Verse > John Dryden > Poems
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Fables Ancient and Modern
Cymon and Iphigenia
 
From Boccace

Poeta loquitur,
OLD as I am, for Ladies 1 Love unfit,
The Pow’r of Beauty I remember yet,
Which once inflam’d my Soul, and still inspires my Wit.
If Love be Folly, the severe Divine
Has felt that Folly, tho’ he censures mine;        5
Pollutes the Pleasures of a chast Embrace,
Acts what I write, and propagates in Grace
With riotous Excess, a Priestly Race:
Suppose him free, and that I forge th’ offence,
He shew’d the way, perverting first my Sense:        10
In Malice witty, and with Venom fraught,
He makes me speak the Things I never thought.
Compute the Gains of his ungovern’d Zeal;
Ill sutes his Cloth the Praise of Railing well!
The World will think that what we loosly write,        15
Tho’ now arraign’d, he read with some delight;
Because he seems to chew the Cud again,
When his broad Comment makes the Text too plain,
And teaches more in one explaining Page,
Than all the double Meanings of the Stage.        20
  What needs he Paraphrase on what we mean?
We were at worst but Wanton; he’s Obscene.
I, nor my fellows, nor my Self excuse;
But Love’s the Subject of the Comick Muse:
Nor can we write without it, nor would you        25
A Tale of only dry Instruction view;
Nor Love is always of a vicious Kind,
But oft to virtuous Acts inflames the Mind,
Awakes the sleepy Vigour of the Soul,
And, brushing o’er, adds Motion to the Pool.        30
Love, studious how to please, improves our Parts,
With polish’d Manners, and adorns with Arts.
Love first invented Verse, and form’d the Rhime,
The Motion measur’d, harmoniz’d the Chime;
To lib’ral Acts inlarg’d the narrow-Soul’d,        35
Soften’d the Fierce, and made the Coward Bold:
The World when wast, he Peopled with increase,
And warring Nations reconcil’d in Peace.
Ormond, the first, and all the Fair may find
In this one Legend to their Fame design’d,        40
When Beauty fires the Blood, how Love exalts the Mind.
IN that sweet Isle, where Venus keeps her Court,
And ev’ry Grace, and all the Loves resort;
Where either Sex is form’d of softer Earth,
And takes the bent of Pleasure from their Birth;        45
There liv’d a Cyprian Lord, above the rest
Wise, Wealthy, with a num’rous Issue blest.
  But as no Gift of Fortune is sincere,
Was only wanting in a worthy Heir:
His eldest Born a goodly youth to view        50
Excell’d the rest in Shape, and outward Shew;
Fair, Tall, his Limbs with due Proportion join’d,
But of a heavy, dull, degenerate Mind.
His Soul bely’d the Features of his Face;
Beauty was there, but Beauty in disgrace.        55
A clownish Mien, a Voice with rustick sound,
And stupid Eyes, that ever lov’d the Ground.
He looked like Nature’s Error; as the Mind
And Body were not of a Piece design’d,
But made for two, and by mistake in one were join’d.        60
  The ruling Rod, the Father’s forming Care,
Were exercis’d in vain, on Wit’s despair;
The more inform’d the less he understood,
And deeper sunk by flound’ring in the Mud.
Now scorn’d of all, and grown the publick Shame,        65
The people from Galesus changed his name,
And Cymon call’d, which signifies a Brute;
So well his Name did with his Nature sute.
  His Father, when he found his Labour lost,
And Care employ’d that answer’d not the Cost,        70
Chose an ungrateful Object to remove,
And loath’d to see what Nature made him love;
So to his Country-Farm the Fool confin’d:
Rude Work well suted with a rustick Mind.
Thus to the Wilds the sturdy Cymon went,        75
A Squire among the Swains, and pleas’d with Banishment.
His Corn, and Cattle, were his only Care,
And his supreme Delight a Country-Fair.
