130 Spenserians in two cantos, with a glossary. The specific models for this juvenile poem by Leigh Hunt are the Bower of Bliss episode in the Faerie Queene and James Thomson's Castle of Indolence, though it owes a general debt to the long series of Choice of Hercules allegories so popular in the eighteenth century. Guyon, beguiled by Pleasure, is eventually restored by Religion; each of these principal figures is accompanied by a train of personifications and makes a speech to the hero of the poem. Yet the Choice of Hercules schema tends to disappear behind Hunt's characteristically luxurious decor. The Palace of Pleasure is thickly strewn with archaisms, though young Hunt's word-hoard is diminished compared to what Gilbert West or Moses Mendez were managing two generations earlier. That said, the ease with which he manages his mimic style is remarkable for such a young writer.
Leigh Hunt: "On my departure from school, a collection of verses, consisting of some school-exercises, and some larger pieces, written during the first part of 1800, was published that year under the title of Juvenilia, and in a manner, which, however I may have regretted it, it does not become me, perhaps, to reprobate. My verses were my own, but not my will. The pieces were written with sufficient imitative enthusiasm, but that is all: — I had read GRAY, and I must write something like GRAY; I admired COLLINS, and I must write something like COLLINS; I adored SPENSER, and I must write a long allegorical poem, filled with 'ne's' 'whiloms,' and personifications, like SPENSER. I say thus much upon the subject, because as I was a sort of rhyming young Roscius, and tended to lead astray other youths, who mistook reading for inspiration, as in fact has been the case, I wish to deprecate these precocious performances in public, which are always dangerous to the taste, and in general dissatisfactory to the recollection" "Leigh Hunt, written by himself" Monthly Mirror 7 (April 1810) 244-45.
Leigh Hunt: "I wrote odes because Collins and Gray had written them, pastorals because Pope had written them, blank verse because Akenside and Thomson had written blank verse, and a Palace of Pleasure because Spenser had written a Bower of Bliss. But in all these authors I saw little but their words, and imitated even those badly. I had nobody to bid me to go to the nature which had originated the books" Autobiography (1850) 1:124.
Herbert E. Cory: "From boyhood to the days of his sunny maturity, when he poured out his graceful garrulous essays, Spenser haunted Leigh Hunt like a passion. He tells us, in his Autobiography, that he secured an odd volume of Spenser at Christ's Hospital and completed about a hundred stanzas called The Fairy King which 'was to be in emulation of Spenser.' From that time Spenser was his favorite among all poets. In 1801 he published his Juvenilia, or a Collection of Poems, Written between the Ages of Twelve and Sixteen. The most ambitious poem is The Palace of Pleasure" "Critics of Edmund Spenser" UCPMP (1911) 177.
The poem opens with a description of Temptation's Isle where "airy Sylphs in wanton play" chant sweet hymns to Bacchus and Venus. There Sir Guyon is borne while asleep by two spirits. Awaking, he is met by maiden holding a cup whose name is Curiosity, though she prefers to be called Inquiry. Voice implore Guyon to enter the imposing palace that stands nearby; suspecting a trick, he reaches for his sword only to discover it has vanished. The portals open, revealing the spectacular figure of the fairy Pleasure. Guyon enters and is accosted by Delicacy, Flattery, Gaudiness, and Wantonness. Pleasure waves her wand, and a pageant of inferior attendants appear, among them Sloth, Indolence, and Desire. Pleasure makes a speech modeled on that of Thomson's Wizard Indolence: "Here drop your burdens, here lay up your cares." As the Knight lies entranced on a bed, Pleasure offers herself as his paramour.
As the second canto opens Guyon has dwelt on the Island of Pleasure for seven months. The Knight, in "velvet sandal shod," sails upon the Stream of Bliss, Pleasure at his side. The waters begin to rise, but Guyon is oblivious to all but "th' enchanting fair," who suddenly sprouts dragon-wings: "loud and fierce was her hyaena cry." The landscape is transformed into a dreary waste and the Knight is confronted by Repentance and the demons of Care. Justice, Infamy, Reproach, and Melancholy follow in turn. At this juncture an angel-figure appears bearing a cross, accompanied by Content and "a radiant figure ... Ycleped Glory, clad in robes of light." Glory strikes her harp, and the angel-figure, revealed as Religion, invites the recreant knight to lay his head on her bosom. Contentment offers him a goblet, from which he drinks and is restored: "And high he rears his sword, and nods the waving crest!"
Leigh Hunt's mature criticism of Spenser appears in Imagination and Fancy (1844).
The Palace hight of Pleasure fair,
And all its sheen delight,
Where Rapture of deceitful lure
Enchants the mortal wight.
Certes it is, and Saints have whilom said,
That worldly Pleasure is but worldly Woe,
In the hot bosom of the Passions bred,
Cradled by Tempests that ay rage and blow,
And taught ne Virtue, ne Advice to know:
Then comes a sickly Sunshine, deadly warm,
Shedding a gilded Pestilence below;
Within his beam fast fades the wasting form,
Till Night and Cloud succeed, and Turbulence and Storm.
There is, ywashed by the murm'ring main,
A Fairy land, yclept Temptation's Isle,
So fair, it seem'd as Eden there had lain,
Such sweet Enchantment o'er the coast doth smile!
And ah! poor mortal wight it doth beguile
With waving trees that deck the shores around,
Which to the sight ne things unclean defile,
And velvet fields that glitter o'er the ground,
And purling streams, and groves with tufted verdure crown'd.
The circling sea, that glistens round the coast,
Doth all beseem of crystal glass, I ween,
Whose oily wave ne ship hath ever tost,
Ne stormy death defil'd its waters sheen;
But all around is gentle smoothness green,
And tint caerulean on the ocean dy'd;
And whisp'ring breezes fan the luring scene:
For ne rude winds do rouse the sleeping tide,
Ne blust'ring blasts deform'd, with tempest at their side.
And on the air are dulcet chantings heard,
That trip to sound of soul-delighting lyre;
Yet ne in all their songs one mournful word,
Ne plaintive strain that musing mote inspire,
But lively notes which Gaiety yfire,
Such as that noble harper, Orpheus hight,
Did sing to brutes, who wonder'd at the wire,
And with uncouth rejoicing would delight
To dance along the woods, in rugged liv'ry dight.
And right aloud the joyous birds did sing,
With melody confus'd that fill'd the sky:
The soaring Lark, with tawny-dappled wing,
And humbler Linnet with his gentle eye,
And gorgeous Finch, with breast of golden dye;
Ne fear'd the bright Canary there to dwell,
Ne chatt'ring Thrush that peeps with glancing sly;
But ne sad Nightingale mourn'd o'er the dell,
Ne Owl with flapping wings shrieking the notes of Hell.
Eke the bright Sun, as though he had stood still,
Sheen'd o'er the beauteous land each rolling day;
And ting'd with gold the top of ev'ry hill,
And in each vale with burnish'd splendour lay;
So that Dame Nature did for aye look gay:
For though dark Night ycame with visage stern,
Yet then would Art his copied flame display,
And on each tree a hundred lamps yburn,
Which did new day relume, and gloom to radiance turn.
