1687 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Abraham Fraunce

William Winstanley, Lives of the Most Famous English Poets (1687) 65-66.



This Abraham Fraunce, a Versifier, about the same time with John Higgins, was one who imitated Latine measure in English Verse, writing a Pastoral, called the Countesse of Pembroke's Ivy-church, and some other things in Hexameter, some also in Hexameter and Pentameter; He also wrote the Countess of Pembroke's Emanuel, containing the Nativity, Passion, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ, together with certain Psalms of David, all in English Hexameters. Nor was he altogether singular in this way of writing, for Sir Philip Sidney, in the Pastoral Interludes of his Arcadia, uses not only these, but all other sorts of Latine measure, in which no wonder he is followed by so few, since they neither become the English, nor any other modern Language.

He began also the Translation of Heliodorus his Aethopick History, in the same kind of Verse, of which, to give the Reader the better divertisement, we shall present you with a tast.

As soon as Sun-beams could once peep out fro the Mountains,
And by the dawn of day had somewhat lightned Olympus,
Men, whose lust was law, whose life was still to be lusting,
Whose thriving thieving, convey'd themselves to an hill top,
That stretched forward to the Heracleotica entry
And mouth of Nylus; looking thence down to the main sea
For sea-faring men; but seeing none to be sailing,
They knew 'twas bootless to be looking there for a booty:
So that strait fro the sea they cast their eyes to the sea-shore;
Where they saw, that a Ship was very strangely without any ship man,
Lay then alone at road, with Cables ty'd to the main-land,
And yet full fraighted, which they, though far, fro the hill-top,
Easily might perceive by the water drawn to the deck-board, &c.

His Ivy-Church he dedicated to the Countess of Pembroke, in which he much vindicated his manner of writing, as no Verse fitter for it than that; he also dedicated his Emanuel to her, which being but two lines take as followeth:

Mary the best Mother sends her best Babe to a Mary:

Lord to a Ladies sight, and Christ to a Christian.

When he died, we cannot find, but suppose it to be about the former part of Queen Elizabeth's Reign.