1633 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Shepheards Oracles: Eclogue III. Pan. Gentilla.

The Shepheards Oracles: Delivered in Certain Eglogues. By Fra: Quarles.

Francis Quarles


The third eclogue continues the subject of the second, modulating from the agonistic and theological to an erotic and historical form of presentation. Pan (Christ) frowns on the Christian church for following the fickle ways of her sister Iudabell, who hankered after false divinities. Pan observes that "those Georgicks which I writ" have been neglected by those who bow the knee to the new Golden Calf, which is Popery, p. 28. Gentilla apologizes for her earlier ways and is accepted back, only to be told by Pan that marriage must be postponed: "Till, then, my dearest, let these chast embraces | Twine us a while, then to our several places | Depart we both" p. 34.

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "This is a posthumous work of the well known Author of the Emblems. It consists of eleven Eclogues, all founded on the sad political disputes of that gloomy period" Restituta or ... English Literature Revived 1 (1814) 46.

Herbert E. Cory: "In 1646 The Shepheards Oracles by Francis Quarles was published posthumously.' It is not difficult to understand the poet's reluctance to print it. It is a versified religious pamphlet in which outlandish shepherds, allegorical figures for various sects, abuse each other roundly. Catholicism, of course, is very roughly handled. The influence of Spenser is remote but perceptible. Occasionally there is some really worthy poetry when Quarles gives himself an opportunity to write in that peculiar stiff and affected quaintness that has made his Emblems famous. Such is the case when Pan (Christ) is wooed and reconciled by Gentilla (the Gentiles) in the third eclogue" "Spenserian Pastoral" PMLA 25 (1910) 262.



GENTILLA.
What ails my dearest Shepheard? what new change
Has taught his heart-rejoycing eys such strange
And dire aspects? what humor hath possest
The Sanctuary of his troubled Brest?
What mean these sullen frownes? 'gainst whom do'st thou
Thus sternely bend thy discontented Brow?
At whom does this Artil'ry of thine eye
Levell such flames? Here's none but thee and I,
Why dost thou turne aside? Why dost thou shun
Gentilla? What has poore Gentilla done?
Have I prov'd false? Say, did I ever bow
To a new choyce, or started from my Vow?
Have not my thoughts observ'd a holy Fast
From new desires? Have not these eyes bin chast
As th' eyes of Turtles? Did Gentilla's knee
Ere bend to any, but her God, and Thee?
If I be loyall; say, why doest thou shun me?
Why doe thy causelesse browes thus frown upon me?
And if my faith be conscious of a blot,
Why stand'st thou mute so long? why chid'st thou not?
No, no, my dearest Shepheard, if there be
Cause of suspect, that cause is given to me:
How long (too too unkind!) hast thou deny'd
Thy presence? Ah, how often have I cry'd
In corners? Nay, how often have these eyes
Bin drown'd with briny streames, that did arise
From the full fountaine of a flowing heart?
How often have I charm'd by the black Art
Of all my sorrowes? Yet my Shepheards eares
Were deafe; his eyes were blind to all my teares:
And now thy wisht-for presence (the full Crowne
Of all my joyes) is clouded with a Frowne.

PAN.
Thou know'st, Gentilla, when thy brests were green,
Unripe for Love, there past a Vow between
Thy elder Sister Iudabell, and me,
Whose onely portion was Virginitie;
She had no beauty to enflame mine eyes,
Nor wealth, nor birth, nor ought to make me prize
Her naked love: her visage was uncomely,
Her fortunes poore; her breeding, blunt and homely;
I lov'd her for her selfe, and the direction
To that deare love, was my own deare affection:
In sacred bands of contract, we both ty'd
Our folded hands, and she became my Bride:
I made her supreame Queen of all my Vows,
And set a Crowne of gold upon her Browes;
I made her sole Commandresse of my keyes,
To shut and open, where, and when she please:
I made her Mistresse of my Flocks, and gave
What I could give, or what her soule could crave;
She had what favours Bounty could confer;
My life was but a Trifle, weigh'd with her:
But she forsook me; Her false heart did prove
Disloyall; took a surfeit of my love;
She sleighted all my favours; falsely broke
Her plighted Faith, and scorn'd my easie yoke;
My dearest love she answer'd with disdaine,
Cast am'rous eyes on every Under-swaine;
I lov'd, she scorn'd, and what I gave, she slighted;
Was never love so true, so ill requited.

