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Their pigny king, and little fairy queen,
In circling dances gambold on the green,
While tuneful sprites a merry concert made,
And airy music warbled through the shade.
Hither the noble knight would oft repair
His scene of pleasure, and peculiar care.)
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 used from noise and business to retreat;
And here in dalliance spend the live-long day
Solus cum sola, with his sprightly May:
For whate'er work was undischarged a-bed,
The duteous knight in this fair garden sped.
But ah! what mortal lives of bliss secure ?
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 !
This rich, this amorous, venerable knight,
Amidst his ease, his solace, and aelight,
Struck blind by thee, resigns his days to grief,
And calls on death, the wretch's last relief.
The rage of jealousy then seized his mind, For much he fear'd the faith of womankind. His wife, not suffered from his side to stray, Was captive kept ; he watch'd her night and day Abridged her pleasures, and confin'd her sway. Full oft in tears did hapless May complain, And sigh’d full oft; but sigh’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. Watch'd as she was, yet could he not refrain By secret writing to disclose his pain : The dame by sighs reveal'd her kind intent, Till both were conscious what each other meant.
Ah! gentle knight, what could thy eyes avail,
Though they could see as far as ships can sail ?
'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 :
So many an honest husband may, 'tis known,
Who, wisely, never thinks the case his own.
The dame at last, by diligence and care,
Procured the key her knight was wont to bear:
She took the wards in wax before the fire,
And gave the 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 slight is that which love will not explore ?
And Pyramus and Thisbe plainly show
The feats true lovers, when they list, can do:
Though watch'd and captive, yet in spite of all,
They found the art of kissing through a wall.
But now no longer from our tale to stray:
It happ'd, that once upon a summer's day,
Our reverend knight was urged to amorous play
He raised his spouse ere matin bell was rung,
And thus his morning canticle he sung;
‘Awake, my love, disclose thy radiant eyes ·
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
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,
To haste before; the martle 'squire obey'd :
Secret and undescried, he took his way,
And ambush'd close behind an arbour lay.
It was not long ere January came,
And hand in hand with him his lovely damc;
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, 'observed by none
Conscious of pleasures to the world unknown;
So may my soul have joy, as thou, my wife,
Art far the dearest solace of my life;
And rather would I choose, by Heaven above,
To die this instant, than to lose thy love.
Reflect what truth was in my passion shown,
When unendow'd I took thee for my own,
And sought no treasure but thy heart alone.
Old as I am, and now deprived of sight,
Whilst thou art faithful to thy own true knight,
Nor age nor blindness rob me of delight.
Each other loss with patience I can bear:
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 undefiled 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,
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,
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 charins
Could live one moment absent from thy arms ?'
He ceas'd, and May with modest grace replied,
(Weak was her voice, as while she spoke she cried,)
Heaven knows,' with that a tender sigh she 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.
To you in holy church I gave my hand,
And joined my heart in wedlock's sacred band :
Yet, after this, if you distrust my care,
Then hear, my lord, and witness what I swear:
• First may the yawning earth her bosom rend,
And let me hence to hell alive descend;
Or die the death I dread no less than hell,
Sew'd in a sack, and plung'd into a well,
Ere I my fame by one lewd act disgrace,
Or once renounce the honour of my race:
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 reflect,
And learn from hence their ladies to suspect.
Else why these needless cautions, sir, to me?
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 sidelong glance she cast,
Where Damian, kneeling, worshipp'd as she pass'd
She saw him watch the motions of her eye,
And singled out a pear-tree planted nigh:
'Twas charged with fruit that made a goodly show,
And hung with dangling pears was every bough.
Thither the obsequious 'squire address’d his pace,
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 sun His heavenly progress through the Twins had run: And Jove, exalled, his mild influence yields, To glad the glebe, and paint the flowery fields.
Clear was the day, and Phæbus, rising bright,
Had streak'd the azure firmament with light:
He pierced the glittering clouds with golden streams
And warm'd the womb of earth with genial bcams
It so befell, in that fair morning-tide,
The fairies sported on the garden-side,
And in the midst their monarch and his bride.
So featly tripp'd the light-foot ladies round,
The knights so nimbly o'er the greensward bound,
That scarce they bent the flowers, or touch'd the
The dances ended, all the fairy train
For pinks and daisies search'd the flowery plain;
While, on a bank reclined of rising green,
Thus, with a frown, the king bespoke his queen:
• 'Tis too apparent, argue what you can,
The treachery you women use to man:
A thousand authors have this truth made out,
And sad experience leaves no room for doubt.
'Heaven rest thy spirit, noble Solomon,
A wiser monarch never saw the sun;
All wealth, all honours, the supreme degree
Of earthly bliss, was well bestow'd on thee!
For sagely hast thou said: “Of all mankind,
One only just and righteous hope to find :
But shouldst thou search the spacious world around,
Yet one good woman is not to be found.”
· Thus says the king who knew your wicked
The son of Sirach testifies no less.
So may some wildfire on your bodies fall,
Or some devouring plague consume you all ;
As well you view the lecher in the tree,
And well this honourable knight you see:
But since he's blind and old (a helpless case,)
His squire shall cuckold him before your face,
"Now, by my own dread majesty I swear, And by this awful sceptre which I bear,