1615 ca.

The Purple Island. Canto XII.

The Purple Island, or the Isle of Man: Together with Piscatorie Eclogs and other Poeticall Miscellanies. By P. F.

Rev. Phineas Fletcher

In the concluding canto Faith and Knowledge lead the battle, and prove successful until the Dragon spews forth Sin, Despair, and Death, who paralyze the virtuous knights. Eclecta prays to the "Dearest Lord," who blasts the Dragon and ends the conflict.

Robert Anderson: "After exerting his creative powers on this department of his subject, the virtues, and better qualities of the heart, under their leader ECLECTA, or Intellect, are attacked by the vices; a battle ensues, and the latter are vanquished, after a vigorous opposition, through the interposition of an angel, who appears at the prayers of ECLECTA. He here abruptly takes an opportunity of paying a fulsome and unpardonable compliment to James the First (Cant. 12. St. 55), on that account perhaps, the most unpalatable passage in the poem" British Poets (1795) 4:379.

Thomas Campbell: "The conclusion of the Purple Island sinks into such absurdity and adulation, that we could gladly wish the poet back again to allegorising the bladder and kidneys. In a contest about the eternal salvation of the human soul, the event is decided by King James the First (at that time a sinner upon earth) descending from heaven with his treatise on the Revelation under his arm, in the form of an angel, and preceding the Omnipotent, who puts the forces of the dragon to the rout" Specimens (1819; 1845) 81.

Edmund Gosse: "The relation of Phineas Fletcher to Spenser is very close, but the former possesses a distinct personality. He is enamoured to excess of the art of personification, and the allegorical figures he creates in so great abundance are distinct and coherent, with, as a rule, more of Sackville than of Spenser in the evolution of their types" The Jacobean Poets (1894) 149.

Herbert E. Cory: "Often the Vices pretend to yield and then wound their conquerors treacherously. When the Virtues have almost won the field the Old Dragon suddenly marshalls a new loathsome crew: Hamartia (Sin), Despair, like a dead man, with a raven on his crest, armed with ropes and knives, Time, and Death. They work havoc, though Faith, Experience, and Hope rally the drooping Virtues. Suddenly an Angel with a silver trumpet drops into their midst. The Old Dragon knows his doom but rushes fiercely against his foe in blinding arms. He is wounded and bound. Now is the time of festival. Eclecta, long widowed, welcomes her bridegroom, Christ, who is described with all the pagan rapture of the Canticles, or as an Italian poet of the Renaissance wold limn an Adonis" "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (1912) 323." "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (1912) 323-24.

Thomas Warton imitates the opening stanzas in The Hamlet. Written in Whichwood Forest, in Poems (1777).

The shepherds guarded from the sparkling heat
Of blazing aire, upon the flowrie banks,
(Where various flowers damask the fragrant seat,
And all the grove perfume) in wonted ranks
Securely sit them down, and sweetly play:
At length thus Thirsil ends his broken lay,
Lest that the stealing night his later song might stay.

Thrice, oh thrice happie shepherds life and state,
When Courts are happinesse unhappie pawns!
His cottage low, and safely humble gate
Shuts out proud fortune, with her scorns, and fawns:
No feared treason breaks his quiet sleep:
Singing all day, his flocks he learns to keep;
Himself as innocent as are his simple sheep.

No Serian worms he knows, that with their threed
Draw out their silken lives; nor silken pride:
His lambes warm fleece well fits his little need,
Not in that proud Sidonian tincture di'd:
No emptie hopes, no courtly fears him fright;
No begging wants his middle fortune bite:
But sweet content exiles both miserie and spite.

In stead of musick and base flattering tongues,
Which wait to first-salute my Lords uprise;
The cheerfull lark wakes him with early songs,
And birds sweet whistling notes unlock his eyes:
In countrey playes is all the strife he uses,
Or sing, or dance unto the rurall Muses;
And but in musicks sports, all difference refuses.