With eyne fast fixing on this lovely sight,
And fill'd with wonder at th' enchanting scene,
Upon the adverse strand a valiant Knight
Stood wrapt in thought; his still and eager mien
Betray'd how much the land, so sweet and green,
In vernal beauty all delightful dress'd,
Charm'd his enraptur'd soul: for, well I ween,
He wish'd upon the goodly shore to rest,
Yet saw ne look'd-for boat to ease his longing breast.
Sudden sweet sounds of mellow symphony,
In tender undulations swell'd on air,
New splendour seem'd to flush the glowing sky,
And Nature rise with visage doubly fair;
Soft whisp'ring breezes breathing gently near;
Dropping rich perfume from each fanning wing;
Brought the smooth numbers to his raptur'd ear;
While Summer, putting on the robe of Spring,
'Gan from his radiant lap the verdant flow'rets fling.
Anon a silver cloud roll'd fair along;
When lo! quick op'ning on the beaming day,
It rent its swelling side; and, with a song
Bursting in melody confus'd and gay,
A tribe of airy Sylphs in wanton play,
Broke forth, and forming sportive dance divine,
Around th' admiring knight, in sunny ray
Chanted sweet hymns to Bacchus, god of wine,
And Her, round whose fair brow the graceful myrtles twine.
Now here, now there their colour'd wings they threw
With many a mirthful movement twirling round;
And zones they carried of the rainbow's hue
With golden buckles splendidly ybound,
Which they unloos'd and droppen on the ground,
That sport might be all easy, brisk and light:
For none among them mournful was there found,
That Merriment and Joy could ne delight;
But laugh'd the wantons loud, and wav'd their pinions bright.
Sudden they snatch'd Sir Guyon up on high,
Unweeting whether good or harm would be,
While drowsy Sleep came heavy on his eye,
And all forgotton was their laughing glee:
The verdant Lawn, smooth Meadow, and green Tree,
And Cloud and Sylphs quick faded from his thought,
And sportive Dance ne longer could he see;
Music ne moe sweet Harmony ybrought,
Ne Sea, ne Isle, ne Skies his eyne enchanted sought.
Soft on the dewy grass that fring'd the isle
The lovely spirits laid their sleepy load;
Nor waken'd he, till Morn again 'gan smile,
And murm'ring Ocean round her mantle flow'd;
When to his couch of green as soft she trod,
A beauteous Virgin rous'd the wond'ring Knight
With flowing hair tied up with pearly node,
Who at her side, with gather'd flow'rets dight,
Bore keys of glitt'ring gold, with frequent using bright.
In her fair hand a bag full rich she held,
With curious coins and antique monies stor'd;
Some with stamp eaten by devouring Eld,
And some that many a learn'd device afford
Of Emp'ror noble, or Caesarean Lord:
And on her painted vestment could be seen
Grim Runic rhymes that wars and blood applaud,
And letters obsolete, and flow'rs all green,
And animal, and insect, copied well, I ween.
And her behind, with winning beauty mov'd
A virgin figure, crown'd with garlands fair,
And myrtles green, by Cytherea lov'd,
And many a jewel weav'd among her hair,
And diamonds gay, and precious pebble rare;
One hand a burning heart did trembling hold
Ypierc'd with dart and flaming to the air,
And fetter'd all around with links of gold,
With purple drops besprent, and never wexing cold.
Her other hand a glitt'ring goblet rais'd,
With mantling wine delicious to the taste
Ysparkling fair, that with red splendour blaz'd,
And all around a mickle brightness cast;
And on its side were carved forms ne chaste
Of frisking Wantonness, and loving Dames,
And dancing Satyrs ne'er in sport the last,
And lovely Nymphs that nourish'd Cupid's flames,
And many else, I wote, of less renowned names.
Then thus the first fair form; "Thrice blest Sir Knight,
Brought to this soil of Health, and Ease, and Peace,
Brought to this soil of Splendour and Delight,
Where joys ay dwell, ay transport and increase,
Where glad Eternity can never cease,
The Tree of Life awaits your hand, be wise;
Pluck; feast with Heav'n: Pleasure with joyous face
Bade me conduct to her desiring eyes
The Knight she loves; her love the bold can ne'er despise.
"Me Curiosity men wrongly clepe;
In Fairy-land ay higher name I bore,
And hight Inquiry; the great Key I keep
Of sage Philosophy's celestial store;
This hand can ope gay Nature's hidden door,
And give to youth the knowledge of old age:
Come, follow me: let Love proceed before;
Her cup will soon be thine, and Life's dark page
Be fill'd with light and life: O follow, and be sage."
She said; the Knight quick turn'd him and beheld
Before his eyes all ravish'd with delight,
A stately house with marble dome, that swell'd
Its polish'd beauties on the wond'ring sight;
The fabric's self with solid gold was bright,
On diamond pillars splendidly ylaid;
And pearly chimnies ever gay and white
The beaming day with perfumes rich repaid,
While raptur'd Zephyr ay his balmy pinions play'd.
On a smooth lawn, with verdure ever green,
The beauteous structure caught the meeting eye;
Ne valley low withheld the glitt'ring scene,
Ne tufted grove where Hamadryad shy
Ne'er suffers Phoebus in her bow'rs to lie;
While luring pilgrim wight to stop his way,
Lay scatter'd round sweet flow'rs of various dye;
Pink in a thousand liv'ries richly gay,
Red rose, and lily fair, that decks the breast of May.
Here on the grassy meadow mote be seen
Gay troops of maids and youths in purple dight
Dancing in jollity along the green,
While pipe enliv'ning heighten'd the delight,
Responsive as the feet glanc'd on the sight,
Twinkling in gay disorder: there beyond,
Calm in the peaceful vale the lovesick wight
Strech'd out reposing on the verdant ground,
Dreamt of the darts of Love, and ah! how sweet they wound!
Anon soft, tender voices breath'd on air,
"Come, valiant Knight; come, valiant, blest, and wise;
Come, Heav'ns beatitude yborn to share,
And learn to live, ne joy divine despise!
Without what glories strike thy ravish'd eyes!
O come, and see what glories shine within!
Come; see where Pleasure waits to give the prize
Due to the charms her heav'nly Love that win!
Enter; to come is bliss, to stay despair and sin!"
The wond'ring Knight, along whose breast, I ween,
Ystole suspicions soul of magic snare,
Snatch'd at his sword; but this some sprite unseen
Had borne away; a pearly girdle fair
Supplied its dreadful place; and from his hair,
Where once pale Terror wav'd the nodding crest,
Plumes that the gaudy Peacock boasts to wear,
Hung quiv'ring to the air; while o'er his breast
Soft flowing purple fell in folds that pictur'd rest.
Again the call melodious breath'd on high,
Thrilling the raptur'd soul; the yielding Knight
Shot on the Palace-door his ardent eye,
When sudden floated from the realms of light
Sounds, that beseem'd the touches of Delight,
The diapason of an Angel's lyre;
And slowly gliding backwards from the sight,
The portals wide 'gan to the sound retire,
And splendours bursten forth, and bright empyreal fire!
High on a glorious couch, which far outshone
The pomp of Kingly Pow'r and Royal Shew,
The gorgeous cushion, or the glitt'ring throne,
Or all the wealth Earth proudly boasts below,
The Fairy Pleasure, with refulgent brow,
Reclin'd her dazzling form: one day of light
Circled her beaming head, and Beauty's glow
Spread o'er her lovely cheek its crimson bright
While ev'ry luring look shot transport and delight!
