Venus and Adonis [But, lo! from forth a copse]

William Shakespeare

 
But, lo! from forth a copse that neighbours by,
A breeding jennet, lusty, young, and proud,
Adonis' trampling courser doth espy,
And forth she rushes, snorts and neighs aloud;
     The strong-neck'd steed, being tied unto a tree,
     Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he.
Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds,
And now his woven girths he breaks asunder;
The bearing earth with his hard hoof he wounds,
Whose hollow womb resounds like heaven's thunder;
     The iron bit he crushes 'tween his teeth
     Controlling what he was controlled with.
His ears up-prick'd; his braided hanging mane
Upon his compass'd crest now stand on end;
His nostrils drink the air, and forth again,
As from a furnace, vapours doth he send:
     His eye, which scornfully glisters like fire,
     Shows his hot courage and his high desire.
Sometime her trots, as if he told the steps,
With gentle majesty and modest pride;
Anon he rears upright, curvets and leaps,
As who should say, 'Lo! thus my strength is tried;
     And this I do to captivate the eye
     Of the fair breeder that is standing by.'
What recketh he his rider's angry stir,
His flattering 'Holla,' or his 'Stand, I say?'
What cares he now for curb of pricking spur?
For rich caparisons or trapping gay?
     He sees his love, and nothing else he sees,
     Nor nothing else with his proud sight agrees.
Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
In limning out a well-proportion'd steed,
His art with nature's workmanship at strife,
As if the dead the living should exceed;
     So did this horse excel a common one,
     In shape, in courage, colour, pace and bone
Round-hoof'd, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide,
High crest, short ears, straight legs and passing strong,
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide:
     Look, what a horse should have he did not lack,
     Save a proud rider on so proud a back.
Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares;
Anon he starts at stirring of a feather;
To bid the wind a race he now prepares,
And whe'r he run or fly they know not whether;
     For through his mane and tail the high wind sings,
     Fanning the hairs, who wave like feather'd wings.
He looks upon his love, and neighs unto her;
She answers him as if she knew his mind;
Being proud, as females are, to see him woo her,
She puts on outward strangeness, seems unkind,
     Spurns at his love and scorns the heat he feels,
     Beating his kind embracements with her heels.
Then, like a melancholy malcontent,
He vails his tail that, like a falling plume
Cool shadow to his melting buttock lent:
He stamps, and bites the poor flies in his fume.
     His love, perceiving how he is enrag'd,
     Grew kinder, and his fury was assuag'd.
His testy master goeth about to take him;
When lo! the unback'd breeder, full of fear,
Jealous of catching, swiftly doth forsake him,
With her the horse, and left Adonis there.
     As they were mad, unto the wood they hie them,
     Out-stripping crows that strive to over-fly them.
     I prophesy they death, my living sorrow,
     If thou encounter with the boar to-morrow.
"But if thou needs wilt hunt, be rul'd by me;
Uncouple at the timorous flying hare,
Or at the fox which lives by subtlety,
Or at the roe which no encounter dare:
     Pursue these fearful creatures o'er the downs,
     And on they well-breath'd horse keep with they hounds.
"And when thou hast on food the purblind hare,
Mark the poor wretch, to overshoot his troubles
How he outruns with winds, and with what care
He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles:
     The many musits through the which he goes
     Are like a labyrinth to amaze his foes.
"Sometime he runs among a flock of sheep,
To make the cunning hounds mistake their smell,
And sometime where earth-delving conies keep,
To stop the loud pursuers in their yell,
     And sometime sorteth with a herd of deer;
     Danger deviseth shifts; wit waits on fear:
"For there his smell with other being mingled,
The hot scent-snuffing hounds are driven to doubt,
Ceasing their clamorous cry till they have singled
With much ado the cold fault cleanly out;
     Then do they spend their mouths: Echo replies,
     As if another chase were in the skies.
"By this, poor Wat, far off upon a hill,
Stands on his hinder legs with listening ear,
To hearken if his foes pursue him still:
Anon their loud alarums he doth hear;
     And now his grief may be compared well
     To one sore sick that hears the passing-bell.
"Then shalt thou see the dew-bedabbled wretch
Turn, and return, indenting with the way;
Each envious briar his weary legs doth scratch,
Each shadow makes him stop, each murmur stay:
     For misery is trodden on by many,
     And being low never reliev'd by any.
"Lie quietly, and hear a little more;
Nay, do not struggle, for thou shalt not rise:
To make thee hate the hunting of the boar,
Unlike myself thou hear'st me moralize,
     Applying this to that, and so to so;
     For love can comment upon every woe."
 

Poems by This Author

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, Scene I [Over hill, over dale] by William Shakespeare
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Antony and Cleopatra, Act II, Scene II [The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne] by William Shakespeare
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As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII [All the world's a stage] by William Shakespeare
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As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII [Blow, blow, thou winter wind] by William Shakespeare
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Hamlet, Act I, Scene I [Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes] by William Shakespeare
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Hamlet, Act III, Scene I [To be, or not to be] by William Shakespeare
To be, or not to be: that is the question
Hamlet, Act III, Scene III [Oh my offence is rank] by William Shakespeare
O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven
Hamlet, Act IV, Scene IV [How all occasions do inform against me] by William Shakespeare
How all occasions do inform against me
Henry V, Act III, Scene I [One more unto the breach, dear friends] by William Shakespeare
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more
Henry V, Act V, Scene III [What's he that wishes so?] by William Shakespeare
What's he that wishes so
King Lear, Act III, Scene II [Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!] by William Shakespeare
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
Love's Labour's Lost, Act V, Scene 2 [Winter] by William Shakespeare
When icicles hang by the wall
Macbeth, Act I, Scene II [The merciless Macdonwald] by William Shakespeare
The merciless Macdonwald
Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I [Round about the cauldron go] by William Shakespeare
Round about the cauldron go
Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene II by William Shakespeare
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Tempest, Act V, Scene I [Where the bee sucks, there suck I] by William Shakespeare
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The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I [The quality of mercy is not strained] by William Shakespeare
The quality of mercy is not strained
The Winter's Tale Act IV, Scene II [When daffodils begin to peer] by William Shakespeare
When daffodils begin to peer
Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene III [O Mistress mine, where are you roaming?] by William Shakespeare
O Mistress mine, where are you roaming
From you have I been absent in the spring... (Sonnet 98) by William Shakespeare
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How like a winter hath my absence been
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Let me not to the marriage of true minds
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130) by William Shakespeare
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun
Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck (Sonnet 14) by William Shakespeare
Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck,
Not marble nor the guilded monuments (Sonnet 55) by William Shakespeare
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Orpheus by William Shakespeare
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Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? (Sonnet 18) by William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea (Sonnet 65) by William Shakespeare
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That time of year thou mayst in me behold (Sonnet 73) by William Shakespeare
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
The expense of spirit in a waste of shame (Sonnet 129) by William Shakespeare
The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
They that have power to hurt and will do none (Sonnet 94) by William Shakespeare
They that have power to hurt and will do none
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Tired with all these, for restful death I cry (Sonnet 66) by William Shakespeare
Tired with all these, for restful death I cry
When I consider every thing that grows (Sonnet 15) by William Shakespeare
When I consider every thing that grows
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes (Sonnet 29) by William Shakespeare
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When that I was and a little tiny boy by William Shakespeare
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When to the sessions of sweet silent thought (Sonnet 30) by William Shakespeare
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought