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XL

But it in shape and beauty did excel
All other idols which the heathen adore,
Far passing that, which by surpassing skill
Phidias did make in Paphos Isle of yore, ,
With which that wretched Greek, that life forlore,
Did fall in love: yet this much fairer shined,
But covered with a slender veil afore;

And both her feet and legs together twined
Were with a snake, whose head and tail were fast com-

biñed.

XLI

The cause why she was covered with a vele
Was hard to know, for that her priests the same
From peoples' knowledge laboured to conceal :
But sooth it was not sure for womanish shame,
Nor any blemish which the work might blame;
But for, they say, she hath both kinds in one,
Both male and female, both under one name :

She sire and mother is herself alone,
Begets and eke conceives, nor needeth other none.

XLII

And all about her neck and shoulders flew
A flock of little loves, and sports, and joys,
With nimble wings of gold and purple hue;
Whose shapes seemed not like to terrestrial boys,
But like to angels playing heavenly toys,
The whilst their eldest brother was away,
Cupid their eldest brother; he enjoys

The wide kingdom of love with lordly sway,
And to his law compels all creatures to obey.

XLIII

And all about her altar scattered lay
Great sorts of lovers piteously complaining,
Some of their loss, some of their love's delay,
Some of their pride, some paragons disdaining,
Some fearing fraud, some fraudulently feigning,
As every one had cause of good or ill.
Amongst the rest some one, through Love's con-

straining Tormented sore, could not contain it still, But thus brake forth, that all the Temple it did fill:

XLIV

Great Venus ! Queen of beauty and of grace,
The joy of Gods and men, that under sky
Dost fairest shine, and most adorn thy place;
That with thy smiling look dost pacify
The raging seas, and makest the storms to fly;
Thee, Goddess, thee the winds, the clouds do fear,
And when thou spreadst thy mantle forth on high,

The waters play, and pleasant lands appear,
And heavens laugh, and all the world shows joyous

cheer.

XLV

• Then doth the dædal earth throw forth to thee
Out of her fruitful lap abundant flowers;
And then all living wights, soon as they see
The spring break forth out of his lusty bowers,

* See the probable original in the beautiful opening verses of the De Rerum Naturâ of Lucretius :

Te, dea, te fugiunt venti, te nubila cæli,
Adventumque tuum tibi suavis dædala tellus,
Summittit flores, &c.

They all do learn to play the paramours ;
First do the merry birds, thy pretty pages,
Privily pricked with thy lustful powers,

Chirp loud to thee out of their leafy cages,
And thee their mother call to cool their kindly rages.

XLVII

So all the world by thee at first was made,
And daily yet thou dost the same repair ;
Nor aught on earth that merry is and glad,
Nor aught on earth that lovely is and fair,
But thou the same for pleasure didst prepare :
Thou art the root of all that joyous is :
Great God of men and women, queen of th' air,

Mother of laughter and wellspring of bliss,
O grant that of my love at last I may not miss!'

XLVIII

So did he say: but I with murmur soft,
That none might hear the sorrow of my heart,
Yet inly groaning deep and sighing oft,
Besought her to grant ease unto my smart,
And to my wound her gracious help impart.
Whilst thus I spake, behold! with happy eye
I spied where at the Idol's feet apart

A bevy of fair damsels close did lie,
Waiting when as the anthem should be sung on high.

XLIX

The first of them did seem of riper years
And graver countenance than all the rest;
Yet all the rest were eke her equal peers,
Yet unto her obeyed all the best.

Her name was Womanhood ; that she exprest
By her sad semblant and demeanour wise :
For steadfast still her eyes did fixed rest,

Nor roved at random, after gazer's guise,
Whose luring baits ofttimes do heedless hearts entice.

L

And next to her sat goodly Shamefastness,
Nor ever durst her eyes from ground uprear,
Nor ever once did look up from her dress,
As if some blame of evil she did fear,
That in her cheeks made roses oft appear :
And her against sweet Cheerfulness was placed,
Whose eyes, like twinkling stars in evening clear,
Were decked with smiles that all sad humours

chased, And darted forth delights the which her goodly graced.

LI

And next to her sat sober Modesty,
Holding her hand upon her gentle heart;
And her against sat comely Courtesy,
That unto every person knew her part;
And her before was seated overthwart
Soft Silence and submiss Obedience,
Both linked together never to dispart;

Both gifts of God, not gotten but from thence, Both garlands of bis saints against their foes' offence.

LII

Thus sat they all around in seemly rate:
And in the midst of them a goodly maid
Even in the lap of Womanhood there sat,
The which was all in lily white arrayed,

With silver streams amongst the linen strayed;
Like to the morn, when first her shining face
Hath to the gloomy world itself bewrayed :

That same was fairest Amoret in place,
Shining with beauty's light and heavenly virtues' grace.

(IV. 10.)

THE MARRIAGE OF THE THAMES AND MEDWAY.

VIII

IT fortuned then, a solemn feast was there
To all the sea-gods and their fruitful seed,
In honour of the spousals which then were
Betwixt the Medway and the Thames agreed.
Long had the Thames (as we in records read)
Before that day her wooed to his bed ;
But the proud nymph would for no worldly meed,

Nor no entreaty, to his love be led;
Till now at last, relenting, she to him was wed.

IX

So both agreed that this their bridal feast
Should for the gods in Proteus' house be made:
To which they all repaired, both most and least,
As well which in the mighty ocean trade,
As that in rivers swim, or brooks do wade;
All which not if a hundred tongues to tell,
And hundred mouths, and voice of brass I had,

And endless memory that might excel,
In order as they came could I recount them well.

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