These forceless flowers like sturdy trees support me; Two strengthless doves will draw me through the sky

From Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis lines 165-176, a portion of Venus’ attempted seduction. I feel there’s a classical parallel to the images of Venus’ weightlessness (‘These forceless flowers …”) but I can’t right now conjure anything from Ovid or the other likelies and the commentaries don’t help.

‘Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear,
Or, like a fairy, trip upon the green,
Or, like a nymph, with long dishevell’d hair,
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen:
Love is a spirit all compact of fire,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire.

‘Witness this primrose bank whereon I lie;
These forceless flowers like sturdy trees support me;
Two strengthless doves will draw me through the sky,
From morn till night, even where I list to sport me:
Is love so light, sweet boy, and may it be
That thou shouldst think it heavy unto thee?

The slippage of meaning in ‘light’ (weightless vs. wanton) is easy to spot. A bit below the surface is the flavor of ‘primrose’ – Shakespeare twice later uses it in ‘dangers of pleasure’ contexts.

Ophelia to Laertes in Hamlet 1.3:

I shall th’ effect of this good lesson keep
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
Do not as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
Whiles, like a puff’d and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
And recks not his own rede.

And the Porter in Macbeth 2.3:

Knock,
knock; never at quiet! What are you? But
this place is too cold for hell. I’ll devil-porter
it no further: I had thought to have let in
some of all professions that go the primrose
way to the everlasting bonfire
.
[Knocking within]
Anon, anon! I pray you, remember the porter.

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