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The plains of Shechem, where the gaudy Spring
Smiles in the beauties of each verdant thing."
The next is from the opening of the second canto.
“No foolish tinder ever strove to catch
In its soft amorous arms the treacherous spark,
And with such zealous rashness joy'd to hatch
Its own destruction, as fond man doth mark
And treasure up those fair-fac'd counsels, which,
With fatal charms, his heedless heart bewitch.
No wretched adder ever solder'd up
His wilful ear with trustier cement, than,
With retchless obstinacy, he doth stop
His memory's unhappy portals, when
Wholesome advice with sweetness woos it, and
Long knocking for admission doth stand.
Or if strong importunity (whereby
The tenderest drops are taught to pierce the flint,)
His sullen siffness constantly doth ply,
Perhaps he yieldeth to the dainty dint
Of such unwearied gentleness, which yet
Her conquest more by stealth than force doth get.
But though, at length, a wicket ope he sets,
His slighted guest in some out-room he lays :
But when vain Fancy, or Seduction, beats
Summons upon his gates, he straight displays
Their way, and lets them quite thrust out of the door
The former stranger, scarcely in before.
“ For as the honey of heav'n's lovely hives,
The summer clouds, snugging in laps of flowers,
That correspondent dwelling quickly leaves
To churlish drops of less-deserving showers,
Or rankling mildew, which such venom sheds-
As soon deflowereth'all those virgin beds:
So far’d it now with Psyche's careless breast."
We quote a part of the description of Paradise in Canto
VI. It is in the author's most fantastic style.
“ Within, rose hills of spice and frankincense,
Which smild upon the flow'ry vales below,
Where living crystal found a sweet pretence
With musical impatience to flow,
And delicately chide the gems beneath
Because no smoother they had pav'd its path.
The nymphs which sported on this current's side
Were milky Thoughts, tralucid, pure Desires,
Soft turtles' Kisses, Looks of virgin brides,
Sweet Coolness which nor needs nor feareth fires,
Snowy Embraces, cheerly-sober Eyes,
Gentleness, Mildness, Ingenuities.
The early gales knock'd gently at the door
Of every flower to bid the odours wake;,
Which catching in their softest arms, they bore
From bed to bed, and so return'd them back
To their own lodgings doubled by the blisses
They sipp'd from their delicious brethren's kisses.
Upon the wings of those inamouring breaths
Refreshment, vigour, nimbleness attended ;
Which, wheresoe'r they flew, cheer'd up their paths,
And with fresh airs of life all things befriended:
For heav'n's sweet spirit deign’d his breath to join
And make the powers of these blasts divine.
The goodly trees bent arms their nobler load
Of fruit which blest oppression overbore:
That orchard where the dragon warder stood,
For all its golden boughs, to this was poor,
To this, in which the greater serpent lay,
Though not to guard the trees, but to betray.
Of fortitude there rose a stately row;
Here, of Munificence a thickset grove;
There, of wise Industry a quickset grew;
Here, flourished a dainty copse of Love;
There, sprang up pleasant twigs of ready Wit; is
Here, larger trees of Gravity were set.
Here, Temperance; and widespread Justice there,
Under whose sheltering shadow Piety
Devotion, Mildness, Friendship planted were;
Next stood Renown with head exalted high;
Then twin'd together Plenty, Fatness, Peace.
O blessed place, where grew such things as these!
In the same canto, the Cave of Sleep is described.
“ A lazy moat the grot encompassed
With waters which were never known to stir;
Upon whose bank secure Oblivion's bed
Was made of sluggish moss and caked fur:
The Remora's and Crampfish groping lay
About the bottom of the mud and clay.
Up from the water crept an heavy cloud
Of dusky vapours, on whose shoulders rid
Fat Drowsiness, who rubb'd her eyes and bow'd
Down to her bosom her unwieldy head.
Bats, owls, and other purblind birds of night
Stole through the swarthy shades their doubtful flight. Mandrakes within the moat, and poppy grew, Which nodded to their neighbour plump of trees : Those were the willow, cypress, box, and yew; Close at whose feet lay Quietness and Ease;
And nestling by their side, an half-dead crowd
Of dormice and of bears, all snorting loud.
