1603
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Untitled, "Now did the sunne like an undaunted Hart."]

Sorrowes Joy. Or, a Lamentation for our late deceased Soveraigne Elizabeth, with a Triumph for the prosperous Succession of our gratious King, James, &c.

Rev. Phineas Fletcher


A pastoral elegy for Queen Elizabeth in ten irregular Spenserians of an original pattern: abaabcddC. In these debut verses Phineas Fletcher's archaisms, stanza, theme, and choice of genre all announce his allegiance to Spenser: "When Coridon a cruel heardgroomes boy, | Yet somewhat us'd to sing, and with his peeres | Carroll of love, and lovers sad annoy." The poet was still an undergraduate at Cambridge; his brother Giles also contributed to this memorial volume. Over the next decade Phineas Fletcher would experiment with using the alexandrine with a variety of stanza patterns.

Robert Southey: "The two Fletchers are the best poets of the school of Spenser" British Poets, Chaucer to Jonson (1831) 749.

Robert Aris Willmott: "The accession of James furnished a theme of praise to all the nation; 'the very poets with their idle pamphlets,' writes that unwearied correspondent Mr. Chamberlain, 'promise themselves great part in his favour.' The University of Cambridge put forth its welcome under the ingenious title of Sorrowe's Joy , and the writers evinced their skill in blending their mourning with gladness, and while they lamented that 'Phoebe' was gone, they remembered that a 'Phoebus' was shining in her place.... Phineas Fletcher has a poem in the same volume, dated from King's College, but very inferior to his brother's" Lives of Sacred Poets (1834) 31-33.

Thomas Corser: "In these poetical contributions from the University of Cambridge on the death of Queen Elizabeth, and the accession of James, the names of Giles and Phineas Fletcher, Theophilus Field, Bishop of Hereford, Thomas Cecil, Earl of Exeter, and others of eminence occur, who afterwards distinguished themselves by their poetical or literary talents" Collectanea Anglo-Poetica 10 (1880) 248.

Edmund Gosse: "While Giles is for ever startling us with such incomparably poetic phrases as 'a globe of winged angels,' 'the laughing blooms of sallow,' 'wide-flaming primroses,' or 'the moon's burning horns,' Phineas, who was not less accomplished, and who lived to be far more voluminous, never reaches this white heat of imagination. He is none the less a poet of remarkable force and variety, curiously individual, and worthy of close examination" The Jacobean Poets (1894) 144-45.

Abram Barnett Langdale: "Cautioned, perhaps, by Sidney's denunciation of Spenserian archaism, Fletcher never went the full way in imitation, not even in his 'Verses of Mourning and Joy' in 1603, where the obsolecences come closest to that Tower of Babel, The Shepheardes Calender" Phineas Fletcher (1937) 141.

Frederick S. Boas: "These verses were also contributed by him to another academic miscellany, also issued at Cambridge in 1603 by John Legat, and entitled Threno-thriambeuticon" Poetical Works, ed. Boas (1908) x.

Much of Fletcher's Latin verse was written about this time, though published only in 1633; see the list imitations of Spenser in Wells, Spenser Allusions (1972) 192.



Now did the sunne like an undaunted Hart,
Even in his fall enlarge his ample browe;
Now his last beames on Spanish shore did dart,
Hurrying to Thetis his all-flaming cart,
When th' Atticke maid pearched on bared bowe,
Unhappie Atticke maide sang the sad treason
Of Tereus most wicked man,
And well as her renu'd tongue can,
Tempered her tragicke laies unto the sulleine season.

When Coridon a cruel heardgroomes boy,
Yet somewhat us'd to sing, and with his peeres
Carroll of love, and lovers sad annoy;
Wearie of passed woe, and glad of present joy,
Having instal'd his sunn'd, and ful fed steeres,
Thus to the river his blisse signified
Well as he couth, and turning all
Unto the humming rivers fall,
The woods and Eccho his song goodly dignified.

Ye goodly nymphes that with this river dwell,
All daughters of the yellow-sanded Chame,
Which deepe in hollow rockes frame out your cell,
Tell me ye nymphes, for you can surely tell;
Is death the cause of life? or can that same
Be my great'st blisse, which was my great'st annoy?
Eliza's dead, and can it be
Eliza's death brings joy to me?
Hell beeing the cause, why heavenly is the joy?

With floods of teares I waile that deadly houre,
When as Eliza, Eliza blessed maide,
Was married to death, and we giv'n as her dowre,
And low descending into Plutoes bower,
Scarce fils an earthen pot beeing loosely laid.
Ah is there such power, such crueltie in fate?
Can one Sunne one man see
Without, and worse then miserie?
Then farewell glorious pompe, and fickle mortals state.

And yet ten thousand times I blesse that time,
When that good Prince, that Prince of endles fame,
Both in the yeares and our joyes springing prime,
Strucke my glad eares and raisd my rugged rime
To carroll lowd and herie his honor'd name.
Ah is there such power, such bountie in fate?
Can one Sunne one man see
Worse, and without all miserie?
Then welcome constant joy, and never-changing state.

Thou blessed spirit, sit thou ever there
Where thou nowe sit'st, in heav'n, the worlds late wonder,
Now heavens joy, and with that God yfere,
Who still to thee, thou stil to him wast deare,
Leave us unto the world and fortunes thunder;
Or where thou dost that blessedness enjoy,
Bid me, O quickly bid me
Come there where thou hast hid thee,
In Joves all-blessed lap without, and bove annoy.

If not; ile live under thy sunshine rayes,
And while the Fates afoard me vitall breath
Ile spend it as thy tribute in thy praise.
Dighting, such as I can, light virelaies,
To thee, great Prince, whose life paies for her death,
Thereto doe thou my humble spirit reare,
And with thy sacred fire
My frozen heart inspire:
Chasing from thy high spirit all imperious feare.

Then will I sing, and yet who better sings
Of thee, then thine owne oft-tride Muse?
Which when into thy heroicke spirit springs,
The fields resound, and neighbour forrest rings,
And sacred Muses leaving their woont use
Of carroling, flying their loathed cell,
Run to thy silver sound,
And lively dauncen round:
What caren they for Helicon, or their Pegasean well?

Then thou thy selfe thy selfe historifie,
But I in willow shade will chaunt thy name,
And sing I will, though I sing sorrily,
And thee, though little, I will glorifie,
And shrilly pipe aloud, the whilst my Chame
Shall answer all againe, thy name aye lives,
While th' Oceans froathie hoare
Beats on thy Brittish shore,
And Albion threats the heave with high whited clives.

By this the old nights head gan to be gray,
And dappled round with many a whited spot,
So that the boy through ruinous nights decay,
Saw the first birth of the new infant day,
So up he rose and to his home he got;
And all the way of James he lowdly sang,
And all the way the plaine,
Answered James againe:
That all the woods of James and th' heaven lowdly rang.

[pp. 27-30]