colin's fled,
56 "Whose gentle presence did these plains adorn,
57 "Soon was he ravish'd from the nuptial bed,
58 "Torn from these arms, from his dear leman torn![Page 123]
59 "O grief! far sharper than the pointed thorn,
60 "I saw him ill-bestad by martial band.
61 "Alas the day that ever I was born!
62 "Where roves my Colin, on what foreign strand,
63 "Arraught from Laura's eyes, and his dear native land?
64 "Alas! he only knew to prune the vine,
65 "Or thro' the earth to urge the biting share,
66 "To twist the bower with fragrant eglantine,
67 "Where free from heat we shun'd the noon-tide air,
68 "Or to the mart to lead his fleecy care.
69 "And is it fit in hacqueton and mail
70 "The youth for war's grim terrors should prepare!
71 "His voice outsung the love-lorn nightingale,
72 "And destly could he daunce, or pipe along the dale.
73 "The gos-hawk fierce may pounce the trembling dove,
74 "The savage wolf may tear the bounding fawn,
75 "But sparrows mild are form'd for seats of love,
76 "And kids dew not with blood the slow'ry lawn;
77 "Then how shall he, in whom all graces dawn,
78 "In the red field the cruel paynim kill?
79 "For scenes like these find men of hellish spawn.
80 "'Tis his with joy the virgin's heart to fill,
81 'And not on foreign shore his foemen's blood to spill.
82 "No days of bliss my sorrows shall aslake,
83 "For him I'll ever drop the dol'rous tear.
84 "Adieu the circled green, the buxom wake,
85 "Since Colin's gone I taste of nought but drear.
86 "Stretch me, ye maidens, stretch me on the bier,
87 "And let thy grave-stone these true words adorn:
88 "A wretched maiden lies intombed here,
89 "Who saw a shepherd brighter than the morn,
90 "Then pin'd her heart away, and dy'd of love forlorn."