  It happen’d on a Summers Holiday,
That to the Greenwood-shade he took his way;        80
For Cymon shunn’d the Church, and us’d not much to Pray.
His Quarter Staff, which he cou’d ne’er forsake,
Hung half before, and half behind his Back.
He trudg’d along unknowing what he sought,
And whistled as he went, for want of Thought.        85
  By Chance conducted, or by Thirst constrain’d,
The deep Recesses of the Grove he gain’d;
Where, in a Plain, defended by the Wood,
Crept through the matted Grass a Chrystal Flood,
By which an Alabaster Fountain stood:        90
And on the Margin of the Fount was laid
(Attended by her Slaves) a sleeping Maid
Like Dian and her Nymphs, when, tir’d with Sport,
To rest by cool Eurotas they resort:
The Dame herself the Goddess well express’d,        95
Not more distinguish’d by her Purple Vest,
Than by the charming Features of her Face,
And ev’n in Slumber a superiour Grace:
Her comely Limbs compos’d with decent Care,
Her Body shaded with a slight Cymarr;        100
Her Bosom to the view was only bare:
Where two beginning Paps were scarcely spy’d
For yet their Places were but signify’d:
The fanning Wind upon her Bosom blows,
To meet the fanning Wind the Bosom rose;        105
The fanning Wind, and purling Streams continue her repose.
  The Fool of Nature, stood with stupid Eyes
And gaping Mouth, that testify’d Surprize,
Fix’d on her Face, nor cou’d remove his Sight,
New as he was to Love, and Novice in Delight:        110
Long mute he stood, and leaning on his Staff,
His Wonder witness’d with an Ideot laugh;
Then would have spoke, but by his glimmering Sense
First found his want of Words, and fear’d Offence:
Doubted for what he was he should be known,        115
By his Clown-Accent and his Country-Tone.
  Through the rude Chaos thus the running Light
Shot the first Ray that pierc’d the Native Night:
Then Day and Darkness in the Mass were mix’d,
Till gather’d in a Globe, the Beams were fix’d:        120
Last shon the Sun who, radiant in his Sphere
Illumin’d Heav’n, and Earth, and rowl’d around the Year.
So Reason in this Brutal Soul began:
Love made him first suspect he was a Man;
Love made him doubt his broad barbarian Sound;        125
By Love his want of Words and Wit he found;
That sense of want prepar’d the future way
To Knowledge, and disclos’d the promise of a Day.
  What not his Father’s Care, nor Tutor’s Art
Cou’d plant with Pains in his unpolish’d Heart,        130
The best Instructor Love at once inspir’d,
As barren Grounds to Fruitfulness are fir’d;
Love taught him Shame, and Shame with Love at Strife
Soon taught the sweet Civilities of Life;
His gross material Soul at once could find        135
Somewhat in her excelling all her Kind:
Exciting a Desire till then unknown,
Somewhat unfound, or found in her alone.
This made the first Impression in 2 his Mind,
Above, but just above, the Brutal Kind.        140
For Beasts can like, but not distinguish too
Nor their own liking by reflection know;
Nor why they like or this, or t’other Face,
Or judge of this or that peculiar Grace;
But love in gross, and stupidly admire;        145
As Flies allur’d by Light, approach the Fire.
Thus our Man-Beast advancing by degrees
First likes the whole, then sep’rates what he sees;
On sev’ral Parts a sev’ral Praise bestows,
The ruby Lips, the well-proportion’d Nose,        150
The snowy Skin, in Raven-glossy Hair,
The dimpled Cheek, the Forehead rising fair,
And ev’n in Sleep it self a smiling Air.
From thence his Eyes descending view’d the rest,
Her plump round Arms, white Hands, and heaving Breast.        155
Long on the last he dwelt, though ev’ry part
A pointed Arrow sped to pierce his Heart.
  Thus in a trice a Judge of Beauty grown,
(A Judge erected from a Country-Clown)
He long’d to see her Eyes in Slumber hid,        160
And wish’d his own cou’d pierce within the Lid:
He wou’d have wak’d her, but restrain’d his Thought,
And Love new-born the first good Manners taught.
