Shakespeare, William

Britain, (1564-1616)

Venus and Adonis
(an excerpt, lines 583-630)

  1. ‘Sweet boy,’ she says, ‘this night I’ll waste in sorrow,
  2. For my sick heart commands mine eyes to watch.
  3. Tell me, Love’s master, shall we meet to-morrow?
  4. Say, shall we? shall we? wilt thou make the match?’
  5. He tells her, no; to-morrow he intends
  6. To hunt the boar with certain of his friends.
  7.  
  8. ‘The boar!’ quoth she; whereat a sudden pale,
  9. Like lawn being spread upon the blushing rose,
  10. Usurps her cheeks, she trembles at his tale,
  11. And on his neck her yoking arms she throws:
  12. She sinketh down, still hanging by his neck,
  13. He on her belly falls, she on her back.
  14.  
  15. Now is she in the very lists of love,
  16. Her champion mounted for the hot encounter:
  17. All is imaginary she doth prove,
  18. He will not manage her, although he mount her;
  19. That worse than Tantalus’ is her annoy,
  20. To clip Elysium and to lack her joy.
  21.  
  22. Even as poor birds, deceiv’d with painted grapes,
  23. Do surfeit by the eye and pine the maw,
  24. Even so she languisheth in her mishaps,
  25. As those poor birds that helpless berries saw.
  26. The warm effects which she in him finds missing,
  27. She seeks to kindle with continual kissing.
  28.  
  29. But all in vain; good queen, it will not be:
  30. She hath assay’d as much as may be prov’d;
  31. Her pleading hath deserv’d a greater fee;
  32. She’s Love, she loves, and yet she is not lov’d.
  33. ‘Fie, fie!’ he says, ‘you crush me; let me go;
  34. You have no reason to withhold me so.’
  35.  
  36. ‘Thou hadst been gone,’ quoth she, ‘sweet boy, ere this,
  37. But that thou told’st me thou wouldst hunt the boar.
  38. O! be advis’d; thou know’st not what it is
  39. With javelin’s point a churlish swine to gore,
  40. Whose tushes never sheath’d he whetteth still,
  41. Like to a mortal butcher, bent to kill.
  42.  
  43. ‘On his bow-back he hath a battle set
  44. Of bristly pikes, that ever threat his foes;
  45. His eyes like glow-worms shine when he doth fret;
  46. His snout digs sepulchres where’er he goes;
  47. Being mov’d, he strikes whate’er is in his way,
  48. And whom he strikes his crooked tushes slay.
  49.  
  50. ‘His brawny sides, with hairy bristles arm’d,
  51. Are better proof than thy spear’s point can enter;
  52. His short thick neck cannot be easily harm’d;
  53. Being ireful, on the lion he will venture:
  54. The thorny brambles and embracing bushes,
  55. As fearful of him part, through whom he rushes.

The complete works of William Shakespeare. Edited with a glossary by W. J. Craig. New York : Oxford University Press, 1914.

About the Poet

William Shakespeare, (1564-1616), was an English poet and playwright. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer of the English language, as well as one of the greatest in Western literature, and is also considered the world’s preeminent dramatist. [DES-6/03]

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