Hero Poems: Hero And Leander. The Sixth Sestiad - Poem by George Chapman

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Hero And Leander. The Sixth Sestiad - Poem by George Chapman

No longer could the Day nor Destinies
Delay the Night, who now did frowning rise
Into her throne; and at her humorous breasts
Visions and Dreams lay sucking: all men's rests
Fell like the mists of death upon their eyes,
Day's too-long darts so kill'd their faculties.
The Winds yet, like the flowers, to cease began;
For bright Leucote, Venus' whitest swan,
That held sweet Hero dear, spread her fair wings,
Like to a field of snow, and message brings
From Venus to the Fates, t'entreat them lay
Their charge upon the Winds their rage to stay,
That the stern battle of the seas might cease,
And guard Leander to his love in peace.
The Fates consent;--ay me, dissembling Fates!
They showed their favours to conceal their hates,
And draw Leander on, lest seas too high
Should stay his too obsequious destiny:
Who like a fleering slavish parasite,
In warping profit or a traitorous sleight,
Hoops round his rotten body with devotes,
And pricks his descant face full of false notes;
Praising with open throat, and oaths as foul
As his false heart, the beauty of an owl;
Kissing his skipping hand with charmed skips,
That cannot leave, but leaps upon his lips
Like a cock-sparrow, or a shameless quean
Sharp at a red-lipp'd youth, and naught doth mean
Of all his antic shows, but doth repair
More tender fawns, and takes a scatter'd hair
From his tame subject's shoulder; whips and calls
For everything he lacks; creeps 'gainst the walls
With backward humbless, to give needless way:
Thus his false fate did with Leander play.
First to black Eurus flies the white Leucote
(Born 'mongst the negroes in the Levant sea,
On whose curl'd heads the glowing sun doth rise),
And shows the sovereign will of Destinies,
To have him cease his blasts; and down he lies.
Next, to the fenny Notus course she holds,
And found him leaning, with his arms in folds,
Upon a rock, his white hair full of showers;
And him she chargeth by the fatal powers,
To hold in his wet cheeks his cloudy voice.
To Zephyr then that doth in flowers rejoice:
To snake-foot Boreas next she did remove,
And found him tossing of his ravished love,
To heat his frosty bosom hid in snow;
Who with Leucote's sight did cease to blow.
Thus all were still to Hero's heart's desire;
Who with all speed did consecrate a fire
Of flaming gums and comfortable spice,
To light her torch, which in such curious price
She held, being object to Leander's sight,
That naught but fires perfumed must give it light.
She loved it so, she griev'd to see it burn,
Since it would waste, and soon to ashes turn:
Yet, if it burned not, 'twere not worth her eyes;
What made it nothing, gave it all the prize.
Sweet torch, true glass of our society!
What man does good, but he consumes thereby?
But thou wert loved for good, held high, given show;
Poor virtue loathed for good, obscured, held low:
Do good, be pined,--be deedless good, disgraced;
Unless we feed on men, we let them fast.
Yet Hero with these thoughts her torch did spend:
When bees make wax, Nature doth not intend
It should be made a torch; but we, that know
The proper virtue of it, make it so,
And, when 'tis made, we light it: nor did Nature
Propose one life to maids; but each such creature
Makes by her soul the best of her free state,
Which without love is rude, disconsolate,
And wants love's fire to make it mild and bright,
Till when, maids are but torches wanting light.
Thus 'gainst our grief, not cause of grief, we fight:
The right of naught is glean'd, but the delight.
Up went she: but to tell how she descended,
Would God she were dead, or my verse ended!
She was the rule of wishes, sum, and end,
For all the parts that did on love depend:
Yet cast the torch his brightness further forth;
But what shines nearest best, holds truest worth.
Leander did not through such tempests swim
To kiss the torch, although it lighted him:
But all his powers in her desires awaked,
Her love and virtues clothed him richly naked.
Men kiss but fire that only shows pursue;
Her torch and Hero, figure show and virtue.
Now at opposed Abydos naught was heard
But bleating flocks, and many a bellowing herd,
Slain for the nuptials; cracks of falling woods;
Blows of broad axes; pourings out of floods.
The guilty Hellespont was mix'd and stained
With bloody torrents that the shambles rained;
Not arguments of feast, but shows that bled,
Foretelling that red night that followed.