An awful Fear his ardent Wish withstood,
Nor durst disturb the Goddess of the Wood;        165
For such she seem’d by her celestial Face,
Excelling all the rest of human Race:
And Things divine, by common Sense he knew,
Must be devoutly seen at distant view:
So checking his Desire, with trembling Heart        170
Gazing he stood, nor would, nor could depart;
Fix’d as a Pilgrim wilder’d in his way,
Who dares not stir by Night for fear to stray;
But stands with awful Eyes to watch the dawn of Day.
  At length awaking, Iphigene the fair        175
(So was the Beauty call’d who caus’d his Care)
Unclos’d her eyes, and double Day reveal’d,
While those of all her Slaves in Sleep were seal’d.
  The slavering Cudden, prop’d upon his Staff,
Stood ready gaping with a grinning Laugh,        180
To welcome her awake, nor durst begin
To speak, but wisely kept the Fool within.
Then she: What make you Cymon here alone?
(For Cymon’s name was round the Country known,
Because descended of a noble Race,        185
And for a Soul ill sorted with his Face.)
  But still the Sot stood silent with Surprize,
With fix’d regard on her new open’d Eyes,
And in his Breast receiv’d th’ invenom’d Dart,
A tickling Pain that pleas’d amid the Smart.        190
But conscious of her Form, with quick distrust
She saw his sparkling Eyes, and fear’d his brutal Lust:
This to prevent, she wak’d her sleepy Crew,
And rising hasty took a short Adieu.
  Then Cymon first his rustick Voice essay’d,        195
With proffer’d Service to the parting Maid
To see her safe; his Hand she long deny’d,
But took at length, asham’d of such a Guide.
So Cymon led her home, and leaving there,
No more wou’d to his Country Clowns repair,        200
But sought his Father’s House, with better Mind,
Refusing in the Farm to be confin’d.
  The Father wonder’d at the Son’s return,
And knew not whether to rejoice or mourn;
But doubtfully receiv’d, expecting still        205
To learn the secret Causes of his alter’d Will.
Nor was he long delay’d: the first Request
He made, was, like his Brothers to be dress’d,
And, as his Birth requir’d, above the rest.
  With ease his Sute was granted by his Syre,        210
Distinguishing his Heir by rich Attire:
His Body thus adorn’d, he next design’d
With lib’ral Arts to cultivate his Mind;
He sought a Tutor of his own accord,
And study’d Lessons he before abhorr’d.        215
  Thus the Man-Child advanc’d, and learned so fast,
That in short time his Equals he surpass’d:
His brutal Manners from his Breast exil’d,
His Mien he fashion’d, and his Tongue he fil’d;
In ev’ry Exercise of all admir’d,        220
He seem’d, nor only seem’d but was inspir’d:
Inspir’d by Love, whose Business is to please;
He Rode, he Fenc’d, he moved with graceful Ease,
More fam’d for Sense, for courtly Carriage more,
Than for his brutal Folly known before.        225
  What then of alter’d Cymon shall we say,
But that the Fire which choak’d in Ashes lay,
A Load too heavy for his Soul to move,
Was upward blown below, and brush’d away by Love?
Love made an active Progress through his Mind,        230
The dusky Parts he clear’d, the gross refin’d;
The drowsy wak’d; and as he went impress’d
The Maker’s Image on the human Beast. 3
Thus was the Man amended by Desire,
And, tho’ he lov’d perhaps with too much Fire,        235
His Father all his Faults with Reason scan’d,
And lik’d an error of the better Hand;
Excus’d th’ excess of Passion in his Mind,
By Flames too fierce, perhaps too much refin’d:
So Cymon, since his Sire indulg’d his Will,        240
Impetuous lov’d, and would be Cymon still;
Galesus he disown’d, and chose to bear
The Name of Fool confirm’d, and Bishop’d by the Fair.