91 Much was I grieved at her piteous plaint,
92 And greeted to myself, O happy Squire!
93 At length, tho' late, thou hast found out a saint,
94 Who, but for Colin, feels no warm desire.
95 Perdie, quoth Satyrane, I her admire;
96 No lozel lose shall here discover'd be.
97 The other answer'd with his cheeks on fire,
98 Now by my hallidom you soon shall see
99 That words may with the heart full often ill agree.
100 I, nought accoy'd, came up unto the fair,
101 And swore to love her all my length of life;
102 Then offer'd her to gorgeous domes to bear,
103 Where haidegives are daunc'd to harp and fife.[Page 125]
104 She soon forgot she was another's wife,
105 And granted with me to desert the plain.
106 Are such ensamples emong women rife?
107 If so, my Columbel I ne'er shall gain,
108 But hunt around the world, and find my labours vain.
109 My lips I 'gan to royne in fell despite,
110 And forth I rushed from her false embrace,
111 Thro' the thick wood I wander'd day and night,
112 Ne met I living creature face to face:
113 At length a rising city far I trace;
114 Thither in hopes my hasty steps I bend.
115 Perchaunce, thought I, true Virtue may embrace
116 The courtly dome, and from the country wend.
117 Thus, where the least expect, we often find a friend.
118 At e'en the town I reach'd, and eke a hall,
119 Which waxen tapers made as light as day;
120 Fair jovisaunce sat on the face of all,
121 And to the daunce the sprightly minstrels play,
122 Each seem'd as sportive as the wanton jay.
123 The dame, who own'd the house, was passing old,
124 And had, it seems, that morning dealt away
125 To her kind grandson many bags of gold,
126 Who took a bonnibel to haven and to hold.
127 The bride was named Viola the fair,
128 The loaded rosiere is not half so sweet.
129 Aye, aye, quoth I, ensamples are but rare
130 To find so many charms in one discreet;
131 With you, fair lass, I mean not now to treat.
132 The springal was in wholesom lustihed,
133 And him by name of Pamphilus they greet;
134 He was to doughty chevisance ybred,
135 Yet oft in courtly halls the active measure led.
136 The auncient dame they do Avara call,
137 And much she hobbled as she trod the ground;
138 Yet many angels in her crumenal,
139 If fair report speaks true, were always found.
140 Where riches flow there virtues too abound.
141 Her pannikel was as a badger grey,
142 And, as she walk'd the company around,
143 It nodded with such force, that, by my fay,
144 I thought it meant to fly from her old crag away.
145 The lofty roof was fretted o'er with gold,
146 And all around, the walls depeinten were
147 With many histories of times of old,
148 Which brought not muchel credit to the fair.[Page 127]
149 There Leda held her swan, with shoulders bare,
150 And here the dame of Ephesus was found,
151 Lick other dames, whom my kind tongue shall spare,
152 And here stood Helen for her charms renown'd,
153 Who soon her lord forsook, when she a leman found.
154 And many a beauteous dame and courtly knight
155 Came there the nuptials to celebrate:
156 Some vers'd to wing from bow the nimble flight,
157 Some the near foe with brondir'n to amate;
158 Me too they welcome to the hall of state;
159 With bel acoil they wished me to take
160 A round or two, and chuse me out a mate:
161 But my fond love which nothing could aslake,
162 Caus'd me to slight them all, for Columbella's sake.
163 And now to artful steps the floor rebounds,
164 In graceful ease the shining beavys move,
165 The noice like thunder at a distance sounds,
166 Mean time I sat beneath a proud alcove,
167 And told Avara gentle tales of love.
168 Thought I, in eld the passions are more tame,
169 And here by craft I may successful prove;
170 For she perforce must now be void of blame
171 As wise Ulysses' wife, Penelopé by name.
172 Ne wants she gelt, which oft the mind misleads
173 To actions which it otherwise would shun.
174 The courtier lythe, if right report areeds,
175 Will unawhap'd to seize his vantage run;
176 And so will most men underneath the sun,
177 Or be they patriot call'd, or bard, or knight;
178 But when they once the gilded prize have won,
179 They seek to clear their name, with shame bedight:
180 Befits to scour the steel, when rust offends the sight.
181 At ev'ry word I said she look'd askaunce,
182 Then said, in unsoot whispers, Fye! Sir, fye!
183 And turn'd as tho' she seem'd to mind the daunce,
184 Nathless on me she cast a languid eye:
185 Blist by thy form, my liefest life, quoth I,
186 Cast your belgards upon an humble slave;
187 From love, alass! in vain my heart would fly;
188 Then with a word thy quailing leman save,
189 For if you frown, perdie, you doom me to the grave.
190 It hap'd by chaunce she saw a golden heart
191 With flaming diamonds around beset;
192 This, the whole guerdon of my tedious smart,
193 I, on a time, from Columbel did get.[Page 129]
194 As simple birds are caught in fowler's net,
195 And 'cause they see no danger none they fear,
196 Ev'n so Avara her eyen here did set,
197 And turned round and whisper'd in mine ear,
198 Give me that di'mond heart, and be mine leman dear.
199 I started from the couch where I was pight,
200 And thus I her bespake with muchel rage,
201 Avaunt, thou faytor false, thou imp of night!
202 I hate myself, that I should thus engage,
203 On any terms, to treat with wrizled age.
204 So, forth I flung, and left the frowy witch
205 To share her bed with coachman, groom or page;
206 The castle too I quit, mine ire was sich,
207 And out I set again, tho' night was dark as pitch.
208 But did I here relate, Sir Satyrane,
209 The many weary miles I've travelled,
210 What dangers I've assoil'd, yet all in vain,
211 (For, by my truth, but ill my days I've sped)
212 Your hair would stand upright upon your head.
213 Three hundred virtuous females side by side,
214 By me to Columbella must be led:
215 Can you direct me where for such to ride?
216 cannot, in good sooth, the courteous knight reply'd.
