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Hero and Leander (version 2)

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</p> <br><br><center><h3>E-text prepared by Daniel Callahan<br> from source material generously provided by<br> Classic Literature Library<br> (<SPAN href="http://www.classic-literature.co.uk/">http://www.classic-literature.co.uk/</SPAN>)</h3></center><br><br> <hr noshade> <br> <br> <br> <br> <h1> HERO AND LEANDER </h1> <h3>by</h3> <h2>Christopher Marlowe</h2> <br> <br> <br> <br> <h3> FIRST SESTIAD </h3> <p> On Hellespont, guilty of true-love's blood,<br> In view and opposite two cities stood,<br> Sea-borderers, disjoined by Neptune's might;<br> The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.<br> At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,<br> Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,<br> And offered as a dower his burning throne,<br> Where she should sit for men to gaze upon.<br> The outside of her garments were of lawn,<br> The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn;<br> Her wide sleeves green, and bordered with a grove,<br> Where Venus in her naked glory strove<br> To please the careless and disdainful eyes<br> Of proud Adonis, that before her lies.<br> Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain,<br> Made with the blood of wretched lovers slain.<br> Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath,<br> From whence her veil reached to the ground beneath.<br> Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves<br> Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives.<br> Many would praise the sweet smell as she passed,<br> When 'twas the odour which her breath forth cast;<br> And there for honey bees have sought in vain,<br> And, beat from thence, have lighted there again.<br> About her neck hung chains of pebblestone,<br> Which, lightened by her neck, like diamonds shone.<br> She ware no gloves; for neither sun nor wind<br> Would burn or parch her hands, but to her mind,<br> Or warm or cool them, for they took delight<br> To play upon those hands, they were so white.<br> Buskins of shells, all silvered used she,<br> And branched with blushing coral to the knee;<br> Where sparrows perched of hollow pearl and gold,<br> Such as the world would wonder to behold.<br> Those with sweet water oft her handmaid fills,<br> Which, as she went, would chirrup through the bills.<br> Some say for her the fairest Cupid pined<br> And looking in her face was strooken blind.<br> But this is true: so like was one the other,<br> As he imagined Hero was his mother.<br> And oftentimes into her bosom flew,<br> About her naked neck his bare arms threw,<br> And laid his childish head upon her breast,<br> And, with still panting rocked, there took his rest.<br> So lovely fair was Hero, Venus' nun,<br> As Nature wept, thinking she was undone,<br> Because she took more from her than she left,<br> And of such wondrous beauty her bereft.<br> Therefore, in sign her treasure suffered wrack,<br> Since Hero's time hath half the world been black. </p> <p> Amorous Leander, beautiful and young,<br> (whose tragedy divine Musaeus sung,)<br> Dwelt at Abydos; since him dwelt there none<br> For whom succeeding times make greater moan.<br> His dangling tresses, that were never shorn,<br> Had they been cut, and unto Colchos borne,<br> Would have allured the vent'rous youth of Greece<br> To hazard more than for the golden fleece.<br> Fair Cynthia wished his arms might be her sphere;<br> Grief makes her pale, because she moves not there.<br> His body was as straight as Circe's wand;<br> Jove might have sipped out nectar from his hand.<br> Even as delicious meat is to the taste,<br> So was his neck in touching, and surpassed<br> The white of Pelop's shoulder. I could tell ye<br> How smooth his breast was and how white his belly;<br> And whose immortal fingers did imprint<br> That heavenly path with many a curious dint<br> That runs along his back, but my rude pen<br> Can hardly blazon forth the loves of men,<br> Much less of powerful gods. Let it suffice<br> That my slack Muse sings of Leander's eyes,<br> Those orient cheeks and lips, exceeding his<br> That leaped into the water for a kiss<br> Of his own shadow and, despising many,<br> Died ere he could enjoy the love of any.<br> Had wild Hippolytus Leander seen<br> Enamoured of his beauty had he been.<br> His presence made the rudest peasant melt<br> That in the vast uplandish country dwelt.<br> The barbarous Thracian soldier, moved with nought,<br> Was moved with him and for his favour sought.<br> Some swore he was a maid in man's attire,<br> For in his looks were all that men desire,<br> A pleasant smiling cheek, a speaking eye,<br> A brow for love to banquet royally;<br> And such as knew he was a man, would say,<br> "Leander, thou art made for amorous play.<br> Why art thou not in love, and loved of all?<br> Though thou be fair, yet be not thine own thrall." </p> <p> The men of wealthy Sestos every year,<br> (For his sake whom their goddess held so dear,<br> Rose-cheeked Adonis) kept a solemn feast.<br> Thither resorted many a wandering guest<br> To meet their loves.<br> Such as had none at all,<br> Came lovers home from this great festival.<br> For every street like to a firmament<br> Glistered with breathing stars who, where they went,<br> Frighted the melancholy earth which deemed<br> Eternal heaven to burn, for so it seemed,<br> As if another Phaeton had got<br> The guidance of the sun's rich chariot.<br> But far above the loveliest Hero shined<br> And stole away th' enchanted gazer's mind,<br> For like sea nymphs' enveigling Harmony,<br> So was her beauty to the standers by.<br> Nor that night-wandering, pale, and wat'ry star<br> (When yawning dragons draw her thirling car<br> From Latmus' mount up to the gloomy sky<br> Where, crowned with blazing light and majesty,<br> She proudly sits) more overrules the flood<br> Than she the hearts of those that near her stood.<br> Even as, when gaudy nymphs pursue the chase,<br> Wretched Ixion's shaggy footed race,<br> Incensed with savage heat, gallop amain<br> From steep pine-bearing mountains to the plain.<br> So ran the people forth to gaze upon her,<br> And all that viewed her were enamoured on her.<br> And as in fury of a dreadful fight,<br> Their fellows being slain or put to flight,<br> Poor soldiers stand with fear of death dead strooken,<br> So at her presence all surprised and tooken,<br> Await the sentence of her scornful eyes.<br> He whom she favours lives, the other dies.<br> There might you see one sigh, another rage;<br> And some, (their violent passions to assuage)<br> Compile sharp satires, but alas too late,<br> For faithful love will never turn to hate.<br> And many seeing great princes were denied<br> Pin'd as they went, and thinking on her died.<br> On this feast day, O cursed day and hour,<br> Went Hero thorough Sestos from her tower<br> To Venus' temple, where unhappily<br> As after chanced, they did each other spy. </p> <p> So fair a church as this had Venus none.<br> The walls were of discoloured jasper stone<br> Wherein was Proteus carved, and o'erhead<br> A lively vine of green sea agate spread,<br> Where by one hand lightheaded Bacchus hung,<br> And, with the other, wine from grapes out wrung.<br> Of crystal shining fair the pavement was.<br> The town of Sestos called it Venus' glass.<br> There might you see the gods in sundry shapes<br> Committing heady riots, incest, rapes.<br> For know, that underneath this radiant floor<br> Was Danae's statue in a brazen tower,<br> Jove slyly stealing from his sister's bed,<br> To dally with Idalian Ganymede,<br> And for his love Europa bellowing loud,<br> And tumbling with the Rainbow in a cloud;<br> Blood quaffing Mars heaving the iron net<br> Which limping Vulcan and his Cyclops set;<br> Love kindling fire to burn such towns as Troy;<br> Sylvanus weeping for the lovely boy<br> That now is turned into a cypress tree,<br> Under whose shade the wood gods love to be.<br> And in the midst a silver altar stood.<br> There Hero, sacrificing turtle's blood,<br> Vailed to the ground, vailing her eyelids close,<br> And modestly they opened as she rose.<br> Thence flew Love's arrow with the golden head,<br> And thus Leander was enamoured.<br> Stone still he stood, and evermore he gazed<br> Till with the fire that from his countenance blazed<br> Relenting Hero's gentle heart was strook.<br> Such force and virtue hath an amorous look. </p> <p> It lies not in our power to love or hate,<br> For will in us is overruled by fate.<br> When two are stripped, long ere the course begin<br> We wish that one should lose, the other win.<br> And one especially do we affect<br> Of two gold ingots like in each respect.<br> The reason no man knows; let it suffice<br> What we behold is censured by our eyes.<br> Where both deliberate, the love is slight:<br> Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight? </p> <p> He kneeled, but unto her devoutly prayed.<br> Chaste Hero to herself thus softly said,<br> "Were I the saint he worships, I would hear him;"<br> And, as she spake those words, came somewhat near him.<br> He started up, she blushed as one ashamed,<br> Wherewith Leander much more was inflamed.<br> He touched her hand; in touching it she trembled.<br> Love deeply grounded, hardly is dissembled.<br> These lovers parleyed by the touch of hands;<br> True love is mute, and oft amazed stands.<br> Thus while dumb signs their yielding hearts entangled,<br> The air with sparks of living fire was spangled,<br> And night, deep drenched in misty Acheron,<br> Heaved up her head, and half the world upon<br> Breathed darkness forth (dark night is Cupid's day).