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The Gods were pliant to hir boone. The bodies of them twaine
Were mixt and joyned both in one. To both them did remaine
One countnance: like as if a man should in one barke beholde
Two twigges both growing into one and still togither holde.
Even so when through hir hugging and hir grasping of the tother
The members of them mingled were and fastned both togither,
They were not any lenger two: but (as it were) a toy
Of double shape. Ye could not say it was a perfect boy
Nor perfect wench: it seemed both and none of both to beene.
Now when Hermaphroditus saw how in the water sheene
To which he entred in a man, his limmes were weakened so
That out fro thence but halfe a man he was compelde to go,
He lifteth up his hands and said (but not with manly reere):
O noble father Mercurie, and Venus mother deere,
This one petition graunt your son which both your names doth beare,
That whoso commes within this Well may so be weakened there,
That of a man but halfe a man he may fro thence retire.
Both Parentes moved with the chaunce did stablish this desire
The which their doubleshaped sonne had made: and thereupon
Infected with an unknowne strength the sacred spring anon.
Their tales did ende and Mineus daughters still their businesse plie
In spight of Bacchus whose high feast they breake contemptuously.
When on the sodaine (seeing nought) they heard about them round
Of tubbish Timbrels perfectly a hoarse and jarring sound,
With shraming shalmes and gingling belles, and furthermore they felt
A cent of Saffron and of Myrrhe that verie hotly smelt.
And (which a man would ill beleve) the web they had begun
Immediatly waxt fresh and greene, the flaxe the which they spun
Did flourish full of Ivie leaves. And part thereof did run
Abrode in Vines. The threede it selfe in braunches forth did spring.
Yong burgeons full of clustred grapes their Distaves forth did bring.
And as the web they wrought was dide a deepe darke purple hew,
Even so upon the painted grapes the selfesame colour grew.
The day was spent, and now was come the time which neyther night
Nor day, but even the bound of both a man may terme of right.
The house at sodaine seemde to shake, and all about it shine
With burning lampes, and glittering fires to flash before their eyen,
And Likenesses of ougly beastes with gastfull noyses yeld.
For feare whereof in smokie holes the sisters were compeld
To hide their heades, one here and there another, for to shun
The glistring light. And while they thus in corners blindly run,
Upon their little pretie limmes a fine crispe filme there goes,
And slender finnes in stead of handes their shortned armes enclose.
But how they lost their former shape of certaintie to know
The darknesse would not suffer them. No feathers on them grow,
And yet with shere and velume wings they hover from the ground
And when they goe about to speake they make but little sound,
According as their bodies give, bewayling their despight
By chirping shirlly to themselves. In houses they delight
And not in woods: detesting day they flitter towards night:
Wherethrough they of the Evening late in Latin take their name,
And we in English language Backes or Reermice call the same.
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