His certain life, that never can deceive him,
Is full of thousand sweets, and rich content:
The smooth-leav'd beeches in the field receive him
With coolest shades, till noon-tides rage is spent:
His life is neither tost in boist'rous seas
Of troublous world, nor lost in slothfull ease:
Pleas'd and full blest he lives, when he his God can please.

His bed of wool yeelds safe and quiet sleeps,
While by his side his faithfull spouse hath place:
His little sonne into his bosome creeps,
The lively picture of his fathers face:
Never his humble house or state torment him;
Lesse he could like, if lesse his God had sent him:
And when he dies, green turfs with grassie tombe content him.

The worlds great Light his lowly state hath blest,
And left his heav'n to be a shepherd base:
Thousand sweet songs he to his pipe addrest:
Swift rivers stood; beasts, trees, stones ranne apace,
And serpents flew to heare his softest strains:
He fed his flock, where rolling Jordan reignes;
There took our rags, gave us his robes, and bore our pains.

Then thou high Light, whom shepherds low adore,
Teach me, oh do thou teach thy humble swain
To raise my creeping song from earthly floor:
Fill thou my empty breast with loftie strain;
That singing of thy warres and dreadfull fight,
My notes may thunder out thy conqu'ring might,
And 'twixt the golden starres cut out her towring flight.

The mightie Generall moved with the news
Of those foure famous Knights so neare decay,
With hastie speed the conquering foe pursues;
At last he spies where they were led away,
Forc't to obey the Victours proud commands:
Soon did he rush into the middle bands,
And cut the slavish cords from their captived hands.

And for the Knights were faint, he quickly sent
To Penitence, whom Phoebus taught his art;
Which she had eakt with long experiment:
For many a soul, and many a wounded heart
Had she restor'd, and brought to life again
The broken spirit, with grief and horrour slain;
That oft reviv'd, yet di'd as oft with smarting pain.

For she in severall baths their wounds did steep;
The first of Rue which purg'd the foul infection,
And cur'd the deepest wound, by wounding deep:
Then would she make another strange confection,
And mix it with Nepenthe soveraigne;
Wherewith she quickly swag'd the rankling pain:
Thus she the Knights recur'd, and washt from sinfull stain.

Mean time the fight now fiercer grows then ever:
(For all his troops the Dragon hither drew)
The two Twin-Loves, whom no place mought dissever,
And Knowledge with his train begins anew
To strike fresh summons up, and hot alarms:
In midst great Fido, clad in sunne-like arms,
With his unmatched force repairs all former harms.

So when the Sunne shines in bright Taurus head,
Returning tempests all with winter fill;
And still successive storms fresh mustered
The timely yeare in his first springings kill:
And oft it breathes a while, then straight again
Doubly powres out his spite in smoking rain:
The countreys vows and hopes swimme on the drowned plain.

The lovely Twinnes ride 'gainst the Cyprian bands,
Chasing their troops now with no feigned flight:
Their broken shafts lie scatter'd on the sands,
Themselves for fear quite vanisht out of sight:
Against these conquerours Hypocrisie,
And Cosm[os'] hated bands, with Ecthros slie,
And all that rout do march, and bold the Twinnes defie.

Elpinus mightie enemies assail;
But Doubt of all the other most infested;
That oft his fainting courage 'gan to fail,
More by his craft then ods of force molested:
For oft the treachour chang'd his weapon light,
And sudden alter'd his first kinde of fight,
And oft himself and shape transform'd with cunning slight.

So that great river, with Alcides striving
In Oeneus court for the Aetolian Maid,
To divers shapes his fluent limbes contriving,
From manly form in serpents frame he staid,
Sweeping with speckled breast the dustie land;
Then like a bull with horns did armed stand:
His hanging dewlap trail'd along the golden sand.

Such shapes and changing fashions much dismaid him,
That oft he stagger'd with unwonted fright;
And but his brother Fido oft did aid him,
There had he fell in unacquainted fight:
But he would still his wavering strength maintain,
And chase that Monster through the sandie plain;
Which from him fled apace, but oft return'd again.

