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What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield
That wise Minerva wore, unconquered virgin, Wherewith she freezed her foes to congealed stone, But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
And noble grace, that dashed brute violence
With sudden adoration and blank awe?
So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity,13
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear;
Till oft converse with heavenly habitants
And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,15
Till all be made immortal; but when lust,
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Embodies, and embrutes, till she quite lose
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp
Oft seen in charnel vaults and sepulchres
Lingering, and sitting by a new-made grave,
And linked itself by carnal sensuality
To a degenerate and degraded state.
How charming is divine philosophy! 16
And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns.
List, list! I hear
Some far-off halloo break the silent air.
Methought so too; what should it be?
Either some one like us night-foundered here,
Heaven keep my sister! Again, again, and near; Best draw and stand upon our guard.
If he be friendly, he comes well; if not,
Defence is a good cause, and Heaven be for us.
[The ATTENDANT SPIRIT habited like a Shepherd.]
That halloo I should know; what are you? Speak! Come not too near; you fall on iron stakes else.
What voice is that? My young lord? Speak again.
Thyrsis? whose artful strains 17 have oft delayed
The huddling brook to hear his madrigal,
And sweetened every musk-rose of the dale.
How cam'st thou here, good swain? Hath any ram
my loved master's heir, and his next joy!
I came not here on such a trivial toy
As a strayed ewe, or to pursue the stealth
Of pilfering wolf; not all the fleecy wealth
That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought
To this my errand, and the care it brought.
But oh, my virgin lady! where is she?
How chance she is not in your company?
To tell thee sadly,18 shepherd, without blame,