  To Cipseus by his Friends his Sute he mov’d,
Cipseus the Father of the Fair he lov’d:        245
But he was pre-ingag’d by former Ties,
While Cymon was endeav’ring to be wise
And Iphigene, oblig’d by former Vows,
Had giv’n her Faith to wed a Foreign Spouse:
Her Sire and She to Rhodian Pasimond,        250
Tho’ both repenting, were by Promise bound,
Nor could retract; and thus, as Fate decreed,
Tho’ better lov’d, he spoke too late to speed.
  The Doom was past, the Ship already sent
Did all his tardy Diligence prevent:        255
Sigh’d to her self the fair unhappy Maid,
While stormy Cymon thus in secret said:
The time is come for Iphigene to find
The Miracle she wrought upon my Mind:
Her Charms have made me Man, her ravish’d Love        260
In rank shall place me with the Bless’d above.
For mine by Love, by Force she shall be mine,
Or Death, if Force should fail, shall finish my Design.
  Resolv’d he said: And rigg’d with speedy Care
A Vessel strong, and well equipp’d for War.        265
The secret Ship with chosen Friends he stor’d,
And bent to die, or conquer, went aboard.
Ambush’d he lay behind the Cyprian Shore,
Waiting the Sail that all his Wishes bore;
Nor long expected, for the following Tide        270
Sent out the hostile Ship and beauteous Bride.
  To Rhodes the Rival Bark directly steer’d,
When Cymon sudden at her Back appear’d,
And stop’d her Flight: Then standing on his Prow
In haughty Terms he thus defy’d the Foe:        275
Or strike your Sails at Summons, or prepare
To prove the last Extremities of War.
Thus warn’d, the Rhodians for the Fight provide;
Already were the Vessels Side by Side,
These obstinate to save, and those to seize the Bride.        280
But Cymon soon his crooked Grapples cast,
Which with tenacious hold his Foes embrac’d.
And arm’d with Sword and Shield, amid the Press he pass’d.
Fierce was the Fight, but hast’ning to his Prey,
By force the furious Lover freed his way:        285
Himself alone dispers’d the Rhodian Crew,
The Weak disdain’d, the Valiant overthrew;
Cheap Conquest for his following Friends remain’d,
He reap’d the Field, and they but only glean’d.
  His Victory confess’d, the Foes retreat,        290
And cast their Weapons at the Victor’s Feet.
Whom thus he chear’d: O Rhodian Youth, I fought
For Love alone, nor other Booty sought;
Your Lives are safe; your Vessel I resign.
Yours be your own, restoring what is mine:        295
In Iphigene I claim my rightful Due,
Rob’d by my Rival, and detain’d by you:
Your Pasimond a lawless Bargain drove,
The Parent could not sell the Daughters Love;
Or if he cou’d, my Love disdains the Laws,        300
And like a King by Conquest gains his Cause;
Where Arms take place, all other Pleas are vain;
Love taught me Force, and Force shall Love maintain.
You, what by Strength you could not keep, release,
And at an easy Ransom buy your Peace.        305
  Fear on the conquer’d Side soon sign’d th’ Accord,
And Iphigene to Cymon was restor’d:
While to his Arms the blushing Bride he took,
To seeming Sadness she compos’d her Look;
As if by Force subjected to his Will,        310
Tho’ pleas’d, dissembling, and a Woman still.
And, for she wept, he wip’d her falling Tears,
And pray’d her to dismiss her empty Fears;
For yours I am, he said, and have deserv’d
Your Love much better, whom so long I serv’d,        315
Than he to whom your formal Father ty’d
Your Vows; and sold a Slave, not sent a Bride.
Thus while he spoke, he seiz’d the willing Prey,
As Paris bore the Spartan Spouse away:
Faintly she scream’d, and ev’n her Eyes confess’d        320
She rather would be thought, than was distress’d.
  Who now exults but Cymon in his Mind?
