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(1584 – 6 March 1616 / Leicestershire)

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Salmacis and Hermaphroditus.

MY wanton lines doe treate of amorous loue,
Such as would bow the hearts of gods aboue:
Then Venus, thou great Citherean Queene,
That hourely tript on the Idalian greene,
Thou laughing Erycina, daygne to see
The verses wholly consecrate to thee;
Temper them so within thy Paphian shrine,
That euery Louers eye may melt a line;
Commaund the god of Loue that little King,
To giue each verse a sleight touch with his wing,
That as I write, one line may draw the tother,
And euery word skip nimbly o're another.
There was a louely boy the Nymphs had kept,
That on the Idane mountains oft had slept,
Begot and borne by powers that dwelt aboue,
By learned Mercury of the Queene of loue:
A face he had that shew'd his parents fame,
And from them both conioynd, he drew his name:
So wondrous fayre he was that (as they say)
Diana being hunting on a day,
Shee saw the boy vpon a greene banke lay him,
And there the virgin-huntresse meant to slay him,
Because no Nymphes did now pursue the chase:
For all were strooke blind with the wanton's face.
But when that beauteous face Diana saw,
Her armes were nummed, & shee could not draw;
Yet she did striue to shoot, but all in vaine,
Shee bent her bow, and loos'd it streight againe.
Then she began to chide her wanton eye,
And fayne would shoot, but durst not see him die,
She turnd and shot, and did of purpose misse him,
Shee turnd againe, and did of purpose kisse him.
Then the boy ran: for (some say) had he stayd,
Diana had no longer bene a mayd.
Phoebus so doted on this rosiat face,
That he hath oft stole closely from his place,
When he did lie by fayre Leucothoes side,
To dally with him in the vales of Ide:
And euer since this louely boy did die,
Phoebus each day about the world doth flie,
And on the earth he seekes him all the day,
And euery night he seekes him in the sea:
His cheeke was sanguine, and his lip as red
As are the blushing leaues of the Rose spred:
And I haue heard, that till this boy was borne,
Rose grew white vpon the virgin thorne,
Till one day walking to a pleasant spring,
To heare how cunningly the birds could sing,
Laying him downe vpon a flowry bed,
The Roses blush'd and turn'd themselues to red.
The Rose that blush'd not, for his great offence,
The gods did punish, and for impudence
They gaue this doome that was agreed by all,
The smell of the white Rose should be but small.
His haire was bushie, but it was not long,
The Nymphs had done his tresses mighty wrong:
For as it grew, they puld away his haire,
And made abilliments of gold to weare.
His eyes were Cupids: for vntill his birth,
Cupid had eyes, and liu'd vpon the earth,
Till on a day, when the great Queene of loue
Was by her white doues drawn fro[m] heauen aboue,
Vnto the top of the Idalian hill,
To see how well the Nymphs their charge fulfill,
And whether they had done the goddesse right,
In nursing of her sweet Hermaphrodite:
VVhom when she saw, although complete & full,
Yet she complaynd, his eyes were somewhat dull:
And therefore, more the wanton boy to grace,
She puld the sparkling eyes from Cupids face,
Fayning a cause to take away his sight,
Because the Ape would sometimes shoot for spight.
But Venus set those eyes in such a place,
As grac'd those cleare eyes with a clearer face.
For his white hand each goddesse did him woo:
For it was whiter then the driuen snow:
His legge was straighter then the thigh of Ioue:
And he farre fairer then the god of loue.
When first this wel-shapt boy, beauties chiefe king,
Had seene the labour of the fifteenth spring,
How curiously it paynted all the earth,
He 'gan to trauaile from his place of birth,
Leauing the stately hils where he was nurst,
And where the Nymphs had brought him vp at first:
He lou'd to trauaile to the coasts vnknowne,
To see the regions farre beyond his owne,
Seeking cleare watry springs to bathe him in:
(For he did loue to wash his iuory skinne)
The louely Nymphes haue oft times seene him swimme,
And closely stole his clothes from off the brim,
Because the wanton wenches would so fayne
See him come nak'd to ask his clothes againe.
He lou'd besides to see the Lycian grounds,
And know the wealthy Carians vtmost bounds.
Vsing to trauaile thus, one day he found
A cristall brook, that tril'd along the ground,
A brooke, that in reflection did surpasse
The cleare reflection of the clearest glasse.
About the side there grew no foggy reedes,
Nor was the fount compast with barren weedes:
But liuing turfe grew all along the side,
And grasse that euer flourisht in his pride.