One hand ybore a casket large and gay,
In which bright jewel, diamond, pearl all fair,
And costly gem in rich confusion lay;
And od'rous frankincense, and spikenard rare,
And sweetmeat, dainty and delicious fare,
And lady's toy ne useful and ne stout;
Yet, as unweeting how they valued were,
She scatter'd them her splendid seat about,
Till all the precious treasure nigh had droppen out.
Her other hand upheld a glitt'ring chain
Of golden links yform'd, and made below
A vast round globe unmoving to sustain,
On which a fairy tribe of stature low
And tender form tripp'd lightly to and fro,
Waving their wings whene'er her smile they spy;
Yet weak, I wote, and weary would they grow,
By long exertion, and to nothing die,
When quick another band upstarted to the eye.
And on her breast a mimic Sun yshone,
That dazzled bright the eyne of mortal men,
Till more familiar with her they had grown,
And much its lustre would decayen then:
For, when once gone, it ne ysheen'd again:
And her soft feet in down ywrappen were,
Made of the feath'ry wing of tender wren,
Which serv'd, I ween, for gentle buskin fair,
When she would rise sometime, tho' rising was full rare.
In her sweet eyes Love, crown'd with melting rays,
Sat like a soft Inchanter, binding all
The fetter'd soul in rapture and amaze,
Who by his luring magic doth recall
The sadden'd wights of this terrestrial ball
To festive Merriment, and Joy with smiles
Dimpl'd beneath her lips, and did ystall
Within their ruby poutings, who beguiles
The tearful cares of man with his endearing wiles.
And all around her flow'rs of various hue,
And garlands green, and od'rous perfumes spread,
For winged boys did ay profusely strew
With ev'ry sweet of earth her downy bed;
And gay they sported o'er her lovely head,
And some with tender fans, that were ymade
Of wing of butterfly, the breezes led
To pay her charms obedience, and yplay'd
In airy circles round the couch where she was laid.
Behind her, warbling with delicious note,
Mild flutes and golden lyres breath'd soft delight,
And Harmony her gentle round did float,
And Melody with melting voice invite;
While Fays, high seated upon thrones of light,
Sung sweet enchanting words to ev'ry sound:
So that ne mind, ne smell, ne ear, ne sight,
Could wanten ought of pleasures that abound,
So rife was ev'ry joy that mortals love yfound.
Midst all this mingled world of harmony,
Up downy steps of pillows soft ymade
The Knight with hurrying foot ascended high,
Where Grace and Beauty were in radiance laid,
To Pleasure's glitt'ring couch; the music play'd
To livelier notes along his raptur'd soul
While by her side the dame alluring bade,
The alter'd Warrior rest; ne blush ystole
O'er his gay cheek, ne 'gan the tear repentant roll.
Anon there crowden round their wond'ring guest
Gay winged nymphs in colour'd robes array'd;
This hung a sparkling jewel on his breast,
Or round his neck the circling garland laid,
With many a pearly bead and jewell'd braid;
That scatter'd perfume o'er his purple dress,
Or dropp'd the liquid odours on his head;
These with fair arms his easy feet caress,
Or kemb his waving locks, that wreaths of roses press.
First Delicacy soft with languid eye
Swam smooth along; while o'er her lily cheek,
A veil of shadowing silk flow'd carelessly
Sweeping her snowy bosom: for the shriek
Of fearful Woe, if once the sun-beam seek
Her face unveil'd, burst piercing on the air
From her averted lips; and mild and meek
The buzzing fly brought Grief and wild'ring Fear,
If once her ears he bore his drowsy piping near.
Then Flatt'ry with her dimpled cheek approach'd
Low bending down her face that secret smil'd
And slow came on, as if she had encroach'd
Upon his time, and all the way beguil'd
With scatter'd incense, tho' ne thing defil'd
Her scented progress; then within his ear
She pour'd exalting words and praises wild,
Tho' ne, I wis, one did her bosom bear,
But all were form'd without of bubble and of air.
Next Gaudiness her colour'd mantle spread
Upon the dazzled sight with spangles bright
Of solar lustre: on her sparkling head
Mov'd a gay Butterfly all richly dight
With ev'ry colour of the Bow of Light,
Whose wide dispread and tender wings ymade
A flutt'ring crown: while from an unseen height
Profusion scatter'd on the glitt'ring bed
Green Em'rald, Sapphire blue, and Ruby's glowing red.
And last came sporting gaily on the air
Young Wantonness, with red and fiery eyne,
Nathless in which some tender glances were;
And with arch look her head she did incline,
And round her temples ivy leaves entwine,
Whiles in one hand she bore a figure small,
Copied from that which still and ay will shine,
Beauty's resplendent model and of all
High Admiration claims, the wonder of the ball.
Her other hand a globe of splendour bare
Pierc'd round with holes, from which there did arise,
With od'rous perfume scenting all the air,
Enraptur'd whispers, and love-breathing sighs,
And vows of constancy, and tender cries,
And now loud laughs that merriment denote
And fill with echoing joy the smiling skies,
And voices now of men right loud and stote,
And now of females soft and gentle maids, I wote.
Sudden the goddess took an iv'ry wand,
Which thrice she wav'd on high as chalking round
Some airy circle with her magic hand,
Then droppen it as quickly on the ground;
When lo, Sir Guyon's eyne the portals found,
Whence came th' inferior deities who sway'd
O'er Pleasure's gay domain, while gentler sound
Of tender lutes a melting concord made,
That seem'd to breathe without from some enchanted glade.
First on a crawling Sloth ymounted went
Dull Indolence, with cheek of pallid hue,
And lazy head on heavy bosom bent,
And half-shut eyne that squinted all askew;
His jaw-bone eke unto his shoulder grew,
That never manlier was ylifted high;
And wrapp'd he was in garments ne so few;
For downy vestments hid each moveless thigh,
That from his temples hung, and shrowden o'er his eye.
And in one hand a bitter bowl he held,
Fill'd with the turbid stream of Lethe drear,
Whose mould'ring sides were gnawn away by Eld;
For ne about it did he taken care:
And in the other he did faintly bear
A bunch of poppies, which by bards are said
To grow where Somnus' darkling mansions are;
And eke with these he beat his drowsy head,
And totter'd on his way, and seem'd to wish for bed.
And next to him stretch'd sluggishly along,
In velvet couch on bloated Genii rais'd,
Went gorgeous Luxury, with dance and song,
And dainty meats attended; while he blaz'd
With pearls and gold that shrinking vision daz'd;
And all the way he eaten some of food,
Or with his mutt'ring lips the liquor prais'd;
And seem'd to think that nought beside was good
But Gluttony and Wealth, whose blessings he had woo'd.
And after him a lovely female form
Tripp'd blithe along her soul-enliv'ning way,
Ycleped Beauty; Health in blushes warm,
And thousand charms her glowing cheeks array;
Her eyne with Love's resistless glances play:
While in one hand a sweet Narcissus flow'r
She carried soft with lily colour gay,
Benempt from that bright youth, who in sad hour
Pin'd for his own fair face, while Echo's had no pow'r.
