Hero And Leander. The Third Sestiad
New light gives new directions, fortunes new,
To fashion our endeavours that ensue.
More harsh, at least more hard, more grave and high
Our subject runs, and our stern Muse must fly.
Love's edge is taken off, and that light flame,
Those thoughts, joys, longings, that before became
High unexperienc'd blood, and maids' sharp plights,
Must now grow staid, and censure the delights,
That, being enjoy'd, ask judgment; now we praise,
As having parted: evenings crown the days.
And now, ye wanton Loves, and young Desires,
Pied Vanity, the mint of strange attires,
Ye lisping Flatteries, and obsequious Glances,
Relentful Musics, and attractive Dances,
And you detested Charms constraining love!
Shun love's stoln sports by that these lovers prove.
By this, the sovereign of heaven's golden fires,
And young Leander, lord of his desires,
Together from their lovers' arms arose:
Leander into Hellespontus throws
His Hero-handled body, whose delight
Made him disdain each other epithite.
And as amidst th' enamour'd waves he swims,
The god of gold of purpose gilt his limbs,
That, this word _gilt_ including double sense,
The double guilt of his incontinence
Might be express'd, that had no stay t' employ
The treasure which the love-god let him joy
In his dear Hero, with such sacred thrift
As had beseem'd so sanctified a gift;
But, like a greedy vulgar prodigal,
Would on the stock dispend, and rudely fall,
Before his time, to that unblessed blessing
Which, for lust's plague, doth perish with possessing:
Joy graven in sense, like snow in water, wasts:
Without preserve of virtue, nothing lasts.
What man is he, that with a wealthy eye
Enjoys a beauty richer than the sky,
Through whose white skin, softer than soundest sleep,
With damask eyes the ruby blood doth peep,
And runs in branches through her azure veins,
Whose mixture and first fire his love attains;
Whose both hands limit both love's deities,
And sweeten human thoughts like Paradise;
Whose disposition silken is and kind,
Directed with an earth-exempted mind;--
Who thinks not heaven with such a love is given?
And who, like earth, would spend that dower of heaven,
With rank desire to joy it all at first?
What simply kills our hunger, quencheth thirst,
Clothes but our nakedness, and makes us live,
Praise doth not any of her favours give:
But what doth plentifully minister
Beauteous apparel and delicious cheer,
So order'd that it still excites desire,
And still gives pleasure freeness to aspire,
The palm of Bounty ever moist preserving;
To Love's sweet life this is the courtly carving.
Thus Time and all-states-ordering Ceremony
Had banish'd all offence: Time's golden thigh
Upholds the flowery body of the earth
In sacred harmony, and every birth
Of men and actions makes legitimate;
Being us'd aright, the use of time is fate.
Yet did the gentle flood transfer once more
This prize of love home to his father's shore;
Where he unlades himself on that false wealth
That makes few rich,--treasures compos'd by stealth;
And to his sister, kind Hermione
(Who on the shore kneel'd, praying to the sea
For his return), he all love's goods did show,
In Hero seis'd for him, in him for Hero.
His most kind sister all his secrets knew,
And to her, singing, like a shower, he flew,
Sprinkling the earth, that to their tombs took in
Streams dead for love, to leave his ivory shin,
Which yet a snowy foam did leave above,
As soul to the dead water that did love;
And from hence did the first white roses spring
(For love is sweet and fair in everything),
And all the sweeten'd shore, as he did go,
Was crown'd with odorous roses, white as snow.
Love-blest Leander was with love so fill'd,
That love to all that touch'd him he instill'd;
And as the colours of all things we see,
To our sight's powers communicated be,
So to all objects that in compass came
Of any sense he had, his senses' flame
Flow'd from his parts with force so virtual,
It fir'd with sense things mere insensual.
Now, with warm baths and odours comforted,
When he lay down, he kindly kiss'd his bed,
As consecrating it to Hero's right,
And vow'd thereafter, that whatever sight
Put him in mind of Hero or her bliss,
Should be her altar to prefer a kiss.
Then laid he forth his late-enriched arms,
In whose white circle Love writ all his charms,
And made his characters sweet Hero's limbs,
When on his breast's warm sea she sideling swims;
And as those arms, held up in circle, met,
He said, 'See, sister, Hero's carquenet!
Which she had rather wear about her neck,
Than all the jewels that do Juno deck.'
But, as he shook with passionate desire
To put in flame his other secret fire,
A music so divine did pierce his ear,
As never yet his ravish'd sense did hear;
When suddenly a light of twenty hues
Brake through the roof, and, like the rainbow, views,
Amaz'd Leander: in whose beams came down
The goddess Ceremony, with a crown
Of all the stars; and Heaven with her descended:
Her flaming hair to her bright feet extended,
By which hung all the bench of deities;
And in a chain, compact of ears and eyes,
She led Religion: all her body was
Clear and transparent as the purest glass,
For she was all presented to the sense:
Devotion, Order, State, and Reverence,
Her shadows were; Society, Memory;
All which her sight made live, her absence die.
A rich disparent pentacle she wears,
Drawn full of circles and strange characters.
Her face was changeable to every eye;
One way look'd ill, another graciously;
Which while men view'd, they cheerful were and holy,
But looking off, vicious and melancholy.
The snaky paths to each observed law
Did Policy in her broad bosom draw.
One hand a mathematic crystal sways,
Which, gathering in one line a thousand rays
From her bright eyes, Confusion burns to death,
And all estates of men distinguisheth:
By it Morality and Comeliness
Themselves in all their sightly figures dress.
Her other hand a laurel rod applies,
To beat back Barbarism and Avarice,
That follow'd, eating earth and excrement
And human limbs; and would make proud ascent
To seats of gods, were Ceremony slain.
The Hours and Graces bore her glorious train;
And all the sweets of our society
Were spher'd and treasur'd in her bounteous eye.
Thus she appear'd, and sharply did reprove
Leander's bluntness in his violent love;
Told him how poor was substance without rites,
Like bills unsign'd; desires without delights;
Like meats unseason'd; like rank corn that grows
On cottages, that none or reaps or sows;
Not being with civil forms confirm'd and bounded,
For human dignities and comforts founded;
But loose and secret all their glories hide;
Fear fills the chamber, Darkness decks the bride.
She vanish'd, leaving pierc'd Leander's heart
With sense of his unceremonious part,
In which, with plain neglect of nuptial rites,
He close and flatly fell to his delights:
And instantly he vow'd to celebrate
All rites pertaining to his married state.
So up he gets, and to his father goes,
To whose glad ears he doth his vows disclose.
The nuptials are resolv'd with utmost power;
And he at night would swim to Hero's tower,
From whence he meant to Sestos' forked bay
To bring her covertly, where ships must stay,
Sent by his father, throughly rigg'd and mann'd,
To waft her safely to Abydos' strand.
There leave we him; and with fresh wing pursue
Astonish'd Hero, whose most wished view
I thus long have foreborne, because I left her
So out of countenance, and her spirits bereft her:
To look on one abash'd is impudence,
When of slight faults he hath too deep a sense.
Her blushing het her chamber; she look'd out,
And all the air she purpled round about;
And after it a foul black day befell,
Which ever since a red morn doth foretell,
And still renews our woes for Hero's woe;
And foul it prov'd because it figur'd so
The next night's horror; which prepare to hear;
I fail, if it profane your daintiest ear.
Then, ho, most strangely-intellectual fire,
That, proper to my soul, hast power t' inspire
Her burning faculties, and with the wings
Of thy unsphered flame visit'st the springs
Of spirits immortal! Now (as swift as Time
Doth follow Motion) find th' eternal clime
Of his free soul, whose living subject stood
Up to the chin in the Pierian flood,
And drunk to me half this Musaean story,
Inscribing it to deathless memory:
Confer with it, and make my pledge as deep,
That neither's draught be consecrate to sleep;
Tell it how much his late desires I tender
(If yet it know not), and to light surrender
My soul's dark offspring, willing it should die
To loves, to passions, and society.
Sweet Hero, left upon her bed alone,
Her maidenhead, her vows, Leander gone,
And nothing with her but a violent crew
Of new-come thoughts, that yet she never knew,
Even to herself a stranger, was much like
Th' Iberian city that War's hand did strike
By English force in princely Essex' guide,
When Peace assur'd her towers had fortified,
And golden-finger'd India had bestow'd
Such wealth on her, that strength and empire flow'd
Into her turrets, and her virgin waist
The wealthy girdle of the sea embraced;
Till our Leander, that made Mars his Cupid,
For soft love-suits, with iron thunders chid;
Swum to her towers, dissolv'd her virgin zone;
Led in his power, and made Confusion
Run through her streets amaz'd, that she suppos'd
She had not been in her own walls enclos'd,
But rapt by wonder to some foreign state,
Seeing all her issue so disconsolate,
And all her peaceful mansions possess'd
With war's just spoil, and many a foreign guest
From every corner driving an enjoyer,
Supplying it with power of a destroyer.
