VENUS AND ADONIS
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE HENRY WRIOTHESLEY,
EARL OF SOUHAMPTON, AND BARON OF TICHFIELD.
I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to
your lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a
prop to support so weak a burthen: only, if your honour seem but pleased,
I account myself highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle
hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour. But if the first
heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a
godfather, and never after ear so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so
bad a harvest. I leave it to your honourable survey, and your honour to
your heart's content; which I wish may always answer your own wish and
the world's hopeful expectation.
Your honour's in all duty,
VENUS AND ADONIS
EVEN as the sun with purple-colour'd face Had ta'en his last leave of
the weeping morn, Rose-cheek'd Adonis tried him to the chase; Hunting
he lov'd, but love he laugh'd to scorn;
Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him, And like a bold-fac'd
suitor 'gins to woo him.
'Thrice fairer than myself,' thus she began, 'The field's chief flower,
sweet above compare,
Stain to all nymphs, more lovely than a man, More white and red
than doves or roses are; Nature that made thee, with herself at strife, Saith
that the world hath ending with thy life.
'Vouchsafe, thou wonder, to alight thy steed, And rein his proud head
to the saddle-bow; If thou wilt deign this favour, for thy meed A thousand
honey secrets shalt thou know:
Here come and sit, where never serpent hisses; And being set, I'll
smother thee with kisses:
'And yet not cloy thy lips with loath'd satiety, But rather famish them
amid their plenty,
Making them red and pale with fresh variety; Ten kisses short as one,
one long as twenty: A summer's day will seem an hour but short, Being
wasted in such time-beguiling sport.'
With this she seizeth on his sweating palm, The precedent of pith and
livelihood, And, trembling in her passion, calls it balm, Earth's sovereign
salve to do a goddess good:
Being so enrag'd, desire doth lend her force Courageously to pluck
him from his horse.
Over one arm the lusty courser's rein Under her other was the tender
Who blush'd and pouted in a dull disdain, With leaden appetite, unapt
to toy; She red and hot as coals of glowing fire He red for shame, but
frosty in desire.
The studded bridle on a ragged bough Nimbly she fastens;--O! how
quick is love:-- The steed is stalled up, and even now To tie the rider she
begins to prove:
Backward she push'd him, as she would be thrust, And govern'd him
in strength, though not in lust.
So soon was she along, as he was down, Each leaning on their elbows
and their hips:
Now doth she stroke his cheek, now doth he frown, And 'gins to
chide, but soon she stops his lips; And kissing speaks, with lustful
language broken, 'If thou wilt chide, thy lips shall never open.'
He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears Doth quench the
maiden burning of his cheeks; Then with her windy sighs and golden hairs
To fan and blow them dry again she seeks:
He saith she is immodest, blames her miss; What follows more she
murders with a kiss.
Even as an empty eagle, sharp by fast, Tires with her beak on feathers,
flesh and bone,
Shaking her wings, devouring all in haste, Till either gorge be stuff'd
or prey be gone; Even so she kiss'd his brow, his cheek, his chin, And
where she ends she doth anew begin.
Forc'd to content, but never to obey, Panting he lies, and breatheth in
her face; She feedeth on the steam, as on a prey, And calls it heavenly
moisture, air of grace;
Wishing her cheeks were gardens full of flowers So they were dewd
with such distilling showers.
Look! how a bird lies tangled in a net, So fasten'd in her arms Adonis
Pure shame and aw'd resistance made him fret, Which bred more
beauty in his angry eyes: Rain added to a river that is rank Perforce will
force it overflow the bank.
Still she entreats, and prettily entreats, For to a pretty ear she tunes
her tale; Still is he sullen, still he lours and frets, 'Twixt crimson shame
and anger ashy-pale;
Being red she loves him best; and being white, Her best is better'd
with a more delight.
Look how he can, she cannot choose but love; And by her fair
immortal hand she swears,
From his soft bosom never to remove, Till he take truce with her
contending tears, Which long have rain'd, making her cheeks all wet; And
one sweet kiss shall pay this countless debt.
Upon this promise did he raise his chin
Like a dive-dapper peering through a wave, Who, being look'd on,
ducks as quickly in; So offers he to give what she did crave;
But when her lips were ready for his pay, He winks, and turns his lips
Never did passenger in summer's heat More thirst for drink than she
for this good turn.
Her help she sees, but help she cannot get; She bathes in water, yet
her fire must burn: 'O! pity,' 'gan she cry, 'flint-hearted boy: 'Tis but a kiss I
beg; why art thou coy?
'I have been woo'd, as I entreat thee now, Even by the stern and direful
god of war, Whose sinewy neck in battle ne'er did bow, Who conquers
where he comes m every jar;
Yet hath he been my captive and my slave, And begg'd for that which
thou unask'd shalt have.
'Over my altars hath he hung his lance, His batter'd shield, his
And for my sake hath learn'd to sport and dance To toy, to wanton,
dally, smile, and jest; Scorning his churlish drum and ensign red Making
my arms his field, his tent my bed.
'Thus he that overrul'd I oversway'd, Leading him prisoner in a redrose chain: Strong-temper'd steel his stronger strength obey'd, Yet was he
servile to my coy disdain.
O! be not proud, nor brag not of thy might, For mastering her that
foil'd the god of fight.
