Page images
PDF
EPUB

which the amorous queen endeavours in vain to overcome.

Her fascinations are useless, yet she perseveres in her advances, and twines her arms around him.

“ Look, how a bird lies tangled in a net,
So fastened in her arms Adonis lies,
Pure shame and awed resistance made him fret,
Which bred more beauty in his angry eyes.”

The lady altogether is sufficiently reprehensible; but the youthful coyness and boyish scorn of Adonis are delightfully painted. He is insensible to every blandishment; and her boastings and intreaties are equally wasted. Nevertheless, she still pursues her object, and vaunts her power over the “ God of War.”

“Over my altars hath he hung his lance,
His battered shield, his uncontrolled crest;
And for my sake hath learned to sport and dance."

Thus him, that over-rul'd, I over-sway'd;
Leading him prisoner in a red-rose chain.
Strong temper'd steel his stronger strength obey'd,
Yet was he servile to my coy disdain.
Oh be not proud, nor brag not of thy might,
For mast'ring her that foil'd the god of fight!
Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear,
Or, like a fairy, trip upon the green ;
Or, like a nymph, with long disheveld hair,
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen.
Love is a spirit all compact of fire,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire."

During the colloquy the horse of Adonis escapes, and as the description of this steed has been much celebrated, we will not exclude it from our pages. It is the second stanza of the following which is commonly found in quotation:

“ Look when a painter would surpass the life,
In limning out a well-proportion'd steed,
His art, with Nature's workmanship at strife,
As if the dead the living should exceed :
So did this horse excel a common one
In shape, in courage, colour, pace, and bone.

Round-hoof'd, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
Broad breast, full eyes, small head, and nostril wide,
High crest, short ears, strait legs, and passing strong,
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide:
Look what a horse should have, he did not lack,
Save a proud rider on so proud a back.

Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares ;
Anon he starts at stirring of a feather.
To bid the wind abase he now prepares,
And where he run, or fly, they know not whither.
For through his mane and tail the high wind sings,
Fanning the hairs, which heave like feather'd wings."

Adonis pursues his courser in vain, and at last sits down fatigued, which Venus perceiving, approaches full of vexation.

“O! what a sight it was wistly to view
How she came stealing to the wayward boy;
To note the fighting conflict of her hue,
How white and red each other did destroy !
But now her cheek was pale, and by and bye,
It flash'd forth fire, as lightning from the sky.

Now was she just before him as he sat,
And like a lowly lover down she kneels”-

And proceeds to caress him; but her caresses have no more effect upon him than her words, though they are eloquent at times.

O learn to love, the lesson is but plain,

And, once made perfect, never lost again"-She says, and listens for his reply : but his countenance augurs nothing but ill.

“ Once more the ruby-colour'd portal open'd,
Which to his speech did honey passage yield ;
Like a red morn,

that ever yet betoken'd
Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field.
Sorrow to shepherds, woe unto the birds,
Gust and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.
This ill presage advisedly she marketh,
E'en as the wind is hush'd before it raineth,

Or as the wolf doth grin before he barketh,
Or as the berry breaks before it staineth;
Or like the deadly bullet of a gun,

His meaning struck her, e'er his words begun.” He is determined, he says, to hunt the boar on the morrow. She is apprehensive, and argues at considerable length in order to persuade him to other amusement. For our own parts, we confess that her description of the hunted hare (which, by the bye, has more of pathos than any thing else in the poem) would tend rather to keep us at home, were we addicted to the low vice of harrier hunting. The following is the lady's advice :-it shows more love than taste.

