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The Argument of the First Sestiad.
Hero's description and her love's:
The fane of Venus, where he moves
His worthy love-suit, and attains ;
Whose bliss the wrath of Fates restrains
For Cupid's grace to Mercury :
Which tale the author doth imply.
In view and opposite two cities stood, Sea-borderers, disjoin'd by Neptune's might; The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight. At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair, Whom young Apollo courted for her hair, And offer'd as a dower his burning throne, Where she should sit, for men to gaze upon.
The outside of her garments were of lawn,
The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn ;
Her wide sleeves green, and border'd with a grove,
Where Venus in her naked glory strove
To please the careless and disdainful eyes
Of proud Adonis, that before her lies ;
Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain,
Made with the blood of wretched lovers slain.
Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath,
From whence her veil reach'd to the ground beneath :
Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves,
Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives :
Many would praise the sweet smell as she past,
When 'twas the odour which her breath forth cast;
And there for honey bees have sought in vain,
And, beat from thence, have lighted there again.
About her neck hung chains of pebble-stone,
Which, lighten'd by her neck, like diamonds shone.
She ware no gloves ; for neither sun nor wind
Would burn or parch her hands, but, to her mind,
Or warm or cool them, for they took delight
To play upon those hands, they were so white.
Buskins of shells, all silver'd, used she,
And branch'd with blushing coral to the knee ;
Where sparrows perch'd, of hollow pearl and gold,
Such as the world would wonder to behold :
Those with sweet water oft her handmaid fills,
Which, as she went, would cherup through the bills.
for her the fairest Cupid pin'd,
And, looking in her face, was strooken blind.
But this is true; so like was one the other,
As he imagin'd Hero was his mother ;
And oftentimes into her bosom flew,
About her naked neck his bare arms threw,
And laid his childish head upon her breast,
And, with still panting rock, there took his rest.
So lovely-fair was Hero, Venus' nun,
As Nature wept, thinking she was undone,
Because she took more from her than she left,
And of such wondrous beauty her bereft :
Therefore, in sign her treasure suffer'd wrack,
Since Hero's time hath half the world heen black.
Amorous Leander, beautiful and young
(Whose tragedy divine Musæus sung),
Dwelt at Abydos ; since him dwelt there none
For whom succeeding times make greater moan.
His dangling tresses, that were never shorn,
Had they been cut, and unto Colchos borne,
Would have allured the venturous youth of Greece
To bazard more than for the goldeu fleece.
Fair Cynthia wish'd his arms might be her sphere ;
Grief makes her pale, because she moves not there.
His body was as straight as Circe's wand ;
Jove might have sipt out nectar from his hand.
Even as delicious meat is to the tast,
So was his neck in touching, and surpast
The white of Pelop's shoulder : I could tell ye,
How smooth his breast was, and how white his belly ;
And whose immortal fingers did imprint
That heavenly path with many a curious dint
That runs along his back ; but my
Can hardly blazon forth the loves of men,
Much less of powerful gous : let it suffice
That my slack Muse sings of Leander's eyes ;
Those orient cheeks and lips, exceeding his
That leapt into the water for a kiss
Of his own shadow, and, despising many,
Died ere he could enjoy the love of any.
Had wild Hippolytus Leander seen,
Enamour'd of his beauty had he been :
His presence made the rudest peasant melt,
That in the vast uplandish country dwelt:
The barbarous Thracian soldier, mov'd with nought,
Was mov'd with him, and for his favour sought.
Some swore he was a maid in man's attire,
For in his looks were all that men desire-
A pleasant-smiling cheek, a speaking eye,
A brow for love to banquet royally ;
And such as knew he was a man, would say,
“Leander, thou art made for amorous play:
Why art thou not in love, and lov'd of all ?
Though thou be fair, yet be not thine own thrall."
The men of wealthy Sestos every year,
For his sake whom their goddess held so dear,
Rose-cheek'd Adonis, kept a solemn feast :
Thither resorted many a wandering guest
To meet their loves : such as had none at all,
Came lovers home from this great festival ;
For every street, like to a firmament,
Glister'd with breathing stars, who, where they went,
Frighted the melancholy earth, which deem'd
Eternal heaven to burn, for so it seem'd,
As if another Phaëton had got
The guidance of the sun's rich chariot.
But, far above the loveliest, Hero shin'd,
And stole away th' enchanted gazer's mind;
For like sea-nymphs' inveigling harmony,
So was her beauty to the standers by ;
Nor that night-wandering, pale, and watery star
(When yawning dragons draw her thirling car
From Latmus' mount up to the gloomy sky,
Where, crown'd with blazing light and majesty.
She proudly sits) more overrules the flood
Than she the hearts of those that near her stood.
Even as when gaudy nymphs pursue the chase,
Wretched Ixion's shaggy-footed race,
Incens'd with savage heat, gallop amain
From steep pine-bearing mountains to the plain,
So ran the people forth to gaze upon her,
And all that view'd her were enamour'd on her :
And as in fury of a dreadful fight,
Their fellows being slain or put to flight,
Poor soldiers stand with fear of death dead-strooken,
So at her presence all surpris'd and tooken,
Await the sentence of her scornful eyes ;
He whom she favours lives; the other dies :