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ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Britannia's Pastorals: The Fift Song.

Britannia's Pastorals. [Book I.]

William Browne of Tavistock


After a lament for the death of Prince Henry, the poem describes the transformation of Riot in the Palace of Repentance. William Browne speaks of "his friend," the "Prince of Poets" in conjunction with Virgil and Homer, though it is not obvious that Spenser is intended. If so, this is the origin of the epithet. Elizabeth, compared to Moses, is referred to as "the Faiery Queene."

Frederic Ives Carpenter: "The figure of Despair, modelled on Spenser's description, enters into the fifth song of the first book" "Spenser's Cave of Despair" MLN (1897) 266.

F. W. Moorman: The transformation of Riot "is borrowed from Spenser's story of the Red Crosse Knight in the House of Holiness (Faerie Queene Book I Canto 10)" F. W. Moorman, William Browne (1897) 47.



THE ARGUMENT.
In Noates that rockes to pittie move,
Idya sings her buried Love:
And from her horne of plentie gives
Comfort to Truth, whom none relieves.
Repentance house next cals me on,
With Riots true conversion:
And Leaves Amintas Love to Truth,
To be the Theame the Muse ensu'th.

Here full of Aprill, vail'd with sorrowes wing,
For lovely Layes, I dreary Dirges sing.
Who so hath seene yong Lads (to sport themselves)
Runne in a low ebbe to the sandy shelves:
Where seriously they worke in digging Wels,
Or building childish sorts of Cockle-shels:
Or liquid water each to other bandy;
Or with the Pibbles play at handy-dandy,
Till unawares the Tyde hath clos'd them round,
And they must wade it through or else be drown'd,
May (if unto my Pipe he listen well)
My Muse distresse with theirs soone paralell.
For where I whilome sung the loves of Swaines,
And woo'd the Christall Currants of the Plaines,
Teaching the Birds to love, whilst every Tree
Gave his attention to my Melodie:
Fate now (as envying my too-happy Theame)
Hath round begirt my Song with Sorrowes streame,
Which till my Muse wade through and get on shore,
My griefe-swolne Soule can sing of Love no more.

But turne we now (yet not without remorse)
To heavenly Aletheias sad discourse,
That did from Fida's eyes salt teares exhale,
When thus see shew'd the Solitarie Vale.

Just in the midst this joy-forsaken ground
A hillocke stoode, with Springs embraced round:
(And with a Christall Ring did seeme to marry
Themselves, to this small Ile sad-solitarie:)
Upon whose brest (which trembled as it ran)
Rode the faire downie-silver-coated Swan:
And on the Banckes each Cypresse bow'd his head,
To heare the Swan sing her owne Epiced.

As when the gallant youth which live upon
The Westerne Downes of lovely Albion;
Meeting, some festivall to solemnize,
Choose out two, skil'd in wrastling exercise,
Who strongly, at the wrist or coller cling,
Whilst arme in arme the people hem them in:
So did the water round this Ile inlinke,
And so the Trees grew on the waters brinke:
Waters their streames about the Iland scatter;
And Trees perform'd as much unto the water:
Under whose shade the Nightingale would bring
Her chirping young, and teach them how to sing.
The woods most sad Musitians thither throng,
As it had beene the Silvans Helicon,
And warbled forth, such Elegyacke straines,
That strucke the windes dumbe; and the motly plaines
Were fill'd with envy, that such shady places
Held all the worlds delights in their imbraces.

O how (me thinkes) the impes of Mneme bring
Dewes of Invention from their sacred Spring!
Here could I spend that spring of Poesie,
Which not twice tenne Sunnes have bestow'd on mee;
And tell the World, the Muses love appeares
In nonag'd youth, as in the length of yeares.
But ere my Muse erected have the frame,
Wherein t' enshrine an unknowne Shepheards name,
She many a Grove, and other Woods must treade,
More Hils, more Dales, more Founts must be displaid,
More Meadowes, Rockes, and from them all elect
Matter befitting such an Architect.

As Children on a play-day leave the Schooles,
And gladly runne unto the swimming Pooles,
Or in the thickets, all with Nettles stung,
Rush to dispoile some sweet Thrush of her young;
Or with their hats (for fish) lade in a Brooke
Withouten paine: but when the Morne doth looke
Out of the Easterne gates, a Snayle would faster
Glide to the Schooles, then they unto their Master:
So when before I sung the Songs of Birds,
(Whilst every moment sweetned lines affords)
I pip'd devoid of paine, but now I come
Unto my taske, my Muse is stricken dumbe.
My blubbring pen her sable teares lets fall,
In Characters right Hyrogliphicall,
And mixing with my teares are ready turning,
My late white paper to a weede of mourning;
Or Inke and Paper strive how to impart,
My words, the weedes they wore, within my heart:
Or else the blots unwilling are my rimes
And their sad cause should live till after-times;
Fearing if men their subject should descry,
They forth-with would dissolve in teares and die.

