An Ovidian tale in irregular Spenserians (ababbccC), originally titled in manuscript "Venus and Anchises." Brittain's Ida, with the excision of several stanzas, was published as by Spenser in 1628. The publisher, Thomas Walkley, stated "I am certainly assured by the ablest and most knowing Men, that it must be a Work of Spenser's, of whom it were pity that any thing should be lost" Works of Spenser, ed. Hughes (1715) 6:1485.
Brittain's Ida was printed with Spenser's works in the 1679 Folio, and reprinted by Hughes (1715), who first called the attribution into question. In the nineteenth century John Payne Collier attributed Brittain's Ida to William Basse, while A. B. Grosart, following Thomas Warton, attributed it to Fletcher. The matter was finally settled when Ethel Seaton discovered the manuscript of Venus and Anchises, which she published in 1926.
John Hughes: "As for the Poem call'd Britain's Ida, tho' it has formerly appear'd with our Author's Works, and is therefore now reprinted, I am apt to believe, notwithstanding the Opinion of its first Publisher, that it is not Spenser's" Works of Edmund Spenser (1715) 1:cx.
William Oldys?: "There is a Poem called Britain's Ida fathered upon Spenser, at least by the bookseller: who dedicates it to Lady Mary Villiers, only Daughter to the unfortunate Duke of Buckingham. Though a great deal in it is very pleasing; we are apt to think with Mr. Hughes, that it is not Spenser's. Perhaps there are marks enough in it to encourage one to guess the Author" Faerie Queene, ed. Church (1758) 1:xxxviii.
Thomas Warton: "It has a vein of pleasing description; but is, at the same time, filled with conceits and witticisms, of which Spenser has much fewer, than might be expected from the taste of his age. It's manner is like that of Fletcher's Purple Island. I suspect it to have been written in imitation of Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis. The author, whoever he was, certainly lived about the latter end of Elizabeth, or the beginning of James I." Observations on the Fairy Queen of Spenser (1762) 1:124.
Thomas James Mathias: "Spenser also has a Stanza of eight, ending with an Alexandrine, where the 1st and 3d rhime; the 2d, 4th, and 5th; the 6th, 7th, and 8th, as in Britain's Ida" Works of Gray, ed. Mathias (1814) 2:23n.
Robert Southey: "That it is not Spenser's is certain; and as he is one of the purest poets of any age or country, a poem of this description ought not to stand among his works" Review of Chalmers's English Poets, Quarterly Review 11 (July 1814) 486.
W. Davenport Adams: "A poem, in six cantos, by Edmund Spenser" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 96.
Edmund Gosse: "In 1628 there was published a small poem called Britain's Ida, attributed by the publisher to 'that renowned poet Edmund Spenser.' It is obvious that Spenser did not write this elaborate and highly Jacobean piece of voluptuousness, which bears the stamp of circa 1608. There is absolutely no rumour identifying Britain's Ida, which shows the influence of Shakespeare almost as strongly as that of Spenser, with any name. But it is composed in the very peculiar stanza invented by Giles Fletcher, and it is full of phrases and locutions afterwards published in the writings of Phineas, who admits that before he indited the Purple Island, he had learned — 'in private shades to feign, | Soft sighs of love unto a looser strain'" The Jacobean Poets (1894) 149-50.