Touch but my lips with those falr lips of thine,-- Though mine be not
so fair, yet are they red,--
The kiss shall be thine own as well as mine: What seest thou in the
ground? hold up thy head: Look in mine eyeballs, there thy beauty lies;
Then why not lips on lips, since eyes in eyes?
'Art thou asham'd to kiss? then wink again, And I will wink; so shall
the day seem night; Love keeps his revels where there are but twain; Be
bold to play, our sport is not in sight:
These blue-vein'd violets whereon we lean Never can blab, nor know
not what we mean.
'The tender spring upon thy tempting lip
Shows thee unripe, yet mayst thou well be tasted: Make use of time,
let not advantage slip; Beauty within itself should not be wasted: Fair
flowers that are not gather'd in their prime Rot and consume themselves in
'Were I hard-favour'd, foul, or wrinkled-old, Ill-nurtur'd, crooked,
churlish, harsh in voice, O'erworn, despised, rheumatic, and cold, Thicksighted, barren, lean, and lacking juice,
Then mightst thou pause, for then I were not for thee; But having no
defects, why dost abhor me?
'Thou canst not see one winkle in my brow;
Mine eyes are grey and bright, and quick in turning; My beauty as the
spring doth yearly grow; My flesh is soft and plump, my marrow burning;
My smooth moist hand, were it with thy hand felt. Would in thy palm
dissolve, or seem to melt.
'Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear, Or like a fairy, trip upon
the green, Or, like a nymph, with long dishevell'd 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
'Witness this primrose bank whereon I lie;
These forceless flowers like sturdy trees support me; Two
strengthless doves will draw me through the sky, From morn till night,
even where I list to sport me: Is love so light, sweet boy, and may it be
That thou shouldst think it heavy unto thee?
'Is thine own heart to shine own face affected? Can thy right hand
seize love upon thy left? Then woo thyself, be of thyself rejected, Steal
thine own freedom, and complain on theft.
Narcissus so himself himself forsook, And died to kiss his shadow in
'Torches are made to light, jewels to wear, Dainties to taste, fresh
beauty for the use,
Herbs for their smell, and sappy plants to bear; Things growing to
themselves are growth's abuse: Seeds spring from seeds, and beauty
breedeth beauty; Thou wast begot; to get it is thy duty.
'Upon the earth's increase why shouldst thou feed, Unless the earth
with thy increase be fed? By law of nature thou art bound to breed, That
thine may live when thou thyself art dead;
And so in spite of death thou dost survive, In that thy likeness still is
By this the love-sick queen began to sweat, For where they lay the
shadow had forsook them,
And Titan, tired in the mid-day heat With burning eye did hotly
overlook them, Wishing Adonis had his team to guide, So he were like
him and by Venus' side.
And now Adonis with a lazy spright, And with a heavy, dark, disliking
eye, His louring brows o'erwhelming his fair sight, Like misty vapours
when they blot the sky,
Souring his cheeks, cries, 'Fie! no more of love: The sun doth burn
my face; I must remove.'
'Ay me,' quoth Venus, 'young, and so unkind! What bare excuses
mak'st thou to be gone!
I'll sigh celestial breath, whose gentle wind Shall cool the heat of this
descending sun: I'll make a shadow for thee of my hairs;
If they burn too, I'll quench them with my tears.
'The sun that shines from heaven shines but warm, And lo! I lie
between that sun and thee: The heat I have from thence doth little harm,
Thine eye darts forth the fire that burneth me;
And were I not immortal, life were done Between this heavenly and
'Art thou obdurate, flinty, hard as steel? Nay, more than flint, for stone
at rain relenteth:
Art thou a woman's son, and canst not feel What 'tis to love? how
want of love tormenteth? O! had thy mother borne so hard a mind,
She had not brought forth thee, but died unkind.
'What am I that thou shouldst contemn me this? Or what great danger
dwells upon my suit? What were thy lips the worse for one poor kiss?
Speak, fair; but speak fair words, or else be mute: Give me one kiss, I'll
give it thee again,
And one for interest if thou wilt have twain.
'Fie! lifeless picture, cold and senseless stone, Well-painted idol, image
dull and dead,
Statue contenting but the eye alone, Thing like a man, but of no
woman bred: Thou art no man, though of a man's complexion, For men
will kiss even by their own direction.'
This said, impatience chokes her pleading tongue, And swelling
passion doth provoke a pause; Red cheeks and fiery eyes blaze forth her
wrong; Being judge in love, she cannot right her cause:
And now she weeps, and now she fain would speak, And now her
sobs do her intendments break.
Sometimes she shakes her head, and then his hand; Now gazeth she on
him, now on the ground;
Sometimes her arms infold him like a band: She would, he will not in
her arms be bound; And when from thence he struggles to be gone, She
locks her lily fingers one in one.
'Fondling,' she saith, 'since I have hemm'd thee here Within the circuit
of this ivory pale, I'll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer; Feed where
thou wilt, on mountain or in dale:
Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry, Stray lower, where the
pleasant fountains lie.
'Within this limit is relief enough, Sweet bottom-grass and high
Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough, To shelter thee from
tempest and from rain: Then be my deer, since I am such a park;
No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark.'
At this Adonis smiles as in disdain, That in each cheek appears a pretty
dimple: Love made those hollows, if himself were slain, He might be
buried in a tomb so simple;
Foreknowing well, if there he came to lie, Why, there Love liv'd, and
there he could not die.
These lovely caves, these round enchanting pits, Open'd their mouths
to swallow Venus' liking.
