Orchestra; or, A Poem of Dancing

Where lives the man that never yet did hear
Of chaste Penelope, Ulysses' queen?
Who kept her faith unspotted twenty year,
Till he returned, that far away had been,
And many men and many towns had seen;
Ten year at siege of Troy he lingering lay,
And ten year in the midland sea did stray.

Homer, to whom the Muses did carouse
A great deep cup with heavenly nectar filled:
The greatest deepest cup in Jove's great house,
(For Jove himself had so expressly willed,)
He drank off all, ne let one drop be spilled;
Since when his brain, that had before been dry,
Became the wellspring of all poetry.

Homer doth tell, in his abundant verse,
The long laborious travails of the man,
And of his lady too he doth rehearse,
How she illudes, with all the art she can,
Th' ungrateful love which other lords began;
For of her lord false fame long since had sworn,
That Neptune's monsters had his carcass torn.

All this he tells, but one thing he forgot,
One thing most worthy his eternal song;
But he was old and blind and saw it not,
Or else he thought he should Ulysses wrong,
To mingle it his tragic acts among;
Yet was there not, in all the world of things,
A sweeter burden for his Muse's wings.

The courtly love Antinous did make,
Antinous, that fresh and jolly knight,
Which of the gallants, that did undertake
To win the widow, had most wealth and might,
Wit to persuade, and beauty to delight:
The courtly love he made unto the queen,
Homer forgot, as if it had not been.

Sing then, Terpsichore, my light Muse, sing
His gentle art and cunning courtesy!
You, lady, can remember everything,
For you are daughter of queen Memory;
But sing a plain and easy melody,
For the soft mean that warbleth but the ground
To my rude ear doth yield the sweetest sound.

Only one night's discourse I can report:
When the great torchbearer of heaven was gone
Down, in a mask, unto the Ocean's court,
To revel it with Tethys, all alone
Antinous, disguised and unknown,
Like to the spring in gaudy ornament,
Unto the castle of the princess went.

The sovereign castle of the rocky isle,
Wherein Penelope the princess lay,
Shone with a thousand lamps, which did exile
The shadows dark, and turned the night to day.
Not Jove's blue tent, what time the sunny ray
Behind the bulwark of the earth retires,
Is seen to sparkle with more twinkling fires.

That night the queen came forth from far within,
And in the presence of her court was seen;
For the sweet singer Phemius did begin
To praise the worthies that at Troy had been;
Somewhat of her Ulysses she did ween
In his grave hymn the heavenly man would sing,
Or of his wars, or of his wandering.

Pallas that hour, with her sweet breath divine,
Inspired immortal beauty in her eyes,
That with celestial glory she did shine
Brighter than Venus, when she doth arise
Out of the waters to adorn the skies.
The wooers, all amazed, do admire
And check their own presumptuous desire.

Only Antinous, when at first he viewed
Her star-bright eyes that with new honour shined,
Was not dismayed; but therewithal renewed
The noblesse and the splendour of his mind;
And as he did fit circumstances find,
Unto the throne he boldly 'gan advance,
And with fair manners wooed the queen to dance:

"Goddess of women! sith your heavenliness
Hath now vouchsafed itself to represent
To our dim eyes, which though they see the less,
Yet are they blest in their astonishment,
Imitate heaven, whose beauties excellent
Are in continual motion day and night,
And move thereby more wonder and delight.

"Let me the mover be, to turn about
Those glorious ornaments that youth and love
Have fixed in you, every part throughout;
Which if you will in timely measure move,
Not all those precious gems in heaven above
Shall yield a sight more pleasing to behold,
With all their turns and tracings manifold.'

With this the modest princess blushed and smiled,
Like to a clear and rosy eventide,
And softly did return this answer mild:
"Fair sir! you needs must fairly be denied,
Where your demand cannot be satisfied.
My feet, which only nature taught to go,
Did never yet the art of footing know.

"But why persuade you me to this new rage?
For all disorder and misrule is new,
For such misgovernment in former age
Our old divine forefathers never knew;
Who if they lived, and did the follies view,
Which their fond nephews make their chief affairs,
Would hate themselves, that had begot such heirs.'

"Sole heir of virtue, and of beauty both!
Whence cometh it', Antinous replies,
"That your imperious virtue is so loth
To grant your beauty her chief exercise?
Or from what spring doth your opinion rise,
That dancing is a frenzy and a rage,
First known and used in this new-fangled age?

"Dancing, bright lady, then began to be,
When the first seeds whereof the world did spring,
The fire, air, earth, and water, did agree
By Love's persuasion, nature's mighty king,
To leave their first discorded combating,
And in a dance such measure to observe,
As all the world their motion should preserve.

"Since when they still are carried in a round,
And changing come one in another's place;
Yet do they neither mingle nor confound,
But every one doth keep the bounded space
Wherein the dance doth bid it turn or trace.
This wondrous miracle did Love devise,
For dancing is love's proper exercise.

"Like this he framed the gods' eternal bower,
And of a shapeless and confused mass,
By his through-piercing and digesting power,
The turning vault of heaven formed was,
Whose starry wheels he hath so made to pass,
As that their movings do a music frame,
And they themselves still dance unto the same.

"Or if this all, which round about we see,
As idle Morpheus some sick brains hath taught,
Of undivided motes compacted be,
How was this goodly architecture wrought?
Or by what means were they together brought?
They err that say they did concur by chance;
Love made them meet in a well-ordered dance!

"As when Amphion with his charming lyre
Begot so sweet a siren of the air,
That, with her rhetoric, made the stones conspire
The ruins of a city to repair,
A work of wit and reason's wise affair;
So Love's smooth tongue the motes such measure taught,
That they joined hands, and so the world was wrought.

"How justly then is dancing termed new,
Which with the world in point of time began?
Yea, Time itself, whose birth Jove never knew,
And which is far more ancient than the sun,
Had not one moment of his age outrun,
When out leaped Dancing from the heap of things
And lightly rode upon his nimble wings.

"Reason hath both their pictures in her treasure;
Where Time the measure of all moving is,
And Dancing is a moving all in measure.
Now, if you do resemble that to this,
And think both one, I think you think amiss;
But if you judge them twins, together got,
And Time first born, your judgement erreth not.

"Thus doth it equal age with Age enjoy,
And yet in lusty youth forever flowers;
Like Love, his sire, whom painters make a boy,
Yet is he eldest of the heavenly powers;
Or like his brother Time, whose winged hours,
Going and coming, will not let him die,
But still preserve him in his infancy.'

This said, the queen, with her sweet lips divine,
Gently began to move the subtle air,
Which gladly yielding, did itself incline
To take a shape between those rubies fair;
And being formed, softly did repair,
With twenty doublings in the empty way,
Unto Antinous' ears, and thus did say:

"What eye doth see the heaven, but doth admire
When it the movings of the heavens doth see?
Myself, if I to heaven may once aspire,
If that be dancing, will a dancer be;
But as for this, your frantic jollity,
How it began, or whence you did it learn,
I never could with reason's eye discern.'

Antinous answered: "Jewel of the earth!
Worthy you are that heavenly dance to lead;
But for you think our Dancing base of birth,
And newly born but of a brain-sick head,
I will forthwith his antique gentry read,
And, for I love him, will his herald be,
And blaze his arms, and draw his pedigree.

"When Love had shaped this world, this great fair wight,
That all wights else in this wide womb contains,
And had instructed it to dance aright
A thousand measures, with a thousand strains,
Which it should practise with delightful pains,
Until that fatal instant should revolve,
When all to nothing should again resolve;

"The comely order and proportion fair
On every side did please his wandering eye;
Till, glancing through the thin transparent air,
A rude disordered rout he did espy
Of men and women, that most spitefully
Did one another throng and crowd so sore,
That his kind eye, in pity, wept therefore.

"And swifter than the lightning down he came,
Another shapeless chaos to digest;
He will begin another world to frame,
For Love, till all be well, will never rest.
Then with such words as cannot be expressed
He cuts the troops, that all asunder fling,
And ere they wist he casts them in a ring.

"Then did he rarefy the element,
And in the centre of the ring appear;
The beams that from his forehead spreading went
Begot a horror and religious fear
In all the souls that round about him were,
Which in their ears attentiveness procures,
While he, with such like sounds, their minds allures:

"How doth Confusion's mother, headlong Chance,
Put Reason's noble squadron to the rout?
Or how should you, that have the governance
Of Nature's children, heaven and earth throughout,
Prescribe them rules, and live yourselves without?
Why should your fellowship a trouble be,
Since man's chief pleasure is society?

"If sense hath not yet taught you, learn of me
A comely moderation and discreet,
That your assemblies may well ordered be;
When my uniting power shall make you meet,
With heavenly tunes it shall be tempered sweet,
And be the model of the world's great frame,
And you, earth's children, Dancing shall it name.