Herbert E. Cory: "Grosart sought to fix its authorship on Phineas Fletcher by the useless and worn-out method of piling up parallels with the poet's established works (as if most imitators, especially of this period, did not furnish parallels a plenty), and by certain more convincing repentant references to the looser poems of youth. He has but increased the probability at best. The poem is a lovely work of youth, sensual, to be sure, but almost too delicate for Phineas Fletcher at any period of his life. It is in six brief cantos. The first simply introduces Anchises. 'In Ida vale (who knows not Ida vale) | When harmless Troy yet felt not Grecian spite,' dwelt a hundred shepherds, of whom the most beautiful by far was Anchises. Canto two is a description of the Garden of Delight, in imitation of Spenser's Bower of Bliss. Here Venus dwelt and here Anchises came on a day when he was tired from the chase. From the grove came 'dainty music.' Thither half fearful, half hopeful he stole. Some voice sang a lay like that which Guyon heard in the Bower of Bliss. Anchises entered and saw Venus reclining on a bed of lilies, clothed in a veil of thinnest silk. Anchises swooned. Venus awaking almost thought she saw Adonis once more dying at her feet. She revived the youth with tender care. By her surpassing beauty he knew that she could be no other than the Goddess of Love. Ardently he pleaded to he admitted into her service. The gracious goddess granted his suit, gave him a bow and arrows, and placed him with the pretty Graces from whom he won great love. But he nursed a growing passion for Venus in secret until one day she overheard his complaints and begged him to tell her the cause. Falteringly he disclosed his longing and, begging for a single kiss, he won her love. His happiness was long; but one day he rashly disclosed his bliss to woods and. heaven and earth: 'That Jove upon him downe his thunder darted | Blasting We splendent flies, and all his beauty swarted.' And here the poet steps in. quaintly in his own person, blames Anchises for blabbing, and avows his own powers of secrecy would his obdurate mistress but yield. The poem shows a close dependence on Spenser and a fluent mastery of his sensuous cadences, though the rhetorical alexandrine creeps in at times. It is a delightful piece of youthful lawlessness" "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (1912) 330-31.
Abram Barnett Langdale: Brittain's Ida was "issued at London by Thomas Walkley, anonymous, supplied with the strange title of Brittain's Ida, and fortified with the publisher's suggestion that Edmund Spenser was its author, the work stood little chance of being attributed to the rector of Hilgay. Events proved the disguise, whether intentional or accidental, to be well designed. Through two centuries the somewhat lurid cantos were included in the Spenserian canon; and even after they had been rejected, it was long before anyone suspected their true parentage" Phineas Fletcher (1937) 94-95.
The youthly Shepherds wonning here,
And Beauties rare displaid appear:
What exercise he chief affects,
His Name, and scornful Love neglects.
In Ida Vale, (who knows not Ida Vale?)
When harmless Troy yet felt not Grecian Spite,
An hundred Shepherds wonn'd; and in the Dale,
While their fair Flocks the three-leav'd Pastures bite.
The Shepherds Boys, with hundred Sportlings light,
Gave Wings unto the times too speedy haste:
Ah foolish Lads, that strove with lavish waste,
So fast to spend the time, that spends your time as fast.
Amongst the rest that all the rest excell'd,
A dainty Boy there wonn'd, whose harmless Years
Now in their freshest Budding gently swell'd;
His Nymph-like Face ne're felt the nimble Sheers,
Youth's downy Blossom through his Cheek appears:
His lovely Limbs (but Love he quite discarded)
Were made for play (but he no play regarded)
And fit Love to reward, and with Love be rewarded.
High was his Fore-head, arch'd with silver Mould,
(Where never Anger churlish Wrinkle dighted)
His auburn Locks hung like dark Threds of Gold,
That wanton Airs (with their fair length incited)
To play amongst their wanton Curles delighted;
His smiling Eyes with simple Truth were stor'd:
Ah! how should Truth in those thief Eyes be stor'd,
Which thousand Loves had stoln, and never one restor'd?
His Lilly-Cheek might seem an Ivory Plain,
More purely white than frozen Appenine;
Where lovely Bashfulness did sweetly reign,
In blushing Scarlet cloth'd, and Purple fire,
A hundred Hearts had this delightful Shrine,
(Still cold it self) inflam'd with hot Desire,
That well the Face might seem in divers Tire,
To be a burning Snow, or else a freezing Fire.
His cheerful Looks, and merry Face would prove
(If Eyes the index be where Thoughts are read)
A dainty Play-fellow for naked Love;
Of all the other parts enough is said,
That they were fit Twins for so fair a Head:
Thousand Boys for him, thousand Maidens dy'd,
Die they that list, for such his rigorous Pride,
He thousand Boys (ah Fool!) and thousand Maids deny'd.