Being mad before, how doth she now for wits? Struck dead at first,
what needs a second striking? Poor queen of love, in thine own law forlorn,
To love a cheek that smiles at thee in scorn!
Now which way shall she turn? what shall she say? Her words are
done, her woes the more increasing; The time is spent, her object will
away, And from her twining arms doth urge releasing:
'Pity,' she cries; 'some favour, some remorse!' Away he springs, and
hasteth to his horse.
But lo! from forth a copse that neighbours by, A breeding jennet, lusty,
young, and proud,
Adonis' tramping courier doth espy, And forth she rushes, snorts and
neighs aloud: The strong-neck'd steed, being tied unto a tree, Breaketh his
rein, and to her straight goes he.
Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds, And now his woven girths
he breaks asunder; The bearing earth with his hard hoof he wounds,
Whose hollow womb resounds like heaven's thunder; The iron bit he
crusheth 'tween his teeth,
Controlling what he was controlled with.
His ears up-prick'd; his braided hanging mane Upon his compass'd
crest now stand on end;
His nostrils drink the air, and forth again, As from a furnace, vapours
doth he send: His eye, which scornfully glisters like fire, Shows his hot
courage and his high desire.
Sometime he trots, as if he told the steps, With gentle majesty and
modest pride; Anon he rears upright, curvets and leaps, As who should say,
'Lo! thus my strength is tried; And this I do to captivate the eye
Of the fair breeder that is standing by.'
What recketh he his rider's angry stir, His flattering 'Holla', or his
'Stand, I say'?
What cares he now for curb or pricking spur? For rich caparisons or
trapping gay? He sees his love, and nothing else he sees, Nor nothing else
with his proud sight agrees.
Look, when a painter would surpass the life, In limning out a wellproportion'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
eye, small head, and nostril wide, High crest, short ears, straight 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
Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares; Anon he starts at
stirring of a feather; To bid the wind a base he now prepares, And whe'r he
run or fly they know not whether;
For through his mane and tail the high wind sings, Fanning the hairs,
who wave like feather'd wings.
He looks upon his love, and neighs unto her; She answers him as if she
knew his mind;
Being proud, as females are, to see him woo her, She puts on outward
strangeness, seems unkind, Spurns at his love and scorns the heat he feels,
Beating his kind embracements with her heels.
Then, like a melancholy malcontent, He vails his tail, that, like a
falling plume, Cool shadow to his melting buttock lent: He stamps, and
bites the poor flies in his fume.
His love, perceiving how he is enrag'd, Grew kinder, and his fury was
His testy master goeth about to take him; When lo! the unback'd
breeder, full of fear,
Jealous of catching, swiftly doth forsake him, With her the horse, and
left Adonis there: As they were mad, unto the wood they hie them,
Outstripping crows that strive to overfly them.
All swoln with chafing, down Adonis sits, Banning his boisterous and
unruly beast: And now the happy season once more fits, That love-sick
Love by pleading may be blest;
For lovers say, the heart hath treble wrong When it is barr'd the
aidance of the tongue.
An oven that is stopp'd, or river stay'd, Burneth more hotly, swelleth
with more rage:
So of concealed sorrow may be said; Free vent of words love's fire
doth assuage; But when the heart's attorney once is mute The client breaks,
as desperate in his suit.
He sees her coming, and begins to glow,-- Even as a dying coal revives
with wind,-- And with his bonnet hides his angry brow; Looks on the dull
earth with disturbed mind,
Taking no notice that she is so nigh, For all askance he holds her in
O! what a sight it was, wistly to view How she came stealing to the
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 by 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; With one fair hand she heaveth up his hat, Her other tender
hand his fair cheek feels:
His tenderer cheek receives her soft hand's print, As apt as new-fall'n
snow takes any dint.
O! what a war of looks was then between them; Her eyes petitioners to
his eyes suing;
His eyes saw her eyes as they had not seen them; Her eyes woo'd still,
his eyes disdain'd the wooing: And all this dumb play had his acts made
plain With tears, which, chorus-like, her eyes did rain.
Full gently now she takes him by the hand,
A lily prison'd in a gaol of snow, Or ivory in an alabaster band; So
white a friend engirts so white a foe:
This beauteous combat, wilful and unwilling, Show'd like two silver
doves that sit a-billing.
Once more the engine of her thoughts began: 'O fairest mover on this
Would thou wert as I am, and I a man, My heart all whole as thine,
thy heart my wound; For one sweet look thy help I would assure thee,
Though nothing but my body's bane would cure thee.'
'Give me my hand,' saith he, 'why dost thou feel it?' 'Give me my
heart,' saith she, 'and thou shalt have it; O! give it me, lest thy hard heart
do steel it, And being steel'd, soft sighs can never grave it:
Then love's deep groans I never shall regard, Because Adonis' heart
hath made mine hard.'
'For shame,' he cries, 'let go, and let me go; My day's delight is past,
my horse is gone,
And 'tis your fault I am bereft him so: I pray you hence, and leave me
here alone: For all my mind, my thought, my busy care, Is how to get my
palfrey from the mare.'
Thus she replies: 'Thy palfrey, as he should, Welcomes the warm
approach of sweet desire: Affection is a coal that must be cool'd; Else,
suffer'd, it will set the heart on fire:
The sea hath bounds, but deep desire hath none; Therefore no marvel
though thy horse be gone.
'How like a Jade he stood, tied to the tree, Servilely master'd with a
But when he saw his love, his youth's fair fee, He held such petty
bondage in disdain; Throwing the base thong from his bending crest,
Enfranchising his mouth, his back, his breast.
'Who sees his true-love in her naked bed, Teaching the sheets a whiter
hue than white, But, when his glutton eye so full hath fed, His other agents
aim at like delight?
Who is so faint, that dare not bo so bold To touch the fire, the weather
'Let me excuse thy courser, gentle boy; And learn of him, I heartily
To take advantage on presented joy Though I were dumb, yet his
proceedings teach thee. O learn to love, the lesson is but plain, And once
made perfect, never lost again.
'I know not love,' quoth he, 'nor will not know it, Unless it be a boar,
and then I chase it; 'Tis much to borrow, and I will not owe it; My love to
love is love but to disgrace it;
For I have heard it is a life in death, That laughs and weeps, and all
but with a breath.
'Who wears a garment shapeless and unfinish'd? Who plucks the bud
before one leaf put forth?
If springing things be any jot diminish'd, They wither in their prime,
prove nothing worth; The colt that's back'd and burden'd being young
Loseth his pride, and never waxeth strong.
'You hurt my hand with wringing Iet us part, And leave this idle theme,
this bootless chat: Remove your siege from my unyielding heart; To love's
alarms it will not ope the gate:
Dismiss your vows, your feigned tears, your flattery; For where a
heart is hard they make no battery.'
'What! canst thou talk?' quoth she, 'hast thou a tongue? O! would thou
hadst not, or I had no hearing;
Thy mermaid's voice hath done me double wrong; I had my load
before, now press'd with bearing: Melodious discord, heavenly tune,
harsh-sounding, Ear's deep-sweet music, and heart's deep-sore wounding.
'Had I no eyes but ears, my ears would love
That inward beauty and invisible; Or were I deaf, thy outward parts
would move Each part in me that were but sensible:
Though neither eyes nor ears, to hear nor see, Yet should I be in love
by touching thee.
'Say, that the sense of feeling were bereft me, And that I could not see,
nor hear, nor touch,
And nothing but the very smell were left me, Yet would my love to
thee be still as much; For from the stillitory of thy face excelling Comes
breath perfum'd that breedeth love by smelling.
'But O! what banquet wert thou to the taste,
Being nurse and feeder of the other four; Would they not wish the
feast might ever last, And bid Suspicion double-lock the door, Lest
Jealousy, that sour unwelcome guest, Should, by his stealing in, disturb the
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 Wrack to the seaman,
tempest to the field, Sorrow to shepherds, woe unto the birds, Gusts and
foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.
This ill presage advisedly she marketh: Even 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 ere his
And at his look she flatly falleth down For looks kill love, and love by
A smile recures the wounding of a frown; But blessed bankrupt, that
by love so thriveth! The silly boy, believing she is dead Claps her pale
cheek, till clapping makes it red;
And all amaz'd brake off his late intent, For sharply he did think to
reprehend her, Which cunning love did wittily prevent: Fair fall the wit
that can so well defend her!
For on the grass she lies as she were slain Till his breath breatheth
life in her again.
He wrings her nose, he strikes her on the cheeks, He bends her fingers,
holds her pulses hard,
He chafes her lips; a thousand ways he seeks To mend the hurt that
his unkindness marr'd: He kisses her; and she, by her good will, Will never
rise, so he will kiss her still.
The night of sorrow now is turn'd to day: Her two blue windows
faintly she up-heaveth, Like the fair sun, when in his fresh array He cheers
the morn, and all the world relieveth:
And as the bright sun glorifies the sky, So is her face illumin'd with
Whose beams upon his hairless face are fix'd, As if from thence they
borrow'd all their shine.
Were never four such lamps together mix'd, Had not his clouded with
his brow's repine; But hers, which through the crystal tears gave light
Shone like the moon in water seen by night.
'O! where am I?' quoth she, 'in earth or heaven, Or in the ocean
drench'd, or in the fire? What hour is this? or morn or weary even? Do I
delight to die, or life desire?
But now I liv'd, and life was death's annoy; But now I died, and death
was lively joy.
'O! thou didst kill me; kill me once again: Thy eyes' shrewd tutor, that
hard heart of thine,
Hath taught them scornful tricks, and such disdain, That they have
murder'd this poor heart of mine; And these mine eyes, true leaders to their
queen, But for thy piteous lips no more had seen.
'Long may they kiss each other for this cure! O! never let their crimson
liveries wear; And as they last, their verdure still endure, To drive
infection from the dangerous year:
That the star-gazers, having writ on death, May say, the plague is
banish'd by thy breath.
'Pure lips, sweet seals in my soft lips imprinted, What bargains may I
make, still to be sealing?
To sell myself I can be well contented, So thou wilt buy and pay and
use good dealing; Which purchase if thou make, for fear of slips Set thy
seal-manual on my wax-red lips.
'A thousand kisses buys my heart from me; And pay them at thy
leisure, one by one. What is ten hundred touches unto thee? Are they not
quickly told and quickly gone?
Say, for non-payment that the debt should double, Is twenty hundred
kisses such a trouble?'
'Fair queen,' quoth he, 'if any love you owe me, Measure my
strangeness with my unripe years:
Before I know myself, seek not to know me; No fisher but the
ungrown fry forbears: The mellow plum doth fall, the green sticks fast, Or
being early pluck'd is sour to taste.