Upon the Ilands craggy rising hill,
A Quadrant ranne, wherein by Artlesse skill,
At every corner Nature did erect
A Columne rude, yet voyde of all defect:
Whereon a Marble lay. The thick-growne Bryer,
And prickled Hawthorne (woven all entyre)
Together clung, and barr'd the gladsome light
From any entrance, fitting onely night.
No way to it but one, steepe and obscure,
The staires of rugged stone, seldome in ure,
All over-growne with Mosse, as Nature sate
To entertaine Griefe with a cloath of State.

Hardly unto the toppe I had ascended,
But that the Trees (siding the steps) befriended
My weary limbes, who bowing downe their armes,
Gave hold unto my hands to scape from harmes:
Which evermore are ready, still present
Our feet, in climbing places eminent.
Before the doore (to hinder Phoebus view)
A shady Boxe-tree grasped with an Yewgh,
As in the place behalfe they menac'd warre
Against the radyance of each sparkling Starre.
And on their barkes (which Time had nigh deprav'd)
These lines (it seem'd) had been of olde engrav'd:
This place was fram'd of yore, to be possest
By one which sometime HATH BEENE HAPPIEST.

Lovely Idya the most beautious
Of all the darlings of Oceanus,
Hesperia's envy and the Westerne pride,
Whose party-coloured garment Nature dy'd
In more eye-pleasing hewes with richer graine,
Then Iris bow attending Aprils raine.
Whose Lilly white, inshaded with the Rose
Had that man seene, who sung th' Aeneidos,
Dido had in oblivion slept, and she
Had giv'n his Muse her best eternitie.
Had brave Atrides (who did erst imploy
His force to mixe his dead with those of Troy)
Beene proffered for a truce her fained peece
Helen had staid, and that had gone to Greece:
The Phrigian soyle had not been drunk with bloud,
Achilles longer breath'd, and Troy yet stood:
The Prince of Poets had not sung his storie,
My friend had lost his ever-living glory.

But as a snowy Swan, who many a day
On Thamar's swelling brests hath had his play,
For further pleasure doth assay to swimme
My native Tavy, or the sandy Plim:
And on the panting billowes bravely rides,
Whilst Country-lasses walking on the sides,
Admire her beautie, and with clapping hands,
Would force her leave the streame, and tread the sands;
When shee regardlesse swimmes to th' other edge,
Untill an envious Bryer, or tangling Sedge
Dispoyles her Plumes; or else a sharpned Beame
Pierceth her brest, and on the bloudy streame
Shee pants for life: So whilome rode this Maide
On streames of worldly blisse, more rich arraid,
With Earths delight, then thought could put in ure,
To glut the senses of an Epicure.
Whilst neigh'bring Kings upon their frontires stood,
And offer'd for her dowre huge Seas of blood:
And perjur'd Gerion to winne her, rent
The Indian Rockes for gold, and bootlesse spent
Almost his patrimonie for her sake
Yet nothing like respected as the Drake
That skowr'd her Channels, and destroid the weede,
Which spoil'd her fishers nets, and fishes breede.
At last her truest love shee threw upon
A royall Youth, whose like, whose Paragon
Heaven never lent the Earth: so great a spirit
The World could not containe, nor Kingdomes merit:
And therefore Jove did with the Saints inthrone him,
And left his Lady nought but teares to moane him.

Within this place (as wofull as my Verse)
Shee with her Christall founts bedew'd his Herse,
Inuailed with a sable weede shee sate,
Singing this Song which Stones dissolved at.

What time the world clad in a mourning robe,
A Stage made for a wofull Tragedie:
When showers of teares from the Coelestiall Globe
Bewail'd the fate of Sea-lov'd Britanie;
When sighes as frequent were as various sights,
When Hope lay bed-rid, and all pleasures dying,
When Envy wept,
And Comfort slept:
When Crueltie it selfe sate almost crying,
Nought being heard but what the minde affrights,
When Autumne had disrob'd the Summers pride,
Then Englands honour, Europes wonder dy'd.

O saddest straine that e'er the Muses sung!
A text of Woe for Griefe to comment on;
Teares, sighes, and sobs give passage to my tongue,
Or I shall spend you till the last is gone.
Which done, my heart in flames of burning love
(Wanting his moisture) shall to cinders turne:
But first, by me
Bequeathed be
To strew the place wherein his sacred Urne
Shall be inclos'd, this might in many move
The like effect: (who would not doe it?) when
No grave befits him but the hearts of men.

That man, whose masse of sorrowes hath been such,
That by their waight, laid on each severall part,
His fountaines are so dry, he but as much
As one poore drop hath left to ease his heart;
Why should he keepe it? since the time doth call,
That he ne'er better can bestow it in:
If so he feares
That others teares
In greater number, greatest prizes winne;
Know none gives more then he which giveth all.
Then he which hath but one poore teare in store,
O let him spend that drop, and weepe no more.

Why flowes not Helicon beyond her strands?
Is HENRY dead, and doe the Muses sleepe?
Alas! I see each one amazed stands,
"Shallow foords mutter, silent are the deepe":
Faine would they tell their griefes, but know not where:
All are so full, nought can augment their store:
Then how should they
Their griefes display
To men, so cloyde, they faine would heare no more?
Though blaming those whose plaints they cannot heare:
And with this wish their passions I allow,
May that Muse never speake that's silent now!

