Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
The Holy Well
By John Fletcher (1579–1625)
 
FROM 1 thy forehead thus I take
These herbs, and charge thee not awake
Till in yonder holy well
Thrice, with powerful magic spell,
Filled with many a baleful word,        5
Thou hast been dipped. Thus, with my cord
Of blasted hemp, by moonlight twined,
I do thy sleepy body bind.
I turn thy head unto the east,
And thy feet unto the west,        10
Thy left arm to the south put forth,
And thy right unto the north,
I take thy body from the ground,
In this deep and deadly swound,
And into this holy spring        15
I let thee slide down by my string.
Take this maid, thou holy pit,
To thy bottom; nearer yet;
In thy water pure and sweet,
By thy leave I dip her feet;        20
Thus I let her lower yet,
That her ankles may be wet;
Yet down lower, let her knee
In thy waters washèd be.
There stop. Fly away,        25
Everything that loves the day!
Truth, that hath but one face,
Thus I charm thee from this place.
Snakes that cast your coats for new,
Chameleons that alter hue,        30
Hares that yearly sexes change,
Proteus altering oft and strange,
Hecate with shapes three,
Let this maiden changèd be,
With this holy water wet,        35
To the shape of Amoret!
Cynthia, work thou with my charm!
Thus I draw thee free from harm,
Up out of this blessèd lake:
Rise both like her and awake!        40
 
Note 1. From The Faithful Shepherdess, 1609–10, act iii. sc. 1. [back]
 
 
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