'Look! the world's comforter, with weary gait His day's hot task hath
ended in the west; The owl, night's herald, shrieks, 'tis very late; The sheep
are gone to fold, birds to their nest,
And coal-black clouds that shadow heaven's light Do summon us to
part, and bid good night.
'Now let me say good night, and so say you; If you will say so, you
shall have a kiss.'
'Good night,' quoth she; and ere he says adieu, The honey fee of
parting tender'd is: Her arms do lend his neck a sweet embrace;
Incorporate then they seem, face grows to face.
Till, breathless, he disjoin'd, and backward drew The heavenly
moisture, that sweet coral mouth, Whose precious taste her thirsty lips
well knew, Whereon they surfeit, yet complain on drouth:
He with her plenty press'd, she faint with dearth, Their lips together
glu'd, fall to the earth.
Now quick desire hath caught the yielding prey, And glutton-like she
feeds, yet never filleth;
Her lips are conquerors, his lips obey, Paying what ransom the
insulter willeth; Whose vulture thought doth pitch the price so high, That
she will draw his lips' rich treasure dry.
And having felt the sweetness of the spoil, With blindfold fury she
begins to forage; Her face doth reek and smoke, her blood doth boil, And
careless lust stirs up a desperate courage;
Planting oblivion, beating reason back, Forgetting shame's pure blush
and honour's wrack.
Hot, faint, and weary, with her hard embracing, Like a wild bird being
tam'd with too much handling, Or as the fleet-foot roe that's tir'd with
Or like the froward infant still'd with dandling, He now obeys, and
now no more resisteth, While she takes all she can, not all she listeth.
What wax so frozen but dissolves with tempering, And yields at last to
every light impression? Things out of hope are compass'd oft with
venturing, Chiefly in love, whose leave exceeds commission:
Affection faints not like a pale-fac'd coward, But then woos best
when most his choice is froward.
When he did frown, O! had she then gave over, Such nectar from his
lips she had not suck'd.
Foul words and frowns must not repel a lover; What though the rose
have prickles, yet 'tis pluck'd: Were beauty under twenty locks kept fast,
Yet love breaks through and picks them all at last.
For pity now she can no more detain him;
The poor fool prays her that he may depart: She is resolv'd no longer
to restrain him, Bids him farewell, and look well to her heart,
The which, by Cupid's bow she doth protest, He carries thence
incaged in his breast.
'Sweet boy,' she says, 'this night I'll waste in sorrow, For my sick heart
commands mine eyes to watch.
Tell me, Love's master, shall we meet to-morrow Say, shall we? shall
we? wilt thou make the match?' He tells her, no; to-morrow he intends To
hunt the boar with certain of his friends.
'The boar!' quoth she; whereat a sudden pale, Like lawn being spread
upon the blushing rose, Usurps her cheeks, she trembles at his tale, And on
his neck her yoking arms she throws:
She sinketh down, still hanging by his neck, He on her belly falls, she
on her back.
Now is she in the very lists of love, Her champion mounted for the hot
All is imaginary she doth prove, He will not manage her, although he
mount her; That worse than Tantalus' is her annoy, To clip Elysium and to
lack her joy.
Even as poor birds, deceiv'd with painted grapes, Do surfeit by the eye
and pine the maw, Even so she languisheth in her mishaps, As those poor
birds that helpless berries saw.
The warm effects which she in him finds missing, She seeks to kindle
with continual kissing.
But all in vain, good queen, it will not be: She hath assay'd as much as
may be prov'd;
Her pleading hath deserv'd a greater fee; She's Love, she loves, and
yet she is not lov'd. 'Fie, fie!' he says, 'you crush me; let me go; You have
no reason to withhold me so.'
'Thou hadst been gone,' quoth she, 'sweet boy, ere this, But that thou
told'st me thou wouldst hunt the boar. O! be advis'd; thou know'st not what
it is With javelin's point a churlish swine to gore,
Whose tushes never sheath'd he whetteth still, Like to a mortal
butcher, bent to kill.
'On his bow-back he hath a battle set Of bristly pikes, that ever threat
His eyes like glow-worms shine when he doth fret; His snout digs
sepulchres where'er he goes; Being mov'd, he strikes whate'er is in his way,
And whom he strikes his crooked tushes slay.
'His brawny sides, with hairy bristles arm'd, Are better proof than thy
spear's point can enter; His short thick neck cannot be easily harm'd;
Being ireful, on the lion he will venture:
The thorny brambles and embracing bushes, As fearful of him, part,
through whom he rushes.
'Alas! he nought esteems that face of thine, To which Love's eyes pay
Nor thy soft hands, sweet lips, and crystal eyne, Whose full
perfection all the world amazes; But having thee at vantage, wondrous
dread! Would root these beauties as he roots the mead.
'O! let him keep his loathsome cabin still;
Beauty hath nought to do with such foul fiends: Come not within his
danger by thy will; They that thrive well take counsel of their friends.
When thou didst name the boar, not to dissemble, I fear'd thy fortune, and
my joints did tremble.
'Didst thou not mark my face? was it not white? Saw'st thou not signs
of fear lurk in mine eye?
Grew I not faint? And fell I not downright? Within my bosom,
whereon thou dost lie, My boding heart pants, beats, and takes no rest, But,
like an earthquake, shakes thee on my breast.
