Bouncing Over Death - Gay & Ariosto
The virtuoso scene in which Doll the apple-seller falls through the ice of the Thames and is decapitated, her head still crying out a kind of apple "Pip-Pip-Pip..." as it bounces along, is one flourish that seems to reoccur in discussions of Trivia (it's at II.382). Gay immediately follows with a comparison to Orpheus' severed head still singing as it floats down the "silver Tide", but the indirect reference in Doll's demise is to Orlando Furioso, and the tale of Zerbino and Isabella (Book 29) with Isabella tricking the rapacious Rhodomont into drunkenly cutting her head off, in order to save her honour and reunite her with Zerbin. For some reason this is not picked up in footnotes but it has been discussed elsewhere.
Gay's Ariosto tell-tales are: the emphasis on Doll's neck as the first thing we hear about her
Doll ev'ry day had walk'd these treach'rous Roads;
Her Neck grew warpt beneath autumnal Loads
Of various Fruit; she now a Basket bore,
That Head, alas! shall Basket bear no more.
The head where love and all the graces dwelt,
By heedlesse hand is from the bodie severed,
Alas whose heart at such hap could not melt?
Yea that is more, the head cut off endevered
To shew what pleasure of her death she felt,
And how she still in her first love persevered:
Thrise from the floore the head was seene rebound,
Thrise it was heard Zerbinos name to sound.
Ariosto was read and thought about by Pope - he incorporates references to Orlando's madness in his enlargement of The Rape; Regina Janes points out that Gay could have followed this up and got the head-bouncing into Trivia just in time. Then he translated the two passages, straight translations into heroic couplets. The result seems constrained - when we are used to his merry games on Classical and early English models - but it is not wan or make-weight. Zerbin's last fight becomes an arena of purple blood making patterns on the ground, eyes shooting fire, shields dented, rendered - perhaps partly because of the couplets - into a kind of freeze-frame action, comic strip aesthetic. 'Fiordispina and Ricciardetto' wavers between the bawdy and the sensual,
Close as Acanthus leaves wreath'd Columns bind,The rolling of the Moons was rather less elegantly caught by Barbara Reynolds in her Penguin translation (a low point of that list, rendering one of the finest European poems utterly dull for a generation and perhaps much longer) with the line, "For several months our pleasure was secure".
So arms with Arms & Legs with Legs entwin'd.
So secret were our joys, Moons roll'd away
And lost in pleasure ev'ry night we lay
The closed-in sensual cells of Gay's Orlando Furioso pieces could be compared to Pope's Eloisa to Abelard, another early direction Pope didn't subsequently go in - the weeping of the lovers in Pope and in Gay's 'Zerbin and Isabella' is turn'd in the same mode of melodrama clipped short. Why did Gay put aside these pieces? There are obviously moments of juxtaposition in the Ariosto which would appeal to him, but the stretch of narrative between them was possibly too much of an efficient pain to reach across with satisfaction: as awful in its way as the death of Doll is the spinning of the Preacher,
Then, close as pincers join, his throat he strains,
And lifts the sprawling Preacher from the Plains,
High oer his head in rapid wheel he's tost
And flung aloft in middle ocean lost.
The Story of Zerbin and Isabella.
[Note: From Ariosto. Canto 24th the 28th and 29th.]
1: Zerbin, the brave Orlando's steps to find,
2: Left lawns, vales, mountains and long woods behind
3: And Isabella fair with equal speed
4: Spurr'd her fleet Palfrey by her Hero's steed.
5: At length afar they spy'd a glitt'ring ray
6: That from the plain threw back the dazling day;
7: But when they nearer to the lustre drew
8: Orlando's arms, and burnish'd helme they knew:
9: They saw his Horse, they saw the sword he wore,
10: Then sighing cry'd, Orlando is no more!
11: Now with swift strides advanc'd along the vale
12: Beside the stream, a Swain aghast and pale;
13: That very Swain who from the mountain's height,
14: Had seen the raging fury of the knight,
15: How far and wide his shining Arms he threw,
16: How tore, how rav'd, and how the Shepherds slew!
17: Zerbin demands. Whence are these arms? The Swain
18: Describ'd the frantick knight, the Shepherds slain.
19: The Story touch'd his soul. He sought around,
20: And gather'd up the spoils that strow'd the ground,
21: Then on a Pine in gracefull Order rais'd
22: Against the Sun the glorious Trophy blaz'd;
23: And on the bark he grav'd in letters fair,
24: THE PALADIN ORLANDO'S ARMS I BEAR.
25: Which thus defys that bold presumptuous knight
26: Who takes these Arms shall with Orlando fight.
27: When lo! intrepid Mandricard drew nigh
28: And on the Trophy fixt his haughty eye.
29: Zerbin with tears Orlando's Story told.
30: Beware, proud Saracin, be not too bold!
31: This Menace nought dismay'd the Pagan Lord,
32: But to the Pine he sprung and snatch'd the Sword.
33: Lives there a man (he cryd) whose valour vain
34: Shall dare attempt this Armor to regain?