Within this brook a beauteous Nymph did dwell,
Who for her comely feature did excell;
So faire she vvas, of such a pleasing grace,
So straight a body, and so sweet a face,
So soft a belly, such a lustie thigh,
So large a forehead, such a cristall eye,
So soft and moyst a hand, so smooth a brest,
So faire a cheeke, so well in all the rest,
That Iupiter would reuell in her bowre,
Were he to spend againe his golden showre:
Her teeth were whiter then the mornings milke,
Her lip was softer then the softest silke,
Her haire as farre surpast the burnisht gold,
As siluer doth excell the basest mold:
Ioue courted her for her translucent eye,
And told her, he would place her in the skye,
Promising her, if she would be his loue,
He would ingraue her in the heauen aboue,
Telling this louely Nymph, that if he would,
He could deceiue her in a showre of gold,
Or like a Swanne come to her naked bed,
And so deceiue her of her maiden-head:
But yet, because he thought that pleasure best,
Where each consenting ioynes each louing brest,
He would put off that all-commaunding crowne,
Whose terrour strooke th'aspiring Giants downe,
That glittereing crown, whose radia[n]t sight did tosse
Great Pelion from the top of mighty Osse,
He would depose from his world-swaying head,
To taste the amorous pleasures of her bed:
This added he besides, the more to grace her,
Like a bright starre he would in heauens vault place her.
By this the proud lasciuious Nymph was mou'd,
Perceiuing by great Ioue shee was belou'd,
And hoping as a starre she should ere long,
Be sterne or gracious to the Sea-mans song,
(For mortals still are subiect to their eye,
And what it sees, they striue to get as hie
She was contented that almighty Ioue
Should haue the first and best fruits of her loue:
(For women may be likened to the yeere,
Whose first fruits still do make the dayntiest cheere)
But yet Astræa first should plight her troth,
For the performance of Ioues sacred oth.
(Iust times decline, and all good dayes are dead,
When heauenly othes had need be warranted)
This heard great Iupiter and lik'd it well,
And hastily he seeks Astræas cell,
About the massie earth searching her towre:
But she had long since left this earthly bowre,
And flew to heauen aboue, lothing to see
The sinfull actions of humanitie.
Which when Ioue did perceiue, he left the earth,
And flew vp to the place of his owne birth,
The burning heauenly throne, where he did spy
Astræas palace in the glittering skie.
This stately towre was builded vp on hie,
Farre from the reach of any mortall eye;
And from the palace side there did distill
A little water, through a little quill,
The dewe of iustice, which did seldome fall,
And when it dropt, the drops were very small.
Glad was great Ioue when he beheld her towre,
Meaning a while to rest him in her bowre;
And therefore sought to enter at her dore:
But there was such a busie rout before;
Some seruing men, and some promooters bee,
That he could passe no foote without a fee:
But as he goes, he reaches out his hands,
And payes each one in order as he stands;
And still, as he was paying those before,
Some slipt againe betwixt him and the dore.
At length (with much adoo) he past them all,
And entred straight into a spacious hall,
Full of dark angles, and of hidden wayes,
Crooked Maranders, infinite delays;
All which delayes and entries he must passe,
Ere he could come where iust Astræa was.
All these being past by his immortall wit,
Without her doore he sawe a porter sit,
An aged man, that long time there had beene,
Who vs'd to search all those that entred in,
And still to euery one he gaue this curse,
None must see Iustice but with emptie purse.
This man searcht Ioue for his owne priuate gaine,
To haue the money which did yet remaine,
Which was but small: for much was spent before
On the tumultuous rout that kept the dore.
When he had done, he broght him to the place
Where he should see diuine Astræas face.
Then the great King of gods and men in went,
And saw his daughter Venus there lament,
And crying lowd for iustice, whom Ioue found
Kneeling before Astræa on the ground,
And still she cry'd and beg'd for a iust doome
Against blacke Vulcan, that vnseemely groome,
Whome she had chosen for her onely loue,
Though she was daughter to great thundering Ioue:
And thought the fairest goddesse, yet content
To marrie him, though weake and impotent;
But for all this they alwayes were at strife:
For euermore he ralyd at her his wife,
Telling her still, Thou art no wife of mine,
Anothers strumpet, Mars his concubine.
By this Astræa spyde almighty Ioue,
And bow'd her finger to the Queene of loue,
To cease her sute, which she would hear anon,
When the great King of all the world was gone.
Then she descended from her stately throne,
Which seat was builded all of Iasper stone,
And o're the seat was paynted all aboue,
The wanton vnseene stealths of amorous Ioue;
There might a man behold the naked pride
Of louely Venus in the vales of Ide,
When Pallas, and Ioues beauteous wife and she
Stroue for the prise of beauties raritie:
And there lame Vulcan and his Cyclops stroue
To make the thunderbolts for mighty Ioue:
From this same stately throne she down descended,
And sayd, The griefs of Ioue should be amended,
Asking the King of gods what lucklesse cause,
What great conte[m]pt of states, what breach of lawes
(For sure she thought, some vncouth cause befell,
That made him visit poore Astræas cell)
Troubled his thought: and if she might decide it,
VVho vext great, Ioue, he deareley should abide it.
Ioue onely thankt her, and beganne to show
His cause of comming (for each one doth know
The longing words of Louers are not many,
If they desire to be inioyd of any.
Telling Astræa, It might now befall,
That she might make him blest, that blesseth all:
For as he walk'd vpon the flowry earth,
To which his owne hands whilome gaue a birth,
To see how streight he held it and how iust
He rold this massy pondrous heape of dust,
He laid him downe by a coole riuer side,
Whose pleasant water did so gently slide
With such soft whispering: for the brook was deepe,
That it had lul'd him in a heauenly sleepe.
When first he laid him downe, there was none neere him:
(for he did call before, but none could heare him)
But a faire Nymph was bathing when he wak'd,
(Here sigh'd great Ioue, and after brought forth) nak'd,
He seeing lou'd, the Nymph yet here did rest,
Where iust Astræa might make Ioue be blest,
If she would passe her faithfull word so farre,
As that great Ioue should make the mayd a starre.
Astræa yeelded: at which Ioue was pleas'd,
And all his longing hopes and feares were eas'd.
Ioue tooke his leaue, and parted from her sight,
Whose thoughts were ful of louers sweet delight,
And she ascended to her throne aboue,
To heare the griefes of the great Queene of loue.
But she was satisfide, and would no more
Rayle at her husband as she did before:
But forth she tript apace, because she stroue,
With her swift feet to ouertake great Ioue,
She skipt so nimbly as she went to looke him,
That at the palace doore she ouertooke him,
Which way was plaine and broade as they went out,
And now they could see no tumultuous rout.
Here Venus fearing, lest the loue of Ioue
Should make this mayd be plac'd in heauen aboue,
Because she thought this Nymph so wondrous bright,
That she would dazel her accustom'd light:
And fearing now she should not first be seene
Of all the glittering starres as shee had beene,
But that the wanton Nymph would eu'ry night
Be first that should salute eche mortal sight,
Began to tell great Ioue, she grieu'd to see
The heauen so full of his iniquity,
Complayning that eche strumpet now was grac'd,
And with immortall goddesses was plac'd,
Intreating him to place in heauen no more
Eche wanton strumpet and lasciuious whore.
Ioue mad with loue, harkned not what she sayd,
His thoughts were so intangled with the mayd,
But furiously he to his palace lept,
Being minded there till morning to haue slept:
For the next morne, as soone as Phoebus rayes
Should yet shine coole, by reason of the seas,
And ere the parting teares of Thætis bed,
Should be quite shak't from off his glittring head,
Astræa promis'd to attend great Ioue,
At his owne Palace in the heauen above,
And at that Palace she would set her hand
To what the loue-sick god should her command:
But to descend to earth she did deny,
She loath'd the sight of any mortall eye,
And for the compasse of the earthly round,
She would not set one foot vpon the ground.
Therefore Ioue meant to rise but with the sunne,
Yet thought it long vntill the night was done.
In the meane space Venus was drawne along
By her white Doues vnto the sweating throng
Of hammering Black-smithes, at the lofty hill
Of stately Etna, whose top burneth still:
(For at that burning mountaynes glittring top,
Her cripple husband Vulcan kept his shop)
To him she went, and so collogues that night
With the best straines of pleasures sweet delight,
That ere they parted, she made Vulcan sweare
By dreadfull Stix, an othe the gods do feare,
If Ioue would make the mortall mayd a starre,
Himselfe should frame his instruments of warre,
And tooke his othe by blacke Cocitus Lake,
He neuer more a thunder-bolt would make:
For Venus so this night his sences pleas'd,
That now he thought his former griefs were eas'd.
She with her hands the black-smiths body bound,
And with her Iu'ry armes she twyn'd him round,
And still the faire Queene with a prety grace,
Disperst her sweet breath o're his swarty face:
Her snowy armes so well she did display,
That Vulcan thought they melted as they lay.
Vntill the morne in this delight they lay:
Then vp they got, and hasted fast away
In the white Chariot of the Queene of loue,
Towards the Palace of great thundring Ioue,
Where they did see diuine Astræa stand,
To passe her word for what Ioue should command.
In limpt the Blacke-smith, after stept his Queene,
Whose light arrayment was of louely greene.
When they were in, Vulcan began to sweare
By othes that Iupiter himselfe doth feare,
If any whore in heauens bright vault were seene,
To dimme the shining of his beauteous Queene,
Each mortall man should the great gods disgrace,
And mocke almightie Ioue vnto his face,
And Giants should enforce bright heauen to fall,
Ere he would frame one thunderbolt at all.
Ioue did intreat him that he would forbeare.
The more he spoke, the more did Vulcan sweare.
Ioue heard his words, and 'gan to make his mone,
That mortall men would pluck him from his throne,
Or else he must incurre this plague, he said,
Quite to forgoe the pleasure of the mayd:
And once he thought, rather than lose her blisses,
Her heauenly sweets, her most delicious kisses,
Her soft embraces, and the amorous nights,
That he should often spend in her delights,
He would be quite thrown down by mortal hands,
From the blest place where his bright palace stands.
But afterwards hee saw with better sight,
He should be scorn'd by euery mortall wight,
If he should want his thunderbolts, to beate
Aspiring mortals from his glittering seate:
Therefore the god no more did woo or proue her,
But left to seeke her loue, though not to loue her.
Yet he forgot not that he woo'd the lasse,
But made her twise as beauteous as she was,
Because his wonted loue he needs would shew.
This haue I heard, but yet scarce thought it true.
And whether her cleare beautie was so bright,
That it could dazel the immortall sight
Of gods, and make them for her loue despaire,
I do not know; but sure the maid was faire.
Yet the faire Nymph was neuer seene resort
Vnto the sauage and the bloudy sport
Of chaste Diana, nor was euer wont
To bend a bow, nor euer did she hunt,
Nor did she euer striue with pretie cunning,
To ouergoe her fellow Nymphs in running:
For she was the faire water-Nymph alone,
That vnto chaste Diana was vnknowne.
It is reported, that her fellowes vs'd
To bid her (though the beauteous Nymph refus'd)
To take, or painted quiuers or a dart,
And put her lazy idlenesse apart.
Nor tooke she painted quiuers, nor a dart,
Nor put her lazy idlenesse apart,
But in her cristall fountaine oft she swimmes,
And oft she washes o're her snowy limmes:
Sometimes she com'b her soft discheuel'd hayre,
Which with a fillet tide she oft did weare:
But sometimes loose she did it hang behind,
When she was pleas'd to grace the Easterne wind:
For vp and downe it would her tresses hurle,
And as she went, it made her loose hayre curl:
Oft in the water did she looke her face,
And oft she vs'd to practise what quaint grace
Might well become her, and what comely feature
Might be best fitting so diuine a creature.
Her skinne was with a thinne vaile ouerthrowne,
Through which her naked beauty clearly shone.
She vs'd in this light rayment as she was,
To spread her body on the dewy grasse:
Sometimes by her owne fountaine as she walkes,
She nips the flowres from off the fertile stalkes,
And with a garland of the sweating vine,
Sometimes she doth her beauteous front in-twine:
But she was gathering flowres with her white hand,
When she beheld Hermaphroditus stand
By her cleare fountaine, wondring at the sight,
That there was any brooke could be so bright:
For this was the bright riuer where the boy
Did dye himselfe, that he could not enioy
Himselfe in pleasure, nor could taste the blisses
Of his owne melting and delicious kisses.
Here she did see him, and by Venus law,
She did desire to haue him as she saw:
But the fayre Nymph had neuer seene the place,
Where the boy was, nor his inchanting face,
But by an vncouth accident of loue
Betwixt great Phoebus and the sonne of Ioue,
Light -headed Bacchus: for vpon a day,
As the boy-god was keeping on his way,
Bearing his Vine leaues and his Iuie bands,
To Naxos, where his house and temple stands,
He saw the Nymph, and seeing, he did stay,
And threw his leaues and Iuie bands away,
Thinking at first she was of heauenly birth,
Some goddesse that did liue vpon the earth,
Virgin Diana that so liuely shone,
When she did court her sweet Endimion:
But he a god, at last did plainely see,
She had no marke of immortalitie.
Vnto the Nymph went the yong god of wine,
Whose head was chaf'd so with the bleeding vine,
That now, or feare or terrour had he none,
But 'gan to court her as she sate alone:
Fayrer then fayrest (thus began his speech)
Would but your radiant eye please to inrich
My eye with looking, or one glaunce to giue,
Whereby my other parts might feede and liue,
Or with one sight my sences to inspire,
Far liuelier then the stole Promethean fire;
Then I might liue, then by the sunny light
That should proceed from thy thrise-radiant sight,
I might suruiue to ages; but that missing,
(At that same word he would haue faine bin kissing)
I pine, fayre Nymph: O neuer let me dye
For one poore glaunce from thy translucent eye,
Farre more transparent then the clearest brooke.
The Nymph was taken with his golden hooke:
Yet she turn'd backe, and would haue tript away;
But Bacchus forc't the louely mayd to stay,
Asking her why she struggled to be gone,
Why such a Nymph should wish to be alone?
Heauen neuer made her faire, that she should vaunt
She kept all beautie, it would neuer graunt
She should be borne so beauteous from her mother,
But to reflect her beauty on another:
Then with a sweet kisse cast thy beames on mee,
And Ile reflect then backe againe on thee.
At Naxos stands my Temple and my Shrine,
Where I do presse the lusty swelling Vine,
There with green Iuie shall thy head be bound,
And with the red Grape be incircled round;
There shall Silenus sing vnto thy praise,
His drunken reeling songs and tickling layes.
Come hither, gentle Nymph. Here blusht the maid,
And faine she would haue gone, but yet she staid.
Bacchus perceiued he had o'ercome the lasse,
And downe he throwes her in the dewy grasse,
And kist the helplesse Nymph vpon the ground,
And would haue stray'd beyond that lawful bou[n]d.
This saw bright Phœbus: for his glittering eye
Sees all that lies below the starry skye;
And for an old affection that he bore
Vnto this louely Nymph long time before,
(For he would ofttimes in his circle stand,
To sport himselfe vpon her snowy hand)
He kept her from the sweets of Bacchus bed,
And 'gainst her will he sau'd her maiden-head.