More blood was spilt, more honours were addrest,
Than could have graced any happy feast;
Rich banquets, triumphs, every pomp employs
His sumptuous hand; no miser's nuptial joys.
Air felt continual thunder with the noise
Made in the general marriage-violence;
And no man knew the cause of this expense,
But the two hapless lords, Leander's sire,
And poor Leander, poorest where the fire
Of credulous love made him most rich surmis'd:
As short was he of that himself he prized,
As is an empty gallant full of form,
That thinks each look an act, each drop a storm,
That falls from his brave breathings; most brought up
In our metropolis, and hath his cup
Brought after him to feasts; and much palm bears
For his rare judgment in th' attire he wears;
Hath seen the hot Low-Countries, not their heat,
Observes their rampires and their buildings yet;
And, for your sweet discourse with mouths, is heard
Giving instructions with his very beard;
Hath gone with an ambassador, and been
A great man's mate in travelling, even to Rhene;
And then puts all his worth in such a face
As he saw brave men make, and strives for grace
To get his news forth: as when you descry
A ship, with all her sail contends to fly
Out of the narrow Thames with winds unapt,
Now crosseth here, then there, then this way rapt,
And then hath one point reach'd, then alters all,
And to another crooked reach doth fall
Of half a bird-bolt's shoot, keeping more coil
Than if she danc'd upon the ocean's toil;
So serious is his trifling company,
In all his swelling ship of vacantry
And so short of himself in his high thought
Was our Leander in his fortunes brought,
And in his fort of love that he thought won;
But otherwise he scorns comparison.
O sweet Leander, thy large worth I hide
In a short grave! ill-favour'd storms must chide
Thy sacred favour; I in floods of ink
Must drown thy graces, which white papers drink,
Even as thy beauties did the foul black seas;
I must describe the hell of thy decease,
That heaven did merit: yet I needs must see
Our painted fools and cockhorse peasantry
Still, still usurp, with long lives, loves, and lust,
The seats of Virtue, cutting short as dust
Her dear-bought issue: ill to worse converts,
And tramples in the blood of all deserts.
Night close and silent now goes fast before
The captains and the soldiers to the shore,
On whom attended the appointed fleet
At Sestos' bay, that should Leander meet,
Who feigned he in another ship would pass:
Which must not be, for no one mean there was
To get his love home, but the course he took.
Forth did his beauty for his beauty look,
And saw her through her torch, as you behold
Sometimes within the sun a face of gold,
Formed in strong thoughts, by that tradition's force
That says a god sits there and guides his course.
His sister was with him; to whom he show'd
His guide by sea, and said, 'Oft have you view'd
In one heaven many stars, but never yet
In one star many heavens till now were met.
See, lovely sister! see, now Hero shines,
No heaven but her appears; each star repines,
And all are clad in clouds, as if they mourned
To be by influence of earth out-burned.
Yet doth she shine, and teacheth Virtue's train
Still to be constant in hell's blackest reign,
Though even the gods themselves do so entreat them
As they did hate, and earth as she would eat them.'
Off went his silken robe, and in he leapt,
Whom the kind waves so licorously cleapt,
Thickening for haste, one in another, so,
To kiss his skin, that he might almost go
To Hero's tower, had that kind minute lasted.
But now the cruel Fates with Ate hasted
To all the winds, and made them battle fight
Upon the Hellespont, for either's right
Pretended to the windy monarchy;
And forth they brake, the seas mixed with the sky,
And tossed distressed Leander, being in hell,
As high as heaven: bliss not in height doth dwell.
The Destinies sate dancing on the waves,
To see the glorious Winds with mutual braves
Consume each other: O, true glass, to see
How ruinous ambitious statists be
To their own glories! Poor Leander cried
For help to sea-born Venus she denied;
To Boreas, that, for his Atthaea's sake
He would some pity on his Hero take,
And for his own love's sake, on his desires;
But Glory never blows cold Pity's fires.
Then call'd he Neptune, who, through all the noise,
Knew with affright his wreck'd Leander's voice,
And up he rose; for haste his forehead hit
'Gainst heaven's hard crystal; his proud waves he smit
With his forked sceptre, that could not obey;
Much greater powers than Neptune's gave them sway.