A youth enchain'd adorn'd her other hand;
Certes he was a lovely little boy:
His eyne were hidden by a silken band,
Which nathless did his beauty ne destroy;
And o'er his shoulder, ah! destructive toy!
A golden quiver stock'd with darts he bore,
With which unguarded hearts he doth annoy:
For tho' so small, yet can he wounden sore,
And bid the mournful breast be glad and gay ne more.
And little winged imps around her head
Frisk'd on the air; some carried torches sheen,
Which double lustre o'er the day did spread,
As tho' the Sun had wanting splendour been;
And some bore pierc'd and bleeding hearts I ween,
Which others aimed at in cruel sport
With poison'd darts, and seemed full of spleen;
Tho' in their face they look'd of joyous sort,
And whirlen up and down, as Fairy had them taught.
At each gay step she took her path along,
Soft Virgins scatter'd Maia's flow'rets fair,
And other sweets that to her reign belong,
And all Pomona's juicy dainties rare,
The beauteous ornaments of Summer's wear;
And at her feet blaz'd crowns of glorious hue,
That fill'd with splendour all the sheening air,
Which Kings and Caesars ay before her threw:
To such a peerless maid is royal service due.
And her behind danc'd frolicsome Desire,
With ivy crown'd in myrtle green entwin'd;
Her rolling eyne did mirth and love inspire,
And fill'd with ardent hope the youthful mind;
And with delightful garland did she bind
The bending horns of a hot-blooded goat,
Which wanton'd wild and joyously behind,
And sometimes rollen on his rugged coat,
All sly with leering look, which she had him ytote.
And eke within her bosom there was lain
A secret fire, which ne did hurt the heart;
But all ythrillen with a pleasant pain,
That in its pleasaunce did forget its smart;
And ne'er from its fair won would it depart,
But gain'd fresh fuel from each am'rous thought:
And round her did from unseen stations start
Disporting Satyrs, merriment that taught,
And with their frisking ways the lips to laughter brought.
And after her came soul-enliv'ning Joy,
With Ivy Thyrsis in her waving hand,
Which, if well water'd, Eld can ne destroy;
And gay she flourish'd high this verdant wand,
Which, minstrels sing, the noisy dancing band
Of drunken Satyrs mixt with maidens fair
Carried, as Liber's jovial laws command,
With curling serpents twin'd within their hair,
With shouts of triumph mad filling the sounding air.
Sooth loud she laughen all the way she went,
And tripp'd and turned on her wanton heel;
For all her soul to merriment was bent,
Ne did one dismal thought her bosom feel,
Ne in her heart had pain once thrust his steel:
And on Desire ay fixen was her view,
Eyne that did Rapture's swimming rays reveal,
And were, I wote of sweet celestial blue:
Right blithsome danc'd she on, the merriest of the crew.
And her behind, a most delightful train,
With joyous step tripp'd cheerfully along,
Of lovely crowned boys, who seem'd to reign
O'er all the actions of the sportive throng;
And regulated they each merry song,
Beating the sprightly Time with iv'ry wand
On golden globes upheld by silken thong:
Soft stole the measur'd tinkling from their hand,
Soothing with even sounds symphonious, clear, and bland.
And after them flew youthful Genii high,
Cloth'd all in airy robes of streaming light;
Stars seem'd to glitter in each sparkling eye,
So bright and piercing was their eagle sight:
And on his head each one bore, large and bright,
A glorious sun that flamed forth to view,
Like some tall spire to trav'lling weary wight,
That glistens in the sky serene and blue,
From wish'd-for village church to souvenance ne new.
And in their hands sweet instruments they bore
Of heav'nly music rapt'rous to the ear;
But ne fierce trumpets which do grieven sore
The widow'd dame, and give her quaking fear;
Sounds that to warrior bold is pleasaunce dear:
Ne harsh resounding drums that call to war,
And rouse the sleeping ire of battle drear,
Ne sounding clarions that the foemen draw,
To mortal fight, I ween, ne know soft Pity's law.
But breath'd they, well I wis, the blander sound
Of other numberless soft notes yplay'd
To gentle water-falls that dash'd around
A murm'ring melody, and concord made,
With sweeter skill than Nature e'er display'd;
Some holden shepherd pipes of rural charm,
That float so tender thro' the bower'd glade;
And some mild lutes that Anger's rage disarm,
And sound ne furious fight, ne bellow rude alarms.
And some thro' mellow horn delightful pour'd
Their quiv'ring breath, as if along the wood
Chaste Dian with her nymphs the steps explor'd
Of savage boar, that wets his tusks with blood,
Or wily fox, sad foe to chicken brood;
And some deliciously the flute inspir'd,
That warbles to the cascade's tumbling flood;
While others by Dan Phoebus' spirit fir'd,
Their voice attemp'red sweet, of melody ne'er tir'd.
And last, to close the fine majestic sight,
A lovely chorus, crown'd with laurel green,
Of beauteous girls, in flowing purple dight,
Chaunted transporting hymns of joy, I ween,
Exalting the gay Palace and its Queen,
And all the way dispredden they her praise,
Like those fair boys at Grecian worship seen,
That did in songs their heroes' glories raise,
And all their noble deeds and valiant actions blaze.
Now pass'd along this glitt'ring rabblement,
And circled thrice the Palace till they drew
In trained majesty, to where intent
Upon the shew with fix'd and wond'ring view
The Knight still nourish'd admiration new;
Then on their knees before their dame on high,
Who satten by his side, themselves they threw;
When thus, arising with most lovely eye,
She wav'd her lily hand, and spoken gracefully.
"What are the joys that mortals can bestow?
Pleasures as soon as they arise that fly,
The fading sweetness of the flow'rs that blow,
The passing splendour of a summer's sky:
With my delights can such rejoicing vie?
Short perfume give the roses gay and red,
For in a day they droop, they fade, they die;
But see Arabia from her scented head
With endless odours rich the flow'ry landscape spread.
"Such are the charms that real joy can boast,
That joy which only dwells where I reside;
That joy which only loves this beauteous coast,
And vows with me for ever to abide.
Each sweet of Heav'n is waiting at my side;
With me the day with clouds is ne'er o'ercast;
O'er placid Night the stars for ever ride;
With me gay Fancy is herself surpass'd,
And bliss, consummate bliss, by mortals gain'd at last.
"The rapt'rous cup I offer to mankind,
Nobles and monarchs have rejoic'd to share;
Heroes have erst upon this breast reclin'd,
Ne gods themselves disdain'd to call me fair;
Chains were mine eyne, and fetters was my hair.
Do mortals then presume to call me vile,
To say my palace is the den of care;
To say that serpents in my dimples smile,
And fatal venom black, and wretchedness, and guile?
"This precious casket that adorns my hand,
The gods above yform'd for my delight;
Fair Venus brought it me by their command,
And gave the prize with ev'ry beauty dight:
Cupid, the beauteous boy, was in affright,
Lest I should spoil his quiver of its store;
For all bow'd low before my piercing sight,
Ne thought of him the blinded urchin more,
Ne sought his altars lorn, ne did the god adore.
