George L. Craik: "To the Six Books of the Fairy Queen as published in the author's life-time, were added in the third edition of the poem, which appeared in 1609, two Cantos (besides two stanzas of a third Canto), with the title of Two Cantos of Mutability, which, both for form and matter, appear to be parcel of some following Book of the Fairy Queen, under the Legend of Constancy. There is no preface to this edition, and the editor is unknown; so that their internal evidence is all the evidence we have for the authenticity of these new Cantos. That, however, is so strong as to be quite conclusive; the poetry has none of the marks of imitation, and is not only perfectly in Spenser's manner throughout, but much of it in his very highest style. Taken as a whole, these two Cantos of Mutability, as they are called, may vie with any other two Cantos of the Fairy Queen. They are numbered Cantos VI. and VII.; and it must be supposed that they were found so numbered in the author's manuscript. To which Book they may belong we have no means of knowing; nor even with absolute certainty the subject of the Book. But the Legend of Constancy seems a probable enough title and the Book is commonly referred to as the Seventh Book.
"Canto VI. (55 stanzas). — The poet begins by proposing the subject of the Canto as follows: — 'What man that sees the ever-whirling wheel | Of Change, the which all mortal things doth sway, | But that thereby doth find, and plainly feel, | How Mutability in them doth play | Her cruel sports to many men's decay?'....
"First, however, he will unfold her antique race and descent, as he has found it registered in the records of Fairy Land. She is sprung from the old Titans who whilome strove with Saturn's son for the sovereignty of heaven, and many of whose stem, worsted although they were in this contest, long continued to survive, and some of whom afterwards were placed by Jove himself in great power and high authority; such, for example, as Hecate, 'And dread Bellona, that doth sound on high | Wars and alarums unto nations wide, | That makes both heaven and earth to tremble at her pride.' To such rule and dominion likewise did this Titaness, Mutability, aspire; desiring, even like those other two, to be worshipped as a goddess: and first she sought to obtain such acknowledgment of her divinity on earth, where with this aim she gave such proof of her great power, 'That not men only (whom she soon subdued) | But eke all other creatures her bad doings rued.' For whatever Nature had in the beginning established in meet order and good estate she perverted, and loosened from its proper laws; all the worlds fair frame she altered quite; all that God had blessed she made accursed. 'Ne she the laws of Nature only brake, | But eke of justice, and of policy; | And wrong of right, and bad of good did make, | And death for life exchanged foolishly'....
"And now having subdued the earth she begins to think of attempting the heavens, 'and Jove himself to shoulder from his right.' First she passes through the regions of the thin and unresisting air and fire; thence she climbs to the palace of the Moon, and enters its silver gates without leave either given or asked of the hoary old sire, Time, who sits by them with his hour-glass in his hand; 'Ne stayed till she the highest stage had scanned, | Where Cynthia did sit, that never still did stand'.... Beholding the glory of this goodly palace, — 'Made of the heaven's substance, and upheld | With thousand crystal pillars of huge height' — the Titaness burns with envious ambition to displace its mistress, and to gain to herself the kingdom of the night and of the waxing and waning waters. She therefore boldly orders the goddess to descend and allow her to seat herself in that ivory throne, as the more worthy of rule whether over men or gods or the infernal powers. 'But she, that had to her that sovereign seat | By highest Jove assigned, therein to bear | Night's burning lamp, regarded not her threat, | Ne yielded ought for favour or for fear'....
"Forthwith Jove sends the Son of Maia down to the circle of the Moon, with orders that if it be any one on earth below who is molesting her with magic charms he be seized and thrown down to hell; if the disturbance come from heaven, that the author he instantly arrested and brought before him. The winged-footed god beats his plumes so fast that he soon comes to where the Titaness is still striving to pull fair Cynthia from her seat; struck with dread as well as wonder at her strange appearance and haughty hardihood he pauses for a moment, but at last recovering himself he commands her either to cease molesting the Moon, and to suffer her to walk at large, or to come with him and answer for her doings before high Jove... 'He from his Jove such message to her brought, | To bid her leave fair Cynthia's silver bower; | Sith she his Jove and him esteemed nought, | No more than Cynthia's self; but all their kingdoms sought.'
"The heavens' herald stays not to reply, but, returning to make report to Jove, finds him seated in highest state in the highest sky with all the gods congregated around him; what Hermes relates exceedingly amazes them all, save Jove; he with unchanged countenance unfolds to them the cause and meaning of what they have heard. They may remember that when the cursed offspring of Earth sought to assail the eternal towers of heaven they were effectually defeated and destroyed; yet a remnant of their race escaped and still survives; and 'of that bad seed is this bold woman bred,' who now with bold presumption seeks to drive not only fair Phoebe from her silver throne, but also himself, the lord of heaven, from his high empire. It is for them, the sons of God, now to advise in what way her assault is to be best encountered — whether by open force or cunning counsel. Then, bending his black eyebrow, with whose beck he wields the world, he makes sign to them to speak in their several degrees.