GENTILLA.
But stay, deare Shepheard, shall my sisters crimes,
Or shall th' unjust Rebellions of her times
Be plagu'd in me? Or shall thy lips demand
The debts of Iudabell at Gentilla's hand?
Stands it with justice, that those Vows which she
Hath falsely broke, should be reveng'd on me?

PAN.
Thou know'st Gentilla, when thy Sisters brest
Grew too obdurate for my deare request,
When faire entreaties, and more hard Commands
Found disrespect at her respectlesse hands,
I left my vaine attempt, cal'd home my heart,
And plac'd it (as I thought) on more desert;
Those deare affections, and the love that she
Unworthily despis'd, I fixt on thee:
The selfe same priviledge, the selfe same power,
Those very favours, and the selfe same dower,
That was assured hers, while she was mine,
Were by a second Contract, all made thine:
What she hath left, thy Fortunes have engrost;
Gentilla found what Iudabell has lost:
But O Gentilla, thou hast faild to prove
A worthy object of so faire a Love;
Thou hast thy Sisters frailty; Thou hast all
Her Fortunes with her Faults, though not her Fall.

GENTILLA.
Tell me, deare Shepheard, that I may amend them,
I will acknowledge them, or not defend them.

PAN.
Did not I trust, Gentilla, to thy hand
My Flocks, my substance, under whose command
I left them charg'd? Say did I not submit
My Shepheards to thy service, and commit
My Sheep to their protection, to be
Foder'd by them, and overseen by thee?
Were not those Pastures faire enough, to keep
My wained Lambs, and to maintaine my Sheep?
Were they not sweet enough, and well sufficing
Without that mixture, of your Swaines devising?
Unwholesome stuffe! whose very tast did rot,
Or breed diseases where it poyson'd not;
That insomuch, where ere I turn'd my head,
I saw some Flocks a dying; and some, dead.

GENTILLA.
True, gentle Shepheard, thus in former times
We did; if Ignorance may salve our crimes,
We have enough to plead: I bent my knee
To a false Master then, and not to Thee.

PAN.
I thought, that Pan had had supreame Command;
I thought, my Rules might had the grace to stand
In full authority, and power; I thought,
Those Georgicks which I writ, as well as taught
By word of mouth, had been a full direction
Both for my Flocks good diet, and protection:
But you, and your disloyall Swaines (it's said)
Have joyn'd in serious Councell, and have made
Another Head, whose selfe-conceited waies
I never knew; and Him your wisdomes raise
Into a height above the height of Man,
And plac'd Him in a Throne, which never Pan,
When he kept earth, and govern'd here below,
Had ere the Honour to be call'd into:
Him yee advance with reverence and renown,
His browes adorning with a triple Crown,
When as a wreath of Willow, or of Thorne
(For want of high priz'd metall) rudely torne
From the next hedge, must serve my turne, and be
A Crowne, thought fit, and good enough for me;
Him ye observe, and, like a thing Divine,
Him ye adore: His words must passe, not Mine;
His words are Oracles, and his Commands
Are Laws, or Death; the power of his hands
(Which he pretends to be deriv'd from me)
Can reach from Peasants, to the high degree
Of Princes, whom, by vertue of his Keyes,
He can dis-crown, and murther when he please:
My sacred Book, wherein these fingers writ
The Shepheards Lawes, his nature-pleasing wit
Has interlin'd with his owne bold devises,
And made it now a starting-hole for Vices:
His holy finger can put out, put in;
Change, and on second thoughts, rechange agin:
He can correct, distinguish, reconcile;
And where a Gap stands faire, can make a Style:
His lips can blesse, where I have curs'd; and curse,
Whom I have blest, according as the Purse
Feeles light or heavy; if the Tides but flow,
What is't, he can? what is't, he cannot doe?
This is that Head which your false hearts allow;
This is that golden Calf, to whom yee bow
Your sacrilegious knees; Him, him yee crown
With honour, whil'st ye pull my Honour down:
Him ye corrupt; His open fist ye greaze,
And make your Oracle speake what you please:
Thus are my poore abused Flocks beguil'd
By your disguis'd Impostures; thus despoil'd
Of their deare lifes, whil'st you grow plump and full,
Fed with their Flesh, and cloathed in their Wooll.

