1613
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Teares on the Death of Meliades.

Teares on the Death of Meliades.

William Drummond


William Drummond of Hawthornden's first publication mourns the death of Prince Henry (1612) in rich allusions to the tradition of pastoral elegy, including Spenser's Astrophel and Lay of Clorinda. This highly-regarded poem was revised and twice reprinted in 1614.

Robert Anderson: "he wrote an elegy entitled, Tears on the Death of Meliades, a name which that prince had used in all his challenges of martial sport, as the anagram of 'Miles a Deo'" British Poets (1795) 4:621.

Robert Southey: "The first Scotch poet who wrote well in English" British Poets, Chaucer to Jonson (1831) 798.

Thomas Corser: "Lines are much altered in the later editions, and fresh couplets here and there introduced occasionally with good effect. They secured Drummond much popularity; and in allusion to this poem, he has recorded Ben Jonson's opinion of his verses, viz. that 'they wer all good, especially my Epitaph on the Prince, save that they smelled too much of the Schooles, and were not after the fancie of the tyme.' At the end of the elegy is a pyramid in verse; and on the last leaf a representation of a monumental tablet, with a sonnet by Drummond as the inscription. This also has been much varied and improved in the later impressions of his works" Collectanea Anglo-Poetica 6 (1877) 313.

W. Davenport Adams: "Meliades was the name used by the prince in all his chivalrous exercises, being the anagram of 'Miles a Deo' — God's Soldier. Froissart has a romance called Meliades: or, the Knight of the Sun of Gold" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 386.

W. J. Courthope: "William Drummond, the son of Sir John Drummond of Hawthornden, near Edinburgh, was born on the 13th of December 1585, and was educated at the High School and afterwards at the University of that city, in the latter of which he graduated as M.A. in 1605. From Edinburgh he proceeded to study French law at Bourges and Paris. He remained abroad from 1606 to 1608, but in the following year he became master of Hawthornden, through the death of his father, and devoted himself with enthusiasm to the pursuit of literature. From the notes he has left, it appears that between 1606 and 1614 he had read most of the Italian, Spanish, French, and English books which had acquired an established reputation, including the Divine Comedy, the Orlando Furioso, the Aminta and Gerusalemme, the Pastor Fido, Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, besides the lyrics of Donne, and the epigrams of Ben Jonson. The first-fruits of his own genius was an elegiac poem entitled Tears for the Death of Meliades — the name being an anagram of a motto ('Miles a Deo') used by Prince Henry, eldest son of James I., who died in 1613. By this work he acquired a high reputation" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 3:187.

Thomas Perrin Harrison Jr.: "The death of Prince Henry in his nineteenth year (1612) occasioned Drummond's first appearance as a poet. Tears on the Death of Moeliades was twice issued in 1613 and again the next year; and amid floods of other tears called forth at the death of the young Prince of Wales Drummond's contribution earned a general acclaim which is shared by modern critics. Borrowing generously from Sidney, Drummond's Tears rings the changes upon the familiar imagery of pastoral elegy: inexorable Death visits high and low, young and old; with darkened earth and weeping heaven Nature reverses her usual courses; rivers, deities, flowers — all betoken their grief. Yet three paragraphs of the seven — the second (ll. 35-7) and the concluding ones (ll. 143-96) — show independence and originality. The poem concludes with a distinctly Spenserian consolation which is memorable for its sincerity, its easy diction, and its vivid Platonism" The Pastoral Elegy (1939) 287.

Ruth Wallerstein: "Drummond ... imitated continental models of the pastoral elegy and perhaps Sidney's lament for Basilius in The Arcadia, not Spenser's laments; and these models are perhaps reflected in the severity of Drummond's style and the discipline of his line in this poem as compared with style and music in his later work" Seventeenth Century Poetic (1950) 63.



O Heavens, then is it trew that thou art gone,
And left this woefull Ile her losse to mone,
Meliades, bright day-Starre of the West,
A Comet blazing terrour to the East:
And neither that thy Spright so heavenly wise,
Nor Bodie [though of Earth] more pure then Skies,
Nor royall Stemme, nor thy sweete tender Age,
Of cruell Destinies could quench the rage?
O fading hopes! O short-while-lasting joy
Of earth-borne man, that one houre can destroy!
Then even of Vertues spoyles Death Trophees reares,
As if he gloried most in many teares.
Forc'd be hard Fates, doe Heavens neglect our cryes?
Are Starres set onely to act Tragedies?
And let them doe their worst, since thou art gone;
Raise whome they list to Thrones, enthron'd dethrone,
Staine Princely Bowres with blood, and even to Gange,
In Cypresse sad, glad Hymens torches change.
Ah thou hath left to live, and in the time
When scarce thou blossom'd in thy pleasant Prime.
So falls by Northen blast a virgin Rose,
At halfe that doth her bashfull bosome close:
So a sweete Flourish languishing decayes,
That late did blush when kist by Phoebus rayes.
So Phoebus mounting the Meridians hight,
Choak't by pale Phoebe, faints unto our sight:
Astonish'd Nature sullen stands to see
The Life of all this All, so chang'd to be,
In gloomie gownes the Starres about deplore,
The Sea with murmuring mountaines beates the shore,
Blacke Darkeness reeles o'er all, in thousand shoures
The weeping Aire on Earth her sorrow poures,
That in a palsey, quakes to see so soone
Her Lover set, and Night burst forth ere Noone.

If Heaven alas ordaind thee yong to die,
Why was't not where thou mightst thy valour trie?
And to the wondring world at least set forth
Some litle sparke of thy expected worth?
Meliades, O that by Isters streames
Mong sounding trumpets, fierie twinckling gleames
Of warme vermilion swords, and cannons roare,
Balls thicke as raine powr'd by the Caspian shore;
Mong broken speares, mong ringing helmes and shieldes,
Huge heapes of slaughtred bodies long the fieldes,
In Turkish blood made red like Marses starre,
Thou ended had thy life and Christian warre!
Or as brave Burbon, thou had made olde Rome
Queene of the world, thy triumph and thy tombe.
So Heavens faire face to comming worlds which reedes,
A booke had beene of thy illustrious deedes.
So to their nephewes aged Syres had told
The high exploits perform'd by thee of olde;
Townes raz'd, and rais'd, victorious, vanquish'd bands,
Fierce Tyrants flying, foyl'd, kild by thy hands.
And in deare Arras, Virgins faire had wrought
The Bayes and Trophees to thy countrie brought:
While some great Homer imping wings to fame,
Deare Nilus dwellers had made heare thy name.
That thou did not attaine these honours spheares,
Through lacke of power it was not, but of yeares.
A braver youth, pale Troy with trembling walls
Did never see, nor she whose name appalls
Both Titans golden bowres, in bloodie fights
Mustring on Marses field, such Mars-like knights.
The Heavens had brought thee to the highest hight
Of wit and courage, showing all their might
When they thee fram'd. Ay me that what is brave
On earth, they as their owne so soone should crave!
Meliades sweete courtly Nymphes deplore,
From ruddy Hesp'rus rising to Aurore.

When Forth thy nurse, Forth where thou first did passe
Thy tender dayes, [who smylde oft on her glasse,
To see thee gaze] Meandring with her streames,
Heard thou had left this round, from Phoebus beames
She sought to flie, but forced to returne
By neighbour brookes, she gave her selfe to mourne:
And as she rush't her Cyclades among,
She seem'd to plaine, that Heaven had done her wrong.
With a hoarse plaint, Cleyd downe her steppie rockes,
And Tweid through her greene mountaines cled with flocks,
Did wound the Ocean, murmuring thy death;
The Ocean that roar'd about the earth,
And to the Mauritanian Atlas told;
Who shrunke though griefe, and down his white haires rold
Huge streames of teares, which changed were in floods,
Wherewith he drown'd the neighbour plaines and woods.
The lesser brookes as they did bubling goe,
Did keepe a consort unto publicke woe.
The Shepheards left their flockes, with downe cast eyes
Sdaining to looke up to the angrie Skyes:
Some brake their pipes, and some in sweete-sad layes
Made senselesse things amazed at thy praise.
His reed Alexis hang upon a tree,
And with his teares made Doven great to be.
Meliades sweete courtly Nymphes deplore
From ruddy Hesp'rus rising to Aurore.