'For where Love reigns, disturbing Jealousy
Doth call himself Affection's sentinel; Gives false alarms, suggesteth
mutiny, And in a peaceful hour doth cry "Kill, kill!"
Distempering gentle Love in his desire, As air and water do abate the
'This sour informer, this bate-breeding spy, This canker that eats up
Love's tender spring,
This carry-tale, dissentious Jealousy, That sometime true news,
sometime false doth bring, Knocks at my heart, and whispers in mine ear
That if I love thee, I thy death should fear:
'And more than so, presenteth to mine eye The picture of an angrychafing boar, Under whose sharp fangs on his back doth lie An image like
thyself, all stain'd with gore;
Whose blood upon the fresh flowers being shed Doth make them
droop with grief and hang the head.
'What should I do, seeing thee so indeed, That tremble at the
The thought of it doth make my faint heart bleed, And fear doth teach
it divination: I prophesy thy death, my living sorrow, If thou encounter
with the boar to-morrow.
'But if thou needs wilt 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
Pursue these fearful creatures o'er the downs, And on thy wellbreath'd horse keep with thy hound.
'And when thou hast on foot the purblind hare, Mark the poor wretch,
to overshoot his troubles
How he outruns the winds, and with what care He cranks and crosses
with a thousand doubles: The many musits through the which he goes Are
like a labyrinth to amaze his foes.
'Sometime he runs among a flock of sheep, To make the cunning
hounds mistake their smell, And sometime where earth-delving conies
keep, To stop the loud pursuers in their yell,
And sometime sorteth with a herd of deer; Danger deviseth shifts, wit
waits on fear:
'For there his smell with others being mingled,
The hot scent-snuffing hounds are driven to doubt, Ceasing their
clamorous cry till they have singled With much ado the cold fault cleanly
out; Then do they spend their mouths: Echo replies, As if another chase
were in the skies.
'By this, poor Wat, far off upon a hill, Stands on his hinder legs with
listening ear, To hearken if his foes pursue him still: Anon their loud
alarums he doth hear;
And now his grief may be compared well To one sore sick that hears
the passing bell.
'Then shalt thou see the dew-bedabbled wretch Turn, and return,
indenting with the way;
Each envious briar 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.
'Lie quietly, and hear a little more; Nay, do not struggle, for thou shalt
not rise: To make thee hate the hunting of the boar, Unlike myself thou
hear'st me moralize,
Applying this to that, and so to so; For love can comment upon every
'Where did I leave?' 'No matter where,' quoth he 'Leave me, and then
the story aptly ends:
The night is spent,' 'Why, what of that?' quoth she. 'I am,' quoth he,
'expected of my friends; And now 'tis dark, and going I shall fall.' 'In
night,' quoth she, 'desire sees best of all.'
But if thou fall, O! then imagine this, The earth, in love with thee, thy
footing trips, And all is but to rob thee of a kiss.
Rich preys make true men thieves; so do thy lips Make modest Dian
cloudy and forlorn, Lest she should steal a kiss and die forsworn.
'Now of this dark night I perceive the reason: Cynthia for shame
obscures her silver shine
Till forging Nature be condemn'd of treason, For stealing moulds
from heaven that were divine; Wherein she fram'd thee in high heaven's
despite, To shame the sun by day and her by night.
'And therefore hath she brib'd the Destinies, To cross the curious
workmanship of nature To mingle beauty with infirmities, And pure
perfection with impure defeature;
Making it subject to the tyranny Of mad mischances and much
'As burning fevers, agues pale and faint, Life-poisoning pestilence and
The marrow-eating sickness, whose attains Disorder breeds by
heating of the blood; Surfeits, imposthumes, grief, and damn'd despair,
Swear nature's death for framing thee so fair.
'And not the least of all these maladies But in one minute's fight brings
beauty under: Both favour, savour hue, and qualities, Whereat the
impartial gazer late did wonder,
Are on the sudden wasted, thaw'd and done, As mountain-snow melts
with the mid-day sun.
'Therefore, despite of fruitless chastity, Love-lacking vestals and selfloving nuns,
That on the earth would breed a scarcity And barren dearth of
daughters and of sons, Be prodigal: the lamp that burns by night Dries up
his oil to lend the world his light.
'What is thy body but a swallowing grave, Seeming to bury that
posterity Which by the rights of time thou needs must have, If thou
destroy them not in dark obscurity?
If so, the world will hold thee in disdain, Sith in thy pride so fair a
hope is slain.
'So in thyself thyself art made away; A mischief worse than civil
Or theirs whose desperate hands themselves do slay, Or butcher-sire
that reeves his son of life. Foul-cankering rust the hidden treasure frets,
But gold that's put to use more gold begets.'
'Nay then,' quoth Adon, 'you will fall again Into your idle over-handled
theme; The kiss I gave you is bestow'd in vain, And all in vain you strive
against the stream;
For by this black-fac'd night, desire's foul nurse, Your treatise makes
me like you worse and worse.
'If love have 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 mine ear, And
will not let a false sound enter there;
'Lest the deceiving harmony should run Into the quiet closure of my
breast; And then my little heart were quite undone, In his bedchamber to
be barr'd of rest.
No, lady, no; my heart longs not to groan, But soundly sleeps, while
now it sleeps alone.