Vain hopes and empty Joys of human Kind,
Proud of the present, to the future blind!
Secure of Fate, while Cymon plows the Sea,        325
And steers to Candy with his conquer’d Prey,
Scarce the third Glass of measur’d Hours was run,
When like a fiery Meteor sunk the Sun,
The Promise of a Storm; the shifting Gales
Forsake by Fits and fill the flagging Sails:        330
Hoarse Murmurs of the Main from far were heard,
And Night came on, not by degrees prepar’d,
But all at once; at once the Winds arise,
The Thunders roul, the forky Lightning flies
In vain the Master issues out Commands,        335
In vain the trembling Sailors ply their Hands;
The Tempest unforeseen prevents their Care,
And from the first they labour in despair.
The giddy Ship betwixt the Winds and Tides,
Forc’d back and forwards, in a Circle rides,        340
Stun’d with the diff’rent Blows; then shoots amain
Till counterbuff’d she stops, and sleeps again.
Not more aghast the proud Archangel fell,
Plung’d from the height of Heav’n to deepest Hell,
Than stood the Lover of his Love possess’d        345
Now curs’d the more, the more he had been bless’d;
More anxious for her Danger than his own,
Death he defies; but would be lost alone.
  Sad Iphigene to Womanish Complaints
Adds pious Pray’rs, and wearies all the Saints;        350
Ev’n if she could, her Love she would repent,
But since she cannot, dreads the Punishment:
Her forfeit Faith, and Pasimond betray’d,
Are ever present, and her Crime upbraid.
She blames herself, nor blames her Lover less;        355
Augments her Anger as her Fears increase;
From her own Back the Burden would remove,
And lays the Load on his ungovern’d Love,
Which interposing durst in Heav’n’s despight
Invade, and violate another’s Right:        360
The Pow’rs incens’d awhile deferr’d his Pain,
And made him Master of his Vows in vain:
But soon they punish’d his presumptuous Pride;
That for his daring Enterprize she dy’d,
Who rather not resisted, than comply’d.        365
  Then impotent of Mind, with alter’d Sense,
She hugg’d th’ Offender, and forgave th’ Offence,
Sex to the last: Mean time with Sails declin’d
The wand’ring Vessel drove before the Wind:
Toss’d, and retoss’d, aloft, and then alow;        370
Nor Port they seek, nor certain Course they know,
But ev’ry moment wait the coming Blow.
Thus blindly driv’n, by breaking Day they view’d
The Land before ’em, and their Fears renew’d;
The Land was welcome, but the Tempest bore        375
The threaten’d Ship against a rocky Shore.
  A winding Bay was near; to this they bent,
And just escap’d; their Force already spent.
Secure from Storms, and panting from the Sea,
The Land unknown at leisure they survey;        380
And saw (but soon their sickly Sight withdrew)
The rising Tow’rs of Rhodes at distant view;
And curs’d the hostile Shoar of Pasimond,
Sav’d from the Seas, and shipwreck’d on the Ground.
  The frighted Sailors try’d their Strength in vain        385
To turn the Stern, and tempt the stormy Main;
But the stiff Wind withstood the lab’ring Oar,
And forc’d them forward on the fatal Shoar!
The crooked Keel now bites the Rhodian Strand,
And the Ship moor’d, constrains the Crew to land:        390
Yet still they might be safe, because unknown;
But as ill Fortune seldom comes alone,
The Vessel they dismiss’d was driv’n before,
Already shelter’d on their Native Shoar;
Known each, they know: But each with change of Chear;        395
The vanquish’d side exults; the Victors fear;
Not them but theirs, made Pris’ners ere they Fight,
Despairing Conquest and depriv’d of Flight.
