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As from that hill, whereunder lies in bed
Enceladus, whence with imperious sway
Bright fire breaks out by night, black smoke by day.
About the hill lay other islands small,
Where other rocks, crags, cliffs, and mountains stood,
The Isles Fortunate these elder time did call,
To which high Heaven they reigned so kind and good,
And of his blessings rich so liberal,
That without tillage earth gives corn for food,
And grapes that swell with sweet and precious wine
There without pruning yields the fertile vine.
The olive fat there ever buds and flowers,
The honey-drops from hollow oaks distil,
The falling brook her silver streams downpours
With gentle murmur from their native hill,
The western blast tempereth with dews and showers
The sunny rays, lest heat the blossoms kill,
The fields Elysian, as fond heathen sain,
Were there, where souls of men in bliss remain.
To these their pilot steered, "And now," quoth she,
"Your voyage long to end is brought well-near,
The happy Isles of Fortune now you see,
Of which great fame, and little truth, you hear,
Sweet, wholesome, pleasant, fertile, fat they be,
Yet not so rich as fame reports they were."
This said, toward an island fresh she bore,
The first of ten, that lies next Afric's shore;
When Charles thus, "If, worthy governess,
To our good speed such tarriance be no let,
Upon this isle that Heaven so fair doth bless,
To view the place, on land awhile us set,
To know the folk and what God they confess,
And all whereby man's heart may knowledge get,
That I may tell the wonders therein seen
Another day, and say, there have I been."
She answered him, "Well fits this high desire
Thy noble heart, yet cannot I consent;
For Heaven's decree, firm, stable, and entire,
Thy wish repugns, and gainst thy will is bent,
Nor yet the time hath Titan's gliding fire
Met forth, prefixed for this discoverment,
Nor is it lawful of the ocean main
That you the secrets know, or known explain.
"To you withouten needle, map or card
It's given to pass these seas, and there arrive
Where in strong prison lies your knight imbarred,
And of her prey you must the witch deprive:
If further to aspire you be prepared,
In vain gainst fate and Heaven's decree you strive."
While thus she said, the first seen isle gave place,
And high and rough the second showed his face.
They saw how eastward stretched in order long,
The happy islands sweetly flowering lay;
And how the seas betwixt those isles enthrong,
And how they shouldered land from land away:
In seven of them the people rude among
The shady trees their sheds had built of clay,
The rest lay waste, unless wild beasts unseen,
Or wanton nymphs, roamed on the mountains green.
A secret place they found in one of those,
Where the cleft shore sea in his bosom takes,
And 'twixt his stretched arms doth fold and close
An ample bay, a rock the haven makes,
Which to the main doth his broad back oppose,
Whereon the roaring billow cleaves and breaks,
And here and there two crags like turrets high,
Point forth a port to all that sail thereby:
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