<br> And now begins Leander to display<br> Love's holy fire, with words, with sighs, and tears,<br> Which like sweet music entered Hero's ears,<br> And yet at every word she turned aside,<br> And always cut him off as he replied.<br> At last, like to a bold sharp sophister,<br> With cheerful hope thus he accosted her.<br> "Fair creature, let me speak without offence.<br> I would my rude words had the influence<br> To lead thy thoughts as thy fair looks do mine,<br> Then shouldst thou be his prisoner, who is thine.<br> Be not unkind and fair; misshapen stuff<br> Are of behaviour boisterous and rough.<br> O shun me not, but hear me ere you go.<br> God knows I cannot force love as you do.<br> My words shall be as spotless as my youth,<br> Full of simplicity and naked truth.<br> This sacrifice, (whose sweet perfume descending<br> From Venus' altar, to your footsteps bending)<br> Doth testify that you exceed her far,<br> To whom you offer, and whose nun you are.<br> Why should you worship her? Her you surpass<br> As much as sparkling diamonds flaring glass.<br> A diamond set in lead his worth retains;<br> A heavenly nymph, beloved of human swains,<br> Receives no blemish, but ofttimes more grace;<br> Which makes me hope, although I am but base:<br> Base in respect of thee, divine and pure,<br> Dutiful service may thy love procure.<br> And I in duty will excel all other,<br> As thou in beauty dost exceed Love's mother.<br> Nor heaven, nor thou, were made to gaze upon,<br> As heaven preserves all things, so save thou one.<br> A stately builded ship, well rigged and tall,<br> The ocean maketh more majestical.<br> Why vowest thou then to live in Sestos here<br> Who on Love's seas more glorious wouldst appear?<br> Like untuned golden strings all women are,<br> Which long time lie untouched, will harshly jar.<br> Vessels of brass, oft handled, brightly shine.<br> What difference betwixt the richest mine<br> And basest mould, but use? For both, not used,<br> Are of like worth. Then treasure is abused<br> When misers keep it; being put to loan,<br> In time it will return us two for one.<br> Rich robes themselves and others do adorn;<br> Neither themselves nor others, if not worn.<br> Who builds a palace and rams up the gate<br> Shall see it ruinous and desolate.<br> Ah, simple Hero, learn thyself to cherish.<br> Lone women like to empty houses perish.<br> Less sins the poor rich man that starves himself<br> In heaping up a mass of drossy pelf,<br> Than such as you. His golden earth remains<br> Which, after his decease, some other gains.<br> But this fair gem, sweet in the loss alone,<br> When you fleet hence, can be bequeathed to none.<br> Or, if it could, down from th'enameled sky<br> All heaven would come to claim this legacy,<br> And with intestine broils the world destroy,<br> And quite confound nature's sweet harmony.<br> Well therefore by the gods decreed it is<br> We human creatures should enjoy that bliss.<br> One is no number; maids are nothing then<br> Without the sweet society of men.<br> Wilt thou live single still? One shalt thou be,<br> Though never singling Hymen couple thee.<br> Wild savages, that drink of running springs,<br> Think water far excels all earthly things,<br> But they that daily taste neat wine despise it.<br> Virginity, albeit some highly prize it,<br> Compared with marriage, had you tried them both,<br> Differs as much as wine and water doth.<br> Base bullion for the stamp's sake we allow;<br> Even so for men's impression do we you,<br> By which alone, our reverend fathers say,<br> Women receive perfection every way.<br> This idol which you term virginity<br> Is neither essence subject to the eye<br> No, nor to any one exterior sense,<br> Nor hath it any place of residence,<br> Nor is't of earth or mould celestial,<br> Or capable of any form at all.<br> Of that which hath no being do not boast;<br> Things that are not at all are never lost.<br> Men foolishly do call it virtuous;<br> What virtue is it that is born with us?<br> Much less can honour be ascribed thereto;<br> Honour is purchased by the deeds we do.<br> Believe me, Hero, honour is not won<br> Until some honourable deed be done.<br> Seek you for chastity, immortal fame,<br> And know that some have wronged Diana's name?<br> Whose name is it, if she be false or not<br> So she be fair, but some vile tongues will blot?<br> But you are fair, (ay me) so wondrous fair,<br> So young, so gentle, and so debonair,<br> As Greece will think if thus you live alone<br> Some one or other keeps you as his own.<br> Then, Hero, hate me not nor from me fly<br> To follow swiftly blasting infamy.<br> Perhaps thy sacred priesthood makes thee loath.<br> Tell me, to whom mad'st thou that heedless oath?" </p> <p> "To Venus," answered she and, as she spake,<br> Forth from those two tralucent cisterns brake<br> A stream of liquid pearl, which down her face<br> Made milk-white paths, whereon the gods might trace<br> To Jove's high court.