Hero And Leander. The Fifth Sestiad
Now was bright Hero weary of the day,
Thought an Olympiad in Leander's stay.
Sol and the soft-foot Hours hung on his arms,
And would not let him swim, foreseeing his harms:
That day Aurora double grace obtain'd
Of her love Phoebus; she his horses reign'd,
Set on his golden knee, and, as she list,
She pull'd him back; and as she pull'd she kiss'd,
To have him turn to bed: he lov'd her more,
To see the love Leander Hero bore:
Examples profit much; ten times in one,
In persons full of note, good deeds are done.
Day was so long, men walking fell asleep;
The heavy humours that their eyes did steep
Made them fear mischiefs. The hard streets were beds
For covetous churls and for ambitious heads,
That, spite of Nature, would their business ply:
All thought they had the falling epilepsy,
Men grovell'd so upon the smother'd ground;
And pity did the heart of Heaven confound.
The Gods, the Graces, and the Muses came
Down to the Destinies, to stay the frame
Of the true lovers' deaths, and all world's tears:
But Death before had stopp'd their cruel ears.
All the celestials parted mourning then,
Pierc'd with our human miseries more than men:
Ah, nothing doth the world with mischief fill,
But want of feeling one another's ill!
With their descent the day grew something fair,
And cast a brighter robe upon the air.
Hero, to shorten time with merriment,
For young Alcmane and bright Mya sent,
Two lovers that had long crav'd marriage-dues
At Hero's hands: but she did still refuse;
For lovely Mya was her consort vow'd
In her maid state, and therefore not allow'd
To amorous nuptials: yet fair Hero now
Intended to dispense with her cold vow,
Since hers was broken, and to marry her:
The rites would pleasing matter minister
To her conceits, and shorten tedious day.
They came; sweet Music usher'd th' odorous way,
And wanton Air in twenty sweet forms danced
After her fingers; Beauty and Love advanced
Their ensigns in the downless rosy faces
Of youths and maids led after by the Graces.
For all these Hero made a friendly feast,
Welcom'd them kindly, did much love protest,
Winning their hearts with all the means she might.
That, when her fault should chance t' abide the light
Their loves might cover or extenuate it,
And high in her worst fate make pity sit.
She married them; and in the banquet came,
Borne by the virgins. Hero striv'd to frame
Her thoughts to mirth: ay me! but hard it is
To imitate a false and forced bliss;
Ill may a sad mind forge a merry face,
Nor hath constrained laughter any grace.
Then laid she wine on cares to make them sink:
Who fears the threats of Fortune, let him drink.
To these quick nuptials enter'd suddenly
Admired Teras with the ebon thigh;
A nymph that haunted the green Sestian groves,
And would consort soft virgins in their loves,
At gaysome triumphs and on solemn days,
Singing prophetic elegies and lays,
And fingering of a silver lute she tied
With black and purple scarfs by her left side.
Apollo gave it, and her skill withal,
And she was term'd his dwarf, she was so small:
Yet great in virtue, for his beams enclosed
His virtues in her; never was proposed
Riddle to her, or augury, strange or new,
But she resolv'd it; never slight tale flew
From her charm'd lips without important sense,
Shown in some grave succeeding consequence.
This little sylvan, with her songs and tales,
Gave such estate to feasts and nuptials,
That though ofttimes she forewent tragedies,
Yet for her strangeness still she pleas'd their eyes;
And for her smallness they admir'd her so,
They thought her perfect born, and could not grow.
All eyes were on her. Hero did command
An altar decked with sacred state should stand
At the feast's upper end, close by the bride,
On which the pretty nymph might sit espied.
Then all were silent; every one so hears,
As all their senses climb'd into their ears:
And first this amorous tale, that fitted well
Fair Hero and the nuptials, she did tell.