Yet him more strong and cunning foes withstand,
Whom he with greater skill and strength defi'd:
Foul Ignorance, with all her owl-ey'd band;
Oft-starting Fear, Distrust ne're satisfi'd,
And fond Suspect, and thousand other foes;
Whom farre he drives with his unequall blows,
And with his flaming sword their fainting armie mows.

As when bloud-guilty earth for vengeance cries,
(If greatest things with lesse we may compare)
The mighty Thunderer through the ayer flies,
While snatching whirlwinds open waies prepare:
Dark clouds spread out their sable curtains o're him;
And Angels on their flaming wings up bore him:
Mean time the guilty heav'ns for fear flie fast before him.

There while he on the windes proud pineons rides,
Down with his fire some lofty mount he throwes,
And fills the low vale with his ruin'd sides;
Or on some church his three-forkt dart bestowes;
(Which yet his sacred worship foul mistakes)
Down falls the spire, the body fearfull quakes;
Nor sure to fall, or stand, with doubtfull trembling shakes.

With Fido Knowledge went, who order'd right
His mighty hands: so now his scatter'd troops
Make head again, filling their broken fight;
While with new change the Dragons armie droops,
And from the following victours headlong runne:
Yet still the Dragon frustrates what is done;
And eas'ly makes them lose what they so hardly wonne.

Out of his gorge a hellish smoke he drew,
That all the field with foggie mist enwraps;
As when Tiphoeus from his panch doth spew
Black smothering flames, roll'd in loud thunder-claps:
The pitchie vapours choke the shining ray,
And bring dull night upon the smiling day;
The wavering Aetna shakes, and fain would runne away.

Yet could his bat-ey'd legions eas'ly see
In this dark Chaos; they the seed of night:
But these not so, who night and darknesse flee;
For they the sonnes of day, and joy in light:
But Knowledge soon began a way devise,
To bring again the day, and cleare their eyes:
So open'd Fido's shield, and golden veil unties.

Of one pure diamond, celestiall fair,
That heav'nly shield by cunning hand was made;
Whose light divine, spred through the mistie aire,
To brightest morn would turn the Western shade,
And lightsome day beget before his time;
Framed in heav'n without all earthly crime;
Dipt in the firy Sunne, which burnt the baser slime.

As when from fennie moors the lumpish clouds
With rising steams damp the bright mornings face;
At length the piercing Sunne his team unshrouds,
And with his arrows th' idle fogge doth chase:
The broken mist lies melted all in tears:
So this bright shield the stinking darknesse teares,
And giving back the day, dissolves their former fears.

Which when afarre the firie Dragon spies,
His slights deluded with so little pain;
To his last refuge now at length he flies:
Long time his pois'nous gorge he seem'd to strain;
At length with loathly sight he up doth spue
From stinking panch a most deformed crue,
That heav'n it self did flie from their most ugly view.

The first that crept from his detested maw,
Was Hamartia, foul deformed wight;
More foul, deform'd, the Sunne yet never saw;
Therefore she hates the all-betraying light:
A woman seem'd she in her upper part;
To which she could such lying glosse impart,
That thousands she had slain with her deceiving art.

The rest (though hid) in serpents form arayd,
With iron scales, like to a plaited mail:
Over her back her knotty tail displaid,
Along the empty aire did lofty sail:
The end was pointed with a double sting,
Which with such dreaded might she wont to fling,
That nought could help the wound, but bloud of heav'nly King.

Of that first woman her the Dragon got,
(The foulest bastard of so fair a mother)
Whom when she saw so fil'd with monstrous spot,
She cast her hidden shame and birth to smother;
But she welnigh her mothers self had slain:
And all that dare her kindely entertain;
So some parts of her damme, more of her sire remain.

Her viperous locks hung loose about her eares;
Yet with a monstrous snake she them restrains,
Which like a border on her head she wears:
About her neck hang down long adder chains,
In thousand knots, and wreaths infolded round;
Which in her anger lightly she unbound,
And darting farre away would sure and deadly wound.

Yet fair and lovely seems to fools dimme eyes;
But hell more lovely, Pluto's self more fair
Appeares, when her true form true light descries:
Her loathsome face, blancht skinne, and snakie hair,
Her shapelesse shape, dead life, her carrion smell,
The devils dung, the childe and damme of hell,
Is chaffer fit for fools their precious souls to sell.

The second in this rank was black Despair,
Bred in the dark wombe of eternall Night:
His looks fast nail'd to Sinne, long sootie hair
Fill'd up his lank cheeks with wide-staring fright:
His leaden eyes, retir'd into his head,
Light, heav'n, and earth, himself, and all things fled:
A breathing coarse he seem'd, wrapt up in living lead.

His bodie all was fram'd of earthly paste,
And heavie mold; yet earth could not content him:
Heav'n fast he flies, and heav'n fled him as fast;
Though 'kin to hell, yet hell did much torment him:
His very soul was nought but ghastly fright:
With him went many a fiend, and ugly sprite,
Armed with ropes and knives, all instruments of spite.

In stead of feathers, on his dangling crest
A lucklesse Raven spred her blackest wings;
And to her croaking throat gave never rest,
But deathfull verses and sad dirges sings:
His hellish arms were all with fiends embost,
Who damned souls with endlesse torments roast,
And thousand wayes devise to vex the tortur'd ghost.

Two weapons sharp as death he ever bore;
Strict Judgement, which from farre he deadly darts;
Sinne at his side, a two edg'd sword, he wore,
With which he soon appalls the stoutest hearts:
Upon his shield Alecto with a wreath
Of snakie whips the damn'd souls tortureth:
And round about was wrote, Reward of sinne is death.

The last two brethren were farre different,
Onely in common name of death agreeing;
The first arm'd with a sithe still mowing went;
Yet whom, and when he murder'd, never seeing;
Born deaf, and blinde: nothing might stop his way:
No prayers, no vows his keenest sithe could stay;
Nor Beauties self his spite, nor Vertues self allay.

No state, no age, no sex may hope to move him;
Down falls the young, and old, the boy, and maid:
Nor begger can intreat, nor King reprove him;
All are his slaves in's cloth of flesh araid:
The bride he snatches from the bridegrooms arms,
And horrour brings, in midst of loves alarms:
Too well we know his power by long experienc't harms.

A dead mans skull suppli'd his helmets place,
A bone his club, his armour sheets of lead:
Some more, some lesse fear his all-frighting face;
But most who sleep in downie pleasures bed:
But who in life have daily learnt to die,
And dead to this, live to a life more high;
Sweetly in death they sleep, and slumbring quiet lie.

The second farre more foul in every part,
Burnt with blue fire, and bubbling sulphure streams;
Which creeping round about him, fill'd with smart
His cursed limbes, that direly he blasphemes:
Most strange it seems, that burning thus for ever,
No rest, no time, no place these flames may sever:
Yet death in thousand deaths without death dieth never.

Soon as these hellish monsters came in sight,
The Sunne his eye in jettie vapours drown'd,
Scar'd at such hell-hounds view; heav'ns 'mazed light
Sets in an early evening; earth astound,
Bids dogs with houls give warning: at which sound
The fearfull ayer starts, seas break their bound,
And frighted fled away; no sands might them impound.

The palsied troop first (like asps shaken) fare;
Till now their heart, congeal'd in icie bloud,
Candied the ghastly face; locks stand and stare:
Thus charm'd, in ranks of stone they marshall'd stood:
Their uselesse swords fell idlely on the plain,
And now the triumph sounds in loftie strain;
So conqu'ring Dragon bindes the Knights with slavish chain.

