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Your's is the prize, victorious prince," said he,
THE FLOWER AND THE LEAF:
OR, THE LADY IN THE ARBOR.
Now, turning from the wintry signs, the Sun
His course exalted through the Ram had run, He shall be pluck'd and eaten to the bone."
And, whirling up the skies, his chariot drove « "Tis well advis'd, in faith it shall be done;" Through Taurus and the lightsome realms of Love; This Reynard said: but, as the word he spoke, Where Venus from her orb descends in showers, The prisoner with a spring from prison broke : To glad the ground, and paint the fields with Then stretch'd his feather'd fans with all his might,
flowers: And to the neighboring maple wing'd his flight; When first the tender blades of grass appear, Whom when the traitor safe on tree beheld, And buds, that yet the blast of Eurus fear, He curs'd the gods, with shame and sorrow fillid; Stand at the door of life, and doubt to clothe the year: Shame for his folly, sorrow out of time,
Till gentle heat, and soft repeated rains, For plotting an unprofitable crime ;
Make the green blood to dance within their veins. Yet, mastering both, th' artificer of lies
Then, at their call embolden'd, out they come, Renews th' assault, and his last battery tries. And swell the germs, and burst the narrow room ; “Though I," said he, "did ne'er in thought of Broader and broader yet, their blooms display, fend,
Salute the welcome Sun, and entertain the day. How justly may my lord suspect his friend! Then from their breathing souls the sweets repair, Th' appearance is against me, I confess,
To scent the skies, and purge th'unwholesome air : Who seemingly have put you in distress :
Joy spreads the heart, and, with a general song, You, if your goodness does not plead my cause, Spring issues out, and leads the jolly months along. May think I broke all hospitable laws,
In that sweet season, as in bed I lay,
I turn'd my wearied side, but still in vain,
Though full of youthful health, and void of pain Though, Heaven can witness, with no bad intent: Cares I had none, to keep me from my rest, I practis'd it, to make you taste your cheer For Love had never enter'd in my breast; With double pleasure, first prepar'd by fear. I wanted nothing Fortune could supply, So loyal subjects often seize their prince,
Nor did she slumber till that hour deny.
I wonder'd then, but after found it true,
• Nay,” quoth the cock; “ but I beshrew us both, Should weary Nature so, to make her want repair. If I believe a saint upon his oath :
When Chanticleer the second watch had sung, An honest man may take a knavo's advice, Scorning the scorner Sleep, from bed I sprung; But idiots only may be cozen'd twice:
And, dressing by the Moon, in loose array,
Of oaks unshorn a venerable wood;
At distance planted in a due degree,
Stretch'd to their neighbors with a long embrace, “A peace, with all my soul,” said Chanticleer; And the new leaves on every bough were seen,
But, with your favor, I will treat it here: Some ruddy color'd, some of lighter green.
Both eyes and ears receiv'd a like delight,
And listen'd for the queen of all the quire ;
And wanted yet an omen to the spring. And learn beside of Aatterers to beware,
Attending long in vain, I took the way, Then most pernicious when they speak too fair. Which through a path but scarcely printed lay ; The cock and fox, the fool and knave imply; In narrow mazes oft it seem'd to meet, The truth is moral, though the tale a lie.
And look'd as lightly press’d by fairy seet. Who spoke in parables, I dare not say;
Wandering I walk'd alone, for still methought But sure he knew it was a pleasing way,
To some strange end so strange a path was wrought: Sound sense, hy plain example, to convey ; At last it led me where an arbor stood, And in a heathen author we may find,
The sacred receptacle of the wood : That pleasure with instruction should be join'd; This place unmark'd, though oft I walk'd the green, So take the corn, and leave the chaff behind. In all my progress I had never seen:
And, seiz'd at once with wonder and delight, Nor till her lay was ended could I move,
And all three senses in full gust enjoy'd.
