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TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON, AND BARON OF
I KNOW not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to your lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a prop to support so weak a burthen: only if your honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour. But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather, and never after ear* so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest. I leave it to your honourable survey, and your honour to your heart's content; which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world's hopeful expectation.† Your Honour's in all duty,
*I. e. plough.
† Lord Southampton was at this period twenty years old.
VENUS AND ADONIS.
[Our author himself has told us that this poem was his first composition. It was entered in the Stationers' books by Richard Field, on the 18th of April, 1593; and again by Harrison, sen., on the 23rd of June, 1594; in which year it was probably published.]
Vilia miretur vulgus, mihi flavus Apollo
EVEN as the sun with purple-colour'd face
"Thrice fairer than myself (thus she began),
Nature that made thee, with herself at strife,
'Vouchsafe, thou wonder, to alight thy steed,
Here come and sit, where serpent never hisses,
"And yet not cloy thy lips with loath'd satiety,
A summer's day will seem an hour but short,
With this, she seizeth on his sweating palm,
Being so enraged, desire doth lend her force,
She red and hot, as coals of glowing fire,
Backward she push'd him, as she would be thrust,
And kissing speaks, with lustful language broken, "If thou wilt chide, thy lips shall never open." He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears Doth quench the maiden burning of his cheeks; Then with her windy sighs, and golden hairs, To fan and blow them dry again she seeks:
He says, she is immodest, blames her miss; † What follows more, she smothers with a kiss. Even as an empty eagle, sharp by fast, Tires with her beak on feathers, flesh, and bone, Shaking her wings, devouring all in haste, Till either gorge be stuff'd, or prey be gone,
Even so she kiss'd his brow, his cheek, his chin, And where she ends, she doth anew begin. Forced to content, § but never to obey, Panting he lies, and breathing in her face; She feedeth on the steam, as on a prey, And calls it heavenly moisture, air of grace,
Wishing her cheeks were gardens full of flowers, So they were dew'd with such distilling showers.
Look how a bird lies tangled in a net,
Pure shame and awed resistance made him fret,
Perforce will force it overflow the bank.