1621
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Song of Songs.

The Song of Songs, which was Salomons, metaphrased in English Heroiks by way of Dialogue. With certayne of the Brides Ornaments, viz. Poeticall Essayes upon a Divine Subject. Whereunto is added a Funerall Elegie, consecrate to the Memorie of that ever honoured Lord, John, Late Bishop of London. By R. A.

Robert Aylett


In Spenserians, by "R. A.," one of the few seventeenth-century followers of Spenser to adopt the stanza of The Faerie Queene.

F. M. Padelford: "The Song of Songs consists of an Argument, and a chapter-by-chapter translation, with a proem for each chapter. The translation is in 39 stanzas, all Spenserian, with the exception of the final stanzas of chapters one and seven, which are abridged Spenserian stanzas, ababbb and ababb, the last line of each being an Alexandrine. The translation is followed by four stanzas of pious reflection on the marriage-feast of the Heavenly Bridegroom and his Bride" "Robert Aylett" (1936) 3.

A number of revisions were made prior to the 1654 edition.

Thomas Warton notes that in addition to Spenser's lost poem on this subject, "there were numerous versions of Solomon's SONG before the year 1600; and perhaps no portion of scripture was selected with more propriety to be clothed in verse" History of English Poetry (1774-81, 1840) 3:262.



THE ARGUMENT.
My Muse, that whilome, swayd by lust of youth,
Did spend her strength in idle wanton toyes,
Now viewes her vanity, with mickle ruth,
And as awak'd doth seek for solid joys,
Such as pure soules to blessednesse convoyes:
This is the cause why she so much doth long,
His grace implor'd who in a mighty noyse
Appear'd in cloven tongues, to teach my tongue
To sing these sacred mysteries, this SALOMON'S song.

CHAP. I.
The Churches Love to Christ shee doth defend,
And cleere her selfe from all indignitie:
She cals her Spouse, who shews what way to wend,
They both delight in sweet communitie.

CHURCH.
With kisses of thy mouth doe thou me kisse:
Thy Love is better unto me then wine,
Thine oyntments savour good and pleasant is,
A sweet perfume is that blest Name of thine,
Therefore the Maydes all in thy Love combine.
Oh draw me, and we after thee will run,
If to thy treasures thou our hearts incline,
We will rejoyce, and in that joy begun
We will recount thy loves with all that errors shun:

Scorn me not (Sions Nymphes) though I seeme browne
For I am faire and comely, as a Rose,
I (till Sunnes scorching beames on me did frowne,)
Was like those that in Salomons tents repose:
My Mothers sonnes my beauty did expose
To the Sunnes heate, and raging, me abjected,
So did they me a baser way dispose
To keep strange Vineyards not to be respected,
Whil'st mine (ay me) lay unmanur'd quite neglected.

Oh tell me where, thou whom my soule doth love
Thou feed'st thy Sheepe, and rests them at noone day:
For why alas should I a strang'er prove,
And feed my flocks with them that goe astray:
CHRIST.
Fairest of mayds, since thou know'st not the way
Tread not in steps that into errours move;
But leade thou forth thy Kids to leape and play
Upon the hills, the Shepheards tents above,
To Pharaohs Hoste and Charrets I compare my Love,

Thy comely cheekes are deckt with orient stones,
Thine iv'ry neck with spangles all is graced,
Yet will we make thee farre more precious ones
Of gold and silver joyntly enterlaced.
CHURCH.
When as my King is at the table placed,
He sends forth smels most odoriferous:
By night he's like a bunch of Myrrhe embraced
My Love is like a Cypresse berry'd bush,
Which in the gardens of Engaddi men doe crush.

CHRIST.
Fair is my Love, behold my Love is faier,
Thine eyes are like the eyes of turtle dove,
CHURCH.
And my beloved is most debonaire,
Pleasant and fruitfull flourishing in love:
Our house with Cedars all is feel'd above,
And all our walkes are planted like a Cypresse grove,

CHAP. II.
Their mutuall commendation, and their feast:
His fainting Spouse with love Christ doth refresh;
He calls her forth to Gardens neately drest,
The Church doth Faith and Hope in him professe.

CHURCH.
I am the field-Rose and the Lilly white,

CHRIST.
Ev'n as a Lilly which the thorns do throng,
So's my Love amongst the daughters dight:

CHURCH.
And as an Apple tree the woods among,
So's my belov'd mongst men. Oh how I long
Under his pleasing shadow to abide!
His fruit delightfull is unto my tongue,
He sets me at the banquet by his side,
And with sweete love as with a Banner doth me guide.

Stay me with flagons, comfort me with smells
Of fragrant Apples; I am sicke of love,
His right arme with embracements me compells;
About my necke he doth his left hand move.
O Daughters of Hierusalem above
I charge you, by the Roes, and champaine hind,
You stirre not to displease, or wake my love:
I heare his voice, behold he comes behind,
And leapes and skips o're hils and mountaynes like the wind.

Like pleasant Roe, and like a youthfull Hart,
Is my belov'd: he stands behinde the wall,
And from the window beames of love doth dart:
See through the lattice he to me doth call,

CHRIST.
Oh come my love (the fairest above all)
The Winter's past, the Summer is at hand,
The Birds doe chirpe, the rayne doth cease to fall,
The earth embellisht all with flowers doth stand,
And eke the turtles voyce is sounded in our land;

The Fig-tree putteth forth her blossomes green,
The tender blooming Vines do sweetly smell,
Arise my love, the fairest to be seene,
My Dove, that in the cliffes of Rockes dost dwell,
Come from the secret corners of thy Cell,
Oh, thy sweete countenance to me unfold,
And let me heare thy voyce, that sounds so well.
Thy voyce is pleasanter then can be told,
And eke thy countenance most comely to behold.

Take Foxes, little Foxes, which the Vine
Do spoil, the Vines that tender Grapes do beare,

CHURCH.
My well-beloved is mine, I am his Make,
Alone amongst the Lillies feedes my deere,
Untill the shadow's flye and day appeare.
Turne my belov'd, and be thou like the Roe,
And Hart, that on the Mountaynes here and there,
Like youthful Harts that in Mount Bether goe,
And like the Hinds and Roes that there make goodly show.

CHAP. III.
The Church her Spouse in bed doth seeke, not find;
She doth arise, and seekes him in broad wayes;
The watchmen askes: At length with joy of mind,
She finds him out, and glories in his praise.

CHURCH.
By silent night as in my bed I lay,
I sought to finde him whom my soule doth love;
I sought indeede, but could not finde that way:
I said then, I will rise now, and goe prove,
If I can finde him, whom my soul doth love,
About the Citie, streetes, and broad wayes round:
But all in vaine my labour lost I prove,
The Watchmen that doe walk the streetes me found,
I askt, saw you not him whose love my soule doth wound?

It was but little that I from them past,
But I did finde him, whom so long I sought:
I would not let him goe, but held him fast,
Untill him to my Mothers house I wrought,
And to her Chamber, that conceiv'd me brought.

CHRIST.
Daughters of Salomon's Citie, Prince of Peace,
I charge you drive out your faire Flocks so soft,
Your Harts and Hindes, that they do not disease,
Nor my belov'd awake until her selfe do please.

Behold, who's shee that from the Wildernes
(Like cloudy pillars of sweet smoke) ascends,
Perfum'd with Incense, Myrrhe, and Aloes,
And all the Spices which the Merchant lends?

CHURCH.
See Salomon his bed, which to defend,
Full sixty valiant men, by night at hand,
Most valiant men that Israel can send,
Each with his sword girt on his thigh, doth stand,
All expert men, as ever were in any land.

Salomon made a Throne of Libane wood,
Whose Pillars silver, and whose seate was gold,
The covering purple; floore, whereon they stood,
All pav'd with choicest loves, and stories old,
Which Daughters of Hierusalem had told,
With cunning needles; Sions Nymphs, I say,
Come forth, and your King Salomon behold,
Crown'd with the Crowne, which for his marriage day
His Mother made, a day of joy, of sport, and play.

CHAP. IIII.
Christ here the Graces of his Church commends;
His ravisht heart with love to her doth show;
Into his Garden he invites his friends,
Where in abundance all delights doe flow.

