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For this he held it dear, and always bore.
But ah! what mortal lives of bliss secure?
The rage of jealousy then seiz'd his mind,
'Tis better, sure, when blind, deceiv'd to be, Than be deluded when a man can see!
Argus himself, so cautions and so wise, Was over-watch'd, for all his hundred eyes : So many an honest husband may, 'tis known, Who, wisely, never thinks the case his own.
The dame at last, by diligence and care, Procurd the key her knight was wont to bear; She took the wards in wax before the fire, And gave the impression to the trusty 'squire, By means of this some wonder shall appear, Which, in due place and season, you may hear.
Well sung sweet Ovid, in the days of yore, What fight is that which love will not explore? And Pyramus and Thisbe plainly show The feats true lovers, when they list, can do: Though watch'd and captive, yet, in spite of all, They found the art of kissing through a wall.
But now no longer from our tale to stray, It happ'd that, once upon a summer's day, Our reverend knight was org'd to amorous play :) He rais'd his spouse ere matin-bell was rung, And thus his morning canticle he sung.
Awake, my love, disclose thy radiant eyes; Arise, my wife, my beauteous lady, rise! Hear how the doves with pensive notes complain, And in soft murmurs tell the trees their pain : The winter's past; the clouds and tempests fly; The sun adorns the fields, and brightens all the sky. Fair without spot, whose every charming part: My bosom wounds, and captivates my heart; Come, and in mutual pleasures let's engage, Joy of my life, and comfort of my age.
This heard, to Damian straighat a sign she made To haste before; the gentle 'squire obey'd:
Secret and undescried he took his way,
It was not long ere January came,
• Here let us walk,' he said, ' observ'd by none,
Consider then, my lady and my wife, The solid comforts of a virtuous life. As first, the love of Christ himself you gain ; Next, your own honour undefil'd maintain; And, lastly, that which sure your mind musť move, My whole estate shall gratify your love: Make your own terms, and ere to-morrow's sun' Displays his light, by heav'n it shall be done. I seal the contract with a holy kiss, And will perform, by this-my dear, and this Have comfort, spouse, nor think thy lord unkind; 'Tis love, not jealousy, that fires my mind : For when thy charms my sober thoughts engage, And join'd to them my own unequal age,
From thy dear side I have no pow'r to part,
He ceas'd, and May with modest grace replied; (Weak was her voice, as while she spoke she cried)
Heav'n knows(with that a tender sigh she drew) I have a soul to save as well as you; And, what no less you to my charge commend, My dearest honour, will to death defend. To you in holy church I gave my hand, And join'd my heart in wedlock's sacred band : Yet after this, if you distrust my care, Then hear, my lord, and witness what I swear :
First may the yawning earth her bosom reod, And let me hence to hell alive descend; Or die the death I dread po less than hell, Şewid in a sack, and plung'd into a well; Ere I my fame by one lewd act disgrace, Or once renounce the honour of my race. For know, sir knight, of gentle blood I came; I loath a whore, and startle at the name. But jealous men on their own crimes reflect, And learn from thence their ladies to suspect: Else why these needless cautions, sir, to me? These doubts and fears of female constancy? This chime still rings in every lady's ear, The only straiņ a wife must hope to bear.'
Thus while she spoke a sidelong glance she cast, Where Damian kpeeling worshipp'd as she past, She saw him watch the motions of her eye, And singled out a pear-tree planted nigh: 'Twas charg'd with fruit that made a goodly show, And hung with dangling pears was every bough..