"In this my house no raging passions storm,
Anger, ne envy, ne revengeful hate;
Ne sullen woes the gay abode deform;
Ne harsh decrees of life-destroying fate;
Eternal sunshine beams before my gate:
The tender pleasures round me ever dance,
Society, ne serious and sedate,
Soft Friendship, fam'd to smooth the rocks of chance,
And Love, that doth the soul in rapt'rous dreams entrance.
"Here, if the fainting Palmer seek repose,
Pillows of down await his weary head,
Sleep with smooth hand his heavy eyne to close,
Music divine to warble round his bed,
And the rich feast with mantling goblets spread;
Here trip the Cyprian nymphs ay blithe and gay,
Tempting with ruby lips, and cheeks as red;
Here the light Loves and wanton Zephyrs play,
And Spring for ever smiles, for ever gems the day!
"Come then, ye trav'llers in the vale of life,
Ye, whose sad cheeks are wet with falling tears,
Ye, who have battled in the scenes of strife,
And ye who tremble with appalling fears;
Here drop your burdens, here lay up your cares:
Here without foolish labour shall ye find
Riches and Peace, that ay smooth forehead wears,
And pleasures never to be left behind!
Come then, ye mortals, come; come, O ye wise mankind!"
Mild as the whispers of enraptur'd Love,
Fell the soft music of her magic tongue!
Dew ne'er dropp'd softer from the skies above,
Nor on the hive a sweeter nectar hung!
Persuasion never had so deftly sung:
For, when she ended her melodious speech,
A still enchantment pour'd the train among:
Rapture did chain applause from futile reach,
And Silence, swaying all, unutter'd praises teach!
Sir Guyon lay entranc'd upon his bed,
At the harmonious voice that caught his ear,
Till with a soft caress she rais'd his head,
And to her side with mildness brought him near,
Bidding him ne her dazzling splendour fear;
And with sweet words, she did the knight allure,
With dainty speeches, and embraces dear,
So that ne chastity he would endure,
But called her his own, himself her paramour!
The horrors and tremendous scenes,
Which sad Sir Guyon shent;
Till from above Religion fair
Brought Glory and Content.
Ah me! how Pleasure doth the soul enthrall!
How lure mankind with her accursed charms!
How bid the learned and the hero fall;
And teach the strong to melt within her arms!
E'en Modesty, sweet maiden fair, she warms,
If once she kiss her lovely blushing cheek,
Away th' endearment chaster thought alarms,
And soon the senses joys untasted seek;
Till this heav'n-moulded frame sinks down unnerv'd and weak!
Ask ye a witness this lament to prove?
Roam where Italia boasts her heav'nly sky;
There o'er the tombs of Death and Mem'ry rove,
Till the sad sculptur'd marble meet thine eye,
In which Urbino's mould'ring relics lie!
Then pause and weep! O weep to think how low
Great Raphael fell, and from a throne how high
To shameful death! O let the tear-drops flow,
For ne'er before was known such cause of wail and woe!
Full seven bright months the Knight in joying spent,
Feasts, and gay dances, and rich masquerade,
And unchaste Love's delicious merriment,
That maketh strength to flag and cheeks to fade:
Now thro' some bow'ring copse or leafy glade
He tripp'd with lovely nymphs in sprightly round,
To the soft sound that flute enchanting made;
Now lay on velvet spread along the ground,
While music swell'd on high, that Orpheus might astound.
Soon as the morning o'er the verdant isle
Pour'd the bright rays from forth her splendid eyne,
And waken'd Nature all around 'gan smile
To see her offspring dight so gay and fine,
Soft-falling perfumes, as a dainty sign
Of dawning day, did on Sir Guyon show'r
Around the couch where sleep did him recline;
Eftsoons then rose he to salute the hour,
Or still yslumber'd on with his fair paramour.
When 'twas his pleasure to be rous'd, I ween,
Melodious voices 'gan salute his ear
Of lively Nymphs, yclad in mantles sheen,
Who round the bed, where with his leman dear
He wanton laid, in dances play'd yfere;
While, from unseen musicians there arose
Sweet mingled sounds, repelling grief severe,
Of shepherd pipes, that cheer the mountain brows,
And golden lyres renown'd for soothing royal woes.
Then walking forth, in lukewarm bath he dipp'd,
Still cheer'd by gentle voice of lyric muse,
Whiles a sweet nymph that sung as on she tripp'd,
Came with a cup, in which she did infuse
Oblivion's soothing balm, that bids us lose
All thought of what fell out the day before;
So that the present hour, when Pleasure woos,
Doth seem to bring fresh glee unto our door,
And ev'ry taste of joy enraptures more and more.
Now from his side by velvet sash she hung
A glitt'ring sword, but not for hardy fight:
For it was neither large, ne sharp, ne strong,
But made of rubies rare and jewels bright,
To grace the wearer, and to daze the sight.
And ah! in these degen'rate days, alas!
Full many a useless youth, pert, vain and light,
We see in warlike toys all gaily pass,
Laughing with vacant stare, like any trifling lass.
Thus proudly dight, fair Pleasure led him on
To dainty feasting spread on silken say,
Where Bacchus' richest treasures sparkling shone,
And all Pomona's juicy presents lay:
Whiles ev'ry flow'r in Maia's scented sway,
Breathing sweet odours all the dainties crown'd;
And eke above their heads did Zephyr play
Among the whisp'ring foliage with sweet sound,
And flutes, pipes, lyres, and Zephyrs mix'd their warblings round.
Anon, when ended this delicious meal,
An hundred sprightly nymphs, as fair as Morn,
Mov'd in the graceful dance, or tripp'd the reel,
Whose waving curls gay chaplets did adorn:
So skips the Persian antelope, or fawn,
Of forest Windsor hight, renown'd in song
By Twick'nam's gentle swain. Ah knight forlorn!
By Pleasure's bright allurements led along,
Soon wilt thou shake thy head, and say that all was wrong!
Through this enchanting spot there gently flow'd
A crystal river, hight the Stream of Bliss,
On whose mild waves if any mortal rode,
Soft breathing airs his thrilling cheek would kiss,
That seem'd to rise from underneath, I wis;
And whilst the waters 'gainst the shore did move,
A verdant shore, such as of Thamus is,
They made sweet melody, and sounds of love,
As if some poet swain was chanting thro' the grove.
And on its lovely shores with verdure green,
A thousand flow'rs in painted splendour grew,
The blushing rose, of floral plains the queen,
The modest lily of angelic hue,
The gorgeous sun-flow'r, vi'let gaily blue,
Tulip, that boasts the rainbow's varied streaks,
The speckled pink, heart's-ease for lovers true,
Primrose, as fair as lovesick maiden's cheeks,
And serious poppy, sweet to him that quiet seeks.
Eke where each winding bank turn'd graceful round,
A cooling bow'r entic'd with verdant shew,
Where fanning airs and whisp'ring leaves were found,
And other blandishments that cares forego:
For there young Zephyr ay doth gently blow,
Waving his wings and warbling all the while
To the sweet, saunt'ring, soothing, stream below;
And on its top did sprightly Flora smile,
Wreathing her garlands gay to deck th' enchanting isle.
And round the beauteous landscape graceful shone,
Shaded above with green o'er waving bow'rs,
Delightful temples, white with Parian stone;
This the bright dwelling of the dancing hours,
That of dame Venus and the wanton powr's;
One where fair Beauty held her blooming sway,
On which celestial odour ever show'rs;
Another where gay Fancy's fairies play,
With rainbow-colour'd wings and eyes of glitt'ring day.
