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"Thus they who first did found a common-weal,
And they who first religion did ordain,
By dancing first the people's hearts did steal,
Of whom we now a thousand tales do feign:
Yet do we now their perfect rules retain,
And use them still in such devises new,
As in the world long since their withering grew.
"For after towns and kingdoms founded were,
Between great states arose well-order'd war;
Wherein most perfect measure doth appear,
Whether their well-set ranks respected are
In quadrant form or semicircular:
Or else the march, when all the troops advance,
And to the drum in gallant order dance.
"And after wars, when white-wing'd Victory Is with a glorious triumph beautify'd, And ev'ry one doth Io lo cry,
Whilst all in gold the conqueror doth ride; The solemn pomp that fills the city wide Observes such rank and measure every where, As if they altogether dancing were.
"The like just order mourners do observe, (But with unlike affection and attire) When some great man that nobly did deserve, And whom his friends impatiently desire, Is brought with honour to his latest fire: The dead corpse too in that sad dance is mov'd, As if both dead and living dancing lov'd.
"A diverse cause, but like solemnity
Unto the temple leads the bashful bride,
Which blusheth like the Indian ivory
Which is with dip of Tyrian purple dy'd:
A golden troop doth pass on ev'ry side
Of flourishing young men and virgins gay,
Which keep fair measure all the flow'ry way.
"And not alone the general multitude,
But those choice Nestors which in council grave
Of cities and of kingdoms do conclude,
Most comely order in their sessions have:
Wherefore the wise Thessalians ever gave
The name of leader of their country's dance
To him that had their country's governance.
"And those great masters of their liberal arts
In all their several schools do dancing teach,
For humble grammar first doth set the parts
Of congruent and well according speech:
Which rhetoric, whose state the clouds doth reach,
And heav'nly poetry do forward lead,
And diverse measure diversely do tread.
"For rhetoric clothing speech in rich array,
In looser numbers teacheth her to range,`
With twenty tropes, and turnings ev'ry way,
And various figures, and licentious change;
But poetry with rule and order strange
So curiously doth move each single pace,
As all is marr'd if she one foot misplace.
"These arts of speech the guides and marshals are ;
But logic leadeth reason in a dance,
Reason the connoisseur and bright load-star,
In this world's sca t' avoid the rock of chance,
For with close following and continuance
One reason doth another so ensue,
As in conclusion still the dance is true.
"So Music to her own sweet tunes doth trip,
With tricks of three, five, eight, fifteen, and more;
So doth the art of numb'ring seem to skip
From even to odd, in her proportion'd score:
So do those skills, whose quick eyes do explore
The just dimension both of Earth and Heaven,
In all their rules observe a measure even.
"Lo this is Dancing's true nobility:
Dancing the child of Music and of Love;
Dancing itself both love and harmony,
Where all agree, and all in order move;
Dancing the art that all arts do approve:
The fair character of the world's consent,
The Heav'n's true figure, and th' Earth's ornament."
The queen, whose dainty ears had borne too long
The tedious praise of that she did despise,
Adding once more the music of the tongue
To the sweet speech of her alluring eyes,
Began to answer in such winning wise,
As that forthwith Antinous' tongue was ty'd,
His eyes fast fix'd, his ears were open wide.
Forsooth," quoth she, “great glory you have won," And when your ivory fingers touch the strings
To your trim minion dancing all this while,
Of any silver sounding instrument,
By blazing him Love's first-begotten son;
Of ev'ry ill the hateful father vile
That doth the world with sorceries beguile:
Cunningly mad, religiously profane,
Wit's monster, reason's canker, sense's bane.
" Love taught the mother that unkind desire
To wash her bands in her own infant's blood;
Love taught the daughter to betray her sire
Into most base and worthy servitude;
Love taught the brother to prepare such food
To feast his brother, that the all-seeing Sun,
Wrapp'd in a cloud, that wicked sight did shun.
"And ev❜n this self same Love hath dancing taught,
An art that showeth th' idea of his mind
With vainness, frenzy, and misorder fraught;
Sometimes with blood and cruelties unkind:
For in a dance, Tereus' mad wife did find
Fit time and place, by murder of her son,
Tavenge the wrong his traitorous sire had done.
"What mean the mermaids, when they dance and
But certain death unto the mariner ? [sing,
What tidings do the dancing dolphins bring,
But that some dangerous storm approacheth near?
Then sith both Love and Dancing liveries bear
Of such ill hap, unhappy may I prove,
If sitting free I either dance or love."
Yet once again Antinous did reply;
"Great queen, condemn not Love 20 the innocent,
For this mischievous lust, which traitorously
Usurps his name, and steals his ornament:
For that true Love which dancing did invent,
Is he that tun'd the world's whole harmony,
And link'd all men in sweet society.
"He first extracted from th' earth-mingled mind
That heav'nly fire, or quintessence divine,
Which doth such sympathy in beauty find,
As is between the elm and fruitful vine,
And so to beauty ever doth incline:
Life's life it is, and cordial to the heart,
And of our better part the better part.
"This is true Love, by that true Cupid got,
Which danceth galliards in your am'rous eyes,
But to your frozen heart approacheth not,
Only your heart he dares not enterprise;
And yet through every other part he flies,
And every where he nimbly danceth now,
That in yourself, yourself perceive not how.
"For your sweet beauty daintily transfus'd
With due proportion throughout ev'ry part,
What is it but a dance, where Love hath us'd
His finer cunning, and more curious art;
Where all the elemçuts themselves impart,
And turn, and wind, and mingle with such measure,
That th' eye that sees it, surfeits with the pleasure?
