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And, seiz'd at once with wonder and delight, Nor till her lay was ended could I move, Gaz'd all around me, new to the transporting sight. But wish'd 10 dwell for ever in the grove. "Twas bench'd with turf, and goodly to be seen, Only methought the time too swiftly pass'd, The thick young grass arose in fresher green: And every note I fear'd would be the last. 'The mound was newly made, no sight could pass My sight, and smell, and hearing were employ'd, Betwixt the nice partitions of the grass ;
And all three senses in full gust enjoy’d. The well-united sods so closely lay ;
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 nowhere 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 satisfied at once the smell and sight.
And drew perfumes of more than vital air, The master-workman of the bower was known All suddenly I heard th' approaching sound Through fairy lands, and built for Oberon ; Of vocal music, on th'enchanted ground: Who twining leaves with such proportion drew, An host of saints it seem'd, so full the quire; They rose by measure, and by rule they grew; As if the bless'd above did all conspire No mortal tongue can half the beauty tell: To join their voices, and neglect the lyre. For none but hands divine could work so well. At length there issued from the grove behind Both roof and sides were like a parlor made, A fair assembly of the female kind : A soft recess, and a cool summer shade;
A train less fair, as ancient fathers tell, The hedge was set so thick, no foreign eye Seduc'd the sons of Ileaven to rebel. The persons plac'd within it could espy:
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 exhald a breath,
With rubies edg'd, and sapphires, swept the plain . Whose odors 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. Er'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 dress'd
And, as she mov'd or turn'd, her motions view'd,
Her short performance was no sooner tried, With more of godhead shining in her face; When she I sought, the nightingale replied: And as in beauty she surpass'd the quire, So sweet, so shrill, so variously she sung,
So, nobler than the rest, was her attire. That the grove echo'd, and the valleys rung: A crown of ruddy gold inclos'd her brow, And I so ravish'd with her heavenly note,
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 ecstacy of bliss, She bore aloft (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 anywhere by chance I might espy,
In honor 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 Full in a line against her opposite;
Replied, 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, Sitting was more convenient for the song :) They to the middle of the mead advanc'd,
Till round my arbor 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 shield 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, Who did the most in song or dance excel.
With laurels ever-green were shaded o'er, Not long I had observ'd, when from afar
Or oak or other leaves of lasting kind, I heard a sudden symphony of war;
Tenacious of the stem, and firm against the wind. The neighing coursers, and the soldiers' cry, Some in their hands, beside the lance and shield, And sounding trumps that seem'd to tear the sky: The boughs of woodbine or of hawthorn held, I saw soon after this, behind the grove
Or branches for their mystic emblems took, From whence the ladies did in order move, Of palm, of laurel, or of cerrial-oak. Come issuing out in arms a warrior train, Thus marching to the trumpet's losiy sound, That like a deluge pour'd upon the plain : Drawn in two lines adverse they wheel'd around, On barbed 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 tourney they divide, When swarming o'er the dusky fields they fly, In equal squadrons rang'd on either side. New to the flowers, and intercept the sky.
Then turn'd their horses' heads, and man to man, So fierce they drove, their coursers were so sleet, And steed to steed oppos'd, the jousts began. That the turf trembled underneath their feet. Then lightly set their lances in the rest, To tell their costly furniture were long,
And, at the sign, against each other press'd : The summer's day would end before the song : They met. I, sitting at my case, beheld To purchase but the tenth of all their store, 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 The trumpets issued, in white mantles dress'd, And round the field the lighten'd coursers ran. A numerous troop, and all their heads around An hour and more, like tides, in equal sway With chaplets green of cerrial-oak were crown'd; They rushd, and won by turns, and lost the day: And at each trumpet was a banner bound, At length the nine (who still together held) Which, waving in the wind, display'd at large Their fainting foes to shameful flight compellid, Their master's coat of arms, and knightly charge. And with resistless force o'er-ran the field. Broad were the banners, and of snowy hue, Thus, to their fame, when finish'd was the fight, A purer web the silk-worm never drew.
The victors from their lofty steeds alight: The chief about their necks the scutcheons wore, Like them dismounted all the warlike train, With orient pearls and jewels powder'd o'er: And two by two proceeded o'er the plain : Broad were their collars too, and every one Till to the fair assembly they advanc'd, Was set about with many a costly stone.
Who near the secret arbor sung and danc'd. Next these of kings-at-arms a goodly train
The ladies left their measures at the sight, In proud array came prancing o'er the plain : To meet the chiefs returning from the fight, Their cloaks were cloth of silver mix'd with gold, And each with open arms embrac'd her chosen And garlands green around their temples rollid;
knight. Rich crowns were on their royal scutcheons plac'd, Amid the plain a spreading laurel stood, With sapphires, diamonds, and with rubies grac'd: The grace and ornament of all the wood : And as the trumpets their appearance made, That pleasing shade they sought, a soft retreat So these in habits were alike array'd ;
From sudden April showers, a shelter from the heat : But with a pace more sober, and more slow; Her leafy arms with such extent were spread, And twenty, rank in rank, they rode a row. So near the clouds was her aspiring head, The pursuivants came next, in number more ; That hosts of birds, that wing the liquid air, And like the heralds each his scutcheon bore : Perch'd in the boughs, had nightly lodging there ; Clad in white velvet all their troop they led. And flocks of sheep beneath the shade from far With each an oaken chaplet on his head.
