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Attending long in vain, I took the way, At length I wak’d, and looking round the bower, Which through a path but scarcely printed lay; Search'd every tree, and pry'd on every flower, In narrow mazes oft it seem'd to meet,
If any-where by chance I might espy, And look'd as lightly press'd by fairy feet. The rural poet of the melody: Wandering I walk'd alone, for still methought For still methought she sung not far away: To some strange end so strange a path was wrought:
At last I found her on a laurel spray. At last it led me where an arbour stood,
Close by my side she sat, and fair in sight, The sacred receptacle of the wood : (green, Full in a line against her opposite; This place unmark'd, though oft I walk'd the Where stood with eglantine the laurel twin'd; In all my progress I had never seen :
And both their native sweets were well conjoind. Ani, seiz'd at once with wonder and delight,
On the green bank I sat, and listen'd long Gaz’d all around me, new to the transporting (Sitting was more convenient for the song): sight.
Nor till her lay was ended could I move, 'Twas bench'd with turf, and goodly to be seen,
But wish'd to dwell for ever in the grove. The thick young grass arose in fresher green : Only methought the time too swiftly passid, The mound was newly made, no sight could pass And every note I fear'd would be the last. Betwixt the nice partitions of the grass;
My sight, and smell, and hearing were employd, The well-united sods so closely lay ;
And all three senses in full gust enjoy'd. And all around the shades defended it from day: And what alone did all the rest surpass, For sycamores with eglantine were spread, The sweet possession of the fairy place; A hedge about the sides, a covering over head. Single, and conscious to myself alone And so the fragrant brier was wove between, Of pleasures to th' excluded world unknown: The sycamore and flowers were mix'd with green, Pleasures which no where else were to be found, That Nature seem'd to vary the delight;
And all Elysium in a spot of ground. And satisfy'd at once the smell and sight.
Thus while I sat intent to see and hear, The master workman of the bower was known And drew perfumes of more than vital air, Through fairy lands, and built for Oberon; All suddenly I heard th' approaching sound Who twining leaves with such proportion drew, Of vocal music, on th' enchanted ground: They rose by measure, and by rule they grew; An host of saints it seem'd, so full the quire; No mortal tongue can half the beauty tell:
As if the bless'd above did all conspire For none but hands divine could work so well. To join their voices, and neglect the lyre." Both roof and sides were like a parlour made, At length there issued from the grove behind A soft recess, and a cool summer shade;
A fair assembly of the female kind: The hedge was set so thick, no foreign eye
A train less fair, as ancient fathers tell, The persons plac'd within it could espy:
Seduc'd the sons of Heaven to rebel. But all that pass'd without with ease was seen, pass their form, and every charming grace, As if nor fence nor tree was plac'd between.
Less than an angel would their worth debase: "Twas border'd with a field; and some was plain But their attire, like liveries of a kind With grass, and some was sow'd with rising grain.. All rich and rare, is fresh within my mind. That (now the dew with spangles deck'd the In velvet white as snow the troop was gown'd, ground)
The searns with sparkling emeralds set around: A sweeter spot of earth was never found.
Their hoods and sleeves the same; and purfled I look'd and look’d, and still with new delight;
o'er Such joy my soul, such pleasures fill'd my sight: With diamonds, pearls, and all the shining store And the fresh eglantine exhald a breath,
Of eastern pomp: their long descending train, Whose odours were of power to raise from death. With rubies edg'd, and sapphires, swept the plain: Nor sullen discontent, nor anxious care,
High on their heads, with jewels richly set, Ev'n though brought thither, could inbabit there : Each lady wore a radiant coronet. But thence they fled as from their mortal foe; Beneath the circles, all the quire was grac'd For this sweet place could only pleasure know. With chaplets green, on their fair foreheads placd. Thus as I mus'd, I cast aside myeve,
Of laurel some, of woodbine many more; And saw a medlar-tree was planted nigh.
And wreaths of agnus castus others bore: The spreading branches made a goodly show, These last, who with those virgin crowns were And full of opening blooms was every bough:
dress'd, A goldfinch there I saw with gawdy pride
Appeard in higher honour than the rest.