Is HENRY dead? alas! and doe I live
To sing a Scrich-owles Noate that he is dead?
If any one a fitter Theame can give,
Come give it now, or never to be read.
But let him see it doe of horror tast,
Anguish, destruction: could it rend in sunder
With fearefull grones
The sencelesse stones,
Yet should wee hardly be enforc'd to wonder,
Our former griefes would so exceed their last:
Time cannot make our sorrowes ought compleater;
Nor adde one griefe to make our mourning greater.

England was ne'er ingirt with waves till now;
Till now it held part with the Continent:
Aye me! some one in pittie shew me, how
I might in dolefull numbers so lament;
That any one which lov'd him, hated me,
Might dearely love me, for lamenting him.
Alas! my plaint
In such constraint
Breakes forth in rage, that though my passions swimme,
Yet are they drowned ere they landed be:
Imperfect lines! O happy! were I hurld
And cut from life as England from the world.

O happier had we beene! if we had beene
Never made happy by enjoying thee!
Where hath the glorious eye of heaven seene
A spectacle of greater miserie?
Time turne thy course; and bring againe the Spring;
Breakes Natures lawes; search the records of old,
If ought befell
Might paralell
Sad Britaine's case: weepe Rockes, and Heaven behold,
What Seas of sorrow shee is plunged in.
Where stormes of woe so mainly have beset her;
She hath no place for worse, nor hope for better.

Britaine was whilome knowne (by more then fame)
To be one of the Ilands fortunate;
What franticke man would give her now that name,
Lying so rufull and disconsolate?
Hath not her watry Zone in murmuring,
Fill'd every shoare with Ecchoes of her cry?
Yes, Thetis raves,
And bids her waves
Bring all the Nymphes within her Emperie
To be assistant in her sorrowing:
See where they sadly sit on Isis shore,
And rend their haires as they would joy no more.

Isis the glory of the Westerne world,
When our Heroe (honour'd ESSEX) dy'd,
Strucken with wonder, backe againe she hurld,
And fill'd her banckes with an unwoonted Tyde:
As if she stood in doubt, if it were so,
And for the certaintie had turn'd her way.
Why doe not now
Her waves reflow?
Poore Nymph, her sorrowes will not let her stay;
Or flyes to tell the world her Countries woe:
Or cares not to come backe, perhaps, as showing
Our teares should make the floud, not her reflowing.

Sometime a Tyrant held the reynes of Rome,
Wishing to all the Citie but one head,
That all at once might undergoe his doome,
And by one blow from life be severed.
Fate wisht the like on England, and 'twas given:
(O miserable men, enthral'd to Fate!)
Whose heavy hand
That never scand
The misery of Kingdomes ruinate,
Minding to leave her of all joyes bereaven,
With one sad blow (Alas! can worser fall!)
Hath given this little Ile her Funerall.

O come yee blessed Impes of Memorie,
Erect a new Parnassus on his grave!
There tune your voyces to an Elegie,
The saddest Noate that ere Apollo gave.
Let every Accent make the stander by
Keepe time unto your Song with dropping teares,
Till drops that fell
Have made a Well
To swallow him which still unmoved heares:
And though my selfe prove sencelesse of your cry,
Yet gladly should my light of life grow dim,
To be entomb'd in teares are wept for him.

When last he sickned, then we first began
To tread the Laborinth of Woe about:
And by degrees we further inward ran,
Having his thread of life to guide us out.
But Destinie no sooner saw us enter
Sad Sorrowes Maze, immured up in night,
(Where nothing dwels
But cryes and yels
Throwne from the hearts of men depriv'd of light,)
When we were almost come into the Center,
Fate (cruelly) to barre our joyes returning,
Cut off our Thread, and left us all in mourning.

If you have seene at foote of some brave hill,
Two Springs arise, and delicately trill,
In gentle chidings through an humble dale,
(Where tufty Daizies nod at every gale)
And on the bankes a Swaine (with Lawrell crown'd)
Marying his sweet Noates with their silver sound:
When as the spongy clouds swolne bigge with water,
Throw their conception on the worlds Theater:
Downe from the hils the rained waters roare,
Whilst every leafe drops to augment their store:
Grumbling the stones fall o'er each others backe,
Rending the greene turfes with their Cataract,
And through the Meadowes runne with such a noyse,
That taking from the Swaine the fountaines voyce,
Inforce him leave their margent, and alone
Couple his base Pipe with their baser Tone.
Know (Shepherdesse) that so I lent an eare
To those sad wights whose plaints I tolde whileare:
But when this goodly Lady gan addresse
Her heav'nly voyce to sweeten heavinesse,
It drown'd the rest, as torrents little Springs;
And strucken mute at her great sorrowings,
Lay still and wondred at her pitious mone,
Wept at her griefes, and did forget their owne,
Whilst I attentive sate, and did impart,
Teares when they wanted drops, and from a hart,
As hie in sorrow as e'er creature wore,
Lent thrilling groanes to such as had no more.