They loved Leander so, in groans they brake
When they came near him; and such space did take
'Twixt one another, loath to issue on,
That in their shallow furrows earth was shown,
And the poor lover took a little breath:
But the curst Fates sate spinning of his death
On every wave, and with the servile Winds
Tumbled them on him. And now Hero finds,
By that she felt, her dear Leander's state:
She wept, and prayed for him to every Fate;
And every Wind that whipped her with her hair
About the face, she kissed and spake it fair,
Kneeled to it, gave it drink out of her eyes
To quench his thirst: but still their cruelties
Even her poor torch envied, and rudely beat
The baiting flame from that dear food it eat;
Dear, for it nourish'd her Leander's life;
Which with her robe she rescued from their strife;
But silk too soft was such hard hearts to break;
And she, dear soul, even as her silk, faint, weak,
Could not preserve it; out, O, out it went!
Leander still call'd Neptune, that now rent
His brackish curls, and tore his wrinkled face,
Where tears in billows did each other chase;
And, burst with ruth, he hurl'd his marble mace
At the stern Fates: it wounded Lachesis
That drew Leander's thread, and could not miss
The thread itself, as it her hand did hit,
But smote it full, and quite did sunder it.
The more kind Neptune raged, the more he razed
His love's life's fort, and kill'd as he embraced:
Anger doth still his own mishap increase;
If any comfort live, it is in peace.
O thievish Fates, to let blood, flesh, and sense,
Build two fair temples for their excellence,
To robe it with a poisoned influence!
Though souls' gifts starve, the bodies are held dear
In ugliest things; sense-sport preserves a bear:
But here naught serves our turns: O heaven and earth,
How most-most wretched is our human birth!
And now did all the tyrannous crew depart,
Knowing there was a storm in Hero's heart,
Greater than they could make, and scorn'd their smart.
She bow'd herself so low out of her tower,
That wonder 'twas she fell not ere her hour,
With searching the lamenting waves for him:
Like a poor snail, her gentle supple limb
Hung on her turret's top, so most downright,
As she would dive beneath the darkness quite,
To find her jewel;--jewel!--her Leander,
A name of all earth's jewels pleas'd not her
Like his dear name: 'Leander, still my choice,
Come naught but my Leander! O my voice,
Turn to Leander! henceforth be all sounds,
Accents and phrases, that show all griefs' wounds,
Analyzed in Leander! O black change!
Trumpets, do you, with thunder of your clange,
Drive out this change's horror! My voice faints:
Where all joy was, now shriek out all complaints!'
Thus cried she; for her mixed soul could tell
Her love was dead: and when the Morning fell
Prostrate upon the weeping earth for woe,
Blushes, that bled out of her cheeks, did show
Leander brought by Neptune, bruis'd and torn
With cities' ruins he to rocks had worn,
To filthy usuring rocks, that would have blood,
Though they could get of him no other good.
She saw him, and the sight was much-much more
Than might have serv'd to kill her: should her store
Of giant sorrows speak?--Burst,--die,--bleed,
And leave poor plaints to us that shall succeed.
She fell on her love's bosom, hugged it fast,
And with Leander's name she breathed her last.
Neptune for pity in his arms did take them,
Flung them into the air, and did awake them
Like two sweet birds, surnam'd th' Acanthides,
Which we call Thistle-warps, that near no seas
Dare ever come, but still in couples fly,
And feed on thistle-tops, to testify
The hardness of their first life in their last;
The first, in thorns of love, that sorrows past:
And so most beautiful their colours show,
As none (so little) like them; her sad brow
A sable velvet feather covers quite,
Even like the forehead-cloth that, in the night,
Or when they sorrow, ladies use to wear:
Their wings, blue, red, and yellow, mixed appear:
Colours that, as we construe colours, paint
Their states to life;--the yellow shows their saint,
The dainty Venus, left them; blue their truth;
The red and black, ensigns of death and ruth.
And this true honour from their love-death sprung,--
They were the first that ever poet sung.

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Hero Poems
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  2. 2. Hero And Leander
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  3. 3. He Is More Than A Hero
  4. 4. Hero
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  5. 5. Hero And Leander: The First Sestiad
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  6. 6. The Hero
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  7. 7. My Hero Bares His Nerves
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  8. 8. The Last Hero
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  9. 9. Hero And Leander
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  10. 10. The Poet As Hero
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  11. 11. My Hero
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  12. 12. 05 - A Hero
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  16. 16. The Hero
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  17. 17. My Hero
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  18. 18. A Hero
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  19. 19. Hero And Leander: The Second Sestiad
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  20. 20. The Hero Of Rorke's Drift
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  25. 25. Soldiers Who Wish To Be A Hero
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  27. 27. The Mind Inside My Hero
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  37. 37. Soldiers Who Wish To Be A Hero
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Hero Poems

  1. He Is More Than A Hero

    He is more than a hero he is a god in my eyes-- the man who is allowed to sit beside you -- he who listens intimately to the sweet murmur of your voice, the enticing laughter that makes my own heart beat fast. If I meet you suddenly, I can' speak -- my tongue is broken; a thin flame runs under my skin; seeing nothing, hearing only my own ears drumming, I drip with sweat; trembling shakes my body and I turn paler than dry grass. At such times death isn't far from me

  2. Hero And Leander: The First Sestiad

    On Hellespont, guilty of true-love's blood, In view and opposite two cities stood, Sea-borderers, disjoined by Neptune's might; The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight. At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair, Whom young Apollo courted for her hair, And offered as a dower his burning throne, Where she should sit for men to gaze upon. The outside of her garments were of lawn, The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn; Her wide sleeves green, and bordered with a grove, Where Venus in her naked glory strove To please the careless and disdainful eyes Of proud Adonis, that before her lies. Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain, Made with the blood of wretched lovers slain. Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath, From whence her veil reached to the ground beneath. Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives. Many would praise the sweet smell as she passed, When 'twas the odour which her breath forth cast; And there for honey bees have sought in vain, And, beat from thence, have lighted there again. About her neck hung chains of pebblestone, Which, lightened by her neck, like diamonds shone. She ware no gloves; for neither sun nor wind Would burn or parch her hands, but to her mind, Or warm or cool them, for they took delight To play upon those hands, they were so white. Buskins of shells, all silvered used she, And branched with blushing coral to the knee; Where sparrows perched of hollow pearl and gold, Such as the world would wonder to behold. Those with sweet water oft her handmaid fills, Which, as she went, would chirrup through the bills. Some say for her the fairest Cupid pined And looking in her face was strooken blind. But this is true: so like was one the other, As he imagined Hero was his mother. And oftentimes into her bosom flew, About her naked neck his bare arms threw, And laid his childish head upon her breast, And, with still panting rocked, there took his rest. So lovely fair was Hero, Venus' nun, As Nature wept, thinking she was undone, Because she took more from her than she left, And of such wondrous beauty her bereft. Therefore, in sign her treasure suffered wrack, Since Hero's time hath half the world been black. Amorous Leander, beautiful and young, (whose tragedy divine Musaeus sung,) Dwelt at Abydos; since him dwelt there none For whom succeeding times make greater moan. His dangling tresses, that were never shorn, Had they been cut, and unto Colchos borne, Would have allured the vent'rous youth of Greece To hazard more than for the golden fleece. Fair Cynthia wished his arms might be her sphere; Grief makes her pale, because she moves not there. His body was as straight as Circe's wand; Jove might have sipped out nectar from his hand. Even as delicious meat is to the taste, So was his neck