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VENUS AND A DONIS.

Villa miretur vulgus, mihi flavus Apollo

Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua.

OVID.

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VENUS AND ADONIS.

This poem, which our author himself has informed us was his first composition, was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company, April 18th, 1593, and is frequently alluded to by his contemporaries. “As the soul of Euphorbus,' says Meres, in his Wit's Treasury, 1598, was thought to live in Pythagoras, so the sweet, witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare. Witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece,' &c. Shakespeare had without doubt read the account of Venus and Adonis in the tenth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses translated by Golding, 1567, though he has chosen to deviate from the classical story, which Ovid and Spenser had set before him, following probably the model presented to him by a short piece intitled 'The Sheepheard's Song of Venus and Adonis,' supposed by Malone to have been the production of Henry Constable, and published some time previous to the appearance of this poem ; although no earlier copy of it can now be found than that contained in England's Helicon, 1600.

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THE EPISTLE.

TO THE

RIGHT HONORABLE HENRY WRIOTHESLY,

EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON, AND BARON OF TICHFIELD,

RIGHT HONORABLE, 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 honor seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honored you with some graver labor. 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 honorable survey, and your honor to your heart's content; which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world's hopeful expectation.

Your honor's in all duty,

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

* Plough.

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VENUS AND ADONIS.

ARGUMENT.

Venus in vain endeavors to inspire her favorito Adonis with

a mutual passion, and to dissuade him from a too eager pursuit of the pleasures of the chase. The youth rejects the overtures, and disregards the advice of the goddess, and is mortally wounded by a wild boar: his body is changed into a flower called anemone by his disconsolate mistress, who, after tenderly lamenting his untimely death, is conveyed in the clouds to Paphos.

Even as the sun with purple-color'd face
Had ta’en his last leave of the weeping morn,
Rose-cheek'd Adonis hied him to the chase;
Hunting he loved, but love he laugh'd to scorn :

Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him,
And like a bold-faced 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 :

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