217 The Squire pursu'd his tale; 'Tis now three years
218 Since curst Avara's visage first I saw;
219 Convents I've try'd, but there the luscious freers
220 The fair-fac'd nuns to fornication draw;
221 Nor palaces are free from Cupid's law;
222 His darts are fiercer than the levin-brond;
223 Few, very few, there 'scape his mighty paw,
224 And those in golden palls, who proudly stond,
225 Had lever kiss their love's, than Keysar's royal hond.
226 Fair Jenny of the mill I strove to win,
227 And her benempt Pastora of the dale;
228 But they bilive agreed with me to sin;
229 One ask'd an owch, and one a watchet veil.
230 Some wish o'er ev'ry female to prevail;
231 My hope, my conquest is to be deny'd.
232 The stage I've try'd, but there my projects fail;
233 For there is scarce a single wedded bride
234 But doth her husband's noul with horns of ront provide.
235 As couthful fishers at the benty brook,
236 By various arts assot the seely fry,
237 Now wriggling worms, now paste conceals the hook,
238 And now they hide it with a colour'd fly;[Page 131]
239 This takes the perch, and that the tench's eye;
240 So different nymphs a diff'rent charm invites,
241 Some yield for vantage, some for vanity,
242 A song this one, a daunce that maid delights:
243 Man throws the wimble bait, and greedy woman bites.
244 With sorrow overhent, the other day
245 I laid my weary limbs adown to rest,
246 Where a tall beech o'erspread the dusky way;
247 My noyous thoughts a dream awhile suppress'd,
248 Oft weighty truths are in this garb ydress'd.
249 Grant that it so may happy unto me;
250 Then joyous once again shall sooth this breast,
251 My pining soul shall be from anguish free,
252 And I shall taste true bliss, dear Columbel, with thee.
253 Methought I saw a figure fair and tall,
254 And gentle smiles sat dimpling on her face,
255 Yet seemed of a beauty nought at all,
256 'Till much beholding did improve each grace;
257 At length she seem'd too fair for human race.
258 Her kirtle white might vie with winter snows,
259 Ne could you ought of her fair bosom trace,
260 Nought but her face would she to sight expose,
261 So modest maiden wends, the frannion muchel shows.
262 With visage bland, methought she hail'd me oft;
263 "Ne fear, quoth she, a female's mild request.
264 "The bark by tempests that is whirl'd aloft,
265 "At length, the tempest o'er, enjoyeth rest.
266 "My name is Chastity, tho' out of quest
267 "With modern dames, yet thou shalt still survey
268 "A clime where beauty is with virtue blest.
269 "Good fortune speed you on your happy way;
270 "Go, gentle Squire of Dames, and here no longer stay.
271 "To Fairy lond your instant journey bend,
272 "There Columbel may find her will obey'd;
273 "There Chastity may boast of many a friend,
274 "She visits there each rosy-featur'd maid.
275 "Go on, nor be by former toils affray'd:
276 "Go where yon oaks display their verdant pride,
277 "'Till, from the mountains torn and stripp'd of shade,
278 "On Neptune's billows they triumphant ride,
279 "Protect their happy lond, and conquer all beside.
280 "Hail happy lond! for arms and arts renown'd,
281 "For blooming virgins free from loose desire;
282 "A Drake, a Bacon, there a birth-place found,
283 "And chaste Eliza time shall e'er admire:[Page 133]
284 "The hero wields the sword and poet's lyre:
285 "This Sidney knew, who still with lustre shines,
286 "For whom Dan Spenser wak'd the warbling quire,
287 "And many more whose names might grace his lines;
288 "There round the warriour's palm the lover's myrtle twines."
