Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardy M. Cook
Peer Reviewed

Venus and Adonis (Modern)


His ears up-pricked, his braided hanging mane
Upon his compassed crest now stand on end;
His nostrils drink the air, and forth again,
As from a furnace, vapors doth he send.
275His eye, which scornfully glisters like fire,
Shows his hot courage and his high desire.
Sometime he trots, as if he told the steps,
With gentle majesty and modest pride.
Anon he rears upright, curvets, and leaps,
280As who should say, "Lo, thus my strength is tried,
And this I do to captivate the eye
Of the fair breeder that is standing by."
What recketh he his rider's angry stir,
His flattering "Holla," or his "Stand, I say"?
285What cares he now for curb or pricking spur,
For rich caparisons or trappings gay?
He sees his love, and nothing else he sees,
For nothing else with his proud sight agrees.
Look when a painter would surpass the life
290In limning out a well-proportioned steed,
His art with nature's workmanship at strife,
As if the dead the living should exceed,
So did this horse excel a common one
In shape, in courage, color, pace, and bone.
295Round-hoofed, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide,
High crest, short ears, straight legs, and passing strong,
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide:
Look what a horse should have he did not lack,
300Save a proud rider on so proud a back.