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This pious cheat, that never suck'd the blood, For women, with a mischief to their kind,
Where at heart's ease he lived ; and might have And in his high imagination cast,
been By stratagem to gratify his taste.
As free from sorrow as he was from sin.
Silence in times of suffering is the best,
"Tis dangerous to disturb an homet's nest. Then skulk'd till afternoon, and watch'd his time, In other authors you may find enough, (As murderers use) to perpetrate his crime. But all they say of dames is idle stuff. O hypocrite, ingenious to destroy,
Legends of lying wits together bound, O traitor, worse than Sinon was to Troy!
The Wife of Bath would throw them to the ground; O vile subverter of the Gallic reign,
These are the words of Chanticleer, not mine, More false than Gano was to Charlemain! I honor dames, and think their sex divine. O Chanticleer, in an unhappy hour
Now to continue what my tale begun; Didst thou forsake the safety of thy bower: Lay madam Partlet basking in the Sun, Better for thee thou hadst believ'd thy dream, Breast-high in sand: her sisters, in a row, And not that day descended from the beam! Enjoy'd the beams above, the warmth below. But here the doctors eagerly dispute :
The cock, that of his flesh was ever free,
Sung merrier than the mermaid in the sea :
Among the coleworts, on a butterfly,
I need not swear he had no list to crow: For what he first foresaw, he must ordain,
But cried, “ Cock, cock!" and gave a sudden start, Or its eternal prescience may be vain :
As sore dismay'd and frighted at his heart; As bad for us as prescience had not been,
For birds and beasts, inform'd by Nature, know For first, or last, he's author of the sin.
Kinds opposite to theirs, and fly their foe. And who says that, let the blaspheming man So Chanticleer, who never saw a fox, Say worse ev'n of the Devil, if he can.
Yet shunn'd him as a sailor shuns the rocks. For how can that eternal Power be just
But the false loon, who could not work his will To punish man, who sins because he must? By open force, employ'd his flattering skill; Or, how can he reward a virtuous deed,
“ I hope, my lord," said he, “I not offend; Which is not done by us; but first decreed? Are you afraid of me, that am your friend? I cannot bolt this matter to the bran,
I were a beast indeed to do you wrong. As Bradwardin and holy Austin can;
I, who have lov'd and honor'd you so long :
Stay, gentle sir, nor take a false alarm,
To learn the secrets of your soft recess :
Far be from Reynard so profane a thought, Another sort there is conditional.
But by the sweetness of your voice was brought : The first so binds the will, that things foreknown For, as I bid my beads, by chance I heard By spontaneity, not choice, are done.
The song as of an angel in the yard ; Thus galley-slaves tug willing at their oar, A song that would have charm'd th' infernal gods, Content to work, in prospect of the shore; And banish d horror from the dark abodes; But would not work at all, if not constrain'd before. Had Orpheus sung it in the nether sphere, That other does not liberty constrain,
So much the hymn had pleas'd the tyrant's ear, But man may either act, or may refrain.
The wife had been detain'd, to keep the husband Heaven made us agents free to good or ill,
there. And forc'd it not, though he foresaw the will.
* My lord, your sire familiarly I knew, Freedom was first bestow'd on human race, A peer deserving such a son as you : And prescience only held the second place. He, with your lady-mother (whom Heaven rest)
If he could make such agents wholly free, Has often grac'd my house, and been my guest : I not dispute, the point's too high for me; (sound, To view his living features, does me good; For Heaven's unfathom'd power what man can For I am your poor neighbor in the wood; Or put to his Omnipotence a bound?
And in my cottage should be proud to see He made us to his image, all agree ;
The worthy heir of my friend's family. That image is the soul, and that must be,
“But since I speak of singing, let me say, Or not the Maker's image, or be free.
As with an upright heart I safely may, But whether it were better man had been That, save yourself, there breathes not on the By nature bound to good, not free to sin,
ground I waive, for fear of splitting on a rock.
One like your father for a silver sound. The tale I tell is only of a cock,
So sweetly would he wake the winter-day, ɔ had not run the hazard of his life,
That matrons to the church mistook their way, dhe believ'd his dream, and not his wife : And thought they heard the merry organ play
And be, to raise his voice with artful care, Who, true to love, was all for recreation,
Not louder cries, when Ilium was in flames,
l'our ancestors proceed from race divine: Than for the cock the widow'd poultry made. From Brennus and Belinus is your line ;
Fair Partlet first, when he was bore from sight, Who gave to sovereign Rome such loud alarms, With sovereign shrieks bewail'd her captive knight: That ev'n the priests were not excus'd from arms. Far louder than the Carthaginian wife, * Besides, a famous monk of modern times When Asdrubal, her husband, lost his life, Has left of cocks recorded in his rhymes,
When she beheld the smouldering flames ascend, That of a parish-priest the son and heir,
And all the Punic glories at an end :
With greater ease than others seek their bed;
Shriek'd for the downfall in a doleful cry,
For which their guiltless lords were doom'd to die. Vet for the sake of sweet saint Charity;
Now to my story I return again : Make hills and dales, and Earth and Heaven rejoice, The trembling widow, and her daughters twain, And emulate your father's angel voice."
