1609 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Venus and Anchises.

Venus and Anchises (Brittain's Ida) and Other Poems by Phineas Fletcher, Edited from a Sion College MS. [Ethel Seaton, ed.]

Rev. Phineas Fletcher


First published in 1926 after Ethel Seaton discovered the manuscript in the library of Sion College in London. The rediscovery of this original version of Brittain's Ida, which in 1628 Phineas Fletcher had published as a poem by Spenser, established what had long been suspected: that Fletcher and not Spenser was its author. The manuscript is four stanzas longer than the published version, and lacks the division into cantos.

Frederick S. Boas: "Who then was the writer of the poem? Thomas Warton, in his Observations on the Fairy Queen, vol. 1. p. 123 (1762), after rejecting Spenser's authorship of Brittain's Ida on internal grounds, observes that 'It's (sic) manner is like that of Fletcher's Purple Island.... The author, whoever he was, certainly lived about the latter end of Elizabeth, or the beginning of James I.' Another critic of about the same period, William Thompson, of Queen's College, Oxford, formulated the hypothesis of Fletcher's authorship more definitely. In his copy of the volume of 1633, now in the British Museum, he wrote the following marginal MS. note on the line (Poet. Misc. p. 235, l. 16) 'Farewell ye Norfolk maids and Ida crue': 'Britain's Ida perhaps may be a juvenile piece of Fletcher's; it is more in Fletcher's manner than Spensers'" Poetical Works of Giles and Phineas Fletcher (1908-09) 2:xiii-xiv.

Ethel Seaton: "In substance this is identical with Brittain's Ida, published as Spenser's by Walkley in 1628, but the differences, the additions and omissions, are significant. Two introductory stanzas appear prefixed to the first stanza of the Octavo of 1628.... The MS naturally lacks the dedication to the Lady Mary Villiers, and the eulogy on Spenser, which were openly added by Walkley. More interesting is it to find that the division into Cantos is lacking, and still more of a relief to realize that in consequence the doggerel quatrains that supply an argument to each Canto are also missing" Venus and Anchises (1926) xvi, xx.

Abram Barnett Langdale: "Miss Seaton ... discovered the manuscript of Venus and Anchises in the Sion College Library, and suspected the real significance of her find. Miss Seaton, however, was overcautious, because the manuscript proves that all the mysterious circumstances connected with Brittain's Ida form one complicated and successful hoax, involving Fletcher, Walkley, and possibly Benlowes. The early or manuscript version had undergone three changes before being set into print: it was divided into cantos and the arguments were added; four of its stanzas were deleted; and its title was changed. Variations of the first type have no meaning, being those which a publisher would regard as necessary improvements. The omissions and the new title, on the other hand, are unmistakably significant. One of the deleted strophes is the lewdest portion of a free poem, while two others contain references to the author in the course of which he calls himself Thirsil and alludes to his residence on the banks of the Cam. These three would have promptly solved the mystery of the origin of the poem, and at the same time would have convicted the originator of immodesty. The character of the suppressions is such that there can be no doubt concerning their intentionality and the identity of their perpetrator, who must have been Fletcher himself" Phineas Fletcher (1937) 95.



Thirsil (poore ladd) whose Muse yet scarcely fledge
Softlie for feare did learne to sing and pipe,
And sitting lowe under some Covert hedge
With Chirping noyse ganne tune his noates unripe,
Sighing those sighs which sore his heart did gripe,
Where lovelie Came doeth lose his erring waye
While with his bankes the wanton waters playe,
Which Dill doe staye behind, yet still doe slippe away;

Thirsil hidde in a willowes shaddowing
(Nor higher durst his dastard thoughtes aspire)
Thus ganne to trye his downie Muses wing,
For soe the fayre Eliza deign'd desire
Hir wishes were his lawes, hir will his fire,
And hiding neerer Came his stranger name
He thought with song his raging fire to tame,
Fond boye that fewell sought to hide soe great a flame.