289 At this I woke, and now resolve to brave
290 The utmost perils for my Columbel;
291 For, know, I mean to cross the briny wave,
292 Where Albion's chalky cliffs the sea repel:
293 And, if no mage have laid a magick spell,
294 Perchaunce my lot may be at length to find
295 Three hundred nymphs, who wicked love can quell;
296 If not, I must desert all womankind,
297 And, what me most amates, leave Columbel behind.
298 The Squire of Dames surceased here his say,
299 And forth he yode to seek the British isle,
300 Sir Satyrane prick'd on his dapple-grey,
301 Ne ought foreswonk he travell'd many a mile
302 To spend his days in hardiment and toil:
303 But first in courteous guise they bid farewell,
304 As well befits men bred in courtly soil.
305 Now how the Squire has sped, or ill, or well,
306 A future canto may, perhaps, at leisure tell.
307 For see, how Phoebus welketh in the west,
308 My oxen from their yoke I must untye,
309 The collar much has chauf'd their tender chest,
310 Who labours much the sweets of rest should try.
311 To their warm nests the daws and ravens fly
312 Deep in the ruin'd dome or dusky wood;
313 And beasts and birds fast lock'd in slumber lye,
314 Save the fell bat, that flutters out for food,
315 And the soothsaying owl, with her unlovely brood.
The Squire he lights on Bon-vivant,
Who wons in Fairy soil,
Then views in Merlin's magick glass
A sight that ends his toil.