As when proud Phineus in his brothers feast
Fill'd all with tumult, and intestine broil;
Wise Perseus, with such multitudes opprest,
Before him bore the snakie Gorgons spoil:
The vulgar rude stood all in marble chang'd,
And in vain ranks and rockie order rang'd,
Were now more quiet guests, from former rage estrang'd.

The fair Eclecta, who with grief had stood,
Viewing th' oft changes of this doubtfull fight,
Saw now the field swimme in her Champions bloud,
And from her heart, rent with deep passion, sigh'd;
Limming true sorrow in sad silent art.
Light grief floats on the tongue; but heavie smart
Sinks down, and deeply lies in centre of the heart.

What Daedal art such griefs can truely shew,
Broke heart, deep sighs, thick sobs, and burning prayers,
Baptizing ever[y] limbe in weeping dew?
Whose swoln eyes, pickled up in brinie tears,
Crystalline rocks, corall the lid appeares,
Compast about with tides of grief and fears;
Where grief stores fear with sighs, and fear stores grief with tears.

At length sad Sorrow, mounted on the wings
Of loud-breath'd sighs, his leaden weight uprears;
And vents it self in softest whisperings,
Follow'd with deadly grones, usher'd by tears:
While her fair hands, and watrie shining eyes
Were upward bent upon the mourning skies,
Which seem'd with cloudie brow her grief to sympathize.

Long while the silent passion, wanting vent,
Made flowing tears her words, and eyes her tongue;
Till Faith, Experience, Hope assistance lent
To shut both floud-gates up with patience strong:
The streams well ebb'd, new hopes some comforts borrow
From firmest truth; then glimpst the hopefull morrow:
So spring some dawns of joy, so sets the night of sorrow.

Ah dearest Lord, my hearts sole Soveraigne,
Who sitt'st high mounted on thy burning throne;
Heark from thy heav'ns, where thou dost safely reigne,
Cloth'd with the golden Sunne, and silver Moon:
Cast down a while thy sweet and gracious eye,
And low avail that flaming Majestie,
Deigning thy gentle sight on our sad miserie.

To thee, deare Lord, I lift this watrie eye,
This eye which thou so oft in love hast prais'd;
This eye with which thou wounded oft wouldst die;
To thee (deare Lord) these suppliant hands are rais'd:
These to be lilies thou hast often told me;
Which if but once again may ever hold thee,
Will never let thee loose, will never more unfold thee.

Seest how thy foes despitefull trophies reare,
Too confident in thy prolong'd delayes?
Come then, oh quickly come, my dearest deare:
When shall I see thee crown'd with conqu'ring bayes,
And all thy foes trod down, and spred as clay?
When shall I see thy face, and glories ray?
Too long thou stay'st, my Love; come Love, no longer stay

Hast thou forgot thy former word and love,
Or lockt thy sweetnesse up in fierce disdain?
In vain didst thou those thousand mischiefs prove?
Are all those griefs, thy birth, life, death in vain?
Oh no; of ill thou onely dost repent thee,
And in thy dainty mercies most content thee:
Then why with stay so long so long dost thou torment me?

Reviving Cordiall of my dying sprite,
The best Elixar for souls drooping pain;
Ah now unshade thy face, uncloud thy sight;
See, every way's a trap, each path's a train:
Hells troops my soul beleaguer; bow thine eares,
And hear my cries pierce through my grones and fears:
Sweet Spouse, see not my sinnes, but through my plaints and tears.

Let frailty favour, sorrow succour move;
Anchour my life in thy calm streams of bloud:
Be thou my rock, though I poore changeling rove,
Tost up and down in waves of worldly floud:
Whil'st I in vale of tears at anchour ride,
Where windes of earthly thoughts my sails misguide,
Harbour my fleshly bark safe in thy wounded side.