35: Throughout the world I seek that vent'rous knight,
36: Perpetual Conquest shall support my right.
37: Orlando fear'd the dangers of that day,
38: And in feign'd madness flung the spoils away;
39: As Cowardice, his Madness I despise
40: Reason and valour bid me seise the prize.
41: Zerbin incens'd replyd. Rash Prince, forbear
42: Nor think without dispute these arms to wear:
43: If you the Mail of Hector thus obtain'd
44: It was by fraud and not by reason gain'd.
45: So saying. Each pours on to meet his foe,
46: With equal might impends the desp'rate blow;
47: Now with a hundred strokes resounds the air,
48: The horrid prelude of the doubtfull war.
49: When Durindana* fells with fatal aim;
50: Swift as keen lightning shoots its waving flame,
51: Zerbin avoids the stroke; and like the Doe,
52: Alert, his nimble steed bounds to and fro:
53: And it behov'd him well to turn the rein
54: For that enchanted sword neer smote invain,
55: One blow had sent his pale enamor'd Ghost,
56: A fleeting wand'rer to the Stygian Coast.
57: As the swift Dog amid a spacious plain
58: Upon the furious boar pours on amain
59: When near advanc'd stops short, then winds around,
60: While the tusk'd foe prepares one deadly wound.
61: Thus if the sword hung low, or wav'd on high
62: Zerbin each motion watch'd with cautious eye,
63: To save his fame and life at once he trys,
64: In the same instant stands, wheels, fights, and flys.
65: But when the Pagan monarch wav'd his blade
66: And in the whizzing Air bright circles made,
67: It seem'd, as when march winds with fury blow,
68: The lofty forrest nods his leafy brow
69: Proud Oaks to earth their stubborn bodys bend,
70: And whirl'd in Air the shatter'd boughs ascend.
71: Zerbin with watchfull guard each stroke defends
72: Till wing'd with rage a mighty blow descends,
73: Between his sword and shield it swiftly fell,
74: Nor Mail nor breast-plate could the wound repell,
75: The trenchant blade his steely vest divides
76: And to the saddle down his Cuirass glides,
77: Had not aslant the thirsty weapon past,
78: It, (like a reed) had cleft him to the waste
79: The shallow razing wound scarce gives him pain,
80: Rills of warm blood his burnish'd Armor stain.
81: So when the beauty who commands my heart
82: On some rich work employs her curious art
83: I've seen her iv'ry hand the needle guide,
84: And purple streaks the silver ground divide.
85: Nought in this combat Zerbin's arm prevail'd,
86: Here skill and strength and hardy prowess fail'd;
87: With greater force the Tartar's nerves were strung,
88: And on his keener blade enchantment hung,
89: The wound was slight, yet Isabella's heart
90: With icy shiv'rings felt the deepest smart.
91: Now Zerbin, (burning with despite and ire,
92: While from his eye-balls shot resentfull fire)
93: Rais'd with both hands his sword, his sword fell strong,
94: And on the fated Helme the fauchion rung,
95: The haughty Tartar felt the stunning blow,
96: And bow'd his helmet to the saddle-bow;
97: Had not enchanted fire the metal try'd
98: His cloven skull had fell on either side.
99: Now hung the Pagan's fauchion o'er his Crest,
100: And aim'd at once to cleave him to the breast;
101: Zerbin the threaten'd death with caution ey'd,
102: His Steed obey'd the rein and sprung aside
103: Yet fell not now the pond'rous sword invain,
104: But edg'd with fury, split the shield in twain
105: And pierc'd his Arm; thence glancing to his side
106: Drove through the steel, forth gush'd the sanguine tide.
107: But in no part could Zerbin's arm prevail
108: For not one dent imprest the Pagan's Mail
109: While many a gash had Zerbin's armor stain'd
110: His helme was split, no shield his arm sustain'd,
111: His less'ning strength pour'd forth at ev'ry wound,
112: And ebbing Life impurpled all the ground,
113: Though scarce his spirits could his limbs uphold,
114: In undiminish'd force his heart was bold.
115: The trembling Isabella pale & wan
116: Now wing'd with fear to Doralice ran,
117: Fair Doralice's love the Pagan rul'd,
118: And as she will'd his anger burn'd or cool'd;
119: The tim'rous Dame with tears her aid implor'd,
120: To part the fight and stay the hanging sword,
121: The courteous Doralice gave consent,
122: For she too trembled for the dread event;
123: Peace she commanded, & a peace was made
124: And Isabella sheath'd her hero's blade;
125: So Zerbin follow'd where she led the way,
126: And undetermin'd left the dang'rous fray.
127: No life-preserving cares employ'd his mind,
128: He burn'd for Durindana left behind,
129: Till time allayd the feaver of his heart;
130: Then of each wound he felt the bitter Smart
131: And each wound rack'd him with such raging pain
132: That scarce his limbs could feeble life sustain.