1 TO gain the point to which our soul aspires
2 We nourish toil, and reek hard labour sweet;
3 For this, thro' Greenland's frosts, or India's fires,
4 The hardy sailors death and dangers meet;[Page 135]
5 And the prow chieftain, bolder than discreet,
6 In blood imbru'd pursues the martial fray,
7 And lovers eke thro' life's loud tempests beat,
8 Led on by hope, that never-dying ray;
9 Hope wantons in their breast, and strews with flow'rs the way.
10 And sure of all mankind the Squire of Dames
11 Shall stand the first ensample of true love,
12 Who aye, untouch'd by any foreign flames,
13 Preserv'd his passion for his gentle dove;
14 Blush, modern youths, whose pulses quickly move,
15 Fondly you glote upon the witching fair;
16 Yet, when a sweet enjoyment once you prove,
17 You leave the nymph intangled in the snare,
18 Her tears flow trickling down, her singults pierce the air.
19 Oh think of transports which ye whilom tasted,
20 And let the glad remembrance charm your mind,
21 Be not the fruits of joyment quickly wasted,
22 And to your heart her happy image bind:
23 Think what she merits who whilear was kind,
24 Nor by inconstancy her peace destroy;
25 Inconstancy, that monster fell and blind:
26 That vainly fond of ev'ry passing toy,
27 Treads down its late delight, and poisons rapt'rous joy.
28 Return we now unto our gentle youth,
29 Whose little bark daunc'd lightly on the main,
30 His breast divided atween joy and ruth;
31 Now gay ideas wanton in his brain,
32 Now woe-begon his heart is rent in twain,
33 On his success depends his Columbel;
34 And now he hopes, and now desponds again;
35 The various turns of mind, when thoughts rebel,
36 Sure pen mote ne'er describe, and none but lovers tell.
37 Methinks I see him on the beachy strond,
38 Where Neptune's waves affrap the sturdy pier;
39 His hardy steed neighs at the sight of lond,
40 In all adventures a most faithful seer;
41 And thro' that city he doth quickly steer,
42 Which Ethelbert to holy Austin gave:
43 The kings of Kent did erst inhabit here,
44 Here haughty Becket sunk into the grave,
45 Here thro' the smiling meads, Stoure rolls his dimpling wave.
46 Long travell'd he, ne ventur'd to assay
47 The nymphs he met, for much he was affraid
48 To bribes or pray'rs few women would cry nay;
49 At flatt'ry's tongue full oft will virtue fade;[Page 137]
50 What shall he do? to win his lovely maid
51 He must three hundred virtuous females find,
52 Perdie, quoth he, my fortune be essay'd,
53 I'll boldly try the strength of womankind:
54 For craven heart, they say, ne'er won fair lady's mind.
55 So on he prick'd, and from a rising ground
56 Discern'd before him, in a distant vale,
57 A castle fair: and auncient oaks around
58 Did to the breeze their lofty heads avail;
59 A silver stream refresh'd the fragrant dale;
60 Their ledden loud fat oxen did repeat,
61 And nibbling sheep display'd their fleeces pale,
62 The woodbine shed an odor matchless sweet,
63 And to their patient dams the frisking lambkins bleat.
64 To that same castle our advent'rer yode,
65 The merry birds him welcom'd on the way,
66 An hundred flow'rs aumail'd the winding road,
67 And all was bright, and all was passing gay,
68 You would have sworn it was the month of May.
69 Withouten drad he thunders at the gate,
70 Who wons within, or giant, knight or fay,
71 Shall ne'er, in sooth, our imp of fame amate:
72 Unto the summons loud the portal opens streit.
73 And forth there issued the seneschal,
74 Of middle age he was, if right I ween,
75 He was in personage both plump and tall,
76 Ne seemed he to taste of dol'rous teen,
77 Ne wrinkle deep was on his forehead seen,
78 But jovisaunce sat basking on his brow,
79 At every word he spoke, he smil'd at-ween,
80 His temples were ycrown'd with myrtle bough,
81 And virelays he song with matchless grace, I vow.
82 "Whoe'er thou art, thrice welcome to these plains,
83 "Where bitter dole ne'er shows her hateful head,
84 "Good-fellowship wons here, and free from pains
85 "Both youth and eld the paths of pleasure tread;
86 "Catch flying bliss, ne be by ought foresaid;
87 "Think that this life is but a little span;
88 "Then laugh, and sport, and shun all dreryhed,
89 "Thy rolling days in present pleasures plan,
90 "Come, spend thy hours in joy, thou son of mortal man.
91 "Know'st thou my name! I am l'Allegro hight,
92 "Let me conduct thee to our jovial hall,
93 "Where Bon-vivant in revels spends the night,
94 "Who bids a hearty welcome unto all,[Page 139]
95 "Or wear he red cross-stoles, or paynim pall."
96 With that he lad him with a courtly air
97 Into a chamber deck'd for feast and ball;
98 And tho' no tedes or tapers glimmer'd there,
99 Yet all within was bright, as all without was fair.
100 As at the close of an hot summer's day,
101 When Phoebus in the west deserts the sky,
102 Bright streams of light along the aether play,
103 And tho' his fi'ry orb forsake our eye,
104 The beamy gushes gild each object nigh;
105 The painted meads are ting'd with golden light,
106 And rivers roll their glitt'ring waters by;
107 So in this house of joy with ease you might
108 Perceive celestial rays, that cherish'd human sight.
109 The Squire of Dames his jolly host salew'd,
110 And Bon-vivant his hond in friendship press'd;
111 "Come, sit thee down, and taste our choicest food;
112 "We entertake, quoth he, no vulgar guest.
113 "Enur'd to toil, come taste the sweets of rest,
114 "Doff thy hard arms, this samite garment wear,
115 "This better far than mail shall bind thy breast,
116 "This coronal shall deck thy auburn hair;
117 "Push the brisk goblet round, and drown intruding care.
118 "For us the lark attunes his morning song,
119 "For us the spring depeints her ev'ry flow'r,
120 "To sooth our sleep yon fountain purls along,
121 "And oaks to shade us, twine into a bow'r,
122 "The pensive bard sits many a watchful hour,
123 "In ditty sweet, to carol forth our praise:
124 "While valour spends his days in dole and stour,
125 "We, wiser we, undying trophies raise
126 "To ever-blooming bliss, ne reek what wisdom says.
127 "With sprightly notes we make the welkin ring,
128 "In mazy daunce we tread the chequer'd ground,
129 "To yielding nymphs transported shepherds sing,
130 "Ne hard misfare emongst our train is found.
131 "The simple swain, who looks with cark astoun'd
132 "Because his leman ill rewards his care,
133 "Oh, let him stond to all a lout renown'd,
134 "Ne gibing scorn her twitting bords forbear;
135 "Are there not other nymphs less coy, and full as fair?"
136 At this the Squire wex'd pale, "Ne eath it is,
137 "Most courteous knight, he cry'd, far to remove
138 "The thoughts of her in whom we place all bliss."
139 Quoth Bon-vivant, "What, then thou art in love?"[Page 141]
140 "That I am so these many singults prove,"
141 Return'd the Squire. L'Allegro then reply'd,
142 "Thou'dst better wend to yonder willow grove,
143 "Where shoals of lovers hanging side by side,
144 "Feed the vile carrion crows, and highten female pride."
145 With that he brast into a scornful laugh,
146 And much abash'd appear'd our constant Squire;
147 The others sportful the brisk vintage quaff.
148 While thus the springal. "Yes, I do aspire
149 "To love the fairest of the female quire.
150 "Three hundred virtuous damsels in this isle
151 "I came to find." "Perdie, your odd desire,
152 "Quoth Bon-vivant, will ask thee muchel toil;
153 "And thou shalt travel too full many a weary mile.
154 "'Tis not enough the conduct of the fair
155 "Is form'd by frowning virtue's strictest leer:
156 "The blatant-beast does here in pieces tear
157 "The fame of those ybred in school severe;
158 "His rankling tongue throughout the rolling year
159 "With baleful venom ev'ry thing consumes;
160 "Where beauty's splendor gilds our northern sphere
161 "He slyly creeps, and to destruction dooms
162 "The honour of the spring, and wisdom's early blooms.
163 "The brindled lyon in the lonely wood
164 "Hides his grim aspect from the sight of men;[Page 142]
165 "The pardelis and libbard's spotted brood
166 "Reside contented in sequester'd den;
167 "Not so the blatant-beast, he lives in ken
168 "Of the proud city or well-peopled town;
169 "Thence with detested fury he will ren,
170 "Ne spare the prelate's lawn, or monarch's crown:
171 "All fares alike with him, for all he tumbleth down.
172 "What then avails it to be fair or wise?
173 "Or what avails it to be warlike knight?
174 "Where-e'er the monster casts his fi'ry eyes,
175 "Each grace, each virtue sickens at the sight.
176 "Then goodly Squire, until the morning's light
177 "Quaff the thick darkness of the night away;
178 "And, when the morn shall rise, in arms bedight
179 "Proceed, and luck attend you on your way;
180 "Algates we wish in truth with us you'd ever stay."
181 The Squire agrees, but vows, when rising morn
182 Shall gild the glitt'rand portals of the east,
183 Himself he will in habergeon adorn,
184 And seek around the isle the blatant-beast:
185 Mean while in buxom mirth they spend the feast.
186 Ill fares the mortal man too much who knows;
187 Oft shall he wish himself from thought releast;
188 The fatal knowledge in his bosom glows,
189 And mars his golden rest, and murders soft repose.
190 Sir Chaunticleer now ey'd the rising day,
191 And call'd dame Partlet from her vetchy bed;
192 Now wakeful Phospher spreads his gleamy ray,
193 And the pale moon conceal'd her silver head;
194 The cattle brouze the lawn with dew bespread,
195 While ev'ry bird from out the buskets flies.
196 Then to the field our lover issued;
197 But sleep had seal'd l'Allegro's drousy eyes,
198 And Bon-vivant also in downy slumber lies.
199 Our Squire, withouten drad, pursu'd his way,
200 And look'd around to spy this monster fell,
201 And many a well conceited roundelay
202 He sung in honour of his Columbel:
203 Mote he, perchaunce, destroy this spawn of hell,
204 How easy were the task to him assign'd?
205 The lond of Fairy doth each lond excel;
206 View there the paragons of womankind;
207 View the bright virgins there, and leave thy heart behind.
208 Ah! lever should'st thou try the females there
209 Than thus unwise another course pursue;
210 There ev'ry nymph is innocent as fair:
211 Try what I here advance, you'll find it true.
212 Hard is our fate while bliss in hopes we sew,
213 Some deadly fiend to blast our joy appears;
214 Contentment sweet, alas, is known to few.[Page 144]
215 Thus for awhile the sun the welkin chears,
216 But soon he hides his head, and melts in dropping tears.
217 Life is a scene of conteck and distress,
218 Ne is it longer than a winter's day;
219 And shall we make our few enjoyments less?
220 Far from my cot, thou blatant-beast away.
221 No husband's noul will I with horns array,
222 Ne shall my tongue its venom'd malice wreak
223 On tuneful bards, whom laurel crowns apay;
224 Ne will I 'gainst the comely matron speak,
225 Or draw one pearly drop down beauty's rosy cheek.
226 The Squire of Dames rode on with muchel tine,
227 And, as he cast askaunce his greedy look,
228 He saw empight beneath an auncient pine
229 A hoary shepherd leaning on his crook;
230 His falling tears increas'd the swelling brook:
231 And he did sigh as he would break his heart.
232 "O thou deep-read in sorrow's baleful book,
233 "The Squire exclaim'd, areed thy burning smart;
234 "Our dolors grow more light when we the tale impart."
