'Within this limit is relief enough,
Sweet bottom-grass and high delightful plain,        236
Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough,
To shelter thee from tempest and from rain:
  Then be my deer, since I am such a park;           239
  No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark.'
At this Adonis smiles as in disdain,
That in each cheek appears a pretty dimple:
Love made those hollows, if himself were slain,
He might be buried in a tomb so simple;              244
  Foreknowing well, if there he came to lie,
  Why, there Love liv'd, and there he could not die.
These lovely caves, these round enchanting pits,
Open'd their mouths to swallow Venus' liking.        248
Being mad before, how doth she now for wits?
Struck dead at first, what needs a second striking?
  Poor queen of love, in thine own law forlorn,
  To love a cheek that smiles at thee in scorn!      252
Now which way shall she turn? what shall she say?
Her words are done, her woes the more increasing;
The time is spent, her object will away,
And from her twining arms doth urge releasing:       256
  'Pity,' she cries; 'some favour, some remorse!'
  Away he springs, and hasteth to his horse.
But lo! from forth a copse that neighbours by,
A breeding jennet, lusty, young, and proud,          260
Adonis' tramping courier doth espy,
And forth she rushes, snorts and neighs aloud:
  The strong-neck'd steed, being tied unto a tree,
  Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he.    264
Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds,
And now his woven girths he breaks asunder;
The bearing earth with his hard hoof he wounds,
Whose hollow womb resounds like heaven's thunder;
  The iron bit he crusheth 'tween his teeth,         269
  Controlling what he was controlled with.
His ears up-prick'd; his braided hanging mane
Upon his compass'd crest now stand on end;           272
His nostrils drink the air, and forth again,
As from a furnace, vapours doth he send:
  His eye, which scornfully glisters like fire,
  Shows his hot courage and his high desire.         276
Sometime he trots, as if he told the steps,
With gentle majesty and modest pride;
Anon he rears upright, curvets and leaps,
As who should say, 'Lo! thus my strength is tried;
  And this I do to captivate the eye                 281
  Of the fair breeder that is standing by.'
What recketh he his rider's angry stir,
His flattering 'Holla', or his 'Stand, I say'?       284
What cares he now for curb or pricking spur?
For rich caparisons or trapping gay?
  He sees his love, and nothing else he sees,
  Nor nothing else with his proud sight agrees.      288
Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
In limning out a well-proportion'd steed,
His art with nature's workmanship at strife,
As if the dead the living should exceed;             292
  So did this horse excel a common one,
  In shape, in courage, colour, pace and bone.
Round-hoof'd, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide,
High crest, short ears, straight legs and passing strong,
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide:
  Look, what a horse should have he did not lack,
  Save a proud rider on so proud a back.             300
Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares;
Anon he starts at stirring of a feather;
To bid the wind a base he now prepares,
And whe'r he run or fly they know not whether;       304
  For through his mane and tail the high wind sings,
  Fanning the hairs, who wave like feather'd wings.
He looks upon his love, and neighs unto her;
She answers him as if she knew his mind;             308
Being proud, as females are, to see him woo her,
She puts on outward strangeness, seems unkind,
  Spurns at his love and scorns the heat he feels,
  Beating his kind embracements with her heels.      312
Then, like a melancholy malcontent,
He vails his tail, that, like a falling plume,
Cool shadow to his melting buttock lent:
He stamps, and bites the poor flies in his fume.     316
  His love, perceiving how he is enrag'd,
  Grew kinder, and his fury was assuag'd.

Venus and Adonis Page 05

William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare
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