Take, take my contrite heart, thy sacrifice,
Washt in her eyes that swimmes and sinks in woes:
See, see, as seas with windes high working rise,
So storm, so rage, so gape thy boasting foes.
Deare Spouse, unlesse thy right hand even steers,
Oh if thou anchour not these threatning fears;
Thy ark will sail as deep in bloud, as now in tears.

With that a thundring noise seem'd shake the skie,
As when with iron wheels through stonie plain
A thousand chariots to the battell flie;
Or when with boistrous rage the swelling main,
Puft up with mighty windes, does hoarsly roar;
And beating with his waves the trembling shore,
His sandie girdle scorns, and breaks earths ramperd doore.

And straight an Angel full of heav'nly might,
(Three severall crowns circled his royall head)
From Northern coast heaving his blazing light,
Through all the earth his glorious beams dispread,
And open laies the Beasts and Dragons shame:
For to this end th' Almighty did him frame,
And therefore from supplanting gave his ominous name.

A silver trumpet oft he loudly blew,
Frighting the guiltie earth with thundring knell;
And oft proclaim'd, as through the world he flew,
Babel, great Babel lies as low as hell:
Let every Angel loud his trumpet sound,
Her heav'n-exalted towers in dust are drown'd:
Babel, proud Babel's fall'n, and lies as low as ground.

The broken heav'ns dispart with fearfull noise,
And from the breach out shoots a suddain light;
Straight shrilling trumpets with loud sounding voice
Give echoing summons to new bloudy fight:
Well knew the Dragon that all-quelling blast,
And soon perceiv'd that day must be his last;
Which strook his frighted heart, and all his troops aghast.

Yet full of malice and of stubborn pride,
Though oft had strove, and had been foild as oft,
Boldly his death and certain fate defi'd:
And mounted on his flaggie sails aloft,
With boundlesse spite he long'd to try again
A second losse, and new death; glad and fain
To shew his pois'nous hate, though ever shew'd in vain.

So up he rose upon his stretched sails,
Fearlesse expecting his approaching death:
So up he rose, that th' ayer starts, and fails,
And over-pressed sinks his load beneath:
So up he rose, as does a thunder-cloud,
Which all the earth with shadows black does shroud:
So up he rose, and through the weary ayer row'd.

Now his Almighty foe farre off he spies;
Whose Sun-like arms daz'd the eclipsed day,
Confounding with their beams lesse-glitt'ring skies,
Firing the aire with more then heav'nly ray;
Like thousand Sunnes in one: such is their light;
A subject onely for immortall sprite,
Which never can be seen, but by immortall sight.

His threatning eyes shine like that dreadfull flame,
With which the Thunderer arms his angry hand:
Himself had fairly wrote his wondrous name,
Which neither earth nor heav'n could understand:
A hundred crowns, like towers, beset around
His conqu'ring head: well may they there abound,
When all his limbes and troops with gold are richly crown'd.

His armour all was dy'd in purple bloud;
(In purple bloud of thousand rebell Kings)
In vain their stubborn powers his arm withstood:
Their proud necks chain'd he now in triumph brings,
And breaks their spears, and cracks their traitour swords
Upon whose arms and thigh, in golden words
Was fairly writ, The KING of Kings, and LORD of Lords.

His snow-white steed was born of heav'nly kinde,
Begot by Boreas on the Thracian hills;
More strong and speedy then his parent Winde:
And (which his foes with fear and horrour fills)
Out from his mouth a two-edg'd sword he darts;
Whose sharpest steel the bone and marrow parts,
And with his keenest point unbreasts the naked hearts.

The Dragon, wounded with this flaming brand,
They take, and in strong bonds and fetters tie:
Short was the fight, nor could he long withstand
Him, whose appearance is his victorie.
So now he's bound in adamantine chain;
He storms, he roars, he yells for high disdain:
His net is broke, the fowl go free, the fowler ta'ne.

Thence by a mighty Swain he soon was led
Unto a thousand thousand torturings:
His tail, whose folds were wont the starres to shed,
Now stretcht at length, close to his belly clings:
Soon as the pit he sees, he back retires,
And battel new, but all in vain, respires:
So there he deeply lies, flaming in icie fires.