So far'd fair Hero in th' expugned fort
Of her chaste bosom; and of every sort
Strange thoughts possess'd her, ransacking her breast
For that that was not there, her wonted rest.
She was a mother straight, and bore with pain
Thoughts that spake straight, and wish'd their mother slain;
She hates their lives, and they their own and hers:
Such strife still grows where sin the race prefers:
Love is a golden bubble, full of dreams,
That waking breaks, and fills us with extremes.
She mus'd how she could look upon her sire,
And not shew that without, that was intire;
For as a glass is an inanimate eye,
And outward forms embraceth inwardly,
So is the eye an animate glass, that shows
In-forms without us; and as Phoebus throws
His beams abroad, though he in clouds be clos'd,
Still glancing by them till he find oppos'd
A loose and rorid vapour that is fit
T' event his searching beams, and useth it
To form a tender twenty-colour'd eye,
Cast in a circle round about the sky;
So when our fiery soul, our body's star,
(That ever is in motion circular,)
Conceives a form, in seeking to display it
Through all our cloudy parts, it doth convey it
Forth at the eye, as the most pregnant place,
And that reflects it round about the face.
And this event, uncourtly Hero thought,
Her inward guilt would in her looks have wrought;
For yet the world's stale cunning she resisted,
To bear foul thoughts, yet forge what looks she listed,
And held it for a very silly sleight,
To make a perfect metal counterfeit,
Glad to disclaim herself, proud of an art
That makes the face a pandar to the heart.
Those be the painted moons, whose lights profane
Beauty's true Heaven, at full still in their wane;
Those be the lapwing-faces that still cry,
'Here 'tis!' when that they vow is nothing nigh:
Base fools! when every moorish fool can teach
That which men think the height of human reach.
But custom, that the apoplexy is
Of bed-rid nature and lives led amiss,
And takes away all feeling of offence,
Yet braz'd not Hero's brow with impudence;
And this she thought most hard to bring to pass,
To seem in countenance other than she was,
As if she had two souls, one for the face,
One for the heart, and that they shifted place
As either list to utter or conceal
What they conceiv'd, or as one soul did deal
With both affairs at once, keeps and ejects
Both at an instant contrary effects;
Retention and ejection in her powers
Being acts alike; for this one vice of ours,
That forms the thought, and sways the countenance,
Rules both our motion and our utterance.
These and more grave conceits toil'd Hero's spirits;
For, though the light of her discoursive wits
Perhaps might find some little hole to pass
Through all these worldly cinctures, yet, alas!
There was a heavenly flame encompass'd her,--
Her goddess, in whose fane she did prefer
Her virgin vows, from whose impulsive sight
She knew the black shield of the darkest night
Could not defend her, nor wit's subtlest art:
This was the point pierc'd Hero to the heart;
Who, heavy to the death, with a deep sigh,
And hand that languished, took a robe was nigh,
Exceeding large, and of black cypres made,
In which she sate, hid from the day in shade,
Even over head and face, down to her feet;
Her left hand made it at her bosom meet,
Her right hand lean'd on her heart-bowing knee,
Wrapp'd in unshapeful folds, 'twas death to see;
Her knee stay'd that, and that her falling face;
Each limb help'd other to put on disgrace:
No form was seen, where form held all her sight;
But like an embryon that saw never light,
Or like a scorched statue made a coal
With three-wing'd lightning, or a wretched soul
Muffled with endless darkness, she did sit:
The night had never such a heavy spirit.
Yet might a penetrating eye well see
How fast her clear tears melted on her knee
Through her black veil, and turn'd as black as it,
Mourning to be her tears. Then wrought her wit
With her broke vow, her goddess' wrath, her fame,--
All tools that enginous despair could frame:
Which made her strew the floor with her torn hair,
And spread her mantle piece-meal in the air.
Like Jove's son's club, strong passion struck her down,
And with a piteous shriek enforc'd her swoun:
Her shriek made with another shriek ascend
The frighted matron that on her did tend;
And as with her own cry her sense was slain,
So with the other it was called again.
