Page images


So on that hard aduenture forth I went,
And to the place of perill shortly came.
That was a temple faire and auncient,
Which of great mother Venus bare the name,
And farre renowmed through exceeding fame;
Much more then that, which was in Paphos

Or that in Cyprus, both long since this same, Though all the pillours of the one were guilt, And all the others pauement were with yuory spilt. 6

And it was seated in an Island strong,
Abounding all with delices most rare,
And wall'd by nature gainst inuaders wrong,
That none mote haue accesse, nor inward fare,
But by one way, that passage did prepare.
It was a bridge ybuilt in goodly wize,
With curious Corbes and pendants grauen faire,
And arched all with porches, did arize
On stately pillours, fram'd after the Doricke


And for defence thereof, on th'other end
There reared was a castle faire and strong,
That warded all which in or out did wend,
And flancked both the bridges sides along,
Gainst all that would it faine to force or wrong.
And therein wonned twenty valiant Knights;
All twenty tride in warres experience long;
Whose office was, against all manner wights
By all meanes to maintaine that castels ancient

Before that Castle was an open plaine,
And in the midst thereof a piller placed;
On which this shield, of many sought in vaine,
The shield of Loue, whose guerdon me hath

Washangd on high with golden ribbands laced; And in the marble stone was written this, With golden letters goodly well enchaced, Blessed the man that well can use his blis: Whose euer be the shield, faire Amoret be his.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

On th'one side he, on th'other sate Delay,
Behinde the gate, that none her might espy
Whose manner was all passengers to stay,
And entertaine with her occasions sly,
Through which some lost great hope vnheedily,
Which neuer they recouer might againe ;
And others quite excluded forth, did ly
Long languishing there in vnpittied paine,
And seeking often entraunce, afterwards in


Me when as he had priuily espide,

Bearing the shield which I had conquerd late, He kend it streight, and to me opened wide. So in I past, and streight he closd the gate. But being in, Delay in close awaite

Caught hold on me, and thought my steps to stay,

Feigning full many a fond excuse to prate, And time to steale, the threasure of mans day, Whose smallest minute lost, no riches render


[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Which when as I, that neuer tasted blis,
Nor happie howre, beheld with gazefull eye,
Ithought there was none other heauen then this;
And gan their endlesse happinesse enuye,
That being free from feare and gealosye,
Might frankely there their loues desire possesse;
Whilest I through paines and perlous ieopardie,
Was forst to seeke my lifes deare patronesse:
Much dearer be the things, which come through
hard distresse.

Yet all those sights, and all that else I saw, Might not my steps withhold, but that forthright

Vnto that purposd place I did me draw, Where as my loue was lodged day and night: The temple of great Venus, that is hight The Queene of beautie, and of loue the mother, There worshipped of euery liuing wight; Whose goodly workmanship farre past allother That euer were on earth, all were they set together.


Not that same famous Temple of Diane,
Whose hight all Ephesus did ouersee,
And which all Asia sought with vowes prophane,
One of the worlds seuen wonders sayd to bee,
Might match with this by many a degree:
Nor that, which that wise King of Iurie framed,
With endlesse cost, to be th'Almighties see;
Nor all that else through all the world is named
To all the heathen Gods, might like to this be

I much admyring that so goodly frame,
Vnto the porch approcht, which open stood;
But therein sate an amiable Dame,
That seem'd to be of very sober mood,
And in her semblant shewed great womanhood:
Strange was her tyre; for on her head a crowne
She wore much like vnto a Danisk hood,
Poudred with pearle and stone, and all hergowne
Enwouen was with gold, that raught full low a

On either side of her, two young men stood,
Both strongly arm'd, as fearing one another;
Yet were they brethren both of halfe the blood,
Begotten by two fathers of one mother,
Though of contrarie natures each to other:
The one of them hight Loue, the other Hate,
Hate was the elder, Loue the younger brother;
Yet was the younger stronger in his state
Then th’elder, and him maystred still in all

Nathlesse that Dame so well them tempred both,
That she them forced hand to ioyne in hand,
Albe that Hatred was thereto full loth,
And turn'd his face away, as he did stand,
Vnwilling to behold that louely band.
Yet she was of such grace and vertuous might,
That her commaundment he could not with.

But bit his lip for felonous despight, And gnasht his yron tuskes at that displeasing sight.


Concord she cleeped was in common reed,

Mother of blessed Peace, and Friendship trew; They both her twins, both borne of heauenly seed,

And she her selfe likewise diuinely grew;
The which right well her workes diuine did shew:
For strength, and wealth, and happinesse she

And strife, and warre, and anger does subdew :
Of litle much, of foes she maketh frends,
And to afflicted minds sweet rest and quiet

[blocks in formation]


But it in shape and beautie did excell
All other Idoles, which the heathen adore,
Farre passing that, which by surpassing skill
Phidias did make in Paphos Isle of yore,
With which that wretched Greeke, that life

Did fall in loue: yet this much fairer shined, But couered with a slender veile afore; And both her feete and legs together twyned Were with a snake, whose head and tail were fast combyned. 41

The cause why she was couered with a vele, Was hard to know, for that her Priests the same From peoples knowledge labour'd to concele. But sooth it was not sure for womanish shame, Nor any blemish, which the worke mote blame; But for, they say, she hath both kinds in one, Both male and female, both vnder one name : She syre and mother is her selfe alone, Begetsand eke conceiues, ne needeth other none.


And all about her necke and shoulders flew
A flocke of litle loues, and sports, and ioyes,
With nimble wings of gold and purple hew;
Whose shapes seem'd not like to terrestriall

But like to Angels playing heauenly toyes;
The whilest their eldest brother was away,
Cupid their eldest brother; he enjoyes
The wide kingdome of loue with Lordly sway,
And to his law compels all creatures to obay.

And all about her altar scattered lay

Great sorts of louers iteously complayning, Some of their losse, some of their loues delay, Some of their pride, some paragons disdayning, Some fearing fraud, some fraudulently fayning, As euery one had cause of good or ill. Amongst the rest some one through loues constrayning,

Tormented sore, could not containe it still, But thus brake forth, that all the temple it did fill.


Great Venus, Queene of beautie and of grace, The joy of Gods and men, that vnder skie Doest fayrest shine, and most adorne thy place, That with thy smyling looke doest pacifie The raging seas, and makst the stormes to flie; Thee goddesse, thee the winds, the clouds doe feare,

And when thou spredst thy mantle forth on hie, The waters play and pleasant lands appeare, And heauens laugh, and al the world shews ioyous cheare.

[blocks in formation]

So did he say but I with murmure soft,
That none might heare the sorrow of my hart,
Yet inly groning deepe and sighing oft,
Besought her to graunt ease vnto my smart,
And to my wound her gratious help impart.
Whilest thus I spake, behold with happy eye
I spyde, where at the Idoles feet apart
A beuie of fayre damzels close did lye,

[blocks in formation]

Whom soone as I beheld, my hart gan throb, And wade in doubt, what best were to be donne: For sacrilege me seem'd the Church to rob, And folly seem'd to leaue the thing vndonne, Which with so strong attempt I had begonne. Tho shaking off all doubt and shamefast feare, Which Ladies loue I heard had neuer wonne Mongst men of worth, I to her stepped neare,

Wayting when as the Antheme should be sung And by the lilly hand her labour'd vp to reare.

on hye.


The first of them did seeme of ryper yeares, And grauer countenance then all the rest; Yet all the rest were eke her equall peares, Yet vnto her obayed all the best.

Her name was Womanhood, that she exprest By her sad semblant and demeanure wyse : For stedfast still her eyes did fixed rest, Ne rov'd at randon after gazers guyse, Whose luring baytes oftimes doe heedlesse harts entyse.


Thereat that formost matrone me did blame,
And sharpe rebuke, for being ouer bold;
Saying it was to Knight vnseemely shame,
Vpon a recluse Virgin to lay hold,
That vnto Venus seruices was sold.
To whom I thus, Nay but it fitteth best,
For Cupids man with Venus mayd to hold,
For ill your goddesse seruices are drest
By virgins, and her sacrifices let to rest.

« PreviousContinue »