« PreviousContinue »
Soon as they been arriv'd upon the brim
Of the rich strond, their chariots they forlore,
And let their teamed fishes softly swim
Along the margin of the foamy shore,
Least they their fins should bruise, and surbate sore
Their tender feet upon the stony ground;
And coming to the place, where all in gore
And cruddy blood enwallowed they found
The luckless Marinell lying in deadly swound;
His mother swooned thrice, and the third time
Could scarce recovered be out of her pain;
Had she not been devoid of mortal slime,
She should not then have been reliev'd again:
But soon as life recovered had the reign,
She made so piteous moan, and dear wayment,
That the hard rocks could scarce from tears refrain,
And all her sister nymphs with one consent
Supplied her sobbing breaches with sad compliment.
"Dear image of myself" she said," that is
The wretched son of wretched mother born,
Is this thine high advancement? O, is this
Th' immortal name, with which thee yet unborn
Thy grandsire Nereus promised to adorn?
Now liest thou of life and honour reft;
Now liest thou a lump of earth forlorn,
Nor of thy late life memory is left,
Nor can thy irrevocable destiny be weft.
"Fond Proteus, father of false prophecies,
And they more fond that credit to thee give,
Not this the work of woman's hand I wis, [drive.
That so deep wound through these dear members
I feared love: but they that love do live;
But they that die, do neither love nor hate.
Nath'less, to thee thy folly I forgive,
And to myself, and to accursed fate
The guilt I do ascribe: dear wisdom bought too late.
"O, what avails it of immortal seed
To been ybred and never born to die?
Far better I it deem to die with speed,
Than waste in woe and wailful misery.
Who dies, the utmost dolour doth abie;
But who that lives, is left to wail his loss:
So life is loss, and death felicity.
Sad life worse than glad death: and greater cross To see friend's grave, than dead the grave self to [engross.
"But if the heavens did his days envy,
And my short bliss malign, yet might they well
Thus much afford me, ere that he did die
That the dim eyes of my dear Marinell
I might have closed, and him bid farewel,
Since other offices for mother meet
They would not grant.
Yet maugre them, farewel my sweetest sweet; Farewel my sweetest son, since we no more shall [meet."
THE BIRTH OF BELphebe.
It fortuned, fair Venus having lost
Her little son, the winged god of love,
Who for some light displeasure which him crost,
Was from her fled as flit as airy dove,
And left her blissful bower of joy above,
(So from her often he had fled away,
When she for ought him sharply did reprove,
And wandered in the world in strange array,
Disguis'd in thousand shapes that none might him
Him for to seek, she left her heavenly house
(The house of goodly forms and fair aspects,
Whence all the world derives the glorious
Features of beauties, and all shapes select,
With which high God his workmanship hath deck'd)
And searched every way, through which his wings
Had borne him, or his tract she might detect:
She promis'd kisses sweet and sweeter things
Unto the man, that of him tidings to her brings.
First she him sought in courts, where most he used
Whylome to haunt, but there she found him not;
But many there she found, which sore accused
His falsehood, and with foul infamous blot
His cruel deeds and wicked wiles did spot:
Ladies and lords she every where might hear
Complaining, how with his empoisoned shot
Their woful hearts he wounded had whyleare,
And so had left them languishing twixt hope and fear.
She then the cities sought, from gate to gate,
And every one did ask, " Did he him see?"
And every one her answered, "that too late
He had him seen, and felt the cruelty
Of his sharp darts, and hot artillery."
And every one threw forth reproaches rife
Of his mischievous deeds, and said, "that he
Was the disturber of all civil life,
The enemy of peace, and author of all strife."
Then in the country she abroad him sought,
And in the rural cottages enquired;
Where also, many plaints to her were brought,
How he their heedless hearts with love had fired,
And his false venom through their veins inspired;
And eke the gentle shepherd swains, which sat
Keeping their fleecy flocks, as they were hired,
She sweetly heard complain, both how and what
Her son had to them done; yet she did smile thereat.