CHRIST.
How fayre art thou my Love! behold, how faire!
Within thy locks, thy Doves eyes shine most cleere:
Like to a flocke of Goates is thy fine Haire,
That from the Mount of Gilead appeare:
Thy Teeth be like a flocke of sheepe, that are
Ev'n shorne, which from their washing up doe come;
And e'ry one amongst them twinnes do beare,
Amongst them barren (loe) there is not one,
Thy Lips, like scarlet Ribband, round about the shone

Thy speech is comely, and thy Temples are
Within thy locks, like a Pomegranate side:
Thy Necke is like the Tow'r that David reare,
On which a thousand shields doe hang beside,
(All shields of mightie men in arms well tride:)
Thy Brests are like two twinling Roes close by
Feeding on Lillyes neere the River side;
Untill the day appeares and shadowes flie
In hills of Myrrhe and Mounts of Incense let me lie.

CHRIST.
Thou art all faire (my love) in thee's no spot:
Then come with me (my deare) from Lebanon:
My Spouse, from Lebanon why cam'st thou not:
And from the top of Amana looke on
The top of Shenir and the hill Hermon,
From Lyons dens, and from the Leopards hill,
Thou ravish't hath mine heart, my lovely one,
One looke from thee with joy my heart doth fill,
Thy neck in golden chains ev'n through my hart doth thrill.

My Spouse, my Sister, how faire is my Love!
Oh, how much better are thy brests then wine!
The savour of thine oyntments is above
All Spice; and from thy Lips drops hony fine,
Honey and Milke under thy tongue doe line,
And all thy garments smell like Lebanon,
A fenced Garden is my Spouse, a Vine,
A Spring shut up, a Well seal'd with a stone,
Her plants are Spikenards, Saffron, Camphire, Cynamon.

All pleasant fruit, Spikenard, and Calamus,
There trees of Incense, Myrrhe, and Aloes dwell,
With all the spice most odoriferous.
My Love's a Spring of Gardens and a Well
Of Living Waters, that from Lebanon fell.

CHURCH.
Awake, thou North-winde, come, thou South, and blow
Upon my Garden, and her plants compell
In plenty to my best belov'd to flow,
When he to eat his precious fruits doth thither goe.

CHRIST.
Into my Garden now, behold, I come,
My dearest Spouse, my Sister, and my Love,
I eat mine Hony with my Hony-combe,
My Myrrhe, and Spice, I up together gove:
I drink most pleasant wine, as sweet as love
Mingled with Milke; Oh Milke and Honey deere!
My friends, of all my Wine, Fruit, Spices, prove:
Oh, eate and drinke, I say, and make good cheere,
Yea, drinke aboundantly, Oh my belov'd, my deere.

CHAP. V.
Christ doth his Church out of her slumber wake,
Her slouth doth turne her heart to mickle woe:
Shee suffers persecution for his sake:
And to her Maides describes from top to toe.

CHURCH.
By night I slept, but ah mine heart did wake,
When (lo) I heard the voice of Him I love;

CHRIST.
He knockt, and call'd, Open to me my Make,
My love, my undefiled, and my Dove:
My head is moyst with dew from Heav'n above;
The night, with droppings, all my locks doth fill,

CHURCH.
My coat is off; how should I on it prove?
My feet are wash'd, how should I them defile:
Yet seeing's had within the doore, my heart did smile.

To open then to my belov'd I rose,
And (loe) the Myrrhe did downe mine hands distill,
Sweet swelling Myrrhe, which from his hand did wooze,
And all the handles of the lock did fill;
I open'd then to my belov'd at will,
But my beloved had himselfe withdrawne,
My love was gone, my heart grew faint and ill,
I sought him, but alas, I sought in vaine;
I call'd him, but no answere gave he me againe.

The Watchmen, that about the Citie went,
Found me, and smote me, and they wounded mee,
The Keepers of the Walls my vaile off rent.
O Daughters of Hierusalem that bee,
I charge you, if you my beloved see,
To tell him how that I am sicke of love.

DAUGHTER.
What's thy belov'd? fairest of Maides, what's hee,
For whom such questions thou to us dost move?
Tell us, what's thy belov'd other belov'ds above?

CHURCH.
Ruddy and white is my beloved one,
The chiefest of ten thousand: Of fine gold
His head is; and his locks are bushy growne,
Black as a Rav'n; his eyes (if you behold)
Are like Doves eyes, which by the Brookes do fold:
Their feathers washt in milke, and fitted neate;
His cheekes, spice-beds, sweet as the Marigold;
His lips, like Lillies moist, with Myrrhe all wet;
His hands are like gold rings, with stones of Berill set.