'What have you urg'd that I cannot reprove? The path is smooth that
leadeth on to danger;
I hate not love, but your device in love That lends embracements unto
every stranger. You do it for increase: O strange excuse! When reason is
the bawd to lust's abuse.
'Call it not, love, for Love to heaven is fled, Since sweating Lust on
earth usurp'd his name; Under whose simple semblance he hath fed Upon
fresh beauty, blotting it with blame;
Which the hot tyrant stains and soon bereaves, As caterpillars do the
'Love comforteth like sunshine after rain, But Lust's effect is tempest
Love's gentle spring doth always fresh remain, Lust's winter comes
ere summer half be done. Love surfeits not, Lust like a glutton dies; Love
is all truth, Lust full of forged lies.
'More I could tell, but more I dare not say; The text is old, the orator
too green. Therefore, in sadness, now I will away; My face is full of
shame, my heart of teen:
Mine ears, that to your wanton talk attended Do burn themselves for
having so offended.'
With this he breaketh from the sweet embrace
Of those fair arms which bound him to her breast, And homeward
through the dark laund runs apace; Leaves Love upon her back deeply
distress'd. 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 lateembarked 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
Whereat amaz'd, as one that unaware Hath dropp'd a precious jewel in
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.
And now she beats her heart, whereat it groans, That all the neighbour
caves, as seeming troubled, Make verbal repetition of her moans; Passion
on passion deeply is redoubled:
'Ay me!' she cries, and twenty times, 'Woe, woe!' And twenty echoes
twenty times cry so.
She marking them, begins a wailing note, And sings extemporally a
How love makes young men thrall and old men dote; How love is
wise in folly foolish-witty: Her heavy anthem stili concludes in woe, And
still the choir of echoes answer so.
Her song was tedious, and outwore the night, For lovers' hours are
long, though seeming short: If pleas'd themselves, others, they think,
delight In such like circumstance, with such like sport:
Their copious stories, oftentimes begun, End without audience, and
are never done.
For who hath she to spend the night withal, But idle sounds resembling
Like shrill-tongu'd tapsters answering every call, Soothing the
humour of fantastic wits? She says, "Tis so:' they answer all, "Tis so;' And
would say after her, if she said 'No'.
Lo! here the gentle lark, weary of rest, From his moist cabinet
mounts up on high, And wakes the morning, from whose silver breast The
sun ariseth in his majesty;
Who doth the world so gloriously behold, That cedar-tops and hills
seem burnish'd gold.
Venus salutes him with this fair good morrow: 'O thou clear god, and
patron of all light,
From whom each lamp and shining star doth borrow The beauteous
influence that makes him bright, There lives a son that suck'd an earthly
mother, May lend thee light, as thou dost lend to other'
This said, she hasteth to a myrtle grove,
Musing the morning is so much o'erworn, And yet she hears no
tidings of her love; She hearkens for his hounds and for his horn:
Anon she hears them chant it lustily, And all in haste she coasteth to
And as she runs, the bushes in the way Some catch her by the neck,
some kiss her face,
Some twine about her thigh to make her stay: She wildly breaketh
from their strict embrace, Like a milch doe, whose swelling dugs do ache,
Hasting to feed her fawn hid in some brake.
By this she hears the hounds are at a bay; Whereat she starts, like one
that spies an adder Wreath'd up in fatal folds just in his way, The fear
whereof doth make him shake and shudder; Even so the timorous yelping
of the hounds
Appals her senses, and her spirit confounds.
For now she knows it is no gentle chase, But the blunt boar, rough bear,
or lion proud,
Because the cry remaineth in one place, Wilere fearfully the dogs
exclaim aloud: Finding their enemy to be so curst, They all strain courtesy
who shall cope him first.
This dismal cry rings sadly in her ear,
Througll which it enters to surprise her heart; Who, overcome by
doubt and bloodless fear, With cold-pale weakness numbs each feeling
part; Like soldiers, when their captain once doth yield, They basely fly and
dare not stay the field.
Thus stands she in a trembling ecstasy, Till, cheering up her senses
She tells them 'tis a causeless fantasy, And childish error, that they are
afraid; Bids them leave quaking, bids them fear no more: And with that
word she spied the hunted boar;
Whose frothy mouth bepainted all with red,
Like milk and blood being mingled both together, A second fear
through all her sinews spread, Which madly hurries her she knows not
This way she runs, and now she will no further, But back retires to
rate the boar for murther.
A thousand spleens bear her a thousand ways, She treads the path that
she untreads again;
Her more than haste is mated with delays, Like the proceedings of a
drunken brain, Full of respects, yet nought at all respecting, In hand with
all things, nought at all effecting.
Here kennel'd in a brake she finds a hound, l
And asks the weary caitiff for his master, And there another licking of
his wound, Gainst venom'd sores the only sovereign plaster;
And here she meets another sadly scowling, To whom she speaks,
and he replies with howling.
When he hath ceas'd his ill-resounding noise, Another flap-mouth'd
mourner, black and grim,
Against the welkin volleys out his voice; Another and another answer
him, Clapping their proud tails to the ground below, Shaking their
scratch'd ears, bleeding as they go.
Look, how the world's poor people are amaz'd
At apparitions, signs, and prodigies, Whereon with fearful eyes they
long have gaz'd, Infusing them with dreadful prophecies;
So she at these sad sighs draws up her breath, And, sighing it again,
exclaims on Death.