But when in none of all these she him got,
She gan avise where else he might him hide:
At last, she her bethought, that she had not
Yet sought the savage woods and forests wide,
In which full many lovely nymphs abide,
Mongst whom might be, that he did closely lie,
Or that the love of some of them him tied;
Therefore she thither cast her course t' apply,
To search the secret haunts of Dian's company.
Shortly, unto the wasteful woods she came,
Whereas she found the goddess with her crew,
After late chace of their embrewed game,
Sitting beside a fountain in a rew,
Some of them washing with the liquid dew
From off their dainty limbs the dusty sweat
And soil, which did deform their lively hue;
Others lay shaded from the scorching heat;
The rest, upon her person, gave attendance great.
She, having hung upon a bough on high
Her bow and painted quiver, had unlac'd
Her silver buskins from her nimble thigh,
And her lank loins ungirt, and breasts unbrac'd,
After her heat the breathing cold to taste;
Her golden locks, that late in tresses bright
Embraided were for hindering of her haste,
Now loose about her shoulders hung undight,
And were with sweet ambrosia all besprinkled light.
Soon as she Venus saw behind her back,
She was ashamed to be so loose surprised;
And wax half wroth against her damsels slack,
That had not her thereof before advised,
But suffered her so carelessly disguised
Be overtaken. Soon her garments loose
Upgath'ring, in her bosom she compris'd,
Well as she might, and to the goddess rose,
While all her nymphs did like a garland her enclose.
Goodly she gan fair Cytherea greet;
And shortly asked her what cause her brought
Into that wilderness (for her unmeet) [fraught:
From her sweet bowers and beds with pleasures
That sudden change she strange adventure thought.
To whom (half weeping) she thus answered
That she her dearest son Cupido sought,
Who in his frowardness from her was fled;
That she repented sore, to have him angered.
Thereat Diana gan to smile, in scorn
Of her vain plaint, and to her, scoffing, said,
"Great pity sure, that ye be so forlorn
Of your gay son,
that gives ye so good aid
To your disports: ill might ye be apaid."
But she was more engrieved, and replied;
'Fair sister, ill beseems it to upbraid
A doleful heart with so disdainful pride;
The like that mine, may be your pain another tide.
"As you in woods and wanton wilderness
Your glory set, to chace the savage beasts;
So my delight is all in joyfulness,
In beds, in bowers, in banquets, and in feasts:
And ill becomes you with your lofty crests,
To scorn the joy that Jove is glad to seek;
We both are bound to follow heaven's behests,
And tend our charges with obedience meek:
Spare (gentle sister) with reproach my pains to eke;
"And tell me, if that ye my son have heard,
To lurk amongst your nymphs in secret wise;
Or keep their cabins; much I am affeard,
Least he like one of them himself disguise,
And turn his arrows to their exercise:
may he long himself full easy hide:
For, he is fair and fresh in face and guise,
As any nymph (let not it be envied)."
So saying, every nymph full narrowly she ey'd.
But Phebe therewith sore was angered,
And sharply said; "Go, dame, go seek your boy,
Where you him lately left, in Mars's bed;
He comes not here, we scorn his foolish joy,
Nor lend we leisure to his idle toy:
But if I catch him in this company,
By Stygian lake I vow, whose sad annoy
The Gods do dread, he dearly shall abie:
I'll clip his wanton wings, that he no more shall fly."
Whom when as Venus saw so sore displeased,
She inly sorry was, and gan relent
What she had said; so her she soon appeased,
With sugred words and gentle blandishment,
Which as a fountain from her sweet lips went,
And welled goodly forth, that in short space
She was well pleas'd, and forth her damsels sent,
Through all the woods, to search from place to place,
If any track of him or tidings they might trace.
To search the god of love, her nymphs she sent
Throughout the wandering forest every where:
And after them herself eke with her went
To seek the fugitive, both far and near.
So long they sought, till they arrived were
In that same shady covert, whereas lay
Fair Chrysogone in slumbry trance whylere:
Who in her sleep (a wondrous thing to say) [day.