Might hear the rattling hail, and wintry war, Nine royal knights in equal rank succeed, From Heaven's inclemency here found retreat, Each warrior mounted on a fiery steed:
Enjoy'd the cool, and shunn'd the scorching heat: In golden armor glorious to behold ;
A hundred knights might there at ease abide;
These rites perform’d, their pleasures they pursue, Three henchmen were for every knight assign’d, With song of love, and mix with pleasures new; All in rich livery clad, and of a kind :
Around the holy tree their dance they frame, White velvet, but unshorn, for cloaks they wore, And every champion leads his chosen dame. And each within his hand a truncheon bore :
I cast my sight upon the farther field,
New music sound, and a new troop appeard; The third of cornel-wood a spear upright, Of knights, and ladies mix'd, a jolly band, Headed with piercing steel, and polish'd bright. But all on foot they march'd, and hand in hand.
The ladies dress'd in rich cymar were seen The laurel champions with their swords invade Of Florence satin, flower'd with white and green, The neighboring forests, where the jousts 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 fints 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 dried 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 gratified the view with cheerful green: They squeez’d the juice, and cooling ointment made, Their chaplets of their ladies' colors were, (hair: Which on their sun-burnt cheeks and their chapt skins Compos'd of white and red, to shade their shining
they laid : Before the merry troop the minstrels play'd ; Then sought green salads, which they bade them eat, All in their masters' 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 şawtry, pipe, and hautboy's noisy band, [hand. This bower was near my pleasant arbor 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 colors, white and green; To this both knights and dames their homage made, The vanquish'd party with the victors joind, And due obeisance to the daisy paid.
Nor wanted sweet discourse, the banquet of the mind. 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 vied : And still at every close she would repeat
The sweet contention lasted for an hour,
The Sun was set; and Vesper, to supply
But soon their pleasure pass'd : at noon of day, Fled from her laurel shade, and wing'd her flight
As if all day, preluding to the light, 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 laureate queen Burnt up before, were buried in the showers. Supplied 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 wintry sky,
The Moon to follow, and avoid the day.
This when I saw, inquisitive to know
As to some being of superior kind,
She said ; and I, who much desir'd to know Nor shall be wanting aught within my power of whence she was, yet fearful how to break For 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 soon the gracious invitation took :
So may the stars and shining Moon attend For ill at ease both she and all her train
Your nightly sports, as you vouchsafe to tell The scorching Sun had borne, and beating rain. What nymphs they were who mortal forms excel, Like courtesy was us'd by all in white, [knight. And what the knights who fought in listed fields so Each danne å dame receiv’d, and every knight a
To this the dame replied : “Fair daughter, know, Our England's ornament, the crown's defence,
And well repaid the honors which they gain'd. We privileg'd in sun-shine may appear:
The laurel wreaths were first by Cæsar worn, With songs and dance we celebrate the day, And still they Cæsar's successors adorn: And with due honors usher in the May.
One leaf of this is immortality, At other times we reign by night alone,
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 green But when the morn arises, none are found; What were their qualities, and who their queen ?" For cruel Demogorgon walks the round,
" Flora commands," said she, " those nymphs and And if he finds a fairy lag in light,
knights, He drives the wretch before, and lashes into night. Who liv'd in slothful ease and loose delights;
“ All courteous are by kind; and ever proud Who never acts of honor durst pursue, With friendly offices to help the good.
The men inglorious knights, the ladies all untrue : In every land we have a larger space
Who, nurs'd in idleness, and train'd in courts, Than what is known to you of mortal race : Pass'd all their precious hours in plays and sports, Where we with green adorn our fairy bowers, Till Death behind came stalking on, unseen, And ev'n this grove, unseen before, is ours.
And wither'd (like the storm) the freshness of their Know farther: every lady cloth'd in white,
green. 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 ; In while attire, and crown’d with radiant gold ? Continue, and proceed in honor's fair career. The sovereign lady of our land is she,
No room for cowardice, or dull delay ; Diana call’d, the queen of chastity :
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, That 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 labor crown'd, [ground: But those the chief and highest in command, Which bears the bitter blast, nor shakcn falls tr. 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 liule 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 lists aloft the head, As true as Tristram and Isotta were."
But of a sickly beauty, soon to shed : “But what are those,” said I," th’unconquerid nine, In summer living, and in winter dead. Who crown'd with laurel-wreaths in golden armor For things of tender kind, for pleasure made, shine ?
Shoot up with swift increase, and sudden are do And who the knights in green, and what the train
cayd.” 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 proffer'd service, I repaid the dame; And some adorn the flower, and some the tree?" That, of her grace, she gave her maid 10 know
"Just is your suit, fair daughter," said the dame : The secret meaning of this moral show. Those laureld 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 smild with sober cheer, As they the foremost rank of honor 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 or day: Emblems of valor 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, equal 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 error, 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 labor lost,
And care employ'd that answer'd not the cost,
And loath'd to see what Nature made him love;
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 greenwood shade he took his way; Compute the gains of his ungovern’d zeal; For Cymon shunn'd the church, and us'd not much Ill 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,
By which an alabaster fountain stood :
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 vigor 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, Love, 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 composed with decent care, Love first invented verse, and form'd the rhyme, Her body shaded with a slight cymar; 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 spied, Soften'd the fierce, and made the coward bold : For yet their places were but signified : 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,
her repose. When Beauty fires the blood, how Love exalts the
The fool of Nature stood with stupid eyes, mind.
And gaping mouth that testified 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; Excell'd the rest in shape, and outward show, Then day and darkness in the mass were mix'd, Fair, 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 belied 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