And what alone did all the rest surpass, And all around the shades defended it from day: The sweet possession of the fairy place; For sycamores with eglantine were spread, Single, and conscious to myself alone A hedge about the sides, a covering over-head. of pleasures to th' excluded world unknown: And so the fragrant brier was wove between, Pleasures which nowhere else were to be found, The sycamore and flowers were mix'd with green, And all Elysium in a spot of ground. That Nature seem'd to vary the delight;
Thus while I sat intent to see and hear,
And drew perfumes of more than vital air,
A train less fair, as ancient fathers tell,
I pass their form, and every charming grace, But all that pass'd without with ease was seen, Less than an angel would their worth debase : As if nor fence nor tree was plac'd between. But their attire, like liveries of a kind 'Twas border'd with a field ; and some was plain All rich and rare, is fresh within my mind. With grass, and some was sow'd with rising grain. In velvet white as snow the troop was gown'd, That (now the dew with spangles deck'd the ground) The seams with sparkling emeralds set around : A sweeter spot of earth was never found.
Their hoods and sleeves the same ; and purfled o'er I look'd and look'd, and still with new delight; With diamonds, pearls, and all the shining store Such joy my soul, such pleasures fill'd my sight: Of eastern pomp: their long descending train, And the fresh eglantine exhal'd a breath,
With rubies edg’d, and sapphires, swept the plain : Whose odors were of power to raise from death. High on their heads, with jewels richly set, Nor sullen discontent, nor anxious care,
Each lady wore a radiant coronel. Ev'n though brought thither, could inhabit there : Beneath the circles, all the quire was grac'd But thence they fled as from their mortal foe; With chaplets green, on their fair foreheads plac'd. For this sweet place could only pleasure know. Of laurel some, of woodbine many more; Thus as I mus'd, I cast aside my eye,
And wreaths of agnus-castus others bore : And saw a medlar-tree was planted nigh.
These last, who with those virgin crowns were dress'd, The spreading branches made a goodly show, Appear'd in higher honor than the rest. And full of opening blooms was every bough: They danc'd around: but in the midst was seen A goldfinch there I saw with gaudy pride
A lady of a more majestic mien; Of painted plumes, that hopp'd from side to side, By stature and by beauty mark'd their sovereign Still pecking as she pass'd; and still she drew
queen. The sweets from every flower, and suck'd the dew : She in the midst began with sober grace; Suffic'd at length, she warbled in her throat, Her servants' eyes were fixed upon her face, And tun'd her voice to many a merry note, And, as she mov'd or turn'd, her motions view'd, But indistinct, and neither sweet nor clear, Her measures kept, and step by step pursued. Yet such as sooth'd my soul and pleas'd my ear. Methought she trod the ground with greater grace,
Her short performance was no sooner tried, With more of godhead shining in her face; When she I sought, the nightingale replied : And as in beauty she surpass'd the quire, So sweet, so shrill, so variously she sung,
So, nobler than the rest, was her attire. That the grove echo'd, and the valleys rung: A crown of ruddy gold inclos'd her brow, And I so ravish'd with her heavenly note,
Plain without pomp, and rich without a show. I stood entranc'd, and had no room for thought, A branch of agnus-castus in her hand But, all o'erpower'd with ecstacy of bliss, She bore aloft (her sceptre of command ;) Was in a pleasing dream of Paradise :
Admir'd, ador’d, by all the circling crowd, At length I wak'd, and looking round the bower, For wheresoe'er she turn'd her face, they bow'd : Search'd every tree, and pry'd on every flower, And as she danc'd, a roundelay she sung, If anywhere by chance I might espy,
In honor of the laurel, ever young : The rural poet of the melody;
She rais'd her voice on high, and sung so clear,
And all the bending forest lent an ear.
Replied, and bore the burthen of the song :
Thus dancing on, and singing as they danc'd, Sitting was more convenient for the song :) They to the middle of the mead advanc'd,
Till round my arbor a new ring they made, Like to their lords their equipage was seen,
And all their foreheads crown'd with garlands green O'erjoy'd to see the jolly troop so near,
And after these came, arm'd with spear and shield But somewhat aw'd, I shook with holy fear; An host so great, as cover'd all the field, Yet not so much, but that I noted well
And all their foreheads, like the knights before, Who did the most in song or dance excel.