His Joy was not in Musick's sweet Delight,
(Though well his Hand had learnt that cunning Art)
Or daintier Songs to daintier Ears t' indite;
But through the Plains to chace the nimble Hart,
With well-tun'd Hounds; or with his certain Dart,
The tusked Boar, or savage Beast to wound:
Mean time his Heart with Monsters doth abound,
Ah Fool! to seek so far what nearer might be found.
His Name (well known unto those woody Shades,
Where unrewarded Lovers oft complain them)
Anchises was; Anchises oft the Glades,
And Mountains heard Anchises had disdain'd them:
Not all their Love one gentle Look had gain'd them,
That rocky Hills, with ecchoing Noise confessing,
Anchises plain'd; but he no whit relenting,
Harder than rocky Hills, laught at their vain Lamenting.
Diones' Garden of Delight,
With Wonder holds Anchises sight;
While from the Bower such Musick sounds,
As all his Senses near confounds.
One Day it chanc't as he the Deer persu'd,
Tired with Sport, and faint with weary Play,
Fair Venus' Grove not far away he view'd,
Whose trembling Leaves invite him there to stay,
And in their Shades his sweating Limbs display;
There in the cooling Glade he softly paces,
And much delighted with their even Spaces,
What in himself he scorn'd, he prais'd their kind Imbraces.
The Wood with Paphian Myrtles peopled,
(Whose springing Youth felt never Winter's spiting)
To Laurels sweet were sweetly married,
Doubling their pleasing Smells in their uniting;
When single, much; much more, when mix'd, delighting;
No Foot of Beast durst touch this hallow'd Place,
And many a Boy that long'd the Woods to trace,
Entred with fear, but soon turn'd back his frighted Face.
The thick-lock'd Boughs shut out the tell-tale Sun,
(For Venus hated his all-blabbing Light,
Since her known Fault, which oft she wish'd undon)
And scatter'd Rays did make a doubtful sight,
Like to the first of Day or left of Night:
The fittest Light for Lovers gentle play;
Such Light best shews the wandring Lover's way,
And guides his erring Hand: Night is Love's Holy-day.
So far in this sweet Labyrinth he stray'd,
That now he views the Garden of Delight;
Whose Breast with thousand painted Flowers array'd,
With divers Joy captiv'd his wandring Sight;
But soon the Eyes rendred the Ears their right:
For such strange Harmony he seem'd to hear,
That all his Senses flock'd into his Ear,
And every Faculty wish'd to be seated there.
From a close Bower this dainty Musick flow'd,
A Bowre apparel'd round with divers Roses,
Both red and white; which by their Liveries show'd
Their Mistriss fair, that there her self reposes:
Seem'd that would strive with those rare Musick Closes,
By spreading their fair Bosoms to the Light,
Which the distracted Sense should most delight;
That, raps the melted Ear; this, both the Smell and Sight.
The Boy 'twixt fearful Hope, and wishing Fear,
Crept all along (for much he long'd to see
The Bower, much more the Guest so lodged there)
And as he goes, he marks how well agree
Nature and Art in Discord Unity:
Each striving who should best perform his part,
Yet Art now helping Nature; Nature Art:
While from his Ears a Voice thus stole his Heart.
Fond Men, whose wretched Care the Life soon ending,
By striving to increase your Joy, do spend it;
And spending Joy, yet find no Joy in spending:
You hurt your Life by striving to amend it,
And seeking to prolong it, soonest end it:
Then while fit Time affords thee Time and Leave,
Enjoy while yet thou may'st thy Life's sweet Pleasure:
Too foolish is the Man that starves to feed his Treasure.
Love is Life's End; an End, but never ending;
All Joys, all Sweets, all Happiness awarding:
Love is Life's Wealth (ne'er spent, but ever spending)
More rich, by giving, taking by discarding;
Love's Life's Reward, rewarded in rewarding:
Then from thy wretched Heart fond Care remove;
Ah shouldst thou live but once Love's Sweets to prove,
Thou wilt not love to live, unless thou live to love.
To this sweet Voice a dainty Musick fitted
Its well-tun'd Strings; and to her Notes consorted:
And while with skilful Voice the Song she dittied,
The blabbing Eccho had her Words retorted;
That now the Boy, beyond his Soul transported,
Through all his Limbs feels run a pleasant shaking,
And 'twixt a Hope and Fear suspects mistaking,
And doubts he sleeping dreams, and broad awake fears waking.