in touching, and surpassed The white of Pelop's shoulder. I could tell ye How smooth his breast was and how white his belly; And whose immortal fingers did imprint That heavenly path with many a curious dint That runs along his back, but my rude pen Can hardly blazon forth the loves of men, Much less of powerful gods. Let it suffice That my slack Muse sings of Leander's eyes, Those orient cheeks and lips, exceeding his That leaped into the water for a kiss Of his own shadow and, despising many, Died ere he could enjoy the love of any. Had wild Hippolytus Leander seen Enamoured of his beauty had he been. His presence made the rudest peasant melt That in the vast uplandish country dwelt. The barbarous Thracian soldier, moved with nought, Was moved with him and for his favour sought. Some swore he was a maid in man's attire, For in his looks were all that men desire, A pleasant smiling cheek, a speaking eye, A brow for love to banquet royally; And such as knew he was a man, would say, 'Leander, thou art made for amorous play. Why art thou not in love, and loved of all? Though thou be fair, yet be not thine own thrall.' The men of wealthy Sestos every year, (For his sake whom their goddess held so dear, Rose-cheeked Adonis) kept a solemn feast. Thither resorted many a wandering guest To meet their loves. Such as had none at all, Came lovers home from this great festival. For every street like to a firmament Glistered with breathing stars who, where they went, Frighted the melancholy earth which deemed Eternal heaven to burn, for so it seemed, As if another Phaeton had got The guidance of the sun's rich chariot. But far above the loveliest Hero shined And stole away th' enchanted gazer's mind, For like sea nymphs' enveigling Harmony, So was her beauty to the standers by. Nor that night-wandering, pale, and wat'ry star (When yawning dragons draw her thirling car From Latmus' mount up to the gloomy sky Where, crowned with blazing light and majesty, She proudly sits) more overrules the flood Than she the hearts of those that near her stood. Even as, when gaudy nymphs pursue the chase, Wretched Ixion's shaggy footed race, Incensed with savage heat, gallop amain From steep pine-bearing mountains to the plain. So ran the people forth to gaze upon her, And all that viewed her were enamoured on her. And as in fury of a dreadful fight, Their fellows being slain or put to flight, Poor soldiers stand with fear of death dead strooken, So at her presence all surprised and tooken, Await the sentence of her scornful eyes. He whom she favours lives, the other dies. There might you see one sigh, another rage; And some, (their violent passions to assuage) Compile sharp satires, but alas too late, For faithful love will never turn to hate. And many seeing great princes were denied Pin'd as they went, and thinking on her died. On this feast day, O cursed day and hour, Went Hero thorough Sestos from her tower To Venus' temple, where unhappily As after chanced, they did each other spy. So fair a church as this had Venus none. The walls were of discoloured jasper stone Wherein was Proteus carved, and o'erhead A lively vine of green sea agate spread, Where by one hand lightheaded Bacchus hung, And, with the other, wine from grapes out wrung. Of crystal shining fair the pavement was. The town of Sestos called it Venus' glass. There might you see the gods in sundry shapes Committing heady riots, incest, rapes. For know, that underneath this radiant floor Was Danae's statue in a brazen tower, Jove slyly stealing from his sister's bed, To dally with Idalian Ganymede, And for his love Europa bellowing loud, And tumbling with the Rainbow in a cloud; Blood quaffing Mars heaving the iron net Which limping Vulcan and his Cyclops set; Love kindling fire to burn such towns as Troy; Sylvanus weeping for the lovely boy That now is turned into a cypress tree, Under whose shade the wood gods love to be. And in the midst a silver altar stood. There Hero, sacrificing turtle's blood, Vailed to the ground, vailing her eyelids close, And modestly they opened as she rose. Thence flew Love's arrow with the golden head, And thus Leander was enamoured. Stone still he stood, and evermore he gazed Till with the fire that from his countenance blazed Relenting Hero's gentle heart was strook. Such force and virtue hath an amorous look. It lies not in our power to love or hate, For will in us is overruled by fate. When two are stripped, long ere the course begin We wish that one should lose, the other win. And one especially do we affect Of two gold ingots like in each respect. The reason no man knows; let it suffice What we behold is censured by our eyes. Where both deliberate, the love is slight: Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight? He kneeled, but unto her devoutly prayed. Chaste Hero to herself thus softly said, 'Were I the saint he worships, I would hear him; ' And, as she spake those words, came somewhat near him. He started up, she blushed as one ashamed, Wherewith Leander much more was inflamed. He touched her hand; in touching it she trembled. Love deeply grounded, hardly is dissembled. These lovers parleyed by the touch of hands; True love is mute, and oft amazed stands. Thus while dumb signs their yielding hearts entangled, The air with sparks of living fire was spangled, And night, deep drenched in misty Acheron, Heaved up her head, and half the world upon Breathed darkness forth (dark night is Cupid's day) . And now begins Leander to display Love's holy fire, with words, with sighs, and tears, Which like sweet music entered Hero's ears, And yet at every word she turned aside, And always cut him off as he replied. At last, like to a bold sharp sophister, With cheerful hope thus he accosted her. 