"Behold the world, how it is whirled round!
And for it is so whirled, is named so;
In whose large volume many rules are found
Of this new art, which it doth fairly show.
For your quick eyes in wandering to and fro,
From east to west, on no one thing can glance,
But, if you mark it well, it seems to dance.

"First you see fixed in this huge mirror blue
Of trembling lights a number numberless;
Fixed, they are named, but with a name untrue;
For they all move and in a dance express
The great long year that doth contain no less
Than threescore hundreds of those years in all,
Which the sun makes with his course natural.

"What if to you these sparks disordered seem,
As if by chance they had been scattered there?
The gods a solemn measure do it deem
And see a just proportion everywhere,
And know the points whence first their movings were,
To which first points when all return again,
The axletree of heaven shall break in twain.

"Under that spangled sky five wandering flames,
Besides the king of day and queen of night,
Are wheeled around, all in their sundry frames,
And all in sundry measures do delight;
Yet altogether keep no measure right;
For by itself each doth itself advance,
And by itself each doth a galliard dance.

"Venus, the mother of that bastard Love,
Which doth usurp the world's great marshal's name,
Just with the sun her dainty feet doth move,
And unto him doth all her gestures frame;
Now after, now afore, the flattering dame
With divers cunning passages doth err,
Still him respecting that respects not her.

"For that brave sun, the father of the day,
Doth love this earth, the mother of the night;
And, like a reveller in rich array,
Doth dance his galliard in his leman's sight,
Both back and forth and sideways passing light.
His gallant grace doth so the gods amaze,
That all stand still and at his beauty gaze.

"But see the earth when she approacheth near,
How she for joy doth spring and sweetly smile;
But see again her sad and heavy cheer,
When changing places he retires a while;
But those black clouds he shortly will exile,
And make them all before his presence fly,
As mists consumed before his cheerful eye.

"Who doth not see the measure of the moon?
Which thirteen times she danceth every year,
And ends her pavan thirteen times as soon
As doth her brother, of whose golden hair
She borroweth part, and proudly doth it wear.
Then doth she coyly turn her face aside,
That half her cheek is scarce sometimes descried.

"Next her, the pure, subtle, and cleansing fire
Is swiftly carried in a circle even,
Though Vulcan be pronounced by many a liar
The only halting god that dwells in heaven;
But that foul name may be more fitly given
To your false fire, that far from heaven is fall,
And doth consume, waste, spoil, disorder all.

"And now behold your tender nurse, the air,
And common neighbour that aye runs around;
How many pictures and impressions fair
Within her empty regions are there found,
Which to your senses dancing do propound?
For what are breath, speech, echoes, music, winds,
But dancings of the air, in sundry kinds?

"For, when you breathe, the air in order moves,
Now in, now out, in time and measure true,
And when you speak, so well she dancing loves,
That doubling oft and oft redoubling new
With thousand forms she doth herself endue;
For all the words that from your lips repair
Are nought but tricks and turnings of the air.

"Hence is her prattling daughter, Echo, born,
That dances to all voices she can hear.
There is no sound so harsh that she doth scorn,
Nor any time wherein she will forbear
The airy pavement with her feet to wear;
And yet her hearing sense is nothing quick,
For after time she endeth every trick.

"And thou, sweet music, dancing's only life,
The ear's sole happiness, the air's best speech,
Lodestone of fellowship, charming rod of strife,
The soft mind's paradise, the sick mind's leech,
With thine own tongue thou trees and stones canst teach,
That when the air doth dance her finest measure,
Then art thou born, the god's and men's sweet pleasure.

"Lastly, where keep the winds their revelry,
Their violent turnings and wild whirling hays,
But in the air's tralucent gallery?
Where she herself is turned a hundred ways,
While with those maskers wantonly she plays.
Yet in this misrule they such rule embrace
As two, at once, encumber not the place.

"If then fire, air, wandering and fixed lights,
In every province of th' imperial sky,
Yield perfect forms of dancing to your sights,
In vain I teach the ear that which the eye,
With certain view, already doth descry;
But for your eyes perceive not all they see,
In this I will your senses' master be.

"For lo! the sea that fleets about the land,
And like a girdle clips her solid waist,
Music and measure both doth understand;
For his great crystal eye is always cast
Up to the moon, and on her fixed fast;
And as she danceth in her pallid sphere,
So danceth he about the centre here.

