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What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield
That wise Minerva wore, unconquered virgin,
Wherewith she freezed her foes to congealed stone,
But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
And nohle grace, that dashed brute violence
With sudden adoration and blank awe?
So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity,13
That when a soul is found sincerely so,
A thousand liveried angels lackey her,
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
And, in clear dream and solemn vision,
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear;
Till oft converse with heavenly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on the outward shape,
The unpolluted temple of the mind,14
And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,15
Till all be made immortal; but when lust,
By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Embodies, and embrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being.
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp
Oft seen in charnel vaults and sepulchres
Lingering, and sitting by a new-made grave,
As loth to leave the body that it loved,
And linked itself by carnal sensuality
To a degenerate and degraded state.
How charming is divine philosophy !ie
Nor harsh, and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns.
List, list! I hear Some far-off halloo break the silent air.
Methought so too; what should it be?
Either some one like ns night-foundered here,
Or else some neighbour woodman, or, at worst,
Some roving robber calling to his fellows.
Heaven keep my sister! Again, again, and near; Best draw and stand upon our guard.
If he be friendly, he comes well; if not,
Defence is a good cause, and Heaven be for us.
[The Attendant Spirit hahited like a Shepherd.]
That halloo I should know; what are you? Speak! Come not too near; you fall on iron stakes else.
What voice is that? My young lord? Speak again.
O brother! 't is my father's shepherd, sure.
Thyrsis? whose artful strainsir bave oft delayed
The huddling brook to hear bis madrigal,
And sweetened every musk-rose of the dale.
How cam'st thou here, good swain? Hath any rani
Slipped from the fold, or young kid lost his dam,
Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook?
How couldst thou find this dark sequestered nook?
O my loved master's heir, and bis next joy!
I came not here on such a trivial toy
As a strayed ewe, or to pursue the stealth
Of pilfering wolf; not all the fleecy wealth
That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought
To this my errand, and the care it brought.
But oh, my virgin lady! where is she?
How chance she is not in your company?
To tell thee sadly,ls shepherd, without blame,