Table of Contents:
The krinkes of certaine Prophesies surmounting farre above
The reach of auncient wits to read, the Brookenymphes did expound:
And mindlesse of hir owne darke doubts Dame Themis being found,
Was as a rechelesse Prophetisse throwne flat against the ground.
For which presumptuous deede of theirs she tooke just punishment.
To Thebes in Baeotia streight a cruell beast she sent,
Which wrought the bane of many a Wight. The countryfolk did feed
Him with their cattell and themselves, untill (as was agreed)
That all we youthfull Gentlemen that dwelled there about
Assembling pitcht our corded toyles the champion fields throughout.
But Net ne toyle was none so hie that could his wightnesse stop,
He mounted over at his ease the highest of the top.
Then everie man let slip their Grewnds, but he them all outstript
And even as nimbly as a birde in daliance from them whipt.
Then all the field desired me to let my Laelaps go:
(The Grewnd that Procris unto me did give was named so)
Who strugling for to wrest his necke already from the band
Did stretch his collar. Scarsly had we let him off of hand
But that where Laelaps was become we could not understand.
The print remained of his feete upon the parched sand,
But he was clearly out of sight. Was never Dart I trow,
Nor Pellet from enforced Sling, nor shaft from Cretish bow,
That flew more swift than he did runne. There was not farre fro thence
About the middle of the Laund a rising ground, from whence
A man might overlooke the fieldes. I gate me to the knap
Of this same hill, and there beheld of this straunge course the hap
In which the beast seemes one while caught, and ere a man would think,
Doth quickly give the Grewnd the slip, and from his bighting shrink:
And like a wilie Foxe he runnes not forth directly out,
Nor makes a windlasse over all the champion fieldes about,
But doubling and indenting still avoydes his enmies lips,
And turning short, as swift about as spinning wheele he whips,
To disapoint the snatch. The Grewnd pursuing at an inch
Doth cote him, never losing ground: but likely still to pinch
Is at the sodaine shifted off. Continually he snatches
In vaine: for nothing in his mouth save only Aire he latches.
Then thought I for to trie what helpe my Dart at neede could show.
Which as I charged in my hand by levell aime to throw,
And set my fingars to the thongs, I lifting from bylow
Mine eies, did looke right forth againe, and straight amids the field
(A wondrous thing) two Images of Marble I beheld:
Of which ye would have thought the t'one had fled on still apace
And that with open barking mouth the tother did him chase.
In faith it was the will of God (at least if any Goddes
Had care of them) that in their pace there should be found none oddes.
Thus farre: and then he held his peace. But tell us ere we part
(Quoth Phocus) what offence or fault committed hath your Dart?
His Darts offence he thus declarde: My Lorde, the ground of all
My grief was joy. Those joyes of mine remember first I shall.
It doth me good even yet to thinke upon that blissfull time
( meane the fresh and lustie yeares of pleasant youthfull Prime)
When I a happie man enjoyde so faire and good a wife,
And she with such a loving make did lead a happie life.
The care was like of both of us, the mutuall love all one.
She would not to have line with Jove my presence have forgone.
Ne was there any Wight that could of me have wonne the love,
No though Dame Venus had hir selfe descended from above.
The glowing brands of love did burne in both our brests alike.
Such time as first with crased beames the Sunne is wont to strike
The tops of Towres and mountaines high, according to the wont
Of youthfull men, in woodie Parkes I went abrode to hunt.
But neither horse nor Hounds to make pursuit upon the scent.
Nor Servingman, nor knottie toyle before or after went,
For I was safe with this same Dart. When wearie waxt mine arme
With striking Deere, and that the day did make me somewhat warme,
Withdrawing for to coole my selfe I sought among the shades
For Aire that from the valleyes colde came breathing in at glades.
The more excessive was my heate the more for Aire I sought.
I waited for the gentle Aire: the Aire was that that brought
Refreshing to my wearie limmes. And (well I bear't in thought)
Come Aire I wonted was to sing, come ease the paine of me
Within my bosom lodge thy selfe most welcome unto me,
And as thou heretofore art wont abate my burning heate.
By chaunce (such was my destinie) proceeding to repeate
Mo words of daliance like to these, I used for to say
Great pleasure doe I take in thee: for thou from day to day
Doste both refresh and nourish me. Thou makest me delight
In woods and solitarie grounds. Now would to God I might
Receive continuall at my mouth this pleasant breath of thine.
Some man (I wote not who) did heare these doubtfull words of mine,
And taking them amisse supposde that this same name of Aire
The which I callde so oft upon, had bene some Ladie faire:
He thought that I had lovde some Nymph. And thereupon streight way
He runnes me like a Harebrainde blab to Procris, to bewray
This fault as he surmised it: and there with lavish tung
Reported all the wanton words that he had heard me sung.
A thing of light beliefe is love. She (as I since have harde)
For sodeine sorrow swounded downe: and when long afterwarde
She came againe unto hir selfe, she said she was accurst
And borne to cruell destinie: and me she blamed wurst
For breaking faith: and freating at a vaine surmised shame
She dreaded that which nothing was: she fearde a headlesse name.
She wist not what to say or thinke. The wretch did greatly feare
Deceit: yet could she not beleve the tales that talked were.
Onlesse she saw hir husbands fault apparant to hir eie,
She thought she would not him condemne of any villanie.
Next day as soone as Morning light had driven the night away,
I went abrode to hunt againe: and speeding, as I lay
Upon the grasse, I said: Come, Aire, and ease my painfull heate.
And on the sodaine as I spake there seemed for to beate
A certaine sighing in mine eares of what I could not gesse.
But ceasing not for that I still proceeded nathelesse:
And said, O come, most pleasant Aire. With that I heard a sound
Of russling softly in the leaves that lay upon the ground.
And thinking it had bene some beast I threw my flying Dart.
It was my wife. Who being now sore wounded at the hart,
Cride out, Alas. As soone as I perceyved by the shrieke
It was my faithfull spouse, I ran me to the voiceward lieke
A madman that had lost his wits. There found I hir halfe dead,
Hir scattred garments staining in the bloud that she had bled,
And (wretched creature as I am) yet drawing from the wound
The gift that she hir selfe had given. Then softly from the ground
I lifted up that bodie of hirs of which I was more chare
Than of mine owne, and from hir brest hir clothes in hast I tare.
And binding up hir cruell wound I strived for to stay
The bloud, and prayd she would not thus by passing so away
Forsake me as a murtherer: she waxing weake at length
And drawing to hir death apace, enforced all hir strength
To utter these few wordes at last: I pray thee humbly by
Our bond of wedlocke, by the Gods as well above the Skie
As those to whome I now must passe, as ever I have ought
Deserved well by thee, and by the Love which having brought
Me to my death doth even in death unfaded still remaine,
To nestle in thy bed and mine let never Aire obtaine.
This sed, she held hir peace, and I perceyved by the same
And tolde hir also how she was beguiled in the name.
But what avayled telling then? she quoathde: and with hir bloud
Hir little strength did fade. Howbeit as long as that she coud
See ought, she stared in my face and gasping still on me
Even in my mouth she breathed forth hir wretched ghost. But she
Did seeme with better cheare to die for that hir conscience was
Discharged quight and cleare of doubtes. Now in conclusion as
Duke Cephal weeping told this tale to Phocus and the rest
Whose eyes were also moyst with teares to heare the pitious gest,
Behold King Aeacus and with him his eldest sonnes both twaine
Did enter in and after them there followed in a traine
Of well appointed men of warre new levied: which the King
Delivered unto Cephalus to Athens towne to bring.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.