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Neptune was angry that he gave no ear,
And in his heart revenging malice bare :
He flung at him his mace ; but, as it went,
He call'd it in, for love made him repent :
The mace, returning back, his own hand hit,
As meaning to be veng'd for darting it.
When this fresh-bleeding wound Leander view'd,
His colour went and came, as if he ru'd
The grief which Neptune felt : in gentle breasts
Relentless thoughts, remorse, and pity rests ;
And who have hard hearts and obdurate minds,
But vicious, hare-brain'd, and illiterate hinds ?
The god, seeing him with pity to be mov'd,
Thereon concluded that he was belov'd
(Love is too full of faith, too credulous,
With folly and false hopes deluding us) ;
Wherefore, Leander's fancy to surprise,
To the rich ocean for gifts he flies :
'Tis wisdom to give much ; a gift prevails
When deep-persuading oratory fails.
By this, Leander, being near the land,
Cast down his weary feet, and felt the sand.
Breathless albeit he were, he rested not
Till to the solitary tower he got ;
And knock'd, and call'd : at which celestial noise
The longing heart of Hero much more joys,
Than nymphs and shepherds when the timbrel rings,
Or crooked dolphin when the sailor sings.
She stay'd not for her robes, but straight arose,
And, drunk with gladness, to the door she goes ;
Where seeing a naked man, she screech'd for fear
(Such sights as this to tender maids are rare),
And ran into the dark herself to hide
(Rich jewels in the dark are soonest spied).
Unto her was he led, or rather drawn,
By those white limbs which sparkled through the
And nearer that he came, the more she fled,
And, seeking refuge, slipt into her bed ;
Whereon Leander sitting, thus began,
Through numbing cold, all feeble, saint, and wan :
“ If not for love, yet, love, for pity-sake,
Me in thy bed and maiden bosom take ;
At least vouchsafe these arms some little room,
Who, hoping to embrace thee, cheerly swoom :
This head was beat with many a churlish billow,
And therefore let it rest upon thy pillow.”
Herewith affrighted, Hero shrunk away,
And in her lukewarm place Leander lay ;
Whose lively heat, like fire from heaven fet,
Would animate gross clay, and higher set
The drooping thoughts of baso-declining souls,
Than dreary-Mars-carousing nectar bowls.
His hands he cast upon her like a snare :
She, overcome with shame and sallow fear,
Like chaste Diana when Actæon spied her,
Being suddenly betray'd, div'd down to hide her ;
And, as her silver body downward went,
With both her hands she made the bed a tent,
And in her own mind thought herself secure,
O'ercast with dim and darksome overture.
And now she lets him whisper in her ear,
Flatter, entreat, promise, protest, and swear ;
Yet ever, as he greedily assay'd
To touch those dainties, she the harpy play'd,
And every limb did, as a soldier stout,
Defend the fort, and keep the foeman out ;
For though the rising ivory mount he scaled,
Which is with azure circling lines empal’d,
Much like a globe (a globe may I term this,
By which Love sails to regions full of bliss),
Yet there with Sisyphus he toil'd in vain,
The gentle parley did the truce obtain.
Even as a bird, which in our hands we wring,
Forth plungeth, and oft flutters with her wing,
She trembling strove : this strife of hers, like that
Which made the world, another world begat
Of unknown joy. Treason was in her thought,
And cunningly to yield herself she sought.
Seeming not won, yet won she was at length :
In such wars women use but half their strength.
Leander now, like Theban Hercules,
Enter'd the orchard of the Hesperides ;
Whose fruit none rightly can describe, but he
That pulls or shakes it from the golden tree.
Wherein Leander, on her quivering breast,
Breathless spoke something, and sigh'd out the rest ;
Which so prevailed, as he, with small ado,
Enclos'd her in his arms, and kiss'd her too:
And every kiss to her was as a charm,
And to Leander as a fresh alarm :
So that the truce was broke, and she, alas,
Poor silly maiden, at his mercy was.
Love is not full of pity, as men say,
But deaf and cruel where he means to prey.
And now she wish'd this night were never done,
And sighed to think upon th' approaching sun ;
For much it griev'd her that the bright dayligit
Should know the pleasure of this blessed night,
And them, like Mars and Erycine, display
Both in each other's arms chain'd as they lay.
Again, she knew not how to frame her look,
Or speak to him, who in a moment took
That which so long, so charily she kept ;
And fain by stealth away she would have crept,
And to some corner secretly have gone,
Leaving Leander in the bed alone.
But as her naked feet were whipping out,
He on the sudden cling'd her so about,
That mermaid-like, unto the floor she slid;
One half appear'd, the other half was hid.
Thus near the bed she blushing stood upright,
And from her countenance behold ye might
A kind of twilight break, which through the air,
As from an orient cloud, glimps'd here and there ;
And round about the chamber this false morn
Brought forth the day before the day was born.
So Hero's ruddy cheek Hero betray'd,
And her all naked to his sight display'd :
Whence his admiring eyes more pleasure took
Than Dis, on heaps of gold fixing his look.
By this, Apollo's golden harp began
To sound forth music to the ocean ;
Which watchful Hesperus no sooner heard,
But he the bright Day-bearing car prepar'd,
And ran before, as harbinger of light,
And with his flaring beams mock'd ugly Night,
Till she o'ercome with anguish, shame, and rage,
Dang'd down to hell her loathsome carriage.