With laurels ever-green were shaded o'er,
Tenacious of the stem, and firm against the wind.
Or branches for their mystic emblems took,
Thus marching to the trumpet's lofty sound,
Drawn in iwo lines adverse they wheeld around, On barbed steeds they rode in proud array, And in the middle meadow took their ground. Thick as the college of the bees in May,
Among themselves the tourney they divide, When swarming o'er the dusky fields they fly, In equal squadrons rang'd on either side. New to the flowers, and intercept the sky.
Then turn'd their horses' heads, and man to man,
And, at the sign, against each other press'd :
The mix'd events, and fortunes of the field.
At length the nine (who still together held) Which, waving in the wind, display'd at large Their fainting foes to shameful flight compellid, Their master's coat of arms, and knightly charge. And with resistless force o'er-ran the field. Broad were the banners, and of snowy hue, Thus, to their fame, when finish'd was the fight, A purer web the silk-worm never drew.
The victors from their lofty steeds alight: The chief about their necks the scutcheons wore, Like them dismounted all the warlike train, With orient pearls and jewels powder'd o'er : And two by two proceeded o'er the plain : Broad were their collars too, and every one Till to the fair assembly they advanc'd, Was set about with many a costly stone.
Who near the secret arbor sung and danc'd. Next these of kings-at-arms a goodly train
The ladies left their measures at the sight, In proud array came prancing o'er the plain : To meet the chiefs returning from the fight, Their cloaks were cloth of silver mix'd with gold, And each with open arms embrac'd her chosen And garlands green around their temples rollid;
knight. Rich crowns were on their royal scutcheons plac'd, Amid the plain a spreading laurel stood, With sapphires, diamonds, and with rubies grac'd: The grace and ornament of all the wood : And as the trumpets their appearance made, That pleasing shade they sought, a soft retreat So these in habits were alike array'd ;
From sudden April showers, a shelter from the heat : But with a pace more sober, and more slow; Her leafy arms with such extent were spread, And twenty, rank in rank, they rode a row. So near the clouds was her aspiring head, The pursuivants came next, in number more; That hosts of birds, that wing the liquid air, And like the heralds each his scutcheon bore : Perch'd in the boughs, had nightly lodging there; Clad in white velvet all their troop they led. And Mocks of sheep beneath the shade from far With each an oaken chaplet on his head.
Might hear the rattling hail, and wintry war, Nine royal knights in equal rank succeed, From Heaven's inclemency here found retreat, Each warrior mounted on a fiery steed:
Enjoy'd the cool, and shunnid the scorching heat: In golden armor glorious to behold;
A hundred knights might there at case abide;
And seem'd to venerate the sacred shade.
These rites perform’d, their pleasures they pursue, Three henchmen were for every knight assign'd, With song of love, and mix with pleasures nev; All in rich livery clad, and of a kind :
Around the holy tree their dance they frame, White velvet, but unshorn, for cloaks they wore, And every champion leads his chosen dame. And each within his hand a truncheon bore :
I cast my sight upon the farther field,
And a fresh object of delight beheld :
New music sound, and a new troop appear'd;
Of knights, and ladies mix’d, a jolly band, Headed with piercing steel, and polish'd bright. But all on foot they march'd, and hand in hand.
