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Differing in voice, in semblance, and in shape;
All monsters which hot Afric doth forthsend,
Twixt Nilus, Atlas, and the southern cape,
Were all there met, and all wild beasts besides
Hyrcania breeds, or Hyrcane forest hides.
But yet that fierce, that strange and savage host
Could not in presence of those worthies stand,
But fled away, their heart and courage lost,
When Lord Ubaldo shook his charming wand.
No other let their passage stopped or crossed;
Till on the mountain's top themselves they land,
Save that the ice, the frost, and drifted snow,
Oft made them feeble, weary, faint and slow.
But having passed all that frozen ground,
And overgone that winter sharp and keen,
A warm, mild, pleasant, gentle sky they found,
That overspread a large and ample green,
The winds breathed spikenard, myrrh, and balm around,
The blasts were firm, unchanged, stable been,
Not as elsewhere the winds now rise now fall,
And Phoebus there aye shines, sets not at all.
Not as elsewhere now sunshine bright now showers,
Now heat now cold, there interchanged were,
But everlasting spring mild heaven down pours, --
In which nor rain, nor storm, nor clouds appear, --
Nursing to fields, their grass; to grass, his flowers;
To flowers their smell; to trees, the leaves they bear:
There by a lake a stately palace stands,
That overlooks all mountains, seas and lands:
The passage hard against the mountain steep
These travellers had faint and weary made,
That through those grassy plains they scantly creep;
They walked, they rested oft, they went, they stayed,
When from the rocks, that seemed for joy to weep,
Before their feet a dropping crystal played
Enticing them to drink, and on the flowers
The plenteous spring a thousand streams down pours,
All which, united in the springing grass,
Ate forth a channel through the tender green
And underneath eternal shade did pass,
With murmur shrill, cold, pure, and scantly seen;
Yet so transparent, that perceived was
The bottom rich, and sands that golden been,
And on the brims the silken grass aloft
Proffered them seats, sweet, easy, fresh and soft.
"See here the stream of laughter, see the spring,"
Quoth they, "of danger and of deadly pain,
Here fond desire must by fair governing
Be ruled, our lust bridled with wisdom's rein,
Our ears be stopped while these Sirens sing,
Their notes enticing man to pleasure vain."
Thus passed they forward where the stream did make
An ample pond, a large and spacious lake.
There on a table was all dainty food
That sea, that earth, or liquid air could give,
And in the crystal of the laughing flood
They saw two naked virgins bathe and dive,
That sometimes toying, sometimes wrestling stood,
Sometimes for speed and skill in swimming strive,
Now underneath they dived, now rose above,
And ticing baits laid forth of lust and love.
These naked wantons, tender, fair and white,
Moved so far the warriors' stubborn hearts,
That on their shapes they gazed with delight;
The nymphs applied their sweet alluring arts,
And one of them above the waters quite,
Lift up her head, her breasts and higher parts,
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