1635
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Book 5. II. Stay me with Flowers, and comfort me with Apples, for I am sicke with Love.

Emblemes. By Fra: Quarles.

Francis Quarles


In his ever-popular collection of emblems Francis Quarles composes poems in a stanza taken from his friend Phineas Fletcher (abababccC) — ottava rima with an appended alexandrine. Compare the catalogue of flowers in the second emblem of book 5 to that in Spenser's Aprill. Herbert E. Cory sees a generall resemblance to Spenser's Epithalamion.

Edward Phillips: Quarles is "the darling our Plebeian Judgements, that is such as have ingenuity enough to delight in Poetry, but are not sufficiently instructed to make a right choice and distinction" Theatrum Poetarum (1675) 2:45.

Henry Headley: "In perusing Quarles, I have occasionally observed that he has sometimes taken thoughts from the works of Lord Sterling, but the passages were hardly worth noticing. Quarles was indebted to Herman Hugo for the hint of writing Emblems; the earliest edition I have been able to meet with is that published in 1623 at Antwerp, in tolerable good Latin Elegies. A translation of it appeared Lond. 1686, by Edm. Arwaker, M.A. who very injudiciously observes, that 'Mr. Quarles only borrowed his Emblems, to prefix them to much inferior sense.' The earliest edition of Quarles's book, that I have seen, is in 1635; all the prints, from the beginning of the third book, are exactly copied from Hugo, but Hugo himself was not original, as Andrew Alciat, a Milanese lawyer, so early as 1535, published at Paris a volume of Emblems. Thuanus gives a great character of this writer. Hist. Lib. 8. A small Edit. of Alciat's work, with the observations of C. Minos, partially extracted, was published at Geneva" Select Beauties of Ancient English Poetry (1787; 1810) 2:147.

W. J. Courthope: "Quarles's Emblems may be regarded as (with the exception of the Pilgrim's Progress) the last well-known work constructed on the allegorical principle described by Boccaccio. Each of these Emblems starts from some text of Scripture, on which the author founds a Meditation; this again is illustrated by a pictorial engraving. The illustrations were not invented to make clear Quarles's own ideas: they were taken by him fro the Pia Desideria of Herman Hugo, and suggested to him the thought which he elaborates in his verse" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 3:205.

Edward Payson Morton: "Toward the middle of the seventeenth century Francis Quarles tried various Spenserian imitations, but, like so many others, did not once use the regular stanza. He perhaps preceded Phineas Fletcher in writing the triplet ending in an alexandrine (as a stanza, not as a variation of the couplet). Quarles seems also to have been the first to lengthen the last line of the then popular ababcc stanza. Of his other ventures, two are probably accidental variations of the lengthened ottava rima introduced by Phineas Fletcher" "The Spenserian Stanza before 1700" (1907) 8.

Herbert E. Cory: "he was very partial to the variations of the Spenserian stanzas employed by the Fletchers. He added two similar variations to the group of stanzas in regular pentameters and he experimented further by varying the length of the lines. Most of his Spenserian variations appear in Emblemes and Hieroglyphikes of the life of Man, groups of poems in which he, took a Biblical quotation as a text and either expanded it into a poem in the same mood or wrote a sort of homily in verse on thoughts suggested by it. Probably he was led to vary Fletcher's stanzas occasionally, by the introduction of some shorter lines. from a desire to make his stanzas more suitable to the mood of some of his texts. The Emblems seem to have achieved considerable popularity and in fact do contain about all his best work.... Their content is seldom notably Spenserian, but a few significant verses may be noted as containing material at least familiar to Spenser and his followers. Thus in one Emblem (Book 5, Emblem 3), on the passage in the Canticles (2:5), 'Stay me with flowers, and comfort me with apples for I am sick with love,' he contributes a flower passage and writes in a manner perhaps vaguely reminiscent of the Epithatamion" "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (1912) 334-35.

Francis Quarles alludes to "Archimagoes booke" in Argalus and Parthenia (1629); see Traugott Bohme (1911) 92, and Wells, Spenser Allusions (1972) 179.



CANT. II. V.
Stay with me Flowers, and comfort me with Apples, for I am sicke with love.

I.
O Tyrant love! how does thy sov'raigne pow'r
Subject poore soules to thy imperious thrall!
They say, thy Cup's compos'd of sweet and sowre;
They say, thy diet's Honey, mixt with Gall;
How comes it then to passe, these lips of our
Still trade in bitter; taste no sweet at all?
O tyrant love! Shall our perpetuall toyle
Nev'r find a Sabbath, to refresh, a while,
Our drooping soules? Art thou all frowns, and nev'r a smile?

II.
You blessed Maids of Honour, that frequent
The royall Courts of our renown'd JEHOVE,
With Flow'rs restore my spirits faint, and spent;
O fetch me Apples from Loves fruitfull Grove,
To coole my palat, and renew my sent,
For I am sick, for I am sick of Love:
These, will revive my dry, my wasted pow'rs,
And they, will sweeten my unsav'ry houres;
Resfresh me then with Fruit, and comfort me with Flow'rs.

III.
O bring me Apples to asswage that fire,
Which, Aetna-like, inflames my flaming brest;
Nor is it ev'ry Apple I desire,
Nor that which pleases ev'ry Palat best:
'Tis not the lasting Deuzan I require,
Nor yet the red-cheek'd Queening I request;
Nor that which, first, beshrewd the name of wife,
Nor that whose beauty caus'd the gold strife;
No, no, bring me an Apple from the Tree of life.

IV.
Virgins, tuck up your silken laps, and fill ye
With the faire wealth of Floras Magazine;
The purple Vy'let, and the pale-fac'd Lilly;
The Pauncy and the Organ Colombine;
The flowring Thyme, the gilt-boule Daffadilly;
The lowly Pinck, the lofty Eglentine:
The blushing Rose, the Queene of Flow'rs, and best
Of Floras beauty; but, above the rest,
Let Jesses sov'raigne Flow'r perfume my qualming brest.

V.
Haste, Virgins, haste; for I lie weake and faint,
Beneath the pangs of love; why stand ye mute;
As if your silence neither car'd to grant,
Nor yet your language to deny my suit?
No key can lock the doore of my complaint,
Untill I smell this Flow'r, or taste that Fruit;
Go, Virgins, seek this Tree, and search that Bow'r;
O, how my soule shall blesse that happy houre,
That brings to me such fruit, that brings me such a Flow'r!

GISTEN. in Cap. 2 Cant. Expos. 3.
O happy happy sicknesse! where the infirmity is not to death, but to life, that God may be glorified by it: O happy fever, that proceeds not from a consuming, but a calcining fire! O happy distemper, wherein the soule relishes no earthly things, but onely savours divine nourishment!

S. BERN. Serm. 51 in Cant.
By flowers understand faith; by fruit, good works: As the flower or blossome is before the fruit, so is faith before good works: So neither is the fruit without the flower, nor good works without faith.

EPIG. 2.
Why apples, O my soule? Can they remove
The Pangs of Griefe, or ease the flames of love?
It was that Fruit which gave the first offence;
That sent him hither; that remov'd him hence.

[pp. 249-51]