1614 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Epithalamium.

Venus & Anchises (Brittain's Ida) and Other Poems by Phineas Fletcher, Edited from a Sion College Manuscripts for the Royal Society of Literature by Ethel Seaton, M. A. With a Preface by F. S. Boas, LL.D., F.R.S.L.

Rev. Phineas Fletcher


The date and occasion of Phineas Fletcher's poem, first published in 1926, is not known.

Ethel Seaton: "In metrical structure the poem is the most complex and ambitious of Fletcher's compositions; regular stanzas of 7, 8, and 9 lines are interspersed with passages irregular in length and structure" Seaton, Venus and Anchises (1926) xxviii.

Abram Barnett Langdale: "The 'Epithalamium' is the climax of Fletcher's entire prosodic development. Probably written in 1614, it is earlier than A Father's Testament but later than The Purple Island, The Apollyonists, and most of the others. Its form was evidently suggested by the eighteen-line stanza of Spenser's 'Epithalamion,' but Fletcher adventured far beyond the comparative simplicity of his predecessor" Phineas Fletcher (1937) 165.



Harke gentle sheppeardes that on Norwiche plaines
In daintie verses sing your loves desiring
And yow both Cause and part of those sweet flames
Fayre Norfolke maydes whose joyes with heav'nlie firing
Kindle soft heate with kindlie flames enspiring
Harke how the woodes with Hymen lowdlie ring
Hymen the ecchoing hills Hymen the vallies sing

Spread the ground yow gentle swaines
With greene boughs with boughs as green
Greene and fresh as are those trainee
Which will shortlie here be seen
To faire Hymen making waye
Paphian Myrtill Venus tree
Mingled with Apolloes baye
Mingled thus they sweetest be
Soe two heartes in love delighting
Sweetest are in their uniting
Harke the woodes with Hymen ring
Hymen hilles and vallies sing

See where the bridegrome Comes in spotteles white
As spotteles white as are his faithfull loves
Like glittering Hesperus in clearest night
Or when Apollo faire his Court removes
To Delphos shrine and on his Cynthus hight
Among his peeres his gracefull paces moves
His sparkling lockes in honourd laurell drest
Outshines them all while his faire mother blest
Lookes on and thowsand joyes melt in hir tender breast.

Come yow daintie maiden fires
Strew the waye with lyllies white
White as are those Chast desires
Which sitte upon hir eyelides bright
And with lyllies mingle roses
Roses sweet as are those lippes
Where with thowsand sugred gloses
Th' happie bridegrome Nectar sippes
Strew both, that both learne to seeke
Fresher liveries in hir Cheeke
Hymen woodes lowd Hymen ringe
Hymen hills and vallies singe.

See where the Bride among the virgin traines
Faire virgin traines hir fairer self discloses
While modest dye hir face in purple staines
Firing hir bashfull Cheeke in blushing roses
And trembling fearefulnes that lordlye raignes
His whited Colour round about disposes
Such 'mong the lesser starres the Moone doeth stray
And spreading all along hir silver raye
Cozens the wandring world with night as bright as day

Now your voices lowdlie vaunting
Sing ye Hymen Hymen Chaunting
While within that sacred bower
Knottes are tyed whose stronger power
With sweet virtues Chaine Combined
Never more shall be untwined
Ah yow daintie bondes that tye
Prisond soules in libertie
With the selfsame love delighting
Dividing two and one uniting
Yow loves end but never ending
Never spent yet ever spending
Sweetest losse, but sweeter gaining
Maydens blotte without a staining
Out of two one soule Compounding
And two soules in one Confounding
How with yoake of such a stresse
Doe yow lighten heavines
And with more weight make burdens lesse

All rites are ended and a mutuall kisse
Hath playd loves harbinger to future blisse
But thow that fram'st theise knottes our mindes to stay
And making two of one didst sone againe
Make one of two and with losse full of gaine
Robst man to make him riche with better pay
Tye thow their soules in virtues love allyde
Whose hearses and handes thow hast allreadie tyde
Now thow light away away
Downe too long usurping day
Why shouldst thow soe long delay
The bridegromes joyes with tedious stay
Let thy sister now array
The heav'n with hir lesse glorious raye
Night more brightlie shewes the way
When lovers in loves errours stray
Night is lovers holyday,
See the Sunne hath heard me pray
And shuttes his light in evening gray
Hesperus whom lovers gay
Often Cite with sweetest lay
Thow first starre that doest display
How new lovers sport and play
When their long-wisht peacefull fray
Their heartes in loving joyes allay
Hesperus away away
See faire maide
Use we that name while we may use it
For sone ah sone thow wilt refuse it
Hesperus hath displaide
His face and to the West retiring
Lightes heav'ns torches with his firing