Through these pass'd Pity to a door of jet,
Whose wary ringle round was cloth'd in wool:
The porter, Silence, with his finger at
His mouth, when by her looks he guess'd her full
Of more than common business with his queen,
Softly stole ope the lock, and let her in.
There found she, on a bed of ebony,
Sleep laid at length; her pillow, badgers’ hair;
Thick Night, full Peace, and soft Security
Her rug, her counterpane, and blankets were.
Close by her couch's side dropp'd pipes of lead;
A swarm of bees were humming at the head. But greater was the swarm of Dreams which walk'd, In shapelešs shapes, about the thronged room; Who, though they laugh'd and sung, and cried, and talk'd; No noise was heard in that confusion : some Wanted an head, a cheek, an eye, a nose; Some arms, some legs, some feet, and some their toes.
Some wanton seem'd, some chaste, some spruce, some coarse, Some tame, some terrible, some black, some white,
Some men before, and yet, behind, a horse;
Some swan on one side, on the other kite;
Some love, some hate, some half-hope and half-fear,
Some heav'n, some hell, some both; most monsters were.
Indeed a few, who slighted all the rest,
Were limb’d and form’d by due proportion's art;
With sober gravity, their looks were drest;
Deep wonderous thoughts were hatching in their heart.
Sharp was their sight, and further could descry
Than any eagle's sun-affronting eye.” We must extract the description of Eve, when newly created.
“ Her spacious polish'd forehead was the fair
And lovely plain where gentle majesty
Walk'd in delicious state : her temples clear
Pomegranate fragments, which rejoic'd to lie
In dainty ambush, and peep through their cover
Of amber-locks whose volumes curled over.
The fuller stream of her luxuriant hair
Pour'd down itself upon her ivory back;
In which soft flood ten thousand graces were
Sporting and dallying with every lock;
The rival winds for kisses fell to fight,
And rais'd a ruffling tempest of delight. .
Two princely arches of most equal measures
Held up the canopy above her eyes,
And open’d to the heav'ns far richer treasures,
Than with their stars or sun e'er learn'd to rise:
Those beams can ravish but the body's sight,
These dazzle stoutest souls with mystic light.
Two garrisons were these of conqu’ring love;
Two founts of life, of spirit, of joy, of grace;
Two easts in one fair heaven, no more above,
But in the hemisphere of her own face;
Two thrones of gallantry; two shops of miracles;
Two shrines of deities; two silent oracles.
For silence here could eloquently plead;
Here might the unseen soul be clearly read :
Though gentle humours their mild mixture made,
They prov'd a double burning-glass, which shed
Those living fames which, with enliv’ning darts,
Shoot deaths of love into spectators' hearts.
"Twixt these, an alabaster promontory
Slop'd gently down to part each cheek from other;
Where white and red strove for the fairer glory,
Blending in sweet confusion together.
The rose and lily never joined were
In so divine a marriage as there.
Couchant upon these precious cushionets
Were thousand Beauties and as many Smiles,
Chaste Blandishments, and modest cooling Heats,
Harmless Temptations, and honest Guiles.
For heav'n, though up betimes the maid to deck,
Ne'er made Aurora's cheeks so fair and sleek.
Enamouring Neatness, Softness, Pleasure, at
Her gracious mouth in full retinue stood :
For, next the eyes' bright glass, the soul at that
Takes most delight to look and walk abroad.
But at her lips two threads of scarlet lay,
Or two warm corals, to adorn the way;
The precious way, where by her breath and tongue
Her odours and her honey travelled,
Which nicest critics would have judg'd among
Arabian or Hyblæan mountains bred.
Indeed the richer Araby in her
Dear mouth, and sweeter Hybla dwelling were.
More gracefully its golden chapiter
No column of white marble e'er sustain'd
Than her round polish'd neck supported her
Illustrious head, which there in triumph reign’d.
Yet, neither would this pillar hardness know,
Nor suffer cold to dwell amongst its snow.
Her blessed bosom moderately rose
With two soft mounts of lilies, whose fair top
A pair of pretty sister cherries chose,
And there their living crimson lifted up.
The milky count'nance of the hills confest
What kind of springs within had made their nest..
So leggiadrous were her snowy hands
That Pleasure mov'd as any finger stirr’d: