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The hedge was set so thick, no foreign eye
The persons placed within it could espy;
But all that pass'd without with ease was seen,
As if nor fence nor tree was placed between.
'Twas border'd with a field ; and some was plain
With grass, and some was sow'd with rising grain,
That (now the dew with spangles deck'd the ground)
A sweeter spot of earth was never found.
I look'd and look’d, and still with new delight;
Such joy my soul, such pleasures filld my sight;
And the fresh eglantine exhaled a breath,

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Whose odours were of power to raise from death."
Nor sullen discontent, nor anxious care,
Even though brought thither, could inhabit there:
But thence they fled as from their mortal foe;
For this sweet place could only pleasure know.

Thus as I mused, I cast aside my eye, : And saw a mędlar-tree was planted nigh. The spreading branches made a goodly show, And full of opening blooms was every bough: A goldfinch there I saw with gaudy pride Of painted plumes, that hoppå from side to side, Still pecking as she pass'd ; and still she drew

; The sweets from every flower, and suck'd the dew. Sufficed at length, she warbled in her throat, And tuned her voice to many a merry note, But indistinct, and neither sweet nor clear, Yet such as sooth'd my soul, and pleased my ear.

Her short performance was no sooner tried, When she I sought, the nightingale, replied: So sweet, so shrill, so variously she sung, That the grove echo'd, and the valleys rung ; And I so ravish'd with her heavenly note, I stood entranced, and had no room for thought, But all o'er-power'd with ecstasy of bliss, Was in a pleasing dream of paradise ;

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At length I waked, and, looking round the bower,
Search'd every tree, and pry'd on every flower,
If any where by chance I might espy
The rural poet of the melody ;
For still methought she sung not far away :
At last I found her on a laurel spray,
Close by my side she sate, and fair in sight,
Full in a line, against her opposite;
Where stood with eglantine the laurel twined,
And both their native sweets were well conjoin'd.

On the green bank I sat, and listen'd long;
(Sitting was more convenient for the song :)
Nor till her lay was ended could I move,
But wish'd to dwell for ever in the grove.
Only methought the time too swiftly pass’d,
And every note I fear'd would be the last.
My sight, and smell, and hearing, were employ'd,
And all three senses in full gust

enjoy'd.
And what alone did all the rest surpass,
The sweet possession of the fairy place ;
Single and conscious to myself alone
Of pleasures to the excluded world unknown;
Pleasures which no where else were to be found,
And all Elysium in a spot of ground.

Thus while I sat intent to see and hear,
And drew perfumes of more than vital air,
All suddenly I heard the approaching sound
Of vocal music, on the enchanted ground :
An host of saints it seem'd, so full the quire;
As if the bless'd above did all conspire
To join their voices, and neglect the lyre.
At length there issued from the grove behind
A fair assembly of the female kind :
A train less fair, as ancient fathers tell,
Seduced the sons of heaven to rebel.
I pass their forms, and every charming grace ;
Less than an angel would their worth debase :

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But their attire, like liveries of a kind,
All rich and rare, is fresh within my mind.
In velvet white as snow the troop was gown’d,

The seams with sparkling emeralds set around :
Their hoods and sleeves the same; and purfled o'er
With diamonds, pearls, and all the shining store
Of eastern pomp; their long-descending train
With rubies edged, and sapphires, swept the plain.
High on their heads, with jewels richly set,
Each lady wore a radiant coronet.
Beneath the circles, all the quire was graced
With chaplets green on their fair foreheads placed ;
Of laurel some, of woodbine many more,
And wreaths of Agnus castus others bore :
These last, who with those virgin crowns were

dressid, Appear'd in higher honour than the rest. They danced around; but in the midst was seen

1 A lady of a more majestic mien; By stature, and by beauty, mark'd their sovereign

queen. She in the midst began with sober grace ; Her servants' eyes were fix'd upon her face, And as she moved or turn'd, her motions view'd, Her measures kept, and step by step pursued. Methought she trod the ground with greater grace, With more of godhead shining in her face ; And as in beauty she surpass'd the quire, So, nobler than the rest was her attire. A crown of ruddy gold inclosed her brow, Plain without pomp, and rich without a show: A branch of Agnus castus in her hand She bore aloft (her sceptre of command ;) Admired, adored by all the circling crowd, For wheresoe'er she turn'd her face, they bow'd. And as she danced, a roundelay she sung, In honour of the laurel, ever young.

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She raised her voice on high, and sung so clear,
The fawns came scudding from the groves to hear,
And all the bending forest lent an ear.
At every close she made, the attending throng
Replied, and bore the burden of the song :
So just, so small, yet in so sweet a note,
It seem'd the music melted in the throat.

Thus dancing on, and singing as they danced,
They to the middle of the mead advanced,
Till round my arbour a new ring they made,
And footed it about the sacred shade.
O'erjoy'd to see the jolly troop so near,
But somewhat awed, I shook with holy fear;
Yet not so much, but that I noted well
Who did the most in song or dance excel.

Not long I had observed, when from afar I heard a sudden symphony of war ; The neighing coursers, and the soldiers' cry, And sounding trumps that seem'd to tear the sky: I saw soon after this, behind the

grove From whence the ladies did in order move, Come issuing out in arms a warrior train, That like a deluge pour'd upon the plain : On barbed steeds they rode in proud array, Thick as the college of the bees in May, When swarming o'er the dusky fields they fly, New to the flowers, and intercept the sky. So fierce they drove, their coursers were so fleet, That the turf trembled underneath their feet.

To tell their costly furniture were long, The summer's day would end before the song : To purchase but the tenth of all their store, Would make the mighty Persian monarch poor. . Yet what I can, I will : before the rest The trumpets issued in white mantles dress'd ; A numerous troop, and all their heads around With chaplets green of cerrial-oak were crown'd, And at each trumpet was a banner bound;

Which, waving in the wind, display'd at large
Their master's coat:of-arms, and knightly charge.
Broad were the banners, and of snowy hue,
A purer web 'the silk-worm never drew.
The chief about their necks the scutcheons wore,
With orient pearls and jewels powder'd o'er :
Broad were their collars too, and every one
Was set about with many a costly stone.*
Next these, of kings-at-arms a goodly train
In proud array came prancing o'er the plain :
Their cloaks were cloth of silver mix'd with gold,
And garlands green around their temples rollid :
Rich crowns were on their royal scutcheons placed,
With sapphires, diamonds, and with rubies graced:
And as the trumpets their appearance made,
So these in habits were alike array'd;
But with a pace more sober, and more slow,
And twenty, rank in rank, they rode a-rów.
The pursuivants came next, in number more ;
And like the heralds each his scutcheon bore :
Clad in white velvet all their troop they led,
With each an oaken chaplet on his head.

Nine royal knights in equal rank succeed,
Each warrior mounted on a fiery steed,
In golden armour glorious to behold;
The rivetst of their arms were naild with gold.

• Trumpeters, and other warlike musicians, long held some part of the character of heralds and of ancient minstrels. They were distinguished by collars and tabards, and often employed on messages, during which their persons were sacred.

+ The joints of the armour were rivetted with nails after the warrior had put it on. Hence among the sounds of preparation for battle, Shakespeare enumerates that of

The armourers accomplishing thc knights,
With busy hammers closing rivets up.

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