Had wise Ulysses (who regardlesse flung
Along the Ocean when the Syrens sung)
Pass'd by and seene her on the sea-torne cleeves,
Waile her lost Love (while Neptunes watry Theeves
Durst not approach for Rockes:) to see her face
Hee would have hazarded his Grecian race,
Thrust head-long to the shoare, and to her eyes
Offer'd his Vessell as a Sacrifice.
Or had the Syrens on a neighbour shore
Heard in what raping Noates shee did deplore
Her buryed Glory, they had left their shelves,
And to come neere her would have drown'd themselves.

Now silence lock'd the organs of that voyce;
Whereat each merry Silvan wont rejoyce,
When with a bended knee to her I came,
And did impart my griefe and hated name:
But first a pardon begg'd, if that my cause
So much constrain'd me as to breake the Lawes
Of her wish'd sequestration, or ask'd Bread
(To save a life) from her, whose life was dead:
But lawlesse famine, selfe-consuming hunger,
Alas! compel'd mee: had I stayed longer,
My weakned limmes had beene my wants forc'd meede,
And I had fed, on that I could not feede.
When she (compassionate) to my sad mone
Did lend a sigh, and stole it from her owne;
And (wofull Lady wrackt on haplesse shelfe)
Yeelded me comfort, yet had none her selfe:
Told how shee knew mee well since I had beene,
As chiefest consort of the Faiery Queene;
O happy Queene! for ever, ever praise
Dwell on thy Tombe; the period of all dayes
Onely seale up thy fame; and as thy Birth
Inrich'd thy Temples on the fading earth,
So have thy Vertues crown'd thy blessed soule,
Where the first Mover with his words controule;
As with a girdle the huge Ocean bindes;
Gathers into his fist the nimble Windes;
Stops the bright Courser in his hot careere;
Commands the Moone twelve courses in a yeere:
Live thou with him in endlesse blisse, while wee
Admire all Vertues in admiring thee.

Thou, thou, the fautresse of the learned Well,
Thou nursing Mother of Gods Israel;
Thou, for whose loving Truth, the Heaven raynes
Sweet Mel and Manna on our flowry Plaines;
Thou, by whose hand the sacred Trine did bring
Us out of bonds, from bloudy Bonnering.
Yee suckling Babes, for ever blesse that Name
Releas'd your burning in your Mothers flame!
Thrice blessed Maiden, by whose hand was given
Free liberty to taste the foode of Heaven.
Never forget her (Albions lovely Daughters)
Which led you to the Springs of living Waters!
And if my Muse her glory faile to sing,
May to my mouth my tongue for ever clinge!

Herewith (at hand) taking her Horne of Plentie
Fill'd with the choise of every Orchards daintie,
As Peares, Plums, Aples, the sweet Raspis-berry,
The Quince, the Apricock, the blushing Cherry;
The Mulberry (his blacke from Thisbie taking)
The cluster'd Filberd, Grapes oft merry-making.
(This fruitfull Horne th' immortall Ladyes fill'd
With all the pleasures that rough Forrests yeeld,
And gave IDYA, with a further blessing,
That thence (as from a Garden) without dressing,
Shee these should ever have; and never want
Store, from an Orchard without Tree or Plant.)
With a right willing hand she gave mee, hence,
The Stomackes comforter, the pleasing Quince;
And for the chiefest cherisher she lent
The Royall Thistles milkie nourishment.

Here staid I long: but when to see Aurora
Kisse the perfumed cheekes of dainty Flora,
Without the vale I trod one lovely Morne,
With true intention of a quicke returne,
An unexpected chance strove to deferre
My going backe, and all the love of her.
But Mayden see the day is waxen olde,
And gins to shut in with the Marigold:
The Neat-herds Kine doe bellow in the yard;
And Dairy Maidens for the milke prepar'd,
Are drawing at the Udder, long ere now
The Plow-man hath unyoak't his Teame from plow:
My transformation to a fearefull Hinde
Shall to unfold a fitter season finde;
Meane while yond Pallace, whose brave Turrets tops,
Over the stately Wood survaye the cops,
Promis'th (if sought) a wished place of rest,
Till Sol our Hemisphere have repossest.

Now must my Muse afford a straine to Riot,
Who almost kild with his luxurious dyet,
Lay eating grasse (as dogges) within a Wood,
So to disgorge the undisgested food:
By whom faire Aletheia past along
With Fida Queene of every shepherds Song
By them unseene (for he securely lay
Under the thicke of many a leaved spray)
And through the levell'd Meadowes gently threw
Their neatest feet, washt with refreshing dewe,
Where hee durst not approach, but on the edge
Of th' hilly wood, in covert of a hedge,
Went onward with them, trode with them in paces,
And farre off much admir'd their formes and graces.
Into the Plaines at last hee head-long venter'd:
But they the hill had got and Palace enter'd.