235 To whom the swain reply'd, "O gentle youth,
236 "Yon fruitful meads my num'rous herds possess'd,
237 "My days roll'd on unknown to pain or ruth,
238 "And one fair daughter my old age ybless'd.[Page 145]
239 "Oh, had you seen her for the wake ydress'd
240 "With kirtle ty'd with many a colour'd string,
241 "Thy tongue to all the world had then confess'd
242 "That she was sheener than the pheasant's wing,
243 "And, when she rais'd her voice, ne lark so soot could sing.
244 "In virtue's thews I bred the lovely maid,
245 "And she right well the lessons did pursue;
246 "Too wise she was to be by man betray'd;
247 "But the curst blatant-beast her form did view,
248 "And round our plains did spread a tale untrue,
249 "That Rosabella, spurning marriage band,
250 "Had felt those pangs which virgin never knew,
251 "And that Sir Topas my poor girl trepann'd;
252 "He, who in sable stole doth in our pulpit stand.
253 "Nay, more, the hellish monster has invented,
254 "How a young swain on Shannon's banks yborn
255 "(Had not my care the deep-laid plot prevented)
256 "Would from my arms my Rosabel have born.
257 "Have I not cause to weep from rising morn
258 "'Till Phoebus welketh in the western main,
259 "To see my dearling's fame thus vildly torn?
260 "Have I not cause to nourish endless pain? "
261 At this he deeply figh'd, and wept full sore again.
262 "Curst be this blatant-beast, reply'd the Squire,
263 "That thus infects your sea-begirted isle;[Page 146]
264 "Shew me his face, that I may wreak mine ire
265 "Upon this imp of hell, this monster vile. "
266 "Away from hence not passing sure a mile,
267 "Might I advise you, you had better wend,"
268 Return'd the swain, "Deep-read in magick-style
269 "There Merlin wons, sue him to be your friend;
270 "And lest you miss your way, myself will you attend."
271 Together now they seek the hermitage
272 Deep in the covert of a dusky glade,
273 Where in his dortour wons the hoary sage.
274 The moss-grown trees did form a gloomy shade,
275 Their rustling leaves a solemn musick made,
276 And fairies nightly tripp'd the aweful green,
277 And if the tongue of fame have truth display'd,
278 Full many a spectre was at midnight seen,
279 Torn from his earthly grave, a horrid sight! I ween.
280 Ne rose, ne vi'let glads the chearless bow'r,
281 Ne fringed pink from earth's green bosom grew:
282 But hemlock dire, and ev'ry baleful flow'r
283 Might here be found, and knots of mystick rue.
284 Close to the cell sprong up an auncient yew,
285 And store of imps were on its boughs ypight,
286 At his behests they from its branches flew,
287 And, in a thousand various forms bedight,
288 Frisk'd to the moon's pale wain, and revell'd all the night.
289 Around the cave a clustring ivy spread
290 In wide embrace his over-twining arms,
291 Within, the walls with characters bespread
292 Declar'd the pow'rful force of magick charms.
293 Here drugs were plac'd destructive of all harms,
294 And books that deep futurity could scan:
295 Here stood a spell that of his rage disarms
296 The mountain lyon 'till he yields to man;
297 With many secrets more, which scarce repeat I can.
298 The Squire of Dames deep enters in the cell:
299 What will not valiant heart for beauty dare?
300 His borrel fere here bids his friend farewell,
301 And home he wends renewing cark and care.
302 When, louting low with a becoming air,
303 The youth cry'd out, "O thrice renowned mage,
304 "Vouchsafe to cure me of my black dispair;
305 "For thou not only art grown wise thro' age,
306 But art of mortal man by far the wisest sage."
307 Then Merlin with a look benign reply'd,
308 (For he was bred with ev'ry courteous thew)
309 "I know to make fair Columbel your bride
310 "The blatant-beast you thro' the lond pursue;
311 "The fate of empires now demands my view,
312 "And for awhile denys my presence here;
313 "Soon in this cell I'll thee again salew,[Page 148]
314 "What most thou lik'st partake withouten fear,
315 "Share all my cave affords, nor think I grudge my chear.