In Ida vale (whoe knowes not Ida vale?)
Where harmeles Troye yet felt not Graecian spight
A thousand sheppeardes wond, and in the dale
While their fayre flockes the three-hand pastures bite
The Careles swaines with hundred sportinges light
Gave winges unto the times too speedie hast,
Ah foolish laddes that strive with lavish wast
Soe fast to speed the time that spendes your time as fast;

Among the rest, that all the rest excell'd,
A daintie boye there hidde whose harmles yeares
Now in their freshest budding gentlie swell'd,
His Nymphlike face ne're felt the nimble sheares.
Youths downie blossom through his Chinne appeares,
His lovelie limbs (but Love he quite discarded)
Were made for playe (but he noe playe regarded)
And fitte Love to reward, and with Love be rewarded.

High was his Forehead archt with silver mould
Where never angers Churlish wrincle lited,
His auburne locks hung like darke threades of gold
That wanton ayres with their fayre length encited
To playe among their wanton Curles delighted,
His smyling eye with single trueth was stor'd
Ah how could trueth with those theif eyes be shor'd
Which thowsand loves had stolne and never one restor'd?

His lillie Cheeke might seeme a snowy plaine
More purelie white then frozen Apenine,
Where lovelie bashfulnes did sweetlie raigne
In blushing skarlet Cloth'd and purple fine,
A hundred heartes had this delightfull shrine,
Still Cold it self enflam'd with hott desire
That well the face might seeme in divers tire
To be a burning snow, or els a freezing fire,

His Cheerefull lookes and merrye Face would prove,
If eyes the Index be where thoughtes are read,
A daintie playefellowe for naked Love;
Of all his other parses enough is sed
That they were fitte limbs for soe fayre a head
Thowsand boyes for him thowsand maydens dy'ed
Dye they that list for such his rigorous pride
He thowsand boyes ah foole and thowsand maydes deny'd

His joye was not in Musicks sweet delight
Though well his hand had learnd that Cunning art
Or daintie songes to daintier eares endite
But through the lawnes to Chase the nimble hart
With well tun'd houndes or with his Certaine dart
The sulked boare or savage beare to wound
Meane time his heart with monsters doeth abound
Ah foole, to seeke soe farre what neerer might be found

His name, well knowne unto the woodye shades
Where unregarded lovers oft Complaine them
Anchises was, Anchises oft the glades
And mountaines heard Anchises did disdaine them
Nor all their love one gentle looke did gaine them;
That rockie hills with Ecchoing voyce Consenting
Anchises plain'd, but he noe whist relenting
Harder then rockie hills laught at their vaine lamenting

One daye it Chaunc'd, as he the Deere persewd
Tyred with sport and faint with wearie play,
Fayre Venus grove not farre away he spide
With trembling leaves envite him there to stay,
And in their shades his sweating limbs display,
There in the Cooling glade he softlie paces
And much delighted with their even spaces,
What in him self he scornd, he praysd their kind embraces

The wood with Paphian Myrtills peopeled
Whose springing youth felt never winters spiting
To Laurells sweet were sweetlie married
Doubling their pleasing smells with their uniting
When single much, much more when mixt delighting
Noe foote of beast durst touch this hallowed place
And many a boy that long'd the wood to trace
Entred with feare but sone turn'd back his frighted face.

The thick-lac'd boughs shuts out the Telltale Sunne
For Venus hated his all-blabbing light
Since hir knowne fault which oft she wish'd undon
And scattered rayes did make a doubtfull sight
Like to the first of day or last of night
The fittest light for Lovers gentle play,
Such light best shewes the wandring lovers way
And guides his erring hand Night is Loves holyday.

Soe farre in this sweet Laborinth he strayd
That now he veiws the garden of delight
Whose breast in thowsand painted flowers arrayd
With divers joy Captiv'd the wandring light
But sone the eyes yeilded the eares their right
For such strange harmonie he seem'd to heare
That all his sences flock'd into his eare
And every facultie wisht to be seated there

From a Close bower this daintie Musicke flow'd
A bower apparrell'd round with divers roses
Both red and white which by their liverie showd
Their Mistress fayre which there hir self reposes
Seemd they would drive with those rare Musick Closes
By spreading their sweet bosoms to the light
Which the distracted sence should most delight
That rapps the melted eare, this both the smell and sight

The boye 'twixt fearefull joye and wished feare
Crept all allong for much he long'd to see
The bower, much more the guest soe lodged there
And as he went he marks how well agree
Nature with Art, in discord unitie
Both striving whoe should best performe hir part,
Yet Art now helping nature nature Art;
While from his eare unwares a voyce thus stole his hart.