When, like a valiant well resolved man
Seeking new paths i' th' pathlesse Ocean,
Unto the shores of monster-breeding Nyle,
Or through the North to the unpeopled Thyle,
Where from the Equinoctiall of the Spring,
To that of Autumne, Titans golden Ring
Is never off; and till the Spring againe
In gloomy darknesse all the shoares remaine.
Or if hee furrow up the brynie Sea,
To cast his Ancors in the frozen bay
Of woody Norway; (who hath ever fed
Her people more with scaly fish then bread)
Though ratling mounts of Ice thrust at his Helme,
And by their fall still threaten to o're-whelme
His little Vessell: and though Winter throw
(What age should) on their heads white caps of Snow;
Strives to congeale his bloud; hee cares not for't,
But arm'd in minde, gets his intended port:

So Ryot, though full many doubts arise,
Whose unknowne ends might graspe his enterprise,
Climbes towards the Palace, and with gate demure,
With hanging head, a voyce as faining pure,
With torne and ragged coate, his hairy legs
Bloudy, as scratch'd with Bryers, hee entrance begs.

Remembrance sate as Portresse of this gate:
A Lady alwayes musing as shee sate,
Except when sometime suddainely shee rose,
And with a backe bent eye, at length, shee throwes
Her hands to heaven: and in a wondring guize,
Star'd on each object with her fixed eyes:
As some way-faring man passing a wood,
(Whose waving toppe hath long a Sea-marke stood)
Goes jogging on, and in his minde nought hath,
But how the Primrose finely strew the path,
Or sweetest Violets lay downe their heads
At some trees root on mossie feather-beds,
Untill his heele receives an Adders sting,
Whereat hee starts, and backe his head doth fling.

Shee never mark'd the sute he did preferre,
But (carelesse) let him passe along by her.

So on hee went into a spatious court,
All trodden bare with multitudes resort:
At th' end whereof a second gate appeares,
The Fabricke shew'd full many thousand yeares:
Whose Posterne-key that time a Lady kept,
Her eyes all swolne as if shee seldome slept;
And would by fits her golden tresses teare,
And strive to stoppe her breath with her owne haire:
Her lilly hand (not to be lik'd by Art)
A paire of Pincers held; wherewith her heart
Was hardly grasped, while the piled stones
Re-eccoed her lamentable grones.

Here at this gate the custome long had bin
When any sought to be admitted in,
Remorce thus us'd them, ere they had the keye,
And all these torments felt, pass'd on their way.

When Riot came, the Ladies paines nigh done,
Shee past the gate; and then Remorce begunne
To fetter Riot in strong iron chaines;
And doubting much his patience in the paines.
As when a Smith and's Man (lame Vulcans fellowes)
Call'd from the Anvile or the puffing Bellowes,
To clap a well-wrought shooe (for more then pay)
Upon a stubborne Nagge of Galloway;
Or unback'd Jennet, or a Flaunders Mare,
That at the Forge stand snuffing of the ayre;
The swarty Smith spits in his Buckehorne fist,
And bids his Man bring out the five-fold twist,
His shackles, shacklocks, hampers, gyves and chaines,
His linked bolts; and with no little paines
These make him fast: and least all these should faulter,
Unto a poste with some sixe-doubled halter
He bindes his head; yet all are of the least
To curbe the fury of the head-strong beast.
When if a Carriers Jade be brought unto him,
His Man can hold his foote whilst he can shoe him.
Remorce was so inforc'd to binde him stronger,
Because his faults requir'd infliction longer
Then any sinne-prest wight which many a day
Since Judas hung himselfe had past that way.

When all the cruell torments he had borne,
Galled with chaines, and on the racke nigh torne,
Pinching with glowing pincers his owne heart;
All lame and restlesse, full of wounds and smart,
Hee to the Posterne creepes, so inward hyes,
And from the gate a two-fold path descryes,
One leading up a hill, Repentance way;
And (as more worthy) on the right hand lay:
The other head-long, steepe, and lik'ned well
Unto the path which tendeth downe to hell:
All steps that thither went shew'd no returning,
The port to paines, and to eternall mourning;
Where certaine Death liv'd, in an Ebon chaire,
The soules blacke homicide meager Despaire
Had his abode: there gainst the craggie rockes
Some dasht their braines out, with relentlesse knockes,
Others on trees (O most accursed elves)
Are fastening knots, so to undoe themselves.
Here one in sinne not daring to appeare
At Mercies seat with one repentant teare,
Within his brest was launcing of an eye,
That unto God it might for vengeance cry:
There from a Rocke a wretch but newly fell,
All torne in pieces, to goe whole to Hell.
Here with a sleepie Potion one thinkes fit
To graspe with death, but would not know of it:
There in a poole two men their lives expire,
And die in water to revive in fire.
Here hangs the bloud upon the guiltlesse stones:
There wormes consume the flesh of humane bones.
Here lyes an arme: a legge there: here a head,
Without other limmes of men unburyed,
Scattring the ground, and as regardlesse hurl'd,
As they at vertue spurned in the world.

Fye haplesse wretch, O thou! whose graces sterving,
Measur'st Gods mercy by thine owne deserving;
Which cry'st (distrustfull of the power of Heaven)
My sinnes are greater then can be forgiven:
Which still are ready to curse God and die,
At every stripe of worldly miserie;
O learne (thou in whose brests the Dragon lurkes)
Gods mercy (ever) is o'er all his workes.
Know hee is pittifull, apt to forgive;
Would not a sinners death, but that he live.
O ever, ever rest upon that word
Which doth assure thee, though his two edg'd Sword
Be drawne in Justice gainst thy sinfull soule,
To separate the rotten from the whole;
Yet if a sacrifice of prayer be sent him,
He will not strike; or if hee strike repent him.
Let none despaire: for cursed Judas sinne
Was not so much in yeelding up the King
Of life, to death, as when he thereupon
Wholy despair'd of Gods remission.