  The Country rings around with loud Alarms,
And raw in Fields the rude Militia swarms;        400
Mouths without Hands; maintain’d at vast Expence,
In Peace a Charge, in War a weak Defence;
Stout once a Month they march, a blust’ring Band,
And ever, but in times of Need, at hand;
This was the Morn when issuing on the Guard,        405
Drawn up in Rank and File they stood prepar’d
Of seeming Arms to make a short essay,
Then hasten to be Drunk, the Business of the Day.
  The Cowards would have fled, but that they knew
Themselves so many, and their Foes so few;        410
But crowding on, the last the first impel;
Till overborn with weight the Cyprians fell.
Cymon inslav’d, who first the War begun,
And Iphigene once more is lost and won.
  Deep in a Dungeon was the Captive cast,        415
Depriv’d of Day, and held in Fetters fast:
His Life was only spar’d at their Request,
Whom taken he so nobly had releas’d:
But Iphigenia was the Ladies Care,
Each in their turn address’d to treat the Fair;        420
While Pasimond and his, the Nuptial Feast prepare.
  Her secret Soul to Cymon was inclin’d,
But she must suffer what her Fates assign’d;
So passive is the Church of Womankind.
What worse to Cymon could his Fortune deal,        425
Rowl’d to the lowest Spoke of all her Wheel?
It rested to dismiss the downward weight,
Or raise him upward to his former height;
The latter pleas’d; and Love (concern’d the most)
Prepar’d th’ amends, for what by Love he lost.        430
  The Sire of Pasimond had left a Son,
Though younger, yet for Courage early known,
Ormisda call’d, to whom, by Promise ty’d,
A Rhodian Beauty was the destin’d Bride:
Cassandra was her Name, above the rest        435
Renown’d for Birth, with Fortune amply bless’d.
Lysymachus who rul’d the Rhodian State,
Was then by choice their annual Magistrate:
He lov’d Cassandra too with equal Fire,
But Fortune had not favour’d his Desire;        440
Cross’d by her Friends, by her not disapprov’d,
Nor yet preferr’d, or like Ormisda lov’d:
So stood th’ Affair: Some little Hope remain’d,
That should his Rival chance to lose, he gain’d.
  Meantime young Pasimond his Marriage press’d,        445
Ordain’d the Nuptial Day, prepar’d the Feast;
And frugally resolv’d (the Charge to shun,
Which would be double should he wed alone)
To join his Brother’s Bridal with his own.
  Lysymachus oppress’d with mortal Grief        450
Receiv’d the News, and study’d quick Relief:
The fatal Day approach’d: If Force were us’d,
The Magistrate his publick Trust abus’d;
To Justice liable, as Law requir’d,
For when his Office ceas’d, the his Pow’r expir’d:        455
While Pow’r remain’d, the Means were in his Hand
By Force to seize, and then forsake the Land:
Betwixt Extreams he knew not how to move,
A Slave to Fame, but more a Slave to Love:
Restraining others, yet himself not free,        460
Made impotent by Pow’r, debas’d by Dignity!
Both Sides he weigh’d: But after much Debate,
The Man prevail’d above the Magistrate.
  Love never fails to master what he finds,
But works a diff’rent way in diff’rent Minds,        465
The Fool enlightens, and the Wise he blinds.
This Youth proposing to possess, and scape,
Began in Murder, to conclude in Rape:
Unprais’d by me, tho’ Heav’n sometime may bless
An impious Act with undeserv’d Success:        470
The Great, it seems, are priviledg’d alone
To punish all Injustice but their own.
But here I stop, not daring to proceed,
Yet blush to flatter an unrighteous Deed:
For Crimes are but permitted, not decreed.        475
  Resolv’d on Force, his Wit the Pretor bent
To find the Means that might secure th’ event;
Nor long he labour’d, for his lucky Thought
In Captive Cymon found the Friend he sought.
Th’ Example pleas’d: The Cause and Crime the same;        480
An injur’d Lover, and a ravish’d Dame.
How much he durst he knew by what he dar’d,
The less he had to lose, the less he car’d
To menage loathsom Life when Love was the Reward.