His belly is bright Ivory, in-laid
With Saphires blew; and his faire legs, whereon
He stands, like marble pillars, upright staid
By golden sockets, and like Lebanon,
His face: and faire as Cedars thereupon.
His mouth (behold) most comely is and sweet;
He is the loveliest one that can be showne.
Thus my belov'd is knowne: if you him meete,
O Daughters of Hierusalem him fairely greete.

CHAP. VI.
The Church her hope doth to her Maidens cleere:
Her Spouse is ravisht with her glorious sight;
Before the Queenes and all doth her prefer,
And likens her unto two Armies bright.

DAUGHTER.
Fairest of Women, whither is he gone?
Where did he turne: that we may seeke with thee?

CHURCH.
Into his Garden my belov'd alone
Descended is, to's beds of spicerie;
In his delightfull Gardens feedeth hee,
And gathereth Lillies beautifull and yong.
I my beloveds am, and hee to mee
Beloved onely is; for him I long;
Behold, I see him feede the Lillies faire among.

CHRIST.
My Love, thou art, as Tirza, beautifull;
And as Hierusalem, comely and gay;
And, as an with banners, terrible;
Thine eyes have overcome me: Turne away;
Thine haire is like a flocke of Goates that stray
Upon Mount Gilead, and thy teeth doe shine
Like to a flocke of Ewes, which make their way
Up from their washing place; by every one
Are twinnes, and, loe, amongst the barren there are none.

Thy comely cheekes within thy locks appear
Ruddie and white, like a Pomegranate side:
Queenes sixtie, fourscore Concubines there were,
And Virgins without number, which did ride
About my Love, my undefil'd, my Bride;
Yet her, the Mothers only happinesse,
The choice of all her Mother bare beside,
Whenas the Daughters saw, they praise and blesse;
And all the Queenes and Concubines could doe no lesse.

Who is't that looks like Morne? faire as the Moone?
Cleare as the Sunne? as banners terrible?
When I to view my pruned Gardens come,
The Valleys, Fruits, and budding Vines fruitfull;
The Pomegranate, that beareth faire and full,
My soule unwares me on the Chariot pight,
Of people unto me most dutifull:
Returne, returne, lets see the Shulamite;
Returne, what will you see? shee's like two Armies bright.

CHAP. VII.
The Churches comely graces are descride:
Shee doth professe her Faith, Love, and desire;
And shews how to the marriage of the Bride,
All things that are in heav'n and earth conspire.

CHRIST.
How comely are thy feete within thy shooes!
(O Princes Daughter) junctures of thy thighs
Like jewels are, which cunning hands did close:
Thy navell, like a goblet round replyes,
I want no liquor: and thy belly lyes
Like to a heape of wheat with lillies dight:
Thy brests Roe-twinnes: like tow'r of Ivory's
Thy necke; thine eyes, like pooles in Hesbon bright;
Thy nose like Lebanons tow'r, that towards Damascus light.

Thine head's like Carmel; with thy purple haire,
Ev'n Kings within their galleries are bound:
How pleasant art thou! for delights how faire!
Thy stature's like a Palme tree straight from ground:
Thy brests of grapes are like to clusters round.
I said, I would into the Palme tree climbe,
And prune the boughs which there amiss I found:
Thy brests are like the clusters of the Vine:
The odor of thy nose, is like sweet sops in wine.

Thy palate is like wines of sweetest smell.
Which downe the throat goe pleasantly and sweet,
Causing the lips, that drinke thereof to tell
Tales in their sleepe. I my belov'd do greet,

CHURCH.
And his free love with true affection meet.
Let's to the fields, and lodge in countrey cell,
And earely in the Vine-yards dew our feet,
And see if that the Vines doe prosper well,
And how the Grapes doe bud, and Pomegranates doe swell.

There plenty of my brests I will thee give:
Behold the Mandrake sweetly smelling ay:
Looke, at our gates all pleasant fruits do live,
Both new and old, which I for thee up lay,
For thee (O my belov'd) against our marriage day.

