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THE BRIDE AT THE ALTAR. mands
Character, Flushed yet Lady-like Beauty, with ecstatic Angels regard f the r
ing her ; Painter, the same.
Behold, while she before the altar stands,
Hearing the holy priest that to her speaks,
And blesses her with his two happy hands,
How the red roses flush up in her cheeks!
And the pure snow, with goodly vermeil stain,
Like crimson dyed in grain !
That ev’n the angels, which continually
About the sacred altar do remain,
Forget their service and about her fly,
Oft peeping in her face, that seems more fair 35
The more they on it stare;
But her sad eyes, still fastened on the ground,
Are governed with goodly modesty,
That suffers not one look to glance awry,
Which may let in a little thought unsound.
Oft peeping in her face,” &c.—I cannot think the words peeping and stare, the best which the poet could have used; but he is aggravating the beauties of his bride in a long epithalamium, and sacrificing everything to her superiority. The third line is felicitous.
Character, Ecstacy of Conscious and Luxurious Beauty; Painter
-Her fair locks which formerly were bound
Up in one knot, she low adown did loose,
Which flowing long and thick, her cloth'd around,
And the ivory in golden mantle gown'd,
So that fair spectacle was from him reft,
Yet that which reft it, no less fair was found :
So hid in locks and waves from looker's theft,
Naught but her lovely face she for his looking left.
Withal she laughed, and she blush'd withal 36
That blushing to her laughter gave more grace,
And laughter to her blushing.
36 " Withal she laugh’d,” &c.-Perhaps this is the loveliest thing of the kind, mixing the sensual with the graceful, that ever was painted. The couplet, So hid in locks and waves, &c., would be an excessive instance of the sweets of alliteration, could we bear to miss a particle of it.
Character, Savage and Forlorn Scenery, occupied by Squalid Misery,
Painter, Salvator Rosa.
Ere long they come where that same wicked wight
His dwelling has, low in a hollow cave.
Far underneath a craggy cliff ypight,
Dark, doleful, dreary, like a greedy grave,
That stiil for carrion carcasses doth crave;
On top whereof ay dwelt the ghastly owl,
Shrieking his baleful note, which ever drave
Far from that haunt all other cheerful fowl,
And all about it wand'ring ghosts did wail and howl:
And all about old stocks and stubs of trees,
Whereon nor fruit nor leaf was ever seen,
Did hang upon the ragged rocky knees,
'On which had many wretches hangèd been,
Whose carcasses were scattered on the green,
And thrown about the cliffs. Arrived there,
That bare-head knight, for dread and doleful teen, *
Would fain have fled, nor durst approachen near,
But th other forc'd him stay and comforted in fear.
Look'd deadly dull, and stared as astound;
His raw-bone cheeks, through penury and pine,
Were shrunk into his jaws, as he did never dine.
That darksome cave they enter where they find
That cursed man low sitting on the ground,
Musing full sadly in his sullen mind ;
His griesly locks, long growen and unbound,
Disordered hung about his shoulders round,
And hid his face through which the hollow eyne.
His garment naught but many ragged clouts,
With thorns together pinn'd and patchèd was,
The which his naked sides he wrapp'd about;
And him beside there lay upon the grass
A dreary corse, whose life away did pass,
All wallow'd in his own yet lukewarm blood,
That from his wound yet wellèd fresh alas !
In which a rusty knife fast fixed stood,
And made an open passage for the gushing flood.
Still finer than this description are the morbid sophistry and the fascinations of terror that follow it in the original; but as they are less poetical or pictorial than argumentative, the extract is limited accordingly. There is a tradition that when Sir Philip Sidney read this part of the Faerie Queene, he fell into transports of admiration.
A KNIGHT IN BRIGHT ARMOR LOOKING INTO A CAVE.
Character, A deep effect of Chiaroscuro, making deformity visible ;
But full of fire and greedy hardiment,
The youthful knight would not for aught be stay'd,
But forth unto the darksome hole he went,
And looked in. His glistering armor made
A little glooming light, much like a shade ; 37
By which he saw the ugly monster plain,
Half like a serpent horribly display'd,
But th’ other half did woman's shape retain,
Most loathsome, filthy foul, and full of vile disdain.
37 « A little glooming light, much like a shade.”_Spenser is very fond of this effect, and has repeatedly painted it. I am not aware that anybody noticed it before him. It is evidently the original of the passage in Milton :
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom.
Observe the pause at the words looked in.
MALBECCO SEES HELLENORE DANCING WITH THE SATYRS.
Character, Luxurious Abandonment to Mirth ; Painter, Nicholas
-Afterwards, close creeping as he might,
He in a bush did hide his fearful head :
The jolly satyrs, full of fresh delight,
Came dancing forth, and with them nimbly led
Fair Hellenore, with garlands all bespread,
Whom their May-lady they had newly made :
She, proud of that new honor which they redd,*
And of their lovely fellowship full glad,
Danc'd lively: and her face did with a laurel shade.
The silly man then in a thicket lay,
Saw all this goodly sport, and grieved sore,
Yet durst he not against it do or say,
But did his heart with bitter thoughts engore
To see the unkindness of his Hellenore.
All day they dancèd with great lustyhead,
And with their hornèd feet the green grass wore,
The whiles their goats upon the browses fed,
Till drooping Phæbus 'gan to hide his golden head.
*“ That new honor which they redd.”-Areaded, awarded.
WITH DAMSELS CONVEYING A WOUNDED SQUIRE ON HIS HORSE.
Character, Select Southern Elegance, with an intimation of fine Ar.
chitecture ; Painter, Claude. (Yet "mighty” woods hardly belony to him.)
Into that forest far they thence him led,
Where was their dwelling, in a pleasant glade
With mountains round about environèd ;
And mighty woods which did the valley shade
And like a stately theatre it made,
Spreading itself into a spacious plain;
And in the midst a little river play'd
Amongst the pumy stones, which seem'd to plain
With gentle murmur, that his course they did restrain,
Beside the same a dainty place there lay,
Planted with myrtle trees and laurels green,
In which the birds sung many a lovely lay
Of God's high praise and of their sweet love's teen,
As it an earthly paradise had been;
In whose enclosed shadows there was pight
A fair pavilion, scarcely to be seen.
THE NYMPHS AND GRACES DANCING TO A SHEPHERD'S
APOTHEOSIS OF A POET'S MISTRESS.
Character, Nakedness without Impudency: Multitudinous and Innocent
Delight; Exaltation of the principal Person from Circumstances, rather than her own Ideality ; Painter, Albano.
Unto this place whereas the elfin knight
Approach'd, him seemed that the merry sound