Riot, long doubting stood which way were best
To leade his steps: at last preferring rest
(As foolishly hee thought) before the paine
Was to be past ere he could well attaine
The high-built palace; gan adventure on
That path, which led to all confusion,
When sodainely a voyce as sweet as cleare,
With words divine began entice his eare:
Whereat as in a rapture, on the ground
He prostrate lay, and all his senses found
A time of rest; onely that facultie
Which never can be seene, nor ever dye,
That in the essence of an endlesse Nature
Doth sympathize with the All-good Creator,
That onely wak'd which cannot be interr'd
And from a heavenly Quire this ditty heard.

Vaine man, doe not mistrust
Of heaven winning;
Nor (though the most unjust)
Despaire for sinning:
God will be seene his sentence changing,
If he behold thee wicked wayes estranging.

Climbe up where pleasures dwell
In flowry Allies:
And taste the living Well
That deckes the Vallyes.
Faire Metanoia is attending
To crowne thee with those joyes which know no ending.

Herewith on leaden wings Sleepe from him flew,
When on his arme hee rose, and sadly threw
Shrill acclamations; while an hollow cave,
Or hanging hill, or heaven an answer gave.

O sacred Essence lightning me this houre!
How may I lightly stile thy great Power? ECCHO. Power.
Power? but of whence? under the green-wood spray.
Or liv'st in heav'n? say. ECCHO. In Heavens aye.
In Heavens aye! tell, may I it obtaine
By almes; by fasting, prayer, by paine? ECCHO. By paine.
Shew mee the paine, 't shall be undergone:
I to mine end will still goe on. ECCHO. Goe on.
But whither? On! Shew me the place, the time:
What if the Mountain I do climbe? ECCHO. Doe: climbe.
Is that the way to joyes which still endure?
O bid my soule of it be sure! ECCHO. Be sure.
Then thus assured, doe I climbe the hill,
Heaven be my guide in this thy will. ECCHO. I will.

As when a maide taught from her mothers wing,
To tune her voyce unto a silver string,
When shee should run, she rests; rests when should run,
And ends her lesson having now begun:
Now misseth in her stop, then in her song,
And doing of her best she still is wrong,
Begins againe, and yet againe strikes false,
Then in a chafe forsakes her Virginals,
And yet within an houre she tryes a new,
That with her daily paines (Arts chiefest due)
She gaines that charming skill: and can no lesse
Tame the fierce walkers of the wildernesse,
Then that Oeagrian Harpist, for whose laye,
Tygers with hunger pinde and left their prey.
So Ryot, when he gan to climbe the hill,
Here maketh haste and there long standeth still,
Now getteth up a step, then falls againe,
Yet not despairing all his nerves doth straine,
To clamber up a new, then slide his feet,
And downe he comes: but gives not over yet,
For (with the maide) he hopes, a time will be
When merit shall be linkt with industry.

Now as an Angler melancholy standing
Upon a greene banke yeelding roome for landing,
A wrigling yealow worme thrust on his hooke,
Now in the midst hee throwes, then in a nooke:
Here puls his line, there throwes it in againe,
Mendeth his Corke and Baite, but all in vaine,
He long stands viewing of the curled streame;
At last a hungry Pike, or well-growne Breame
Snatch at the worme, and hasting fast away,
He knowing it a Fish of stubborne sway,
Puls up his rod, but soft: (as having skill)
Wherewith the hooke fast holds the Fishes gyll.
Then all his line hee freely yeeldeth him,
Whilst furiously all up and downe doth swimme
Th' insnared Fish; here on the toppe doth scud,
There underneath the banckes, then in the mud;
And with his franticke fits so scares the shole,
That each one takes his hyde, or starting hole:
By this the Pike cleane wearied underneath
A Willow lyes, and pants (if Fishes breath)
Wherewith the Angler gently puls him to him,
And least his haste might happen to undoe him,
Layes downe his rod, then takes his line in hand,
And by degrees getting the Fish to land,
Walkes to another Poole: at length is winner
Of such a dish as serves him for his dinner:
So when the Climber halfe the way had got,
Musing he stood, and busily gan plot,
How (since the mount did alwayes steeper tend)
He might with steps secure his journey end.
At last (as wandring Boyes to gather Nuts)
A hooked Pole hee from a Hasell cuts;
Now throwes it here, then there to take some hold,
But bootlesse and in vaine, the rockie molde,
Admits no cranny, where his Hasell-hooke
Might promise him a step, till in a nooke
Somewhat above his reach hee hath espide
A little Oake, and having often tride
To catch a bough with standing on his toe,
Or leaping up, yet not prevailing so;
Hee rols a stone towards the little tree,
Then gets upon it, fastens warily
His Pole unto a bough, and at his drawing
The early rising Crow with clam'rous kawing,
Leaving the greene bough, flyes about the Rocke,
Whilst twentie twentie couples to him flocke:
And now within his reach the thin leaves wave,
With one hand onely then he holds his stave,
And with the other grasping first the leaves,
A pretty bough he in his fist receives;
Then to his girdle making fast the hooke,
His other hand another bough hath tooke;
His first, a third, and that, another gives,
To bring him to the place where his root lives.

