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Instead thereof he kiss'd her weary feet,
And licked her lily hands with fawning tongue,
As he her wronged innocence did weet.
Oh how can beauty master the most strong,
And simple truth subdue avenging wrong!
Whose yielding pride and proud submission,
Still dreading death, when she had marked long,
Her heart ’gan melt in great compassion,
And drizzling tears did shed for pure affection.
“ The lion, lord of every beast in field,”
Quoth she, “his princely puissance doth abate,
And mighty proud to humble weak does yield,
Forgetful of the hungry rage which late
Him prick’d, in pity of my sad estate:
But he, my lion, and my noble lord,
How does he find in cruel heart to hate
Her that him loved, and ever most adored,
As the God of my life? why hath he me abhorred ?"
Redounding tears did choke th’ end of her plaint,
Which softly echoed from the neighbour wood;
And, sad to see her sorrowful constraint,
The kingly beast upon her gazing stood;
With pity calm'd, down fell his angry mood.
At last, in close heart shutting up her pain,
Arose the virgin, born of heavenly blood,
And to her snowy palfrey got again,
To seek her strayed champion, if she might attain.
The lion would not leave her desolate,
But with her went along, as strong a guard
Of her chaste person, and a faithful mate
Of her sad troubles, and misfortunes hard.
Still, when she slept, he kept both watch and ward;
And, when she waked, he waited diligent,
With humble service to her will prepared :
From her fair eyes he took commandement,
And ever by her looks conceived her intent.
It was a chosen plot of fertile land,
Amongst wide waves set like a little nest,
As if it had by Nature's cunning hand
Been choicely picked out from all the rest,
And laid forth for ensample of the best :
No dainty flower or herb that grows on ground,
Nor arboret with painted blossoms drest,
And smelling sweet, but there it might be found
To bud out fair, and throw her sweet smells all
No tree, whose branches did not bravely spring;
No branch, whereon a fine bird did not sit;
No bird, but did her shrill notes sweetly sing;
No song, but did contain a lively dit.
Trees, branches, birds, and songs, were framed fit
For to allure frail mind to careless ease.
Careless the man soon woxe, and his weak wit
Was overcome of thing that did him please :
So pleased, did his wrathful purpose fair appease,
Thus when she had his eyes and senses fed
With false delights, and fill'd with pleasures vain,
Into a shady dale she soft him led,
And laid him down upon a grassy plain,
And her sweet self, without dread or disdain,
She set beside, laying his head disarm’d
In her loose lap, it softly to sustain,
Where soon he slumber'd, fearing not be harm'd;
The whiles with a love-lay she thus him sweetly
“Behold, oh man! that toilsome pains dost take,
The flowers, the fields, and all that pleasant grows,
How they themselves do thine ensample make,
Whiles nothing envious Nature them forth throws
Out of her fruitful lap: how no man knows
They spring, they bud, they blossom fresh and fair,
And deck the world with their rich pompous shows;
Yet no man for them taketh pains or care,
Yet no man to them can his careful pains compare.
“The lily, lady of the flow'ring field,
The flower-de-luce, her lovely paramour,
Bid thee to them thy fruitless labours yield,
And soon leave off this toilsome, weary stour;
Lo, lo! how brave she decks her bounteous bower,
With silken curtains and gold coverlets,
Therein to shroud her sumptuous belamoure;
Yet neither spins nor cards, ne cares nor frets,
But to her mother Nature all her care she lets.
“Why then dost thou, oh Man, that of them all
Art lord, and eke of Nature sovereign,
Wilfully make thyself a wretched thrall,
And waste thy joyous hours in needless pain,
Seeking for danger and adventure vain?
What boots it all to have and nothing use?
Who shall him rue that, swimming in the main,
Will die for thirst, and water doth refuse?
Resuse such fruitless toil, and present pleasures
Thence passing forth, they shortly do arrive
Whereat the Bower of Bliss was situate;
A place pick'd out by choice of best alive,
That Nature's work by art can imitate :
In which whatever in this worldly state
Is sweet and pleasing unto living sense,
Or that may daintiest fantasy aggrate,
Was poured forth with plentiful dispense,
And made there to abound with lavish affluence
Goodly it was, enclosed round about,
As well their enter'd guests to keep within,
As those unruly beasts to hold without;
Yet was the fence thereof but weak and thin;
Nought fear'd they force that fortilage to win,
But Wisdom's power, and Temperance's might,
By which the mightiest things efforced been :
And eke the gate was wrought of substance light,
Rather for pleasure than for battery or fight.
It framed was of precious ivory,
That seem'd a work of admirable wit,
And therein all the famous history
Of Jason and Medæa was ywrit;
Her mighty charms, her furious loving fit,
His goodly conquest of the Golden Fleece,
His falsed faith, and love too lightly flit,
The wondered Argo, which, in venturous peace,
First through the Euxine seas bore all the flower of
Ye might have seen the frothy billows fry
Under the ship, as thorough them she went,
That seem'd ihe waves were into ivory,
Or ivory into the waves, were sent ;
And otherwhere the snowy substance sprent
With vermell, like the boy's blood therein shed,
A piteous spectacle did represent;
And otherwhiles, with gold besprinkled,
It seem'd th'enchanted flame which did Creusa wed.
Thus being enter'd, they behold around
A large and spacious plain, on every side
Strewed with pleasances; whose fair grassy ground,
Mantled with green, and goodly beautified
With all the ornaments of Flora's pride,
Wherewith her mother Art, as half in scorn
Of niggard Nature, like a pompous bride,
Did deck her, and too lavishly adorn, [morn.
When forth from virgin bow'r she comes in th' early
There with the heavens, always jovial,
Look'd on them lovely, still in stedfast state.
Ne suffer'd storm nor frost on them to fall,
Their tender buds or leaves to violate;
Nor scorching heat, nor cold intemperate,
T'afflict the creatures which therein did dwell;
But the mild air, with season moderate,
Gently attemper'd, and disposed so well,
That still it breathed forth sweet spirit and whole-
More sweet and wholesome than the pleasant hill
Of Rhodope, on which the nymph, that bore
A giant babe, herself for grief did kill;
Or the Thessalian Tempe, where of yore
Fair Daphne Phæbus' heart with love did gore;
Or Ida, where the gods loved to repair
Whenever they their heavenly bowers forlore;
Or sweet Parnasse, the haunt of muses fair;
Or Eden self, if aught with Eden mote compare.
Much wonder'd Guyon at the fair aspect
Of that sweet place, yet suffer'd no delight
To sink into his sense, nor mind affect;
But passed forth, and look'd still forward right,
Bridling his will, and mastering his might,
Till that he came unto another gate;
No gate, but like one, being goodly dight
With boughs and branches, which did broad dilate
Their clasping arms, in wanton wreathings intricate.
So fashioned a porch with rare device,
Arch'd over head with an embracing vine,
Whose bunches hanging down seem'd to entice
All passers by to taste their luscious wine,
And did themselves into their hands incline,
As freely offering to be gathered ;
Some deep empurpled as the hyacine,
Some as the rubine, laughing sweetly red,
Some like fair emeraudes not yet well ripend :
And them amongst some were of burnish'd gold,
So made by art to beautify the rest,
Which did themselves amongst the leaves enfold,
As lurking from the view of covetous guest,
That the weak boughs, with so rich load oppress’d,
Did bow adown as overburthened.
Under that porch a comely dame did rest,
Clad in fair weeds, but foul disordered, [head:
And garments loose, that seem'd unmeet for woman-