The ladies dress'd in rich cymar were seen The laurel champions with their swords invade Of Florence satin, flower'd with white and green, The neighboring forests, where the jousts were made, And for a shade betwixt the bloomy gridelin. And serewood from the rotten hedges took, The borders of their petticoats below
And seeds of latent fire from flints provoke : Were guarded thick with rubies on a row; A cheerful blaze arose, and by the fire [attire. And every damsel wore upon her head
They warm'd their frozen feet, and dried their wet Of flowers a garland blended white and red. Refresh'd with heat, the ladies sought around Attir'd in mantles all the knights were seen, For virtuous herbs, which gather'd from the ground That gratified the view with cheerful green: They squeez'd the juice, and cooling ointment made, Their chaplets of their ladies' colors were, (hair : Which on their sun-burnt cheeks and their chapt skins Compos'd of white and red, to shade their shining
they laid : Before the merry troop the minstrels play'd; Then sought green salads, which they bade them eat, All in their masters' liveries were array'd,
A sovereign remedy for inward heat. And clad in green, and on their temples wore The lady of the leaf ordain'd a feast, The chaplets white and red their ladies bore. And made the lady of the flower her guest : Their instruments were various in their kind, When lo, a bower ascended on the plain, Some for the bow, and some for breathing wind : With sudden seats ordain'd, and large for either train. The sawtry, pipe, and hautboy's noisy baud, [hand. This bower was near my pleasant arbor plac'd, And the soft lute trembling beneath the touching That I could hear and see whatever pass'd : A tuft of daisies on a flowery lay
The ladies sat with each a knight between, They saw, and thitherward they bent their way; Distinguish'd by their colors, white and green; To this both knights and dames their homage made, The vanquish'd party with the victors join'd, And due obeisance to the daisy paid.
Nor wanted sweet discourse, the banquet of the mind. And then the band of Rutes began to play, Meantime the minstrels play'd on either side, To which a lady sung a virelay:
Vain of their art, and for the mastery vied : And still at every close she would repeat
The sweet contention lasted for an hour,
The Sun was set; and Vesper, to supply
But soon their pleasure pass'd : at noon of day, Fled from her laurel shade, and wing'd her flight
As if all day, preluding to the fight, To run for shelter, for no shade was near;
They only had rehears'd, to sing by night: And after this the gathering clouds amain
The banquet ended, and the battle done, Pour'd down a storm of rattling hail and rain: They danc'd by star-light and the friendly Moon : And lightning flash'd betwixt: the field, and flowers, And when they were to part, the laureate queen Burnt up before, were buried in the showers. Supplied with steeds the lady of the green, The ladies and the knights, no shelter nigh, Her and her train conducting on the way, Bare to the weather, and the wintry sky,
The Moon to follow, and avoid the day.
This when I saw, inquisitive to know
As to some being of superior kind,
She said ; and I, who much desir'd to know Nor shall be wanting aught within my power Of whence she was, yet scarful how to break For your relief in my refreshing bower.”
My mind, adventur'd humbly thus to speak : That other answer'd with a lowly look,
“Madam, might I presume and not offend, And soon the gracious invitation took :
So may the stars and shining Moon attend For ill at ease both she and all her train
Your nightly sports, as you vouchsafe to tell The scorching Sun had borne, and beating rain. What nymphs they were who mortal forms excel, Like courtesy was us'd by all in white, [knight. And what the knights who fought in listed fields so Each dame a dame receiv'd, and every knight a
To this the dame replied: “Fair daughter, know, Our England's ornament, the crown's defence, 'That what you saw was all a fairy show:
In battle brave, protectors of their prince: And all those airy shapes you now behold, [mould, Unchang'd by fortune, to their sovereign true, Were human bodies once, and cloth'd with earthly For which their manly legs are bound with blue. Our souls, not yet prepar'd for upper light,
These, of the garler call’d, of faith unstain'd, Till doomsday wander in the shades of night; In fighting fields the laurel have obtain'd. This only holiday of all the year,
And well repaid the honors which they gain'd. We privileg'd in sun-shine may appear:
The laurel wreaths were first by Cæsar worn, With songs and dance we celebrate the day, And still they Casar's successors adorn: And with due honors usher in the May.
One leaf of this is immortality, At other times we reign by night alone,
And more of worth than all the world can buy." And posting through the skies pursue the Moon : “ One doubt remains," said I, " the dames in gren But when the morn arises, none are found; What were their qualities, and who their queen ?" For cruel Demogorgon walks the round,
* Flora commands," said she, " those nymphs and And if he finds a fairy lag in light,
knights, He drives the wretch before, and lashes into night. Who liv'd in slothful ease and loose delights ;
“ All courteous are by kind ; and ever proud Who never acts of honor durst pursue, With friendly offices to help the good.