"But meanwhile the Titaness, having advised with herself what course were best for her to take, has resolved to break in upon her enemies while they are still consulting and divided in opinion. So forth she goes, and, mounting through the sky to the palace of Jove, boldly enters in. At sight of her all the other gods rise in amazement; but Jove, all fearless, remains unmoved, and, commanding them to resume their seats, disposes himself in his own sovereign throne with increased grace and majesty; so that even the haughty Titaness, bold as site is, quakes at heart and stands dumb, till Jove himself addresses her;—'Speak, thou frail woman, speak with confidence; | Whence art thou, and what dost thou here now make? | What idle errand hast thou earth's mansion to forsake?'
"Half confused and daunted, 'yet gathering spirit of her nature's pride,' she boldly replies, that by her mother's side she is the daughter of her that is the mighty mother of all the gods, 'great Earth, great Chaos' child;' but by the father's she is greater in blood than all the gods. For Titan and Saturn were both sons of Uranus, but Titan the elder: him his younger brother, by guile and the aid of the Corybantes, thrust from his right; 'since which,' she adds, — 'thou, Jove, injuriously hast held | The heavens' rule from 'Titan's sons by might;' and she concludes by calling upon the heavens to witness the truth of all she has affirmed.... 'Till, having paused awhile, Jove thus bespake; | Will never mortal thoughts cease to aspire | In this bold sort to heaven claim to make, | And touch celestial seats with earthly mire? | I would have thought that hold Procrustes' hire, | Or Typhon's fall, or proud Ixion's pain, | Or great Prometheus tasting of our ire, | Would have sufficed the rest for to restrain, | And warned all men, by their example, to refrain'....
"He proceeds to say that she, 'fair Titan's child,' has probably been excited to her present attempt merely by some vain curiosity to see what has never been seen by mortal eyes, or perhaps has been inflamed by the example of her sister Bellona, with the desire 'to bandy crowns and kingdoms to bestow;' and sure she is not the less deserving of the two. But, for the empire of heaven, that has been won by conquest and confirmed by the eternal doom of Fate, and neither Titanic progeny nor other living wight may challenge right or interest there. 'Then cease thy idle claim, thou foolish girl; | And seek by grace and goodness to obtain | That place, from which by folly Titan fell.' 'Cease, Saturn's son,' replies the Titaness with equal scorn, 'to seek, by proffers vain | Of idle hopes, to allure me to thy side, | For to betray my right before I have it tried.'
"Jove she deems no fair judge in the case; she appeals to the highest of all the divinities, the acknowledged progenitor alike of gods and men, the great deity Nature. 'Thereat Jove wexed wroth, and in his sprite | Did inly grudge, yet did it well conceal; | And bade Dan Phoebus scribe her appellation seal.' The time and place for the trial, at which all parties shall appear before great Nature's presence, are now appointed: it was, namely, says the poet, 'upon the highest heights | Of Arlow hill (who knows not Arlow hill?) | That is the highest head, in all men's sights, | Of my old father Mole.'
"Arlow, or Arlo, which is also mentioned by Spenser in his View of Ireland, is understood to be what is now called Galtee More, the loftiest of the eastern range of the Ballyhowra hills, called by him the mountains of Mole, forming the northern boundary of his estate of Kilcolman, in the county of Cork. One of the defiles of Galtee More is still called the Glen of Aharlow. The Mulla is a stream, vulgarly called the Awbeg, which flows from the Ballyhowra hills. The poet now suddenly breaks off into an episode in celebration of these hills and streams; — 'And, were it not ill fitting for this file | To sing of hills and woods mongst wars and knights, | I would abate the sternness of my style, | Mongst these stern stounds to mingle soft delights'....
"Among the nymphs was one named Molanna, daughter of old Father Mole, 'And sister unto Mulla fair and bright' — the same Mulla, to whose bed the false Bregog (another stream flowing from the Ballyhowra hills) once on a time secretly stole, as told and made well known by the Shepherd Colin, that is, by Spenser himself (namely, in his Colin Clout's Come Home Again). 'But this Molanna, were she not so shole, | Were no less fair and beautiful than she: | Yet, as she is, a fairer flood may no man see'....
"The Molanna is a stream, now called the Brackbawn, which descends from the Tipperary or western range of the Ballyhowra hills. 'In her sweet streams Diana used oft, | After her sweaty chase and toilsome play, | To bathe herself; and, after, on the soft | And downy grass her dainty limbs to lay | In covert shade, where none behold her may, | For much she hated sight of living eye.' 'Foolish God Faunus,' however, giving way to a foolish longing, applied to this her maid, Molanna, 'To tell what time he might her lady see | When she herself did bathe, that he might secret be;' and allured her to grant him his request, not only by gifts of 'queen apples and red cherries from the tree,' but by promising that he would undertake to get the Fanchin, whom she has long ardently loved, to return her affection, and would also be her debtor for many more good turns, the least of them exceeding the little gratification in procuring which he wished her to give him her aid. The Fanchin (now the Funcheon) is another of these streams. 'The simple maid did yield to him anon; | And eft him placed where he close might view | That never any saw, save only one, | Who, for his hire to so fool-hardy due, | Was of his hounds devoured in hunter's hue.'
"Faunus was immensely delighted; but his foolish joy, after a little while, could not keep from breaking out into an audible laugh: — 'a foolish Faun indeed, | That couldst not hold thyself so hidden blest, | But wouldest needs thine own conceit aread! | Babblers unworthy been of so divine a meed'.... 'So did Diana and her maidens all | Use silly Faunus, now within their bail; | They mock and scorn him, and him foul miscall'.... After various penances had been proposed, they agreed to clad him in deer-skins, and make a beast of chase of him; and Diana, moreover, forced him to confess which of her nymphs it was that had betrayed her; upon which they all laid hold upon poor Molanna at once. 'But him (according as they had decreed) | With a deer's skin they covered, and then chast | With all their hounds, that after him did speed'.... Having followed him till they were weary, they then returned to Molanna, and by command of their mistress overwhelmed her with stones; — 'yet Faunus, for her pain, | Of her beloved Fanchin did obtain | That her he would receive unto his bed.
"Canto VII. (59 stanzas). — The poet now, after a short invocation to the 'greater muse,' Clio, proceeds to relate the trial of the appeal of the Titaness at the bar of Nature. The appointed day being come, all the gods are assembled upon Arlow hill, both those of heaven and those of land and sea; 'Only the infernal powers might not appear; | As well for horror of their countenance ill, | As for the unruly fiends which they did fear; | Yet Pluto and Proserpina were present there.' All other creatures, also, having life give their attendance, according to their sundry kinds; so that Arlow with all its heights and hollows can scarcely contain them all, and only the most strenuous exertions of Nature's sergeant, Order, prevent the utmost confusion. 'Then forth issued (great goddess) great Dame Nature, | With goodly port and gracious majesty, | Being far greater and more tall of stature | Than any of the gods or powers on high'....
"But it is so hard for any living might to describe all her array that even 'Old Dan Geoffrey' (Chaucer) — 'in whose gentle sprite | The pure well-head of poesy did dwell' — in his Fowls' Parley (meaning his Assembly of Fowls) dares not to attempt it, but refers his readers to Alan, that is, Alanus de Insulis, who he thought had handled the theme with some success in his Plaint of Kind — a Latin treatise by this Alanus, entitled De Planctu Naturae, which exists in manuscript, but which Spenser from what he adds — 'Which who will read set forth so as it ought, | Go seek he out that Alan where he may be sought' — apparently had never seen. The description proceeds: — 'And all the earth far underneath her feet | Was dight with flowers, that voluntary grew | Out of the ground, and sent forth odours sweet; | Ten thousand mores of sundry scent and hue, | That might delight the smell or please the view'....
"Before this great Grandmother of all things — 'Great Nature, ever young, yet full of eld; | Still moving, yet unmoved from her stead; | Unseen of any, yet of all beheld | Thus sitting in her throne' — comes Dame Mutability, and, bent low before her mighty presence, begins with all meekness and humility to state her plea. To her, greatest of divinities, or rather alone great, who distributes right indifferently to all, she comes for right an humble suppliant. 'Of all,' she proceeds, 'thou art the equal mother:' — 'To thee therefore of this same Jove I plain, | And of his fellow gods that feign to be, | That challenge to themselves the whole world's reign, | Of which the greatest part is due to me, | And heaven itself by heritage in fee'....
"Jove himself cannot deny that the place of Prince of the Gods which he has usurped is hers by lawful inheritance, duly derived from her great grandsire Titan. Yet spite of him, and all the gods beside, she does in truth possess the sovereignty of the world. Is not Earth herself, first of all, though seeming of them all the most immoveable and permanent, yet continually undergoing change, both in part and in the whole?... 'So in them all reigns Mutability; | However these, that gods themselves do call, | Of them do claim the rule and sovereignty'.... And she concludes by pressing the Goddess, in order to prove all this to be true, to vouchsafe to call into her presence all other personages who pretend to hold any part of the dominion of the world, when it will be clearly seen that they are one and all subject to her. Let, for example, the Times and Seasons be summoned. To this proposition Nature assents and Order by her command calls them in. 'So forth issued the Seasons of the year'....
"When all have passed by, the Titaness again appeals to the mighty mother to say whether in all her creation 'Change doth not reign and bear the greatest sway.' Does not Time prey on all things? and is not Time himself continually moving? 'But who is it,' Jove now answers, — 'that Time himself doth move and still compel | To keep his course?' Does not the influence which produces movement and change proceed alone from the gods? And so do not the gods rule all things, and in them Mutability herself? As for things, Mutability replies, with regard to which we do not perceive how they are moved and swayed, they, the gods, may indeed attribute any power to themselves they choose; but how shall any be persuaded where they can see nothing? But, even were it, as Jove pretends, that all things are moved and ordered by him and his companions, 'what,' says Mutability, — 'if I can prove, that even ye | Yourselves are likewise changed, and subject unto me?'... Even Jove himself — where was he born? Some say in Crete, some in Thebes, others in other places; but that it was here in this world all are agreed. Then is he too born mortal, and subject to her like all the rest. Besides, do not the very wills and natures of the gods change? And, for that power or force of theirs by which they pretend that all other things are moved, is it not continually checked and turned aside by their opposition among themselves? 'Besides, the sundry motions of your spheres, | So sundry ways and fashions as clerks feign, | Some in short space, and some in longer years; | What is the same but alteration plain?'....
