1595
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Ode.

Cynthia. With certaine Sonnets, and the Legend of Cassandra.

Richard Barnfield


Richard Barnfield contemplates a heterosexual love: "Either She, or els no creature, | Shall enjoy my love: whose feature | Though I never can obtaine, | Yet shall my true love remaine."

Thomas Park: "Appended is an Ode of such lyric excellence, as almost to leave the proprietorship a divided matter of claim between the present poet and our surpassing Shakspeare" Restituta or ... English Literature Revived 4 (1816) 496.

George Klawitter: "Divided in three parts, his heart seems to belong to Ganymede, the young woman, and Queen Elizabeth (line 92). Another possibility is that each of the three parts has 'Eliza' written on it, in which case we can assign one part to the queen, can conjecture that his lady love is named 'Eliza,' and can hazard a guess that the third 'Eliza' is the aunt for whom he wrote an epigraph in Poems: in divers humors" Complete Poems (1990) 235.

George Klawitter: "Thomas Warton, in notes unpublished at his death, described the poem as a palinode: 'Afterwards, falling in love with a lady, he closes these sonnets with a palinode.' But Barnfield's 'Ode' is not a palinode because the poet is retracting nothing he said earlier; he is simply chronicling a change in his affections" Complete Poems (1990) 37.

Katherine Duncan-Jones identifies "Eliza" as Queen Elizabeth, Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 79.



Nights were short, and daies were long;
Blossoms on the Hauthorns hung:
Philomele (Night-Musiques-King)
Tolde the comming of the spring.
Whose sweete silver-sounding voice
Made the little birds rejoice:
Skipping light from spray to spray,
Till Aurora shew'd the day.
Scarce might one see, when I might see
(For such chaunces sudden bee)
By a well of Marble-stone
A Shepheard lying all alone.
Weepe he did; and his weeping
Made the fading flowers spring.
Daphnis was his name (I weene)
Youngest Swaine of Summers Queene.
When Aurora saw 'twas he.
Weepe she did for companie:
Weepe she did for her sweete sonne
That (when antique Troy was wonne)
Suffer'd death by lucklesse fate,
Whom she now laments too late:
And each morning (by Cocks crew)
Showers downe her silver dew.
Whose teares (falling from their spring)
Give moysture to each living thing,
That on earth increase and grow,
Through power of their friendlie foe.
Whose effect when Flora felt,
Teares, that did her bosome melt,
(For who can resist teares often,
But Shee whom no teares can soften?)
Peering straite above the banks,
Shew'd herselfe to give her thanks.
Wondring thus at Natures worke,
(Wherein many marvailes lurke)
Me thought I heard a dolefull noise,
Consorted with a mournfull voice,
Drawing Me to heare more plaine,
Heare I did, unto my paine,
(For who is not pain'd to heare
Him in griefe whom heart holdes deare?)
Silly swaine (with griefe ore-gone)
Thus to make his piteous mone.
Love I did, (alas the while)
Love I did, but did beguile
My deare love with loving so,
(Whom as then I did not know.)
Love I did the fairest boy,
That these fields did ere enjoy.
Love I did, fair Ganymed;
(Venus darling, beauties bed:)
Him I thought the fairest creature;
Him the quintessence of Nature:
But yet (alas) I was deceiv'd,
(Love of reason is bereav'd)
For since then I saw a Lasse
(Lasse) that did in beauty passe,
(Passe) faire Ganymede as farre
As Phoebus doth the smallest starre.
Love commaunded me to love,
Fancy bade me not remove
My affection from the swaine
Whom I never could obtaine:
(For who can obtaine that favour,
Which he cannot graunt the craver?)
Love at last (though loath) prevailde;
(Love) that so my heart assailde;
Wounding me with her faire eies,
(Ah how Love can subtelize,
And devize a thousand shifts,
How to worke men to his drifts)
Her it is, for whom I mourne;
Her, for whom my life I scorne;
Her, for whom I weepe all day;
Her, for whom I sigh, and say,
Either She, or els no creature,
Shall enjoy my love: whose feature
Though I never can obtaine,
Yet shall my true love remaine:
Till (my body turn'd to clay)
My poore soule must passe away,
To the heavens; where (I hope)
Hit shall finde a resting scope:
Then since I loved thee (alone)
Remember me when I am gone.
Scarce had he these last words spoken,
But me thought his heart was broken;
With great griefe that did abound,
(Cares and griefe the heart confound)
In whose heart (thus riv'd in three)
ELIZA written I might see:
In Caracters of crimson blood,
(Whose meaning well I understood)
Which, for my heart might not behold,
I hyed me home my sheep to folde.

[sigs C8-D2v]