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A Nuptial Song or Epithalamy On Sir Clipseby Crew And His Lady

by Robert Herrick, 1648

What’s that we see from far? the spring of day
Bloom’d from the east, or fair enjewell’d May
      Blown out of April, or some new
      Star filled with glory to our view,
        Reaching at heaven,
    To add a nobler planet to the seven?
      Say, or do we not descry
Some goddess in a cloud of tiffany
        To move, or rather the
      Emergent Venus from the sea?

’Tis she! ’tis she! or else some more divine
Enlightened substance; mark how from the shrine
      Of holy saints she paces on,
      Treading upon vermilion
        And amber: spicing the chaft air with fumes of Paradise.
      Then come on, come on and yield
A savour like unto a blessed field
        When the bedabbled morn
      Washes the golden ears of corn.

See where she comes; and smell how all the street
Breathes vineyards and pomegranates: O how sweet!
      As a fir’d altar is each stone,
      Perspiring pounded cinnamon.
        The phœnix’ nest,
Built up of odours, burneth in her breast.
      Who, therein, would not consume
His soul to ash-heaps in that rich perfume?
        Bestroking fate the while
      He burns to embers on the pile.

Hymen, O Hymen! tread the sacred ground;
Show thy white feet and head with marjoram crown’d:
      Mount up thy flames and let thy torch
      Display the bridegroom in the porch,
        In his desires
More towering, more disparkling than thy fires:
      Show her how his eyes do turn
And roll about, and in their motions burn
        Their balls to cinders: haste
      Or else to ashes he will waste.

Glide by the banks of virgins, then, and pass
The showers of roses, lucky four-leav’d grass:
      The while the cloud of younglings sing
      And drown ye with a flowery spring;
        While some repeat
Your praise and bless you, sprinkling you with wheat;
      While that others do divine,
Bless’d is the bride on whom the sun doth shine;
        And thousands gladly wish
      You multiply as doth a fish.

And, beauteous bride, we do confess y’are wise
In dealing forth these bashful jealousies:
      In love’s name do so; and a price
      Set on yourself by being nice:
        But yet take heed;
What now you seem be not the same indeed,
      And turn apostate: love will,
Part of the way be met or sit stone-still.
        On, then, and though you slow-ly go, yet, howsoever, go.

And now y’are entered; see the coddled cook
Runs from his torrid zone to pry and look
    And bless his dainty mistress: see
    The aged point out, “This is she
        Who now must sway
The house (love shield her) with her yea and nay”:
    And the smirk butler thinks it
    Sin in’s napery not to express his wit;
        Each striving to devise
    Some gin wherewith to catch your eyes.

To bed, to bed, kind turtles, now, and write
This the short’st day, and this the longest night;
    But yet too short for you: ’tis we
    Who count this night as long as three,
        Lying alone,
Telling the clock strike ten, eleven, twelve, one.
    Quickly, quickly then prepare,
And let the young men and the bride-maids share
        Your garters; and their joints
    Encircle with the bridegroom’s points.

By the bride’s eyes, and by the teeming life
Of her green hopes, we charge ye that no strife
    (Farther than gentleness tends) gets place
    Among ye, striving for her lace:
        O do not fall
Foul in these noble pastimes, lest ye call
    Discord in, and so divide
The youthful bridegroom and the fragrant bride:
        Which love forfend; but spoken
    Be’t to your praise, no peace was broken.

Strip her of springtime, tender-whimpering maids,
Now autumn’s come, when all these flowery aids
    Of her delays must end; dispose
    That lady-smock, that pansy, and that rose
        Neatly apart,
But for prick-madam and for gentle-heart,
    And soft maidens’-blush, the bride
Makes holy these, all others lay aside:
        Then strip her, or unto her
    Let him come who dares undo her.

And to enchant ye more, see everywhere
About the roof a siren in a sphere,
    As we think, singing to the din
    Of many a warbling cherubin.
        O mark ye how
The soul of nature melts in numbers: now
    See, a thousand Cupids fly
To light their tapers at the bride’s bright eye.
        To bed, or her they’ll tire,
    Were she an element of fire.

And to your more bewitching, see, the proud
Plump bed bear up, and swelling like a cloud,
    Tempting the two too modest; can
    Ye see it brusle like a swan,
        And you be cold
To meet it when it woos and seems to fold
    The arms to hug it? Throw, throw
Yourselves into the mighty overflow
        Of that white pride, and drown
    The night with you in floods of down.

The bed is ready, and the maze of love
Looks for the treaders; everywhere is wove
    Wit and new mystery; read, and
    Put in practice, to understand
        And know each wile,
Each hieroglyphic of a kiss or smile;
    And do it to the full; reach
High in your own conceit, and some way teach
        Nature and art one more
    Play than they ever knew before.

If needs we must for ceremony’s sake,
Bless a sack-posset, luck go with it, take
    The night-charm quickly, you have spells
    And magics for to end, and hells
        To pass; but such
And of such torture as no one would grutch
    To live therein for ever: fry
And consume, and grow again to die
        And live, and, in that case,
    Love the confusion of the place.

But since it must be done, despatch, and sew
Up in a sheet your bride, and what if so
    It be with rock or walls of brass
    Ye tower her up, as Danae was;
        Think you that this
Or hell itself a powerful bulwark is?
    I tell ye no; but like a
Bold bolt of thunder he will make his way,
        And rend the cloud, and throw
    The sheet about like flakes of snow.

All now is hushed in silence: midwife-moon
With all her owl-eyed issue begs a boon,
    Which you must grant; that’s entrance; with
    Which extract, all we can call pith
        And quintessence
Of planetary bodies, so commence,
    All fair constellations
Looking upon ye, that two nations,
        Springing from two such fires
    May blaze the virtue of their sires.

Published in Hesperides

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