133: Weak, pale and fainting now the rein he stays,
134: And on the ground his drooping body lays
135: Near a cool fountain's side. O ruefull maid,
136: All Comfort's vain, invain you call for aid;
137: Far many a league the busy city lyes,
138: Remote from human skill, forlorn he dyes;
139: No learn'd Physician shall his death retard,
140: Mov'd by kind pity, or more kind reward!
141: What shall she do? the tears a passage find
142: She curses fortune, calls the stars unkind.
143: ‘When my toss'd ship (she crys) the storm obeyd
144: ‘Why was I not beneath the billows laid?
145: Zerbin at this his languid head uprears,
146: His feeble eyes beheld her gushing tears,
147: And in those tears more tender pain he found,
148: Than in the torture of his deadly wound.
149: ‘And will my Love her Zerbin's fate deplore
150: ‘When these weak eyes shall see thy charms no more?
151: ‘What's the last pang of death to that I prove
152: ‘To leave without a Guardian her I love
153: ‘Thus in these dang'rous wilds? my latest breath
154: ‘I could resign in peace, and smile on death
155: ‘Wert thou but safe; far from this savage place,
156: ‘And dye with joy thus gazing on thy face.
157: ‘But how can this severer fate be born,
158: ‘To leave my Treasure thus expos'd, forlorn,
159: ‘To leave thee thus? By those bright eyes I swear,
160: ‘By those sweet lips, and by that gracefull hair
161: ‘Which first engag'd my heart, o'erwhelm'd with woe
162: ‘I sink into the dreary realms below,
163: ‘Where when I think thee left to grief, to fear
164: ‘Not Hell's worst pains will equal my despair.
165: These his fond words her heaving bosom stung,
166: With look enamour'd o'er her Lord she hung,
167: Then clasp'd him fainting to her throbbing breast,
168: And fervent kisses on his lips imprest,
169: Upon those lips where now no crimson glows,
170: All pale and faded like the gather'd rose,
171: The rose that never knew the Season's pride,
172: But sickned on his stalk and op'ning dy'd.
173: ‘Think not, my Love, (she cryd) I here will stay
174: ‘When my dear Zerbin's Spirit flits away
175: ‘Fear not for me, with thee I'll take my flight
176: ‘To the clear realms of day, or depths of Night.
177: ‘Dart forth, my Soul; together let us soar
178: ‘Together mount to Joys, to part no more!
179: ‘Soon as thy closing eyes be barr'd from day,
180: ‘My Life in gusts of grief will force its way;
181: ‘If sorrow fail; this Sword my Soul shall free
182: ‘To mingle in immortal Love with thee.
183: ‘O may some pious stranger tread these plains,
184: ‘And view with weeping eye our cold remains,
185: ‘One grave perhaps these bodys shall confine
186: ‘And ev'n my smallest dust be mixt with thine!
187: So saying, o'er her dying Love she hangs,
188: Warms him with kisses in his latest pangs,
189: Upon his trembling lips in transport lyes,
190: And drinks his vital Spirit as it flys.
191: Collecting all at once his fault'ring breath,
192: Zerbin thus spoke before the gasp of Death.
193: ‘O Let my Angell hear this last request;
194: ‘By all the sacred vows you first profest
195: ‘When for my sake you left your native land,
196: ‘(Nay, I command you, if I may command)
197: ‘That no rash insult to thy life be giv'n,
198: ‘But with firm patience wait the will of Heav'n
199: ‘And never, never from thy thought remove
200: ‘Thy faithfull Zerbin, and his matchless Love.
201: ‘Heav'n will protect thee.—Further speech he try'd
202: But on his tongue the broken accents dy'd.
203: As oer the wax-spent torch with doubtfull rays
204: The glimm'ring light now swells and now decays,
205: If some new taper touch the hov'ring fires
206: It kindles as the trembling flame expires.
207: How Isabella shall thy grief be told
208: When Zerbin lay extended, pale and cold
209: Lock'd in thy clasping arms? Herself she throws
210: On her dead Lord; a stream of sorrow flows
211: And baths the purple wounds; woods, hills & skys
212: Resound her bitter groans and piercing crys;
213: She beats her breast her glowing cheeks she tears,
214: Plucks up and scatters wide her golden hairs,
215: O Spare thy locks, thy savage hands restrain;
216: Nor fondly call thy Zerbin's name invain!
217: Now mad with grief she drew the pointed Sword,
218: In this one deed forgetfull of her Lord;
219: Deep in her bosom had the steel been drown'd,
220: Had not a holy hermit stay'd the wound;
221: Who at his wonted hour his thirst to slake,
222: Sought the refreshment of thy crystal lake.
223: She heard the doctrine of the reverend guide,
224: Heav'n with persuasive power his words supplyd,
225: Faith taught her patience and a soul resign'd,
226: And to celestial hope improv'd her mind
227: She saw the vanity of earthly joy,
228: A passing Shadow, and a fading toy,
229: And strait resolv'd (such faith, such hope was given)
230: To dedicate her lifes remains to Heaven.
231: But could she Zerbin from her heart remove?
232: Alive or dead, she could not quit her Love.
233: Wher'ere her lot is cast, she'll Zerbin bear,
234: And on his ashes drop a daily tear.
235: The holy Hermit lent his pious aid,
236: And the lank body cross the Palfrey laid;
237: Then march'd they on with solemn pace & slow
238: Through the long desart wood in silent woe.
239: The cautious Father turn'd not to his cell;
240: Such charms might make the coolest blood rebell;
241: He knew his power, who had his virtue try'd,
242: Nor dares in prudence nor in Age confide.
243: Where the brown mountains thymy odours breathe,
244: And overlook Marsilia's shores beneath
245: A stately Monast'ry its turret's rears
246: Where Dames devote their life to Priests & prayers
247: Thither they journey'd but through ways untrod
248: For with adventures swarm'd the common road.
249: At length advancing with full speed, from far
250: They spyd a furious knight that menac'd war,
251: Nearer and nearer still the Terror drew,
252: And now insulting Rhodomont they knew.
253: In pensive beauty when he saw the Dame,
254: Soften'd to love in courteous guise he came,
255: And in his gentlest voice address'd the Fair,
256: Enquir'd her State, and why that sad despair.
257: She told him how she past a life of cares,
258: And how she vow'd to heav'n her future years.
259: The haughty Pagan who all Faith defy'd
260: Thus with vain mock and scornfull smile reply'd.
261: ‘With justice is the Miser sinfull found
262: ‘Who hides his golden treasure in the ground
263: ‘Not his own pleasures are from thence supplyd
264: ‘And its just use to all mankind denyd.
265: ‘In Dens are monsters bears and Lions pent
266: ‘But why confine the Fair and innocent?
267: The pious Hermit trembled while he spoke
268: Lest his fair Novice should her Vow revoke
269: And like a Pilot kept her in the way;
270: Lest adverse tempests blow her faith astray
271: He places heavenly banquets in her sight,
272: The Joys of Angells and the realms of light.
273: The Pagan who despis'd his Christian Schemes
274: As idle legends and Monastic dreams
275: Attempts to still the Father's zealous tongue,
276: The Father prov'd his Lungs and zeal were strong,
277: Louder and louder the good end pursu'd,
278: 'Till the proud Pagan's patience was subdu'd.
279: Now burn'd his fury, on the Priest he flew,
280: And by the beard his hoary reverence drew,
281: Rage gives him strength, he tuggs his silver hairs
282: And from his chin a grasp of wisdom tears.
283: Then, close as pincers join, his throat he strains,
284: And lifts the sprawling Preacher from the Plains,
285: High oer his head in rapid wheel he's tost
286: And flung aloft in middle ocean lost.
287: The Priest remov'd, no more his Fury burn'd
288: With courteous eye he to the Lady turn'd
289: Who stood dismay'd and pale; he bow'd, address'd
290: And thus in Courtier's phrase his Love profess'd.
291: ‘My Joy, my Hope, my Charmer, Angell fair,
292: ‘Life of my life, and all my Soul holds dear!
293: Disdain and wonted pride his heart forsook,
294: And his eye languish'd with imploring look,
295: No ruffling Force shall discompose her charms.
296: Who meets a willing Beauty in his arms
297: Heightens his transport. Still with tender Art
298: He strove to gain on Isabella's heart.
299: When the chast Dame the horrid place survey'd
300: Desart and wild, remote from human aid
301: Not the young Lamb more dreadfull dangers awe,
302: When underneath the sportive Tyger's paw.
303: Lest brutal rape her spotless vertue stain
304: She casts her cautious eye around the plain
305: And meditates escape; resolv'd to dye
306: And never with his base desires comply.
307: O hapless Zerbin, couldst thou see her now,
308: Her Love sincere, her unrepented vow,
309: How would it glad thy soul? She'll force despise
310: And with unsully'd Virtue mount the skys
311: Now with desire the Pagan's Looks rebell,
312: How shall weak Woman stronger man repell!
313: He glows he burns her honour to destroy:
314: To grasp by violence the secret joy.
315: How shall she save her fame, what arts invent
316: What wile shall guard her from the foul intent?
317: Thus boldly resolute she sav'd her Fame,
318: And latest Ages shall adore her name.
319: Soon as his civil continence gave way
320: And his eye menac'd with enamour'd ray,
321: When looks and Actions spoke his inward fire,
322: And Force prepar'd to gratifye desire,
323: Thus spoke the pensive Dame. ‘My honour spare,
324: ‘May my chast Vow no sudden insult fear,
325: ‘So shall the Curtesie be doubly paid,
326: ‘And lasting gratitude my guardian aid,
327: ‘Resolve the transient moment to despise,
328: ‘Protect me, and accept a solid prize;
329: ‘Think, courteous knight, the world with Beauty swarms,
330: ‘Think, thou mayst satiate Love with willing charms,
331: ‘A thousand Eyes with keener radiance glow,
332: ‘But I alone this secret can bestow.
333: ‘A Plant I know; I saw it in the vale
334: ‘As I past by; with rue, & ivy pale
335: ‘Let it be mingled; burn a Cypress brand,
336: ‘And let it o'er the blaze fermenting stand,
337: ‘Then let unblemish'd fingers press the juice.