Bacchus perceiuing this apace did hie
Vnto the Palace of swift Mercury:
But he did find him farre below his birth,
Drinking with theiues and catch-poles on the earth;
And they were drinking what they stole to day,
In consultation for to morrowes prey.
To him went youthful Bacchus, and begun
To shew his cause of griefe against the Sunne,
How he bereft him of his heauenly blisses,
His sweet delights, his Nectar-flowing kisses,
And other sweeter sweetes that he had wonne,
But for the malice of the bright-fac't Sunne,
Intreating Mercury by all the loue,
That had bene borne amongst the sonnes of Ioue,
Of which they two were part, to stand his friend,
Against the god that did him so offend:
The quaint-tongu'd issue of great Atlas race,
Swift Mercury, that with delightfull grace,
And pleasing accents of his fayned tongue,
Hath oft reform'd a rude vnciuill throng
Of mortals; that great messenger of Ioue,
And all the meaner gods that dwell aboue:
He whose acute wit was so quicke and sharpe
In the inuention of the crooked Harpe:
He that's so cunning with his iesting slights,
To steale from heauenly gods or earthly wights,
Bearing a great hate in his grieued brest,
Against that great commaunder of the West,
Bright-fac't Apollo: for vpon a day,
Yong Mercury did steale his beasts away:
Which the great god perceiuing, streight did shew
The pearcing arrowes and the fearefull bow
That kild great Pithon, & with that did threat him,
To bring his beast againe, or he would beat him.
Which Mercury perceiuing, vnespide,
Did closely steale his arrowes from his side.
For this olde grudge, he was the easlyer wonne
To helpe young Bacchus 'gainst the fierie Sunne.
And now the Sunne was in the middle way,
And had o'ercome the one halfe of the day,
Scorching so hot vpon the reeking sand,
That lies vpon the neere Egyptian land,
That the hot people burnt e'ne from their birth,
Do creepe againe into their mother earth,
When Mercury did take his powerfull wand,
His charming Cadusæus in his hand,
And a thick Beuer which he vs'd to weare,
When ought from Ioue he to the Sunne did beare,
That did protect him from the piercing light,
Which did proceed from Phoebus glittering sight.
Clad in these powerfull ornaments he flies,
With out-stretcht wings vp to the azure skies:
Where seeing Phoebus in his orient shrine,
He did so well reuenge the god of wine,
That whil'st the Sun wonders his Chariot reeles,
The craftie god had stole away his wheeles.
Which when he did perceiue, he downe did slide,
(Laying his glittering Coronet aside)
From the bright spangled firmament aboue,
To seeke the Nymph that Bacchus so did loue,
And found her looking in her watry glasse,
To see how cleare her radiant beauty was:
And, for he had but little time to stay,
Because he meant to finish out his day,
At the first sight he 'gan to make his mone,
Telling her how his fiery wheeles were gone;
Promising her, if she would but obtaine
The wheeles, that Mercury had stolne, againe,
That he might end his day, she should enioy
The heauenly sight of the most beauteous boy
That euer was. The Nymph was pleas'd with this,
Hoping to reape some vnaccustom'd blisse
By the sweet pleasure that she should enioy,
In the blest sight of such a melting boy.
Therefore at his request she did obtaine
The burning wheeles, that he had lost, againe:
VVhich when he had receiu'd, he left the land,
And brought them thither where his Coach did stand,
And there he set them on: for all this space,
The horses had not stirr'd from out their place.
VVhich when he saw, he wept and 'gan to say,
VVould Mercury had stole my wheeles away,
When Phaeton my hare-brain'd issue tride,
What a laborious thing it vvas to guide
My burning chariot, the[n] he might haue pleas'd me,
And of one fathers griefe he might haue eas'd me:
For then the Steeds would haue obayd his will,
Or else at least they would haue rested still.
When he had done, he tooke his whip of steele,
Whose bitter smart he made his horses feele:
For he did lash so hard, to end the day,
That he was quickly at the Westerne sea,
And there with Thætis did he rest a space,
For he did neuer rest in any place
Before that time: but euer since his wheeles
Were stole away, his burning chariot reeles
Tow'rds the declining of the parting day:
Therefore he lights and mends them in the sea.
And though the poets fayne, that Ioue did make
A treble night for faire Alcmena's sake,
That he might sleepe securely with his loue;
Yet sure the long night was vnknowne to Ioue:
But the Sunnes wheeles one day disordred more,
Were thrise as long amending as before.
Now was the Sunne inuiron'd with the Sea,
Cooling his watrie tresses as he lay,
And in dread Neptunes kingdome while he sleeps,
Faire Thætis clips him in the watry deeps,
The Mayre-maids and the Tritons of the West,
Strayning their voyces, to make Titan rest.
