Arriv'd at court, I found the palace rooms
Adorn'd with hangings made in costly looms;
Fair maids I met, that mov'd with heavenly grace,
And young men, walking with a lusty pace;
Old men I saw, too, but I could not dream
What service Venus could receive from them.
Pensive I stood, and fearful to be seen,
Till one I spied belonging to the queen,
Call'd Philomel; I knew her once a maid,
But all her life she lov'd. "My friend (she said)
Welcome to Cupid's court; but you, I fear,
Receiv'd from Mercury a summons here."
I answered, "Yes." She said, " Your negligence
Will then be thought a wilful dire offence;
For all that live in luxury and ease,
By nature form'd the charming sex to please,
To this fam'd palace early should repair,
And hasten to the service of the fair;
But you that absent durst so long remain,
Without a boat had better cross the main,
Than hear the curse that disobedience draws
On bold contemners of love's sacred laws;
For no unhappy men such torments bear,
As wretches doom'd to feel affliction here.
Soon they perceive their appetite's decay'd,
Love makes their health decrease, their color fade.
Long since, I tempted you to Cupid's court;
Now he'll receive you with a sullen port.
Perhaps repentance may the god assuage;
But why should you so long provoke his rage?"
I answer'd thus: "With sorrow I repent,
Wretch that I am, a life so vainly spent."
And having spoke, by her I straight was led
To a vast hall, with various carpets spread,
And cloth of gold; on which I wondering found
A throne of state, erected from the ground,
Where Venus sat, with her imperial son;
Each had a sceptre and a radiant crown.
To see their pomp, I could till now have stood
Thoughtless of drink, and destitute of food;
The pleasures of the fam'd Elysian field
Can no such rapture to a stranger yield.
No wonder Venus, bless'd with such a mien,
And such a person, reigns of beauty queen;
Her golden hair dishevell'd, crisp and long,
In easy curls around her shoulders hung;
And ev'ry beam that's darted from her eyes,
Piercing and sharp, like pointed arrow flies.
The king of love had danger by his side,
The queen, despair; and looking further wide,
Attendance, fear, and flattery I view'd,
And hope, with strength above the rest endu'd;
And wrinkled jealousy; with young delight,
Open and free, and cheerful to the sight;
And envy, lurking in a secret place;
Lean was her body, leering was her face;
Repining at the fortunate she sat,
And at that distance one night see her fret.
Below the throne, a humble sighing crowd
With pressing suits and warm petitions bow'd.