Fond men whose wreched Care the life sone ending
By seeking to encrease your joye doe speed it
And spending joye yet find noe joye in spending
Yow hurt your life by striving to amend it
And seeking to prolong it sonest end it
Then while thy time affordes thee time and leasure
Enjoye while yet thow mayst thy life's sweet pleasure
Too foolish is the man that starves to feed his treasure

Love is life's end an end but never ending
All joyes all sweetes all happines awarding
Love is life's wealth ne're spent but ever spending
More riche by giving taking by discarding
Love's lifes reward rewarded in rewarding
Then from thy wreched heart fond Care remove
O if thow liv'st but once Love's sweetes to prove
Thow willt not love to live unles thow live to Love

To hir sweet voyce a daintie Musicke fitted
Their welltun'd stringes and to hir notes Consorted
And while with skillfull voyce the song she ditt'ed
The babbling eccho back hir wordes reported
That now the boye beyond his soule transported
Through all his limbs feels runne a pleasant shaking
And 'twixt a hope and feare suspectes mistaking
And doubtes he peeping dreames, and broad awake feares waking

Now Come to' th' bower he sent his theevish eyes
To steale a happie sight: there doe they find
Faire Venus that within half-naked lies
And strait amaz'd (soe glorious beautie shin'd)
Would not returne the message to the mind
But full of feare and of suspitious awe
Could not retire or backe their beames withdrawe
Soe fixt on too much seeing made they noething sawe

Hir goodlie length strecht on a lillie bed
(A bright vaile of a beautie farre more bright)
few roses round about were scattered
As if the lyllies learn'd to blush for spight
To see a skinne much more then Lyllie white
The bed sank with delight soe to be pressed
And knew not which to thinke a Chaunce more blessed
(Both blessed) soe to kisse and soe againe be kissed

Hir spacious forehead like the Clearest Moone
Whose fullgrowne orbe beginnes now to be spent
Largelie dispread in native silver shone
Giving wide roome for beauties regiment
Which on that plaine with Love tryumphing went
Hir golden hayre a rope of pearle embraced
Which with their daintie threades of hayre enlaced
Made the eye thinke the pearle was in gold wire enchased

Hir full large eye in jettie blacke array'd
Proud beautie not Confin'd to red and white
But of hir self in blackes more rich displayd
Both Contraries did yet themselves unite
To make one beauteous in different delight
A thousand Loves sate playing in each eye
And smyling mirth kissing faire Courtesie
By sweet perswasions wanne a bloudles victorie

The whitest white set by hir silver Cheeke
Grew pale and wanne and like to heavie lead
The freshest purple fresher dyes must seeke
That dares Compare with them his fainting red
On them Cupido winged armies led
Of litle Loves, that with bold wanton traine
Under those Colours marching on that plaine
Force everie heart and to low vassallage Constraine

Hir lippes most happie each in others Kisses
From their soe wisht embraces seldom parted
Yet seem'd to blush at their soe wanton blisses
But when sweet wordes their joyning sweet disparted
To th' eare a daintie Musicke they imparted
Upon them fitlie satte delightfull smiling
A thousand soules with pleasing stealth beguiling
Ah that such shewes of joye should be all-joyes exiling

The breath Came slowlie thence unwilling leaving
Soe sweet a lodge, but when she once intended
To feast the eare with wordes the heart deceaving
More fast it throng'd glad to be soe expended
And at each word a hundred Loves attended
Playing ith' breath more sweet then is that firing
Where that Arabian onelie bird expiring
Lives by hir death, by losse of breath more fresh respiring

Hir Chinne like to a stone in gold enchaced
Seem'd a fayre jewell wrought with Cunning hand
And being double doublie the face it graced
This goodlie frame on hir round neck did stand
Such pillar well such Curious worke sustain'd
And on his toppe the heav'nlie sfere uprearing
Might well present the daintier appearing
A lesse but better Atlas that fayre heaven bearing