And while the blacke night with her pitchie hand,
Tooke iust possession of the swarfie land:
He spent the darkesome howres in this delight,
Giuing his power vp to the gladsome night:
For ne're before he was so truely blest,
To take an houre or one poore minutes rest.
But now the burning god this pleasure feeles,
By reason of his newly crazed wheeles,
There must he stay vntill lame Vulcan send
The fierie wheeles which he had tooke to mend.
Now al the night the Smith so hard had wrought,
That ere the Sunne could wake, his wheeles were brought.
Titan being pleas'd with rest, and not to rise,
And loth to open yet his slumbring eyes:
And yet perceiuing how the longing sight
Of mortals wayted for his glittring light,
He sent Aurora from him to the skie,
To giue a glimsing to each mortall eye.
Aurora much asham'd of that same place
That great Apollos light was wont to grace,
Finding no place to hide her shamefull head,
Paynted her chaste cheeks with a blushing red,
Which euer since remain'd vpon her face,
In token of her new receiu'd disgrace:
Therefore she not so white as she had beene,
Lothing of eu'ry mortall to be seene,
No sooner can the rosie fingred morne
Kisse eu'ry flowre that by her dew is borne,
But from her golden window she doth peepe,
When the most part of earthly creatures sleepe.
By this, bright Titan opened had his eyes,
And 'gan to ierke his horses through the skies,
And taking in his hand his fierie whip,
He made AEous and swift AEthon skip
So fast, that straight he dazled had the sight
Of faire Aurora, glad to see his light.
And now the Sunne in all his fierie haste,
Did call to mind his promise lately past,
And all the vowes and othes that he did passe
Vnto faire Salmacis, the beauteous lasse:
For he had promis'd her she should enioy
So louely faire, and such a well shapt boy,
As ne're before his owne all-seeing eye
Saw from his bright seate in the starry skye:
Remembring this, he sent the boy that way,
Where the cleare fountain of the fayre Nymph lay.
There was he co[m]e to seeke some pleasing brooke.
No sooner came he, but the Nymph was strooke:
And though she hasted to imbrace the boy,
Yet did the Nymph awhile deferre her ioy,
Till she had bound vp her loose flagging haire,
And ordred well the garments she did weare,
Fayning her count'nance with a louers care,
And did deserue to be accounted fayre.
And thus much spake she while the boy abode:
O boy, most worthy to be thought a god,
Thou mayst inhabit in the glorious place
Of gods, or maist proceed from human race:
Thou mayst be Cupid, or the god of wine,
That lately woo'd me with the swelling vine:
But whosoe're thou art, O happy he,
That was so blest, to be a sire to thee;
Thy happy mother is most blest of many,
Blessed thy sisters, if her wombe bare any,
Both fortunate, and O thrise happy shee,
Whose too much blessed breasts gaue suck to thee:
If any wife with thy sweet bed be blest,
O, she is farre more happy then the rest;
If thou hast any, let my sport be sto'ne,
Or else let me be she, if thou haue none.
Here did she pause a while, and then she sayd,
Be not obdurate to a silly mayd.
A flinty heart within a smowy brest,
Is like base mold lockt in a golden chest:
They say the eye's the Index of the heart,
And shewes th'affection of each inward part:
There loue playes liuely, there the little god
Hath a cleare cristall Palace of abode.
O barre him not from playing in thy heart,
That sports himselfe vpon eche outward part.
Thus much she spake, & then her tongue was husht.
At her loose speach Hermaphroditus blusht:
He knew not what loue was, yet loue did shame him,
Making him blush, and yet his blush became him:
Then might a man his shamefast colour see,
Like the ripe apple on the sunny tree,
Or Iuory dide o're with a pleasing red,
Or like the pale Moone being shadowed.
By this, the Nymph recouer'd had her tongue,
That to her thinking lay in silence long,
And sayd, Thy cheeke is milde, O be thou so,
Thy cheeke, saith I, then do not answere no,
Thy cheeke doth shame, then doe thou shame, she sayd,
It is a mans shame to deny a mayd.
Thou look'st to sport with Venus in her towre,
And be belou'd of euery heauenly powre.
Men are but mortals, so are women too,
Why should your thoughts aspire more than ours doo?
For sure they doe aspire: Else could a youth,
Whose count'nance is so full of spotlesse truth,
Be so relentlesse to a virgins tongue?
Let me be woo'd by thee but halfe so long,
With halfe those tearmes doe but my loue require,
And I will easly graunt thee thy desire.
Ages are bad, when men become so slow,
That poore vnskillful mayds are forc't to woo.
Her radiant beauty and her subtill arte
S deepely strooke Hermaphroditus heart,
That she had wonne his loue, but that the light
Of her translucent eyes did shine too bright:
For long he look'd vpon the louely mayd,
And at the last Hermaphroditus sayd,
How should I loue thee, when I doe espie
A farre more beauteous Nymph hid in thy eye?
When thou doost loue, let not that Nymph be nie thee;
Nor when thou woo'st, let not that Nymph be by thee:
Or quite obscure her from thy louers face,
Or hide her beauty in a darker place.