This woful cackling cry with horror heard, The cock was pleas'd to hear him speak so fair, of those distracted damsels in the yard ; And proud beside, as solar people are ;
And, starting up, beheld the heavy sight, Nor could the treason from the truth descry, How Reynard to the forest took his flight, So was he ravish'd with this flattery:
And cross his back, as in triumphant scorn, So much the more, as, from a little elf,
The hope and pillar of the house was borne. He had a high opinion of himself;
“ The fox, the wicked fox !" was all the cry: Though sickly, slender, and not large of limb, Out from his house ran every neighbor nigh; Concluding all the world was made for him. The vicar first, and after him the crew Ye princes, rais'd by poets to the gods,
With forks and staves, the felon to pursue. And Alexander'd up in lying odes,
Ran Coll our dog, and Talbot with the band ;
There's many a Reynard lurking in the court ; Ran cow and calf, and family of hogs,
This Chanticleer, of whom the story sings, Poor swine, as if their pretty hearts would break.
The ducks, that heard the proclamation cried,
, while he pain'd himself to raise his note, Full twenty miles from town their voyage take, False Reynard rush'd, and caught him by the throat. Obscure in rushes of the liquid lake. Then on his back he laid the precious load, The geese fly o'er the barn; the bees in arms And sought his wonted shelter of the wood; Drive headlong from their waxen cells in swarms. Saxfily he made his way, the mischief done, Jack Straw at London-stone, with all his rout, Of all unheeded, and pursu'd by none.
Struck not the city with so loud a shout; Alos, what stay is there in human state,
Not when with English hate they did pursue Or who can shun inevitable fate ?
A Frenchman, or an unbelieving Jew; The doom was written, the decree was past, Not when the welkin rung with one and all ; Ere the foundations of the world were cast ! And echoes bounded back from For's hall; Ir . Aries though the Sun exalted stood,
Earth seem'd to sink beneath, and Heaven above to Hiu patron-planet to procure his good ;
fall. lei Saturn was his mortal foe, and he,
With might and main they chas'd the murderous fox, In Libra rais'd, oppos'd the same degree :
With brazen trumpets and inflated box, The rays both good and bad, of equal power, To kindle Mars with military sounds, Each thwarting other made a mingled hour. Nor wanted horns t'inspire sagacious hounds. On Friday morn he dreamt this direful dream, But see, how Fortune can confound the wise, Cross to the worthy native, in his scheme ! And, when they least expect it, turn the dice. Ab, blissful Venus, goddess of delight,
The captive cock, who scarce could draw his breath, How couldst thou suffer thy devoted knight, And lay within the very jaws of Death ; On thy own day, to fall by foe oppress'd,
Yet in this agony his fancy wrought, The wight of all the world who serv'd thee best ? And Fear supplied him with this happy thought:
« Your’s is the prize, victorious prince," said he, “The vicar my defeat, and all the village see.
THE FLOWER AND THE LEAF :
OR, THE LADY IN THE ARBOR.