Hymen, that now is god of nuptial rites,
And crowns with honour Love and his delights,
Of Athens was a youth, so sweet of face,
That many thought him of the female race;
Such quickening brightness did his clear eyes dart,
Warm went their beams to his beholder's heart,
In such pure leagues his beauties were combin'd,
That there your nuptial contracts first were signed;
For as proportion, white and crimson, meet
In beauty's mixture, all right clear and sweet,
The eye responsible, the golden hair,
And none is held, without the other, fair;
All spring together, all together fade;
Such intermix'd affections should invade
Two perfect lovers; which being yet unseen,
Their virtues and their comforts copied been
In beauty's concord, subject to the eye;
And that, in Hymen, pleased so matchlessly,
That lovers were esteemed in their full grace,
Like form and colour mixed in Hymen's face;
And such sweet concord was thought worthy then
Of torches, music, feasts, and greatest men:
So Hymen look'd that even the chastest mind
He mov'd to join in joys of sacred kind;
For only now his chin's first down consorted
His head's rich fleece in golden curls contorted;
And as he was so loved, he loved so too:
So should best beauties bound by nuptials, do.
Bright Eucharis, who was by all men said
The noblest, fairest, and the richest maid
Of all th' Athenian damsels, Hymen lov'd
With such transmission, that his heart remov'd
From his white breast to hers: but her estate,
In passing his, was so interminate
For wealth and honour, that his love durst feed
On naught but sight and hearing, nor could breed
Hope of requital, the grand prize of love;
Nor could he hear or see, but he must prove
How his rare beauty's music would agree
With maids in consort; therefore robbed he
His chin of those same few first fruits it bore,
And, clad in such attire as virgins wore,
He kept them company, and might right well,
For he did all but Eucharis excel
In all the fair of beauty! yet he wanted
Virtue to make his own desires implanted
In his dear Eucharis; for women never
Love beauty in their sex, but envy ever.
His judgment yet, that durst not suit address,
Nor, past due means, presume of due success,
Reason gat Fortune in the end to speed
To his best prayers: but strange it seemed, indeed,
That Fortune should a chaste affection bless:
Preferment seldom graceth bashfulness.
Nor grac'd it Hymen yet; but many a dart,
And many an amorous thought, enthralled his heart,
Ere he obtained her; and he sick became,
Forced to abstain her sight; and then the flame
Raged in his bosom. O, what grief did fill him!
Sight made him sick, and want of sight did kill him.
The virgins wonder'd where Diaetia stay'd,
For so did Hymen term himself, a maid.
At length with sickly looks he greeted them:
Tis strange to see 'gainst what an extreme stream
A lover strives; poor Hymen look'd so ill,
That as in merit he increased still
By suffering much, so he in grace decreas'd:
Women are most won, when men merit least:
If Merit look not well, Love bids stand by;
Love's special lesson is to please the eye.
And Hymen soon recovering all he lost,
Deceiving still these maids, but himself most,
His love and he with many virgin dames,
Noble by birth, noble by beauty's flames,
Leaving the town with songs and hallow'd lights
To do great Ceres Eleusina rites
Of zealous sacrifice, were made a prey
To barbarous rovers, that in ambush lay,
And with rude hands enforc'd their shining spoil,
Far from the darkened city, tired with toil:
And when the yellow issue of the sky
Came trooping forth, jealous of cruelty
To their bright fellows of this under-heaven,
Into a double night they saw them driven,--
A horrid cave, the thieves' black mansion;
Where, weary of the journey they had gone,
Their last night's watch, and drunk with their sweet gains,
Dull Morpheus enter'd, laden with silken chains,
Stronger than iron, and bound the swelling veins
And tired senses of these lawless swains.