By this, the Nymph perceiu'd he did espie
None but himselfe reflected in her eye,
And, for himselfe no more she meant to shew him,
She shut her eyes & blind-fold thus did woo him:
Fayre boy, thinke not thy beauty can dispence
With any payne due to a bad offence;
Remember how the gods punisht that boy
That scorn'd to let a beauteous Nymph enioy
Her long wisht pleasure, for the peeuish elfe,
Lou'd of all other, needs would loue himselfe.
So mayst thou loue, perhaps thou mayst be blest;
By graunting to a lucklesse Nymphs request:
Then rest awhile with me amid these weeds.
The Sunne that sees all, sees not louers deeds;
Phoebus is blind when loue-sports are begun,
And neuer sees vntill their sports be done:
Beleeue me, boy, thy blood is very stayd,
That art so loth to kisse a youthfull mayd.
Wert thou a mayd, and I a man, Ile show thee,
With what a manly boldnesse I could woo thee,
Fayrer then loues Queene, thus I would begin,
Might not my ouer-boldnesse be a sinne,
I would intreat this fauor, if I could,
Thy rosiat cheeke a little to behold:
Then would I beg a touch, and then a kisse,
And then a lower, yet a higher blisse:
Then would I aske what Ioue and Læda did,
When like a Swan the craftie god was hid?
What came he for? why did he there abide?
Surely I thinke hee did not come to chide:
He came to see her face, to talke, and chat,
To touch, to kisse: came he for nought but that?
Yea, something else: what was it he would haue?
That which all men of maydens ought to craue.
This sayd, her eye-lids wide she did display:
But in this space the boy was runne away:
The wanton speeches of the louely lasse
Forc't him for shame to hide him in the grasse.
When she perceiu'd she could not see him neere her,
When she had cal'd and yet he could not heare her,
Look how when Autumne comes, a little space
Paleth the red blush of the Summers face,
Tearing the leaues the Summers couering,
Three months in weauing by the curious spring,
Making the grasse his greene locks go to wracke,
Tearing each ornament from off his backe;
So did she spoyle the garments she did weare,
Tearing whole ounces of her golden hayre:
She thus deluded of her longed blisse,
With much adoo at last she vttred this:
Why wert thou bashfull, boy? Thou hast no part
Shewes thee to be of such a female heart.
His eye is gray, so is the mornings eye,
That blusheth alwayes when the day is nye.
Then his gray eye's the cause: that cannot be:
The gray-ey'd morne is farre more bold then he:
For with a gentle dew from heauens bright towre,
It gets the mayden-head of eu'ry flowre.
I would to God, he were the rosiat morne,
And I a flowre from out the earth new-borne?
His face was smooth; Narcissus face was so,
And he was carelesse of a sad Nymphs woe.
Then that's the cause; and yet that cannot be:
Youthfull Narcissus was more bold then he,
Because he dide for loue, though of his shade:
This boy nor loues himselfe, nor yet a mayd.
Besides, his glorious eye is wondrous bright;
So is the fierie and all-seeing light
Of Phœbus, who at eu'ry mornings birth
Blusheth for shame vpon the sullen earth.
Then that's the cause; and yet that cannot be:
The fierie Sunne is farre more bold then he;
He nightly kisseth Thætis in the sea:
All know the story of Leucothoe.
His cheeke is red: so is the fragrant Rose,
Whose ruddie cheeke with ouer-blushing gloes:
Then that's the cause; and yet that cannot bee:
Eche blushing Rose is farre more bold then he,
Whose boldnesse may be plainely seene in this,
The ruddy Rose is not asham'd to kisse;
For alwayes when the day is new begun,
The spreading Rose will kisse the morning Sun.
This sayd, hid in the grasse she did espie him,
And stumbling with her will, she fel down by him,
And with her wanton talke, because he woo'd not,
Beg'd that, which he poore nouice vnderstood not:
And, for she could not get a greater blisse,
She did intreate a least a sisters kisse;
But still the more she did the boy beseech,
The more he powted at her wanton speech.
At last the Nymph began to touch his skin,
Whiter then mountaine snow hath euer bin,
And did in purenesse that cleare spring surpasse,
Wherein Acteon saw th'Arcadian lasse.
Thus did she dally long, till at the last,
In her moyst palme she lockt his white hand fast:
Then in her hand his wrest she 'gan to close,
When through his pulses strait the warm bloud gloes,
Whose youthfull musike fanning Cupids fire,
In her warme brest kindled a fresh desire.
Then did she lift her hand vnto his brest,
A part as white and youthfull as the rest,
Where, as his flowry breath still comes and goes,
She felt his gentle heart pant through his clothes.
At last she tooke her hand from off that part,
And sayd, It panted like anothers heart.
Why should it be more feeble, and lesse bold?
Why should the bloud about it be more cold?
Nay sure, that yeelds, onely thy tongue denyes,
And the true fancy of thy heart belyes.
