Treasure Island

Henry Constable

(1562-1613 / England)

The Shepherd's Venus And Adonis


Venus fair did ride,
Silver doves they drew her
By the pleasant lawns,
Ere the sun did rise;
Vesta's beauty rich
Opened wide to view her,
Philomel records
Pleasing harmonies;
Every bird of spring
Cheerfuly did sing,
Paphos' goddess they salute.
Now love's queen so fair
Had of mirth no care,
For her son had made her mute.
In her breast so tender
He a shaft did enter,
When her eyes beheld a boy,
Adonis was he named,
By his mother shamed,
Yet he now is Venus' joy.

Him alone she met,
Ready bound for hunting;
Him she kindly greets,
And his journey stays;
Him she seeks to kiss,
No devices wanting,
Him her eyes still woo,
Him her tongue still prays.
He with blushing red
Hangeth down the head,
Not a kiss can he afford;
His face is turned away,
Silence said her nay,
Still she wooed him for a word.
Speak, she said, thou fairest,
Beauty thou impairest;
See me, I am pale and wan;
Lovers all adore me,
I for love implore thee.
Crystal tears with that ran down.

Him herewith she forced
To come sit down by her;
She his neck embraced,
Gazing in his face;
He, like one transformed,
Stirred no look to eye her.
Every herb did woo him,
Growing in that place;
Each bird with a ditty
Prayed him for pity
In behalf of beauty's queen;
Waters' gentle murmur
Craved him to love her,
Yet no liking could be seen,
Boy, she said, look on me,
Still I gaze upon thee,
Speak, I pray thee, my delight.
Coldly he replied,
And, in brief, denied
To bestow on her a sight.

I am now too young
To be won by beauty;
Tender are my years,
I am yet a bud.
Fair thou art, she said,
Then it is thy duty,
Wert thou but a blossom,
To effect my good.
Every beauteous flower
Boasteth of my power,
Birds and beasts my laws effect.
Myrrha, thy fair mother,
Most of any other
Did my lovely hests respect.
Be with me delighted,
Thou shall be requited,
Every nymph on thee shall tend;
All the gods shall love thee,
Man shall not reprove thee,
Love himself shall be thy friend.

Wend thee from me, Venus,
I am not disposed;
Thou wring'st me too hard,
Prithee, let me go;
Fie, what a pain it is
Thus to be enclosed;
If love begin with labor,
It will end in woe.
Kiss me, I will leave.
Here a kiss recieve.
A short kiss I do it find,
Wilt thou leave me so?
Yet thou shalt not go;
Breathe once more thy balmy wind,
It smelleth of the myrrh tree
That to the world did bring thee,
Never was perfume so sweet.
When she had thus spoken,
She gave him a token,
And their naked bosoms met.

Now, he said, let's go,
Hark, the hounds are crying,
Grisly boar is up,
Hunstmen follow fast.
At the name of boar
Venus seemed dying,
Deadly-colored pale,
Roses overcast.
Speak, said she, no more
Of following the boar;
Thou, unfit for such a chase,
Course the fearful hare,
Venison do not spare,
If thou wilt yield Venus grace.
Shun the boar, I pray thee,
Else I still will stay thee,
Herein he vowed to please her mind;
Then her arms enlarged,
Loath she him discharged,
Forth he went as swift as wind.

Thetis Phoebus' steeds
In the west retained;
Hunting sport was past,
Love her love did seek;
Sight of him too soon,
Gentle queen she gained.
On the ground he lay;
Blood had left his cheek,
For an orpëd swine
Smit him in the groin,
Deadly wound his death did bring.
Which when Venus found,
She fell in a swound,
And awaked, her hands did wring.
Nymphs and satyrs skipping
Came together tripping,
Echo every cry expressed.
Venus by her power Turned him to a flower,
Which she weareth in her crest.

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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