But when the virgin lights thus dimly burn'd,
O, what a hell was heaven in! how they mourn'd
And wrung their hands, and wound their gentle forms
Into the shapes of sorrow! golden storms
Fell from their eyes; as when the sun appears,
And yet it rains, so show'd their eyes their tears:
And, as when funeral dames watch a dead corse,
Weeping about it, telling with remorse
What pains he felt, how long in pain he lay,
How little food he ate, what he would say;
And then mix mournful tales of other's deaths,
Smothering themselves in clouds of their own breaths;
At length, one cheering other, call for wine;
The golden bowl drinks tears out of their eyne,
As they drink wine from it; and round it goes,
Each helping other to relieve their woes;
So cast these virgins' beauties mutual rays,
One lights another, face the face displays;
Lips by reflection kissed, and hands hands shook,
Even by the whiteness each of other took.
But Hymen now used friendly Morpheus' aid,
Slew every thief, and rescued every maid:
And now did his enamour'd passion take
Heart from his hearty deed, whose worth did make
His hope of bounteous Eucharis more strong;
And now came Love with Proteus, who had long
Juggled the little god with prayers and gifts,
Ran through all shapes and varied all his shifts,
To win Love's stay with him, and make him love him.
And when he saw no strength of sleight could move him,
To make him love or stay, he nimbly turned
Into Love's self, he so extremely burned.
And thus came Love, with Proteus and his power,
T' encounter Eucharis: first, like the flower
That Juno's milk did spring, the silver lily,
He fell on Hymen's hand, who straight did spy
The bounteous godhead, and with wondrous joy
Offer'd it Eucharis. She, wonderous coy,
Drew back her hand: the subtle flower did woo it,
And, drawing it near, mixed so you could not know it:
As two clear tapers mix in one their light,
So did the lily and the hand their white.
She viewed it; and her view the form bestows
Amongst her spirits; for, as colour flows
From superficies of each thing we see,
Even so with colours forms emitted be;
And where Love's form is, Love is; Love is form:
He entered at the eye; his sacred storm
Rose from the hand, Love's sweetest instrument:
It stirred her blood's sea so, that high it went,
And beat in bashful waves 'gainst the white shore
Of her divided cheeks; it raged the more,
Because the tide went 'gainst the haughty wind
Of her estate and birth: and, as we find,
In fainting ebbs, the flowery Zephyr hurls
The green-haired Hellespont, broke in silver curls,
'Gainst Hero's tower; but in his blast's retreat,
The waves obeying him, they after beat,
Leaving the chalky shore a great way pale,
Then moist it freshly with another gale;
So ebbed and flowed the blood in Eucharis' face,
Coyness and Love strived which had greatest grace;
Virginity did fight on Coyness' side,
Fear of her parent's frowns and female pride
Loathing the lower place, more than it loves
The high contents desert and virtue moves.
With Love fought Hymen's beauty and his valure,
Which scarce could so much favour yet allure
To come to strike, but fameless idle stood:
Action is fiery valour's sovereign good.
But Love, once entered, wished no greater aid
Than he could find within; thought thought betray'd;
The bribed, but incorrupted, garrison
Sung 'Io Hymen;' there those songs begun,
And Love was grown so rich with such a gain,
And wanton with the ease of his free reign,
That he would turn into her roughest frowns
To turn them out; and thus he Hymen crowns
King of his thoughts, man's greatest empery:
This was his first brave step to deity.
Home to the mourning city they repair,
With news as wholesome as the morning air,
To the sad parents of each saved maid:
But Hymen and his Eucharis had laid
This plat to make the flame of their delight
Round as the moon at full, and full as bright.
Because the parents of chaste Eucharis
Exceeding Hymen's so, might cross their bliss;
And as the world rewards deserts, that law
Cannot assist with force; so when they saw
Their daughter safe, take vantage of their own,
Praise Hymen's valour much, nothing bestown;
Hymen must leave the virgins in a grove
Far off from Athens, and go first to prove,
If to restore them all with fame and life,
He should enjoy his dearest as his wife.
This told to all the maids, the most agree:
The riper sort, knowing what 'tis to be
The first mouth of a news so far derived,
And that to hear and bear news brave folks lived.