Unwares had borne two babes, as fair as springing
Unwares she them conceiv'd, unwares she bore:
She bore withouten pain, that she conceived
Withouten pleasure: nor her need implore
Lucina's aid: which when they both perceived,
They were through wonder nigh of sense bereaved,
And gazing each on other, nought bespake:
At last, they both agreed, her (seeming grieved)
Out of her heavy swoon not to awake,
But from her loving side the tender babes to take.
Up they them took; each one a babe uptook,
And with them carried, to be fostered.
Dame Phebe to a nymph her babe betook,
To be brought up in perfect maidenhead,
And of herself, her name Belphebe read:
But Venus her's hence far away convey'd,
To be upbrought in goodly womanhead,
And in her little love's stead, which was stray'd,
Her Amoretta call'd, to comfort her dismay'd.
She brought her to her joyous paradise, [dwell.
Where most she wonnes, when she on earth does
So fair a place as nature can devise:
Whether in Paphos, or Cytheron hill,
Or it in Gnidus be, I wot not well;
But well I wot by trial, that this same
All other pleasant places doth excel,
And called is by her lost lover's name
The garden of Adonis, far renown'd by fame.
THE STORY OF FLORIMELL.
But Florimell herself was far away,
Driven to great distress by fortune strange,
And taught the careful mariner to play,
Since late mischance had her compell'd to change
The land for sea, at random there to range:
Yet there that cruel queen avengeress,
Not satisfied so far her to estrange
From courtly bliss and wonted happiness,
Did heap on her new waves of weary wretchedness.
For, being fled into the fisher's boat,
For refuge from the monster's cruelty,
Long so she on the mighty main did float,
And with the tide drove forward carelessly;
For, th' air was mild, and cleared was the sky,
And all his winds Dan Eolus did keep
From stirring up their stormy enmity,
As pitying to see her wail and weep;
But all the while the fisher did securely sleep.
At last, when drunk with drowsiness, he woke,
And saw his drover drive along the stream,
He was dismay'd, and thrice his breast he stroke,
For marvel of that accident extreme;
But when he saw that blazing beauties beam,
Which with rare light his boat did beautify,
He marvell'd more, and thought he yet did dream
Not well awak'd, or that some extacy
Besotted had his sense, or dazzled was his eye.
But when her well avising, he perceived
To be no vision, nor fantastic sight,
Great comfort of her presence he conceived,
And felt in his old courage new delight
To gin awake, and stir his frozen spright:
Then rudely asked her, “How she thither came?"
"Ah," (said she)" father! I n'ote read aright,
What hard misfortune brought me to the same;
Yet am I glad that here I now in safety am.
"But thou, good man, since far in sea we be,
And the great waters gin apace to swell,
That now no more we can the main land see,
Have care, I pray, to guide the cock-boat well,
Least worse on sea than us on land befell."
Thereat th' old man did nought but fondly grin,
And said, "His boat the way could wisely tell."
But his deceitful eyes did never lin
To look on her fair face, and mark her snowy skin.
The sight whereof, in his congealed flesh,
Infix'd such secret sting of greedy lust,
That the dry withered stock it gan refresh,
And kindled heat that soon in flame forth brust;
The driest wood is soonest burnt to dust.
Rudely to her he leapt, and his rough hand
Where ill became him, rashly would have thrust:
But she with angry scorn him did withstand,
And shamefully reproved for his rudeness fond.
But, he that never good nor manners knew,
Her sharp rebuke full little did esteem;
Hard is to teach an old horse amble true.
The inward smoke, that did before but steam,
Broke into open fire and rage extreme,
And now he strength gan add unto his will,
Forcing to do that did him foul misseem:
Beastly he threw her down, nor car'd to spill [fill.
Her garments gay with scales of fish, that all did
The silly virgin strove him to withstand,
All that she might, and him in vain revil'd:
She struggled strongly both with foot and hand,
To save her honour from that villain vild,
And cried to heaven, from human help exil'd.
O ye brave knights, that boast this lady's love,
when she is nigh defil'd
Where be ye now,
Of filthy wretch? well may she you reprove
Of falshood, or of sloth, when most it may behove.