'Hard-favour'd tyrant, ugly, meagre, lean,
Hateful divorce of love,'--thus chides she Death,-- 'Grim-grinning
ghost, earth's worm, what dost thou mean To stifle beauty and to steal his
breath, Who when he liv'd, his breath and beauty set Gloss on the rose,
smell to the violet?
'If he be dead, O no! it cannot be, Seeing his beauty, thou shouldst
strike at it; O yes! it may; thou hast no eyes to see, But hatefully at random
dost thou hit.
Thy mark is feeble age, but thy false dart Mistakes that aim and
cleaves an infant's heart.
'Hadst thou but bid beware, then he had spoke, And, hearing him, thy
power had lost his power.
The Destinies will curse thee for this stroke; They bid thee crop a
weed, thou pluck'st a flower. Love's golden arrow at him shoull have fled,
And not Death's ebon dart, to strike him dead.
'Dost thou drink tears, that thou provok'st such weeping? What may a
heavy groan advantage thee? Why hast thou cast into eternal sleeping
Those eyes that taught all other eyes to see?
Now Nature cares not for thy mortal vigour Since her best work is
ruin'd with thy rigour.'
Here overcome, as one full of despair, She vail'd her eyelids, who, like
The crystal tide that from her two cheeks fair In the sweet channel of
her bosom dropp'd But through the flood-gates breaks the silver rain, And
with his strong course opens them again.
O! how her eyes and tears did lend and borrow; Her eyes seen in the
tears, tears in her eye; Both crystals, where they view'd each other's
sorrow, Sorrow that friendly sighs sought still to dry;
But like a stormy day, now wind, now rain, Sighs dry her cheeks,
tears make them wet again.
Variable passions throng her constant woe, As striving who should best
become her grief;
All entertain'd, each passion labours so, That every present sorrow
seemeth chief, But none is best; then join they all together, Like many
clouds consulting for foul weather.
By this, far off she hears some huntsman holloa; A nurse's song no'er
pleas'd her babe so well: The dire imagination she did follow This sound
of hope doth labour to expel;
For now reviving joy bids her rejoice, And flatters her it is Adonis'
Whereat her tears began to turn their tide, Being prison'd in her eye,
like pearls in glass;
Yet sometimes falls an orient drop beside, Which her cheek melts, as
scorning it should pass To wash the foul face of the sluttish ground, Who
is but drunken when she seemeth drown'd.
O hard-believing love! how strange it seems
Not to believe, and yet too credulous; Thy weal and woe are both of
them extremes; Despair and hope make thee ridiculous:
The one doth flatter thee in thoughts unlikely, In likely thoughts the
other kills thee quickly.
Now she unweaves the web that she hath wrought, Adonis lives, and
Death is not to blame;
It was not she that call'd him all to naught, Now she adds honours to
his hateful name; She clepes him king of graves, and grave for kings,
Imperious supreme of all mortal things.
'No, no,' quoth she, 'sweet Death, I did but jest; Yet pardon me, I felt a
kind of fear Whenas I met the boar, that bloody beast, Which knows no
pity, but is still severe;
Then, gentle shadow,--truth I must confess-- I rail'd on thee, fearing
my love's decease.
'Tis not my fault: the boar provok'd my tongue; Be wreak'd on him,
'Tis he, foul creature, that hath done thee wrong; I did but act, he 's
author of my slander: Grief hath two tongues: and never woman yet,
Could rule them both without ten women's wit.'
Thus hoping that Adonis is alive,
Her rash suspect sile doth extenuate; And that his beauty may the
better thrive, With Death she humbly doth insinuate;
Tells him of trophies, statues, tombs; and stories His victories, his
triumphs, and his glories.
'O Jove!' quoth she, 'how much a fool was I, To be of such a weak and
To wail his death who lives and must not die Till mutual overthrow of
mortal kind; For he being dead, with him is beauty slain, And, beauty dead,
black chaos comes again.
'Fie, fie, fond love! thou art so full of fear As one with treasure laden,
hemm'd with thieves Trifles, unwitnessed with eye or ear, Thy coward
heart with false bethinking grieves.'
Even at this word she hears a merry horn Whereat she leaps that was
but late forlorn.
As falcon to the lure, away she flies; The grass stoops not, she treads
on it so light;
And in her haste unfortunately spies The foul boar's conquest on her
fair delight; Which seen, her eyes, as murder'd with the view, Like stars
asham'd of day, themselves withdrew:
Or, as the snail, whose tender horns being hit,
Shrinks backwards in his shelly cave with pain, And there, all
smother'd up, in shade doth sit, Long after fearing to creep forth again;
So, at his bloody view, her eyes are fled Into the deep dark cabills of
Where they resign their office and their light To the disposing of her
Who bids them still consort with ugly night, And never wound the
heart with looks again; Who, like a king perplexed in his throne, By their
suggestion gives a deadly groan,
Whereat each tributary subject quakes; As when the wind, imprison'd
in the ground, Struggling for passage, earth's foundation shakes, Which
with cold terror doth men's minds confound. This mutiny each part doth so
That from their dark beds once more leap her eyes;
And, being open'd, threw unwilling light Upon the wide wound that
the boar had trench'd In his soft flank; whose wonted lily white
With purple tears, that his wound wept, was drench'd: No flower was
nigh, no grass, herb, leaf, or weed But stole his blood and seem'd with him
This solemn sympathy poor Venus noteth,
Over one shoulder doth she hang her head, Dumbly
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