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- Playful Poems - 20/35 -

To have their causes tried.

Together furiously they ran, That to the ground came horse and man; The blood out of their helmets span, So sharp were their encounters; And though they to the earth were thrown, Yet quickly they regained their own, Such nimbleness was never shown, They were two gallant mounters.

When in a second course again They forward came with might and main, Yet which had better of the twain, The seconds could not judge yet; Their shields were into pieces cleft, Their helmets from their heads were reft, And to defend them nothing left, These champions would not budge yet.

Away from them their staves they threw, Their cruel swords they quickly drew, And freshly they the fight renew, They every stroke redoubled: Which made Proserpina take heed, And make to them the greater speed, For fear lest they too much should bleed, Which wondrously her troubled.

When to th' infernal Styx she goes, She takes the fogs from thence that rose, And in a bag doth them enclose: When well she had them blended, She hies her then to Lethe spring, {114} A bottle and thereof doth bring, Wherewith she meant to work the thing Which only she intended.

Now Proserpine with Mab is gone, Unto the place where Oberon And proud Pigwiggin, one to one, Both to be slain were likely: And there themselves they closely hide, Because they would not be espied; For Proserpine meant to decide The matter very quickly.

And suddenly unties the poke, Which out of it sent such a smoke, As ready was them all to choke, So grievous was the pother; So that the knights each other lost, And stood as still as any post; Tom Thumb nor Tomalin could boast Themselves of any other.

But when the mist 'gan somewhat cease, Proserpina commandeth peace; And that a while they should release Each other of their peril: "Which here," quoth she, "I do proclaim To all in dreadful Pluto's name, That as ye will eschew his blame, You let me bear the quarrel:

"But here yourselves you must engage, Somewhat to cool your spleenish rage; Your grievous thirst and to assuage That first you drink this liquor, Which shall your understanding clear, As plainly shall to you appear; Those things from me that you shall hear, Conceiving much the quicker."

This Lethe water, you must know, The memory destroyeth so, That of our weal, or of our woe, Is all remembrance blotted; Of it nor can you ever think, For they no sooner took this drink, But nought into their brains could sink Of what had them besotted.

King Oberon forgotten had, That he for jealousy ran mad, But of his Queen was wondrous glad, And asked how they came thither: Pigwiggin likewise doth forget That he Queen Mab had ever met; Or that they were so hard beset, When they were found together.

Nor neither of them both had thought, That e'er they each had other sought, Much less that they a combat fought, But such a dream were lothing. Tom Thumb had got a little sup, And Tomalin scarce kissed the cup, Yet had their brains so sure locked up, That they remembered nothing.

Queen Mab and her light maids, the while, Amongst themselves do closely smile, To see the King caught with this wile, With one another jesting: And to the Fairy Court they went, With mickle joy and merriment, Which thing was done with good intent, And thus I left them feasting.


Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos; Sed juvat, hoc precibus me tribuisse tuis. --MART., Epigr. xii. 84.


What dire offence from amorous causes springs, What mighty contests rise from trivial things, I sing--This verse to Caryl, Muse! is due: This, even Belinda may vouchsafe to view: Slight is the subject, but not so the praise, If she inspire, and he approve my lays.

Say what strange motive, Goddess! could compel A well-bred lord to assault a gentle belle? O say what stranger cause, yet unexplored, Could make a gentle belle reject a lord? In tasks so bold, can little men engage, And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty rage?

Sol through white curtains shot a timorous ray, And oped those eyes that must eclipse the day: Now lap-dogs give themselves the rousing shake, And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knocked the ground, And the pressed watch returned a silver sound. Belinda still her downy pillow pressed, Her guardian Sylph prolonged the balmy rest; 'Twas he had summoned to her silent bed The morning-dream that hovered o'er her head; A youth more glittering than a birth-night beau, (That even in slumber caused her cheek to glow) Seemed to her ear his winning lips to lay, And thus in whispers said, or seemed to say:

"Fairest of mortals, thou distinguished care Of thousand bright inhabitants of air! If e'er one vision touched thy infant thought, Of all the nurse and all the priest have taught; Of airy elves by moonlight shadows seen, The silver token, and the circled green, Or virgins visited by angel-powers, With golden crowns and wreaths of heavenly flowers; Hear and believe! thy own importance know, Nor bound thy narrow views to things below. Some secret truths, from learned pride concealed, To maids alone and children are revealed: What though no credit doubting wits may give? The fair and innocent shall still believe. Know, then, unnumbered spirits round thee fly, The light militia of the lower sky: These, though unseen, are ever on the wing, Hang o'er the box, and hover round the ring. Think what an equipage thou hast in air, And view with scorn two pages and a chair. As now your own, our beings were of old, And once enclosed in woman's beauteous mould; Thence, by a soft transition, we repair From earthly vehicles to these of air. Think not, when woman's transient breath is fled, That all her vanities at once are dead; Succeeding vanities she still regards, And though she plays no more, o'erlooks the cards. Her joy in gilded chariots, when alive, And love of ombre, after death survive. For when the fair in all their pride expire, To their first elements their souls retire: The sprites of fiery termagants in flame Mount up, and take a Salamander's name. Soft yielding minds to water glide away, And sip, with nymphs, their elemental tea. The graver prude sinks downward to a gnome, In search of mischief still on earth to roam, The light coquettes in sylphs aloft repair, And sport and flutter in the fields of air.

"Know further yet; whoever fair and chaste Rejects mankind, is by some sylph embraced: For spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease Assume what sexes and what shapes they please. What guards the purity of melting maids, In courtly balls and midnight masquerades, Safe from the treacherous friend, the daring spark,

Playful Poems - 20/35

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