Then did she lift her hand vnto his chin,
And prays'd the prety dimpling of his skin:
But straight his chin she 'gan to ouerslip,
When she beheld the rednesse of his lip;
And sayd, thy lips are soft, presse them to mine,
And thou shalt see they are as soft as thine.
Then would she faine haue gone vnto his eye,
But still his ruddy lip standing so nie,
Drew her hand backe, therefore his eye she mist,
'Ginning to claspe his neck, and would haue kist;
But then the boy did struggle to be gone,
Vowing to leaue her and that place alone.
But then bright Salmacis began to feare,
And sayd, Fayre stranger, I wil leaue thee here
Amid these pleasant places all alone.
So turning back, she fayned to be gone;
But from his sight she had no power to passe,
Therefore she turn'd and hid her in the grasse,
When to the ground bending her snow-white knee,
The glad earth gaue new coates to euery tree.
He then supposing he was all alone,
(Like a young boy that is espy'd of none)
Runnes here, and there, then on the bankes doth looke,
Then on the cristall current of the brooke,
Then with his foote he toucht the siluer streames,
Whose drowsy waues made musike in their dreames,
And, for he was not wholy in, did weepe,
Talking alowd and babbling in their sleepe:
Whose pleasant coolnesse when the boy did feele,
He thrust his foote downe lower to the heele:
O'ercome with whose sweet noyse, he did begin
To strip his soft clothes from his tender skin,
When strait the scorching Sun wept teares of brine,
Because he durst not touch him with his shine,
For feare of spoyling that same Iu'ry skin,
Whose whitenesse he so much delighted in;
And then the Moone, mother of mortall ease,
Would fayne haue come from the Antipodes,
To haue beheld him naked as he stood,
Ready to leape into the siluer flood;
But might not: for the lawes of heauen deny,
To shew mens secrets to a womans eye:
And therefore was her sad and gloomy light
Confin'd vnto the secret-keeping night.
When beauteous Salmacis awhile had gaz'd
Vpon his naked corps, she stood amaz'd,
And both her sparkling eyes burnt in her face,
Like the bright Sunne reflected in a glasse:
Scarce can she stay from running to the boy,
Scarce can she now deferre her hoped ioy;
So fast her youthfull bloud playes in her vaynes,
That almost mad, she scarce herselfe contaynes.
When young Hermaphroditus as he stands,
Clapping his white side with his hollow hands,
Leapt liuely from the land, whereon he stood,
Into the mayne part of the cristall flood.
Like Iu'ry then his snowy body was,
Or a white Lilly in a christall glasse.
Then rose the water Nymph from where she lay,
As hauing wonne the glory of the day,
And her light garments cast from off her skin,
Hee's mine, she cry'd, and so leapt spritely in.
The flattering Iuy who did euer see
Inclaspe the huge trunke of an aged tree,
Let him behold the young boy as he stands,
Inclaspt in wanton Salmacis's hands,
Betwixt those Iu'ry armes she lockt him fast,
Striuing to get away, till at the last,
Fondling, she sayd, why striu'st thou to be gone?
Why shouldst thou so desire to be alone?
Thy cheeke is neuer fayre, when none is by:
For what is red and white, but to the eye:
And for that cause the heauens are darker at night,
Because all creatures close their weary sight;
For there's no mortall can so earely rise,
But still the morning waytes vpon his eyes.
The earely-rising and soone-singing Larke
Can neuer chaunt her sweete notes in the darke,
For sleepe she ne're so little or so long,
Yet still the morning will attend her song.
All creatures that beneath bright Cinthia be,
Haue appetite vnto society;
The ouerflowing waues would haue a bound
Within the confines of the spacious ground,
And all their shady currents would be plaste
In hollow of the solitary vaste,
But what they lothe to let their soft streames sing,
Where non can heare their gentle murmuring.
Yet still the boy regardlesse what she sayd,
Struggled apace to ouerswimme the mayd.
Which when the Nymph perceiu'd she 'gan to say,
Struggle thou mayst, but neuer get away.
So graunt, iust gods, that neuer day may see
The separation twixt this boy and mee.
The gods did heare her pray'r and feele her woe;
And in one body they began to grow.
She felt his youthfull bloud in euery vaine;
And he felt hers warme his colde brest againe.
And euer since was womans loue so blest,
That it will draw bloud from the strongerst brest.
Nor man nor mayd now could they be esteem'd:
Neither, and either, might they well be deem'd,
When the young boy Hermaphroditus sayd,
VVith the set voyce of neither man nor mayd,
Swift Mercury, the author of my life,
And thou my mother Vulcans louely wife,
Let your poore offsprings latest breath be blest,
In but obtayning this his last request,
Grant that whoe're heated by Phoebus beames,
Shall come to coole him in these siluer streames,
May neuermore a manly shape retaine,
But halfe a virgine may returne againe.
His parents hark'ned to his last request,
And with that great power they the fountaine blest.
And since that time who in that fountaine swimmes,
A mayden smoothnesse seyzeth half his limmes.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004


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