Fair Cytherea's Limbs beheld,
The straying Lad's Heart so inthrall'd,
That in a Trance his melted Spright
Leaves th' Senses slumbring in delight.
Now to the Bower he sent his thievish Eyes,
To steal a happy sight; there do they find
Fair Venus, that within half naked lies;
And straight amaz'd (so glorious Beauty shin'd)
Would not return the Message to the Mind;
But full of Fear and superstitious Awe,
Could not retire or back their Beams with-draw,
So fix'd on too much seeing made they nothing saw.
Her goodly Length stretch'd on a Lilly-Bed;
(A bright Foil of a Beauty far more bright,)
Few Roses round about were scattered,
As if the Lillies learnt to blush for spight,
To see a Skin much more than Lilly-white:
The Bed sank with Delight so to be pressed,
And knew not which to think a Chance more blessed,
Both blessed so to kiss, and so again be kissed.
Her spacious Fore-head like the clearest Moon,
Whose full-grown Orb begins now to be spent,
Largely display'd in native Silver shone,
Giving wide room to Beauty's Regiment,
Which on the Plain with Love triumphing went:
Her golden Hair a Rope of Pearl imbrac'd,
Which with their dainty Threds oft-times enlac'd,
Made the Eye think the Pearl was there in Gold inchas'd.
Her full large Eye, in jetty-black array'd,
Proud Beauty not confin'd to red and white,
But oft her self in black more rich display'd;
Both Contraries did yet themselves unite,
To make one Beauty in different delight:
A thousand Loves sate playing in each Eye,
And smiling Mirth killing fair Courtesy,
By sweet Perswasion wan a bloodless Victory.
The whitest White set by her silver Cheek,
Grew pale and wan like unto heavy Lead;
The freshest Purple fresher Dyes must seek,
That dares compare with them his fainting Red:
On these Cupido winged Armies led
Of little Loves, that with bold wanton Train
Under those Colours, marching on the Plain,
Force every Heart, and to low Vassalage constrain.
Her Lips, most happy each in other's Kisses,
From their so wish'd Imbracements seldom parted,
Yet seem'd to blush at such their wanton Blisses;
But when sweet Words their joyning Sweets disparted,
To th' Ear a dainty Musick they imparted:
Upon them fitly sate delightful Smiling,
A thousand Souls with pleasing Stealth beguiling:
Ah that such Shews of Joys should be all Joys exiling!
The Breath came slowly thence unwilling leaving
So sweet a Lodge; but when she once intended
To feast the Air with Words, the Heart deceiving,
More fast it thronged so to be expended:
And at each word a hundred Loves attended,
Playing i' th' Breath, more sweet than is that firing,
Where that Arabian only Bird expiring,
Lives by her Death, by loss of Breath more fresh respiring.
Her Chin, like to a Stone in Gold inchas'd,
Seem'd a fair Jewel wrought with cunning Hand,
And being double, doubly the Face grac'd.
This goodly Frame on her round Neck did stand,
Such Pillar well such curious Work sustain'd;
And on his top the heavenly Sphear up-rearing,
Might well present, with daintier appearing,
A less but better Atlas, that fair Heaven bearing.
Lower two Breasts stand all their Beauties bearing,
Two Breasts as smooth and soft; but ah alas!
Their smoothest Softness far exceeds comparing;
More smooth and soft; but nought that ever was,
Where they are first, deserves the second place:
Yet each as soft and each as smooth as other;
And when thou first try'st one, and then the other,
Each softer seems than each, and each than each seems smoother.
Lowly between their dainty Hemispheres,
(Their Hemispheres the heav'nly Globes excelling,)
A Path, more white than is the name it bears,
The lacteal Path, conducts to the sweet dwelling,
Where best Delight all Joys sits freely dealing;
Where hundred Sweets, and still fresh Joys attending;
Receive in giving, and still Love dispending,
Grow richer by their Loss, and wealthy by expending.