Chast Maids which haunt faire Aganippe Well,
And you in Tempes sacred shade who dwell,
Let fall your harpes, cease tunes of joy to sing,
Discheveled make all Parnassus ring
With Antheames sad, thy Musicke Phoebus turne
In dolefull plaints, whilst Joy it selfe doth mourne.
Dead is thy Darling who decor'd thy Bayes,
Who oft was wont to cherish thy sweete layes,
And to a trumpet raise thy amorous stile,
That flotting Delos envied might this Ile.
You Acidalian Archers breake your Bowes,
Your brandons quench, with teares blot Beauties snowes,
And bid your weeping Mother yet againe
A second Adons death, nay Marses plaine.
His Eyes once were your darts, nay even his Name,
Where ever heard, did every heart inflame.
Tagus did court his love with Golden streames,
Rheine with his Townes, faire Seine with all she claimes.
But ah (poore Lovers) Death them did betray,
And not suspected made their Hopes, his Pray!
Tagus bewailes his losse with Golden streames,
Rheine with his Townes, faire Seine with all she claimes.
Meliades sweete courtly Nymphes deplore
From ruddy Hesp'rus rising to Aurore.

Faire Meades, amidst whose grassie velvet springs
White, golden, azure flowres which once were kings,
In mourning blacke, their shining colours dye,
Bowe downe their heades, whiles sighing Zephyrs flye.
Queene of the fieldes, whose blushes staines the Morne
Sweete Rose, a Princes death in purple mourne.
O Hyacinthes for ay your AI keepe still,
Nay, with moe markes of woe your leaves now fill.
Your greene lockes Forrests cut, in weeping Mirres,
The deadly Cypresse, and inke-dropping Firres,
Your Palmes and Mirtles turne; from shadowes darke
Wing'd Syreins waile, and you sad Echoes marke
The lamentable accents of their mone,
And plaine that brave Meliades is gone.
Stay Skye thy turning course, and now become
A stately Arche, unto the Earth his tombe;
Over which ay the watrie Iris keepe,
And soft-eyed Pleiades which still doe weepe,
Meliades sweete courtly Nymphes deplore
From ruddy Hesp'rus rising to Aurore.

Deare Ghost forgive these our untimely teares,
By which our loving mind, though weake appeares.
Our losse, not thine [when we complaine] we weepe,
The glistring walls of Heaven for thee doe keepe,
Beyond the Planets wheeles, bove hightest source
Of Spheares, the turnes the lower in his course.
Where Sunne doth never set, nor ugly Night
Ever appeares in mourning garments dight:
Where Boreas stormie trumpet doth not sound,
Nor clowdes in lightnings bursting, minds astound.
From care cold climates farre, and hote Desire,
Where Time's exild, and Ages ne're expire:
Mong purest spirits environed with beames,
Thou thinks all things below, t' have bene but dreames;
And joyes to looke downe to the azur'd barres
Of Heaven, poudred with troupes of streaming starres:
And in their turning Temples, to behold
In silver robe the Moone, the Sunne in gold,
Like yong eye-speaking lovers in a dance,
With majestie, by turnes retire, advance.
Thou wonders th' Earth to see hang like a ball
Closd in the ghastly Cloister of this All:
And that poore men should prove so madly fond,
To tosse themselves for a small foote of ground.
Nay, that they even dare brave the pow'rs above,
From this base stage of change, that cannot move.
All worldly pompe, and pride thou seest arise
Like smoake that's scattred in the emptie skies.
Other Hills and Forrests, other sumptuous Towres
Amaz'd thou finds excelling our poore Bowres;
Courts voyd of flatterie, of malice Minds,
Pleasures which last, not such as reason blinds.
More sweeter songs thou heares and carrollings,
Whilst Heavens do dance, and quire of Angells sings,
Then moldie minds could faine, even our annoy
[If it approach that place] is chang'd in joy.

Rest blessed spirit, satiat with the sight
Of him whose beames (though dazeling) doe delight,
Life of all lives, Cause of each other cause,
The Spheare and Center where the mind doth pause:
Narcyssus of himselfe, himselfe the Well,
Lover, and Beautie that doth all excell.
Rest happie Ghost, and wonder in that Glasse,
Where seene is all that shall be, is, or was,
While shall be, is, or was, doe passe away,
And nothing be, but an Eternall day.
For ever rest, thy praise Fame may enroule,
In golden Annales, while about the Pole
The slow Bootes turnes, or Sunne doth rise
With scarlet scarfe to cheare the mourning Skies.
The Virgins to thy tombe may garlands beare
Of flowres, and with each flowre let fall a teare.
Meliades sweete courtly Nymphes deplore
From ruddy Hesp'rus rising to Aurore.

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