  This ponder’d well, and fix’d on his Intent,        485
In depth of Night he for the Pris’ner sent;
In secret sent, the publick View to shun,
Then with a sober Smile he thus begun:
The Pow’rs above, who bounteously bestow
Their Gifts and Graces on Mankind below,        490
Yet prove our Merit first, nor blindly give
To such as are not worthy to receive:
For Valour and for Virtue they provide
Their due Reward, but first they must be try’d:
These fruitful Seeds within your Mind they sow’d;        495
’Twas yours t’ improve the Talent they bestow’d;
They gave you to be born of noble Kind,
They gave you Love to lighten up your Mind
And purge the grosser Parts; they gave you Care
To please, and Courage to deserve the Fair.        500
  Thus far they try’d you, and by Proof they found
The Grain intrusted in a grateful Ground:
But still the great Experiment remain’d,
They suffer’d you to lose the Prize you gain’d;
That you might learn the Gift was theirs alone,        505
And when restor’d, to them the Blessing own.
Restor’d it soon will be; the Means prepar’d,
The Difficulty smooth’d, the Danger shar’d:
Be but your self, the Care to me resign,
Then Iphigene is yours, Cassandra mine.        510
Your Rival Pasimond pursues your Life,
Impatient to revenge his ravish’d Wife,
But yet not his; to Morrow is behind,
And Love our Fortunes in one Band has join’d:
Two Brothers are our Foes, Ormisda mine,        515
As much declar’d, as Pasimond is thine:
To Morrow must their common Vows be ty’d:
With Love to Friend, and Fortune for our Guide,
Let both resolve to die, or each redeem a Bride.
  Right I have none, nor hast thou much to plead;        520
’Tis Force when done must justify the Deed:
Our Task perform’d we next prepare for Flight:
And let the Losers talk in vain of Right:
We with the Fair will sail before the Wind
If they are griev’d, I leave the Laws behind.        525
Speak thy Resolves; if now thy Courage droop,
Despair in Prison, and abandon Hope;
But if thou dar’st in Arms thy Love regain,
(For Liberty without thy Love were vain:)
Then second my Design to seize the Prey,        530
Or lead to second Rape, for well thou know’st the way.
  Said Cymon, overjoy’d, Do Thou propose
The Means to Fight, and only shew the Foes;
For from the first, when Love had fir’d my Mind,
Resolv’d I left the Care of Life behind.        535
  To this the bold Lysymachus reply’d,
Let Heav’n be neuter and the Sword decide:
The Spousals are prepar’d, already play
The Minstrels, and provoke the tardy Day:
By this the Brides are wak’d, their Grooms are dress’d;        540
All Rhodes is summon’d to the Nuptial Feast,
All but my self, the sole unbidden Guest.
Unbidden though I am, I will be there,
And, join’d by thee, intend to joy the Fair.
  Now hear the rest; when Day resigns the Light,        545
And chearful Torches guild the jolly Night;
Be ready at my Call, my chosen few
With Arms administer’d shall aid thy Crew.
Then entring unexpected will we seize
Our destin’d Prey, from Men dissolv’d in ease,        550
By Wine disabled, unprepar’d for Fight,
And hast’ning to the Seas suborn our Flight:
The Seas are ours, for I command the Fort,
A Ship well man’d, expects us in the Port:
If they, or if their Friends the Prize contest,        555
Death shall attend the Man who dares resist.
  It pleas’d! The Pris’ner to his Hold retir’d,
His Troop with equal Emulation fir’d,
All fix’d to Fight, and all their wonted Work requir’d.
  The Sun arose; the Streets were throng’d around,        560
The Palace open’d, and the Posts were crown’d:
The double Bridegroom at the Door attends
Th’ expected Spouse, and entertains the Friends:
They meet, they lead to Church; the Priests invoke
The Pow’rs, and feed the Flames with fragrant Smoke:        565
This done they Feast, and at the close of Night
By kindled Torches vary their Delight,
These lead the lively Dance, and those the brimming Bowls invite.