338: ‘Great are its virtues, wonderfull its use;
339: ‘Who three times in it baths shall fire endure,
340: ‘And from the sword his harden'd skin secure.
341: ‘Let each revolving moon a Bath supply,
342: ‘For in one moon its secret virtues dye:
343: ‘May I this day the wondrous charm provide,
344: ‘So shall the liquor and my faith be try'd,
345: ‘Nor let my Lord the proffer'd boon despise,
346: ‘For Europe's conquest is a meaner prize.
347: ‘But in return, swear by thy Faith profest
348: ‘Nor word nor deed my Honour shall molest.
349: He longs to brave unhurt the hottest wars
350: Like Cygnus and Achilles proof from scars;
351: Intent upon the Gift the Pagan swore
352: To keep with strictness all she ask'd & more,
353: And he with strictness will his passions rein,
354: And keep his Oath, 'till he the gift obtain,
355: But that obtain'd, no more his Oaths shall bind,
356: No conscience checks an unbeliever's mind;
357: A thousand times he promis'd, swore, and ly'd,
358: For he the saints and King of Heaven defy'd.
359: O'er the brown mountains and green vales they pass;
360: She culls with curious eye each tuft of grass
361: The Pagan followd close his lovely guide.
362: Her search with various roots and herbs supply'd,
363: Backward to seek the humble shed she fares,
364: And for the perils of the night prepares;
365: Around the boiling herbs the Cypress flame
366: Ascends, still Rhodomont observes the Dame.
367: To speed the hours, he calls his trusty Squires.
368: The heat, the steam, the smoke, the smoth'ring fires
369: Awake their thirst, they drink, they joke, they laugh,
370: And Grecian wine in mighty Goblets quaff.
371: (Two Casks his Squires had seiz'd as lawfull prey,
372: From certain Merchants trav'ling on the way)
373: Soon ev'ry object doubles to their eyes,
374: The reeling Cave in rapid circle flys
375: For by their Prophet Africk's Sons are taught
376: Never to taste the grape's inflaming draught.
377: Meanwhile with carefull hand the busy dame,
378: The boiling Cauldron lifts from off the flame,
379: ‘Bespeaking thus the knight; Let proof ensue,
380: ‘Let proof demonstrate that thy Servant's true
381: ‘Let the strong virtues of the Charm appear
382: ‘Nor let Suspicion banefull poyson fear,
383: ‘But lest my Lord in guilefull words confide,
384: ‘May my anointed neck the test abide,
385: ‘With this I bath me, lift thy sword on high,
386: ‘I dare secure the heaviest blow defye.
387: So saying on her head the juice she throws,
388: The streaming liquor down her bosom flows.
389: She stretch'd her naked neck, as undismay'd;
390: The drunken Saracen the wine obey'd,
391: Wine that can render wit & wisdom vain,
392: And banish caution from the prudent brain.
393: High blaz'd his sword, swift fell the fatal wound,
394: The sever'd head dropt gasping on the ground,
395: That gracefull head, where Love & beauty reign'd
396: Lept from its bounding trunk with blood distain'd
397: Warm Life still gurgled in the rattling throat,
398: And Zerbin's name was her last dying note.
399: To meet her Lord thus fled she to the Skies,
400: The Pagan stood amaz'd in fixt surprise.
401: O spotless soul, who to support thy truth
402: Could life forgo, and all the spring of youth,
403: Go hence in peace, ascend to realms above,
404: Seize thy reward of everlasting love,
405: O may my verse thy virtuous deed record,
406: And be thy name in future times ador'd,
407: Go hence in peace, and ev'n in latest days
408: May emulating Dames thy virtue praise.
The Story of Fiordispina.
[Ricciardetto relates the Story to Ruggiero, who had sav'd him from being burnt: from the 25th Book of Ariosto.]
1: As on a time my warlike Sister strayd
2: Pensive, along a neighb'ring forest's shade,
3: A Band of Saracens the wand'rer found,
4: And on her unarm'd head descends the wound.
5: To stanch the gushing blood the Surgeon's care
6: Clip short the tresses of her mantling hair.
7: Soon as the wound was heal'd; the Martial Maid
8: Her tender limbs in shining Mail array'd;
9: Then forth she rode, to brave the bold in fight,
10: And seek Adventures fair like hardy knight.
11: Sunk with labour of the sultry day
12: As by a fountain's side she takes her way,
13: The Shade's sweet cool, the stream, that murm'ring flows,
14: Invite her drooping soul to sweet repose;
15: No more the helmet's weight fatigues her head,
16: And in kind sleep she prints the grassy bed.
17: It chanc'd, a Princess of the blood of Spain,
18: Diana-like, with all her hunting train,
19: Pass'd near the slumb'ring Maid, in quest of Game,
20: (Fiordispina was her Royal Name).
21: When she the sleeping Bradamante spyd
22: With the broad sword depending at her side,
23: Her Limbs in steel encas'd; Her cheated Sight
24: Believ'd her, (what she wish'd) a youthfull knight.
25: O'er her fair face her eyes with pleasure rove,
26: Till in her breast she feels the dart of Love.
27: Rise, rise (she calls) the chase forbids delay.
28: (Yet if all Spys were gone, she fain would stay)
29: But she no more the Horn's shrill voice obey'd,
30: Intent on other Game, far off they strayd;
31: The distant Hunters crys were spent in air,
32: Close was the twilight wood, no witness near.
33: Soft Speeches, tender Actions spoke her flame,
34: And Looks that hinted what she fear'd to name
35: Her burning sighs, her eyes that glow'd with fire
36: Own'd how her heart consum'd with strong desire;
37: Now she look'd pale, then blushes warm'd her look,
38: And bold with Love a hasty kiss she took.
39: My Sister well devin'd the thing she meant.
40: But how shall Woman Woman's wish content?
41: Then thus she reason'd. 'Tis a gen'rous part
42: To show her the mistake to cure her heart
43: Tis better far be found a courteous Maid,
44: Than thought a coward Man, of Love afraid;
45: And well she might that wise conclusion draw.
46: For he's a coward, a meer man of Straw
47: Who, nigh his Lady ripe with nect'rous juice,
48: Insipid sits, forgetfull of her use;
49: And like the Cuckow, niggard of the Spring,
50: Talks his dull lesson o'er with dangling wing.
51: In courteous guise she strait the Fair addrest,
52: And to restrain her flame, her sex confest.
53: That, like Hippolita she fame acquir'd,
54: Or by Camilla's brave example fir'd,
55: By war she glory sought in foreign lands,
56: And pois'd the Shield and spear in infant hands;
57: Arzilla gave her Birth whose Towers command
58: The winding Seas that wash the Afric sand.
59: But nought avails this tale. Th'enamour'd Dame
60: Still in her bosom feels the former flame,
61: To deep Love's arrow pierc'd; my Sister's face
62: Lost not by this confession one sweet grace,
63: But still her Air and Mien new charms reveal.
64: No sudden cure the Wounds of Love can heal.
65: When she beheld her in that manly vest,
66: Imagination told her all the rest;
67: But when she thought her Woman, Sighs ensu'd,
68: Groans swell'd her breast, and tears her cheek bedew'd.
69: What harden'd heart could hear her thus complain
70: Whose pity had not wish'd to share her pain?
71: Was ever grief like mine! O wretched Maid!
72: All other Love can be with Love repay'd,
73: Whether a licenc'd, or a guilty flame,
74: All gain their ends with honour or with shame,
75: They know to crop the rose from off the Thorn;
76: Without reward my Torment must be born.
77: If at my happy State, O Love, you pin'd,
78: And to my heart some desp'rate ill design'd,
79: Whence is thy cruelty so furious grown.
80: To give me pangs to wretched Nymphs unknown?
81: It never among Man or Beast was found
82: That female e'er for female felt the Wound
83: Woman was never fair in Woman's Eyes
84: Ewes seek not Ewes, and Does sleek Does despise.
85: Am I alone, in earth, in Sea, or Air,
86: Destin'd the Wretch these burning pains to bear?
87: Or dost thou this unhappy flame foment,
88: To show thy Tyranny in full extent?
89: The wife of Ninus gain'd her impious Aim
90: Who with her son indulg'd th'incestuous flame
91: Myrrha her father's Love by stealth enjoy'd,
92: The Cretan Dame a dewlapt Bull employ'd;
93: They by disguises could their wish obtain.
94: My Love is Madness, for my Love is vain.
95: In a carv'd Cow Pasiphae hid her shame,
96: Others try'd diff'rent Arts, their end the same.
97: Though Skillfull Dædalus should hither fly
98: Not all his Power could this strong knot untye
99: By the more potent hand of nature wrought
100: And against Nature, human force is nought.
101: Thus wails the beauteous Dame, and in despair
102: Her bosom beats, and rends her flowing hair,
103: To see her grief, my Sister shares her pain
104: And trys to cool her rage, but trys invain
105: No tender speech her ardent heart relieves
106: The more she sooths, the more the Princess grieves.
107: Now glow'd the western sky with streaks of fire,
108: And falling Dews persuade them to retire.
109: Come then, Fair Maid, (she crys) not far away
110: My castle stands; there ease the Toils of Day.
111: Onward they past, 'till to those Gates they came
112: Where you preserv'd me from th'expecting flame.
113: They Enter, She to all presents her Guest,
114: And all with kind salute the Fair carest.
115: In female robes she strait her shape array'd
116: Lest other hearts might be, like hers, betray'd;
117: For since her Mien no real Joys could grant,
118: Who would chuse Scandal, and the Pleasure want?
119: And if a Man's disguise had rais'd the flame,
120: Perhaps her native dress might quench the same!
121: As Partner of her Bed, her Guest she chose,
122: But longing sighs, and Plaints deny'd repose
123: If a short slumber chance to close her Eyes,
124: Fancy awake her utmost wish supplys
125: She then experienc'd joys neer tryd before
126: And Bradamante seem'd a Man all oer.
127: Thus as in broken rest the sickman turns,
128: When on his tongue the droughty feaver burns
129: Imagination cools his thirsty dreams
130: With rills, brooks, rivers, and abundant Streams.
131: She wak'd, and soft her hand she gently laid,
132: But found it all a dream. Unhappy Maid!
133: How fervent were her prayers that tedious night
134: How did she call the Gods to do her right!
135: By Tokens palpable, O grant my Prayer
136: Into the better Sex convert the Fair.
137: Then soft she stretch'd her curious hand again
138: But found alas that all her Prayers were vain.
139: Thus past the Night, 'till Phœbus waken'd Day,
140: And rais'd his silver head above the Sea,
141: They rose. Who now her mighty griefs shall tell,
142: When the Fair Maid prepar'd to bid farewell?
143: Her ready Groom a prancing Gennet brought,
144: With Gold the furniture & trappings wrought,
145: A Garment which with richest art she wove,
146: All these she gave, as witness of her Love.
147: The Courteous Dame conducts her on the way,
148: Adieu, she cryd; yet prest her still to stay;
149: They part. Awhile she pensive stands & mourns
150: Then to her Palace wishfully returns.
151: My Sister Valleys, Hills & forests crost
152: Retiring Mountains in the clouds were lost
153: Thus her swift Palfrey, fleet as rapid wind
154: Reach'd Montalbano e'er the day declin'd.
155: What gladness in our mother's bosom sprung!
156: What shouts of joy through all the Castle rung!
157: Long in her absence we her Death deplor'd,
158: A Daughter, Sister, is to Life restor'd!
159: Her Helm unlac'd, we wonder to behold
160: Her shorten'd hair, which whilom round was roll'd
161: In ribband braided; some with curious eyes
162: Survey her robe enriched with foreign Dyes.
163: We learn with pleasure her adventures rare,
164: The desp'rate wound that caus'd her loss of Hair,
165: And how beside the murm'ring fountain laid,
166: Her martial Dress deceived the Royal Maid
167: How mid the secret wood they stray'd alone
168: And how the Princess made her passion known,
169: How when the Partner of her Bed she griev'd,
170: Tis pity such warm Love should be deceiv'd!
171: In Saragossa I the Dame had seen
172: And then her beauteous Eyes, her face, her mien,
173: With Joy with pleasure fill'd my captive mind,
174: But all Desire was not to sight confin'd,
175: He who his Love can without hopes foment
176: May with a dream or shadow be content
177: So strong her image in the tale was found
178: It reach'd my heart, & touch'd my former wound
179: With hopes at first Love fed the kindling fire,
180: And now again Hope waken'd with desire.
181: Desire now taught me to supply my want
182: To gain all I could ask & she could grant
183: How can Success on open minds attend?
184: 'Tis well dissembling fraud that gains its end.
185: So like my Sister were my face, my make
186: The most discerning Eye might well mistake,
187: Why should th'enamour'd Dame more knowing prove?
188: O favour the disguise, kind God of Love!
189: Shall I or shall I not attempt her charms?
190: Fortune assists the Bold in Love & arms,
191: I ask'd no counsell, for I sought no aid
192: But the strong dictates of my soul obey'd.
193: Sudden in Bradamante's armour drest
194: Her well-known robe, her shining helme & crest,
195: Her steed I mounted, prick'd it oer the Lawn
196: Nor waited 'till the rosy morning's dawn.
197: Along the darksome night Love leads the way,
198: When Beauty calls a moment is delay.
199: Impatient to her Palace Gate I came
200: Eer in the Deep the Sun had quench'd his flame,
201: How did each servant fly the news to bear!
202: Who with it first shall greet the Royal fair?
203: Who tells it first a due reward shall gain,
204: And grace & favour in her sight obtain.
205: They saw the self-same Steed the day before
206: They knew the Garment, & the Helme I wore
207: Like you deceiv'd, each hasty Servant spys
208: In my smooth feature Bradamante's eyes.
209: Fiordispina wing'd with pleasure came
210: Her sparkling Eye confest her inward flame.
211: In ev'ry action was her soul exprest:
212: How did she greet me! how my hand she prest
213: Then round my neck her eager arms she flings,
214: With sweet embrace, and to my Lips she clings.
215: Then, then Love's arrow took the surest aim,
216: Through ev'ry vein shot quick the tingling flame.
217: Now hand in hand she to my chamber leads,
218: Nor calls the Duty of officious maids,
219: Pleas'd with the Labour, she forgets her pride,
220: Disarms my Legs, & lays my helme aside.
221: From her own ward-robe a rich Gown was brought,
222: With all the cost of proud embroid'ry wrought,
223: With this she gave my Shape a female Air
224: And in a golden wreath confind my Hair.
225: My Eyes I turn'd with coy & modest Art
226: And ev'ry gesture play'd a woman's part;
227: My Voice (which had perhaps the fraud reveal'd)
228: Was in affected shriller tone conceal'd.
229: And now into the publick Hall we came
230: Where many a knight, & many a courteous Dame
231: Paid us all honours due to royal State,
232: The due Civilitys return'd; we sate.
233: The frequent glance of gallant knights I caught,
234: Whose Eye lascivious spoke their wanton thought
235: On me, alas! your glance is idly thrown
236: All is not, as ye wist, beneath the Gown.
237: The Night was far advanc'd; they clear'd the Board,
238: Which all the Daintys of the Season stor'd.
239: How joy'd I when the ready Dame propos'd,
240: What I with fear & trembling had disclos'd!
241: Come let's retire, with tender voice, she said
242: Once more repose the Partner of my Bed.
243: Her Ladys, Maids, & Pages now were gone
244: And I with all my wishes left alone,
245: Undrest, in bed; The Taper's blaz'd like day;
246: Wert thou prepar'd? why then this cold delay?
247: But lest Surprise (to find the Signs of Man)
248: With shrieks might wake the house, I thus began.
249: Wonder not, Princess at this sudden view,
250: That I who lately bid a long Adieu,
251: So soon return. Had I the Power, the Art
252: To cure the love-sick feaver of thy heart
253: I ne'er had left these hospitable Towers
254: But to thy Joys devoted all my hours,
255: But when I found my presence give you pain,
256: I parted, ne'er to see these Walls again.
257: But chance or thought misled me as I past
258: Amidst a wood whose paths thick shrubs oercast,
259: A female scream from out the Thicket came.
260: With hasty stride I sprung to save the Dame.
261: Lo on a Bank a furious Fawn I spyd
262: Below clear waters form'd a spatious tide.
263: The Savage Fisherman a Naiad took
264: Who with smart anguish flounder'd on his hook
265: Near to the shore he drew the dying prize
266: And view'd the dainty feast with greedy eyes.
267: Thither I sped, & aim'd a fatal wound,
268: The Brutal Monster fell & bit the ground.
269: Freed from the snare, the Nymph with sudden glide
270: In the mid Lake arose, and thus she cry'd.
271: O valiant knight, this Deed shall be repay'd
272: Invain thou hast not lent the wretched aid.
273: Know then, the Nymph of all this Lake I reign,
274: Ask all thy wishes and thy will obtain.
275: Oer ev'ry Element my Power extends
276: And wond'ring Nature on my Nod attends,
277: With freedom make demand, I grant the Boon
278: From the pale Sky I'll draw the list'ning Moon
279: Fire freezes at my charms, the Sun I stay,
280: Air hardens, and the reeling Earth gives way.
281: I ask not mighty Nations to command,
282: Nor to grasp treasure in a Miser-hand,
283: I ask nor Strength, nor virtue, nor Renown,
284: From ev'ry war to bear the laurell Crown.
285: All obstacle, sayd I, Fair Nymph, remove
286: And teach me gratitude to her I Love;
287: I dare no farther my Desires explain
288: O may not now thy Skill, thy Power be vain;
289: I ask no more. The Nymph no answer gave,
290: But sudden dips beneath the crystal Wave
291: Then spirting oer my face th'enchanted stream
292: I found myself quite chang'd (as in a dream)
293: I see, I feel, invain my sex explore,
294: Signs gave me proof I Woman was no more.
295: And could I not even now the Truth produce,
296: I grant Suspicion might my words accuse.
297: As in the weaker Sex I felt the flame,
298: My duteous Zeal unchang'd, still burns the same.
299: This instant then my ready power employ
300: Give the sweet signal I obey with joy.
301: Then oer my side her glowing hand she threw
302: And fully was convinc'd that all was true.
303: As one whose heart is check'd by strong despair
304: Of eer possessing what his soul holds dear
305: The more he sigh'd, and groan'd & wept, & pin'd,
306: If he by chance his utmost wishes find
307: Still more he grieves, he cannot Time regain;
308: For all his former life was spent invain.
309: Thus lay the Dame confus'd in deep suspense
310: Though often try'd, yet scarce believ'd her sense
311: And though her touch & sight the truth explore,
312: Dreams had deceiv'd her touch & sight before.
313: But still the Dame sincerer proof requir'd,
314: That all was real which her Soul desir'd.
315: If these be dreams, O God of Sleep, she crys,
316: From the dear vision may I never rise.
317: The Lady not too nice, her passion strong,
318: I know, like her; you think the story long.
319: Nor Drum nor Trumpet did the prelude play
320: To the warm onset of our am'rous fray,
321: But murm'ring kisses, like the billing Dove,
322: Mark'd ev'ry action in this field of Love.
323: If sighs and plaints last night her bed possest
324: 'Twas now all joyous talk & pleasing jest;
325: Close as Acanthus leaves wreath'd Columns bind,
326: So arms with Arms & Legs with Legs entwin'd.
327: So secret were our joys, Moons roll'd away
328: And lost in pleasure ev'ry night we lay
329: At length our close intrigue was learnt by Fame
330: It spread, & to her royal Father came.
331: You whose strong Prowess made the croud retire,
332: And sav'd me from the rage of piles of fire,
333: Well know the rest. But let me never know
334: The dreadfull Torments she must undergo!