As being a carriage special hard to bear
Occurrents, these occurrents being so dear,
They did with grace protest, they were content
T' accost their friends with all their compliment,
For Hymen's good; but to incur their harm,
There he must pardon them. This wit went warm
To Adolesche's brain, a nymph born high,
Made all of voice and fire, that upwards fly:
Her heart and all her forces' nether train
Climb'd to her tongue, and thither fell her brain,
Since it could go no higher; and it must go;
All powers she had, even her tongue, did so:
In spirit and quickness she much joy did take,
And loved her tongue, only for quickness' sake;
And she would haste and tell. The rest all stay:
Hymen goes one, the nymph another way;
And what became of her I'll tell at last:
Yet take her visage now;--moist-lipped, long-faced,
Thin like an iron wedge, so sharp and tart,
As 'twere of purpose made to cleave Love's heart:
Well were this lovely beauty rid of her.
And Hymen did at Athens now prefer
His welcome suit, which he with joy aspired:
A hundred princely youths with him retired
To fetch the nymphs; chariots and music went;
And home they came: heaven with applauses rent.
The nuptials straight proceed, whiles all the town,
Fresh in their joys, might do them most renown.
First, gold-locked Hymen did to church repair,
Like a quick offering burned in flames of hair;
And after, with a virgin firmament
The godhead-proving bride attended went
Before them all: she looked in her command,
As if form-giving Cypria's silver hand
Gripped all their beauties, and crushed out one flame;
She blushed to see how beauty overcame
The thoughts of all men. Next, before her went
Five lovely children, decked with ornament
Of her sweet colours, bearing torches by;
For light was held a happy augury
Of generation, whose efficient right
Is nothing else but to produce to light.
The odd disparent number they did choose,
To show the union married loves should use,
Since in two equal parts it will not sever,
But the midst holds one to rejoin it ever,
As common to both parts: men therefore deem
That equal number gods do not esteem,
Being authors of sweet peace and unity,
But pleasing to th' infernal empery,
Under whose ensigns Wars and Discords fight,
Since an even number you may disunite
In two parts equal, naught in middle left
To reunite each part from other reft;
And five they hold in most especial prize,
Since 'tis the first odd number that doth rise
From the two foremost numbers' unity,
That odd and even are; which are two and three;
For one no number is; but thence doth flow
The powerful race of number. Next, did go
A noble matron, that did spinning bear
A huswife's rock and spindle, and did wear
A wether's skin, with all the snowy fleece,
To intimate that even the daintiest piece
And noblest-born dame should industrious be:
That which does good disgraceth no degree.
And now to Juno's temple they are come,
Where her grave priest stood in the marriage-room:
On his right arm did hang a scarlet veil,
And from his shoulders to the ground did trail,
On either side, ribands of white and blue:
With the red veil he hid the bashful hue
Of the chaste bride, to show the modest shame,
In coupling with a man, should grace a dame.
Then took he the disparent silks, and tied
The lovers by the waists, and side to side,
In token that thereafter they must bind
In one self-sacred knot each other's mind.
Before them on an altar he presented
Both fire and water, which was first invented,
Since to ingenerate every human creature
And every other birth produc'd by Nature,
Moisture and heat must mix; so man and wife
For human race must join in nuptial life.
Then one of Juno's birds, the painted jay,
He sacrific'd and took the gall away;
All which he did behind the altar throw,
In sign no bitterness of hate should grow,
'Twixt married loves, nor any least disdain.
Nothing they spake, for 'twas esteem'd too plain
For the most silken mildness of a maid,
To let a public audience hear it said,
She boldly took the man; and so respected
Was bashfulness in Athens, it erected
To chaste Agneia, which is Shamefacedness,
A sacred temple, holding her a goddess.
And now to feasts, masks, and triumphant shows,
The shining troops returned, even till earth-throes
Brought forth with joy the thickest part of night,
When the sweet nuptial song, that used to cite
All to their rest, was by Phemonoee sung,
First Delphian prophetess, whose graces sprung
Out of the Muses' well: she sung before
The bride into her chamber; at which door
A matron and a torch-bearer did stand:
A painted box of confits in her hand
The matron held, and so did other some
That compassed round the honour'd nuptial room.