As when Alcides from forc't hell had drawn
The three-head dog, and master'd all his pride;
Basely the fiend did on his Victour fawn,
With serpent tail clapping his hollow side:
At length arriv'd upon the brink of light,
He shuts the day out of his dullard sight,
And swelling all in vain renews unhappie fight.

Soon at this sight the Knights revive again,
As fresh as when the flowers from winter tombe
(When now the Sunne brings back his nearer wain)
Peep out again from their fresh mothers wombe:
The primrose lighted new, her flame displayes,
And frights the neighbour hedge with firie rayes:
And all the world renew their mirth and sportive playes.

The Prince, who saw his long imprisonment
Now end in never-ending libertie;
To meet the Victour, from his castle went,
And falling down, clasping his royall knee,
Poures out deserved thanks in gratefull praise:
But him the heav'nly Saviour soon doth raise,
And bids him spend in joy his never spending dayes.

The fair Eclecta, that with widowed brow
Her absent Lord long mourn'd in sad aray,
Now silken linnen cloth'd like frozen snow,
Whose silver spanglets sparkle 'gainst the day:
This shining robe her Lord himself had wrought,
While he her love with hundred presents sought,
And it with many a wound, and many a torment bought.

And thus arayd, her heav'nly beauties shin'd
(Drawing their beams from his most glorious face)
Like to a precious Jasper, pure refin'd;
Which with a Crystall mixt, much mends his grace:
The golden starres a garland fair did frame,
To crown her locks; the Sunne lay hid for shame,
And yeelded all his beams to her more glorious flame.

Ah who that flame can tell? ah who can see?
Enough is me with silence to admire;
While bolder joy, and humb[l]e majestie
In either cheek had kindled gracefull fire:
Long silent stood she, while her former fears
And griefs ran all away in sliding tears;
That like a watrie Sunne her gladsome face appeares.

At length when joyes had left her closer heart,
To seat themselves upon her thankfull tongue;
First in her eyes they sudden flashes dart,
Then forth i' th' musick of her voice they throng;
My Hope, my Love, my Joy, my Life, my Blisse,
(Whom to enjoy is heav'n, but hell to misse)
What are the worlds false joyes, what heav'ns true joyes to this?

Ah dearest Lord! does my rapt soul behold thee?
Am I awake? and sure I do not dream?
Do these thrice blessed arms again infold thee?
Too much delight makes true things feigned seem.
Thee, thee I see; thou, thou thus folded art:
For deep thy stamp is printed in my heart,
And thousand ne're-felt joyes stream in each melting part.

Thus with glad sorrow did she sweetly plain her,
Upon his neck a welcome load depending;
While he with equall joy did entertain her,
Her self, her Champions, highly all commending:
So all in triumph to his palace went,
Whose work in narrow words may not be pent;
For boundlesse thought is lesse then is that glorious tent.

There sweet delights, which know nor end, nor measure;
No chance is there, nor eating times succeeding:
No wastfull spending can empair their treasure;
Pleasure full grown, yet ever freshly breeding:
Fulnesse of sweets excludes not more receiving:
The soul still big of joy, yet still conceiving;
Beyond slow tongues report, beyond quick thoughts perceiving.

There are they gone, there will they ever bide;
Swimming in waves of joyes, and heav'nly lov[ing]:
He still a Bridegroom, she a gladsome Bride;
Their hearts in love, like spheres still constant moving:
No change, no grief, no age can them befall:
Their bridall bed is in that heav'nly hall,
Where all dayes are but one, and onely one is all.

And as in state they thus in triumph ride,
The boyes and damsels their just praises chaunt;
The boyes the Bridegroom sing, the maids the Bride,
While all the hills glad Hymens loudly vaunt:
Heav'ns winged shoals, greeting this glorious spring,
Attune their higher notes, and Hymens sing:
Each thought to passe, and each did passe thoughts loftiest wing.

