1615
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sicelides. A Piscatory.

Sicelides. A Piscatory.

Rev. Phineas Fletcher


Phineas Fletcher's pastoral drama was performed in 1615 and anonymously published in 1631.

Gerard Langbaine: "The Serious parts of this Play, are most writ in Verse; with Chorus's between the Acts. Perindus, telling to Armillus the Story of Glaucus, Scylla, and Circe, Act 1. Sc. 4. is taken from Ovid's Met. lib. 13. Atychus fighting with, and killing the Ork, that was to have devoured Olynda, is an Imitation of Perseus and Andromeda, Ovid. Met. lib. 4. or else Orlando Furioso, Book eleventh" Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691) 548.

W. W. Greg: "The language betrays, as in the case of the author's eclogues, a pseudo-archaism, which points, particularly in such phrases as 'doe ycleape,' to a perhaps unfortunate study of Spenser" Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama (1906) 347

E. Felix Schelling: "In Sicelides, Olinda, a fair maiden, is doomed, like Andromeda, to be devoured by a sea-monster, here called by the good old English word an 'orke.' She is rescued by Thalander, a lover, now disguised, whom she had scorned. She is practiced against by Cosma, a wicked and envious witch; and oracles, wanderings, enchantments, and 'desamours' (the opposite of love-philters) enter into the intricate plot" Elizabethan Drama (1908) 2:165.

Henry Marion Hall: "The uniformly serious tone of the eclogues, so different from the sly humour which colors some of the Italian marine pastorals, distinguishes them from Fletcher's 'Sicelides,' written for presentation before King James at the university. The lively action and interesting characterization which distinguish the play form the rather dull manner of the piscatory eclogues, may be explained in part by the nature of some productions which immediately preceded the drama. Samuel Daniel's eclogue, 'Ulysses and the Siren' may have suggested to William Browne the theme for his 'Inner Temple Masque' (1614), in which the wiles of the sea-maiden and the evasions of the crafty Greek furnish humorous situations not unlike those treated by Calderon in 'El Golfo de las Sirenas.' The farcical element in Fletcher's drama contains touches perhaps inspired by the 'Tempest,' of which the lines descriptive of the hideous creature of the island furnish the most conspicuous example, and we may assume that Fletcher had in mind a second Caliban" Idylls of Fishermen (1944) 130-31.

Abram Barnett Langdale: "Some half dozen colleges were preparing plays to be presented upon each night of the king's stay. The university, ready to move heaven and earth in an effort to please the king, regarded these dramas as her supreme offering. They were impressive enough, being staged before and audience of two thousand persons that included the most distinguished figures of the academic, ecclesiastic, and political spheres. The contribution of King's was scheduled for the final night, the grand climax. How much it must have meant to Phineas Fletcher to be chosen its author!" Phineas Fletcher (1937) 69.

William Wells: "The verbal parallels are not close, and the ideas expressed are general" Spenser Allusions (1972) 181.



Happy happie Fishers swaine[s]
If that yee knew your happines;
Your sport tasts sweeter by your paines,
Sure hope your labour relishes;
Your net your living, when you eate
Labour finds appetite and meat.

When the seas and tempest roare
You eyther sleepe or pipe or play,
And dance along the golden shore:
Thus you spend the night and day;
Shrill windes a pipe, hoarse seas a taber
To fit your sports or ease your labour.

First ah first the holy Muse
Rap't my soules most happy eyes,
Who in those holy groves doe use
And learne those sacred misteries
The yeares and months, old age and birth,
The palsies of the trembling earth.

The flowing of the sea and Moone
And ebbe of both, and how the tides
Sinke in themselves and backward run.
How palled Cynthia closely slides,
Stealing her brother from our sight,
So robs herself and him of light.

But if cold natures frozen parts,
My dull slow heart and cloudie braine,
Cannot reach those heavenly [ar]ts,
Next happie is the fishers paine
Whose lo[w] roofes peace doe safely hide
And shut out fortune, want and pride.

There shall I quiet fearelesse raigne,
My boyes my subjects taught submission,
[A b]o[a]t my court, my sonnes my traine,
Nets my purvaiors of provision,
The steere my sceptre, pipe musition,
Labour my Phisicke, no Phisitian.

So shall I laugh the angry seas and skie:
Thus singing may I live, and singing die.

[Chorus, Act II, Scene 8; Boas (1908-09) 1:212-13]