William Shakespeare William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare


Canto I, lines 20 – 46: Belinda’s guardian Sylph, Ariel, organises her morning dream.

‘Twas He had summon’d to her silent bed
The morning-dream that hover’d o’er her head;
A Youth more glitt’ring than a Birth-night Beau,
(That ev’n in slumber caus’d her cheek to glow)
Seem’d to her ear his winning lips to lay, 25
And thus in whispers said, or seem’d to say.
Fairest of mortals, thou distinguish’d care
Of thousand bright Inhabitants of Air!
If e’er one vision touch’d thy infant thought,
Of all the Nurse and all the Priest have taught; 30
Of airy Elves by moonlight shadows seen,
The silver token, and the circled green,
Or virgins visited by Angel-pow’rs,
With golden crowns and wreaths of heav’nly flow’rs;
Hear and believe! thy own importance know, 35
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.
Some secret truths, from learned pride conceal’d,
To Maids alone and Children are reveal’d:
What tho’ no credit doubting Wits may give?
The Fair and Innocent shall still believe. 40
Know, then, unnumber’d Spirits round thee fly,
The light Militia of the lower sky:
These, tho’ unseen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o’er the Box, and hover round the Ring.
Think what an Equipage thou hast in Air, 45
And view with scorn two Pages and a Chair.
As now your own, our beings were of old,
And once inclos’d in Woman’s beauteous mold;
Thence, by a soft transition, we repair
From earthly Vehicles to these of air. 50

Modern version

It was Belinda’s guardian sylph who had arranged
the dream she had that morning.
She dreamed about a young man even more glamorous and splendidly dressed than a courtier at a royal birthday
Who made her blush even as she slept
and seemed in her dream to whisper in her ear
Most beautiful of humans, looked after

William Shakespeare William Shakespeare
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