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In her faire eyes two living lamps did flame,
Kindled above at th' hevenly Maker's light,
For with dredd majestie and awfull yre
Like a broad table did itselfe dispred
And twixt the perles and rubinsoftly brake
Upon her eyelids many Graces sate,
Under the shadow of her even browes Working belgardes and amorous retrate ; And everie one her with a grace endowes ; And everie one with meekenesse to her bowes. So glorious mirrhour of celestiall grace, And soveraine moniment of mortall vowes, How shall frayle pen descrive her heavenly face, For feare, through want of skill, her beauty to disgrace!
So faire, and thousand thousand times more faire,
She seem'd, when she presented was to sight;
Like twinckling starres; and all the skirt about
And her streight legs most bravely were embayl’d
In a rich jewell, and therein entraylld
The ends of all the knots, that none might see
Like two faire marble pillours they were seene,
Which doe the temple of the Gods support,
And at her backe a bow and quiver gay,
Her yellow lockes, crisped like golden wyre,
About her shoulders weren loosely shed,
In her rude heares sweet flowres themselves did lap,
What a piece of " dulcet and harmonious music" is this! it is the murmuring of the golden stream of Pactolus of old ; but we cannot find words to express the extent of our delight, and we must leave it to the fancy of our readers to frame fit epithets of admiration. Let the reader compare this description with that of Parthenia, and particularly the lines in italics with Fletcher's imitations of them.
It is but fair, however, to select something, in which our author has improved Spenser-his description of Envy, for instance, which, although it betrays the place from which it came, is superior to Spenser's—it is more dignified ; Spenser's is more wild ; —the latter has also given a description of the physical qualities ; Fletcher has only delineated those of the mind.
Envy the next, Envy with squinted eyes;
Sick of a strange disease, his neighbour's health ;
On best men's harms and griefs he feeds his fill;
Else his own maw doth eat with spiteful will:
Each eye through divers optics slily leers,
Which both his sight and object's self bely;
When needs he must, yet faintly, then he praises ;
Somewhat the deed, much more the means he raises :
The poem is supposed to be sung by a Shepherd, which gives the poet an opportunity of introducing several interesting descriptions of rural scenery.
The following stanzas are pretty and fanciful.
The flow'rs that, frightend with sharp winter's dread,
Retire into their mother Tellus' womb,
'The early violet will fresh arise,
Spreading his flower'd purple to the skies;
The hedge, green satin pink'd and cut, arrays;
The heliotrope to cloth of gold aspires;
The lily, high her silver grogram rears ;
The pansy, her wrought velvet garment bears;
The introduction to the ninth canto is poetical, and worth quoting.
The bridegroom Sun, who late the earth espous'd,
Leaves his star-chamber; early in the east
His shines the Earth soon latch'd to gild her flow'rs :
Phosphor his gold-fleec'd drove folds in their bow'rs,
The cheerful lark, mounting from early bed,
With sweet salutes awakes the drowsy light;
Earth seems a mole-hill, men but ants to be;
Teaching the proud, that soar to high degree,
The lines which succeed on the decay of human greatness, and the ruin of principalities and powers, are some of the finest and most spirited in the poem, and for which the author has our unqualified praise.
“ Fond man, that looks on Earth for happiness,
And here long seeks what here is never found !
Nor can we pay the fine, and rentage due:
Though now but writ, and seal’d, and giv'n anew,
At ev'ry loss 'gainst heav'n's face repining?
There now the hart fearless of greyhound feeds,
And loving pelican in fancy breeds:
That all the east once grasp'd in lordly paw?
Through all the world with nimble pinions far’d,
Or note of these great monarchies we find :
But when this second life and glory fades,
And sinks at length in time's obscurer shades,
That monstrous beast, which, nurs'd in Tiber's fen,
Did all the world with hideous shape affray;
His batt'ring horns, pullid out by civil hands
And iron teeth, lie scatter'd on the sands; Back’d, bridled by a monk, with seven heads yoked stands. And that black* vulture, which with deathful wing
O'ershadows half the Earth, whose dismal sight Frighten'd the Muses from their native spring, Already stoops, and flags with weary flight:
Who then shall look for happiness beneath ?
Where each new day proclaims chance, change, and death, And life itself's as flit as is the air we breathe. Fletcher's description of fear is as follows:Still did he look for some ensuing cross,
Fearing such hap as never man befel : No mean he knows, but dreads each little loss (With tyranny of fear distraught) as Hell.
His sense, he dare not trust (nor eyes, nor ears);
And when no other cause of fright appears,
His sword unseemly long he ready drew:
His shrieks, at ev'ry danger that appears,
Shaming the knight-like arms he goodly bears : His word : “Safer, that all, than he that nothing fears.' Compare this with Spenser's description.
Next him was Feare, all arm’d from top to toe,