GENTILLA.
Ah dearest Shepheard, in those bloody daies,
I was but young, and childish; and my waies
Were ill devis'd; alas, my tender yeares
Were too too credulous; My abused eares
Were open long before my judgement had
Strength to know truth from falshood, good from bad;
I knew no diff'rence twixt my Friend and Foe,
Thought all was Gold, that made a golden show:
I thought, those Swaines to whose experienc'd care
Thou left thy Flocks, had knowledge to prepare
Covenient food; and judgement how to keep
With most advantage, thy reposed Sheep.

PAN.
I, so they had, Gentilla, they could read
A Book, could teach them how, and when to feed;
The Book was faire, and pen'd without a blot:
They knew there Masters Will, but did it not.

GENTILLA.
I trusted them; but they abus'd mine eare,
Told me faire tales, which youth was apt to heare:
That little Book thou gav'st me, (when Pan woo'd
His poore Gentilla, first) writ with thy blood,
They pilfer'd from me; told me 'twas unfit
To be the object of a womans wit:
Sometimes, by snatches, they perus'd the Book;
As once they read, my lingring eye-balls took;
A view, by stealth; and my deluded eare
Was fill'd; with what? With nothing written there:
O, thus they wrong'd my too-beleeving eares;
And taking vantage of my easie yeares,
They kept me dark, for feare mine eyes behold
Their gilded Trash, that's current now for Gold:
Nay more, they knowing that the weaker sex
By nature's apt to loose their servill necks
From mans imperious yoke, and so to fly
Aloft into the pitch of soveraignty,
They did not blush, to weigh, at least to joyne
Thy sacred Oracles, with poore words of mine;
Whose later boldnesse ventur'd to debase
Thy words authority, and give mine the place:
All this my bolder Swaines presum'd to do;
All this my prouder weaknes yeelded to.
True, gentle Shepheard, 'tis confest, that we
Made a new Power, but no Head but Thee;
Our first intention was not simply evill,
But accidentall; all things were unlevell,
And rude disorder crept into our State:
Swaine would contest with Swaine, and fierce debate
Encreas'd among us: Every hand would feed
His own devised way, which was the seed,
The pregnant seed of Ruin, and Confusion
To our green Government; till, in conclusion,
We pickt the ablest Swaines from out the rest,
And made them Chiefe, by whose discreeter brest,
Next under Thee our Head, we did annorme
Our Government, and made it uniforme:
Thus, for a while, our State was well redrest;
They were good Shepheards, and our State had rest:
They were good Shepheards, and they scorn'd to keep
Their lives upon the rescue of their sheep:
But daies grew worse and worse, and after times
As they encreas'd in age, encreas'd in Crimes:
These Pow'rs grew proud, Hereticall, did hold
New-broach'd Opinions; Law was bought and sold,
And Gospell too; new orders were erected:
The Shepheards sought themselves; their Flocks neglected;
Thus each succeeding Power at last, did add,
A worse unto his Predecessors bad:
Thus were my tender yeares, and trust abus'd;
T' avoid confusion, thus we grew confus'd:
O, they that follow a misguided Head,
The farther goe, the more they are misled:
But now my sad experience (dearely bought)
Hath cal'd me off, and made me see my fault;
My soule abhors the deeds of former times,
They, they are past, but present are my Crimes:
Let not my dearest Shepheard search my waies
With too severe an eye: As the old daies
Are swallow'd with the new, and past away,
So let my faults be past as well as they:
Close, chose thine eyes, or if thou needs must see,
Look, look upon thy Goodnesse, and not me;
Or if thine eyes will look on such a shame,
Behold not what I was, but what I am.

