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Them to behold, and in his sparkling face
The secret signs of kindled lust appear,
Their wanton merriments they did increase,

And to him beckoned to approach more near,
And shewed him many sights that courage cold could

rear.

LXIX

On which when gazing him the palmer saw,
He much rebuked those wandering eyes of his,
And counselled well him forward thence did draw,
Now are they come nigh to the Bower of Bliss,
Of her fond favourites so named amiss;
When thus the palmer : “Now, Sir, well avise ;
For here the end of all our travail is ;

Here wons Acrasia, whom we must surprise,
Else she will slip away, and all our drift despise.'

LXX

Eftsoons they heard a most melodious sound,
Of all that might delight a dainty ear,
Such as at once might not on living ground,
Save in this paradise, be heard elsewhere:
Right hard it was for wight which did it hear,
To read what manner music that might be ;
For all that pleasing is to living ear

Was there consorted in one harmony;
Birds, voices, instruments, winds, waters, all agree,

LXXI

The joyous birds, shrouded in cheerful shade,
Their notes unto the voice attempered sweet;
Th' angelical soft trembling voices made
To th' instruments divine respondence meet;

The silver sounding instruments did meet
With the base murmur of the waters' fall;
The waters' fall, with difference discreet,

Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call;
The gentle warbling wind low answered to all.

LXXIV
The whiles some one did chant this lovely lay :
"Ah! see, whoso fair thing dost fain to see,
In springing flower the image of thy day.
Ah! see the virgin rose, how sweetly she
Doth first peep forth with bashful modesty,
That fairer seems the less ye see ber may:
Lo! see soon after how more bold and free

Her bared bosom she doth broad display:
Lo! see soon after how she fades and falls away.

LXXV

So passeth, in the passing of a day,
Of mortal life the leaf, the bud, the flower:
Nor more doth flourish after first decay,
That erst was sought to deck both bed and bower
Of many a lady and many a paramour.
Gather therefore the rose whilst yet is prime,
For soon comes age that will her pride deflower;

Gather the rose of love whilst yet is time,
Whilst loving thou mayest loved be with equal crime.'

LXXVI

He ceased : and then gan all the quire of birds
Their diverse notes t' attune unto his lay,
As in approvance of his pleasing words.
The constant pair heard all that he did say,

Yet swerved not, but kept their forward way
Through many covert groves and thickets close,
In which they creeping did at last display

That wanton lady with her lover lose,
Whose sleepy head she in her lap did soft dispose.

LXXVII

Upon a bed of roses she was laid,
As faint through heat, or dight to pleasant sin;
And was arrayed, or rather disarrayed,
All in a veil of silk and silver thin,
That hid no whit her alabaster skin,
But rather showed more white, if more might be:
More subtle web Arachne cannot spin,

Nor the fine nets, which oft we woven see
Of scorched dew, do not in th' air more lightly flee.

LXXVIII

Her snowy breast was bare to ready spoil
Of hungry eyes, which n'ote therewith be filled ;
And yet, through languor of her late sweet tvil,
Few drops, more clear than nectar, forth distilled,
That like pure orient pearls adown it trilled ;
And her fair eyes, sweet smiling in delight,
Moistened their fiery beams, with which she thrilled

Frail hearts, yet quenched not; like starry light, Which, sparkling on the silent waves, does seem more bright.

(II. 12.)

C

CELESTIAL AIDANCE.*

I

And is there care in heaven? And is there love
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base,
That may compassion of their evils move?
There is : else much more wretched were the case
Of men than beasts. But oh! th' exceeding grace
Of highest God that loves his creatures so,
And all his works with mercy doth embrace,

That blessed angels he sends to and fro,
To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe.

II

How oft do they their silver bowers leave,
To come to succour us that succour want !
How oft do they with golden pinions cleave
The flitting skies, like flying poursuivant,
Against foul fiends to aid us militant !
They for us fight, they watch and duly ward,
And their bright squadrons round about us plant ;

And all for love, and nothing for reward.
Oh! why should heavenly God to men have such

regard ?

(II. 8.)

* Compare with this charming poetic fiction the fancies of Milton, Par. Lost, i. 423-431, and iv. 677, 678. For a particular instance, see the exquisite concluding verses of Æneis iv., where the Queen of Heaven despatches her celestial messenger' to the relief of the suffering Dido :

Longum miserata dolorem,
Difficilesque obitus, Irim demisit Olympo.
Quæ luctantem animam nexosque resolveret artus, &c.

THE TEMPLE OF VENUS.

XXXVII INTO the inmost Temple thus I came, Which fuming all with frankincense I found And odours rising from the altars' flame. Upon a hundred marble pillars round The roof up high was reared from the ground, All decked with crowns and chains and garlands gay, And thousand precious gifts worth many a pound,

The which sad lovers for their vows did pay; And all the ground was strewed with flowers as fresh as May.

XXXVIII
A hundred altars round about were set,
All flaming with their sacrifices' fire,
That with the steam thereof the Temple sweat,
Which rolled in clouds to heaven did aspire,
And in them bore true lovers' vows entire:
And eke a hundred brazen cauldrons bright,
To bathe in joy and amorous desire,

Every of which was to a damsel hight;
For all the priests were damsels in soft linen dight.

XXXIX
Right in the midst the Goddess self did stand
Upon an altar of some costly mass,
Whose substance was uneath to understand :
For neither precious stone, nor dureful brass,
Nor shining gold, nor mouldering clay it was;
But much more rare and precious to esteem,
Pure in aspect and like to crystal glass,

Yet glass was not, if one did rightly deem;
But being fair and brittle, likest glass did seein.

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