Lower two breastes stand all their beautie baring
Two breastes as soft and smothe; but ah alas
Their smothest softnes farre exceeds Comparing;
More smothe and soft; but nought that ever was
Where they are first deserves the second place
Yet each as soft and each as smothe as other
And when thow first tryest one and [then] the other
Each softer seemes then each and each then each seemes smother

Lowlie between their daintie Hemisfeares
Their Hemispheares the heavenly globe excelling
A path more white then is the name it beares
The Lacteall path Conductes to the sweet dwelling
Where best delight all joyes sittes freelie dealing
Where hundred sweetes and still fresh joyes attending
Receive in giving and still love dispending
Grow richer by their losse and wealthier by expending

But staye bold Sheppeard here thy footing stay
Nor trust too much unto thy newborne quille
As further to those daintier limbs to stray
Or hope to painte the vale or beauties hille
Which pass'd the finest hand and Choicest skille
But were thy verse and song as finelie fram'd
As are those partes yet should it soone be blam'd
For now the shameles world of best thinges is asham'd

That Cunning Artist whom old Greece admir'd
Thus farre his Venus fittlie portraied
But there he left nor farther e're aspir'd
His Daedale hand, that nature perfited
By Art, left Art by nature limited
Ah well he knew though his fitte hand Could give
Breath to dead Colours teaching marble live
Yet would theise livelie parses his hand of skill deprive

Such when this gentle boye hir Closelie viewd
Onelie with thinnest silken vale o'relayd
whose snowie Colour much more snowie shewd
By being next that skinne and all betray'd
Each bell in naked beauties are arrayd
His spirites melted with soe glorious sight
Ranne from their worke to see soe glorious light
And left the fainting limbs sweet slumbring in delight.

Soft peeping Venus 'waked with the fall
Looking behind the sinking boy espies
Withall she startes and wondereth withall
She thinkes that there hir fayre Adonis dyes
And more she thinkes the more the boye she eyes
Soe stepping neerer up she 'ginnes to reare him
And now with Love him self she will Conferre him
And now before hir Love him self she will preferre him

The Lad sone with that daintie touche reviv'd
Feeling him self soe well soe sweetlie seated
Beginnes to doubt whether he yet here liv'd
Or els his flitting soule to heaven translated
Was there in starrie throne and blisse enstated
Oft would he dye soe to be often saved
And now with happie wish he Closelie Craved
For ever to be dead to be soe sweet ingraved

The Paphian princesse in whose lowlie breast
Spightfull disdaine Could never find a place
When now she sawe him from his fitte releast
To Juno leaving wrath and scolding base
Comfortes the trembling boye with smiling grace
But ah those smiles soe full of sweet delight
Surfett his hart full of that former sight
Soe thinking to revive more woundes his feeble sprite

Tell me fayre boye (say'th she) what erring Chaunce
Hither directed thy unwarie pace
For sure Contempt or pride durst not advance
Their soule aspect in thy soe pleasing face
Tell me what brought thee to this hidden place
Or lacke of Love and mutuall answearing fire
Or hindred by ill Chaunce in thy desire
Tell me what ist thy feare and wishing eye require

The boye whose sence was never yet acquainted
With such a Musicke stood with eares arrected
And sweetlie with that pleasing spell enchaunted
More of those sugered streames long time expected
Till hearing she his speaches not rejected
First sighs arrising from heartes lowest Center
Thus 'ganne replye: when each word bold would venter
And strive the first that daintie Laborinth to enter

Faire Cyprian queene (for well that heav'nlie face
Proves thee the Mother of all Conquering Love)
Pardon I praye thee my unwitting pace
For noe presumptious thoughtes did hither move
My daring foote to this thy holy grove
But luckles Chaunce which if thow not gainsaye
I still must rue hath Caus'd me heere to straye
And lose my self alas in losing of my way

Nor did I Come to right my wronged fire
Never till now I saw what ought I loved
And now I see but never dare aspire
To mount my hope where yet my Love is moved
Whence though I would I would it not removed
Onelie since I have plac'd my wish soe high
Which sure thow must or sure thow wilt denye
Graunt me yet still to love, though in my love I dye

But she that in his eyes his love had seene
And flaming hart did not such suit disdaine him
For Cruell pride fittes not sweet beauties Queene
But gentlie Could his passion entertaine
Though she Loves princesse he a lowlie swaine
First of his bold entrusion she acquittes him
Then to hir service (happie boye) admittes him
And like an other Love with bowe and quiver fittes him

And now with all the Loves he grew acquainted
And Cupides self with his like face delighted
Taught him a hundred wayes with which he daunted
The proudest heartes and wronged lovers righted
Forcing to love that most his love despited
And now the practicke boy did soe approve him
And with such art and Cunning guile did move him
That all the prettie Loves and all the Graces love him

Yet never durst his Faint and Coward heart
(Ah foole faint heart faire Ladye ne're Could winne)
Assaile faire Venus with his new-learn'd art
But kept his love and burning flame within
Which more flam'd out the more he prest it in
And thinking oft how well she might disdaine him
While some Coole Myrtill shade did entertaine him
Thus sighing would he sitte and sadlie would Complaine him

Ah fond and happlesse boy nor knowe I whether
More fond or happlesse more that all soe high
Hast plac'd thy heart where Love and fate together
May never hope to end thy miserie
Nor yet thy self dare with a remedie
All hindrances alas Conspire to lett it
Ah fond and happeles boy if Canst not gett it
In thinking to forgets at last learn to forgett it

Happelesse but fonder boye soe vainelie thinking
Whoe ever Could by learning learne forgetting
Cann'st thow forgett a song by often singing
Or dittie Canst unlearn by oft repeating
Whoe ever thought to blunt an edge by whetting
Allsoe the thought of what thow shouldst oppresse
By thinking more doeth more it self encrease
Soe must thow much more learne by thy forgettfulnes

But ah too fond yet much more happlesse swaine
Seing thy love Canne be forgotten never
Serve and observe thy Love with willing paine
And though in vaine thy love thow doest persever
Yet all in vaine doe thow adore hir ever
Noe hope Canne Crowne thy thoughtes soe far aspiring
Nor dares thy self desire thine owne desiring
Yet doe thow live in love and dye in hir admiring;

Thus oft the hopeles boy Complaining lies
But she that well Could guesse his sad lamenting
(Whoe Canne Conceale love from Loves Mothers eyes?)
Did not disdaine to give his love Contenting
Cruell that soule that feedes on loves tormenting
Nor did she flout him though not noblie borne,
Love's his nobilitie, nor Could she scorne
Him whoe soe noblie strove hir title to adorne

One day it Chaunc'd thrice happie day and Chaunce
While Loves were with the Graces sweetlie sporting
And to fresh Musicke sounding play and daunce
And Cupides self with sheppeard boyes Consorting
Laught at their prettie sport and single Courting
Faire Venus settes the fearefull boy Close by her
Where never Phoebus jealous lookes might eye hir
And bides the boy his Mistris and hir name descrie hir

Long time the youth bound up in silence stood
While hope and feare with hundred thoughtes begunne
The Prologue to his speach and fearefull blood
From heart and face with those post tydinges runne
That either now hee's made or now undone
At length his trembling wordes with feare and weake
Beganne his too long silence thus to breake
While from his humble eyes first reverence seem'd to speake

Fayre Queen of Love my life thow mayst Commaund
Too slender price for all thy former grace
Which I receive at thy soe bounteous hand
But never dare I speake hir name or face
My life is much lesse priz'd then hir disgrace
And for I know if I hir name relate
I purchase Chiding I must hide hir state
Unles thow sweare by Styx I purchase not hir hate

Faire Venus well perceiv'd his subtill shift
And swearing gentle patience Closelie smil'd
While thus the boy pursued his former drift
Noe tongue was ever yet soe smothelie fil'd
Nor greatest oratour soe highlie stil'd
Though helps with all the Choycest artes direction
But when he durst describe hir heav'ns perfection
By his imperfect prayse dispraisd his imperfection

Hir frame is as hir self perfect Celestiall
Noe mortall spotte hir heav'nlie frame disgraces
Beyond Compare such noething is terrestriall
More sweet then thought or powerfull wisht embraces
The mappe of heav'n the summe of all the Graces
But if thow wishe more truelie limbd to eye hir
Then fainting speach and wordes Can well descrie hir
Looke in a glasse and there more perfect yow may spie hir

Thy Craftie art replyde the smiling Queene
Hath well my Chiding and my rage prevented
Yet might thow thinke that yet was never seene
That angrie rage and gentle love Consented
But if to me thy true love is presented
What wages for thy service must I owe thee
For by the self same vowe I here avow thee
What ever thow required I franklie will allowe thee

Pardon replyes the boy for soe affecting
Beyond mortallitie and not discarding
Thy service was much more then my expecting
But if thow more thy bounteous head regarding
Willt needes heape up reward upon rewarding
Thy love I dare not aske and mutuall firing
One kisse is all my love and prides aspiring
And after starve my heart for my too much desiring

Fond boy (sayd she) too fond that askes no more
Thy want by taking is noe whit decreased
And giving spends not our encreasing store
Thus with a kisse his lippes she swetlie pressed
Most blessed kisse but lippes more then most blessed
The boy did thinke heave fell while thus he toyed
And while the joye too greedilie he enjoyed
He felt not half his joye by being overjoyed

Why sighst faire boy sayd she doest thow repente thee
Thy narrow wish in such strait bondes to staye
Well may I sigh sayd he and well lament mee
That never such a debt may hope to paye
A kisse sayd she a kisse will backe repaye
Willt thow replyde the boye too much delighted
Content thee with such paye to be requited
She grauntes, and he his lippes heart soul to paiment cited

Looke as the ward long from his landes detain'd
And subject to his guardeans Cruell lore
Now spendes the more the more he was restrain'd
Soe he; yet though in laying out his store
He doublie takes, he findes him self grow poore,
With that he markes and tells hir out a score,
And doubles them, and trebles all before,
Fond boye the more thow pay'st thy debt still growes ye more

At length whether these favours soe had fir'd him
With kindlie heat enflaming his desiring
Or whether those sweet kisses had enspir'd him
He thinks that somewhat wantes for his requiring
And still aspires but knowes not his aspiring
But yet know that he knowes that much she gave
That he presentes him self hir bounden slave
Still his more wishing face seemd some what els to Crave

And boldned with successe and many graces
His hand Chaynd up in feare he now releast
And asking leave Courag'd with hir embraces
Againe it prison'd in hir daintie breast
Ah blessed prison prisoners too much blest
There with those sisters long time doeth he play
And now full boldlie enters Loves highway
While downe the pleasant vale his Creeping hand doeth stray

At length into the haven he arrives
Where safe from storme the love beate vessell rides
And as a shippe that now the port atcheives
With thundrye shotte the angrie Neptune Chides
And with a thowsand joyes past feares derides
Soe th' happie boye in this faire haven blest
Meanes here sometime his joyfull bark to rest
And mocke those dangerous waves that late his boat opprest

She not displeasd with this his wanton play
Hiding his blushing with a sugred kisse
With such sweet heat his rudenes doeth allay
That now he perfect knowes what ever blisse
Elder love taught and he before did misse
That moult' with joy in such untry'd joyes trying
He gladlie dyes and death new life applying
Gladlie againe revives that oft he maybe dying

Lov'd thus he liv'd slumbring in sweet delight
Free from sad Care and fickle worldes annoy
Bathing in liquid joyes his melted spright
And longer mought. But he (ah foolish boye)
Too proud and too impatient of this joye
To wodes and heav'n and earth his blisse imparted
'Till Jove his lightning down upon him darted
Blasting his shining face and all his beawtie swarthted

Soe be his Chaunce that to his love doeth wrong
Unworthie he to hold soe worthie place
That cannot hold his peace and blabbing tounge
Light joyes floate on the lippes but weightie grace
Sincks deepe and th' heartes low Center doeth embrace
Might I enjoye my love 'till I unfold it
But lose all favour when I blabbing told it.
He is not fitte for love that is not fitte to hold it.

[pp. 1-20]