The custom was, that every maid did wear,
During her maidenhead, a silken sphere
About her waist, above her inmost weed,
Knit with Minerva's knot, and that was freed
By the fair bridegroom on the marriage-night,
With many ceremonies of delight:
And yet eternized Hymen's tender bride,
To suffer it dissolved so, sweetly cried.
The maids that heard, so loved and did adore her,
They wished with all their hearts to suffer for her.
So had the matrons, that with confits stood
About the chamber, such affectionate blood,
And so true feeling of her harmless pains,
That every one a shower of confits rains;
For which the bride-youths scrambling on the ground,
In noise of that sweet hail her cries were drown'd.
And thus blest Hymen joyed his gracious bride,
And for his joy was after deified.
The saffron mirror by which Phoebus' love,
Green Tellus, decks her, now he held above
The cloudy mountains: and the noble maid,
Sharp-visaged Adolesche, that was stray'd
Out of her way, in hasting with her news,
Not till this hour th' Athenian turrets views;
And now brought home by guides, she heard by all,
That her long kept occurrents would be stale,
And how fair Hymen's honours did excel
For those rare news which she came short to tell.
To hear her dear tongue robbed of such a joy,
Made the well-spoken nymph take such a toy,
That down she sunk: when lightning from above
Shrunk her lean body, and, for mere free love,
Turn'd her into the pied-plum'd Psittacus,
That now the Parrot is surnam'd by us,
Who still with counterfeit confusion prates
Naught but news common to the common'st mates.--
This told, strange Teras touch'd her lute, and sung
This ditty, that the torchy evening sprung.
Come, come, dear Night! Love's mart of kisses,
Sweet close to his ambitious line,
The fruitful summer of his blisses!
Love's glory doth in darkness shine.
O come, soft rest of cares! come, Night!
Come, naked Virtue's only tire,
The reaped harvest of the light,
Bound up in sheaves of sacred fire!
Love calls to war;
Sighs his alarms,
Lips his swords are,
The field his arms.
No need have we of factious Day,
To cast, in envy of thy peace,
Her balls of discord in thy way:
Here Beauty's day doth never cease;
Day is abstracted here,
And varied in a triple sphere.
Hero, Alcmane, Mya, so outshine thee,
Ere thou come here, let Thetis thrice refine thee.
Love calls to war;
Sighs his alarms,
Lips his swords are,
The field his arms.
The evening star I see:
Rise, youths! the evening star
Helps Love to summon war;
Both now embracing be.
Rise, youths! Love's rite claims more than banquets; rise!
Now the bright marigolds, that deck the skies,
Phoebus' celestial flowers, that, contrary
To his flowers here, ope when he shuts his eye,
And shuts when he doth open, crown your sports:
Now Love in Night, and Night in Love exhorts
Courtship and dances: all your parts employ,
And suit Night's rich expansure with your joy.
Love paints his longings in sweet virgins' eyes:
Rise, youths! Love's rite claims more than banquets; rise!
Herewith the amorous spirit, that was so kind
To Teras' hair, and comb'd it down with wind,
Still as it, comet-like, brake from her brain,
Would needs have Teras gone, and did refrain
To blow it down: which, staring up, dismay'd
The timorous feast; and she no longer stay'd;
But, bowing to the bridegroom and the bride,
Did, like a shooting exhalation, glide
Out of their sights: the turning of her back
Made them all shriek, it look'd so ghastly black.
O hapless Hero! that most hapless cloud
Thy soon-succeeding tragedy foreshow'd.
Thus all the nuptial crew to joys depart;
But much-wronged Hero stood Hell's blackest dart:
Whose wound because I grieve so to display,
I use digressions thus t' increase the day.