Her short performance was no sooner try'd, Methought she trod the ground with greater grace,
She bore aloft (her sceptre of command);
Admir'd, ador'd by all the circling crowd, Their surcoats of white ermin fur were made,
shade; In honour of the laurel, ever young:
The trappings of their steeds were of the same; She rais'd her voice on high, and sung so clear, The golden fringe ev'n set the ground on flame, The fawns came scudding from the groves to And drew a precious trail : a crown divine And all the bending forest lent an ear. [hear: Of laurel did about their temples twine. At every close she made, th' attending throng Three henchmen were for every knight assign’d, Reply'd, and bore the burthen of the song : All in rich livery clad, and of a kind : So just, so small, yet in so sweet a note,
White velvet, but unshorn, for cloaks they wore, It seem'd the music melted in the throat.
And each within his hand a truncheon bore : Thus dancing on, and singing as they danc'd, The foremost held a helm of rare device; They to the middle of the mead advanc'd, A prince's ransom would not pay the price. Till round my arbour a new ring they made, The second bore the buckler of his knight, And footed it about the secret shade.
The third of cornel-wood a spear upright, O'erjoy'd to see the jolly troop so near,
Headed with piercing steel, and polish'd bright. Bat somewhat aw'd, I shook with holy fear; Like to their lords their equipage was seen, Yet not so much, but that I noted well
And all their foreheads crown'd with garlands Who did the most in song or dance excel.
[shield, Not long l bad observ’d, when from afar
And after these came, arm'd with spear and I heard a sudden symphony of war;
An host so great, as cover'd all the field, The neighing coursers, and the soldiers cry, And all their foreheads, like the knights before, And sounding trumps that seem'd to tear the With laurels ever green were shaded o'er, sky:
Or oak, or other leaves of lasting kind, I saw soon after this, behind the grove
Tenacious of the stem, and firm against the wind. From whence the ladies did in order move, Some in their hands, beside the lance and shield, Come issuing out in arms a warrior train, The boughs of woodbine or of hawthorn held, That like a deluge pour'd upon the plain : Or branches for their' mystic emblems took, On barbed steeds they rode in proud array, Of palm, of laurel, or of cerrial oak.. Thick as the college of the bees in May,
Thus marching to the trumpet's lofty sound, When swarming o'er the dusky fields they ily, Drawn in two lines adverse they wheeld New to the flowers, and intercept the sky.
around, So fierce they drove, their coursers were so fleet, And in the middle meadow took their ground. That the turf trembled underneath their feet. Among themselves the turney they divide, To tell their costly furniture were long,
In equal squadrons rang'd on either side. The summer's day would end before the song: Then turnd their horses heads, and man to man, To purchase but the tenth of all their store, And steed to steed oppos'd, the justs began. Wald make the mighty Persian monarch poor. They lightly set their lances in the rest, Yet what I can, I will; before the rest
And, at the sign, against each other press'd: The trumpets issued, in white mantles dress'd : They met. 1, sitting at my ease, beheld A numerous troop, and all their heads around The mix'd events, and fortunes of the field. With chaplets green of cerrial-oak were crown'd; Some broke their spears, some tumbled horse And at each trumpet was a banner bound,
and man, Which, waving in the wind, display'd at large And round the field the lighten'd coursers ran. Their master's coat of arms, and knightly charge. An hour and more, like tides, in equal sway Broad were the banners, and of snowy hue, They rush'd, and won by turns, and lost the day: A parer web the silk-worm never drew.
At length the nine (who still together held) The chief about their necks the scutcheons wore, Their fainting foes to shameful fight compell’d, With orient pearls and jewels powder'd o'er: And with resistless force o'er-ran the field. Eroad were their collars too, and every one Thus, to their fame, when finished was the fight, Was set about with many a costly stone. The victors from their lofty steeds alight: Next these of kings at arms a goodly train Like them dismounted all the warlike train, In proad array came prancing o'er the plain: And two by two proceeded o'er the plain: Their cloaks were cloth of silver mix'd with gold, Till to the fair assembly they advanc'd, And garlands green around their temples rollid; Who near the secret arbour sung and danc'd. Rich crowns were on their royal scutcheons The ladies left their measures at the sight, plac'd,
To meet the chiefs returning from the fight, With sapphires, diamonds, and with rubies grac'd: And each with open arms embrac'd her chosen And as the trumpets their appearance made,
knight. So these in habits were alike array'd;
Amid the plain a spreading laurel stood, Bet with a pace more sober, and more slow; The grace and ornament of all the wood : And twenty, rank in rank, they rode a row. That pleasing shade they sought, a soft retreat The pursuivants came next, in number more; From sudden April showers, a shelter from the And like the heralds each his scutcheon bore: Clarl in white velvet all their troop they led, Her leafy arms with such extent were spread, With each an oakeu chaplet on his head.
So near the clouds was her aspiring head, Nine royal knights in equal rank succeed, That hosts of birds, that wing the liquid air, Each warrior mounted on a fiery steed:
Perch'd in the boughs, had nightly lodging there : Ie golden armour glorious to behold;
And flocks of sheep beneath the shade from far The rivets of their arms were nail'd with gold. Might hear the rattling hail, and wintery war,
From Heaven's inclemency here found retreat, And lightning flash'd betwixt: the field, and
The ladies and the knights, no shelter nigh,
And through their thin array receiv'd the rain; The lords and ladies here, approaching, paid While those in white, protected by the tree, Their homage, with a low obeisance made:
in vain th’ assault, and stood from And seem'd to venerate the sacred shade.
danger free. These rites perform'd, their pleasures they pursue, But as compassion mov'd their gentle minds, With song of love, and mix with pleasures new; When ceas'd the storm, and silent were the winds, Around the holy tree their dance they frame, Displeas'd at what, not suffering, they had seen, And every champion leads his chosen dame. They went to cheer the faction of the green: I cast my sight upon the farther field,
The queen in white array, before her band, And a fresh object of delight beheld :
Saluting, took her rival by the hand; For from the region of the west I heard
So did the knights and dames, with courtly grace, New music sound, and a new troop appear'd ; And with behaviour sweet, their foes embrace: Of knights, and ladies mix'd, a jolly band, Then thus the queen with laurel on her brow, But all on foot they march'd, and hand in hand. “ Fair sister, I have suffer'd in your woe;
The ladies dress'd in rich symars were seen Nor shall be wanting aught within my power Of Florence satin, flowerd with white and For your relief in my refreshing bower.” green,
That other answer'd with a lowly look, And for a shade betwixt the bloomy gridelin. And soon the gracious invitation took : The borders of their petticoats below
For ill at ease both she and all her train Were guarded thick with rubies on a row; The scorching Sun had borne, and beating rain. And every damsel wore upon her head
Like courtesy was us'd by all in white, [knight. Of flowers a garland blended white and red. Each dame a dame receiv'd, and every knight a Attir'd in mantles all the knights were seen, The laurel champions with their swords invade That gratify'd the view with cheerful green: The neighbouring forests, where the justs were Their chaplets of their ladies colours were,
made, Compos'd of white and red, to shade their shin. And serewood from the rotten hedges took, ing hair.
And seeds of latent fire from fints provoke : Before the merry troop the minstrels play'd; A cheerful blaze arose, and by the fire All in their master's liveries were array'd, They warm’d their frozen feet, and dry'd their And clad in green, and on their temples wore
wet attire. The chaplets white and red their ladies bore. Refresh'd with heat, the ladies sought around Their instruments were various in their kind, For virtuous herbs, which gather'd from the ground Some for the bow, and some for breathing wind : They squeez'd the juice, and cooling ointment The sawtry, pipe, and hautboy's noisy band,
[skins they laid : And the soft lute trembling beneath the touching Which on their sun-burnt cheeks and their chapt hand.
Then sought green sallads, which they bade them A tuft of daisies on a flowery lay
A sovereign remedy for inward heat. [eat, They saw, and thitherward they bent their way; The lady of the leaf ordain'd a feast, To this both knights and dames their homage And made the lady of the flower her guest : made,
When lo, a bower ascended on the plain, (train. And due obeisance to the daisy paid.
With sudden seats ordain'd, and large for either And then the band of flutes began to play,
This bower was near my pleasant arbour placd, To which a lady sung a virelay :
That I could hear and see whatever pass'd: And still at every close she would repeat
The ladies sat with each a knight between, The burthen of the song, “The daisy is so sweet.” | Distinguish'd by their colours, white and green; “ The daisy is so sweet,” when she begun, The vanquisb’d party with the victors join'd, The troop of knights and dames continued on. Nor wanted sweet discourse, the banquet of the The concert and the voice so charm'd my ear,
mind, And sooth'd my soul, that it was Heaven to hear. Mean time the minstrels play'd on either side,
But soon their pleasure pass’d: at noon of day, Vain of their art, and for the mastery vy'd : The Sun with sultry beams began to play:
The sweet contention lasted for an hour, Not Sirius shoots a fiercer flame from high, And reach'd my secret arbour from the bower. When with his poisonous breath he blasts the sky: The Sun was set; and Vesper, to supply Then droop'd the fading flowers (their beauty His absent beams, had lighted up the sky: fied)
When Philomel, officious all the day And clos'd their sickly eyes, and hung the head; To sing the service of th' ensuing May, And, riveld up with heat, lay dying in their bed. Fled from her laurel shade, and wing'd her fight The ladies gasp'd, and scarcely could respire; Directly to the queen array'd in white; The breath they drew, no longer air, but fire ; And, hopping, sat familiar on her hand, The fainty knights were scorch'd ; and knew not A new musician, and increas'd the band. where
The goldfinch, who, to shun the scalding beat, To run for shelter, for no shade was near; Had chang'd the medlar for a safer seat, And after this the gathering clouds amain
And, hid in bushes, 'scap'd the bitter shower, Pour'd down a storm of rattling hail and rain : Now perch'd upon the lady of the flower;
And either songster holding out their throats, The knights adorn'd with laurel crowns are they, And folding up their wings, renew'd their notes : Whom death nor danger never could dismay, As if all day, preluding to the fight,
Victorious names, who made the world obey: They only had rehears'd, to sing by night: Who, while they liv'd, in deeds of arms excell’d, The banquet ended, and the battle done,
And after death for deities were held. They danc'd by star-light and the friendly Moon: But those, who wear the woodbine on their brow, And when they were to part, the laureat queen Were knights of love, who never broke their vow; Supply'd with steeds the lady of the green,
Firm to their plighted faith, and ever free Her and her train conducting on the way,
From fears, and tickle chance, and jealousy. The Moon to follow, and avoid the day.
The lords and ladies, who the woodbine bear, This when I saw, inquisitive to know
As true as Tristram and Isotta were." The secret moral of the mystic show,
“ But what are those," said I, “ th’unconquer'd I started from my shade, in hopes to find
nine, Some nymph to satisfy my longing mind :
Who crowri'd with laurel-wreaths in golden arAnd, as my fair adventure fell, I found
mour shine? A lady all in white, with laurel crown'd,
And who the knights in green, and what the train Who clos'd the rear, and softly pac'd along, Of ladies dress'd with daisies on the plain? Repeating to herself the former song.
Why both the bands in worship disagree, With due respect my body I inclind,
And some adore the flower, and some the tree?" As to some being of superior kind,
“ Just is your suit, fair daughter," said the And made my court according to the day,
dame: Wisbing her queen and her a happy May, “ Those laurel'd chiefs were men of mighty fame; "Great thanks, my daughter," with a graciousbow, Nine worthies were they calld of different rites, She said; and I, who much desir'd to know Three Jews, three Pagans, and three Christian Of whence she was, yet fearful how to break
knights. My mind, adventur'd humbly thus to speak: These, as you see, ride foremost in the field, “Madam, might I presume and not offend, As they the foremost rank of honour held, So may the stars and shining Moon attend And all in deeds of chivalry excell'd: Your uightly sports, as you vouchsafe to tell Their temples wreath'd with leaves, that still What nymphs they were who mortal forms excel,
renew; And what the knights who fought in listed fields For deathless laurel is the victor's due: so well.”
Who bear the bows were knights in Arthur's reign, To this the dame reply'd: “Fair daughter, know, Twelve they, and twelve the peers of Charleinain: That what you saw was all a fairy show:
For bows the strength of brawny arms imply, And all those airy shapes you now behold, Emblems of valour and of victory. Were buman bodies once, and cloth'd with earthly Behold an order yet of newer date, mold,
Doubling their number, equal in their state; Oar souls, not yet prepar'd for upper light, Our Engiand's ornament, the crown's defence, Till doomsday wander in the shades of night; In battle brave, protectors of their prince : This only holiday of all the year,
Unchang'd by fortune, to their sovereign true, We privileg'd in sunshine may appear:
For which their manly legs are bound with blue, With songs and dance we celebrate the day, These, of the garter call’d, of faith unstain's, And with due honours usher in the May.
In fighting fields the laurel have obtain'd, At other times we reign by night alone,
And well repaid the honours which they gain'd. And posting through the skies pursue the Moon : The laurel wreaths were first by Cæsar worn, But when the morn arises, none are found; And still they Cæsar's successors adorn : For cruel Demogorgon walks the round,
One leaf of this is immortality, And if he finds a fairy lag in light,
And more of worth than all the world can buy." He drives the wretch before, and lashes into “ One doubt remains," said I, “the dames in night.
green, “ All courteous are by kind; and ever proud What were their qualities, and who their queen ?" With friendly offices to help the good.
“ Flora cornmands," said she, “those nyinphs In every land we have a larger space
and knights, Than what is known to you of mortal race: Who liv'd in slothful case and loose delights; Where we with green adorn our fairy bowers, Who never acts of honour durst pursue, And ev'd this grove, unseen before, is ours. The men inglorious kuights, the ladies all untrue: Kouw farther; every lady cloth'd in white, Who, nurs'd in idleness, and train’d in courts, And, crown'd with oak and laurel every knight, Pass'd all their precious hoursin plays and sports, Are servants to the Leaf, by liveries known Till Death behind came stalking on, unseen, O innocence; and I myself am one.
And wither'd (like the storm) the freshness of Kaw you pot her so graccfut to behold
their green. In white attire, and crown'd with radiant gold? These, and their mates, enjoy their present hour, The sovereign lady of our land is she,
And therefore pay their homage to the Flower. Diana call'd, the queen of chastity :
But knights in knightly deeds should persevere, Aud, for the spotless name of maid she bears, And still continue what at first they were; That agnas castus in her hand appears;
Continue, and proceed in honour's fair career. Aad all her train, with leafy chaplets crown'd, No room for cowardice, or dull delays Were for unblam'd virxinity renown'd;
From good to better they should urve their way. Po those the chief and highest in command For this with golden spurs the chiefs are gracd, Who bear those huly branches in their hand: With pointed rowels arm’d to mend their haste;
For this with lastii g leaves their brows are bound; In vain the dairy now with mint is dress'd,
The dairy-maid expects no fairy guest Which bears the bitter blast, nor shaken falls to To skim the bowls, and after pay the feast. ground:
She sighs, and shakes her empty shoes in vain, From winter winds it suffers no decay,
No silver penny to reward her pain: For ever fresh and fair, and every month is May. For priests, with prayers and other goodly geer, Ev'n when the vital sap retreats below,
Have made the merry goblins disappear; Ev’n when the hoary head is hid in snow;
And where they play'd their merry pranks before, The life is in the leaf, and still between
Have sprinkled holy water on the floor : The fits of falling snow appears the streaky green. And friars that through the wealthy regions run, Not so the flower, which lasts for little space, Thick as the motes that twinkle in the sun, A short * v'd good, and an uncertain grace; Resort to farmers rich, and bless their balls, This way and that the feeble stem is driven, And exorcise the beds, and cross the walls : Weak to sustain the storms and injuries of Heaven. This makes the fairy quires forsake the place, Propp'd by the spring, it lifts aloft the head, When once 'tis hallow'd with the rites of grace: But of a sickly beauty, soon to shed ;
But in the walks where wicked elves have been, In summer living, and in winter dead.
The learning of the parish now is seen, For things of tender kind, for pleasure made, The midnight parson posting o'er the green, Shoot up with swift increase, and sudden are With gown tuck'd up, to wakes, for Sunday decay'd.”
There haunts not any incubus but he.
To walk by night, and sanctity so near:
For by some haycock, or some shady thorn,
Soon on the girl he cast an amorous eye,
By force accomplish'd his obscene desire : Blush, as thou may'st, my Little Book, with shame, This done, away he rode, not unespy'd, Nor hope with homely verse to purchase fame; For swarming at his back the country cry'd: For such thy Maker chose: and so design'd And once in view they never lost the sight, Thy simple style to suit thy lowly kind.
But seiz'd, and pinion'd brought to court the
knight. Then courts of kings were held in high renown,
Ere made the common brothels of the town:
There, virgins honourable vows receir'd,
The king himself, to nuptial ties a slave,
Had not, to please the prince, debauch'd the stage. Gambol'd on heaths, and danc'd on every green; Now what should Arthur do? He lov'd the And where the jolly troop had led the round,
knight, The grass unbidden rose, and mark'd the ground : But sovereign monarchs are the source of right: Nor darkling did they glance, the silver light Mov'd by the damsel's tears and common cry, Of Phæbe serv'd to guide their steps aright, He doom'd the brutal ravisher to die. And, with their tripping pleas'd, prolong the But fair Geneura rose in his defence, night.
And pray'd so hard for mercy from the prince, Her beams they follow'd, where at full she play'd, That to his qneen the king th' offender gave, Nor longer than she shed her horns they stay'd, And left it in her power to kill or save : From thence with airy flight to foreign lands This gracious act the ladies all approve, convey'd.
Who thought it much a man should die for love;
At last agreed they call'd him by consent
Did thus the judgment of the house declare.