<br> He thus replied: "The rites<br> In which love's beauteous empress most delights<br> Are banquets, Doric music, midnight revel,<br> Plays, masks, and all that stern age counteth evil.<br> Thee as a holy idiot doth she scorn<br> For thou in vowing chastity hast sworn<br> To rob her name and honour, and thereby<br> Committ'st a sin far worse than perjury,<br> Even sacrilege against her deity,<br> Through regular and formal purity.<br> To expiate which sin, kiss and shake hands.<br> Such sacrifice as this Venus demands." </p> <p> Thereat she smiled and did deny him so,<br> As put thereby, yet might he hope for moe.<br> Which makes him quickly re-enforce his speech,<br> And her in humble manner thus beseech.<br> "Though neither gods nor men may thee deserve,<br> Yet for her sake, whom you have vowed to serve,<br> Abandon fruitless cold virginity,<br> The gentle queen of love's sole enemy.<br> Then shall you most resemble Venus' nun,<br> When Venus' sweet rites are performed and done.<br> Flint-breasted Pallas joys in single life,<br> But Pallas and your mistress are at strife.<br> Love, Hero, then, and be not tyrannous,<br> But heal the heart that thou hast wounded thus,<br> Nor stain thy youthful years with avarice.<br> Fair fools delight to be accounted nice.<br> The richest corn dies, if it be not reaped;<br> Beauty alone is lost, too warily kept." </p> <p> These arguments he used, and many more,<br> Wherewith she yielded, that was won before.<br> Hero's looks yielded but her words made war.<br> Women are won when they begin to jar.<br> Thus, having swallowed Cupid's golden hook,<br> The more she strived, the deeper was she strook.<br> Yet, evilly feigning anger, strove she still<br> And would be thought to grant against her will.<br> So having paused a while at last she said,<br> "Who taught thee rhetoric to deceive a maid?<br> Ay me, such words as these should I abhor<br> And yet I like them for the orator." </p> <p> With that Leander stooped to have embraced her<br> But from his spreading arms away she cast her,<br> And thus bespake him: "Gentle youth, forbear<br> To touch the sacred garments which I wear.<br> Upon a rock and underneath a hill<br> Far from the town (where all is whist and still,<br> Save that the sea, playing on yellow sand,<br> Sends forth a rattling murmur to the land,<br> Whose sound allures the golden Morpheus<br> In silence of the night to visit us)<br> My turret stands and there, God knows, I play.<br> With Venus' swans and sparrows all the day.<br> A dwarfish beldam bears me company,<br> That hops about the chamber where I lie,<br> And spends the night (that might be better spent)<br> In vain discourse and apish merriment.<br> Come thither." As she spake this, her tongue tripped,<br> For unawares "come thither" from her slipped.<br> And suddenly her former colour changed,<br> And here and there her eyes through anger ranged.<br> And like a planet, moving several ways,<br> At one self instant she, poor soul, assays,<br> Loving, not to love at all, and every part<br> Strove to resist the motions of her heart.<br> And hands so pure, so innocent, nay, such<br> As might have made heaven stoop to have a touch,<br> Did she uphold to Venus, and again<br> Vowed spotless chastity, but all in vain.<br> Cupid beats down her prayers with his wings,<br> Her vows above the empty air he flings,<br> All deep enraged, his sinewy bow he bent,<br> And shot a shaft that burning from him went,<br> Wherewith she strooken, looked so dolefully,<br> As made love sigh to see his tyranny.<br> And as she wept her tears to pearl he turned,<br> And wound them on his arm and for her mourned.<br> Then towards the palace of the destinies<br> Laden with languishment and grief he flies,<br> And to those stern nymphs humbly made request<br> Both might enjoy each other, and be blest.<br> But with a ghastly dreadful countenance,<br> Threatening a thousand deaths at every glance,<br> They answered Love, nor would vouchsafe so much<br> As one poor word, their hate to him was such.<br> Hearken a while and I will tell you why.<br> Heaven's winged herald, Jove-borne Mercury,<br> The selfsame day that he asleep had laid<br> Enchanted Argus, spied a country maid<br> Whose careless hair instead of pearl t'adorn it<br> Glistered with dew, as one that seemed to scorn it;<br> Her breath as fragrant as the morning rose,<br> Her mind pure, and her tongue untaught to gloze.<br> Yet proud she was (for lofty pride that dwells<br> In towered courts is oft in shepherds' cells.)<br> And too too well the fair vermilion knew,<br> And silver tincture of her cheeks, that drew<br> The love of every swain. On her this god<br> Enamoured was, and with his snaky rod<br> Did charm her nimble feet, and made her stay,<br> The while upon a hillock down he lay<br> And sweetly on his pipe began to play,<br> And with smooth speech her fancy to assay,<br> Till in his twining arms he locked her fast<br> And then he wooed with kisses; and at last,<br> As shepherds do, her on the ground he laid<br> And, tumbling in the grass, he often strayed<br> Beyond the bounds of shame, in being bold<br> To eye those parts which no eye should behold.<br> And, like an insolent commanding lover<br> Boasting his parentage, would needs discover<br> The way to new Elysium, but she,<br> Whose only dower was her chastity,<br> Having striv'n in vain was now about to cry<br> And crave the help of shepherds that were nigh.<br> Herewith he stayed his fury, and began<br> To give her leave to rise. Away she ran;<br> After went Mercury who used such cunning<br> As she, to hear his tale, left off her running.<br> Maids are not won by brutish force and might,<br> But speeches full of pleasure, and delight.<br> And, knowing Hermes courted her, was glad<br> That she such loveliness and beauty had<br> As could provoke his liking, yet was mute<br> And neither would deny nor grant his suit.<br> Still vowed he love. She, wanting no excuse<br> To feed him with delays, as women use,<br> Or thirsting after immortality, -<br> All women are ambitious naturally -<br> Imposed upon her lover such a task<br> As he ought not perform nor yet she ask.<br> A draught of flowing nectar she requested,<br> Wherewith the king of gods and men is feasted.<br> He, ready to accomplish what she willed,<br> Stole some from Hebe (Hebe Jove's cup filled)<br> And gave it to his simple rustic love.<br> Which being known (as what is hid from Jove?)<br> He inly stormed and waxed more furious<br> Than for the fire filched by Prometheus,<br> And thrusts him down from heaven. He, wandering here,<br> In mournful terms, with sad and heavy cheer,<br> Complained to Cupid. Cupid for his sake,<br> To be revenged on Jove did undertake.<br> And those on whom heaven, earth, and hell relies,<br> I mean the adamantine Destinies,<br> He wounds with love, and forced them equally<br> To dote upon deceitful Mercury.<br> They offered him the deadly fatal knife<br> That shears the slender threads of human life.<br> At his fair feathered feet the engines laid<br> Which th' earth from ugly Chaos' den upweighed.<br> These he regarded not but did entreat<br> That Jove, usurper of his father's seat,<br> Might presently be banished into hell,<br> And aged Saturn in Olympus dwell.<br> They granted what he craved, and once again<br> Saturn and Ops began their golden reign.<br> Murder, rape, war, lust, and treachery,<br> Were with Jove closed in Stygian empery.<br> But long this blessed time continued not.<br> As soon as he his wished purpose got<br> He reckless of his promise did despise<br> The love of th' everlasting Destinies.<br> They seeing it both love and him abhorred<br> And Jupiter unto his place restored.<br> And but that Learning in despite of Fate<br> Will mount aloft and enter heaven gate<br> And to the seat of Jove itself advance,<br> Hermes had slept in hell with Ignorance.<br> Yet as a punishment they added this,<br> That he and Poverty should always kiss.<br> And to this day is every scholar poor;<br> Gross gold from them runs headlong to the boor.<br> Likewise the angry Sisters thus deluded,<br> To venge themselves on Hermes, have concluded<br> That Midas' brood shall sit in honour's chair,<br> To which the Muses' sons are only heir;<br> And fruitful wits, that in aspiring are,<br> Shall discontent run into regions far;<br> And few great lords in virtuous deeds shall joy<br> But be surprised with every garish toy,<br> And still enrich the lofty servile clown,<br> Who with encroaching guile keeps learning down.<br> Then Muse not Cupid's suit no better sped,<br> Seeing in their loves the Fates were injured. </p> <p> (The end of the First Sestiad) </p> <br> <br> <h3> SECOND SESTIAD </h3> <p> By this, sad Hero, with love unacquainted,<br> Viewing Leander's face, fell down and fainted.<br> He kissed her and breathed life into her lips,<br> Wherewith as one displeased away she trips.<br> Yet, as she went, full often looked behind,<br> And many poor excuses did she find<br> To linger by the way, and once she stayed,<br> And would have turned again, but was afraid,<br> In offering parley, to be counted light.<br> So on she goes and in her idle flight<br> Her painted fan of curled plumes let fall,<br> Thinking to train Leander therewithal.<br> He, being a novice, knew not what she meant<br> But stayed, and after her a letter sent,<br> Which joyful Hero answered in such sort,<br> As he had hope to scale the beauteous fort<br> Wherein the liberal Graces locked their wealth,<br> And therefore to her tower he got by stealth.<br> Wide open stood the door, he need not climb,<br> And she herself before the pointed time<br> Had spread the board, with roses strowed the room,<br> And oft looked out, and mused he did not come.<br> At last he came.<br> O who can tell the greeting<br> These greedy lovers had at their first meeting.<br> He asked, she gave, and nothing was denied.<br> Both to each other quickly were affied.<br> Look how their hands, so were their hearts united,<br> And what he did she willingly requited.<br> (Sweet are the kisses, the embracements sweet,<br> When like desires and affections meet,<br> For from the earth to heaven is Cupid raised,<br> Where fancy is in equal balance peised.)<br> Yet she this rashness suddenly repented<br> And turned aside, and to herself lamented<br> As if her name and honour had been wronged<br> By being possessed of him for whom she longed.<br> Ay, and she wished, albeit not from her heart<br> That he would leave her turret and depart.<br> The mirthful god of amorous pleasure smiled<br> To see how he this captive nymph beguiled.<br> For hitherto he did but fan the fire,<br> And kept it down that it might mount the higher.<br> Now waxed she jealous lest his love abated,<br> Fearing her own thoughts made her to be hated.<br> Therefore unto him hastily she goes<br> And, like light Salmacis, her body throws<br> Upon his bosom where with yielding eyes<br> She offers up herself a sacrifice<br> To slake his anger if he were displeased.<br> O, what god would not therewith be appeased?<br> Like Aesop's cock this jewel he enjoyed<br> And as a brother with his sister toyed<br> Supposing nothing else was to be done,<br> Now he her favour and good will had won.<br> But know you not that creatures wanting sense<br> By nature have a mutual appetence,<br> And, wanting organs to advance a step,<br> Moved by love's force unto each other lep?<br> Much more in subjects having intellect<br> Some hidden influence breeds like effect.<br> Albeit Leander rude in love and raw,<br> Long dallying with Hero, nothing saw<br> That might delight him more, yet he suspected<br> Some amorous rites or other were neglected.<br> Therefore unto his body hers he clung.<br> She, fearing on the rushes to be flung,<br> Strived with redoubled strength; the more she strived<br> The more a gentle pleasing heat revived,<br> Which taught him all that elder lovers know.<br> And now the same gan so to scorch and glow<br> As in plain terms (yet cunningly) he craved it.<br> Love always makes those eloquent that have it.<br> She, with a kind of granting, put him by it<br> And ever, as he thought himself most nigh it,<br> Like to the tree of Tantalus, she fled<br> And, seeming lavish, saved her maidenhead.<br> Ne'er king more sought to keep his diadem,<br> Than Hero this inestimable gem.<br> Above our life we love a steadfast friend,<br> Yet when a token of great worth we send,<br> We often kiss it, often look thereon,<br> And stay the messenger that would be gone.<br> No marvel then, though Hero would not yield<br> So soon to part from that she dearly held.<br> Jewels being lost are found again, this never;<br> 'Tis lost but once, and once lost, lost forever. </p> <p> Now had the morn espied her lover's steeds,<br> Whereat she starts, puts on her purple weeds,<br> And red for anger that he stayed so long<br> All headlong throws herself the clouds among.<br> And now Leander, fearing to be missed,<br> Embraced her suddenly, took leave, and kissed.<br> Long was he taking leave, and loath to go,<br> And kissed again as lovers use to do.<br> Sad Hero wrung him by the hand and wept<br> Saying, "Let your vows and promises be kept."<br> Then standing at the door she turned about<br> As loath to see Leander going out.<br> And now the sun that through th' horizon peeps,<br> As pitying these lovers, downward creeps,<br> So that in silence of the cloudy night,<br> Though it was morning, did he take his flight.<br> But what the secret trusty night concealed<br> Leander's amorous habit soon revealed.<br> With Cupid's myrtle was his bonnet crowned,<br> About his arms the purple riband wound<br> Wherewith she wreathed her largely spreading hair.<br> Nor could the youth abstain, but he must wear<br> The sacred ring wherewith she was endowed<br> When first religious chastity she vowed.<br> Which made his love through Sestos to be known,<br> And thence unto Abydos sooner blown<br> Than he could sail; for incorporeal fame<br> Whose weight consists in nothing but her name,<br> Is swifter than the wind, whose tardy plumes<br> Are reeking water and dull earthly fumes.<br> Home when he came, he seemed not to be there,<br> But, like exiled air thrust from his sphere,<br> Set in a foreign place; and straight from thence,<br> Alcides like, by mighty violence<br> He would have chased away the swelling main<br> That him from her unjustly did detain.<br> Like as the sun in a diameter<br> Fires and inflames objects removed far,<br> And heateth kindly, shining laterally,<br> So beauty sweetly quickens when 'tis nigh,<br> But being separated and removed,<br> Burns where it cherished, murders where it loved.<br> Therefore even as an index to a book,<br> So to his mind was young Leander's look.<br> O, none but gods have power their love to hide,<br> Affection by the countenance is descried.<br> The light of hidden fire itself discovers,<br> And love that is concealed betrays poor lovers,<br> His secret flame apparently was seen.<br> Leander's father knew where he had been<br> And for the same mildly rebuked his son,<br> Thinking to quench the sparkles new begun.<br> But love resisted once grows passionate,<br> And nothing more than counsel lovers hate.<br> For as a hot proud horse highly disdains<br> To have his head controlled, but breaks the reins,<br> Spits forth the ringled bit, and with his hooves<br> Checks the submissive ground; so he that loves,<br> The more he is restrained, the worse he fares.<br> What is it now, but mad Leander dares?<br> "O Hero, Hero!" thus he cried full oft;<br> And then he got him to a rock aloft,<br> Where having spied her tower, long stared he on't,<br> And prayed the narrow toiling Hellespont<br> To part in twain, that he might come and go;<br> But still the rising billows answered, "No."<br> With that he stripped him to the ivory skin<br> And, crying "Love, I come," leaped lively in.<br> Whereat the sapphire visaged god grew proud,<br> And made his capering Triton sound aloud,<br> Imagining that Ganymede, displeased,<br> Had left the heavens; therefore on him he seized.<br> Leander strived; the waves about him wound,<br> And pulled him to the bottom, where the ground<br> Was strewed with pearl, and in low coral groves<br> Sweet singing mermaids sported with their loves<br> On heaps of heavy gold, and took great pleasure<br> To spurn in careless sort the shipwrack treasure.<br> For here the stately azure palace stood<br> Where kingly Neptune and his train abode.<br> The lusty god embraced him, called him "Love,"<br> And swore he never should return to Jove.<br> But when he knew it was not Ganymede,<br> For under water he was almost dead,<br> He heaved him up and, looking on his face,<br> Beat down the bold waves with his triple mace,<br> Which mounted up, intending to have kissed him,<br> And fell in drops like tears because they missed him.<br> Leander, being up, began to swim<br> And, looking back, saw Neptune follow him,<br> Whereat aghast, the poor soul 'gan to cry<br> "O, let me visit Hero ere I die!"<br> The god put Helle's bracelet on his arm,<br> And swore the sea should never do him harm.<br> He clapped his plump cheeks, with his tresses played<br> And, smiling wantonly, his love bewrayed.<br> He watched his arms and, as they opened wide<br> At every stroke, betwixt them would he slide<br> And steal a kiss, and then run out and dance,<br> And, as he turned, cast many a lustful glance,<br> And threw him gaudy toys to please his eye,<br> And dive into the water, and there pry<br> Upon his breast, his thighs, and every limb,<br> And up again, and close beside him swim,<br> And talk of love.<br> Leander made reply,<br> "You are deceived; I am no woman, I."<br> Thereat smiled Neptune, and then told a tale,<br> How that a shepherd, sitting in a vale,<br> Played with a boy so fair and kind,<br> As for his love both earth and heaven pined;<br> That of the cooling river durst not drink,<br> Lest water nymphs should pull him from the brink.<br> And when he sported in the fragrant lawns,<br> Goat footed satyrs and upstaring fauns<br> Would steal him thence. Ere half this tale was done,<br> "Ay me," Leander cried, "th' enamoured sun<br> That now should shine on Thetis' glassy bower,<br> Descends upon my radiant Hero's tower.<br> O, that these tardy arms of mine were wings!"<br> And, as he spake, upon the waves he springs.<br> Neptune was angry that he gave no ear,<br> And in his heart revenging malice bare.<br> He flung at him his mace but, as it went,<br> He called it in, for love made him repent.<br> The mace, returning back, his own hand hit<br> As meaning to be venged for darting it.<br> When this fresh bleeding wound Leander viewed,<br> His colour went and came, as if he rued<br> The grief which Neptune felt. In gentle breasts<br> Relenting thoughts, remorse, and pity rests.<br> And who have hard hearts and obdurate minds,<br> But vicious, harebrained, and illiterate hinds?<br> The god, seeing him with pity to be moved,<br> Thereon concluded that he was beloved.<br> (Love is too full of faith, too credulous,<br> With folly and false hope deluding us.)<br> Wherefore, Leander's fancy to surprise,<br> To the rich Ocean for gifts he flies.<br> 'tis wisdom to give much; a gift prevails<br> When deep persuading oratory fails. </p> <p> By this Leander, being near the land,<br> Cast down his weary feet and felt the sand.<br> Breathless albeit he were he rested not<br> Till to the solitary tower he got,<br> And knocked and called. At which celestial noise<br> The longing heart of Hero much more joys<br> Than nymphs and shepherds when the timbrel rings,<br> Or crooked dolphin when the sailor sings.