Harke the maydes and mothers Call thee
All doe eye thee
Hye o hye thee
'Till in thy bed they Close enstall thee
Now now at least
On thy faire breast
Droppe down a teare
Daintie teare ah daintie breast
How a sigh from th' heart exprest
A sigh of feare
Or a sigh of loves desiring
Keepeth down thoughtes too aspiring
Now a daintie blush will grace thee
Thy eyes declining
Fayre eyes divining
Of that Light which straight will Chace thee
Fixe on the grownd
While maydes around
Of Cloathes bereave thee
Thy girdle and thy garters Caching
Spoiles of thy mayden tryumph snaching
And bedded leave thee
A bed that round doeth glad enlace thee
And sinkes with joye soe to embrace thee
A bed the Inne of thowsand toyinges
Feild of Loves fighting
And Loves delighting
Onelie wittenes of their joyinges
Ah why delay yow
In the bed to lay yow
Shortlie this staying
Hee'le avenge with double paying
Then with thowsand kisses
And with thowsand blisses
With preettie smyles and gentle praying
Must redeeme this long delaying

Come O Come thow gentle swaine
Now let loose the bitte and raygne
To thy love soe kindlie heated
Which soe oft she hath defeated
Loose thy flame and just desiring
That long time with inward firing
Vext thy heart thy hopes out-tyring
She that with enchaunted smyling
And sweet lookes thy soule beguiling
She that with bewiching kisses
Robd thy heart of former blisses
And stole thy self out of thine eyes
Now (happie now) there guiltie lies
Guiltie of sweet theeveries

Boldlie thow in Covert shade
The daintie trembling theefe invade
Though with and smyles she pray thee
Noe longer now noe longer stay thee
But first arme thee to the fight
Armes of Love and Loves delight
Are naked armes and spotteles white

First this point I take from thee
The trophie of thy victorie
Which in my hatt ile proudlie beare
And with it this garter weare
Folded in a lovers knotte
And write about this litle Motte
Such the bond of lovers lotte

But now noe more expect yow gentle swaines
The latest act of this sweet Comedie
The remnant of the playe which yet remaynes
Within is to be acted privatelie
Yow onelie owe your Courteous plaudite
But thow great victour of that precious land
Where fayre Hesperides yet safelie keepe
The goulden fruit ne're toucht with envious hand
Though she hir prayres in thowsand artes doe steepe
Then vow and threat, though sweetlie smyle and weepe
Boldlie assaile the fort and mayden tower
Where Hymen yet keepes his unconquered bower
Folded in daintie leaves of purple gylliflower

Ah now beginne those blisses
Beginne that luckie fight
Give the first onsett with delightfull kisses
Not such as sliding light
Onelie salute the brimme
And those faire lippes doe lightlie overswimme
But such as sucke the sprite
From his retyred seate
Which melt in joy and liquidfull delight
Such as with fervent heat Doe prove a flaming lover
Which often kille, but yet as oft recover

Now more boldlie with thy hand
Take possession of that land
First that lovelie Cheeke Command
Lovelie Cheeke where in sweet roses
Sweet delight most sweet reposes
And with white the red Composes
Lower now a while decline
Where the necke with silver shine
Enameld standes in golden twine
Next those two twinne bulwarkes lye
That with open Covering shie
Oft did wound thy wishing eye
'Twixt them lurkes the armed boye
With his bowe and arrowes Coye
With which he robb'd thy former joye

All his wronges now fullie wreake
And his subtill weapons breake
Yet ah gentlie gentlie use them
Whoe for pittie Could abuse them?
Ah yow: daintie breastes whose gyring
Like heavens globes all life enspiring
Breastes as Chast and white as snow
That on highest Alpes doth growe
Breastes as soft and smothe alas
All Comparison yow passe
Softer then Compare and smother
Each as soft and smothe as other
Now must yow learn the proud Command
And touche of the all conquering hand

Now along that lacteall waye
Lower downe down lower stray
And lower still 'till yow survay
That litle world discovered never
Full of riches thine forever
Constantlie thow must persever
Till ah blessed thrice thrice blessed
All hir fortes thow hast oppressed
And art fullie now possessed
Ah noe longer she sustaines
Those feared joyes and hoped paines
But with fainting sweet delayes
And with trembling all betrayes

Tremblinges of a fear'd delight
Tremblinges of a yeilding fight
Tremblinges of a wished spight

Now girt thy sweating browe with Conquering bayes
And tryumphs and victorious trophies raise
Nor ever let that subject province rest
'Till to thy hand she gratefull tribute payes,
A litle nation, whole people blest
Livelie beare portrayd in their lovelie faces
A mixt proportion of each parentes graces
Soe when thow Change this earth for bett skie
Here still yow live spight of mortalitie
And twentiefold surviving onelie single dye

[pp. 21-29]