Love makes them dance to those sweet murmurings,
With basy skill, and cunning excellent :
O that your feet those tunes would represent
With artificial motions to and fro,
That Love this art in ev'ry part might show!
"Yet your fair soul, which came from Heav'n above
To rule this house, another Heav'n below,
With divers powers in harmony doth move,
And all the virtues that from her do flow,
In a round measure hand in hand do go:
Could I now see, as I conceive this dance,
Wonder and love would cast me in a trance.
* Love in the twinkling of your eyelids danceth,
Love danceth in your pulses and your veins,
Love when you sow, your needle's point advanceth,"
And makes it dance a thousand curious strains
Of winding rounds, whereof the form remains:
To show, that your fair hands can dance the hay,
Which your fine feet would learn as well as they.
20 True Love inventor of dancing.
Then why should reason judge that reasonless
Which is wit's offspring, and the work of art,
Image of concord and of comeliness?
Who sees a clock moving in every part,
A sailing pinnace, or a wheeling cart,
But thinks that reason, ere it came to pass,
The first impulsive cause and mover was?
"Who sees an army all in rank advance,
But deems a wise commander is in place
Which leadeth on that brave victorious dance?
Much more in dancing's art, in dancing's grace
Blindness itself may reason's footsteps trace:
For of Love's maze it is the curious plot,
And of man's fellowship the true-love knot.
“O Love, my king; if all my wit and power
Have done you all the service that they can,
O be you present in this present hour,
And help your servant and your true liege-man,
End that persuasion which I erst began:
For who in praise of dancing can persuade
With such sweet force as Love, which dancing made?"
Love heard his pray'r, and swifter than the wind
Like to a page, in habit, face, and speech,
He came, and stood Antinous behind 1,
And many secrets to his thoughts did teach:
At last a crystal mirror he did reach
Unto his hands, that he with one rash view,
All forms therein by Love's revealing knew.
"But if these eyes of yours (load-stars of love,
Showing the world's great dance to your mind's eye) This was the picture of her wondrous thought ;
Cannot with all their demonstrations move
Kind apprehension in your fantasy
Of dancing's virtue, and nobility:
How can my barbarous tongue win you thereto,
Which Heav'n and Earth's fair speech could never do?
But who can wonder that her thought was so,
Sith Vulcan, king of fire, that mirror wrought,
(Who things to come, present, and past, doth know)
As there did represent in lively show
Our glorious English court's divine image,
As it should be in this our golden age ›
And humbly honouring, gave it to the queen
With this fair speech: "See fairest queen," quoth
"The fairest sight that ever shall be seen, [he,
And th' only wonder of posterity,
The richest work in Nature's treasury;
Which she disdains to show on this world's stage,
And thinks it far too good for our rude age.
"But in another world divided far,
In the great, fortunate, triangled isle,
Thrice twelve degrees remov'd from the north star,
She will this glorious workmanship compile,
Which she hath been conceiving all this while
Since the world's birth, and will bring forth at last,
When six and twenty hundred years are past.”
Penelope, the queen, when she had view'd
The strange eye-dazzling admirable sight,
Fain would have prais'd the state and pulchritude,
But she was stricken dumb with wouder quite,
Yet her sweet mind retain'd her thinking might:
Her ravish'd mind in heav'nly thoughts did dwell,
But what she thought, no mortal tongue can tell.
You, lady Muse, whom Jove the counsellor
Begot of Memory, Wisdom's treasuress,
To your divining tongue is given a power
Of uttering secrets large and limitless:
You can Penelope's strange thoughts express
Which she conceiv'd, and then would fain have told,
When she the wondrous crystal did behold.
Her winged thoughts bore up her mind so high,
As that she ween'd she saw the glorious throne
Where the bright Moon doth sit in majesty,
A thousand sparkling stars about her shone;
But she herself did sparkle more alone
Than all those thousand beauties would have done
If they had been confounded all in one.
And yet she thought those stars mov'd in such mea
To do their sovereign honour and delight,
As sooth'd her mind with sweet enchanting pleasure,
Although the various change amaz'd her sight,
And her weak judgment did entangle quite:
Beside, their moving made them shine more clear,
As diamonds mov'd, more sparkling do appear.
21 A passage to the description of dancing in So, &c. &c. that age.
Her brighter dazzling beams of majesty
Were laid aside, for she vouchsafd awhile
With gracious, cheerful, and familiar eye
Upon the revels of her court to smile;
For so time's journies she doth oft beguile :
Like sight no mortal eye might elsewhere see
So full of state, art, and variety.
For of her barons brave, and ladies fair,
(Who had they been elsewhere most fair had been)
Many an incomparable lovely pair,
With hand in hand were interlinked seen,
Making fair honour to their sovereign queen;
Forward they pac'd, and did their pace apply
To a most sweet and solemn melody.
So subtle and so curious was the measure,
With so unlook'd for change in ev'ry strain;
As that Penelope wrapp'd with sweet pleasure,
When she beheld the true proportion plain
Of her own web, weav'd and unweav'd again;
But that her art was somewhat less she thought,
And on a mere ignoble subject wrought.
For here, like to the silk-worm's industry,
Beauty itself out of itself did weave
So rare a work, and of such subtlety,
As did all eyes entangle and deceive,
And in all minds a strange impression leave:
In this sweet labyrinth did Cupid stray,
And never had the power to pass away.
As when the Indians, neighbours of the morning,
In honour of the cheerful rising Sun,
With pearl and painted plumes themselves adorning,
A solemn stately measure have begun ;
The god, well pleas'd with that fair honour done,
Sheds forth his beams, and doth their faces kiss
With that immortal glorious face of his.