<br> She stayed not for her robes but straight arose<br> And, drunk with gladness, to the door she goes,<br> Where seeing a naked man, she screeched for fear<br> (Such sights as this to tender maids are rare)<br> And ran into the dark herself to hide.<br> (Rich jewels in the dark are soonest spied).<br> Unto her was he led, or rather drawn<br> By those white limbs which sparkled through the lawn.<br> The nearer that he came, the more she fled,<br> And, seeking refuge, slipped into her bed.<br> Whereon Leander sitting thus began,<br> Through numbing cold, all feeble, faint, and wan.<br> "If not for love, yet, love, for pity sake,<br> Me in thy bed and maiden bosom take.<br> At least vouchsafe these arms some little room,<br> Who, hoping to embrace thee, cheerly swum.<br> This head was beat with many a churlish billow,<br> And therefore let it rest upon thy pillow."<br> Herewith affrighted, Hero shrunk away,<br> And in her lukewarm place Leander lay,<br> Whose lively heat, like fire from heaven fet,<br> Would animate gross clay and higher set<br> The drooping thoughts of base declining souls<br> Than dreary Mars carousing nectar bowls.<br> His hands he cast upon her like a snare.<br> She, overcome with shame and sallow fear,<br> Like chaste Diana when Actaeon spied her,<br> Being suddenly betrayed, dived down to hide her.<br> And, as her silver body downward went,<br> With both her hands she made the bed a tent,<br> And in her own mind thought herself secure,<br> O'ercast with dim and darksome coverture.<br> And now she lets him whisper in her ear,<br> Flatter, entreat, promise, protest and swear;<br> Yet ever, as he greedily assayed<br> To touch those dainties, she the harpy played,<br> And every limb did, as a soldier stout,<br> Defend the fort, and keep the foeman out.<br> For though the rising ivory mount he scaled,<br> Which is with azure circling lines empaled,<br> Much like a globe (a globe may I term this,<br> By which love sails to regions full of bliss)<br> Yet there with Sisyphus he toiled in vain,<br> Till gentle parley did the truce obtain.<br> Wherein Leander on her quivering breast<br> Breathless spoke something, and sighed out the rest;<br> Which so prevailed, as he with small ado<br> Enclosed her in his arms and kissed her too.<br> And every kiss to her was as a charm,<br> And to Leander as a fresh alarm,<br> So that the truce was broke and she, alas,<br> (Poor silly maiden) at his mercy was.<br> Love is not full of pity (as men say)<br> But deaf and cruel where he means to prey.<br> Even as a bird, which in our hands we wring,<br> Forth plungeth and oft flutters with her wing,<br> She trembling strove. </p> <p> This strife of hers (like that<br> Which made the world) another world begat<br> Of unknown joy. Treason was in her thought,<br> And cunningly to yield herself she sought.<br> Seeming not won, yet won she was at length.<br> In such wars women use but half their strength.<br> Leander now, like Theban Hercules,<br> Entered the orchard of th' Hesperides;<br> Whose fruit none rightly can describe but he<br> That pulls or shakes it from the golden tree.<br> And now she wished this night were never done,<br> And sighed to think upon th' approaching sun;<br> For much it grieved her that the bright daylight<br> Should know the pleasure of this blessed night,<br> And them, like Mars and Erycine, display<br> Both in each other's arms chained as they lay.<br> Again, she knew not how to frame her look,<br> Or speak to him, who in a moment took<br> That which so long so charily she kept,<br> And fain by stealth away she would have crept,<br> And to some corner secretly have gone,<br> Leaving Leander in the bed alone.<br> But as her naked feet were whipping out,<br> He on the sudden clinged her so about,<br> That, mermaid-like, unto the floor she slid.<br> One half appeared, the other half was hid.<br> Thus near the bed she blushing stood upright,<br> And from her countenance behold ye might<br> A kind of twilight break, which through the hair,<br> As from an orient cloud, glimpsed here and there,<br> And round about the chamber this false morn<br> Brought forth the day before the day was born.<br> So Hero's ruddy cheek Hero betrayed,<br> And her all naked to his sight displayed,<br> Whence his admiring eyes more pleasure took<br> Than Dis, on heaps of gold fixing his look.<br> By this, Apollo's golden harp began<br> To sound forth music to the ocean,<br> Which watchful Hesperus no sooner heard<br> But he the bright day-bearing car prepared<br> And ran before, as harbinger of light,<br> And with his flaring beams mocked ugly night,<br> Till she, o'ercome with anguish, shame, and rage,<br> Danged down to hell her loathsome carriage.<br> </p> <p> (The end of the Second Sestiad) </p> <br> <br> <br> <br> <hr noshade> <p>
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