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FROM off a hill whose concave womb re-worded
A plaintful story from a sistering vale,
My spirits to attend this double voice accorded,
And down I lay to list the sad-tuned tale :
Ere long espy'd a fickle maid full pale,
Tearing of papers, breaking rings a-twain,
Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain.
Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
Which fortified her visage from the sun,
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcase of a beauty spent and done.
Time had not scythed all that youth begun,
Nor youth all quit ; but, spite of heaven's fell rage,
Some beauty peep'd through lattice of sear'd age.
Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne,
Which on it had conceited characters,
Laund'ring the silken figures in the brine
That season'd woe had pelleted in tears,
And often reading what contents it bears ;
As often shrieking undistinguish'd woe,
In clamours of all size, both high and low.
Sometimes her levell’d eyes their carriage ride,
As they did battery to the spheres intend;
Sometime diverted their poor balls are ty'd
To the orbed earth ; sometimes they do extend
Their view right on; anon their gazes
To every place at once, and no where fix'd,
The mind and sight distractedly commix'd.
Her hair, nor loose, nor ty'd in formal plat,
Proclaim'd in her a careless hand of pride ;
For some, untuck’d, descended her sheav'd hat,
Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside ;
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide,
And, true to bondage, would not break from thence,
Though slackly braided in loose negligence.
A thousand favours from a maund she drew
Of amber, crystal, and of bedded jet,
Which one by one she in a river threw,
Upon whose weeping margent she was set,-
Like usury, applying wet to wet,
Or monarchs' hands, that let not bounty fall
Where want cries some, but where excess begs all.
Of folded schedules had she many a one,
Which she perus’d, sigh’d, tore, and gave the flood;
Crack'd many a ring of posied gold and bone,
Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud;
Found yet more letters sadly penn'd in blood,
With sleided silk feat and affectedly
Enswath’d, and seal'd to curious secrecy.
These often bath'd she in her fluxive eyes,
And often kiss’d, and often 'gan to tear ;
Cry'd, 0 false blood ! thou register of lies,
What unapproved witness dost thou bear !
Ink would have seem'd more black and damned here !
This said, in top of rage the lines she rents,
Big discontent so breaking their contents.
A reverend man that graz’d his cattle nigh
(Sometime a blusterer, that the ruffle knew
Of court, of city, and had let go by
The swiftest hours), observed as they flew";
Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew;
And, privileg'd by age, desires to know
In brief, the grounds and motives of her woe.
So slides he down upon his grained bat,
And comely-distant sits he by her side ;
When he again desires her, being sat,
Her grievance with his hearing to divide :
If that from him there may be aught apply'd
Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage,
'Tis promis'd in the charity of age.
Father (she says), though in me you behold
The injury of many a blasting hour,
Let it not tell your judgment I am old;
but sorrow, over me hath power:
I might as yet have been a spreading flower,
Fresh to myself, if I had self-apply'd
Love to myself, and to no love beside.
But woe is me! too early I attended
A youthful suit (it was to gain my grace)
Of one by nature's outwards so commended,
That maiden's eyes stuck over all his face :
Love lack'd a dwelling, and made him her place;
And when in his fair parts she did abide,
She was new lodg’d, and newly deified.
His browny locks did hang in crooked curls;
And every light occasion of the wind
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls:
What's sweet to do, to do will aptly find :
Each eye that saw him did enchant the mind;
For on his visage was in little drawn,
What largeness thinks in paradise was sawn.
Small show of man was yet upon his chin ;
His phænix down began but to appear,
Like unshorn velvet, on that termless skin,
Whose bare out-bragg’d the web it seem'd to wear;
Yet show'd his visage by that cost most dear ;
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt
If best 'twere as it was, or best without.
His qualities were beauteous as his form,
For maiden-tongu'd he was, and thereof free ;
Yet, if men mov'd him, was he such a storm
As oft 'twixt May and April is to see,
When winds breathe sweet, unruly though they be
His rudeness so with his authoriz'd youth,
Did livery falseness in a pride of truth.
Well could he ride, and often men would say
“ That horse his mettle from his rider takes :
Proud of subjection, noble by the sway,
What rounds, what bounds, what course, what stop he makes .".
And controversy hence a question takes,
Whether the horse by him became his deed,
Or he his manage by the well-doing steed.
But quickly on his side the verdict went,
His real habitude gave life and grace
To appertainings and to ornament,
Accomplish'd in himself, not in his case :
All aids, themselves made fairer by their place,
Came for additions ; yet their purpos'd trim
Pierc'd not his grace, but were all grac'd by him.
So on the tip of his subduing tongue
All kind of arguments and question deep,
All replication prompt, and reason strong,
For his advantage still did wake and sleep:
To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep,
He had the dialect and different skill,
Catching all passions in his craft of will ;
That he did in the general bosom reign
young, of old ; and sexes both enchanted,
To dwell with him in thoughts, or to remain
In personal duty, following where he haunted :
Consents bewitch'd, ere he desire, have granted ;
And dialogu'd from him what he would say,
Ask'd their own wills, and made their wills obey.
Many there were that did his picture get,
To serve their eyes, and in it put their mind;
Like fools that in the imagination set
The goodly objects which abroad they find
Of lands and mansions, their's in thought assign'd;
And labouring in more pleasures to bestow them,
Than the true gouty landlord which doth owe them :
So many have, that never touch'd his hand,
Sweetly suppos'd them mistress of his heart.
My woeful self, that did in freedom stand,
And was my own fee-simple, (not in part)
What with his art in youth, and youth in art,
affections in his charmed power,
Resery'd the stalk, and gave him all my flower.
Yet did I not, as some my equals did,
Demand of him, nor being desired, yielded ;
Finding myself in honour so forbid,
With safest distance I mine honour shielded :
Experience for me many bulwarks builded
Of proofs new-bleeding, which remain'd the foil
Of this false jewel, and his amorous spoil.
But ah! who ever shunn'd by precedent
The destin'd ill she must herself assay ?
Or forc'd examples, 'gainst her own content,
To put the by-pass'd perils in her way?
Counsel may stop a while what will not stay ;
For when we rage, advice is often seen
By blunting us to make our wits more keen.
Nor gives it satisfaction to our blood,
That we must curb it
To be forbid the sweets that seem so good,
For fear of harms that preach in our behoof.
O appetite, from judgment stand aloof!
The one a palate hath that needs will taste,
Though reason weep, and cry it is thy last.