She rose, and to her bed made forced way,
And laid her down even where Leander lay;
And all this while the red sea of her blood
Ebb'd with Leander: but now turn'd the flood,
And all her fleet of spirits came swelling in,
With child of sail, and did hot fight begin
With those severe conceits she too much marked:
And here Leander's beauties were embarked.
He came in swimming, painted all with joys,
Such as might sweeten hell: his thought destroys
All her destroying thoughts; she thought she felt
His heart in hers, with her contentions melt,
And chide her soul that it could so much err,
To check the true joys he deserved in her.
Her fresh-heat blood cast figures in her eyes,
And she suppos'd she saw in Neptune's skies
How her star wander'd, wash'd in smarting brine,
For her love's sake, that with immortal wine
Should be embath'd, and swim in more heart's-ease
Than there was water in the Sestian seas.
Then said her Cupid-prompted spirit, 'Shall I
Sing moans to such delightsome harmony?
Shall slick-tongu'd Fame, patch'd up with voices rude,
The drunken bastard of the multitude
(Begot when father Judgment is away,
And, gossip-like, says because others say,
Takes news as if it were too hot to eat,
And spits it slavering forth for dog-fees meat),
Make me, for forging a fantastic vow,
Presume to bear what makes grave matrons bow?
Good vows are never broken with good deeds,
For then good deeds were bad: vows are but seeds,
And good deeds fruits; even those good deeds that grow
From other stocks than from th' observed vow.
That is a good deed that prevents a bad:
Had I not yielded, slain myself I had.
Hero Leander is, Leander Hero;
Such virtue love hath to make one of two.
If, then, Leander did my maidenhead git,
Leander being myself, I still retain it:
We break chaste vows when we live loosely ever,
But bound as we are, we live loosely never:
Two constant lovers being join'd in one,
Yielding to one another, yield to none.
We know not how to vow till love unblind us,
And vows made ignorantly never bind us.
Too true it is, that, when 'tis gone, men hate
The joy as vain they took in love's estate:
But that's since they have lost the heavenly light
Should show them way to judge of all things right.
When life is gone, death must implant his terror:
As death is foe to life, so love to error.
Before we love, how range we through this sphere,
Searching the sundry fancies hunted here:
Now with desire of wealth transported quite
Beyond our free humanity's delight;
Now with ambition climbing falling towers,
Whose hope to scale, our fear to fall devours;
Now rapt with pastimes, pomp, all joys impure:
In things without us no delight is sure.
But love, with all joys crowned, within doth sit:
O goddess, pity love, and pardon it!'
Thus spake she weeping: but her goddess' ear
Burn'd with too stern a heat, and would not hear.
Ay me! hath heaven's strait fingers no more graces
For such as Hero than for homeliest faces?
Yet she hoped well, and in her sweet conceit
Weighing her arguments, she thought them weight,
And that the logic of Leander's beauty,
And them together, would bring proofs of duty;
And if her soul, that was a skilful glance
Of heaven's great essence, found such imperance
In her love's beauties, she had confidence
Jove loved him too, and pardoned her offence:
Beauty in heaven and earth this grace doth win,
It supples rigour, and it lessens sin.
Thus, her sharp wit, her love, her secrecy,
Trooping together, made her wonder why
She should not leave her bed, and to the temple;
Her health said she must live; her sex, dissemble.
She viewed Leander's place, and wished he were
Turned to his place, so his place were Leander.
'Ay me,' said she, 'that love's sweet life and sense
Should do it harm! my love had not gone hence
Had he been like his place: O blessed place,
Image of constancy! Thus my love's grace
Parts nowhere, but it leaves something behind
Worth observation: he renowns his kind:
His motion is, like heaven's, orbicular,
For where he once is, he is ever there.
This place was mine; Leander, now 'tis thine;
Thou being myself, then it is double mine,
Mine, and Leander's mine, Leander's mine.
O, see what wealth it yields me, nay, yields him!
For I am in it, he for me doth swim.
Rich, fruitful love, that, doubling self estates,
Elixir-like contracts, though separates!
Dear place, I kiss thee, and do welcome thee,
As from Leander ever sent to me.'
George Chapman's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Hero And Leander. The Third Sestiad by George Chapman )
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
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