PAN.
My deare Gentilla, dearer then my soule,
Thy wounds are cur'd, thy Faith has made thee whole:
Thy teares have scour'd thy trespasse; witnesse Heaven,
Thou hast not done what Pan has not forgiven:
Come, come into mine armes, my greedy brest
Longs, longs to entertaine so faire a Guest:
The poorest teare that wets thy lovely cheek
Has washt a world of faults; thou shalt not seek
What thy prevailing language cannot find.

GENTILLA.
O let me weep, untill I weep me blind!
How can my frozen Gutters choose but run,
And feel the beames of such a melting Sun!

PAN.
Enough, my sweet Gentilla, O forbeare
To gaul my wounded heart! each pearly teare
That trickles from thine eye, does make rebound
Upon my heart, and gives my heart the wound:
What meanes my dearest Love to overflow
My curious Garden, on whose banks doe grow
Those flowres, whose sweetnesse does as far exceed
Arabian sents, as they the foulest weed.

GENTILLA.
No, no, my dearest deare; these slubber'd cheeks
Call for more water; 'tis the work of weeks,
To purge the Morphew from so foule a face;
'Tis not the labour of an howers space
Can doe the deed.

PAN.
No leprosie can find
So cleare a cure, but that some scurf behind
Will yet remaine, Gentilla may be sure,
The worse being past, time will perfect the cure.

GENTILLA.
My dearest Pan, such desperate sores as these
Requier fresh supplies: O! my disease
Enjoynes me to goe wash nine times, at least,
In Jordans streames till it be quite redrest.

PAN.
Be not deluded with traditious dreames;
'Tis Pan that cures thee, and not Jordan-streames:
Let not thy Morphew plunge thy soule too farre
In needlesse griefe; deep wounds will leave a scarre:
Vexe not thy selfe, and let no chill despaire
Perplex thy troubled heart; Thou art as faire,
As earth will suffer: My contented eies
Take pleasure in thy beauty, which I prize
Above the world: and when the time shall come,
Wherein thy Shepheard shall conduct thee home
Into my Fathers Palace, where I dwell,
I'le give thee water, (water shall excell
The streames of Jordan) whose diviner power
Shall cleanse thy staines, and in a moment scower
Thy Morphew so, that heavens Meridian eye
Shall vaile, to see thy greater Glory by:
Till then, my dearest, let these chast embraces
Twine us a while, then to our severall places
Depart we both.

GENTILLA.
Then let Gentilla dye,
If ought can part my dearest Pan and I:
These twined armes shall hold thee; if thou go,
My Pan shall draw his own Gentilla too.

PAN.
Forbeare Gentilla, for I must be gone,
I have a Father to attend upon,
And thou a Flock; the time will come, wherein
We shall re-meet, and never part agin.

GENTILLA.
I'le drive my Flocks, whil'st we walk hand in hand;
And I will feed them on thy Fathers land.

PAN.
Not so Gentilla, when thy Flocks are thriven
In fat and fleece, then, then they shall be driven
Unto my Fathers Court; where, on thy knee,
Thou shalt present them as a gift from thee;
And at that day thy Shepheard shall come hither,
And hand in hand conduct Gentilla thither.

GENTILLA.
If needs we must, Farewell: But see thou keep
Thy promis'd word.

PAN.
Farewell; and feed my Sheep.

[pp. 24-35]