  Now, at th’ appointed Place and Hour assign’d,
With Souls resolv’d the Ravishers were join’d:        570
Three Bands are form’d: The first is sent before
To favour the Retreat and guard the Shore:
The second at the Palace-gate is plac’d,
And up the lofty Stairs ascend the last:
A peaceful Troop they seem with shining Vests,        575
But Coats of Male beneath secure their Breasts.
  Dauntless they enter, Cymon at their Head,
And find the Feast renew’d, the Table spread:
Sweet Voices mix’d with instrumental Sounds
Ascend the vaulted Roof, the vaulted Roof rebounds.        580
When like the Harpies rushing through the Hall
The suddain Troop appears, the Tables fall,
Their smoaking Load is on the Pavement thrown;
Each Ravisher prepares to seize his own:
The Brides invaded with a rude Embrace        585
Shreek out for Aid, Confusion fills the Place:
Quick to redeem the Prey their plighted Lords
Advance, the Palace gleams with shining Swords.
  But late is all Defence; and Succour vain;
The Rape is made, the Ravishers remain:        590
Two sturdy Slaves were only sent before
To bear the purchas’d Prize in Safety to the Shore.
The Troop retires, the Lovers close the rear,
With forward Faces not confessing Fear:
Backward they move, but scorn their Pace to mend,        595
Then seek the Stairs, and with slow hast descend.
  Fierce Pasimond, their passage to prevent,
Thrust full on Cymon’s Back in his descent,
The Blade return’d unbath’d, and to the Handle bent:
Stout Cymon soon remounts, and cleft in two        600
His Rival’s Head with one descending Blow:
And as the next in rank Ormisda stood,
He turn’d the Point; The sword inur’d to Blood
Bor’d his unguarded Breast, which pour’d a purple Flood.
  With vow’d Revenge the gath’ring Crowd pursues,        605
The Ravishers turn Head, the Fight renews;
The Hall is heap’d with Corps; the sprinkled Gore
Besmears the Walls, and floats the Marble Floor.
Dispers’d at length the drunken Squadron flies,
The Victors to their Vessel bear the Prize;        610
And hear behind loud Groans, and lamentable Cries.
  The Crew with merry Shouts their Anchors weigh,
Then ply their Oars, and brush the buxom Sea,
While Troops of gather’d Rhodians croud the Key.
What should the People do, when left alone?        615
The Governor, and Government are gone;
The publick Wealth to Foreign Parts convey’d;
Some Troops disbanded, and the rest unpaid.
Rhodes is the Soveraign of the Sea no more;
Their Ships unrigg’d, and spent their Naval Store;        620
They neither could defend, nor can pursue,
But grind their Teeth, and cast a helpless view:
In vain with Darts a distant War they try,
Short, and more short the missive Weapons fly.
Mean while the Ravishers their Crimes enjoy,        625
And flying Sails, and sweeping Oars employ:
The Cliffs of Rhodes in little space are lost;
Jove’s Isle they seek; nor Jove denies his Coast.
  In safety landed on the Candian Shore,
With generous Wines their Spirits they restore;        630
There Cymon with his Rhodian Friend resides,
Both Court, and Wed at once the willing Brides.
A War ensues, the Cretans own their Cause,
Stiff to defend their hospitable Laws:
Both Parties lose by turns; and neither wins,        635
Till Peace propounded by a Truce begins.
The Kindred of the Slain forgive the Deed,
But a short Exile must for Show precede;
The Term expir’d, from Candia they remove;
And happy each at Home enjoys his love.        640
 
Note 1. Ladies] Christie and Saintsbury give lady’s. Some editors give ladies’. There can be no doubt that the word is genitive plural: cf. Horace, Car. iii. 26. 1. [back]
Note 2. in] The editors wrongly give on. [back]
Note 3. Beast All the English editors change this word into Breast, a most thoughtless and ludicrous error. [back]
 
 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors