[Erotopaignion] The loves of Hero and Leander : a Greeke poem
Musaeus, Grammaticus., Stapylton, Robert, Sir, d. 1669.
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SPeak Goddesse, of the Torch, a witnesse made
To love stoln, Nuptials convoy'd through the shade,
Ne're seene by th' incorrupted morning-light;
Of Sestos and Abydos: here by night
Leander swimming, Hero marry'd there.
Hearke, the Torch ruffled by the wind I heare,
The steering Torch that did to Venus guide,
The flaming Signall of the clowded Bride,
The Torch that for night-service aiery Iove
Should make a Starre, the starre of wandring Love,
The marriage-starre, because it still gave ayme,
And watcht the marriage-houres with sleeplesse flame;
Page  [unnumbered] Till by the rude wind th' envious Gust was blowne;
And then (aye me) change Hymen's softer tone,
And let our Verse with one sad close be crown'd,
O'th' Torch extinguisht, and Leander drown'd.
Vpon the Sea-shore, parted by the floud
Two Cities Sestos and Abydos stood,
Iust o'rethwart neighbours; his bow Cupid bent,
And to both Cities the same Arrow sent,
Wherewith a youth and virgin were inflam'd,
He sweet Leander, she chast Hero nam'd,
He at Abydos, she at Sestos borne;
Starres, like each other, which their Townes adorne.
Do mee a favour if you passe that way,
Aske for the Tow'r where Sestian Hero lay,
And held the Torch, wafting Leander o're:
Aske for his Dwelling on the adverse shore,
Where still his fun'rals old Abydos keepes,
And in his Love's and Death's remembrance weepes.
But dwelt he at Abydos? how then came
He to love Hero, she to catch his flame?
Faire Hero, virgin-Priestesse to the Power
Of Venus, her great Parents in a tower
Page  [unnumbered] From them apart, neare to the Sea had plac't;
Another Venus, but so strictly chast,
That she at female meetings ne're appear'd,
Nor her young play-mates charming Dances heard,
Regardfull women's envy to decline,
For at a Beauty women will repine.
But she with incense Venus still appeas'd,
Oft with his heav'nly Mother Cupid pleas'd,
Whose Quiver trembles full of shafts that glow,
But yet those flameing shafts she scap't not so.
The Sestians now that Feast they so much prize
To Venus and Adonis solemnize.
O're to this Holyday in boats-full throng
All th' Islanders that to the Sea belong;
Some from Aemonia, from moist Cyprus some,
All Phrygia, all Cythera's women come;
None dance on Libanon in perfum'd aire;
No passengers but to this Feast repaire;
There wants of neighbouring Abydos none;
Of young men that love maids not any one,
For they to follow will be sure, where fame
Shall celebration of a Feast proclaime.
Page  [unnumbered] Not that th' immortall Gods their zeale pursues,
But troopes of mortall beauties to peruse.
Now through the Temple Virgin-Hero past,
And from her face a lovely splendour cast,
Like the cleare Moone when rising she's beheld;
Her snovvy cheekes in scarlet circles svvell'd,
So lookes the blovving Damaske Rose, You'd svveare
In Hero gardens full of Roses vvere.
She blush't all over, in the polish't stone
Beneath her feete reflected Roses shone.
From her flovv'd many Graces; then of old
They ly'd that Men but of three Graces told,
For in each smiling eye of Hero sprung
A hundred Graces: Thus said every tongue,
Venus hath novv a Preistesse vvorthy her,
All men this maide to her whole Sex preferre,
Venus 'es Preistesse a new Venus seemes,
So her the heart of conquer'd Youth esteemes.
Nor was there any but he Hero lov'd,
And wish't she were his Bride: where e're she mov'd
Through the strong fabricke of that sacred place,
Alleyes all hearts and longings went her pace.
Page  [unnumbered] One Youth admiring of her spake these words,
I've seene what beauty Sparta's Clime affords,
And what in Lacedaemon so much takes,
Where Beauty to the world her Challenge makes;
But one so sweet so modest I've not seene,
Sure one o'th' Graces here attends Loves Queene?
I've tir'd my sight, not satisfy'd my eye,
Let me but sleepe with Hero and then dye.
I would not wish to be a Pow'r divine,
So I might live at home, and Hero mine▪
But if unto thy Preistesse to pretend
Be Sacriledge, one like her, Venus, send.
Thus every youth said: there another had
A wound, and with concealing it ran mad.
But brave Leander, this rare maid when thou
Beheldst, thou wouldst not of dumbe wounds allow,
But at the fiery arrow's very fall
Thou'lt with faire Hero live, or not at all.
Love at her eye-beames did his torches light,
And fir'd Leanders bosome at first sight.
For beauty in a maid whose fame is pure,
Flyes like the feather'd shaft, and hits more sure.
Page  [unnumbered] The eyes are loop-holes, her eye's fatall dart
Glanc't through his eye, and gaz'd upon his heart.
Amazement, feare, shame, impudence, he felt;
His sense amaz'd on her perfections dwelt,
His heart shooke, shame restrain'd him, love controll'd
That shame, and made him impudently bold.
He softly walk't and stood before the maide,
And to her slily a side-looke convey'd,
With silent eyes foarding the virgins minde.
When she Leander's cunning love did finde,
She joy'd in her owne beauty: and ev'n She
Oft lifted her faire eyes by stealth to see
Leander's face, then lookt away againe;
He joyed that he did love, nor she disdaine.
While now a private houre Leander watcht,
Day to the West the light's small stocke dispatcht,
Point-blanke the shadow'd evening-starre appear'd.
Then to approach her he no longer fear'd,
But as he saw the sky with sables hung
He silently her rosy fingers wrung,
And fetcht a deepe sigh: she did nothing say,
But, as if angry, snatcht her hand away.
Page  [unnumbered] Finding her discomposure he grew bold,
And of her rich flowr'd vesture taking hold
Pull'd her into the Temples secret'st part:
As 'twere a Pilgrimage against her heart
Lingringly follow'd the slow-footed Maide,
And threatning, thus in womens language said:
What, stranger, art thou mad? why pull'st thou so
A maid? away, leave, let my garment go.
Shun my rich Parents anger. To court mee,
Priestesse to Venus, it befits not thee.
'Tis hard to come unto a Virgin's bed.
Thus lessons, maides are perfect in, she read.
Leander hearing female fury sound,
The Symptomes straight of yeilding virgins found,
For when with men maides once are furious growne
Their very threatnings promise them our owne.
Then her sweete-smelling pure-skinn'd neck he kist,
And spake these words, wherein love's pangs assist.
Venus next Venus, Pallas whom I love,
Next Pallas, daughters to Saturnian Iove,
For by no mortall forme art thou exprest▪
Blest he that got thee, she that bare thee blest;
Page  [unnumbered] The wombe most happy that did thee create!
Heare thou my pray'r, and pitty my love's fate.
Preistesse to Venus like to Venus doe,
Come, be the Preistesse of her pleasures too,
These ceremonies learne: a maid and be
Preistesse to Venus, it befits not thee.
Maides Venus loves not; her true rites if thou
Wouldst know, they are the nuptiall bed and vow.
Doe you love Venus? Love's soft lawes fulfill,
Call me your servant (call me, if you will,
Your husband) chac'd and caught by Cupids art,
Brought to your service by his golden dart,
As rough Alcides by the golden wand
Of Hermes, to the Lydian Maid's command;
But in this voyage to your presence made
My steps sweete Venus not fly Hermes sway'd.
Th' Arcadian Virgin Atalanta fled
(Thou knowst) affectionate Milanion's bed,
In love with single life; this Venus mov'd,
Who made the once-despis'd her sole-belov'd.
Deare, be more kind lest Venus take it ill.
Thus he perswaded her against her will,
Page  [unnumbered] Softning her mind with love and passion mixt;
Silently on the ground her eye she fixt,
Asham'd the Twi-light should her blushes meete,
Re-polishing the marble with her feete,
And gathering, at every little checke
Giv'n by her heart, her robe about her necke.
All tokens that a maid's consent fore-run,
Who if she doe but loose her tongue, she's won.
Love's bitter-sweetenesse now she working felt,
Faire Hero's heart a gentle flame did melt,
Leander's lineaments her soule amaz'd.
But while her eye upon the pavement gaz'd,
On her faire necke his never-weary'd sight
He fixt, untill prevented by the night,
The deaw, that long had on her blushes hung,
Then dropt, and these words from her sweetest tongue.
Stranger, thy words might on a rocke have wrought,
Who thee the various wayes of Courtship taught?
Who did (alas) thee to my Country send?
But all which thou hast spoke is to no end,
For how a wandring stranger as thou art
And faithlesse, can I fix thee in my heart?
Page  [unnumbered] Nor can we marry publickly 'tis cleare,
For of no marriage will my parents heare.
And should my Country thee a stranger shroude,
Thy darke love could not long be in a cloude;
Newes with advantage slander will unfold,
What's done in corners in high-wayes is told.
Yet let me know thy name and native coast;
My great name Hero I suppose thou know'st.
In this vast Tow'r dwell but my maide and I.
And though my native Sestos be so nigh,
Such is the doome my cruell Parents give,
I banish't thence must the Seas neighbour live.
Nor with young maides at Dancings I appeare,
But day and night from Sea winds blustring heare.
Thus speaking, with her veyle her face she hid,
Againe blusht, and her selfe for speaking chid.
Leander, on love's highest torture rack't,
Was soone inspir'd how love's designe to act.
For man's heart pow'rfull Cupid conquers twice,
First with his arrowes, then with his advise;
Which ever heales the wounds his arrowes made.
While he that hurts us doth our cure perswade.
Page  [unnumbered] He helpt love-pos'd Leander to revolve;
Who lastly sighing utter'd this Resolve:
Virgin, to come to thee, I would not feare
Billowes of fire, or water though it were
Innavigable: to arrive thy bed,
No deepe gulph no high flowing tide I dread;
But thy wet servant shall the waves confront,
And nightly swimme the raging Hellespont.
Only on your high Turret set a light
Which shining in diameter by night,
I may become Love's ship, that light my starre,
Beholding which, not looking up so farre
As slow Bootes, or the frozen Waine,
Or rough Orion, I may safely gaine
My obvious native soile: but (dearest) watch
For feare the boistrous wind the flame should catch,
And blow my life out, which to aire must slide
With that bright flame unto my life the guide.
Of what I am, if you more knowledge claime,
Leander is faire Hero's husbands name
Their secret marriage their night-league thus made,
The Torch love's Ensigne was to be display'd.
Page  [unnumbered] She to set up the Light, he did indent
To swimme the Sea: their nuptiall Eve thus spent,
Against their wills they part, she to her Tower;
He, least darke night his sence might overpower,
Tooke markes to know the Tow'r by, and sail'd o're
To faire Abydos his strong native shore,
Both longing for a whole night's marriage-fight,
Oft wishing for the bed-adorning night.
Night now soft rest upon her raven wings
To all but to love-sicke Leander brings,
Who on the lowd Sea's ever-chasing Bay,
Did but for Hymen's shining summons stay,
Expecting the sad Torch, and to be led
By that bright Vsher to his private bed.
As soone as e're thick darknesse veyl'd the night
Hero advanc'd the Torch, which then gave Light;
Leander's eager spirits Cupid fir'd,
And as the Torch burn'd, still his flame aspir'd.
But from Sea hearing th' angry billowes scold,
At first he trembled, after growing bold,
Thus speaking to himselfe his heart he eas'd,
Love's cruell, the Sea not to be appeas'd;
Page  [unnumbered] But the Sea's water, I Love's fire containe,
Heart drinke in fire, and scorne the flowing Maine.
'Gainst lovers what by Sea can be contriv'd?
Know'st not, that Venus from the Sea's deriv'd,
Who both the Ocean, and our starres commands?
Then his faire limbs he stript with both his hands,
Turbanded with his silken robe his head,
Leapt from the shoare, o'th' waves his body spread,
And up against the flaming torch still bore,
Himselfe the ship, the pilot, and the Oare.
On her high turret Hero watcht the flame,
And as stiffe gales from any quarter came,
Still screen'd it with the sacred robe she wore,
Till tir'd Leander reacht the Sestian shore.
Downe from the Turret Hero making hast,
Her breathlesse husband at the gates imbrac't,
And to her bedchamber in silence led,
There wip't his lockes that trickling foame still shed,
And nointed him with roses that consum'd
Th' offensive smell, and left him all perfum'd;
Twining about him then, yet panting lay'd
On her soft Downe, these softer words she say'd.
Page  [unnumbered] Husband, th' hast labour'd sore, exceeding sore,
Husband, th' hast labour'd much, no husband more;
Fish-slime and brine have made thy penance great,
Come now, into my bosome droppe thy sweate.
Thus she, he straight unty'd her zone, and they
The lawes of gentle Venus did obey.
They had a wedding, but no Dancing there,
A Bride-bed, but they did no singing heare;
Their sacred Nuptials no Poet prais'd,
About their private Bed no torches blaz'd,
No Dancer in a nimble caper sprung,
No hymnes the Father or grave Mother sung.
But darkenesse at love's houres the bride-bed made,
Drest up the Roome, the Bride's veyle was the shade.
Farre from Epithalamions were they matcht;
Night only at their ceremonies watcht;
Aurora never did Leander veiw,
A bride-groome in that bed he so well knew.
Who swam back to Abydos, breathing still
Those Hymenaeall sweetes that never fill.
But long-veyl'd Hero mockt her parents sight,
A Virgin all the day, a Wife by night;
Page  [unnumbered] Both often chid the Morning to the West,
And thus the fury of their loves supprest,
Enjoying secret but short-liv'd delights,
For short time dates their strange stoln marriage-rites.
Approaching Winter in a moment formes
The sky's Vertigo into horrid stormes,
The howling winds as with a beesome sweepe
The wet false bottome of the boiling Deepe,
Calkt ships which Mariners dare not commit,
To faithlesse Seas are in the harbour split.
But no rough Winter-Sea can thee affright,
Strong-soul'd Leander, but when th' once kinde Light,
Now false and cruell, gave thy love the signe,
Fearelesse thou leapdst into fierce Neptune's Brine.
Unhappy Hero should, now winter came,
Have spar'd Leander, no more fed the flame
Ofth at fraile Comet, by whose blaze they held
Their night-commerce; but love and fate compell'd.
And now upon the lofty Turret rear'd
Fates brand, no longer Hymen's torch appear'd.
'Twas Night, when most the winds their spirits spent,
And 'gainst the shore their rally'd forces bent,
Page  [unnumbered] When with accustom'd hope Leander fed,
Climb'd liquid mountaines bound for Hero's bed,
Wave upon wave was pil'd, the Maine wrought high,
Th' earth shooke, the Sea was mingled with the sky,
The winds fell out, the East and West-winde fought,
The South against the North strong tempests brought,
The mercilesse and foaming surges roar'd;
Poore youth he sea-borne Venus oft implor'd,
Oft Neptune King of Seas would have inclin'd,
And Boreas of Atthis put in minde,
But none helpt. Fate by Love was not controll'd,
Quite over him the justling billowes roll'd;
His strong legs faile him, motionlesse now stands
The nimble vigour of his active hands,
The water downe his throate at pleasure flow'd,
The giddy Seas their uselesse drinke bestow'd.
And the false torch out as the sharpe winde tost,
His Love and Life bemourn'd Leander lost.
The Sea her waking eyes did still survey,
And in her sad breast flow'd another sea.
Day not her Husband Hero seeing then,
The Sea's broad backe view'd to the utmost kenne,
Page  [unnumbered] To see if any where Leander came,
Who, as the torch went out, might loose his aime.
But when she saw him on the billowes borne
At her tow'r foot, and by the rocks all torne,
She neare her heart rent her embroider'd gowne,
And to the body, shrikeing out, leap't downe.
For her lost Husband she her selfe destroy'd,
And ev'n in death each other they enjoy'd.