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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 2
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 wander'd 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
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 the enchanted gazer's mind;
For, like sea nymphs' inveigling harmony,
So was her beauty to the standers by.
Nor that night-wand'ring, pale, and wat'ry star,
(When yawning dragons draw her whirling car,
From Latmos' 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.
There might you see one sigh; another rage;
And some, their violent passions to assuage,
Compile sharp satires; but, alas, too late:
For faithful love will never turn to hate.
And many seeing great princes were denied,
Pin’d as they went, and thinking on her died.
On this feast-day, O cursed day and hour !
Went Hero thorough Sestos, from her tower
To Venus' temple, where unhappily,
As after chanc'd, they did each other spy.
So fair a church as this had Venus none;
The walls were of discolour'd jasper stone,
Wherein was Proteus carv'd; and over head
A lively vine of green sea-agate spread,
Where by one hand light-headed Bacchus hung,
And with the other wine from grapes outwrung.
Of crystal shining fair the pavement was;
The town of Sestos call'd it Venus' glass:
There might you see the gods in sundry shapes,
Committing heady riots, incest, rapes:
For know, that underneath this radiant flower
Was Danae's statue in a brazen tower:
Jove slily stealing from his sister's bed,
To dally with Idalian Ganymede:
And for his love Europa bellowing loud,
And tumbling with the rainbow in a cloud.
Blood-quaffing Mars, heaving the iron net,
Which limping Vulcan and his Cyclops set:
Love kindling fire, to burn such towns as Troy;
Sylvanus weeping for the lovely boy,
That now is turn'd into a cypress tree,
Under whose shade the wood-gods love to be.
And in the midst a silver altar stood;
There Hero, sacrificing turtles' blood,
Kneel'd to the ground, veiling her eyelids close;
And modestly they open'd as she rose:
Thence flew Love's arrow with the golden head;
And thus leander was enamoured.
Stone still he stood, and evermore he gaz'd,
Till with the fire, that from his countenance
Relenting Hero's gentle heart was strook:
Such force and virtue hath an amorous look.
It lies not in our power to love or hate, For will in us is overrul’d by fate.
When two are stripp'd long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should lose, the other win.
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows; let it suffice,
What we behold is censur'd by our eyes.
Where both deliberate the love is slight:
Who ever lov'd, that lov'd not at first sight?
He kneel'd; but unto her devoutly pray'd: Chaste Hero to herself thus softly said: “Were I the saint he worships, I would hear him:” And as she spake those words, came somewhat near
He started up; she blush'd as one asham'd;
Wherewith Leander much more was inflam’d.
He touch'd her hand; in touching it she trembled;
Love deeply grounded, hardly is dissembled.
These lovers parled by the touch of hands;
True love is mute: and oft amazed stands.
Thus while dumb signs their yielding hearts en-
The air with sparks of living fire was spangled;
And Night deep-drench'd in misty Acheron,
Heav'd up her head, and half the world upon,
Breath'd darkness forth; (dark night is Cupid's day)
And now begins Leander to display
Love's holy fire, with words, with sighs, and tears,
Which like sweet music enter'd Hero's ears:
And yet at every word she turn'd aside,
And always cut him off, as he replied.
At last, like to a bold, sharp sophister,
With cheerful hope thus he accosted her:
“Fair creature, let me speak without offence: I would my rude words had the influence To lead thy thoughts as thy fair looks do mine; Then shouldst thou be his prisoner, who is thine. Be not unkind and fair; mis-shapen stuff Are of behaviour boisterous and rough. O shun me not; but hear me ere you go : God knows, I cannot force love, as you do. My words shall be as spotless as my youth, Full of simplicity and naked truth. This sacrifice, whose sweet perfume descending From Venus' altar to your footsteps bending, Doth testify that you exceed her far, To whom you offer, and whose nun you are. Why should you worship her ? Her you surpass, As much as sparkling diamonds flaring glass. A diamond set in lead his worth retains; A heavenly nymph, belov'd of human swains, Receives no blemish ; but oftimes more grace; Which makes me hope, although I am but base, Base in respect of thee, divine and pure, Dutiful service may thy love procure; And I in duty will excel all other, As thou in beauty dost exceed Love's mother. Nor heaven, nor thou, were made to gaze upon; As heaven preserves all things, so save thou one A stately builded ship, well-rigg'd and tall, The ocean maketh more majestical.