But stay, bold Shepherd, here thy footing stay,
Nor trust too much unto thy new-born Quill,
As farther to those dainty Limbs to stray;
Or hope to paint that Vale, or beauteous Hill,
Which past the finest Hand and choicest Skill:
But were thy Verse and Song as finely fram'd,
As are those parts, yet should it soon be blam'd,
For now the shameless World of best things is asham'd.
That cunning Artist that old Greece admir'd,
Thus far his Venus fitly pourtrayed;
But there he left, nor farther ere aspir'd:
His Daedale Hand, that Nature perfected
By Art, felt Art by Nature limited.
Ah! well he knew, though his fit Hand could give
Breath to dead Colours, teaching Marble live,
Yet would these lively Parts his Hand of Skill deprive.
Such when this gentle Boy her closely view'd,
Only with thinnest silken Veil o're-laid,
Whose snowy Colour much more snowy shew'd,
By being next that Skin; and all betray'd,
Which best in naked Beauties are array'd:
His Spirits, melted with so glorious sight,
Ran from their Work to see so splendid Light,
And left the fainting Limbs sweet slumbring in Delight.
The swounding Swain recovered is
By th' Goddess, his Soul rapt in Bliss:
Their mutual Conference, and how
Her Service she doth him allow.
Soft sleeping Venus waked with the Fall,
Looking behind, the sinking Boy espies;
Withall she stares, and wondereth withall,
She thinks that there her fair Adonis dies,
And more she thinks, the more the Boy she eyes:
So stepping nearer, up begins to rear him;
And now with Love himself she will confer him,
And now, before her Love himself she will prefer him.
The Lad soon with that dainty Touch reviv'd,
Feeling himself so well, so sweetly seated,
Begins to doubt whether he yet here liv'd,
Or else his flitting Soul to Heav'n translated,
Was there in starry Throne and Bliss instated:
Oft would he die, so to be often sav'd;
And now with happy Wish he closely crav'd,
For ever to be dead, to be so sweet ingrav'd.
The Paphian Princess (in whose lovely Breast
Spiteful Disdain could never find a place)
When now she saw him from his Fit releast,
(To Juno leaving Wrath and Scolding base)
Comforts the trembling Boy with smiling Grace.
But oh! those Smiles (too full of sweet Delight)
Surfeit his Heart, full of the former sight;
So seeking to revive, more wounds his feeble Sprite.
Tell me, fair Boy (said she) what erring Chance
Hither directed thy unwary Pace;
For sure Contempt or Pride durst not advance
Their foul Aspect, in thy so pleasant Face:
Tell me, what brought thee to this hidden Place?
Or Lack of Love, or mutual answering Fire,
Or hindred by ill Chance in thy Desire:
Tell me, what is't thy fair and wishing Eyes require?
The Boy, whose Sense was never yet acquainted
With such a Musick, stood with Ears erected;
And sweetly with that pleasant Spell enchanted,
More of those sugred Strains long time expected:
Till seeing she his Speeches not rejected
First Sighs arising from his Heart's low Center,
Thus 'gan reply; when each Word bold would venter,
And strive the first, that dainty Labyrinth to enter.
Fair Cyprian Queen (for well that heavenly Face
Proves thee the Mother of all-conquering Love)
Pardon, I pray thee, my unweeting Pace,
For no presumptuous Thoughts did hither move
My daring Feet to this thy holy Grove;
But luckless Chance (which if you not gain-say,
I still must rue) hath caus'd me here to stray,
And lose my self (alas!) in losing of my way.
Nor did I come to right my wronged Fire,
Never till now I saw what ought lov'd;
And now I see, but never dare aspire
To move my Hope, where yet my Love is mov'd;
Whence though I would, I would it not remov'd:
Only since I have plac'd my Love so high,
Which sure thou must, or sure thou wilt deny,
Grant me yet still to love, though in my Love to die.
But she that in his Eyes Love's Face had seen,
And flaming Heart, did not such Suit disdain,
(For Cruelty fits not sweet Beauty's Queen)
But gently could his Passion entertain,
Though she Love's Princess, he a lowly Swain:
First of his bold Intrusion she acquits him;
Then to her Service (happy Boy) admits him;
And like another Love, with Bow and Quiver fits him.