The men inglorious knights, the ladies all untrue : In every land we have a larger space
Who, nurs'd in idleness, and train'd in courts, Than what is known to you of mortal race : Pass'd all their precious hours in plays and sports, Where we with green adorn our fairy bowers, Till Death behind came stalking on, unseen, And ev'n this grove, unseen before, is ours.
And wither'd (like the storm) the freshness of their Know farther: every lady cloth'd in white,
green. And, crown'd with oak and laurel every knight, These, and their mates, enjoy their present hour, Are servants to the Leaf, by liveries known And therefore pay their homage to the Flower. Of innocence; and I myself am one.
But knights in knightly deeds should persevere, Saw you not her so graceful to behold
And still continue what at first they were ; In white attire, and crown'd with radiant gold? Continue, and proceed in horor's fair career. The sovereign lady of our land is she,
No room for cowardice, or dull delay ; Diana call'd, the queen of chastity :
From good to better they should urge their way. And, for the spotless name of maid she bears, For this with golden spurs the chiefs are grac'd, That agnus-castus in her hand appears ;
With pointed rowels arm'd to mend their haste; And all her train, with leafy chaplets crown'd, For this with lasting leaves their brows are bound; Were for unblam'd virginity renown'd;
For laurel is the sign of labor crown'd, [ground: But those the chief and highest in command, Which bears the bitter blast, nor shaken falls to Who bear those holy branches in their hand : From winter winds it suffers no decay, The knights adorn’d with laurel crowns are they, For ever fresh and fair, and every month is May. Whom death nor danger never could dismay, Ev'n when the vital sap retreats below, Victorious names, who made the world obey : Ev'n when the hoary head is hid in snow; Who, while they liv'd, in deeds of arms excell'd, The life is in the leaf, and still between And after death for deities were held.
The fits of falling snow appears the streaky green. But those, who wear the woodbine on their brow, Not so the flower, which lasts for little space, Were knights of love, who never broke their vow; A short-liv'd good, and an uncertain grace; Firin to their plighted faith, and ever free
This way and that the feeble stem is driven, From fears, and fickle chance, and jealousy. Weak to sustain the storms and injuries of Heaven, The lords and ladies, who the woodbine bear, Propp'd by the spring, it lifts alofi the head, As true as Tristram and Isotta were."
But of a sickly beauty, soon to shed : " But what are those," said I,“ th’unconquer'd nine, In summer living, and in winter dead. Who crown'd with laurel-wreaths in golden armor For things of tender kind, for pleasure made, shine ?
Shoot up with swift increase, and sudden are do And who the knights in green, and what the train
cay'd." Of ladies dress'd with daisies on the plain?
With humble words, the wisest I could frame, Why both the bands in worship disagree,
And proffer'd service, I repaid the dame; And some adorn the flower, and some the tree?" That, of her grace, she gave her maid 10 know
“Just is your suit, fair daughter," said the dame : The secret meaning of this moral show. “ Those laurel'd chiefs were men of mighty fame; And she, to prove what profit I had made Nine worthies were they call’d, of different rites, Of mystic truth, in fables first convey'd, Three Jews, three Pagans, and three Christian Demanded, till the next returning May, ghts.
Whether the Leaf or Flower I would obey ? These, as you see, ride foremost in the field, I chose the leaf; she smil'd with sober cheer, As they the foremost rank of honor held,
And wish'd me fair adventure for the year, And all in deeds of chivalry excell'd :
And gave me charms and sigils, for defence Their temples wreath'd with leaves, that still renew; Against ill tongues that scandal innocence: For deathless laurel is the victor's due :
“ But I," said she, “ my fellows must pursue, Who bear the bows were knights in Arthur's reign, Already past the plain, and out of view." Twelve they, and twelve the peers of Charlemain; We parted thus; I homeward sped my way, For bows the strength of brawny arms imply, Bewilderd in the wood till dawn of day: Emblems of valor and of victory.
And met the merry crew who danc'd about the May Behold an order yet of newer date
Then, late refresh'd with sleep, I rose to write Doubling their number, equal in their state; The visionary vigils of the night: