Page images
PDF
EPUB

A stranger in thy home, and ignorant
Of Phoedria (for so my name is read)
Of Phædria, thine own fellow-servant:
For thou to serve Acrasia thyself dost vaunt.

In this wide inland sea, that hight by name
The Idle Lake, my wandring ship I row,
That knows her port, and thither sails by aim,
Ne care ne fear I how the wind do blow,
Or whether swift I wend or whether slow :
Both slow and swift alike do serve my turn:
Ne swelling Neptune, ne loud-thund'ring Jove,
Can change my cheer, or make me ever mourn ;
My little boat can safely pass this perilous bourne,"

Whiles thus she talked, and whiles thus she toy'd,
They were far past the passage which he spake,
And come unto an island waste and void,
That floated in the midst of that great lake ;.
There her small gondelay her port did make,
And that gay pair issuing on the shore
Disburthen'd her: their way they forward take
Into the land that lay them fair before,
Whose pleasaunce she him shew'd, and plentiful

great store.

It was a chosen plot of fertile land,
Amongst wide waves set like a little nest,
As if it had by Nature's cunning hand
Been choicely picked out from all the rest,

And laid forth for

ensample of the best : No dainty flower or herb that grows on ground, Nor arboret with painted blossoms drest, And smelling sweet, but there it might be found To bud out fair, and throw her sweet smells all

around.

No tree, whose branches did not bravely spring;
No branch, whereon a fine bird did not sit ;
No bird, but did her shrill notes sweetly sing;
No

song, but did contain a lovely dit.
Trees, branches, birds, and songs, were framed fit
For to allure frail mind to careless ease.
Careless the man soon woxe, and his weak wit
Was overcome of thing that did him please :
So pleased, did his wrathful purpose fair appease.

Thus when she had his eyes and senses fed
With false delights, and fill'd with pleasures vain,
Into a shady dale she soft him led,
And laid him down upon a grassy plain,
And her sweet self, without dread or disdain,
She set beside, laying his head disarm'd
In her loose lap, it softly to sustain,
Where soon he slumber'd, fearing not be harm'd;
The whiles with a love-lay she thus him sweetly

charm'd:

“ Behold, O man! that toilsome pains dost take, The flowers, the fields, and all that pleasant grows,

How they themselves do thine ensample make,
Whiles nothing envious Nature them forth throws
Out of her fruitful lap: how no man knows
They spring, they bud, they blossom fresh and

fair,
And deck the world with their rich pompous shows;
Yet no man for them taketh pains or care,
Yet no man to them can his careful pains compare.

[ocr errors]

“ The lily, lady of the flow'ring field,
The flower-de-luce, her lovely paramour,
Bid thee to them thy fruitless labours yield,
And soon leave off this toilsome wearý stour;
Lo, lo! how brave she decks her bounteous bower,
With silken curtains and gold coverlets,
Therein to shroud her sumptuous belamoure;
Yet neither spins nor cards, ne cares nor frets;
But to her mother Nature all her care she lets.

Why then dost thou, O Man, that of them all
Art lord, and eke of Nature sovereign,
Wilfully make thyself a wretched thrall,
And waste thy joyous hours in needless pain,
Seeking for danger and adventure vain?
What boots it all to have and nothing use?
Who shall him rue that, swimming in the main,
Will die for thirst, and water doth refuse ?
Refuse such fruitless toil and present pleasures

choose."

[ocr errors]

By this she had him lulled fast asleep,.
That of no worldly thing he care did take;
Then she with liquors strong his eyes did steep,
That nothing should him hastily awake:
So she him left, and did herself betake
Unto her boat again, with which she cleft
The slothful wave of that great grisly lake ;
Soon she that island far behind her left,
And now is come to that same place where first she

weft.

By this time was the worthy Guyon brought
Unto the other side of that wide strand
Where she was rowing, and for passage sought:
Him needed not long call; she soon to hand
Her ferry brought, where him she biding found
With his sad guide : himself she took aboard,
But the black palmer suffer'd still to stand,
Ne would for price or prayers once afford
To ferry that old man over the perilous ford.

Guyon was loath to leave his guide behind,
Yet being enter'd might not back retire;
For the Ait bark obeying to her mind,
Forth launched quickly, as she did desire,
Ne

gave him leave to bid that aged sire
Adieu, but nimbly ran her wonted course
Through the dull billows, thick as troubled mire,
Whom neither wind out of their seat could force,
Nor timely tides did drive out of their sluggish
And by the way, as was her wonted guise,
Her merry fit she freshly gan to rear,

source.

,
And did of joy and jollity devise,
Herself to cherish, and her guest to cheer.
The knight was courteous, and did not forbear
Her honest mirth and pleasaunce to partake ;
But when he saw her toy, and gibe, and jeer,
And pass the bonds of modest mearimake,
Her dalliance he despis'd, and follies did forsake.

Yet she still followed her former style,
And said, and did all that mote him delight,
Till they arrived in that pleasant isle,
Where sleeping late she left her other knight:
But whenas Guyon of that land had sight,
He wist himself amiss, and angry said,
“ Ah! Dame, perdy ye have not done me right,
Thus to mislead me, whiles I you obey'd :
Me little needed from my right way to have stray'd.”

“ Fair Sir!” quoth she, “ be not displeas'd at all;
Who fares on sea may not command his way,
Ne wind and weather at his pleasure call :
The sea is wide, and easy for to stray,
The wind unstable, and doth never stay:
But here a while ye may in safety rest,
Till season serve new passage to assay:
Better safe port, than be in seas distrest."
Therewith she laugh'd, and did her earnest end in

jest.

« PreviousContinue »