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Shall see it ruinous and desolate :
Ah, simple Hero, learn thyself to cherish !
Lone women, like to empty houses, perish.
Less sins the poor rich man, that starves himself
In heaping up a mass of drossy pelf,
Than such as you : his golden earth remains,
Which, after his decease, some other gains ;
But this fair gem, sweet in the loss alone,
When you fleet hence, can be bequeath'd to none;
Or, if it could, down from th' enamell’d sky
All heaven would come to claim this legacy,
And with intestine broils the world destroy,
And quite confound Nature's sweet harmony.
Well therefore by the gods decreed it is,
We human creatures should enjoy that bliss.
One is no number ; maids are nothing, then,
Without the sweet society of men.
Wilt thou live single still ? one shalt thou be,
Though never-singling Hymen couple thee.
Wild savages, that drink of running springs,
Think water far excels all earthly things ;
But they, that daily taste neat wine, despise it :
Virginity, albeit some highly prize it,
Compar'd with marriage, had you tried them both,
Differs as much as wine and water doth.
Base bullion for the stamp's sake we allow :
Even so for men's impression do we you ;
By which alone, our reverend fathers say,
Women receive perfection every way.
This idol, which you term virginity,
Is neither essence subject to the eye,
No, nor to any one exterior sense,
Nor hath it any place of residence,
Nor is't of earth or mould celestial,
Or capable of any form at all.
Of that which hath no being, do not boast :
Things that are not at all, are never lost.
Men foolishly do call it virtuous :
What virtue is it, that is born with us ?
Much less can honour be ascrib'd thereto:
Honour is purchas'd by the deeds we do ;
Believe me, Hero, honour is not won,
Until some honourable deed be done.
Seek you, for chastity, immortal fame,
And know that some have wrong'd Diana's name?
Whose name is it, if she be false or not,
So she be fair, but some vile tongues will blot ?
But you are fair, ay me ! so wondrous fair,
So young, so gentle, and so debonair,
As Greece will think, if thus you live alone,
Some one or other keeps you as his own.
Then, Hero, hate me not, nor from me fly,
To follow swiftly-blasting infamy.
Perhaps thy secred priesthood makes thee loath :
Tell me to whom mad'st thou that heedless oath ?"
“ To Venus," answer'd she; and, as she spake,
Forth from those two tralucent cisterns brako
A stream of liquid pearl, which down her face
Made milk-white paths, whereon the gods might
trace To Jove's high court. He thus replied : “The rites In which love's beauteous empress most delights, Are banquets, Doric music, midnight revel, Plays, masks, and all that stern age counteth evil. Thee as a holy idiot doth she scorn ; For thou, in vowing chastity, hast sworn To rob her name and honour, and thereby Committ'st a sin far worse than perjury, Even sacrilege against her deity, Through regular and formal purity. To expiate which sin, kiss and shake hands : Such sacrifice as this Venus demands.” Thereat she smil'd, and did deny him so, As put thereby, yet might he hope for mo; Which makes him quickly reinforce his speech, And her in humble manner thus beseech : “Though neither gods nor men may thee deserve, Yet for her sake, whom you have vow'd to serve, Abandon fruitless cold virginity, The gentle queen of love's sole enemy. Then shall you most resemble Venus' nun, When Venus' sweet rites are perform’d and donc. Flint-breasted Pallas joys in single life ; But Pallas and your mistress are at strife. Love, Hero, then, and be not tyrannous ; But heal the heart that thou hast wounded thus ; Nor stain thy youthful years with avarice :
And, looking in her face, was strooken blind.
But this is true ; so like was one the other,
As he imagin'd Hero was his mother ;
And oftentimes into her bosom flew,
About her naked neck his bare arms threw,
And laid his childish head upon her breast,
And, with still panting rock, there took his rest.
So lovely-fair was Hero, Venus' nun,
As Nature wept, thinking she was undone,
Because she took more from her than she left,
And of such wondrous beauty her bereft:
Therefore, in sign her treasure suffer'd wrack,
Since Hero's time hath half the world been black.
Amorous Leander, beautiful and young
(Whose tragedy divine Musæus sung),
Dwelt at Abydos ; since him dwelt there none
For whom succeeding times make greater moan.
His dangling tresses, that were never shorn,
Had they been cut, and unto Colchos borne,
Would have allured the venturous youth of Greece
To bazard more than for the golden fleece.
Fair Cynthia wish'd his arms might be her sphere;
Grief makes her pale, because she moves not there.
His body was as straight as Circe's wand;
Jove might have sipt out nectar from his hand.
Even as delicious meat is to the tast,
So was his neck in touching, and surpast
The white of Pelop's shoulder : I could tell ye,
How smooth his breast was, and how white his belly;
And whose immortal fingers did imprint
That heavenly path with many a curious dint
That runs along his back ; but my rude pen
Can hardly blazon forth the loves of men,
Much less of powerful gous : let it suffice
That my slack Muse sings of Leander's eyes ;
Those orient cheeks and lips, exceeding his
That leapt into the water for a kiss
Of his own shadow, and, despising many,
Died ere he could enjoy the love of any.
Had wild Hippolytus Leander seen,
Enamour'd of his beauty had he been :
His presence made the rudest peasant melt,
That in the vast uplandish country dwelt:
The barbarous Thracian soldier, mov'd with nought,
Was mov'd with him, and for his favour sought.
Some swore he was a maid in man's attire,
For in his looks were all that men desire-
A pleasant-smiling cheek, a speaking eye,
A brow for love to banquet royally ;
And such as knew he was a man, would say,
"Leander, thou art made for amorous play:
Why art thou not in love, and lov'd of all ?
Though thou be fair, yet be not thine own thrall." •
The men of wealthy Sestos every year,
For his sake whom their goddess held so dear,
Rose-cheek'd Adonis, kept a solemn feast :
Thither resorted many a wandering guest
To meet their loves : such as had none at all,