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SIR GUYON, GUIDED BY THE PALMER TEMPER
ANCE, PASSES THE DANGERS OF THE BOWER
OF BLISS. With that the rolling sea resounding soft, In his big base them fitly answered, And on the rock the waves breaking aloft, A solemn mean unto them measured; The whiles sweet Zephyrus loud whistled His treble, a strange kind of harmony, Which Guyon's senses softly tickled, That he the boatman bade row easily, And let him hear some part of their rare melody.
But him the palmer from that vanity
With temperate advice discounselled,
That they it past, and shortly gan descry
The land to which their course they levelled ;
When suddenly a gross fog overspread
With his dull vapour all that desert has,
And heaven's cheerful face enveloped,
That all things one, and one as nothing was,
And this great universe seem'd one confused mass.
Thereat they greatly were dismay'd, ne wist
How to direct their way in darkness wide,
But fear'd to wander in that wasteful mist,
For tumbling into mischief unespied :
Worse is the danger hidden than descried.
Suddenly an innumerable flight
Of harmful fowls about them fluttering cried, And with their wicked wings them oft did smite, And sore annoy'd, groping in that griesly night.
Even all the nation of unfortunate
And fatal birds about them flocked were,
Such as by nature men abhor and hate;
The ill-fac'd owl, death's dreadful messenger ;.
The hoarse night-raven, trump of doleful drear; :
The leather-winged bat, day's enemy;
The rueful strich, still waiting on the bier ;
The whistler shrill, that whoso hears doth die;
The hellish harpies, prophets of sad destiny:
All those, and all that else does horror breed,
About them flew, and fill’d their sails with fear;
Yet stay'd they not, but forward did proceed,
Whiles the one did row, and th' other stiffly steer;
Till that at last the weather gan to clear,
And the fair land itself did plainly show.
Said then the palmer, “ Lo where does appear
The sacred soil where all our perils grow,
Therefore, Sir Knight, your ready arms about you
He hearken'd, and his arms about him took,
The whiles the nimble boat so well her sped,
That with her crooked keel the land she struck ;
Then forth the noble Guyon sallied,
And his sage palmer that him governed ;
But the other by his boat behind did stay.
They marched fairly forth, of nought ydred,
Both firmly arm'd for every hard assay,
With constancy and care, gainst danger and dismay.
Ere long they heard an hideous bellowing
Of many beasts, that roar'd outrageously.
As if that Hunger's point, or Venus' sting,
Had them enraged with fell surquedry;
Yet nought they fear'd, but past on hardily,
Until they came in view of those wild beasts,
Who all at once, gaping full greedily,
And rearing fiercely their upstarting crests,
Ran towards to devour those unexpected guests.
But soon as they approach'd with deadly threat,
The palmer over them his staff upheld,
His mighty staff, that could all charms defeat;
Eftsoons tlieir stubborn courages were quell’d,
And high-advanced crests down meekly felld:
Instead of fraying they themselves did fear,
And trembled, as them passing they beheld :
Such'wond'rous power did in that staff appear,
All monsters to subdue to him that did it bear.
Of that same wood it fram'd was cunningly
Of which Caduceus whileome was made,
Caduceus, the rod of Mercury,
With which he wont the Stygiar realms invade
Through ghastly horror and eternal shade;
Th’ infernal fiends with it he can assuage,
And Orcus tame, whom nothing can persuade,
And rule the furies when they most do rage :
Such virtue in his staff had eke this palmer sage.
Thence passing forth, they shortly do arrive
Whereat the Bower of Bliss was situate;
A place pick'd out by choice of best alive,
That Nature's work by art can imitate:
In which whatever in this worldly state
Is sweet and pleasing unto living sense,
Or that may daintiest fantasy aggrate,
Was poured forth with plentiful dispense,
And made there to abound with lavish affluence.
Goodly it was, enclosed round about,
As well their enter'd guests to keep within,
As those unruly beasts to hold without;
Yet was the fence thereof but weak and thin;
Nought fear'd they force that fortilage to win,
But Wisdom's power, and Temperance's might,
By which the mightiest things efforced been:
And eke the gate was wrought of substance light,
Rather for pleasure than for battery or fight.
It framed was of precious ivory,
That seem'd a work of admirable wit,
And therein all the famous history
Of Jason and Medæa was ywrit;
ler mighty charms, her furious loving fit,
His goodly conquest of the Golden Fleece,
His falsed faith, and love too lightly flit,
TI wondered Argo, which, in venturous peace,
First through the Euxine seas bore all the flower of
Ye might have seen the frothy billows fry
Under the ship, as thorough them she went,
That seem'd the waves were into ivory,
Or ivory into the waves,' were sent;
And otherwhere the snowy substance sprent
With vermell, like the boy's blood therein shed,
A piteous spectacle did represent;
And otherwhiles, with gold besprinkled,
It seem'd th'enchanted flame which did Creusa wed.
All this, and more, might in that goodly gate
Be read, that ever open stood to all
Which thither came; but in the porch there sat
A comely personage, of stature tall,
And semblance pleasing, more than natural,
That travellers to him seem'd to entice;
His looser garment to the ground did fall,
And flew about his heels in wanton wise,
Not fit for speedy pace or manly exercise.
They in that place him Genius did call;
Not that celestial power to whom the care
Of life, and generation of all
That lives, pertains in charge particular,