"Sometimes his proud green waves in order set,
One after other, flow unto the shore;
Which when they have with many kisses wet,
They ebb away in order, as before;
And to make known his courtly love the more,
He oft doth lay aside his three-forked mace,
And with his arms the timorous earth embrace.

"Only the earth doth stand forever still:
Her rocks remove not, nor her mountains meet,
Although some wits enriched with learning's skill
Say heaven stands firm and that the earth doth fleet,
And swiftly turneth underneath their feet;
Yet, though the earth is ever steadfast seen
On her broad breast hath dancing ever been.

"For those blue veins that through her body spread,
Those sapphire streams which from great hills do spring,
The earth's great dugs, for every wight is fed
With sweet fresh moisture from them issuing,
Observe a dance in their wild wandering;
And still their dance begets a murmur sweet,
And still the murmur with the dance doth meet.

"Of all their ways, I love Meander's path,
Which, to the tunes of dying swans, doth dance
Such winding sleights. Such turns and tricks he hath,
Such creeks, such wrenches, and such dalliance,
That, whether it be hap or heedless chance,
In his indented course and wriggling play,
He seems to dance a perfect cunning hay.

"But wherefore do these streams forever run?
To keep themselves forever sweet and clear;
For let their everlasting course be done,
They straight corrupt and foul with mud appear.
O ye sweet nymphs, that beauty's loss do fear,
Contemn the drugs that physic doth devise,
And learn of Love this dainty exercise.

"See how those flowers, that have sweet beauty too,
The only jewels that the earth doth wear,
When the young sun in bravery her doth woo,
As oft as they the whistling wind do hear,
Do wave their tender bodies here and there;
And though their dance no perfect measure is,
Yet oftentimes their music makes them kiss.

"What makes the vine about the elm to dance
With turnings, windings, and embracements round?
What makes the lodestone to the north advance
His subtle point, as if from thence he found
His chief attractive virtue to redound?
Kind nature first doth cause all things to love;
Love makes them dance, and in just order move.

"Hark how the birds do sing, and mark then how,
Jump with the modulation of their lays,
They lightly leap and skip from bough to bough;
Yet do the cranes deserve a greater praise,
Which keep such measure in their airy ways,
As when they all in order ranked are,
They make a perfect form triangular.

"In the chief angle flies the watchful guide;
And all the followers their heads do lay
On their foregoers' backs, on either side;
But, for the captain hath no rest to stay
His head, forwearied with the windy way,
He back retires; and then the next behind,
As his lieutenant, leads them through the wind.

"But why relate I every singular?
Since all the world's great fortunes and affairs
Forward and backward rapt and whirled are,
According to the music of the spheres;
And Change herself her nimble feet upbears
On a round slippery wheel, that rolleth aye,
And turns all states with her imperious sway;

"Learn then to dance, you that are princes born,
And lawful lords of earthly creatures all;
Imitate them, and therefore take no scorn,
For this new art to them is natural.
And imitate the stars celestial;
For when pale death your vital twist shall sever,
Your better parts must dance with them forever.

"Thus Love persuades, and all the crowd of men,
That stands around, doth make a murmuring,
As when the wind, loosed from his hollow den,
Among the trees a gentle bass doth sing,
Or as a brook, through pebbles wandering;
But in their looks they uttered this plain speech:
That they would learn to dance, if Love would teach.

"Then, first of all, he doth demonstrate plain
The motions seven that are in nature found;
Upward and downward, forth and back again,
To this side and to that, and turning round;
Whereof a thousand brawls he doth compound,
Which he doth teach unto the multitude,
And ever with a turn they must conclude.

"As, when a nymph, arising from the land,
Leadeth a dance with her long watery train,
Down to the sea she wries to every hand,
And every way doth cross the fertile plain;
But when, at last, she falls into the main,
Then all her traverses concluded are,
And with the sea her course is circular.

"Thus when at first Love had them marshalled,
As erst he did the shapeless mass of things,
He taught them rounds and winding hays to tread,
And about trees to cast themselves in rings;
As the two Bears, whom the first mover flings
With a short turn about heaven's axletree,
In a round dance for ever wheeling be.

"But after these, as men more civil grew,
He did more grave and solemn measures frame;
With such fair order and proportion true,
And correspondence every way the same,
That no fault-finding eye did ever blame;
For every eye was moved at the sight
With sober wondering and with sweet delight.

"Not those young students of the heavenly book,
Atlas the great, Prometheus the wise,
Which on the stars did all their lifetime look,
Could ever find such measures in the skies,
So full of change and rare varieties;
Yet all the feet whereon these measures go
Are only spondees, solemn, grave, and slow.

"But for more divers and more pleasing show,
A swift and wandering dance he did invent,
With passages uncertain, to and fro,
Yet with a certain answer and consent
To the quick music of the instrument.
Five was the number of the music's feet,
Which still the dance did with five paces meet.

"A gallant dance! that lively doth bewray
A spirit and a virtue masculine;
Impatient that her house on earth should stay,
Since she herself is fiery and divine.
Oft doth she make her body upward flyne
With lofty turns and caprioles in the air,
Which with the lusty tunes accordeth fair.

"What shall I name those current traverses,
That on a triple dactyl foot do run,
Close by the ground, with sliding passages?
Wherein that dancer greatest praise hath won,
Which with best order can all orders shun;
For everywhere he wantonly must range,
And turn, and wind, with unexpected change.

"Yet is there one, the most delightful kind,
A lofty jumping, or a leaping round,
When, arm in arm, two dancers are entwined,
And whirl themselves with strict embracements bound,
And still their feet an anapest do sound;
And anapest is all their music's song,
Whose first two feet are short, and third is long;

"As the victorious twins of Leda and Jove,
That taught the Spartans dancing on the sands
Of swift Eurotas, dance in heaven above,
Knit and united with eternal bands;
Among the stars their double image stands,
Where both are carried with an equal pace,
Together jumping in their turning race.

"This is the net wherein the sun's bright eye
Venus and Mars entangled did behold;
For in this dance their arms they so imply,
As each doth seem the other to enfold.
What if lewd wits another tale have told,
Of jealous Vulcan, and of iron chains?
Yet this true sense that forged lie contains.

"These various forms of dancing Love did frame,
And besides these, a hundred million mo;
And as he did invent, he taught the same,
With goodly gesture and with comely show,
Now keeping state, now humbly honouring low.
And ever for the persons and the place,
He taught most fit and best according grace.

"For Love, within his fertile working brain,
Did then conceive those gracious virgins three,
Whose civil moderation did maintain
All decent order and conveniency,
And fair respect, and seemly modesty;
And then he thought it fit they should be born,
That their sweet presence dancing might adorn.

"Hence is it that these Graces painted are
With hand in hand, dancing an endless round,
And with regarding eyes, that still beware
That there be no disgrace amongst them found;
With equal foot they beat the flowry ground,
Laughing or singing, as their passions will;
Yet nothing that they do becomes them ill.

"Thus Love taught men, and men thus learned of Love
Sweet music's sound with feet to counterfeit;
Which was long time before high-thundering Jove
Was lifted up to heaven's imperial seat;
For though by birth he were the prince of Crete,
Nor Crete nor heaven should that young prince have seen,
If dancers with their timbrels had not been.

"Since when all ceremonious mysteries,
All sacred orgies and religious rites,
All pomps and triumphs and solemnities,
All funerals, nuptials, and like public sights,
All parliaments of peace, and warlike fights,
All learned arts, and every great affair,
A lively shape of dancing seems to bear.

"For what did he, who with his ten-tongued lute
Gave beasts and blocks an understanding ear,
Or rather into bestial minds and brutes
Shed and infused the beams of reason clear?
Doubtless, for men that rude and savage were,
A civil form of dancing he devised,
Wherewith unto their gods they sacrificed.

"So did Musaeus, so Amphion did,
And Linus with his sweet enchanting song,
And he whose hand the earth of monsters rid,
And had men's ears fast chained to his tongue,
And Theseus to his wood-born slaves among
Used dancing as the finest policy
To plant religion and society.

"And therefore, now, the Thracian Orpheus' lyre
And Hercules himself are stellified,
And in high heaven, amidst the starry choir,
Dancing their parts, continually do slide;
So, on the zodiac, Ganymede doth ride,
And so is Hebe with the Muses nine,
For pleasing Jove with dancing, made divine.

"Wherefore was Proteus said himself to change
Into a stream, a lion, and a tree,
And many other forms fantastic strange,
As in his fickle thought he wished to be?
But that he danced with such facility,
As like a lion he could pace with pride,
Ply like a plant, and like a river slide.

"And how was Caeneus made at first a man,
And then a woman, then a man again,
But in a dance? which when he first began,
He the man's part in measure did sustain;
But when he changed into a second strain,
He danced the woman's part another space,
And then returned unto his former place.

"Hence sprang the fable of Tiresias,
That he the pleasure of both sexes tried;
For in a dance he man and woman was,
By often change of place, from side to side;
But for the woman easily did slide,
And smoothly swim with cunning hidden art,
He took more pleasure in a woman's part.

"So to a fish Venus herself did change,
And swimming through the soft and yielding wave,
With gentle motions did so smoothly range,
As none might see where she the water drave;
But this plain truth that falsed fable gave,
That she did dance with sliding easiness,
Pliant and quick in wandering passages.

"And merry Bacchus practised dancing too,
And to the Lydian numbers rounds did make;
The like he did in th' eastern India do,
And taught them all, when Phoebus did awake,
And when at night he did his coach forsake,
To honour heaven, and heaven's great rolling eye,
With turning dances and with melody.

"Thus they who first did found a commonweal,
And they who first religion did ordain,
By dancing first the people's hearts did steal;
Of whom we now a thousand tales do feign.
Yet do we now their perfect rules retain,
And use them still in such devices new,
As in the world, long since their withering, grew.

"For after towns and kingdoms founded were,
Between great states arose well-ordered war,
Wherein most perfect measure doth appear;
Whether their well-set ranks respected are
In quadrant forms or semicircular,
Or else the march, when all the troops advance
And to the drum in gallant order dance.

"And after wars, when white-winged victory
Is with a glorious triumph beautified,
And every one doth Io, Io! cry,
While all in gold the conqueror doth ride,
The solemn pomp that fills the city wide
Observes such rank and measure everywhere,
As if they all together dancing were.

"The like just order mourners do observe,
But with unlike affection and attire,
When some great man that nobly did deserve,
And whom his friends impatiently desire,
Is brought with honour to his latest fire.
The dead corpse too in that sad dance is moved,
As if both dead and living dancing loved.

"A diverse cause, but like solemnity,
Unto the temple leads the bashful bride,
Which blusheth like the Indian ivory
Which is with dip of Tyrian purple dyed;
A golden troop doth pass on every side
Of flourishing young men and virgins gay,
Which keep fair measure all the flowery way.

"And not alone the general multitude,
But those choice Nestors, which in council grave
Of cities and of kingdoms do conclude,
Most comely order in their sessions have;
Wherefore the wise Thessalians ever gave
The name of leader of their country's dance
To him that had their country's governance.

"And those great masters of the liberal arts
In all their several schools do dancing teach;
For humble grammar first doth set the parts
Of congruent and well-according speech,
Which rhetoric, whose state the clouds doth reach,
And heavenly poetry do forward lead,
And divers measures diversely do tread.

"For rhetoric, clothing speech in rich array,
In looser numbers teacheth her to range
With twenty tropes, and turnings every way,
And various figures, and licentious change;
But poetry, with rule and order strange,
So curiously doth move each single pace,
As all is marred if she one foot misplace.

"These arts of speech the guides and marshals are,
But logic leadeth reason in a dance,
Reason, the cynosure and bright lodestar
In this world's sea, t' avoid the rocks of chance;
For with close following and continuance,
One reason doth another so ensue
As, in conclusion, still the dance is true.

"So music to her own sweet tunes doth trip,
With tricks of 3, 5, 8, 15, and more;
So doth the art of numbering seem to skip
From even to odd, in her proportioned score;
So do those skills, whose quick eyes do explore
The just dimension both of earth and heaven,
In all their rules observe a measure even.

"Lo! this is Dancing's true nobility,
Dancing, the child of Music and of Love;
Dancing itself, both love and harmony,
Where all agree and all in order move;
Dancing, the art that all arts do approve;
The fair character of the world's consent,
The heaven's true figure, and th' earth's ornament.'

The queen, whose dainty ears had borne too long
The tedious praise of that she did despise,
Adding once more the music of the tongue
To the sweet speech of her alluring eyes,
Began to answer in such winning wise
As that forthwith Antinous' tongue was tied,
His eyes fast fixed, his ears were open wide.

"Forsooth,' quoth she, "great glory you have won
To your trim minion, Dancing, all this while,
By blazing him Love's first begotten son,
Of every ill the hateful father vile,
That doth the world with sorceries beguile,
Cunningly mad, religiously profane,
Wit's monster, reason's canker, sense's bane.

"Love taught the mother that unkind desire
To wash her hands in her own infant's blood;
Love taught the daughter to betray her sire
Into most base unworthy servitude;
Love taught the brother to prepare such food
To feast his brothers that the all-seeing sun,
Wrapped in a cloud, the wicked sight did shun.

"And even this self-same Love hath dancing taught,
An art that showeth th' idea of his mind
With vainness, frenzy, and misorder fraught;
Sometimes with blood and cruelties unkind,
For in a dance Tereus' mad wife did find
Fit time and place, by murdering her son,
T' avenge the wrong his traitorous sire had done.

"What mean the mermaids when they dance and sing,
But certain death unto the mariner?
What tidings do the dancing dolphins bring,
But that some dangerous storm approacheth near?
Then sith both Love and Dancing liveries bear
Of such ill hap, unhappy may they prove
That, sitting free, will either dance or love!'
Yet once again Antinous did reply:
"Great Queen! condemn not Love the innocent,
For this mischievous Lust, which traitorously
Usurps his name and steals his ornament;
For that true Love, which dancing did invent,
Is he that tuned the world's whole harmony,
And linked all men in sweet society.

"He first extracted from th' earth-mingled mind
That heavenly fire, or quintessence divine,
Which doth such sympathy in beauty find
As is between the elm and fruitful vine,
And so to beauty ever doth incline;
Life's life it is, and cordial to the heart,
And of our better part the better part.

"This is true Love, by that true Cupid got,
Which danceth galliards in your amorous eyes,
But to your frozen heart approacheth not;
Only your heart he dares not enterprise,
And yet through every other part he flies,
And everywhere he nimbly danceth now,
That in yourself yourself perceive not how.

"For your sweet beauty daintily transfused
With due proportion throughout every part,
What is it but a dance where Love hath used
His finer cunning and more curious art?
Where all the elements themselves impart,
And turn, and wind, and mingle with such measure,
That th' eye that sees it surfeits with the pleasure.

"Love in the twinkling of your eyelids danceth,
Love danceth in your pulses and your veins,
Love, when you sew, your needle's point advanceth,
And makes it dance a thousand curious strains
Of winding rounds, whereof the form remains,
To show that your fair hands can dance the hay,
Which your fine feet would learn as well as they.

"And when your ivory fingers touch the strings
Of any silver-sounding instrument,
Loves makes them dance to those sweet murmurings
With busy skill and cunning excellent.
O! that your feet those tunes would represent
With artificial motions to and fro,
That Love this art in every part might show!

"Yet your fair soul, which came from heaven above
To rule this house (another heaven below),
With divers powers in harmony doth move;
And all the virtues that from her do flow
In a round measure, hand in hand do go;
Could I now see, as I conceive, this dance,
Wonder and love would cast me in a trance.

"The richest jewel in all the heavenly treasure,
That ever yet unto the earth was shown,
Is perfect concord, th' only perfect pleasure
That wretched earth-born men have ever known;
For many hearts it doth compound in one,
That whatso one doth will, or speak, or do,
With one consent they all agree thereto.

"Concord's true picture shineth in this art,
Where divers men and women ranked be,
And every one doth dance a several part,
Yet all as one in measure do agree,
Observing perfect uniformity;
All turn together, all together trace,
And all together honour and embrace.

"If they whom sacred Love hath linked in one
Do as they dance, in all their course of life,
Never shall burning grief nor bitter moan
Nor factious difference nor unkind strife
Arise between the husband and the wife;
For whether forth, or back or round he go,
As doth the man, so must the woman do.

"What if by often interchange of place
Sometime the woman gets the upper hand?
That is but done for more delightful grace,
For on that part she doth not ever stand;
But as the measure's law doth her command,
She wheels about, and ere the dance doth end,
Into her former place she doth transcend.

"But not alone this correspondence meet
And uniform consent doth dancing praise;
For comeliness, the child of order sweet,
Enamels it with her eye-pleasing rays;
Fair comeliness ten hundred thousand ways
Through dancing sheds itself, and makes it shine
With glorious beauty and with grace divine.

"For comeliness is a disposing fair
Of things and actions in fit time and place,
Which doth in dancing show itself most clear
When troops confused, which here and there do trace
Without distinguishment or bounded space,
By dancing rule into such ranks are brought,
As glads the eye and ravisheth the thought.

"Then why should reason judge that reasonless,
Which is wit's offspring, and the work of art,
Image of concord and of comeliness?
Who sees a clock moving in every part,
A sailing pinnace, or a wheeling cart,
But thinks that reason, ere it came to pass,
The first impulsive cause and mover was?

"Who sees an army all in rank advance,
But deems a wise commander is in place,
Which leadeth on that brave victorious dance?
Much more in dancing's art, in dancing's grace,
Blindness itself may reason's footsteps trace;
For love's maze it is the curious plot,
And of man's fellowship the true-love knot.

"But if these eyes of yours, lodestars of love,
Showing the world's great dance to your mind's eye,
Cannot, with all their demonstrations, move
Kind apprehension in your fantasy
Of dancing's virtue and nobility,
How can my barbarous tongue win you thereto,
Which heaven and earth's fair speech could never do?

"O Love, my king! if all my wit and power
Have done you all the service that they can,
O! be you present in this present hour
And help your servant and your true liegeman!
End that persuasion which I erst began!
For who in praise of dancing can persuade
With such sweet force as Love, which dancing made?'

Love heard his prayer, and swifter than the wind,
Like to a page in habit, face, and speech,
He came, and stood Antinous behind,
And many secrets of his thoughts did teach.
At last a crystal mirror he did reach
Unto his hands, that he with one rash view
All forms therein by Love's revealing knew.

And humbly honouring, gave it to the queen
With this fair speech: "See, fairest queen,' quoth he,
"The fairest sight that ever shall be seen,
And th' only wonder of posterity,
The richest work in nature's treasury;
Which she disdains to show on this world's stage,
And thinks it far too good for our rude age.

"But in another world, divided far
In the great fortunate triangled isle,
Thrice twelve degrees removed from the north star,
She will this glorious workmanship compile,
Which she hath been conceiving all this while
Since the world's birth; and will bring forth at last,
When six and twenty hundred years are past.'

Penelope the queen, when she had viewed
The strange eye-dazzling admirable sight,
Fain would have praised the state and pulchritude;
But she was stroken dumb with wonder quite.
Yet her sweet mind retained her thinking might;
Her ravished mind in heavenly thoughts did dwell;
But what she thought no mortal tongue can tell.

You, lady Muse, whom Jove the counsellor
Begot of Memory, Wisdom's treasuress,
To your divining tongue is given a power
Of uttering secrets, large and limitless;
You can Penelope's strange thoughts express,
Which she conceived, and then would fain have told,
When she the wondrous crystal did behold.

Her winged thoughts bore up her mind so high
As that she weened she saw the glorious throne,
Where the bright moon doth sit in majesty;
A thousand sparkling stars about her shone,
But she herself did sparkle more alone,
Than all those thousand beauties would have done,
If they had been confounded all in one.

And yet she thought those stars moved in such measure
To do their sovereign honour and delight,
As soothed her mind with sweet enchanting pleasure,
Although the various change amazed her sight,
And her weak judgement did entangle quite;
Beside, their moving made them shine more clear,
As diamonds moved more sparkling do appear.

This was the picture of her wondrous thought.
But who can wonder that her thought was so,
Sith Vulcan, king of fire, that mirror wrought,
Which things to come, present, and past doth know,
And there did represent in lively show
Our glorious English court's divine image,
As it should be in this our golden age?

Away, Terpsichore, light Muse, away!
And come, Urania, prophetess divine!
Come, Muse of heaven, my burning thirst allay!
Even now for want of sacred drink I tine;
In heavenly moisture dip this pen of mine,
And let my mouth with nectar overflow,
For I must more than mortal glory show!

O! that I had Homer's abundant vein,
I would hereof another Ilias make!
Or else the man of Mantua's charmed brain,
In whose large throat great Jove the thunder spake!
O! that I could old Geoffrey's muse awake,
Or borrow Colin's fair heroic style,
Or smooth my rhymes with Delia's servant's file!

O! could I, sweet companion, sing like you,
Which of a shadow, under a shadow sing!
Or like fair Salue's sad lover true!
Or like the bay, the marigold's darling,
Whose sudden verse Love covers with his wing!
O! that your brains were mingled all with mine,
T' enlarge my wit for this great work divine!

Yet Astrophel might one for all suffice,
Whose supple Muse chameleon-like doth change
Into all forms of excellent device;
So might the swallow, whose swift muse doth range
Through rare Ideas and inventions strange,
And ever doth enjoy her joyful spring,
And sweeter than the nightingale doth sing.

O! that I might that singing swallow hear,
To whom I owe my service and my love!
His sugared tunes would so enchant mine ear,
And in my mind such sacred fury move,
As I should knock at heaven's great gate above
With my proud rhymes; while of this heavenly state
I do aspire the shadow to relate.
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