And now with all the Loves he grew acquainted;
And Cupid's self, with his like Face delighted,
Taught him a hundred ways with which he daunted
The prouder Hearts, and wronged Lovers righted,
Forcing to love, that most his Love despighted.
And now the practique Boy did so approve him,
And with such Grace and cunning Art did move him,
That all the pretty Loves, and all the Graces love him.
The Lover's sad despairing Plaints
Bright Venus with his Love acquaints;
Sweetly importun'd, he doth show
From whom proceedeth this his Woe.
Yet never durst his faint and coward Heart
(Ah Fool! faint Heart fair Lady ne'er could win)
Assail fair Venus with his new-learnt Art,
But kept his Love and burning Flame within,
Which more flam'd out, the more he prest it in:
And thinking oft, how just she might disdain him
While some cool myrtle Shade did entertain him,
Thus sighing would he sit, and sadly would he plain him.
Ah fond, and hapless Boy! nor know I whether,
More fond, or hapless more, that all so high
Hast plac'd thy Heart, where Love and Fate together
May never hope to end thy Misery,
Nor yet thy self dare wish a Remedy.
All Hindrances (alas) conspire to lett it;
Ah fond and hapless Boy! if canst not get it,
In thinking to forget, at length learn to forget it.
Ah far too fond, but much more hapless Swain!
Seeing thy Love can be forgotten never;
Serve and observe thy Love with willing Pain:
And though in vain thy Love thou do persever,
Yet all in vain do thou adore her ever.
No Hope can crown thy Thoughts so far aspiring,
Nor dares thy self desire thine own desiring?
Yet live thou in her Love, and die in her admiring.
Thus oft the hopeless Boy complaining lies;
But she that well could guess his sad lamenting,
(Who can conceal Love from Love's Mother's Eyes?)
Did not disdain to give his Love contenting:
Cruel the Soul, that feeds on Souls tormenting:
Nor did she scorn him, though not nobly born,
(Love is Nobility) nor could she scorn,
That with so noble Skill her Title did adorn.
One day it chanc'd, thrice happy Day and Chance!
While Loves were with the Graces sweetly sporting,
And to fresh Musick sounding play and dance;
And Cupid's self, with Shepherds Boys consorting,
Laugh'd at their pritty Sport, and simple Courting:
Fair Venus seats the fearful Boy close by her,
Where never Phoebus' jealous Looks might eye her,
And bids the Boy his Mistress, and her Name descry her.
Long time the Youth up-bound, in Silence stood
While Hope and Fear with hundred Thoughts begun,
Fit Prologue to his Speech; and fearful Blood
From Heart and Face, with these Post-tydings run,
That either now he's made, or now undon:
At length his trembling Words, with Fear made weak,
Began his too long Silence thus to break,
While from his humble Eyes first Reverence seem'd to speak.
Fair Queen of Love, my Life thou mayst command,
Too slender Price for all thy former Grace,
Which I receive at thy so bounteous Hand:
But never dare I speak her Name and Face;
My Life is much less-priz'd than her Disgrace:
And, for I know if I her Name relate,
I purchase Anger, I must hide her State,
Unless thou swear by Styx I purchase not her Hate.
Fair Venus well perceiv'd his subtile Shift,
And swearing gentle Patience, gently smil'd:
While thus the Boy pursu'd his former Drift:
No Tongue was ever yet so sweetly skill'd,
Nor greatest Orator so highly stil'd,
Though helpt with all the choicest Art's Direction;
But when he durst describe her Heav'n's Perfection,
By his imperfect Praise, disprais'd his Imperfection.
Her Form is as her self, perfect Celestial,
No mortal Spot her heavenly Frame disgraces;
Beyond compare, such nothing is Terrestrial:
More sweet than Thought or pow'rful Wish embraces ;
The Map of Heaven; the Sum of all her Graces.
But if you wish more truly limb'd to eye her,
Than fainting Speech, or Words can well descry her,
Look in a Glass, and there more perfect you may spy her.