On this delicious stream, when Noon's bright god
Pour'd flaming radiance o'er the cloudless sky,
His tender feet with velvet sandal shod,
Sir Guyon rode, while Pleasure satten nigh:
Soft mov'd the boat, and soft the waves ran by,
Beneath the silver oars, to whose clear sound
Responsive lutes form'd tender minstrelsy;
Enraptur'd breezes bore the charm around,
And in one chain of joy all Nature's works were wound.
And nodding graceful o'er the gurgling stream
The quiv'ring trees yform'd a trembling shade,
Dancing like airy vision of a dream,
That ne'er one lasting fix'd impression made;
And in their waving boughs the feather'd choir
Chanted sweet carols from the bending spray:
While others glitt'ring in the noon-tide fire,
Spread broad their painted plumage to the day,
And twitt'ring high in air skimm'd far from earth away.
Thus glorious all with gold and carvings rare,
The pois'nous goblet, mix't for black'ning death,
Invites the soul to quaff away its care,
Whiles Fate and Torment lie unseen beneath:
Quick draughts are drawn: then groans the heaving breath;
Down falls the cup; and fall e'en monarchs must;
Strength, pow'r, pomp, wealth, and ah! the floral wreath
Of festive joy is trampled in the dust;
And man, the lord of earth, of all her slaves the worst.
Alluring smiles fair Pleasure's lips array'd,
More pleas'd she seem'd than e'er she had before;
Yet ev'ry smile mysterious thoughts betray'd,
And her smooth aspect joy unusual wore:
In her white hand a silken fan she bore,
Which ever and anon, with head inclin'd
She held up to her eyes, that glanc'd the more
At the charm'd knight, as soft and slow the wind
Mov'd the gay boat along, who nought amiss could find.
Still at the helm he sat with tott'ring frame,
For Bacchus had absorb'd his manly soul,
And still he thought her lovely looks the same,
On whom was fix'd his strong affection whole:
Now high th' encreasing waves began to roll,
Yet so diverted was his fetter'd eye,
He thought himself ne hast'ning to his goal,
Ne once abated the gay symphony
Of heav'nly music round, that did the waves belie.
Loose reel'd the boat; Sir Guyon, fast enchain'd
By the bright beauty of th' enchanting fair,
Mov'd not, ne turn'd, ne look'd about, ne plain'd
Of the big swelling of the stream so rare,
Ne heard the rising winds that fill'd his hair,
Ne saw the tempest gath'ring o'er his head,
Or the black frown the stormy skies 'gan wear;
While dreadful glooms around the isle were spread,
And clouds and thunder swell'd, all dreary, dark, and dread.
Sudden a direful noise re-echoed round;
The vengeful daemons of the tempest roar;
The waters foam, upheaves the trembling ground,
And all th' enchanting harmony is o'er!
Pleasure's gay veil, that once in pride she wore,
Starts from her face; Hell rages in her eye;
Upon her shoulders dragon wings she bore;
And loud and fierce was her hyaena cry!
He falls, he sinks! the storm roars loud, and passes by.
O ye who e'er "with passions boiling high
Quaff with delight th' intoxicating bowl,"
That asks the lip, and sparkles in the eye,
Dash from your sight the poison of the soul:
From gay deceit the borrow'd splendour stole
Was mix'd by luring Pleasure's fatal hand
With deadlier venom than the noisome hole
Of the fierce viper breathes upon the land,
Or Araby's black wind that whirls the parching sand.
Tho' wooing smiles once deck her painted cheek,
Frowns will succeed that blacken e'en the night;
Frowns that can make the hardy warrior weak,
And smiling Beauty's vermeil flow'ret blight!
Tho' warm her wooing, and her look tho' light,
Cold Care and icy Horror lurk beneath,
And Weariness, and Want with visage white,
And ev'ry daemon with envenom'd breath,
That weaves the web of Woe, and digs the grave of Death!
Dark rolling waves oppress'd Sir Guyon's head;
In vain he flounder'd in the whelming tide;
The waters breaking from their troublous bed
In roar confus'd along his temples glide!
Eftsoons the mighty swelling did subside,
Low groan'd the hollow caverns deep below!
The bursting ground yawn'd hideously wide;
Down sinks the hapless knight; the billows flow
Unheeded o'er his head, and rage and roar ne moe.
Anon his eyne wide op'ning, and his breast
Gath'ring its scatter'd thoughts, he sees before
His tott'ring feet, that look'd in vain for rest,
A gloomy wilderness, where tempests roar,
And Heav'n looks ever angry, from its store
Of fiery vengance pouring all around
Wind, storm, and hail, and rain of dropping gore,
Thunder, yshaking all the desart ground,
And lightning's flaming shafts, that sin and vice astound!
Ne blooming flow'r the dreary landscape knew,
Ne cheerful tree, ne streamlet gurgling slow,
Ne quiet glade, ne sky of azure blue,
Ne level lawn, ne meadow green and low,
Ne any sweet that fields delightful know.
Here spare and ragged, fate to mortal taste,
The deadly nightshade to the daylight foe,
Wav'd still and solemn to the howling blast,
And the dark cypress bow'd amid the joyless waste!
And where the middle of this desart stood,
A languid stream with sullen murm'rings flow'd,
Like that black river by the hero view'd
Benempt Aeneas, when the shades he trod,
With Sybil wand'ring from her dark abode,
Ycleped Lethe, of oblivion hight
The gentle river, on which he who rode,
To quaff the water, quick forgotten quite
All past, and o'er again could sip the same delight.
But ah! diverse of these dire waves the taste;
Which, when the lip had touch'd the nauseous stream,
Call'd to the mind each ill that had gone past,
Each vice once slipt from mem'ry as a dream:
Then fierce Repentance rising slowly came,
The genius of the river, from beneath,
And with rude scourges whipp'd the tortur'd frame;
Till, wond'rous, all the soul was calm and eath,
And blest Heav'ns just decrees, and grew resign'd to death.
Before that mortal man escapes this place
These heavy waters dull must passed be;
Nathless they started at its horrid face,
Who went to pass, and often back would flee,
Afraid its horrid aspect e'en to see:
But bolder wights who held the other shore,
Gain'd from its terrors nought but liberty,
And reach'd a sky that fadeless splendour wore,
Where storms ne beat and blow, ne waters rage and roar.
Much thought the knight upon the gloomy scene,
When sudden yelling thro' the darken'd air,
As if all Tartarus dissolv'd had been,
Legions of daemons howl'd within his ear,
Starting from posts unseen, and sent by Care,
From whom the horrid wilderness was hight,
To torture souls with vice that conquer'd were,
Hideous with scorpion tails and faces white
On coal-black bodies, fierce and horrid to the sight!
Now with rude talon sharp they pierc'd his breast,
Or his side tortur'd with deep-goring horn:
First one, more grim and loathsome than the rest,
Shaking his ragged locks and cheeks forlorn,
A fiend of Filth and Dissipation born,
Benempt Disease, from jaws all pois'nous shed
Venom so black, that it would darken morn,
Which pierc'd his marrow, and shot thro' his head,
And o'er the air around a foul contagion spread!
And him behind, another imp of Hell,
With faded eyne, and face of sallow hue,
While ever and anon a hollow yell
Shriek'd on the wind, upon his body flew,
With tyger claws ypinching it all blue:
And he was hight infernal Want, I ween,
Begot of the hag Pleasure, mortal view
Deceiving, and th' inchanter, whose house sheen,
By him, the rural bard, so sweet describ'd hath been.
And next him started on the knight, I wot,
A most surprising fiend, whose visage pale
Was branded all about with dusky spot
Made by the fiery iron, heavy bale
To him that doth with impious hand assail
The laws of righteous Justice; and he hight
Foul Infamy, ay driv'n by Woe and Wail,
And pointing Scorn of moderation light,
And brazen-tongu'd Reproach, ne silent in the night.
Broad from the shoulders of this monster rare
Wings, such as hold in air the wabbling bat,
Cast round a dreadful gloom upon the air,
The which beneath if mortal body sat,
Cold shiv'rings seiz'd him, spirits waxed flat,
A thousand noises bellow'd in his ear,
And mov'd he ay to this side and to that;
Nathless he ne escap'd the shadow drear,
Unless high pow'r came down his sinking soul to chear.
His face was pallid, and had horrid beak
Of owl projecting out, by which two eyes
That wink'd at light of day, roll'd on his cheek:
O'er them, if e'er he saw the morning skies,
His claws he layen would, till night arise;
And eke his head was full of ears behind,
That nought Reproach's curses mote disguise,
Ne foul abuse mote be dissolv'd in wind;
So that ne ease, ne rest, ne comfort could he find.
And then a monstrous rabblement there pass'd
Of rude mishapen wights, a horrid shew;
Till slowly pacing onward came at last
A long, lean spectre, imp of Vice and Woe,
Hight Melancholy, with deportment low,
Whose moveless eye was fix'd upon the ground,
For she was ay to light and day the foe;
And o'er her head a sweeping veil she bound,
Which trailed long below, and swept upon the ground.
But she, I ween, was not that virgin mild,
The poet woos along sequester'd grove,
By bubbling stream or rustling tree beguil'd
To think of serious joy and heav'nly love,
Such as the songs of that high bard approve,
Dan Milton, warbler of seraphic lyre,
When in cool walk of ev'ning he would rove,
Daughter of bright-hair'd Vesta, and the Sire,
Of him 'gainst whose high throne the Titans dar'd conspire.
But ne divine was her detested form
Ne sadly sweet, ne melancholy mild;
Around her howling drove the black'ning storm,
And o'er her burst the tempest tossing wild:
Ne was there ought in her that heart beguil'd
With luring grace; ne "eyne of dewy light,"
Ne soothing look; but front with frown defil'd,
Eye with wild terror hideously bright,
And steps that started quick, and wails that witch'd one white.
Whene'er the Knight thought, mov'd, or look'd around
This horrid hag was frowning in his eye:
E'en tho' the other daemons were not found,
Still all her horrors were for ever nigh:
If e'er he wish'd, his feet refus'd to fly,
And down he sunk despairing on the earth;
In vain he begg'd with burning tears to die,
And curs'd the fatal hour that saw his birth,
And mourn'd remember'd vice, and wept forgotten worth.
Full oft with weary step he wander'd on,
O'er the wild landscape dark with black'ning heath;
Full oft stopt sadly where the cypress lone
Caught in its leaves the blast's envenom'd breath,
And weav'd with dropping tears the mournful wreath;
Then crown'd his head, and sigh'd with mem'ry thought
Of the gay garlands on his temples eath
In Pleasure's luring Palace, dearly bought,
With pangs that rend the heart, ne peace, ne pity taught.
Then on its gloomy bark his eyne would trace
Carv'd by the hand of solitary wight,
Names that once wander'd in this horrid place,
Once lay in the soft lap of gay delight,
And fell from sunshine into hideous night.
There saw he, pond'ring on their long-lost pow'r,
Those of the queen, who Cleopatra hight,
And famous Antony, her paramour,
Whose sloth ylost so oft Rome's greenest, gayest flow'r.
Then Nero's name abhorred caught his eye
Stamp'd in red characters of human blood:
Him, the wild wretch of wanton cruelty,
Gay Pleasure toss'd within her whelming flood,
When to her arms the sanguine tyrant woo'd
With joyous breast her glitt'ring goblet quaff'd,
While by his side his weeping country stood:
Yet still his lips drew in the rapt'rous draught,
Nor stopt he once, unless when at her woes he laught.
Next knew he fierce Domitian's hand, I wot,
Unmanly tort'rer of the harmless fly;
And him that in Thalia's colour'd grot
Raptur'd with pencil gay the feasted eye,
And that lamented youth, whose hand could vie
With soft Italia's Prince of Painters gay:
O'er these two last full oft the tender sigh,
That mourn'd their tempted youth and heedless play,
Breath'd o'er the gloomy heath, and brought the tear away.
Tir'd of the mournful task the weeping knight
Cast on the earth his pale and ling'ring form,
When lo, bright bursting from the realms of light,
An angel figure stream'd before the storm!
Where'er she flew, the clouds no more deform
The clear blue sky; all smiling was the scene;
Upon her cheek youth's blushes gay and warm
Were mixt with matron gravity; her mien
Bespoke the seraph soul, majestic, sweet, serene.
O'er her fair shoulders hung a robe of white,
Not gaudy, gay, or glitt'ring in the air,
But chaste and plain it pleas'd the tasteful sight,
And to the modest made its owner dear;
Of ebon colour was her flowing hair,
Type of grave judgment and exalted thought;
Upon her arm, like alabaster fair,
Hung the blest Cross, which peace and comfort brought,
And she had eyes from which pain mote have pleasure caught.
By her right side a lovely gentle maid
Smil'd like a cherub on the raptur'd scene;
In attic robe her polish'd form array'd
Mov'd modest on; and from her easy mien
A thousand winning graces, charms serene,
Raptur'd th' admiring soul; her graceful arm
Bore a smooth vase with crystal water sheen
Fill'd to the brim: health gave her ev'ry charm,
And call'd her name Content, wise, humble, fair, and calm.
And on her left a radiant figure shone,
Ycleped Glory, clad in robes of light,
Upon her temples beam'd a golden crown,
Dazzling with pointed rays the shrinking sight;
And her fair hands with strings of silver bright
A lyre celestial held; from which whene'er
Call'd by the first fair virgin rob'd in white,
She pour'd such rapt'rous numbers on the ear,
That Phoebus burst his clouds, and all the sky was clear.
Behind the beaming trio flew along
A beauteous band, all fair, all mildly gay;
Ne'er was there seen so bright a virgin throng,
Not e'en when Vesta held her sacred day
On Rome's glad hills, and call'd her maids away
In slow procession to her sacred fane:
Around their temples nodding lilies play
In simple wreath; Temp'rance without a stain,
Grave Wisdom, chearful Health, and Peace that knows ne pain.
The weeping knight uprais'd his trembling form,
Gazing with eye refresh'd upon the sight;
Hush'd was the howling of the dreadful storm,
And the dark heath he saw not with affright,
As erst his eyne were wont; firm and upright
His soul within did seem to bid him stand;
When sudden Glory wav'd her robe of light,
And o'er the harp swept her melodious hand,
While the fair form in white thus chaunted o'er the land.
