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Too well I did perceive it was the voice
Of my most honoured lady, your dear sister.
Amazed I stood, harrowed with grief and fear :
And oh, poor hapless nightingale, thought I,
How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly snare !
Then down the lawns I ran with headlong haste,
Through paths and turnings often trod by day,
Till, guided by mine ear, I found the place
Where that damned wizard, hid in sly disguise
(For so by certain signs I knew), had met
Already, ere my best speed could prevent,
The aidless innocent lady, his wished prey,
Who gently asked if he had seen such two,
Supposing him some neighbour villager.
Longer I durst not stay, but soon I guessed
Ye were the two she meant; with that I sprung
Into swift flight, till I had found you here,
But further know I not.
O night and shades, How are ye joined with Hell in triple knot Against the unarmed weakness of one virgin
Alone, and helpless ! Is this the confidence You gave me, brother ?
Yes, and keep it still ; Lean on it safely; not a period Shall be unsaid for me: against the threats Of malice, or of sorcery, or that power Which erring men call chance, this I hold firm : Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt, 25 Surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled ; Yea, even that which mischief meant most harm, Shall in the happy trial prove most glory: But evil on itself shall back recoil, And mix no more with goodness ; when at last, Gathered like scum, and settled to itself, It shall be in eternal restless change, Self-fed, and self-consumed : 26 if this fail, The pillared firmament 27 is rottenness, And earth’s base built on stubble. But come, let's on. Against the opposing will and arm of Heaven May never this just sword be lifted up! But for that damned magician, let him be girt With all the grisly legions that troop Under the sooty flag of Acheron,
Harpies and Hydras, or all the monstrous forms
'Twixt Africa and Ind, I'll find him out,
And force him to restore his purchase back,
Or drag him by the curls to a foul death,
Cursed as his life.
Alas ! good venturous youth,
I love thy courage yet, and bold emprise ;
But here thy sword can do thee little stead;
Far other arms, and other weapons, must
Be those that quell the might of hellish charms :
He with his bare wand can unthread thy joints,
And crumble all thy sinews.
Why prythee, shepherd, How durst thou then thyself approach so near, As to make this relation ?
How to secure the lady from surprisal,
Brought to my mind a certain shepherd lad,
Of small regard to see to, yet well skilled
In every virtuous plant and healing herb
That spreads her verdant leaf to the morning ray:
He loved me well,28 and oft would beg me sing,
Which when I did, he on the tender grass
Would sit, and hearken even to ecstasy,
And in requital ope his leathern scrip,
And show me simples of a thousand names,
Telling their strange and vigorous faculties :
Amongst the rest a small unsightly root,
But of divine effect, he culled me out ;
The leaf was darkish, and had prickles on it ;
But in another country, as he said,
Bore a bright golden flower, but not in this soil : 29
Unknown, and like esteemed, and the dull swain
Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon ; 30
And yet more med’cinal is it than that moly 31
That Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave ;
He called it hæmony, and gave it me,
And bade me keep it as of sovran use
'Gainst all enchantments, mildew, blast, or damp,
Or ghastly furies' apparition.