'Fair creature, let me speak without offence. I would my rude words had the influence To lead thy thoughts as thy fair looks do mine, Then shouldst thou be his prisoner, who is thine. Be not unkind and fair; misshapen stuff Are of behaviour boisterous and rough. O shun me not, but hear me ere you go. God knows I cannot force love as you do. My words shall be as spotless as my youth, Full of simplicity and naked truth. This sacrifice, (whose sweet perfume descending From Venus' altar, to your footsteps bending) Doth testify that you exceed her far, To whom you offer, and whose nun you are. Why should you worship her? Her you surpass As much as sparkling diamonds flaring glass. A diamond set in lead his worth retains; A heavenly nymph, beloved of human swains, Receives no blemish, but ofttimes more grace; Which makes me hope, although I am but base: Base in respect of thee, divine and pure, Dutiful service may thy love procure. And I in duty will excel all other, As thou in beauty dost exceed Love's mother. Nor heaven, nor thou, were made to gaze upon, As heaven preserves all things, so save thou one. A stately builded ship, well rigged and tall, The ocean maketh more majestical. Why vowest thou then to live in Sestos here Who on Love's seas more glorious wouldst appear? Like untuned golden strings all women are, Which long time lie untouched, will harshly jar. Vessels of brass, oft handled, brightly shine. What difference betwixt the richest mine And basest mould, but use? For both, not used, Are of like worth. Then treasure is abused When misers keep it; being put to loan, In time it will return us two for one. Rich robes themselves and others do adorn; Neither themselves nor others, if not worn. Who builds a palace and rams up the gate Shall see it ruinous and desolate. Ah, simple Hero, learn thyself to cherish. Lone women like to empty houses perish. Less sins the poor rich man that starves himself In heaping up a mass of drossy pelf, Than such as you. His golden earth remains Which, after his decease, some other gains. But this fair gem, sweet in the loss alone, When you fleet hence, can be bequeathed to none. Or, if it could, down from th'enameled sky All heaven would come to claim this legacy, And with intestine broils the world destroy, And quite confound nature's sweet harmony. Well therefore by the gods decreed it is We human creatures should enjoy that bliss. One is no number; maids are nothing then Without the sweet society of men. Wilt thou live single still? One shalt thou be, Though never singling Hymen couple thee. Wild savages, that drink of running springs, Think water far excels all earthly things, But they that daily taste neat wine despise it. Virginity, albeit some highly prize it, Compared with marriage, had you tried them both, Differs as much as wine and water doth. Base bullion for the stamp's sake we allow; Even so for men's impression do we you, By which alone, our reverend fathers say, Women receive perfection every way. This idol which you term virginity Is neither essence subject to the eye No, nor to any one exterior sense, Nor hath it any place of residence, Nor is't of earth or mould celestial, Or capable of any form at all. Of that which hath no being do not boast; Things that are not at all are never lost. Men foolishly do call it virtuous; What virtue is it that is born with us? Much less can honour be ascribed thereto; Honour is purchased by the deeds we do. Believe me, Hero, honour is not won Until some honourable deed be done. Seek you for chastity, immortal fame, And know that some have wronged Diana's name? Whose name is it, if she be false or not So she be fair, but some vile tongues will blot? But you are fair, (ay me) so wondrous fair, So young, so gentle, and so debonair, As Greece will think if thus you live alone Some one or other keeps you as his own. Then, Hero, hate me not nor from me fly To follow swiftly blasting infamy. Perhaps thy sacred priesthood makes thee loath. Tell me, to whom mad'st thou that heedless oath? ' 'To Venus,' answered she and, as she spake, Forth from those two tralucent cisterns brake A stream of liquid pearl, which down her face Made milk-white paths, whereon the gods might trace To Jove's high court. He thus replied: 'The rites In which love's beauteous empress most delights Are banquets, Doric music, midnight revel, Plays, masks, and all that stern age counteth evil. Thee as a holy idiot doth she scorn For thou in vowing chastity hast sworn To rob her name and honour, and thereby Committ'st a sin far worse than perjury, Even sacrilege against her deity, Through regular and formal purity. To expiate which sin, kiss and shake hands. Such sacrifice as this Venus demands.' Thereat she smiled and did deny him so, As put thereby, yet might he hope for moe. Which makes him quickly re-enforce his speech, And her in humble manner thus beseech. 'Though neither gods nor men may thee deserve, Yet for her sake, whom you have vowed to serve, Abandon fruitless cold virginity, The gentle queen of love's sole enemy. Then shall you most resemble Venus' nun, When Venus' sweet rites are performed and done. Flint-breasted Pallas joys in single life, But Pallas and your mistress are at strife. Love, Hero, then, and be not tyrannous, But heal the heart that thou hast wounded thus, Nor stain thy youthful years with avarice. Fair fools delight to be accounted nice. The richest corn dies, if it be not reaped; Beauty alone is lost, too warily kept.' These arguments he used, and many more, Wherewith she yielded, that was won before. Hero's looks yielded but her words made war. Women are won when they begin to jar. Thus, having swallowed Cupid's golden hook, The more she strived, the deeper was she strook. Yet, evilly feigning anger, strove she still And would be thought to grant against her will. So having paused a while at last she said, 'Who taught thee rhetoric to deceive a maid? Ay me, such words as these should I abhor And yet I like them for the orator.' With that Leander stooped to have embraced her But from his spreading arms away she cast her, And thus bespake him: 'Gentle youth, forbear To touch the sacred garments which I wear. Upon a rock and underneath a hill Far from the town (where all is whist and still, Save that the sea, playing on yellow sand, Sends forth a rattling murmur to the land, Whose sound allures the golden Morpheus In silence of the night to visit us) My turret stands and there, God knows, I play. With Venus' swans and sparrows all the day. A dwarfish beldam bears me company, That hops about the chamber where I lie, And spends the night (that might be better spent) In vain discourse and apish merriment. Come thither.' As she spake this, her tongue tripped, For unawares 'come thither' from her slipped. And suddenly her former colour changed, And here and there her eyes through anger ranged. And like a planet, moving several ways, At one self instant she, poor soul, assays, Loving, not to love at all, and every part Strove to resist the motions of her heart. And hands so pure, so innocent, nay, such As might have made heaven stoop to have a touch, Did she uphold to Venus, and again Vowed spotless chastity, but all in vain. Cupid beats down her prayers with his wings, Her vows above the empty air he flings, All deep enraged, his sinewy bow he bent, And shot a shaft that burning from him went, Wherewith she strooken, looked so dolefully, As made love sigh to see his tyranny. And as she wept her tears to pearl he turned, And wound them on his arm and for her mourned. Then towards the palace of the destinies Laden with languishment and grief he flies, And to those stern nymphs humbly made request Both might enjoy each other, and be blest. But with a ghastly dreadful countenance, Threatening a thousand deaths at every glance, They answered Love, nor would vouchsafe so much As one poor word, their hate to him was such. Hearken a while and I will tell you why. Heaven's winged herald, Jove-borne Mercury, The selfsame day that he asleep had laid Enchanted Argus, spied a country maid Whose careless hair instead of pearl t'adorn it Glistered with dew, as one that seemed to scorn it; Her breath as fragrant as the morning rose, Her mind pure, and her tongue untaught to gloze. Yet proud she was (for lofty pride that dwells In towered courts is oft in shepherds' cells.) And too too well the fair vermilion knew, And silver tincture of her cheeks, that drew The love of every swain. On her this god Enamoured was, and with his snaky rod Did charm her nimble feet, and made her stay, The while upon a hillock down he lay And sweetly on his pipe began to play, And with smooth speech her fancy to assay, Till in his twining arms he locked her fast And then he wooed with kisses; and at last, As shepherds do, her on the ground he laid And, tumbling in the grass, he often strayed Beyond the bounds of shame, in being bold To eye those parts which no eye should behold. And, like an insolent commanding lover Boasting his parentage, would needs discover The way to new Elysium, but she, Whose only dower was her chastity, Having striv'n in vain was now about to cry And crave the help of shepherds that were nigh. Herewith he stayed his fury, and began To give her leave to rise. Away