But if that thou, Sir Satyrane, didst weet,
Or thou, Sir Peridure, her sorry state,
How soon would ye assemble many a fleet
To fetch from sea, that ye at land lost late?
Towers, cities, kingdoms, ye would ruinate,
In your avengement and dispiteous rage,
Nor ought your burning fury might abate;
But if Sir Calidore could it presage,
No living creature could his cruelty assuage.
But since that none of all her knights is nigh,
See how the heavens of voluntary grace,
And sovereign favour towards chastity,
Do succour send to her distressed case:
So much high God doth innocence embrace.
It fortuned, while thus she stiffly strove,
And the wide sea importuned long space
With shrilling shrieks, Proteus abroad did rove,
Along the foaming waves driving his finny drove.
Proteus is shepherd of the seas of yore,
And hath the charge of Neptune's mighty herd;
An aged sire with head all frory hoar,
And sprinkled frost upon his dewy beard:
Who when those pitiful outcries he heard
Through all the seas so ruefully resound,
His chariot swift in haste he thither steer'd,
Which with a team of scaly Phocas bound
Was drawn upon the waves, that foamed him around.
And coming to that fisher's wandring boat
That went at will, withouten card or sail
He therein saw that irksome sight, which smote
Deep indignation and compassion frail
Into his heart at once: strait did he hail
The greedy villain from his hoped prey;
Of which he now did very little fail,
And with his staff that drives his herd astray,
Him beat so sore, that life and sense did much dis-
The while the piteous lady up did rise,
Ruffled and foully rayd with filthy soil,
And blubbered face with tears of her fair eyes:
Her heart nigh broken was with weary toil
To save herself from that outrageous spoil:
But when she looked up, to weet what wight
Had her from so infamous fact assoil'd,
For shame, but more for fear of his grim sight,
Down in her lap she hid her face, and loudly shright.
Herself not saved yet from danger dread
She thought, but chang'd from one to other fear;
Like as a fearful partridge, that is fled
From the sharp hawk, which her attacked near,
And falls to ground, to seek for succour there,
Whereas the hungry spaniel she does spy,
With greedy jaws her ready for to tear;
In such distress and sad perplexity
Was Florimell, when Proteus she did see thereby.
But he endeavoured with speeches mild,
Her to recomfort, and accourage bold,
Bidding her fear no more her foeman vild,
Nor doubt himself; and who he was, her told.
Yet all that could not from affright her hold,
Nor to recomfort her at all prevail'd;
For, her faint heart was with the frozen cold
Benumb'd so inly, that her wits nigh fail'd,
And all her senses with abashment quite were
Her up betwixt his rugged hands he rear'd,
And with his frory lips full softly kiss'd,
While the cold isicles from his rough beard
Dropped adown upon her ivory breast:
Yet he himself so busily address'd,
That her out of astonishment he wrought,
And out of that same fisher's filthy nest
Removing her, into his chariot brought,
And there with many gentle terms her fair besought.
But that old lecher, which with bold assault
That beauty durst presume to violate,
He cast to punish for his heinous fault;
Then took he him yet trembling since of late
And tied behind his chariot, to aggrate
The virgin, whom he had abus'd so sore:
So dragg'd him through the waves in scornful state.
And after cast him up upon the shore;
But Florimell with him unto his bower he bore.
His bower is in the bottom of the main,
Under a mighty rock, gainst which do rave
The roaring billows in their proud disdain;
That with the angry roaring of the wave,
Therein is eaten out an hollow cave,
That seems rough mason's hand with engines keen,
Had long while laboured it to engrave:
There was his wonne, nor living wight was seen, Save one old nymph, hight Panope, to keep it clean.
Thither he brought the sorry Florimell,
And entertained her the best he might;
And Panope her entertain'd eke well,
As an immortal might a mortal wight,
To win her liking unto his delight:
With flattering words he sweetly wooed her,
And offered fair gifts t' allure her sight:
But she both offers and the offerer
Despis'd, and all the fawning of the flatterer.
Daily he tempted her with this or that,
And never suffered her to be at rest:
But evermore she him refused flat,
And all his feigned kindness did detest;
So firmly she had sealed up her breast.