316 "Yet mark my counsel, open not that door,
317 "Lest thou repent thy follies when too late,
318 "Ten thousand pangs shall make thy heart full sore,
319 "For horror scouls behind that heben gate,
320 "And future ills shall thy dear peace amate;
321 "There stands a mirror, wrought by magick leer,
322 "In which are read the dark decrees of fate,
323 "And whom you wish to see will streit appear,
324 "Devoid of art's false mask, to human eye-sight clear.
325 "Ah how unlike the godlike man he seem'd
326 "In this my glass the patriot I've descry'd,
327 "By the vile rabblement a saint esteem'd?
328 "He's oft a wretch compos'd of sloth and pride:
329 "And Kesars too, not seldom deify'd,
330 "With other men their vice and follies share;
331 "And by my mirror if the nymph be try'd,
332 "It will without reserve the truth declare,
333 "Ne flatter head that's crown'd, ne flatter face that's fair.
334 "Once more let me advise thee, gentle Squire,
335 "Forbear to look at this same magick glass;
336 "Do not too rashly into fate enquire —
337 "But I to foreign stronds awhile must pass. "[Page 149]
338 Th' unweeting youth cry'd to himself, "Alas!
339 "Would I could know the lot to me assign'd."
340 "Patience, quoth Merlin, doth all things surpass."
341 Then to his car were winged dragons join'd,
342 With which he sails thro' air, and far outstrips the wind.
343 And now the Squire surveys the lonesome cave,
344 His wav'ring mind is in a whirlwind tost,
345 And now the mirror he resolves to brave,
346 And now he finds his boasted courage lost.
347 At length determin'd whatsoe'er it cost,
348 To see the glass, he darts into the cell;
349 And, lest his eyes by vild retrait be crost,
350 Thrice he invokes his lovely Columbel.
351 As Adam fell of yore, the Squire of Dames yfell.
352 The heben doors full widely he display'd,
353 And saw the lovely queen of all his heart,
354 Fair as the lilly in the watry glade,
355 Bright as the morn, and bright withouten art,
356 Thro' ev'ry vein he feels a thrillant smart:
357 For the dear maid lay on her bed undress'd,
358 And, may I unreprov'd the truth impart,
359 She hugg'd a lusty stripling to her breast,
360 Whom she full closely clipp'd, and wantonly caress'd.
361 "O faytor false, O wicked imp of night!
362 Exclaim'd the Squire astound," ah! wealaway![Page 150]
363 "Let Erebus in pitchy stole bedight
364 "With foulest sprites the sons of men affray,
365 "And blot for ever the fair face of day.
366 "Ye haggard sisters, sound my passing-bell;
367 "Oh! ne'er believe, ye youths, what women say.
368 "O losel loose, O impious Columbel! "
369 Then like a stean to earth full heavily he fell.
370 There shall we leave him, for my leaky boat
371 Lets in the water, and I must recure
372 Her much-worn hulk, that scarcely now can float,
373 And moor'd in harbour she shall ride secure;
374 Then if I can a pilot wise procure,
375 Mayhap I may again hoist forth my sail,
376 And other hardy voyages endure
377 Thro' shelves and shallows: now the adverse gale
378 Gives me some time to rest, and lond with joy I hail.
- Amail, enamel
- Avale, bow.
- Brond-iron, a sword
- Blatant-beast, detraction or envy
- Buskets, bushes
- Borrel fere, clownish companion
- Crumenal, purse
- Coronal, crown or garland
- Fortilage, fort
- Flight, arrow
- Kestrel, an hawk
- Levin-brond, thunder-bolt
- Ledden, language
- Pannikel, crown of the head
- To royne, to bite, or gnaw
- Recure, to repair
- Sib, an uncle
- Springal, a youth
- Wimble, shifting to and fro
- Yede, went