1614
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Epithalamium; or a Nuptiall Song, applied to the Ceremonies of Marriage.

England's Helicon. Or the Muses Harmony.

Christopher Brooke


Christopher Brooke's undated epithalamion follows the ritual form, though in a manner much more simple than Spenser's. The poem was added to a later edition England's Helicon.

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "It has been reported that Mr. Ellis has an intention of giving a new edition of these Elizabethan Collections. He could not make the public a more acceptable present. To myself, who, though I have had the luck of obtaining one or two of them, have been necessitated to content myself with short and casual inspections of others, few books would be more delightful. There is a grace of expression, a happiness of sentiment, and an attractive simplicity about many of them, which has never since been equalled. When we afterwards take up the discordant rhymes of Donne and his imitators, loaded with metaphysical subtlety, and remote and pedantic allusions, we can scarcely believe he could have immediately succeeded to such a numerous body of writers of pure and unsophisticated poetry" Censura Literaria 1 (1805) 443.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Brooke was the 'chamber fellow' at Lincoln's Inn and bosom friend of the celebrated Dr. Donne, and aided him in his clandestine marriage to the daughter of Sir George Moor, Chancellor of the Garter, and Lieutenant of the Tower. It proved dangerous to offend a jailor, for the indignant father-in-law sent the groom and his two friends, Christopher and Samuel Brooke, to prison" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 250.

Virginia Tufte: "Spenser, Chapman, Jonson, Donne, and Herrick, although selectively imitating models from the classical and Christian traditions, were able to create new and original works. Few of their imitators, however, were blessed with the skill of the masters, and many of the works were little more than trite panegyrics, echoing long-familiar phrases. Among the lesser poets who chose Spenser as their principle model were Michael Drayton, George Wither, Phineas Fletcher, and Christopher Brooke" Poetry of Marriage (1970) 249.



Aurora's Blush (the Ensigne of the Day)
Hath wak't the god of Light, from Tythons bowre,
Who on our Bride, and Bride-groome doth display
His golden Beames, auspitious to this Howre.
Now busie Maydens, strew sweet Flowres,
Much like our Bride in Virgin state;
Now fresh, then prest, soone dying,
The death is sweet, and must be yours,
Time goes on Croutches till that date,
Birds fledg'd, must needes be flying.
Leade on whiles Phoebus Lights, and Hymens Fires,
Enflame each Heart with Zeale to Loves Desires.
CHORUS.
Io to Hymen, Paeans sing,
To Hymen, and my Muses King.

Fourth honour'd Groome; behold, not farre behind
Your willing Bride; led by two strengthlesse Boyes;
For Venus Doves, or Thred but single twin'd
May draw a Virgin, light in Marriage Joyes:
Vesta growes pale, her Flame expires
As yee come under Junos Phane,
To offer at Joves Shrine
The simpathie of Hearts desires
Knitting the Knot, that doth containe
Two soules, in Gordian Twine.
The Rites are done; and now (as 'tis the guise)
Loves Fast by Day, a Feast must solemnize.
CHORUS.
Io to Hymen, Paeans sing,
To Hymen, and my Muses King.

The Board being spread, furnish't with various Plenties;
The Brides faire Object in the Middle plac'd;
While she drinkes Nectar, eates Ambrosiall dainties,
And like a Goddesse is admir'd and grac'd:
Bacchus and Ceres fill their veines;
Each Heart begins to ope a vent;
And now the Healths goe round;
Their Bloods are warmed; chear'd are their Braines
All doe applaud their Loves Consent;
So Love with Cheare is crown'd.
Let sensuall soules joy in full Bowles, sweet Dishes;
True Hearts, and Tongues, accord in joyfull wishes.
CHORUS.
Io to Hymen, &c.

Now whiles slow Howres doe feede the Times delay,
Confus'd Discourse, with Musicke mixt among,
Fills up the semy-circle of the Day;
Now drawes the date of our Lovers wish'd so long.
A bounteous Hand the Board hath spred;
Lyeus stirres so their Bloods a-new;
All Joviall full of cheare;
But Phoebus see, is gone to Bed;
Loe Hesperus appeares in view,
And twinckles in his sphere.
Now ne plus ultra; end, as you begin;
Yee waste good Howres; Time lost in Love, is sin.
CHORUS.
Io to Hymen, &c.

Breake off your Compliment; Musicke, be dombe,
And pull your Cases o'er your Fiddles eares;
Cry not, a Hall, a Hall; but Chamber-roome;
Dancing is lame; Youth's old at twentie yeares.
Matrons; yee know what followes next;
Conduct the shame-fac'd Bride to Bed,
(Though to her little rest)
Yee well can comment on the Text,
And, in Loves learning deepely read,
Advise, and teach the best.
Forward's the Word; y' are all so in this Arrant;
Wives give the Word; their Husbands give the Warrant.
CHORUS.
Io to Hymen, &c.

Now droopes our Bride, and in her Virgin state,
Seemes like Electra 'mongst the Pleyades;
So shrinkes a Mayde when her Herculean Mate,
Must plucke the fruit in her Hesperides.
As she's a Bride, she glorious shines,
Like Cynthea, from the Sunnes bright Sphaere,
Attracting all mens Eyes;
But as she's Virgin, waines, and pines,
As to the Man she approcheth neere;
So Mayden glory dies.
But Virgin Beames no reall brightnesse render;
If they doe shine, in darke they shew their splendour.
CHORUS.
Io to Hymen, &c.

Then let the darke Foyle of the Geniall Bed
Extend her brightnesse to his inward sight,
And by his sence he will be easly led
To know her vertue, by her absent light.
Youth's; take his Poynts; your wonted right;
And Maydens, take your due, her Garters;
Take hence the Lights; be gone;
Love calls to Armes, Duell his Fight;
Then all remove out of his Quarters,
And leave them both alone.
That with substantiall heate, they may embrace,
And know Loves Essence, with his outward grace.
CHORUS.
Io to Hymen, &c.

Hence Jealousie, Rivall to Loves delight;
Sowe not thy seede of strife in these two Harts;
May never cold affect, or spleenfull spight,
Confound this Musicke of agreeing parts:
But Time (that steales the virtuall heate
Where Nature keepes the vitall fire)
(My Heart speakes in my Tongue)
Supply with Fewell lifes chief seate,
Through the strong fervour of Desire;
Love, living; and live long.
And ev'n as Thunder riseth gainst the Winde;
So may yee fight with Age; and conquer Kinde
CHORUS.
Io to Hymen; Paeans sing,
To Hymen, and my Muses King.

[Sig. Rv-R3]