“ But if thou needs will hunt, be rul'd by me,
Uncouple at the timorous flying hare;
Or at the fox, which lives by subtilty ;
Or at the roe, which no encounter dare,
Pursue these fearful creatures o'er the downs,
And on thy well-breath'd horse keep with thy hounds.
And when thou hast on foot the purblind hare,
Mark the poor wretch, to overshoot his troubles,
How he outruns the wind, and with what care
He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles :-

Then shalt thou see the dew-bedabbled wretch
Turn and return, indenting with the way.
Each envious brier his weary legs doth scratch,
Each shadow makes him stop, each murmur stay.
For misery is trodden on by many;

And being low, never reliev'd by any." The lady's eloquence is exerted in vain, and her love is avoided and despised. How beautiful the boy's scorn is:

“ If Love hath lent you twenty thousand tongues,
And every tongue more moving than your own,
Bewitching, like the wanton mermaid's songs,
Yet from mine ear the tempting tune is blown.
For know, my heart stands armed in my ear,
And will not let a false sound enter there.”
With this he breaketh from the sweet embrace
Of those fair arms, which bound him to her breast,
And homewards, through the dark lawns runs apace," —

[ocr errors]

leaving the “ distressed” queen of Love behind him—who thus

surveys his flight. The reader will see at once the perfection of the picture.

“ Look how a bright star shooteth from the sky,
So glides he in the night from Venus' eye.

Which after him she darts, as one on shore
Gazing upon a late embarked friend,
Till the wild waves will have him seen no more,
Whose ridges with the meeting clouds contend:
So did the merciless and pitchy night
Fold in the object, that did feed her sight.

Whereat amaz'd, as one that unaware
Hath dropt a precious jewel in the flood;
Or 'stonish'd, as night wanderers often are,
Their light blown out in some mistrustful wood:
Even so confounded in the dark she lay,
Having lost the fair discovery of her way.”

But we must come to a conclusion. The story ends, as is well known, with the death of Adonis. He is killed by the tusked boar; and the following is his queen's lament.

Alas! poor World, what treasure hast thou lost!
What face remains alive that's worth the viewing ?
Whose tongue is music now? what canst thou boast
Of things long since, or any thing ensuing ?
The flowers are sweet, their colours fresh and trim,
But true sweet Beauty liv'd, and dy'd in him.

Bonnet, or veil, henceforth no creature wear;
Nor sun, nor wind, will ever strive to kiss you :
Having no fair to lose, you need not fear ;
The sun doth scorn you, and the wind doth hiss you.
But when Adonis liv'd, sun and sharp air
Lurk’d, like two thieves, to rob him of his fair.

And therefore would he put his bonnet on,
Under whose brim the gaudy sun would peep;
The wind would blow it off, and being gone,
Play with his locks, then would Adonis weep:
And strait, in pity of his tender

years,
They both would strive who first should dry his tears."

This has more than enough of conceit, it must be ad

mitted. What follows is of sterner stuff, and full of passion. It is now, indeed, that the Queen of Paphos speaks, the amorous and vindictive beauty, foiled in love (by Death) and resolute to inflict on the many, the pains and penalties which were incurred by one offender. Let the reader admire a lady's justice. We are ourselves inveterate admirers of “ the sex;" nevertheless, we do not wish that these fair creatures should be troubled either with the balance or the sword.

“ Since thou art dead, lo! here I prophecy,
Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend;
It shall be waited on with jealousy,
Find sweet beginning, but unsavoury end,
Ne'er settled equally, too high or low:
That all love's pleasures shall not match his woe.

It shall be fickle, false, and full of fraud,
And shall be blasted in a breathing while,
The bottom poison, and the top o'erstraw'd
With sweets that shall the sharpest sight beguile.
The strongest body shall it make most weak,
Strike the wise dumb, and teach the fool to speak.

It shall be sparing, and the fool of riot,
Teaching decrepid age to tread the measures ;
The staring ruffian shall it keep in quiet,
Pluck down the rich, enrich the poor with treasures ;
It shall be raging mad, and silly mild,
Make the young old, the old become a child.

It shall suspect, where is no cause of fear;
It shall not fear, where it should most mistrust;
It shall be merciful, and too severe,
And most deceiving when it seems most just:
Perverse it shall be, when it seems most toward,
Put fear to valour, courage to the coward.

It shall be cause of war and dire events,
And set dissension 'twixt the son and sire;
Subject and servile to all discontents,
As dry combustious matter is to fire.
Sith in his prime, death doth my love destroy,
They that love best, their love shall not enjoy.

Thus weary of the world away she hies,
And yokes her silver doves, by whose swift aid

« PreviousContinue »