« PreviousContinue »
And wand'ring Israel, with the sight afear'd,
Blinded with seeing, durst not touch the same,
But like a wood of shaking leaves became.
On this dead Justice, she, the living law,
Bowing herself with a majestic awe,
All heaven, to hear her speech, did into silence
MERCY BRIGHTENING THE RAINBOW,
High in the airy element there hung
Another cloudy sea, that did disdain,
As though his purer waves from heaven sprung,
To crawl on earth, as doth the sluggish main;
But it the earth would water with his rain,
That ebb’d and flow'd as wind and season would ;
And oft the sun would cleave the limber mould
To alabaster rocks, that in the liquid rolld.
Beneath those sunny banks a darker cloud,
Dropping with thicker dew, did melt apace,
And bent itself into a hollow shroud,
On which, if Mercy did but cast her face,
A thousand colours did the bow enchase,
That wonder was to see the silk distain'd
With the resplendence from her beauty gain’d,
Iris paint her locks with beams so lively feign'd.
About her head a cypress heav'n she wore,
Spread like a veil upheld with silver wire,
In which the stars so burnt in golden ore,
As seem'd the azure web was all on fire :
But hastily, to quench their sparkling ire,
A flood of milk came rolling up the shore,
That on his curded wave swift Argus wore,
And the immortal swan, that did her life deplore.
Yet strange it was so many stars to see,
Without a sun to give their tapers light:
Yet strange it was not that it so should be;
For, where the sun centres himself by right,
Her face and locks did flame, that at the sight
The heavenly veil, that else should nimbly move,
Forgot his flight, and all incens?d with love,
With wonder, and amazement, did her beauty prove.
Over her hung a canopy of state,
Not of rich tissue, nor of spangled gold,
But of a substance, though not animate,
Yet of a heavenly and spiritual mould,
That only eyes of spirits might behold:
Such light as from main rocks of diamond,
Shooting their sparks at Phæbus, would rebound,
And little angels, holding hands, danc'd all around.
THE PALACE OF PRESUMPTION.
Here did Presumption her pavilion spread
Over the temple, the bright stars among,
(Ah that her foot should trample on the head
Of that most reverend place !) and a lewd throng
Of wanton boys sung her a pleasant song
Of love, long life, of mercy, and of grace,
And every one her dearly did embrace,
And she herself enamour'd was of her own face.
A painted face, belied with vermeil store,
Which light Euëlpis eyery day did trim,
That in one hand a gilded anchor wore,
Not fixed on the rock, but on the brim
Of the wide air, she let it loosely swim !
Her other hand a sprinkle carried,
And ever when her lady wavered,
Court-holy water all upon her sprinkled.
Her tent with sunny clouds was ciel'd aloft,
And so exceeding shone with a false light,
That Heav'n itself to her it seemed oft,
Heav'n without clouds to her deluded sight;
But clouds withouten Heav'n it was aright:
And as her house was built so did her brain
Build castles in the air, with idle pain,
But heart she never had in all her body vain.
Like as a ship, in which no balance lies,
Without a pilot on the sleeping waves,
Fairly along with wind and water flies,
And painted masts with silken sails embraves,
That Neptune's self the bragging vessel saves,
To laugh awhile at her so proud array;
Her waving streamers loosely she lets play,
And flagging colours shine as bright as smiling day.
But all so soon as Heav'n his brows doth bend,
She veils her banners, and pulls in her beams,
The empty bark the raging billows send
Up to the Olympic waves, and Argus seems
Again to ride upon our lower streams :
Right so Presumption did herself behave,
Tossed about with every stormy wave,
And in white lawn she went, most like an angel brave.
All suddenly the hill his snow devours,
In lieu whereof a goodly garden grew,
As if the snow had melted into flow'rs,
Which their sweet breath in subtle vapours threw,
That all about perfumed spirits flew.
For whatsoever might aggrate the sense,
In all the world, or please the appetence,
Here it was poured out in lavish affluence.
The garden like a lady fair was cut,
That lay as if she slumber'd in delight,
And to the open skies her eyes did shut;
The azure fields of Heav'n were 'sembled right
In a large round, set with the flow'rs of light:
The flow'rs-de-luce, and the round sparks of dew
That hung upon their azure leaves, did shew
Like twinkling stars, that sparkle in the evening
Upon a hilly bank her head she cast,
On which the bower of Vain-delight was built.
White and red roses for her face were plac'd,
And for her tresses marigolds were spilt:
Them broadly she display'd, like flaming gilt,
Till in the ocean the glad day were drown'd:
Then up again her yellow locks she wound,
And with green fillets in their pretty cauls them
Over the hedge depends the graping olm,
Whose greener head, empurpuled in wine,
Seemed to wonder at his bloody helm,
And half suspect the bunches of the vine,
Lest they, perhaps, his wit should undermine,
For well he knew such fruit he never bore:
But her weak arms embraced him the more,
And her with ruby grapes laugh'd at her paramour.
Under the shadow of these drunken elms
A fountain rose,