Amoret and the River-God

God. What powerful charms my streams do bring
Back again unto their spring,
With such force, that I their god,
Three times striking with my rod,
Could not keep them in their ranks?
My fishes shoot into the banks;
There’s not one that stays and feeds,
All have hid them in the weeds.
Here’s a mortal almost dead,
Faln into my river-head,
Hallowed so with many a spell,
That till now none ever fell.
‘Tis a female young and clear,
Cast in by some ravisher:
See upon her breast a wound,
On which there is no plaster bound.
Yet she’s warm, her pulses beat,
‘Tis a sign of life and heat. –
If thou be’st a virgin pure,
I can give a present cure:
Take a drop into thy wound,
From my watery locks, more round
That orient pearl, and far more pure
Than unchaste flesh may endure. –
See, she pants, and from her flesh
The warm blood gusheth out afresh.
She is an unpolluted maid;
I must have this bleeding staid.
From my banks I pluck this flower
With holy hand, whose virtuous power
Is at once to heal and draw. –
The blood returns. I never saw
A fairer mortal. Now doth break
Her deadly slumber. Virgin, speak.

Amoret. Who hath restored my sense, given me new breath,
And brought me back out of the arms of death?

God. I have healed thy wounds.

Amoret. Aye me!

God. Fear not him that succoured thee.
I am this fountain’s god. Below
My waters to a river grow,
And ‘twixt two banks with osiers set,
That only prosper in the wet,
Through the meadows do they glide,
Wheeling still on every side,
Sometimes winding round about,
To find the evenest channel out.
And if thou wilt go with me,
Leaving mortal company,
In the cool streams shalt thou lie,
Free from harm as well as I:
I will give thee for thy food
No fish that useth in the mud;
But trout and pike, that love to swim
Where the gravel from the brim
Through the pure streams may be seen:
Orient pearl for for a queen
Will I give, thy love to win,
And a shell to keep them in …

John Fletcher, The Faithful Shepherdess (1609-10).

The Faithful Shepherdess is a pastoral tragi-comedy set in Thessaly. The shepherdess is Clorin. Among the several characters involved involved in the play’s romantic complications is Amoret, loved by Thenot, who in turn loves Clorin, but who is loved by Amarillis. The God of the River also features.

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