"Ah! where is gone gay Pleasure's luring eye?
Where gone her winning step and trancing song?
Where fled the splendour of her summer sky?
Where hid the sportings of her festive throng?
And why is spread this dreary heath along?
Why loves the storm to sound his terrors here?
Why to this air do glooms and fears belong?
Why drops the mortal's eye the mournful tear?
Why sighs his aching breast? Why aches that breast with care?
"Alas! 'twas Pleasure planted it with thorns!
Thorns hid in flow'rs, and dipt in nectar'd dew,
Flow'rs, like the rose that Maia's head adorns;
Dew, such as studs the morning's girdle blue!
Bright was her cup, and of resplendent hue;
Yet gloom and horror lurk'd within the bowl!
Love from her eyne a thousand arrows drew,
Yet tipt with poison black, that softly stole
Thro' all the trembling veins, then rent and rack'd the soul.
"Come then — O come to this composing breast!
Come; on the Cross repose the weary head!
Come! For this bosom soothes the tir'd to rest,
And this hard Cross yet makes an easy bed!
This hand can join again life's parted thread!
This eye can animate the pallid cheek
With one warm look, tho' health has long been fled!
This arm can raise to strength the drooping weak,
This arm the dart of woe, the rack of torture break!
"My name's Religion. He who reigns above
Calls me his own: by his celestial seat,
Where Angels hymn the God of Peace and Love,
His chosen handmaid was I form'd to stand:
I am the chief of all th' angelic band,
Sent by his mercy to the son of man,
To heal his woes with voice of comfort bland,
To sooth the labour of his toiling span,
And give the high reward when well his race he ran!
"Come then, thou mourner, come to this soft breast!
Thou, whom false Pleasure taught her task of woe:
Thou, who in vain hast sought relief and rest
In this dark scene, this dreary waste below,
Come shelter peaceful from the blasts that blow,
The turbid blasts of sorrow and deceit!
These gentle arms, ne grief, ne trouble know;
This gentle breast did ne'er with anguish beat;
This placid bosom ne'er the furious tempest meet!
"Yon dreaded stream where sad Repentance rears
His tort'ring scourge, my potent hand can calm,
Sooth his fierce anger, when thy bosom fears,
And stop his hand, and turn the destin'd harm!
In gen'rous breasts, when I instil the balm,
Of gentle Peace, Repentance racks ne moe:
Again exerted is the rising arm—
For true repentance virtuous actions shew:
Content then smiles again, ne mourns returning woe!
"Come then, thou mourner! here forget thy cares,
Here lay that pallid form, that trembling heart;
See, where Content her healing draught prepares,
And hark! how Glory, brightest of the blest,
Strikes the loud harp! her splendours all confest,
See where she stands, and calls thee to Renown!
Here in my bosom ever honour'd rest!
Come! Glory waits with her rewarding crown,
And sweet Contentment smiles, and Nature drops her frown!"
She ceas'd! Creation's universal frame
Brighten'd with joy; before the wond'ring eye
From the bright welkin beams of radiance came,
And solar splendour stream'd along the sky:
The airy glooms evaporate and die?
The barren heath with flow'ry beauty gay
Throws thousand sweets of fragrant scent on high;
Repentance rolls his turbid stream away,
Creation, skies, and fields enliven into day.
Here verdant plains extend their velvet green,
There the awed soul surveys the rocky steep;
Here clust'ring groves o'erhang the woodland scene,
And yonder Ocean's blue-eyed Naiads sweep:
Anon wide tumbling down the valley deep,
From the grand mountain's sky-saluting height,
Where musing Solitude delights to sleep,
The foaming cat'ract, sparkling to the light,
Bounds o'er the echoing field, and dashes on the sight.
Soft to the prattle of the rippling stream,
The feather'd songsters warble from the grove;
Life's vain enjoyments seem a feverish dream,
And all the soul is lost in joy and love.
What sonnet tend'rer than the cooing dove?
What music sweeter than the throstle's song?
Ah, here, if here the pilgrim's footsteps rove,
Here where the rural graces love to throng,
Here shall he rest his hopes, nor find those hopes were wrong.
The knight enraptur'd clasp'd her bosom round;
Serenest Pleasure warm'd his alter'd breast;
And, as his eyne his angel soother found,
They darted grateful glances that confest
How lov'd that heart which call'd his woes to rest.
Then Glory came, and fix'd upon his head
The crown of honour and the warlike crest,
And shining helm, so long that useless laid,
And to his graceful side yfix'd the deathful blade.
"Go," sung she, striking her exalted lyre,
"Go lift th' oppress'd, and beat th' oppressor low;
Go, where sad Justice sees her sons expire,
And Tyranny quaffs down the tears of Woe!
Eternal peace shall chear thy breast below,
And when Heav'n calls thee to its arms above,
Immortal splendour beam around thy brow!
Go; Virtue calls thee; watch her guiding eye;
When Virtue draws the sword, tempests and storms defy!
"Peace ne abides with Indolence and Ease,"
Sung mild Contentment, pouring from her urn
Th' invigorating draught; while ev'ry breeze
Caught her soft lay, and whisper'd it in turn;
"Peace bids her sons the task of virtue learn,
As great Alcides' self ythought of old;
'Tis thro' the rock the hidden mine we earn.
This goblet quaff; 'twill warm, tho' pure and cold,
When Glory's crown is thine, Content will crown the bold."
"Enough!" Sir Guyon cried, and from her hand,
Caught to his lips th' inestimable bowl;
Full swell his veins; his breast and nerves expand,
And rising ardour heaves within his soul:
Already see his eyne the destin'd goal,
Where Glory and Content their Crowns display;
Thro' his warm heart the rapt'rous fancy stole;
He pants to bound in his advent'rous way,
And thus burst wildly forth, with inspiration gay:
"Lead, lead along, ye Angel band divine!
Lead, lead along! I go, I leap, I fly!
Lead, where ye list; where Phoebus ay doth shine,
Or blust'ring tempests drive along the sky.
Nought can affright my soul, or turn mine eye:
Vice I despise, and opposition scorn,
Pleasure's lewd arts, and all her crew defy;
When night is fled, who hails not lively morn?
O lead your Warrior on, again to glory born!"
He ceas'd; and as ybroken from the toil
The raging lion sweeps along the vale,
Call'd by the tyger howling o'er his spoil,
And pants to rob him of his bloody meal;
His sullen roars the fierce intent reveal,
And the loud tail ylash'd, and eyne of fire:
Thus the bold Knight drew forth his flaming steel,
While glory woke the grandeurs of her lyre,
And wildly rush'd along as music's swells inspire!
Bright streams of radiance mark'd his destin'd way;
Where'er he trod the magic gleams appear;
His burnish'd breast-plate sparkled on the day,
And Glory's harp still roll'd along his ear:
Shame flies his path, and Doubt, and hiding Fear;
And Strength and Triumph pant within his breast;
Upon his brow sits Majesty severe;
Onward he bounds, the warrior all confest,
And high he rears his sword, and nods the waving crest!
[Second edition; pp. 163-231]