Page images
PDF
EPUB

For this he held it dear, and always bore
The silver key that lock'd the garden-door.
To this sweet place in summer's sultry heat,
He us'd from noise and business to retreat; 470
And here in dalliance spend the live-long day,
“ Solus cum fola,” with his sprightly May,
For whate'er work was undischarg'd a-bed,
The duteous knight in this fair garden (ped.
But, ah! what mortal lives of bliss secure ?

475
How short a space our worldly joys endure !
O Fortune, fair, like all thy treacherous kind,
But faithless still, and wavering as the wind !
O painted monster, form'd mankind to cheat,
With pleasing poison, and with soft deceit! 480
This rich, this amorous venerable knight,
Amidst his case, his solace and delight,
Struck blind by thee, resigns his days to grief,
And calls on death, the wretch's last relief.
The rage of jealousy then seiz'd his mind,

485
For much he fear'd the faith of woman-kind.
His wife, not suffer'd from his side to stray,
Was captive kept; he watch'd her night and day,
Abridg’d her pleasures, and confin'd her sway.
Full oft in tears did hapless May complain, 490
And figh'd full oft; but figh’d and wept in vain :
She look'd on Damian with a lover's eye,
For, oh, 'twas fix'd; she must possess or die !
Nor less impatience vex'd her amorous Squire,
Wild with delay, and burning with desire. 4.95

R2

Watch'd

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Watch'd as she was, yet could he not refrain
By secret writing to disclose his pain :
The dame by signs reveal'd her kind intent,
Till both were conscious what each other meant.

Ah, gentle Knight, what would thy eyes avail, 500
Though they could fee as far as fhips can fail ?
'Tis better, sure, when blind, deceiv'd to be,
Than be deluded when a man can see !

Argus himself, so cautious and so wise, Was over-watch’d, for all his hundred eyes : 505 So many an honest husband may, 'tis known, Who, wisely, never thinks the case his own.

The dame at last, by diligence and care, Procur'd the key her Knight was wont to bear ; She took the wards in wax before the fire,

$10 And gave th' impression to the trusty Squire. By means of this, some wonder shall appear, Which, in due place and season, you may hear.

Well sung sweet Ovid, in the days of yore, What flight is that, which love will not explore ? 595 And Pyramus and Thisbe plainly show The feats true lovers, when they lift, can do: Though watch'd and captive, yet in fpite of all, They found the art of kissing through a wall. But now no longer from our tale to stray ;

$20 It happ'd, that once upon a summer's day, Our reverend Knight was urg`d to amorous play ; He rais’d his spouse ere Matin-bell was rung, And thus his morning canticle he fung,

Awake,

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

: Awake, my love, disclose thy radiant

eyes ; 525
Arise, my wife, my beauteous lady, rise !
Hear how the doves with pensive notes complain,
And in soft murmurs tell the trees their pain ;
The winter 's past; the clouds and tempests fly;
The sun adorns the fields, and brightens all the sky.
Fair without spot, whose every charming part
My bosom wounds, and captivates my heart:
Come, and in mutual pleasures let's engage,
Joy of my life, and comfort of my age.

This heard, to Damian straight a sign she made, 535
To haste before ; the gentle Squire obey'd :
Secret, and undefcry'd, he took his way,
And ambash'd close behind an arbour lay.

It was not long ere January came,
And hand in hand with him his lovely dame; 540
Blind as he was, not doubting all was sure,
He turn'd the key, and made the gate secure.

Here let us walk, he said, obferv'd by none,
Conscious of pleasures to the world unknown :
So may my soul have joy, as thou, my wife, 545
Art far the dearest solace of my life;
And rather would I chuse, by Heaven above,
To die this instant, than to lose thy love.
Reflect what truth was in my passion shewn,
When unendow'd I took thee for my own,
And sought no treasure but thy heart alone.
Old as I am, and now depriv'd of fight,
Whilst thou art faithful to thy own true Knight,
Nor age nor blindness rob me of delight.

Each

550

R3

560

Each other lofs with patience I can bear,

555 The loss of thee is what I only fear.

Consider then, my lady, and my wife,
The solid comforts of a virtuous life.
As, first, the love of Christ himself you gain;
Next, your own honour undefil'd maintain;
And lastly, that which sure your mind must move,
My whole estate shall gratify your

love :
Make your own terms, and ere to-morrow's sun
Displays his light, by Heaven, it shall be done.
I seal the contract with a holy kiss,

565 And will perform, by this-my dear, and this Have comfort, spouse, nor think thy Lord unkind; 'Tis love, not jealousy, that fires my mind. For when thy charms my sober thoughts engage, And join'd to them my own unequal age,

570 From thy dear side I have no power to part, Such secret transports warm my melting heart. For who, that once possess’d those heavenly charms, Could live one moment absent from thy arms ?

He ceas'd, and May with modest grace reply'd ; 575
(Weak was her voice, as while she spoke she cry'd :)
Heaven knows (with that a tender sigh the drew)
I have a soul to save as well as you ;
And, what no less you to my charge commend,
My dearest honour, will to death defend.
Το

you in holy Church I gave my hand,
And join’d my heart in wedlock's facred band :
Yet, after this, if you distrust my care,
Then hear, my Lord, and witness what I swear.

580

[ocr errors]

First may the yawning earth her bofom rend,

585 And let me hence to hell alive descend; Or die the death I dread no less than hell, Sew'd in a fack, and plung'd into a well; Ere I my fame by one lewd act disgrace, Or once renounce the honour of my race,

590 For know, Sir Knight, of gentle blood I came, I loath a whore, and startle at the name. But jealous men on their own crimes reflec?, And learn from thence their ladies to suspect : Else why these needless cautions, Sir, to me ? 595 These doubts and fears of female constancy! This chime still rings in every lady's ear, The only strain a wife must hope to hear.

Thus while she spoke, a lidelong glance she cast, Where Damian, kneeling, worship’d as she past. 600 She saw him watch the motions of her eye, And singled out a pear-tree planted nigh: 'Twas charg'd with fruit that made a goodly show, And hung with dangling pears was every bough. Thither th' obsequious Squire address’d his pace, 605 And, climbing, in the summit took his place; The Knight and Lady walk'd beneath in view, Where let us leave them, and our tale pursue.

'Twas now the season when the glorious fun His heavenly progress through the Twins had run; 610 And Jove, exalted, his mild influence yields, To glad the glebe, and paint the flowery fields. Clear was the day, and Phoebus, rising bright, Had streak'd the azure firmament with light;

He

R 4

« PreviousContinue »