Now, turning from the wintry signs, the Sun And Chanticleer in your despite shall die,
His course exalted through the Ram had run, He shall be pluck'd and eaten to the bone." And, whirling up the skies, his chariot drove
"Tis well advis'd, in faith it shall be done;" Through Taurus and the lightsome realms of Lore; This Reynard said : but, as the word he spoke, Where Venus from her orb descends in showers, The prisoner with a spring from prison broke : To glad the ground, and paint the fields with Then stretch'd his feather'd fans with all his might,
flowers : And to the neighboring maple wing'd his flight; When first the tender blades of grass appear, Whom when the traitor safe on tree beheld, And buds, that yet the blast of Eurus fear, He curs'd the gods, with shame and sorrow fillid; Stand at the door of life, and doubt to clothe the year : Shame for his folly, sorrow out of time,
Till gentle heat, and soft repeated rains, For plotting an unprofitable crime;
Make the green blood to dance within their veins: Yet, mastering both, th'artificer of lies
Then, at iheir call embolden'd, out they come, Renews th' assault, and his last battery tries. And swell the germs, and burst the narrow room; Though I," said he, “ did ne'er in thought of-Broader and broader yet, their blooms display, fend,
Salute the welcome Sun, and entertain the day. How justly may my lord suspect his friend! Then from their breathing souls the sweets repair, Th' appearance is against me, I confess,
To scent the skies, and purge th' unwholesome air: Who seemingly have put you in distress :
Joy spreads the heart, and, with a general song, You, if your goodness does not plead my cause, Spring issues out, and leads the jolly months along May think I broke all hospitable laws,
In that sweet season, as in bed I lay,
1 To bear you from your palace-yard by might, And sought in sleep to pass the night away, And put your noble person in a fright:
I turn'd my wearied side, but still in vain, This, since you take it ill, I must repent,
Though full of youthful health, and void of pain: Though, Heaven can witness, with no bad intent: Cares I had none, to keep me from my rest, I practis'd it, to make you taste your cheer
For Love had never enter'd in my breast; With double pleasure, first prepar'd by fear. I wanted nothing Fortune could supply, So loyal subjects often seize their prince,
Nor did she slumber till that hour deny. Forc'd (for his good) to seeming violence,
I wonder'd then, but after found it true, Yet mean his sacred person not the least offence. Much joy had dried away the balmy dew: Descend; so help me Jove as you shall find Seas would be pools, without the brushing air, That Reynard comes of no dissembling kind.” To curl the waves : and sure some little care
“Nay," quoth the cock; “ but I beshrew us both, Should weary Nature so, to make her want repair. If I believe a saint upon his oath :
When Chanticleer the second watch had sung, An honest man may take a knave's advice, Scorning the scorner Sleep, from bed I sprung; But idiots only may be cozen'd twice:
And, dressing by the Moon, in loose array, Once warn’d is well beward ; not flattering lies Pass'd out in open air, preventing day, Shall soothe me more to sing with winking eyes And sought a goodly grove, as fancy led my way. And open mouth, for fear of catching flies. Straight as a line in beauteous order stood Who blindfold walks upon a river's brim,
Of oaks unshorn a venerable wood; When he should see, has he deserv'd to swim !" Fresh was the grass beneath, and every tree “ Better, sir cock, let all contention cease,
At distance planted in a due degree, “Come down,” said Reynard, “ let us treat of Their branching arms in air with equal spare peace."
Stretch'd to their neighbors with a long embrace, “A peace, with all my soul,” said Chanticleer; And the new leaves on every bough were seen, “But, with your favor, I will treat it here: Some ruddy color'd, some of lighter green. And, lest the truce with treason should be mixt, The painted birds, companions of the Spring, "Tis my concern to have the tree betwixt." Hopping from spray to spray, were heard to sing.
Both eyes and ears receiv'd a like delight,
Enchanting music, and a charming sight.
On Philomel I fix'd my whole desire;
And listen’d for the queen of all the quire ; In this plain fable you th' effect may see Fain would I hear her heavenly voice to sing; Of negligence, and fond credulity :
And wanted yet an omen to the spring. And learn beside of flatterers to beware,
Attending long in vain, I took the way, Then most pernicious when they speak too fair. Which through a path but scarcely printed lay; The cock and fox, the fool and knave imply; In narrow mazes oft it seem'd to meet, The truth is moral, though the tale a lie.
And look'd as lightly press'd by fairy feet. Who spoke in parables, I dare not say ;
Wandering I walk'd alone, for still methought But sure he knew it was a pleasing way,
To some strange end so strange a path was wrought. Sound sense, by plain example, to convey ; At last it led me where an arbor stood, And in a heathen author we may find,
The sacred receptacle of the wood : That pleasure with instruction should be join'd; This place unmark'd, though oft I walk'd the green So take the corn, and leave the chaft behind. In all my progress I had never seen :
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 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 drew perfunes of more than vital air,
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 "T'was 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 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. 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 dress'd, The spreading branches made a goodly show, Appear'd in higher honor 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 gaudy 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 Still pecking as she pass'd; and still she drew
queen. The sweets from every flower, and suck'd the dew: She in the midst began with sober grace; Suffic'd at length, she warbled in her throat, Her servants' eyes were fixed upon her face, And tun'd her voice to many a merry note, And, as she mov'd or turn'd, her motions view'd, But indistinct, and neither sweet nor elear, Her measures kept, and step by step pursued. Yet such as sooth'd my soul and pleas'd my ear. Methought she trod the ground with greater grace,
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,
And all the bending forest lent an ear.
Replied, and bore the burthen of the song :
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 obsery'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.
Or branches for their mystic emblems took,
Drawn in two lines adverse they wheeld 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 fleet, 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 :
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 tar 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 shunnid 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,
And a fresh object of delight beheld :
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 marchd, and hand in hand.