The Boy's short Wish, her larger Grant,
That doth his Soul with Bliss enchant:
Whereof impatient uttering all,
Inraged Jove contrives his Thrall.
Thy crafty Art (reply'd the smiling Queen)
Hath well my Chiding, and not Rage prevented;
Yet might'st thou think, that yet 'twas never seen
That angry Rage, and gentle Love consented:
But if to me thy true Love is presented,
What Wages for thy Service must I owe thee?
For by the self-same Vow, I here avow thee
Whatever thou require, I frankly will allow thee.
Pardon (replies the Boy) for so affecting
Beyond Mortality, and not discarding
Thy Service, was much more than my expecting:
But if thou (more thy Bounty-hood regarding)
Wilt needs heap up Reward upon rewarding;
Thy Love I dare not ask, or mutual fixing,
One Kiss is all my Love, and Prides aspiring,
And after starve my Heart, for my too much desiring.
Fond Boy! (said she) too fond that ask'd no more;
Thy Want by taking is no whit decreased,
And giving, spends not our increasing Store:
Thus with a Kiss his Lips she sweetly pressed;
Most blessed Kiss! but hope more than most blessed.
The Boy did think Heaven fell while thus he joy'd;
And while Joy he so greedily enjoy'd,
He felt not half his Joy by being over-joy'd.
Why sigh'st, fair Boy? (said she) Dost thou repent thee
Thy narrow Wish in such straight Bonds to stay?
Well may I sigh (said he) and well lament me,
That never such a Debt may hope to pay.
A Kiss (said she) a Kiss will back repay:
Wilt thou (reply'd the Boy too much delighted)
Content thee, with such Pay to be requited?
She grants; and he his Lips, Heart, Soul, to payment cited.
Look as a Ward, from time his Land, detain'd,
And subject to his Guardian's cruel Lore,
Now spends the more, the more he was restrain'd,
So he; yet tho in laying out his Store,
He doubly takes, yet finds himself grow poor:
With that, he marks, and tells her out a Score,
And doubles them, and trebles all before:
Fond Boy! the more thou payst, thy Debt still grows the more.
At length, whether these Favours so had fir'd him
With kindly Heat, inflaming his desiring;
Or whether those sweet Kisses had inspir'd him;
He thinks that something wants for his requiring;
And still aspires, yet knows not his aspiring:
But yet though that he knoweth, so she gave,
That he presents himself her bounden Slave;
Still his more wishing Face seem'd somewhat else to crave.
And boldned with Success and many Graces,
His Hand, chain'd up in Fear, he now releas'd:
And asking leave, courag'd with her Embrace;
Again it prison'd in her tender Breast:
Ah blessed Prison! Pris'ners too much blest!
There with those Sisters long time doth he play;
And now full boldly enters love's High-way;
While down the pleasant Vale, his creeping Hand doth stray.
She not displeas'd with this his wanton Play,
Hiding his Blushing with a sugred Kiss;
With such sweet Heat his Rudeness doth allay,
That now he perfect knows whatever Bliss
Elder Love taught, and he before did miss:
That moult with Joy, in such untry'd Joys trying,
He gladly dies; and Death new Life applying,
Gladly again he dies, that oft he may be dying.
Long thus he liv'd, slumbring in sweet Delight,
Free from sad Care, and fickle World's Annoy;
Bathing in liquid Joys his melted Sprite;
And longer mought, but he (ah foolish Boy!)
Too proud, and too impatient of his Joy,
To Woods, and Heaven, and Earth his Bliss imparted;
That Jove upon him down his Thunder darted,
Blasting his splendent Face, and all his Beauty swarted.
Such be his Chance, that to his Love doth wrong,
Unworthy he to have so worthy Place,
That cannot hold his Peace and blabbing Tongue:
Light Joys float on his Lips, but rightly Grace
Sinks deep, and th' Heart's low Center doth embrace.
Might I enjoy my Love till I unfold it:
I'de lose all Favours when I blabbing told it:
He is not fit for Love, that is not fit to hold it.
[Spenser, Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 6:1487-1505]