she ran; After went Mercury who used such cunning As she, to hear his tale, left off her running. Maids are not won by brutish force and might, But speeches full of pleasure, and delight. And, knowing Hermes courted her, was glad That she such loveliness and beauty had As could provoke his liking, yet was mute And neither would deny nor grant his suit. Still vowed he love. She, wanting no excuse To feed him with delays, as women use, Or thirsting after immortality, - All women are ambitious naturally - Imposed upon her lover such a task As he ought not perform nor yet she ask. A draught of flowing nectar she requested, Wherewith the king of gods and men is feasted. He, ready to accomplish what she willed, Stole some from Hebe (Hebe Jove's cup filled) And gave it to his simple rustic love. Which being known (as what is hid from Jove?) He inly stormed and waxed more furious Than for the fire filched by Prometheus, And thrusts him down from heaven. He, wandering here, In mournful terms, with sad and heavy cheer, Complained to Cupid. Cupid for his sake, To be revenged on Jove did undertake. And those on whom heaven, earth, and hell relies, I mean the adamantine Destinies, He wounds with love, and forced them equally To dote upon deceitful Mercury. They offered him the deadly fatal knife That shears the slender threads of human life. At his fair feathered feet the engines laid Which th' earth from ugly Chaos' den upweighed. These he regarded not but did entreat That Jove, usurper of his father's seat, Might presently be banished into hell, And aged Saturn in Olympus dwell. They granted what he craved, and once again Saturn and Ops began their golden reign. Murder, rape, war, lust, and treachery, Were with Jove closed in Stygian empery. But long this blessed time continued not. As soon as he his wished purpose got He reckless of his promise did despise The love of th' everlasting Destinies. They seeing it both love and him abhorred And Jupiter unto his place restored. And but that Learning in despite of Fate Will mount aloft and enter heaven gate And to the seat of Jove itself advance, Hermes had slept in hell with Ignorance. Yet as a punishment they added this, That he and Poverty should always kiss. And to this day is every scholar poor; Gross gold from them runs headlong to the boor. Likewise the angry Sisters thus deluded, To venge themselves on Hermes, have concluded That Midas' brood shall sit in honour's chair, To which the Muses' sons are only heir; And fruitful wits, that in aspiring are, Shall discontent run into regions far; And few great lords in virtuous deeds shall joy But be surprised with every garish toy, And still enrich the lofty servile clown, Who with encroaching guile keeps learning down. Then Muse not Cupid's suit no better sped, Seeing in their loves the Fates were injured.

  3. Hero And Leander

    It lies not in our power to love or hate, For will in us is over-rul'd by fate. hen two are stript long ere the course begin, We wish that one should lose, the other win; And one especially do we affect Of two gold ingots, like in each respect: The reason no man knows; let it suffice, What we behold is censur'd by our eyes. Where both deliberate, the love is slight: Who ever lov'd, that lov'd not at first sight.

  4. Hero

    'Jack fell as he'd have wished,' the Mother said, And folded up the letter that she'd read. 'The Colonel writes so nicely.' Something broke In the tired voice that quavered to a choke. She half looked up. 'We mothers are so proud Of our dead soldiers.' Then her face was bowed. Quietly the Brother Officer went out. He'd told the poor old dear some gallant lies That she would nourish all her days, no doubt. For while he coughed and mumbled, her weak eyes Had shone with gentle triumph, brimmed with joy, Because he'd been so brave, her glorious boy. He thought how 'Jack', cold-footed, useless swine, Had panicked down the trench that night the mine Went up at Wicked Corner; how he'd tried To get sent home, and how, at last, he died, Blown to small bits. And no one seemed to care Except that lonely woman with white hair.

  5. A Hero

    Three times I had the lust to kill, To clutch a throat so young and fair, And squeeze with all my might until No breath of being lingered there. Three times I drove the demon out, Though on my brow was evil sweat. . . . And yet I know beyond a doubt He'll get me yet, he'll get me yet. I know I'm mad, I ought to tell The doctors, let them care for me, Confine me in a padded cell And never, never set me free; But Oh how cruel that would be! For I am young - and comely too . . . Yet dim my demon I can see, And there is but one thing to do. Three times I beat the foul fiend back; The fourth, I know he will prevail, And so I'll seek the railway track And lay my head upon the rail, And sight the dark and distant train, And hear its thunder louder roll, Coming to crush my cursed brain . . . Oh God, have mercy on my soul!

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