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VEN AS THE SUN WITH purple-colour'd face

Had ta'en his last leave of the weeping morn,

Rose-cheek'd Adonis hied him to the chase;

Hunting he loved, but love he laugh'd to scorn:

Sick-thoughted Venus makes

amain unto him,

And like a bold-faced suitor

'gins to woo him.

"Thrice fairer than myself," thus she began,

"The field's chief flower, sweet above compare, Stain to all nymphs, more lovely than a man, More white and red than doves or roses are;

1-2 Even as the sun the weeping morn] These lines are quoted derisively by the love-sick Gullio in the first part of The Returne


Nature that made thee, with herself at strife,
Saith that the world hath ending with thy life.

"Vouchsafe, thou wonder, to alight thy steed,
And rein his proud head to the saddle-bow;
If thou wilt deign this favour, for thy meed
A thousand honey secrets shalt thou know:
Here come and sit, where never serpent hisses,
And being set, I'll smother thee with kisses;
"And yet not cloy thy lips with loathed satiety,
But rather famish them amid their plenty,
Making them red and pale with fresh variety;
Ten kisses short as one, one long as twenty:

A summer's day will seem an hour but short,
Being wasted in such time-beguiling sport."

from Parnassus (c. 1600), III, i, 1053-1054. The last couplet of this stanza and the last four lines of the next stanza are similarly cited by the same writer in the same scene, lines 1006-1008 and 1020-1023.

2 weeping] This epithet suggests the dew of dawn.


3 Rose-cheek'd] This epithet was first applied to Adonis in Marlowe's Hero and Leander, line 93. Cf. Tim. of Athens, IV, iii, 86: rosecheeked youth."

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9 Stain to all nymphs] Disgrace to all nymphs by the comparison. Cf. Sonnet xxxiii, 14: 'Suns of the world may stain when heaven's sun staineth."

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11 Nature . . . at strife] This comparison of art and nature is a conceit characteristic of the poetry of all countries in the sixteenth century. Shakespeare constantly employs it. Cf. line 291, infra; Lucrece, 1374, and note; and Tim. of Ath., I, i, 40-41 (of a portrait): It tutors nature; artificial strife Lives in these touches livelier than life."

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With this she seizeth on his sweating palm,
The precedent of pith and livelihood,

And, trembling in her passion, calls it balm,
Earth's sovereign salve to do a goddess good:

Being so enraged, desire doth lend her force
Courageously to pluck him from his horse.

Over one arm the lusty courser's rein,
Under her other was the tender boy,
Who blush'd and pouted in a dull disdain,
With leaden appetite, unapt to toy;

She red and hot as coals of glowing fire,
He red for shame, but frosty in desire.

The studded bridle on a ragged bough
Nimbly she fastens - O, how quick is love! -
The steed is stalled up, and even now

To tie the rider she begins to prove:

Backward she push'd him, as she would be thrust,
And govern'd him in strength, though not in lust.

So soon was she along as he was down,
Each leaning on their elbows and their hips:
Now doth she stroke his cheek, now doth he frown,
And 'gins to chide, but soon she stops his lips;

And kissing speaks, with lustful language broken,
"If thou wilt chide, thy lips shall never open.'

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26 precedent] prognostication or indication. Malone's correction of the Quarto reading president. Cf. Lucrece, 1261: "The precedent whereof." For lines 25-26 (the significance of a "sweating palm ") cf. Othello, III, iv, 33-35: “ This hand is moist, my lady. This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart," and line 143, infra.



He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears
Doth quench the maiden burning of his cheeks;
Then with her windy sighs and golden hairs
To fan and blow them dry again she seeks:
He saith she is immodest, blames her miss;
What follows more she murders with a kiss.
Even as an empty eagle, sharp by fast,
Tires with her beak on feathers, flesh and bone,
Shaking her wings, devouring all in haste,
Till either
be stuff'd or prey

be gone;
Even so she kiss'd his brow, his cheek, his chin,
And where she ends she doth anew begin.

Forced to content, but never to obey,
Panting he lies and breatheth in her face;
She feedeth on the steam as on a prey,
And calls it heavenly moisture, air of grace;

Wishing her cheeks were gardens full of flowers,
So they were dew'd with such distilling showers.
Look, how a bird lies tangled in a net,

So fasten'd in her arms Adonis lies;

Pure shame and awed resistance made him fret,
Which bred more beauty in his angry eyes:

Rain added to a river that is rank

Perforce will force it overflow the bank.

53 miss] amiss, fault, misbehaviour. Cf. Sonnet xxxv, 7: "salving thy amiss."

56 Tires] pecks with hungry eagerness. Cf. 3 Hen. VI, I, i, 268–269:

"like an empty eagle Tire on the flesh."

61 to content] to acquiesce.

71 rank] overfull, overflowing.

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Still she entreats, and prettily entreats,
For to a pretty ear she tunes her tale;
Still is he sullen, still he lours and frets,
"Twixt crimson shame, and anger ashy-pale;

Being red, she loves him best; and being white,
Her best is better'd with a more delight.

Look how he can, she cannot choose but love;
And by her fair immortal hand she swears,
From his soft bosom never to remove,
Till he take truce with her contending tears,

Which long have rain'd, making her cheeks all wet;
And one sweet kiss shall pay this countless debt.

Upon this promise did he raise his chin,
Like a dive-dapper peering through a wave,
Who, being look'd on, ducks as quickly in;
So offers he to give what she did crave;

But when her lips were ready for his pay,
He winks, and turns his lips another way.

Never did passenger in summer's heat
More thirst for drink than she for this good turn.
Her help she sees, but help she cannot get;
She bathes in water, yet her fire must burn:

"O, pity," 'gan she cry, "flint-hearted boy!
"Tis but a kiss I beg; why art thou coy?

84 countless] Cf. Tit. Andr., V, iii, 156-159: "kiss for kiss... Countless and infinite, yet would I pay them."

86 dive-dapper] the dabchick or little grebe.

90 winks] winces.

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