Upon his lightning brow Love proudly sitting
Flames out in power, shines out in majestie;
There all his loftie spoils and trophies fitting,
Displayes the marks of highest Deitie:
There full of strength in lordly arms he stands,
And every heart, and every soul commands:
No heart, no soul his strength and lordly force withstands.

Upon her forehead thousand cheerfull Graces,
Seated in thrones of spotlesse ivorie;
There gentle Love his armed hand unbraces,
His bow unbent disclaims all tyrannie:
There by his play a thousand souls beguiles,
Perswading more by simple modest smiles,
Then ever he could force by arms, or craftie wiles.

Upon her cheek doth Beauties self implant
The freshest garden of her choicest flowers;
On which if Envie might but glance ascant,
Her eyes would swell, and burst, and melt in showers:
Thrice fairer both then ever fairest ey'd.
Heav'n never such a Bridegroom yet descri'd;
Nor ever earth so fair, so undefil'd a Bride.

Full of his Father shines his glorious face,
As farre the Sunne surpassing in his light,
As doth the Sunne the earth with flaming blaze:
Sweet influence streams from his quickning sight:
His beams from nought did all this All display;
And when to lesse then nought they fell away,
He soon restor'd again by his new orient ray.

All heav'n shines forth in her sweet faces frame:
Her seeing Starres (which we miscall bright eyes)
More bright then is the mornings brightest flame,
More fruitfull then the May-time Geminies:
These back restore the timely summers fire;
Those springing thoughts in winter hearts inspire,
Inspiriting dead souls, and quickning warm desire.

These two fair Sunnes in heav'nly sphere are plac't,
Where in the centre Joy triumphing sits:
Thus in all high perfections fully grac't,
Her mid-day blisse no future night admits;
But in the mirrours of her Spouses eyes
Her fairest self she dresses; there where lies
All sweets, a glorious beautie to emparadize.

His locks like ravens plumes, or shining jet,
Fall down in curls along his ivory neck;
Within their circlets hundred Graces set,
And with love-knots their comely hangings deck:
His mighty shoulders, like that Giant Swain,
All heav'n and earth, and all in both sustain;
Yet knows no wearinesse, nor feels oppressing pain.

Her amber hair, like to the sunnie ray,
With gold enamels fair the silver white;
There heav'nly loves their prettie sportings play,
Firing their darts in that wide flaming light:
Her daintie neck, spread with that silver mold,
Where double beautie doth it self unfold,
In th' own fair silver shines, and fairer borrow'd gold.

His breast a rock of purest alabaster,
Where Loves self sailing shipwrackt often sitteth;
Hers a twinne-rock, unknown, but to th' ship-master;
Which harbours him alone, all other splitteth.
Where better could her love then here have nested?
Or he his thoughts then here more sweetly feasted?
Then both their love and thoughts in each are ever rested.

Runne now you shepherd-swains; ah run you thither,
Where this fair Bridegroom leads the blessed way:
And haste you lovely maids, haste you together
With this sweet Bride; while yet the sunne-shine day
Guides your blinde steps, while yet loud summons call,
That every wood and hill resounds withall,
Come Hymen, Hymen come, drest in thy golden pall.

The sounding Echo back the musick flung,
While heav'nly spheres unto the voices playd.
But see, the day is ended with my song,
And sporting bathes with that fair Ocean Maid:
Stoop now thy wing, my Muse, now stoop thee low:
Hence mayst thou freely play, and rest thee now;
While here I hang my pipe upon the willow bough.

So up they rose, while all the shepherds throng
With their loud pipes a countrey triumph blew,
And led their Thirsil home with joyfull song:
Mean time the lovely Nymphs with garlands new
His locks in Bay and honour'd Palm-tree bound,
With Lilies set, and Hyacinths around;
And Lord of all the yeare, and their May-sportings crown'd.

[Boas (1909) 2:151-71]