Chap. VIII.
Her undefiled love the Church make knowne,
And doth describe the force of jealousie:
The Gentiles call'd, by Sisters wooing, showne:
Shee hastes her Christ to come in Majestie.

Oh, that thou wert ev'n as my brother deere,
That suckt my mothers brests: when I without
Thee found, I would thee kisse: and none should heere
Despise mee: then I would thee leade about
Ev'n to my mothers house, that forth mee taught.
I would thee cause to drinke of spiced wine,
And juyce, that from the Pomegranate runnes out:
Thy left arme underneath my head should line;
Thy right arme with embracements should thy love intwine.

Oh, Sions daughters, I you charge no lesse,
Stirre not to wake my love until he please.

CHRIST.
Who is't that comes up from the wildernesse,
Leaning on her beloved at her ease?
From under th' Apple-trees I thee did raise,
Whereas thy mother did thee first conceave,
Whereas thy mother first began thy dayes.

CHURCH.
Oh, let thine heart me as a Seale receive,
And as a Signet on thine arme doe thou me cleave.

For Love is strong as death, and Jealousie
Cruell as grave; her coles be brands of fire,
Whose raging flames consume most violently:
No water can asswage her direfull ire,
Nor any flouds can drowne her hot desire;
No, though a man all that he hath would sell,
And let himselfe for wages out to hire,
Yet house and substance all shee would refell,
Yea ev'n contemn: No worldly thing can love compell.

Wee have a little Sister, and no moe,
Whose brests as yet lie in a narrow rome:
Tell us, What shall wee for our Sister doe,
When as the time of wooing her, is come?

CHRIST.
When as the time of wedding her, is come,
A silver Palace, with a door most sound
Of Cedar boords wee'l make for her alone.

CHURCH.
I am a Wall; my brests are towers round:
So am I in his eyes as one that favour found.

CHRIST.
A fruitfull Vineyard had King Salomon;
In a most fertile place this Vineyard lay:
To Dressers he it farm'd, that every one
For fruits thereof receiv'd, should yearely pay
A thousand silver peeces at their day:
My Vine before me I doe dresse alone.
If they to thee a thousand must defray,
A thousand silver peeces, Salomon,
They for their paynes must have two hundred every one.

O, thou that in the Gardens sweet dost dwell,
My Name to thy Companions forth sound;
Oh, cause me hear thy voyce, that sounds so well,
And make it from the Hills and Rocks rebound.

CHURCH.
Make haste then (my beloved) to confound
Thine enemies: Be like unto the Roe
And youthfull Hart, that on the mountaynes bound,
The mountaynes whereon Myrrhe and Spices grow,
Make haste, O my belov'd, thy glorie here to show.
FINIS.

When David his Ambassadors did send,
Wise Abigail unto his wife to take,
The Lady lowly to the ground did bend,
Offring to wash their feete for her Lords sake:
Learne here what high account we ought to make
Of Messengers that us glad tidings bring,
Which travell great and labour undertake,
For to espouse us to our Lord and King,
To be allyde unto a Prince is no small thing.

They that to desert hearts send forth their voyce,
And make his paths streight, and his wayes prepare,
Shall as the Bridegrooms friends with him rejoyce,
And be invited to his heavenly cheare.
Oh, how my soule is ravished, to heare
Her self invited as a welcome ghest,
By come my Spouse, my Love, my Dove, my Dear,
Behold, our marriage bed is richly drest,
And all things are prepared readie for the feast.

Selected Vessell, blessed Paul, who rapt
Above the triple heav'n such things didst eye,
As here the souls of men in darknesse wrapt,
Cannot conceive, What didst thou there espie?
The Bridegroome cloath'd in love and majestie,
Hasting unto his marriage consummation,
Whose loveliest Bride the Wise man doth descrie,
With all the marriage solemne preparation,
The Gentiles light, and glorie of the Jewish Nation.

Then let no yokes of Oxen, Farme, or Wife,
Hinder thy comming to this marriage feast;
Where Water thou shalt taste, and bread of Life;
The King will bid thee welcome as his ghest,
And thee invite to Gardens neatlier drest,
Then that of Eden, planted by Gods hand;
There is true happinesse and endlesse rest,
There glorious Angels doe by millions stand,
All readie at the Bridegroomes and the Brides comand.

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