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stored in some treasure-house of mighty kings,
some one might show it at a joust of arms,
saying, 'King Arthur's sword, Excalibur,
wrought by the lonely maiden of the Lake.
Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the deeps
upon the hidden bases of the hills.'

So might some old man speak in the aftertime
to all the people, winning reverence.

But now much honour and much fame were lost.

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OT Iris, in her pride and bravery,


adorns her arch with such variety;

nor doth the milk-white way, in frosty night,

appear so fair and beautiful in sight,

as don these fields and groves, and sweetest bowers,
bestrewed and decked with party-coloured flowers.
Along the bubbling brooks and silver glide,

that at the bottom doth in silence slide:
the watery flowers and lilies on the banks
like blazing comets, burgen all in ranks:
under the hawthorn and the poplar tree,
where sacred Phoebe may delight to be,
the primrose and the purple hyacinth,
the dainty violet and the wholesome minth,
the double daisy and the cowslip, queen
of summer flowers, do overpeer the green:
and round about the valley as ye pass,
ye may ne see for peeping flowers the grass:
that well the mighty Juno and the rest
may boldly think to be a welcome guest
on Ida hills, when to approve the thing
the queen of flowers prepares a second spring.



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So the sovren ill, and smoke to roll

O spake the sovran voice, and clouds began

in dusky wreaths reluctant flames, the sign
of wrath awaked; nor with less dread the loud
ethereal trumpet from on high gan blow:

at which command the Powers militant,

that stood for Heaven, in mighty quadrate joined
of union irresistible, moved on

in silence their bright legions, to the sound

of instrumental harmony, that breathed

heroic ardour to adventurous deeds

under their godlike leaders, in the cause
of God and his Messiah. On they move
indissolubly firm; nor obvious hill,

nor straitening vale, nor wood, nor stream divides
their perfect ranks; for high above the ground
their march was, and the passive air upbore
their nimble tread; as when the total kind
of birds, in orderly array on wing,

came, summoned over Eden, to receive

their names of thee. So over many a tract

of heaven they marched, and many a province wide,
tenfold the length of this terrene. At last,
far in the horizon to the north, appeared
from skirt to skirt a fiery region stretched
in battailous aspect; and, nearer view,
bristled with upright beams innumerable
of rigid spears, and helmets thronged, and shields
various, with boastful argument portrayed,
the banded powers of Satan hasting on
with furious expedition: for they weened
that selfsame day, by fight or by surprise,
to win the mount of God, and on his throne
to set the envier of his state, the proud
aspirer; but their thoughts proved fond and vain
in the midway. Though strange to us it seemed
at first that Angel should with Angel war,
and in fierce hosting meet, who wont to meet
so oft in festivals of joy and love

unanimous, as sons of one great Sire,

hymning the Eternal Father; but the shout
of battle now began, and rushing sound

of onset ended soon each milder thought.


1287 THE ENCounter of michAEL AND SATAN


HEY ended parle, and both addressed for fight
unspeakable; for who, though with the tongue
of Angels, can relate, or to what things
liken on earth conspicuous, that may lift
human imagination to such highth

of godlike power? for likest Gods they seemed,
stood they or moved, in stature, motion, arms,
fit to decide the empire of great Heaven.
Now waved their fiery swords, and in the air
made horrid circles; two broad suns their shields
blazed opposite, while Expectation stood

in horror. From each hand with speed retired,
where erst was thickest fight, the angelic throng,
and left large field, unsafe within the wind
of such commotion; such as, to set forth
great things by small, if, Nature's concord broke,
among the constellations war were sprung,
two planets, rushing from aspéct malign

of fiercest opposition, in mid sky

should combat, and their jarring spheres confound. 1288 Together both, with next to almighty arm uplifted imminent, one stroke they aimed that might determine, and not need repeat, as not of power at once; nor odds appeared in might or swift prevention. But the sword of Michael from the armoury of God was given him tempered so, that neither keen nor solid might resist that edge: it met the sword of Satan, with steep force to smite descending, and in half cut sheer; nor stayed, but, with swift wheel reverse, deep entering shared all his right side: then Satan first knew pain, and writhed him to and fro convolved; so sore the griding sword with discontinuous wound passed through him. But the ethereal substance closed, not long divisible; and from the gash



a stream of nectarous humour issuing flowed
sanguine, such as celestial Spirits may bleed,
and all his armour stained, erewhile so bright.



BUT far above the loveliest Hero shin'd,

and stole away th' enchanted gazer's mind; for like sea-nymphs' inveigling harmony, so was her beauty to the standers by; nor that night-wandering, pale and watery star (when yawning dragons draw her thirling car from Latmus' mount up to the gloomy sky, where crowned with blazing light and majesty she proudly sits) more overrules the flood

than she the hearts of those that near her stood. Even as when gaudy nymphs pursue the chase, wretched Ixion's shaggy-footed race,

incensed with savage heat, gallop amain

from steep pine-bearing mountains to the plain, so ran the people forth to gaze upon her

and all that view'd her were enamour'd on her.

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So fair a church as this had Venus none:
the walls were of discolour'd jasper-stone,
wherein was Proteus carv'd; and overhead
a lively vine of green sea-agate spread,
where by one hand light-headed Bacchus hung,
and with the other wine from grapes out-wrung.
Of crystal shining fair the pavement was;
the town of Sestos called it Venus' glass.


ORSAKEN, wofull, solitarie mayd,


Fone day, nigh wearie of the yrkesome way,

from her unhastie beast she did alight;
and on the grasse her dainty limbs did lay
in secrete shadow, far from all mens sight;
from her fayre head her fillet she undight,
and layd her stole aside: her angels face,
as the great eye of heaven, shynéd bright,

and made a sunshine in the shady place;

did never mortall eye behold such heavenly grace.

It fortunéd, out of the thickest wood
a ramping lyon rushéd suddeinly,
hunting full greedy after salvage blood:
soone as the royall virgin he did spy,
with gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
to have attonce devourd her tender corse:
but to the pray when as he drew more ny,
his bloody rage aswagéd with remorse,

and, with the sight amazd, forgat his furious forse.

Instead thereof he kist her wearie feet,
and lickt her lilly hands with fawning tong;
as he her wrongéd innocence did weet.

O how can beautie maister the most strong, and simple truth subdue avenging wrong! whose yielded pryde and proud submission, still dreading death, when she had marked long, her hart gan melt in great compassion; and drizling teares did shed for pure affection.




HEY pas the bitter waves of Acheron,
where many soules sit wailing woefully;

and come to fiery flood of Phlegeton, whereas the damnéd ghost in torments fry, and with sharp shrilling shriekes doe bootlesse cry, cursing high Jove, the which them thither sent, the House of endlesse Paine is built thereby, in which ten thousand sorts of punishment, the cursed creatures doe eternally torment.

Before the threshold dreadfull Cerberus
his three deformed heads did lay along,
curled with thousand adders venemous;
and lilled forth his bloody flaming tong;
at them he gan to reare his bristles strong,
and felly gnarre, until Dayes enemy

did him appease: then downe his taile he hong,
and suffered them to passen quietly:

for she in hell and heaven had power equally.

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