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Henry Constable (Генри Констебль)


The Shepherd's Venus and Adonis


Venus fair did ride,
        Silver doves they drew her 
By the pleasant lawns,
        Ere the sun did rise; 
Vesta's beauty rich
        Opened wide to view her, 
Philomel records
        Pleasing harmonies; 
    Every bird of spring 
        Cheerfuly did sing, 
            Paphos' goddess they salute. 
    Now love's queen so fair 
        Had of mirth no care, 
            For her son had made her mute. 
    In her breast so tender 
    He a shaft did enter, 
            When her eyes beheld a boy, 
    Adonis was he named, 
    By his mother shamed, 
            Yet he now is Venus' joy.

Him alone she met,
        Ready bound for hunting; 
Him she kindly greets,
        And his journey stays; 
Him she seeks to kiss,
        No devices wanting, 
Him her eyes still woo,
        Him her tongue still prays. 
    He with blushing red 
        Hangeth down the head, 
            Not a kiss can he afford; 
    His face is turned away, 
        Silence said her nay, 
            Still she wooed him for a word. 
    Speak, she said, thou fairest, 
    Beauty thou impairest; 
            See me, I am pale and wan; 
    Lovers all adore me, 
    I for love implore thee. 
            Crystal tears with that ran down.

Him herewith she forced
    To come sit down by her; 
She his neck embraced,
    Gazing in his face; 
He, like one transformed,
    Stirred no look to eye her. 
Every herb did woo him,
    Growing in that place; 
        Each bird with a ditty 
            Prayed him for pity 
                In behalf of beauty's queen; 
    Waters' gentle murmur 
        Craved him to love her, 
            Yet no liking could be seen, 
    Boy, she said, look on me, 
    Still I gaze upon thee, 
            Speak, I pray thee, my delight. 
    Coldly he replied, 
    And, in brief, denied 
            To bestow on her a sight.

I am now too young
    To be won by beauty; 
Tender are my years,
    I am yet a bud. 
Fair thou art, she said,
    Then it is thy duty, 
Wert thou but a blossom,
    To effect my good. 
        Every beauteous flower 
            Boasteth of my power, 
        Birds and beasts my laws effect. 
    Myrrha, thy fair mother, 
        Most of any other 
            Did my lovely hests respect. 
    Be with me delighted, 
    Thou shall be requited, 
        Every nymph on thee shall tend; 
    All the gods shall love thee, 
    Man shall not reprove thee, 
            Love himself shall be thy friend.

Wend thee from me, Venus,
    I am not disposed; 
Thou wring'st me too hard,
    Prithee, let me go; 
Fie, what a pain it is
    Thus to be enclosed; 
If love begin with labor,
    It will end in woe. 
        Kiss me, I will leave. 
            Here a kiss recieve. 
                A short kiss I do it find, 
        Wilt thou leave me so? 
            Yet thou shalt not go; 
                Breathe once more thy balmy wind, 
    It smelleth of the myrrh tree
    That to the world did bring thee, 
                Never was perfume so sweet. 
    When she had thus spoken, 
    She gave him a token, 
                And their naked bosoms met.

Now, he said, let's go,
    Hark, the hounds are crying, 
Grisly boar is up,
    Hunstmen follow fast. 
At the name of boar
    Venus seemed dying, 
Deadly-colored pale,
    Roses overcast. 
    Speak, said she, no more 
            Of following the boar; 
                Thou, unfit for such a chase, 
        Course the fearful hare, 
            Venison do not spare, 
                If thou wilt yield Venus grace. 
    Shun the boar, I pray thee, 
    Else I still will stay thee, 
                Herein he vowed to please her mind; 
    Then her arms enlarged, 
    Loath she him discharged, 
                Forth he went as swift as wind.

Thetis Phoebus' steeds
    In the west retained; 
Hunting sport was past,
    Love her love did seek; 
Sight of him too soon,
    Gentle queen she gained. 
On the ground he lay;
    Blood had left his cheek, 
        For an orpëd swine 
            Smit him in the groin, 
                Deadly wound his death did bring. 
    Which when Venus found,
        She fell in a swound, 
            And awaked, her hands did wring. 
    Nymphs and satyrs skipping 
    Came together tripping, 
                Echo every cry expressed. 
    Venus by her power 
    Turned him to a flower, 
                Which she weareth in her crest. 



Henry Constable's other poems:
  1. H.C. to the Gentleman Reader
  2. Of the Nativity of the Lady Rich's Daughter
  3. To the Marquess of Piscat's Soul
  4. My Lady’s Presence Makes the Roses Red
  5. To the Blessed Sacrament


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