"Canto VIII. — Of this Canto we have only the two first stanzas: — 'When I bethink me on that speech whilere | Of Mutability, and well it weigh: | Me seems, that though she all unworthy were | Of the heaven's rule'.... 'Then gin I think on that which Nature said, | Of that same time when no more change shall be, | But stedfast rest of all things, firmly stayed | Upon the pillars of Eternity, | That is contrair to Mutability'.... All will acknowledge that this is Spenser all over, in its faults as well as in its beauties, — that no other could have written it but he — and that he has rarely produced anything finer" Spenser and his Poetry (1854; 1871) 3:97-122.
'Pealing, from Jove, to Nature's Bar,
Bold Alteration pleads
Large Evidence: but Nature soon
Her righteous Doom arreads.
Ah! whither dost thou now, thou greater Muse,
Me from these Woods and pleasing Forests bring?
And my frail Spirit (that doth oft refuse
This too high Flight, unfit for her weak Wing)
Lift up aloft, to tell of Heaven's King
(Thy sovereign Sire) his fortunate Success,
And Victory in bigger Notes to sing,
Which he obtain'd against that Titaness,
That him of Heaven's Empire sought to dispossess.
Yet sith I needs must follow thy Behest,
Do thou my weaker Wit with Skill inspire,
Fit for this turn; and in my feeble Breast
Kindle fresh Sparks of that immortal Fire,
Which learned Minds inflameth with Desire
Of heavenly things: for who but thou alone,
That art yborn of Heaven and heavenly Sire,
Can tell things doen in Heaven so long ygone;
So far past Memory of Man that may be known?
Now at the time that was before agreed,
The Gods assembled all on Arlo Hill;
As well those that are sprung of heavenly Seed,
As those that all the other World do fill,
And rule both Sea and Land unto their will:
Only th' infernal Powers might not appear;
As well for Horrour of their Count'nance ill,
As for th' unruly Fiends which they did fear;
Yet Pluto and Proserpina were present there.
And thither also come all other Creatures,
Whatever Life or Motion do retain,
According to their sundry kinds of Features;
That Arlo scarcely could them all contain;
So full they filled every Hill and Plain:
And had not Nature's Sergeant (that is, Order)
Them well disposed by his busy Pain,
And raunged far abroad in every Border,
They would have caused much Confusion and Disorder.
Then forth issu'd (great Goddess) great Dame Nature,
With goodly Port and gracious Majesty;
Being far greater and more tall of Stature
Than any of the Gods or Powers on high:
Yet certes by her Face and Phisnomy,
Whether she Man or Woman inly were,
That could not any Creature well descry:
For, with a Veil that wimpled every where,
Her Head and Face was hid, that mote to none appear.
That some do say was so by Skill deviz'd,
To hide the Terrour of her uncouth Hue
From mortal Eyes that should be sore agriz'd:
For that her Face did like a Lion shew,
That Eye of Wight could not endure to view:
But others tell that it so beauteous was,
And round about such Beams of Splendor threw
That it the Sun a thousand times did pass,
Ne could be seen, but like an Image in a Glass.
That well may seemen true: for well I ween
That this same day, when she on Arlo sat,
Her Garment was so bright and wondrous sheen,
That my frail Wit cannot devize to what
It to compare, nor find like Stuff to that,
As those three sacred Saints, though else most wise,
Yet on Mount Thabor quite their Wits forgat,
When they their glorious Lord in strange Disguise
Transfigur'd saw; his Garments so did daze their Eyes.
In a fair Plain upon an equal Hill,
She placed was in a Pavilion;
Not such as Craftsmen by their idle Skill
Are wont for Princes States to fashion:
But th' Earth her self of her own Motion,
Out of her fruitful Bosom made to grow
Most dainty Trees; that, shooting up anon,
Did seem to bow their blooming Heads full low,
For Homage unto her, and like a Throne did show.
So hard it is for any living Wight,
All her Array and Vestiments to tell,
That old Dan Geffrey (in whose gentle Spright
The pure Well-head of Poesy did dwell)
In his Fowls Parley durst not with it mell,
But it transfer'd to Alane, who he thought
Had in his Plaint of Kinds describ'd it well:
Which who will read set forth so as it ought,
Go seek he out that Alane where he may be sought.
And all the Earth far underneath her Feet
Was dight with Flow'rs, that voluntary grew
Out of the Ground, and sent forth Odours sweet;
Ten thousand more, of sundry Scent and Hue,
That might delight the Smell, or please the View,
The which the Nymphs, from all the Brooks-thereby
Had gathered, they at her Foot-stool threw;
That richer seem'd than any Tapestry,
That Princes Bow'rs adorn with painted Imagery.
And Mole himself, to honour her the more,
Did deck himself in freshest fair Attire;
And his high Head, that seemeth always hoar
With harden'd Frosts of former Winter's Ire,
He with an oaken Girlond now did tire,
As if the Love of some new Nymph late seen,
Had in him kindled youthful fresh Desire,
And made him change his gray Attire to green:
Ah! gentle Mole, such Joyance hath thee well beseen!
Was never so great Joyance since the day,
That all the Gods whilom assembled were
On Haemus' Hill in their divine Array,
To celebrate the solemn bridale Chear
'Twixt Peleeus, and Dame Thetis pointed there
Where Phoebus' self, that God of Poets hight,
They say did sing the spousal Hymn full clear,
That all the Gods were ravish'd with Delight
Of his celestial Song, and Musick's wondrous Might.
This Great Grandmother of all Creatures bred,
Great Nature, ever young, yet full of eld,
Still moving, yet unmoved from her Sted,
Unseen of any, yet of all beheld,
Thus sitting in her Throne, as I have teld,
Before her came Dame Mutability;
And being low before her Presence feld,
With meek Obeysance and Humility,
Thus 'gan her plantiff Plea, with Words to amplify:
To thee, O greatest Goddess! only great,
An humble Suppliant loe! I lowly fly,
Seeking for Right, which I of thee entreat
Who Right to all dost deal indifferently,
Damning all Wrong and tortious Injury,
Which any of thy Creatures do to other
(Oppressing them with Pow'r unequally)
Sith of them all thou art the equal Mother,
And knittest each to each, as Brother unto Brother.
To thee therefore of this same Jove I 'plain,
And of his Fellow-Gods that fain to be,
That challenge to themselves the whole World's Reign;
Of which the greatest part is due to me,
And Heaven it self by Heritage in Fee:
For Heaven and Earth I both alike do deem,
Sith Heaven and Earth are both alike to thee;
And Gods no more than Men thou dost esteem:
For even the Gods to thee, as Men to Gods do seem.
Then weigh, O sovereign Goddess, by what Right
These Gods do claim the World's whole Sovereignty;
And that is only due unto thy Might,
Arrogate to themselves ambitiously:
As for the Gods own Principality,
Which Jove usurps unjustly, that to be
My Heritage, Jove's self cannot deny,
From my great Grandsire Titan, unto me
Deriv'd by due Descent, as is well known to thee.
Yet maugre Jove, and all his Gods beside,
I do possess the World's most Regiment;
As if ye please it into Parts divide,
And every Part's Inholders to convent,
Shall to your Eyes appear incontinent.
And first, the Earth (great Mother of us all)
That only seems unmov'd and permanent,
And unto Mutability not thrall;
Yet is she chang'd in part, and eke in general.
For all that from her springs, and is ybred,
However fair it flourish for a time,
Yet see we soon decay; and, being dead,
To turn again unto their earthly Slime:
Yet out of their Decay and mortal Crime,
We daily see new Creatures to arise;
And of their Winter spring another Prime,
Unlike in Form, and chang'd by strange Disguise:
So turn they still about, and change in restless wise.
As for her Tenants, that is, Man and Beasts,
The Beasts we daily see massacred die,
As Thralls and Vassals unto Mens Beheasts:
And Men themselves do change continually,
From Youth to Eld, from Wealth to Poverty,
From Good to Bad, from Bad to Worst of all.
Ne do their Bodies only flit and fly;
But eke their Minds (which they immortal call)
Still change and vary Thoughts as new Occasions fall.
Ne is the Water in more constant case;
Whether those same on high, or these below:
For th' Ocean moveth still, from place to place;
And every River still doth ebb and flow:
Ne any Lake, that seems most still and slow,
Ne Pool so small, that can his Smoothness hold,
When any Wind doth under Heaven blow;
With which the Clouds are also toss'd and roll'd;
Now like great Hills, and straight, like Sluices, them unfold.
So likewise are all watry living Wights
Still toss'd and turned with continual Change,
Never abiding in their stedfast Plights.
The Fish, still floating, do at random range,
And never rest; but evermore exchange
Their dwelling Places, as the Streams them carry:
Ne have the watry Fowls a certain Grange
Wherein to rest, ne in one stead do tarry,
But flitting still do fly, and still their Places vary.
Next is the Air: which who feels not by Sense
(For of all Sense it is the middle Mean)
To flit still? and with subtle Influence
Of his thin Spirit, all Creatures to maintain
In State of Life? O weak Life! that does lean
On thing so tickle as th' unsteady Air;
Which every hour is chang'd, and alter'd clean
With every Blast that bloweth foul or fair:
The fair doth it prolong; the foul doth it impair.
Therein the Changes infinite behold,
Which to her Creatures even minute chaunce:
Now boiling hot; straight friezing deadly cold:
Now fair Sun-shine, that makes all skip and daunce;
Straight bitter Storms and baleful Countenaunce,
That makes them all to shiver and to shake:
Rain, Hail, and Snow to pay them sad Penaunce,
And dreadful Thunder-Claps (that make them quake)
With Flames and flashing Lights that thousand Changes make.
Last is the Fire: which though it live for ever,
Ne can be quenched quite; yet every day
We see his Parts, so soon as they do sever,
To lose their Heat, and shortly to decay;
So makes himself his own consuming Prey.
Ne any living Creatures doth he breed:
But all, that are of others bred, doth slay;
And, with their Death, his cruel Life doth feed;
Nought leaving, but their barren Ashes, without Seed.
Thus all these four (the which the Ground-work be
Of all the World, and of all living Wights)
To thousand sorts of change we subject see:
Yet are they chang'd (by other wondrous Slights)
Into themselves, and lose their native Mights;
The Fire to Air, and th' Air to Water sheer,
And Water into Earth; yet Water fights
With Fire, and Air with Earth approaching near:
Yet all are in one Body, and as one appear.
So in them all reigns Mutability;
However these, that Gods themselves do call,
Of them do claim the Rule and Sovereignty:
As Vesta, of the Fire Ethereal;
Vulcan, of this, with us so usual;
Ops, of the Earth; and Juno, of the Air;
Neptune, of Seas; and Nymphs, of Rivers all.
For all those Rivers to me subject are:
And all the rest, which they usurp, be all my Share.
Which to approver true, as I have told,
Vouchsafe, O Goddess! to thy Presence call
The rest which do the World in Being hold;
As Times and Seasons of the Year that fall:
Of all the which, demand in general;
Or judge thy self, by Verdict of thine Eye,
Whether to me they are not subject all.
Nature did yield thereto; and by and by
Bade Order call them all before her Majesty.
So forth issu'd the Seasons of the Year;
First, lusty Spring, all dight in Leaves of Flow'rs
That freshly budded, and new Bloosms did bear
(In which a thousand Birds had built their Bow'rs,
That sweetly sung, to call forth Paramours:)
And in his Hand a Javelin he did bear,
And on his Head (as fit for warlike Stours)
A gilt engraven Morion he did wear;
That as some did him love, so others did him fear.
Then came the jolly Summer, being dight
In a thin silken Cassock colour'd green,
That was unlined all, to be more light:
And on his Head a Girlond well beseen
He wore, from which as he had chauffed been
The Sweat did drop; and in his Hand he bore
A Bow and Shafts, as he in Forest green
Had hunted late the Libbard or the Boar,
And now would bathe his Limbs, with Labour heated sore.
Then came the Autumn all in Yellow clad,
As though he joyed in his plenteous Store,
Laden with Fruits that made him laugh, full glad
That he had banish'd Hunger, which to-fore
Had by the Belly oft him pinched sore.
Upon his Head a Wreath, that was enroll'd
With Ears of Corn of every sort, he bore:
And in his Hand a Sickle he did hold,
To reap the ripen'd Fruits, the which the Earth had yold.
Lastly, came Winter clothed all in Frize,
Chattering his Teeth for Cold that did him chill,
Whilst on his hoary Beard his Breath did freeze;
And the dull Drops, that from his purpled Bill,
As from a Limbeck did adown distill.
In his right Hand a tipped Staff he had,
With which his feeble Steps he stayed still:
For he was faint with Cold, and weak with Eld;
That scarce his loosed limbs he able was to weld.
These, marching softly, thus in order went,
And after them, the Months all riding came;
First, sturdy March, with Brows full sternly bent,
And armed strongly, rode upon a Ram,
The same which over Hellepontus swam:
Yet in his Hand a Spade he also hent,
And in a Bag all sorts of Seeds ysame,
Which on the Earth he strowed as he went,
And fill'd her Womb with fruitful Hope of Nourishment.
Next, came fresh April full of Lustyhead,
And wanton as a Kid, whose Horn new buds;
Upon a Bull be rode, the same which led
Europa floating through th' Argolick Floods:
His Horns were gilden all with golden Studs,
And garnished with Garlands, goodly dight
Of all the fairest Flow'rs and freshest Buds
Which th' Earth brings forth, and wet he seem'd in sight
With Waves, through which he waded for his Love's Delight.
Then came fair May, the fairest Maid on ground,
Deck'd all with Dainties of her Season's Pride,
And throwing Flow'rs out of her Lap around:
Upon two Brethrens Shoulders she did ride,
The Twins of Leda; which on either side
Supported her like to their sovereign Queen.
Lord! how all Creatures laugh'd, when her they spy'd,
And leap'd and daunc'd, as they had ravish'd been!
And Cupid's self about her flutter'd all in green.
And after her, came jolly June, array'd
All in green Leaves, as he a Player were;
Yet in his time, he wrought as well as play'd,
That by his Plough-yrons mote right well appear:
Upon a Crab he rode, that him did bear
With crooked crawling Steps an uncouth Pace,
And backward yode, as Bargemen wont to fare,
Bending their Force contrary to their Face,
Like that ungracious Crew, which feigns demurest Grace.
Then came hot July boiling like to Fire,
That all his Garments he had cast away;
Upon a Lion raging yet with Ire
He boldly rode, and made him to obey:
It was the Beast that whylome did forray
Th' Nemaean Forest, till th' Amphytrionide
Him slew, and with his Hide did him array:
Behind his Back a Sithe, and by his Side
Under his Belt he bore a Sickle circling wide.
The sixth was August, being rich array'd
In Garment all of Gold down to the ground;
Yet rode he not, but led a lovely Maid
Forth by the Lilly Hand, the which was crown'd
With Ears of Corn, and full her Hand was found:
That was the righteous Virgin, which of old
Liv'd here on Earth, and plenty made abound;
But, after Wrong was lov'd, and Justice sold,
She left th' unrighteous World, and was to Heaven extol'd.
Next him, September marched eke on foot;
Yet was he heavy laden with the Spoil
Of Harvest's Riches, which he made his Boot,
And him enrich'd with Bounty of the Soil:
In his one hand, as fit for Harvest's Toil,
He held a Knife-hook; and in th' other hand
A pair of Weights, with which he did assoil
Both more and less, where it in doubt did stand,
And equal gave to each, as Justice duly scann'd.
Then came October full of merry Glee
For, yet his Noul was totty of the Must,
Which he was treading in the Wine-fats see,
And of the joyous Oil, whose gentle Gust
Made him so frolick and so full of Lust;
Upon a dreadful Scorpion he did ride,
The same which by Diana's doom unjust
Slew great Orion; and eke by his Side
He had his Ploughing-Share, and Coulter ready ty'd.
Next was November, he full gross and fat,
As fed with Lard, and that right well might seem;
For he had been a fatting Hogs of late,
That yet his Brows with Sweat did reek and steem,
And yet the Season was full sharp and breem;
In planting eke he took no small delight:
Whereon he rode, not easy was to deem;
For it a dreadful Centaur was in sight,
The Seed of Saturn and fair Nais, Chiron hight.
And after him, came next the chill December:
Yet he through merry Feasting which he made,
And great Bonfires, did not the Cold remember;
His Saviour's Birth his mind so much did glad:
Upon a shaggy-bearded Goat he rode,
The same wherewith Dan Jove in tender Years,
They say, was nourisht by th' Idaen Maid;
And in his hand a broad deep Bowl he bears;
Of which, he freely drinks an Health to all his Peers.
Then came old January, wrapped well
In many Weeds to keep the cold away:
Yet did he quake and quiver like to quell,
And blow his Nails to warm them if he may;
For, they were numb'd with holding all the day
An Hatchet keen, with which he felled Wood,
And from the Trees did lop the needless Spray;
Upon an huge great Earth-pot Stean he stood;
From whose wide Mouth, there flowed forth the Roman Flood.
And lastly, came cold February, sitting
In an old Waggon, for he could not ride;
Drawn of two Fishes for the Season fitting,
Which through the Flood before did softly slide
And swim away: yet had he by his side
His Plough and Harness fit to till the Ground,
And Tools to prune the Trees, before the pride
Of hasting Prime did make than burgein round:
So past the twelve Months forth, and their due places found.
And after these, there came the Day and Night,
Riding together both with equal pace,
Th' one on a Palfrey black, the other white;
But Night had cover'd her uncomely Face
With a black Veil, and held in hand a Mace,
On top whereof the Moon and Stars were pight,
And Sleep and Darkness round about did trace:
But Day did bear, upon his Scepter's hight,
The goodly Sun, encompast all with Beames bright.
Then came the Hours, fair Daughters of high Jove,
And timely Night, the which were all endu'd
With wondrous Beauty fit to kindle Love;
But they were Virgins all, and Love eschew'd,
That might forslack the charge to them fore-shew'd,
By mighty Jove; who did them Porters make
Of Heaven's Gate (whence all the Gods issu'd)
Which they did daily watch, and nightly wake
By even turns, ne ever did their Charge forsake.
And after all came Life, and lastly Death:
Death with most grim and griesly Visage seen,
Yet is he nought but parting of the Breath;
Ne ought to see, but like a Shade to ween,
Unbodied, unsoul'd, unheard, unseen.
But Life was like a fair young lusty Boy,
Such as they feign Dan Cupid to have been,
Full of delightful Health and lively Joy,
Deckt all with Flowers, and Wings of Gold fit to employ.
When these were past, thus 'gan the Titaness;
Lo! mighty Mother, now be Judg and say,
Whether in all thy Creatures more or less
CHANGE doth not reign and bear the greatest sway;
For, who sees not, that Time on all doth prey?
But Times do change and move continually;
So nothing here long standeth in one stay:
Wherefore, this lower World who can deny
But to be subject still to Mutability?
Then thus 'gan Jove; Right true it is, that these
And all things else that under Heaven dwell
Are chaung'd of Time, who doth them all disseize
Of Being: But, who is it (to me tell)
That Time himself doth move and still compel
To keep his course? Is not that namely we
Which pour that Vertue from our heavenly Cell,
That moves them all, and makes them changed be?
So them we Gods do rule, and in them also thee.
To whom, thus Mutability: The things
Which we see not how they are mov'd and sway'd,
Ye may attribute to your selves as Kings,
And say they by your secret Power are made:
But what we see not, who shall us persuade?
But were they so as ye them feign to be,
Mov'd by your Might, and order'd by your Aid;
Yet what if I can prove, that even ye
Your selves are likewise chang'd, and subject unto me?
And first, concerning her that is the first;
Even you, fair Cynthia, whom so much ye make
Jove's dearest Darling, the was bred and nurst
On Cynthus' Hill, whence she her Name did take;
Then is she mortal born, how-so ye crake:
Besides, her Face and Countenance every day
We changed see, and sundry Forms partake,
Now horn'd, now round, now bright, now brown and grey:
So that as changeful as the Moon Men use to say.
Next, Mercury, who though he less appear
To change his Hue, and always seem as one;
Yet, he his Course doth alter every Year,
And is of late far out of order gone:
So Venus eke, that goodly Paragon,
Though fair all Night, yet is she dark all Day;
And Phoebus' self, who lightsome is alone,
Yet is he oft eclipsed by the way,
And fills the darkned World with Terror and Dismay.
Now Mars, that valiant Man, is changed most:
For he some times so far runs out of square,
That he his way doth seem quite to have lost,
And clean without his usual Sphere to fare;
That even these Star-gazers stonisht are
At sight thereof, and damn their lying Books:
So likewise, grim Sir Saturn oft doth spare
His stern Aspect, and calm his crabbed Looks:
So many turning Cranks these have, so many Crooks.
But you, Dan Jove, that only constant are,
And King of all the rest, as ye do claim,
Are you not subject eke to this Misfare?
Then let me ask you this withouten blame,
Where were ye born? some say in Crete by Name,
Others in Thebes, and others other-where;
But wheresoever they comment the same,
They all consent that ye begotten were,
And born here in this World, ne other can appear.
Then are ye mortal born, and thrall to me,
Unless the Kingdom of the Sky ye make
Immortal, and unchangeable to be;
Besides, that Power and Vertue which ye spake,
That ye here work, doth many Changes take,
And your own Natures change: for, each of you
That Vertue have, or this or that to make,
Is checkt and changed from his Nature true,
By other's Opposition or obliquid View.
Besides, the sundry Motions of your Spheres,
So sundry ways and fashions as Clerks feign,
Some in short space, and some in longer Years;
What is the same but Alteration plain?
Only the starry Sky doth still remain:
Yet do the Stars and Signs therein still move,
And even it self is mov'd, as Wizards fain.
But all that moveth, doth Mutation love:
Therefore both you and them to me I subject prove.
Then since within this wide great Universe
Nothing doth firm and permanent appear,
But all things tost and turned by transverse:
What then should lett, but I aloft should rear
My Trophy, and from all the Triumph bear?
Now judg then (O thou greatest Goddess true!)
According as thy self dost see and bear,
And unto me addoom that is my Due;
That is the Rule of all, all being rul'd by you.
So having ended, silence long ensu'd,
Ne Nature to or fro spake for a space,
But with firm Eyes affixt, the ground still view'd.
Mean while, all Creatures, looking in her Face,
Expecting th' end of this so doubtful Case,
Did hang in long suspence what would ensue,
To whether side should fall the Sovereign Place.
At length, she looking up with cheerful view,
The Silence brake, and gave her Doom in Speeches few.
I well consider all that ye have said,
And find that all things Stedfastness do hate
And changed be: yet being rightly weigh'd,
They are not changed from their first Estate,
But by their Change their Being do dilate;
And turning to themselves at length again,
Do work their own Perfection so by Fate;
Then over them Change doth not rule and reign;
But they reign over Change, and do their States Maintain.
Cease therefore, Daughter, further to aspire,
And thee content thus to be rul'd by me:
For thy Decay thou seekst by thy Desire;
But time shall come that all shall changed be,
And from thenceforth, none no more Change shall see.
So was the Titaness put down and whist,
And Jove confirm'd in his imperial See.
Then was that whole Assembly quite dismist,
And Nature's self did vanish, whither no Man wist.
THE EIGHTH CANTO, IMPERFECT.
When I bethink me on that Speech whylear
Of Mutability, and well it weigh;
Me seems, that though she all unworthy were
Of the Heav'ns Rule; yet very sooth to say,
In all things else she bears the greatest sway.
Which makes me loath this state of Life so tickle,
And Love of things so vain to cast away;
Whose flowring Pride, so fading and so fickle,
Short Time shall soon cut down with his consuming Sickle.
Then 'gin I think on that which Nature said,
Of that same time when no more Change shall be,
But stedfast Rest of all things firmly stay'd
Upon the Pillours of Eternity,
That is constraint to Mutability;
For, all that moveth, doth in Change delight:
But thence-forth all shall rest eternally
With Him that is the God of Sabbaoth hight:
O that great Sabbaoth God, graunt me that Sabbaoth's sight.
[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 4:1024-39]