Sometimes he boasted, that a god he hight:
But she a mortal creature loved best:
Then he would make himself a mortal wight;
But then she said she lov'd none but a fairy knight.
Then like a fairy knight himself he dress'd; For, every shape on him he could endew: Then like a king he was to her express'd,
And offered kingdoms unto her in view,
To be his leman and his lady true:
But when all this he nothing saw prevail,
With harder means he cast her to subdue,
And with sharp threats her often did assail,
So thinking for to make her stubborn courage quail.
To dreadful shapes he did himself transform,
Now like a giant, now like to a fiend,
Then like a centaur, then like to a storm,
Raging within the waves: thereby he ween'd
Her will to win unto his wished end;
But when with fear, nor favour, nor with all
He else could do, he saw himself esteem'd,
Down in a dungeon deep he let her fall,
And threatened there to make her his eternal thrall.
Eternal thraldom was to her more lief,
Than loss of chastity, or change of love:
Die had she rather in tormenting grief,
Than any should of falseness her reprove,
Or looseness, that she lightly did remove.
Most virtuous virgin, glory be thy meed,
And crown of heavenly praise with saints above,
Where most sweet hymns of this thy famous deed
Are still amongst them sung, that far my rhimes
Fit song of angels carrolled to be;
But yet what so my feeble muse can frame,
Shall be t' advance thy goodly chastity,
And to enroll thy memorable name
In th' heart of every honourable dame,
That they thy virtuous deeds may imitate,
And be partakers of thy endless fame.
THE MASK OF CUPID. Then when as chearless night ycovered had Fair heaven with an universal cloud, That every wight, dismay'd with darkness sad, In silence and in sleep themselves did shroud, She heard a shrilling trumpet sound aloud, Sign of nigh battle, or got victory; Nought therewith daunted was her courage proud, But rather stirr'd to cruel enmity,
Expecting ever when some foe she might descry.
All suddenly a stormy whirlwind blew
Throughout the house, that clapped every door:
With which that iron wicket open flew,
As it with mighty levers had been tore:
And forth issued, as on the ready floor
Of some theatre, a grave personage,
That in his hand a branch of laurel bore,
With comely haviour and count'nance sage,
Yclad in costly garments fit for tragic stage.
Proceeding to the midst, he still did stand,
As if in mind he somewhat had to say;
And to the vulgar beck'ning with his hand,
In sign of silence, as to hear a play,
By lively actions he gan bewray
Some argument of matter passioned;
Which done, he back retired soft away:
And passing by, his name discovered,
EASE, on his robe, in golden letters cyphered.
The noble maid, still standing, all this view'd,
And marvell'd at his strange intendiment;
With that a joyous fellowship issued
Of minstrels, making goodly merriment,
With wanton bards and rhymers impudent;
All which together sung full chearfully
A lay of love's delight, with sweet content:
After whom march'd a jolly company,
In manner of a mask, enranged orderly.
The while a most delicious harmony,
In full strange notes was sweetly heard to sound, That the rare sweetness of the melody
The feeble senses wholly did confound,
And the frail soul in deep delight nigh drown'd:
And when it ceas'd shrill trumpets loud did bray,
That their report did far away rebound,
And when they ceas'd, it gan again to play,
The while the maskers marched forth in trim array.
The first was Fancy, like a lovely boy,
Of rare aspect, and beauty without peer;
Matchable either to that imp of Troy,
Whom Jove did love, and chose his cup to bear,
Or that same dainty lad, which was so dear
To great Alcides, that when as he died,
He wailed womanlike with many a tear,
And every wood and every valley wide
He fill'd with Hylas' name; the nymphs eke Hylas
His garment neither was of silk nor say,
But painted plumes, in goodly order dight,
Like as the sun-burnt Indians do array
Their tawny bodies, in their proudest plight;
As those same plumes, so seem'd he vain and light,
That by his gait might easily appear;
For, still he far'd as dancing in delight,
And in his hand a windy fan did bear,
That in the idle air he mov'd still here and there.