Then, as a nimble Squirrill from the wood,
Ranging the hedges for his Filberd-food,
Sits peartly on a bough his browne Nuts cracking,
And from the shell the sweet white kernell taking,
Till (with their crookes and bags) a sort of Boyes,
(To share with him) come with so great a noyse,
That hee is forc'd to leave a Nut nigh broke,
And for his life leape to a neighbour Oake,
Thence to a Beech, thence to a row of Ashes;
Whilst through the Quagmires, and red water plashes,
The Boyes runne dabling thorow thicke and thin,
One teares his hose, another breakes his shin,
This, torne and tatter'd, hath with much adoe
Got by the Bryers; and that hath lost his shooe:
This drops his band; that head-long fals for haste;
Another cryes behinde for being last:
With sticks and stones, and many a sounding hollow,
The little foole, with no small sport, they follow,
Whilst he, from tree to tree, from spray to spray,
Gets to the wood, and hides him in his Dray:
Such shift made Ryot, ere hee could get up,
And so from bough to bough hee won the toppe,
Though hindrances, for ever comming there,
Were often thrust upon him by Dispaire.

Now at his feet the stately mountaine lay,
And with a gladsome eye hee gan survay
What perils he had trode on since the time
His weary feete and armes assayde to climbe.
When with a humble voyce (withouten feare,
Though hee look'd wilde and over-growne with haire)
A gentle Nymph in russet course array,
Comes and directs him onward in his way.
First, brings she him into a goodly Hall,
Faire, yet not beautified with Minerall:
But in a carelesse Art, and artlesse care,
Made, loose neglect, more lovely farre then rare.
Upon the floore (ypav'd with Marble slate)
(With Sack-cloath cloth'd,) many in ashes sate:
And round about the wals for many yeares,
Hung Christall Vyals of repentant teares:
And Bookes of vowes, and many a heavenly deede,
Lay ready open for each one to reade,
Some were immured up in little sheads,
There to contemplate Heaven, and bid their Beads.
Others with garments thinne of Cammels-haire,
With head, and armes, and legs, and feet all bare,
Were singing Hymnes to the Eternall Sage,
For safe returning from their Pilgrimage.
Some with a whip their pamper'd bodyes beate;
Others in fasting live, and seldome eate:
But as those Trees which doe in India grow
And call'd of elder Swaines full long agoe
The Sunne and Moones faire Trees (full goodly deight
And ten times ten feete challenging their height)
Having no helpe (to over-looke brave Towers)
From coole refreshing dew, or drisling showers;
When as the Earth (as oftentimes is seene)
Is interpos'd twixt Sol and Nights pale Queene;
Or when the Moone ecclipseth Titans light,
The Trees (all comfortlesse) rob'd of their sight
Weepe liquid drops, which plentifully shoote
Along the outward barke downe to the roote:
And by their owne shed teares they ever flourish;
So their own sorrowes, their owne joyes doe nourish:
And so within this place full many a wight,
Did make his teares his food both day and night.
And had it g[r]anted (from th' Almighty great)
To swimme through them unto his Mercy-seate.

Faire Metanoia in a chaire of earth,
With count'nance sad, yet sadnesse promis'd mirth,
Sate vail'd in coursest weedes of Cammels haire,
Inriching povertie; yet never faire
Was like to her, nor since the world begun
A lovelier Lady kist the glorious Sun.
For her the God of Thunder, mightie, great,
Whose Foot-stoole is the Earth, and Heaven his Seate,
Unto a man who from his crying birth
Went on still, shunning what he carryed, earth:
When he could walke no further for his grave,
Nor could step over, but hee there must have
A seate to rest, when he would faine goe on;
But age in every nerve, in every bone
Forbad his passage: for her sake hath heaven
Fill'd up the grave, and made his path so eaven,
That fifteene courses had the bright Steedes run,
(And hee was weary) ere his course was done.
For scorning her, the Courts of Kings which throw
A proud rais'd pinnacle to rest the Crow;
And on a Plaine out-brave a neighbour Rocke,
In stout resistance of a Tempests shocke,
For her contempt heaven (reyning his disasters)
Have made those Towers but piles to burne their masters.

To her the lowly Nymph (Humblessa hight)
Brought (as her office) this deformed wight;
To whom the Lady courteous semblance shewes,
And pittying his estate in sacred thewes,
And Letters (worthily ycleep'd divine)
Resolv'd t' instruct him: but her discipline
Shee knew of true effect, would surely misse,
Except the first his Metamorphosis
Should cleane exile: and knowing that his birth
Was to inherit reason, though on earth
Some Witch had thus transform'd him, by her skill,
Expert in changing, even the very will,
In few dayes labours with continuall prayer,
(A sacrifice transcends the buxome ayre)
His griesly shape, his foule deformed feature,
His horrid lookes, worse then a savage creature,
By Metanoia's hand from heaven, beganne
Receive their sentence of divorce from man.

And as a lovely Maiden, pure and chaste,
With naked Iv'rie necke, and gowne unlac'd,
Within her chamher, when the day is fled,
Makes poore her garments to enrich her bed:
First, puts shee off her lilly-silken gowne,
That shrikes for sorrow as shee layes it downe;
And with her armes graceth a Wast-coate fine,
Imbracing her as it would ne'er untwine.
Her flexen haire insnaring the beholders,
Shee next permits to wave about her shoulders,
And though shee cast it backe, the silken slips.
Still forward steale, and hang upon her lips:
Whereat shee sweetly angry, with her laces
Bindes up the wanton lockes in curious traces,
Whilst (twisting with her joynts) each haire long lingers,
As loth to be enchain'd, but with her fingers.
Then on her head a dressing like a crowne;
Her breasts all bare, her Kirtle slipping downe,
And all things off (which rightly ever be
Call'd the foule-faire markes of our miserie)
Except her last, which enviously doth seize her,
Least any eye partake with it in pleasure,
Prepares for sweetest rest, while Silvans greet her,
And (longingly) the down-bed swels to meete her:
So by degrees his shape all brutish vilde,
Fell from him (as loose skin from some young childe)
In lieu whereof a man-like shape appeares,
And gallant youth scarce skill'd in twentie yeares,
So faire, so fresh, so young, so admirable
In every part, that since I am not able
In words to shew his picture, gentle Swaines,
Recall the praises in my former straines;
And know if they have graced any limme,
I onely lent it those, but stole't from him.

Had that chaste Romane Dame beheld his face,
Ere the proud King possest her Husbands place,
Her thoughts had beene adulterate, and this staine
Had wonne her greater fame, had shee beene slaine.
The Larke that many mornes her selfe makes merry
With the shrill chanting of her teery-lerry,
(Before hee was transform'd) would leave the skies,
And hover o'er him to behold his eyes.
Upon an Oaten-pipe well could hee play,
For when hee fed his flocke upon the leye;
Maidens to heare him from the plaines came tripping
And Birds from bough to bough full nimbly skipping;
His flocke (then happy flocke) would leave to feede,
And stand amaz'd to listen to his Reede:
Lyons and Tigers, with each beast of game;
With hearing him were many times made tame:
Brave trees and flowers would towards him be bending
And none that heard him wisht his Song an ending:
Maides, Lyons, birds, flockes, trees, each flowre, each spring,
Were rapt with wonder, when he us'd to sing
So faire a person to describe to men
Requires a curious Pencill, not a Pen.

Him Metanoia clad in seemely wise
(Not after our corrupted ages guise,
Where gaudy weedes lend splendor to the lim,
While that his cloaths receiv'd their grace from him)
Then to a garden set with rarest flowres,
With pleasant Fountains stor'd, and shady bowres:
Shee leads him by the hand, and in the groves,
Where thousand pretty birds sung to their Loves,
And thousand thousand blossomes (from their stalks)
Milde Zephyrus threw downe to paint the walkes:
Where yet the wilde Boare never durst appeare:
Here Fida (ever to kinde Raymond deare)
Met them, and shew'd where Aletheia lay,
(The fairest Maide that ever blest the day)
Sweetly shee lay, and cool'd her lilly-hands
Within a Spring, which threw up golden sands:
As if it would intice her to persever
In living there and grace the banckes for ever.

To her Amintas (Riot now no more)
Came, and saluted: never man before
More blest, nor like this kisse hath beene another
But when two dangling Cherries kist each other:
Nor ever beauties, like, met at such closes;
But in the kisses of two Damaske-Roses.
O, how the flowres (prest with their treadings on them)
Strove to cast up their heads to looke upon them!
How jealously the buds that so had seene them,
Sent forth the sweetest smels to step betweene them,
As fearing the perfume lodg'd in their powers
Once knowne of them, they might neglect the flowres.
How often wisht Amintas with his hart,
His ruddy lips from hers might never part;
And that the heavens this gift were the bequeathing,
To feed on nothing but each others breathing!

A truer love the Muses never sung,
Nor happyer names ere grac'd a golden tongue:
O! they are better fitting his sweet stripe,
Who on the banckes of Ancor tun'd his Pype:
Or rather for that learned Swaine whose layes
Divinest Homer crown'd with deathlesse Bayes:
Or any one sent from the sacred Well
Inheriting the soule of Astrophell:
These, these in golden lines might write this Story,
And make these loves their owne eternall glory:
Whilst I a Swaine as weake in yeares as skill,
Should in the valley heare them on the hill,
Yet (when my sheepe have at their Cesternes beene,
And I have brought them backe to sheare the greene)
To misse an idle houre, and not for meede,
With choicest relish shall mine Oaten Reede,
Record their worths: and though in accents rare,
I misse the glory of a charming ayre,
My Muse may one day make the Courtly Swaines
Enamour'd on the Musicke of the Plaines,
And as upon a hill shee bravely sings,
Teach humble Dales to weepe in Christall Springs.

[pp. 85-109]